Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "The First Nowell"1 (Lyrics)
Recently, during a time of reflection regarding the Christmas tree, I read a very interesting study entitled, God's Christmas Tree, written by J. Hampton Keathley III, Th.M. The premise of the study is that although some may question the origin of the modern Christmas tree, as Christians, we can use this season to remember the birth of the Saviour, who He is and why He came into the world. "Simply stated, God the Son, the second person of the trinity, became the babe of the cradle that He might become the man of the cross."
The author presents the birth of Christ from the viewpoint of God's Christmas tree — the cross. Some of the presents that lie at the foot of that tree are opened and discussed to remind us of the gifts that God has given to us in Christ and offered to a darkened world. God's Word actually refers to Christ Jesus, His person, His death on the cross, and His work, by either the word "tree", or by terms associated with a tree: "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit" (Isaiah 11:1 NIV) and "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24a NIV).
God has His own Christmas tree, not decorated with lights, ornaments, or tinsel, nor surrounded underneath with gifts or presents filled with perishable items. Rather, under God's tree are imperishable gifts of infinite value which were purchased by the death of God's Son on God's tree, the cross.
How can a person acquire the benefits of God's tree with its imperishable gifts? Scripture stresses that what flows from God's tree, salvation in Christ, is free, a gift of God.
Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. (NASB)
What are some of these magnificent gifts? The author uses the passage in Romans 5:1-11 for his examples: justification (v.1); peace with God (v.1); access to God (v.2a); hope of the glory of God (v.2b); triumph in tribulation and trouble (vs.3-4); love of God and the Holy Spirit (v.5); deliverance from wrath (v.9); salvation by His life (v.10); and rejoicing (v.11).
When we unwrap these presents, we find that they are backed up by the very faithfulness and promises of God! These presents will never break or wear out, for they will last for eternity.
Consider this: Have we taken the opportunity to receive these gifts? They cannot be ours unless we receive them; Christmas is a great time to do this.
Consider also: Have we received these gifts and put them on the shelf by failing to study God's Word so that we truly understand our salvation in the finished work and merit of the Saviour?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your gifts to us in Your Son through the tree, the cross. Thank You for the assurance of eternal life and for Your constant love for us in Christ. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.