Over the past few decades, the legendary Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog has featured some pretty amazing gifts. Their catalog in the 60’s offered his-and-her submarines for $18,000 and a hot air balloon for $6,000. In 1970, you could buy a life size Noah’s Ark, complete with some animals for $588,000. And this year is no different...you can purchase a New Year's Eve Times Square party for a measly $1.6 million.
Maybe a million dollar party isn't at the top of your wish list this year, but perhaps you have certain expectations of what you hope to find waiting for you under the Christmas tree. If you put your hope in what gifts are found under the tree, you will be very disappointed. However, if you have put your trust in the Christ of Christmas, you will never be disappointed. Look with me at the Christmas “symbols” of the gifts Paul talks about in Romans.
Gift #1: Dove
A dove has always symbolized peace to most. This has its history in Christianity all the way back to Noah and the flood, and, even more recently, in the receiving of the Holy Spirit. Although the symbol of peace is easily found, finding REAL peace in today’s world is not. According to the Bible, we have two types of peace: one like a rock the other like an ocean.
First is peace WITH God.
Romans 5:1 — Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the peace that comes through knowing Christ as Savior. Like a rock... solid. Unmoving. When we put our trust in Him in that moment, we are no longer enemies of God. We have peace knowing where our eternity lies.
Second is peace FROM God.
Philippians 4:7 — And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Life is full of disturbances and Christmas can be one of the most stressful times of the year. Old problems are often brought back to the surface. Friction, stress, and difficulties that you are having in life can be at the forefront at this time of year. It is here we need the peace OF God. This peace can be like the ocean as it crashes over us in times of need. Splash in it... soak in it... drown in it. Just receive it.
Gift #2: Fir Tree
An evergreen tree is an interesting symbol of hope. But many say the reason we celebrate Christmas with this tree is the hope that it symbolizes. The constant green throughout all seasons represents never-ending hope, and needles that point upward remind us of where that hope is found.
Romans 5:2-5 — ...through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
This hope is promised to those of us who know Him as Savior. A hope of not just eternal life, but hope of an abundant life.
Gift #3: Angel
Romans 15:13 — May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
It was the angels that first Christmas morning that joyfully exclaimed the birth of our Savior. His birth brought great joy to all people.
But why is TRUE joy so hard to find? Because scripture says it doesn’t come in the material “things” of life — the things found under the tree. It comes when we find contentment in the One who hung on the tree, when we seek first His righteousness. Don’t settle for just circumstantial happiness — claim His eternal joy.
Whatever gifts you may have waiting for you this Christmas, they pale in comparison to God's gift for you. This Christmas, receive God's gifts of peace, hope, and joy that He has promised through His Son. It is better than anything a catalog can offer.
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Steve Kyle is the Director of Christian Life at Mount Paran Christian School. This blog is adapted from Mr. Kyle's chapel presentation to high school.
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