Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

This is what the Sovereign Lord says: If the prince makes a gift from his inheritance to one of his sons, it will also belong to his descendants; it is to be their property by inheritance.

-- Ezekiel 46:16

Looking for a memorable present for that special someone? Look no further than the world-famous Neiman Marcus Christmas Book

First published in 1926, this remarkable catalog wows readers in more than 1 million households with an assortment of high-end knickknacks. But it's best known for its outlandish fantasy gifts such as his and hers camels, airplanes, robots, windmills...and even submarines. Does your loved one like water sports? Neiman Marcus has just the thing: a special edition Hacker-Craft mahogany speedboat for $250,000. Or what about the European flower show tour (with nine of her closest friends) via private jet? It's a mere $420,000. But if you're a bit more budget-conscience, order the fully-furnished Mongolian yurt for just $75,000.

Neiman Marcus' gifts are unquestionable memorable. But there are some gifts that are so unforgettable that millions of people still talk about them centuries after they were given. The Bible reveals that the Magi--or Wise Men--traveled hundreds of miles over rough terrain to meet the long-awaited King of Kings: the infant Jesus. And when they finally found Him in an obscure village called Bethlehem, they brought gifts.
"On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him," we read in Matthew's Gospel. "Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh."
On first glance, the Wise Men's gifts seem both odd and inappropriate--particularly for a baby. But they were right on the mark. Gold symbolizes royalty while frankincense represents God's appointed priest--Jesus Himself. Likewise, myrrh was a spice used to prepare the dead for burial. And in this case, it was to be Christ's own.

Like many great gifts, the Wise Men's offerings were also practical. Joseph--Jesus' earthly father--was warned in a dream to flee Israel with his wife and infant Son. This meant leaving their possessions behind and starting a new life in Egypt while the jealous King Herod sought to kill Jesus. Freely traded throughout the region, the valuable gold and spices likely helped support the young family until they could return following Herod's death a few years later.

God provided for His own those many centuries ago. And He continues to do so today. But His greatest gift of all was His promise of salvation through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Sadly, most people refuse to unwrap this amazing present. God recognized our desperate need for forgiveness for the wrong ways we've lived our lives and treated others. So He came to Earth to live among us, teach us how to live...and then to pay the enormous price required to cover our sins. And that dear price was His life.

Jesus' birth that first Christmas was a gift you'll never find in a fancy department store catalog or website. It was neither extravagant like a luxurious round-the-world cruise or unusual like an antique sports car. Instead, it was priceless, practical and life changing. And best of all, it's still free today to anyone who asks for it in faith.

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