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Just dropping by ... Gifts of God

Yevet Tenney for Progressive Dairy Published on 12 December 2019

The witches and ghosts of Halloween have scarcely flown out of the stores before Christmas carols start to waft through the atmosphere. The glitter and glitz of the holiday start to line the shelves reminding us that it is time to buy, buy, buy! Christmas is on its way, and the mental list starts to form.

The kids don’t need baby dolls, trucks, transformers or video games like they received last year. Cell phones and tablets have enough games to spare. New clothes are a no-no. You are, after all, from the dinosaur foundation of fashion. Gift cards are so impersonal. The knot in the stomach starts to tighten. What can I do that is better than last year? What can I give my children that won’t be destroyed in the first week or clutter their closet for the next year and become a battle of wills cleaning up bedrooms? What do you give children who have everything, but appreciate so little?

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I think the Lord must be facing the same dilemma with His children. America is the most affluent country in the world. High-rise buildings, filled with stuff, scratch the very tummy of heaven. There are cars in nearly every driveway, devices in nearly every hand, and food of every kind is piled high on nearly every table. Yet people walk around as if they had only pickles for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the last six months. They honk horns in disgust! Fists pound the air with unsavory gestures and unpleasant language to every insignificant bump in the road. Anger and frustration permeates every walk of life.

For many, reverence for life and liberty have gone the way of all the earth, and the pursuit of happiness has become the avaricious pursuit of toys, gadgets and free stuff. God’s gifts are stacked under the proverbial tree unopened and unappreciated by many. What more could He give his children that would make them look up in awestruck wonder at the bounty of His glorious gifts?

He already created the mountains and the snow for skiers, and the balmy beaches for those who have the need for sand between their toes. He even made the sun to warm the sand and the moon to shower the silver water with magnificent beauty. The stars glitter the sky with the miracle of infinity and speak of the endless creation of worlds yet unexplored. He made the forests filled with animals and plants in so many varieties that man can hardly categorize them. He made the placid lakes that mirror the wonder of spring, summer, fall and winter. He gave man and woman power and dominion over all of it. What is more, He gave them a mind and heart to enjoy the good things of the earth and promised that whatever His children asked for in faith they could receive. In the words of Napoleon Hill, “Whatever the mind can conceive, the mind can achieve.”

The freedom to choose is one of God’s greatest gifts to men and women. It is interesting to note that men of faith have taken God at his word and have discovered laws of the universe that have blessed the entire human race. The Wright brothers conquered the sky; Edison opened the door to electricity and the wonderous gift of moving pictures. Ford and others made speedy transportation a reality. On the other hand, men of a different persuasion took God at his word and created untold misery and death among the nations of the world. Hitler, with his dream of a super race, almost conquered the world. He destroyed thousands of innocent people in the process. God did not renege on His promise even in the face of such evil. I am certain it made Him sad that this great gift of agency was used for evil purposes, but a promise is a promise.

God gave man the ability to choose good or evil, and He honors the gift for everyone, all the time. It probably pains Him to see people passively letting their lives pass them by, allowing the world to swish them hither and yon with every wind of doctrine, never making a definite decision or determining what they really want out of life. They unwitting live by the philosophy: “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” Gratitude for the gift of agency never crosses their minds. It remains a magnificent unwrapped gift under God’s Christmas tree.

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Another gift that sits under His tree is the gift of memory. This gift of memory is a gift that has been handed down from father to son from Adam down through every God-fearing generation to the present. God instructed his prophets and others to write the laws that will bless and keep nations free from bondage, both physically and spiritually. The rules are written not only in the form of “Thou shalt not” but in the form of “Thou shalt.” This memory book and the philosophy contained therein cost the best blood of every generation to preserve it – Isaiah, Peter, James, Paul, Thomas Becket, Thomas Moore, William Tyndale, Maximilian Kolbe, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and many more who died for their faith and the preservation of Christianity. To remember them and the sacrifices they made is a gift that we seldom open with gratitude or even think about.

Relatively few open the Bible on Christmas Day to read the story of the birth of the greatest gift ever to grace the earth, Jesus Christ the Savior of the world. We open the magical gadgets and gifts made possible by the faith of other men, but do we show faith in the one who made all this possible? Are we opening our own God-given gifts? The Bible says: “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10 KJV).

In other words, every person on Earth has been given a special gift over which he or she is to be a steward to bless our fellow beings. “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith ...” and to another the gift of healing, the working of miracles, the gift of prophecy (1 Cor. 12:8-10 KJV) and so on. There are certainly other gifts that Paul could have mentioned. The gift of hope, a fervent desire to know for sure that Christ is leading our lives and to be able gaze into the future and see what the world needs and try with faith to fulfil that need. The gift of faith is not a gift at all if we look at the package and admire the ribbons, the shiny paper and the magnificent bow on top. We must open it and use it every day just as we would use exercise equipment to strengthen our bodies to respond at optimum performance.

We do not know what we can achieve unless we really use our faith. The great world-changers, like Edison, the Wright brothers and Steve Jobs, didn’t know how to do what they did at first; they only believed it could be done. The Wright brothers didn’t know how to fly; they only had faith it could be a reality. Edison saw power to light the world, but it took faith and 10,000 tries to make it happen.

Paul in his letter to the Corinthians encouraged us to “covet earnestly the best gifts.” We can covet all we want, but if we only occasionally look at the package of God’s wonderful gifts, we will never enjoy them. Perhaps the best gift we can give our children is the gift of belief in God, who is all-powerful and magnanimous.

Teach them to ask in prayer. Teach them to walk in His light, open His gifts and to be eternally grateful for the gift of agency, wherein God gives His children the ability to direct their own minds to create and achieve magnificent inventions and discoveries – even if those inventions and discoveries are simply inventing a new plan to make life better for our families. Maybe it is discovering what a neighbor needs and having the faith to do something to fulfill that need. We all have gifts. This Christmas take some time to open God’s gifts and discover the real power of Christmas.  end mark

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