Christmas Is About Choices

I confess. I do not like shopping.   I read an ad and it looks so good. When I go into the store I cannot find the item. Or, when I do find it does not look like the picture I saw. Or, the size or color is not my preference.   Add to this dilemma the line at the cash register. My limited time to be in the store. My inability to correctly assess what I think another person needs, wants, or would like.    I like it when Laila tells me her item of preference. Simple. Efficient. I know she will be pleased. What I want is her happiness.   Wrapping items is not my hobby or skill. I like to cut out six or eight pieces of paper at the same time. Who cares if they slip or slide a little and are not all exactly square or rectangular. After all, folks are going to rip the paper off and throw it away.   No, I am not a grinch. I like giving. I prefer to do it simply. Without all the hustle and bustle. Whoever invented fancy gift bags with tissue paper.  They should be a national hero.  Just drop the item in, add a little paper and done!   I like giving to a NEED. Or, I like giving that encourages a person to reach for a higher goal.   Laila and I were in a restaurant. The waitress was a delightful teenager. We talked with her. Her family struggles economically. She explained that she is a good student and plans college. Before we left we spoke privately with her and gave her a gift for her college fund. It was a choice moment. We also gave her our contact information and permission to call or email us.   Laila and I are in Lancaster, PA, as I write this Pastor's Heart. Last night I picked up items from a store. The cashier was efficient and pleasant. A high school student. I was the single customer of the moment. We talked. The student has plans for college. I shared encouraging words and gave insights. It was a choice moment.   Words are gifts.  Proverbs 25:11 "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver."   Think about God's words to us that are gifts: Matthew 1:21 "...give him the name Jesus, for He shall save his people from their sins." Matthew 28:20 "...Lo, I am with you always." John 14 "If I go away, I will come again..."   Giving of gifts is an art that includes presence. A gift given to prove love does not. The gift cannot be bigger than the intent. An inanimate object cannot be of such impression or substance that it fulfills love.   Giving out of abundance without sacrifice is not giving. It is largesse. It is not even being generous if what is given is insignificant to the wealth of the giver. Suppose a person worth $10,000,000 gives a diamond ring worth $5,000. Or suppose a person gives an expensive gift but gets a tax deduction for the gift or suppose a person worth a million dollars gives a thousand to Jesus.   Giving must be from the heart. God makes this clear in John 3:16 "He (God) so loved (us) that He gave his Only Begotten Son".   Giving should be with presence. The Giver and the Receiver must share in the gift. There must be an exchange of joy. Emotions. Expression of gratitude with the giver being blessed and affirming value to the receiver.   Secret giving is not beautiful. Leaving a present on a porch when no one is home is not personal. How much more terrific to knock on a door, tell someone how important they are, assure them that you want to share life's journey with them, and then present them with a gift. This is not a nameless and impersonal "Santa Claus" idea that persons give and persons receive but they never know each other.   Giving is investment. Intrinsic value. The person means more than the gift. The relationship transcends a holiday. Value is more than money. The plan is more than temporary.    What  heaven gave on the first Christmas morning was a gift of consummate sacrifice with eternal intentions. God was fixing things to redeem us. Making possible his presence being with us. Insuring that his Holy Spirit abides with us. Giving us a plan for eternity.   In your giving think love. Think value of person. Think of being together. Think of blessing. Think of journey. Think of words spoken when there is an exchange of a gift...and the words mean more than the gift. Think as Christ thinks.   This Christmas it is my hope that you will take the opportunity to give a special gift to Christ and His Church. Generous giving to the work of the Lord will be an investment for you to rejoice eternally. Imagine souls that will be in heaven because of your gift.   What will be your gift to Christ?   It is true. I do not like shopping. But it is also true: I LOVE GIVING! Laila and I live with the prayer to be able to GIVE MORE TO THE CAUSE OF CHRIST AND THOSE WHO ARE IN NEED!   This Christmas plan to give simply...with love...thoughtfully...making sure that those around you feel value beyond an object. Make wise choices with intrinsic value being greater than objects.   May you have a holy and Christ-filled Christmas as you make choices to celebrate the gift of Jesus…

Pastor Bare Luke 1,2