Conntecting the Dots

The Greatest Gift Exchange

Does your family celebrate Christmas with a gift exchange tradition? Ours does.

In late fall, the adults in my immediate family do a name draw. We buy a gift based on a price cap to keep it easily affordable for all, and then we do our gift exchange when we get together over the holidays. Pretty simple. We like it that way.

Christiandom around the world celebrates Jesus’ birth in a variety of ways depending on upbringing and culture. But no matter our background or current situation, God’s family members can celebrate the greatest gift exchange of all time.

The Prince of Peace gives us peace

Generations before Jesus’ birth, the prophet Isaiah spoke these words about the coming Messiah: “These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

Hours before His arrest and crucifixion, Jesus, the Prince of Peace, spoke these words about Himself: “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27).

Jesus gives us His peace. It’s a deep settled inner peace of mind and heart that cannot be manufactured. The storms of life and uncertainty rattle and shake the world around us, but they cannot snatch our God-given gift from us.

We give Him our cares

Jesus gives us a gift more precious than gold. So, what does He receive in this gift exchange? Are you ready for this? We give Him our cares. We hand Him our angst about today and our fears about tomorrow.

We give Him our grief, our pain, and our disappointments. We give Him our petty annoyances and all those weightier concerns that keep us awake at night.

If you ask me, that doesn’t sound like a fair gift exchange, but it’s what Jesus wants:  “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7 NLT)

 

The Greatest Gift Exchange

Do the gift exchange Jesus’ way

We give Jesus our load of concerns, and He gives us a gift more precious than gold—that’s how Jesus wants to work this gift exchange. But sometimes we prefer to clutch our cares and keep them to ourselves.

Sometimes we invest in a cheap knock-off. We settle for a counterfeit peace that provides temporary pain relief.

All the while, Jesus waits with His nail-scarred hands outstretched. “Here’s my gift of peace,” He says. “Won’t you take it? I bought it especially for you because I love you.”

Receive the gift of peace

What concerns are you carrying this Christmas season? What griefs and disappointments are weighing you down?

Take a few moments to ponder Philippians 4:6-7. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Focus on the directives:

  • Refuse to entertain worrisome thoughts and fears.
  • Tell God about everything that concerns you.
  • Thank God for His faithfulness to you in the past and praise Him for being trustworthy until the end.

Now, with a thankful and expectant heart, participate in the best gift exchange of all time.

Here’s an exercise I find help when cares overwhelm me

Right here and now, take a moment of silence in Jesus’ presence.

Lift your hands and turn your palms heavenward. Close your eyes and still your heart.

Think about a personal situation or relationship that unsettles your soul. Inhale deeply to the count of five. Now exhale slowly as though releasing that concern.

Speak the words, “Jesus, I receive Your gift of peace.” Think about another concern and do the same. Repeat as often as necessary.

Did you feel your burden lighten? Did you feel the weight of care lift?

This season, participate in the greatest gift exchange of all time. Give Jesus your cares and receive His gift of peace.

Jesus bought this gift for you at great price because He loves you.

Merry Christmas, my friend. May this season fill your heart with the peace only Jesus gives.

Grace

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