The biggest holiday of the year will be here soon, the Friday after Thanksgiving. Massive malls and quaint boutiques will be full of those hoping to wish others a Merry Christmas, or to be more politically correct happy holidays. There will be valet parking and wrapping assistance to make the shopping experience seamless. Golf courses and hunting camps will be full of men escaping the madness. Ladies and a few gentlemen will enjoy a day that they plan all year and will reminisce about for years to come. This is after all the biggest shopping day of the year.
For many of us this shopping causes a great amount of anxiety. We are neither scrooges nor misers. However, we are spending money that we don’t have, and the bill will be due in January. This is not the proper way to spend the holidays. I know. I have been there.
Simple steps can be taken to lessen the stress on your wallet during Christmas shopping. First, make a list of everyone that you want to purchase for. This is a simple and often forgotten step. Second, decide how much that you want to spend per person and stick to that amount. Remember, how much you spend on someone does not define your amount of love for them. Third, save money for your purchases. Pay cash, write a check, or use a debit card; but stay away from credit cards. If you don’t have the money to pay for the desired gifts or activities now, what makes you think that you will have the money when the bill is due? Last but not least, be charitable. This is the time to give a special offering above your tithe or take time to give of yourself. At all times we should be charitable, but this is a special celebration.
Where did this giving tradition start?
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem…On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh…When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him."(Matthew 2: 1, 11, 13)
Scholars debate over the actual date of Jesus’ birth. Almost certainly it was not December 25. However, that is not important. The celebration of His birth and who He is, our Lord and Savior, is what is important. This birth is where our giving tradition started
Magi, wise men, royalty from the east traveled a tremendous distance to meet a baby born under a great star. Some scholars say that their travels may have taken years. Jesus would have been a toddler. When they found Him they worshipped and presented gifts.
Why did this story take place and why is it told in the Bible? It is easy to understand why anyone, shepherds or wise men, would worship the Son of God. However, why such fine gifts for the son of a carpenter?
God was providing for His Son’s family in a unique way. King Herod of Israel, at the time under Roman rule, felt threatened by this baby and the stories surrounding him. Therefore, he sent soldiers to kill this child. The Lord warned Joseph to escape to Egypt. A carpenter in that time was not a wealthy person and having already traveled from Nazareth to Galilee money was lacking. Through these gifts God provided for Joseph to care for his family and keep them safe, these gifts had a purpose.
This story was told to illustrate God’s provision. God provided for His Son’s family and He can provide for you.
Yes, the magi gave gifts to the baby Jesus but that was not the greatest gift given then. The greatest gift given was Jesus Christ himself born to be a Savior.
Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas.
November 5, 2007
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Posted on Mon, November 5, 2007
by Chris McAlpin