Yesterday marked the third Sunday of Advent and the theme for this week is JOY. Joy runs high throughout the Christmas story. No one exhibits more exuberant abandon regarding Jesus’ arrival on earth than the shepherds and angels. Both the givers of the good news and those receiving it showed abundant enthusiasm.

 Our Christmas pageants echo that joy as golden haired girls with tinsel halos smile and wave at the crowd while singing about His birth. Shepherd boys bound down the aisle vying for first place to reach the manger, sometimes dropping staffs and stuffed sheep in the process.

Even those who are supposed to play antagonists in the show sometimes can’t resist joining in. Like the Innkeeper, who after telling the holy couple he didn’t have any space left just couldn’t help himself and suddenly blurted out, “but you can have my room!”

However joy is much more than momentary happiness. It’s impossible, deep down, solid assurance that Jesus has come and He is the King. We’re invited to join the shepherds and angels in announcing the news.

Monday, December 16: Giving to Jesus
Years ago we started a new tradition at our house. It helps us remember that while we enjoy giving gifts to each other for Christmas it’s really Jesus’ birthday. On Christmas Eve we each write on a 3×5 card what we want to give Jesus in the coming year. Then we put it somewhere on the tree.

On Christmas morning, before opening stockings and gifts, we share what we’ve written with each other. It’s my favorite part of Christmas. It opens our hearts to God and each other in a very special way.

Over the years we’ve given Jesus: a servant’s heart, patience, not arguing back, a bolder witness, a softer tongue, the steering wheel (or throne) of our life, our careers, and many other things. After Christmas morning we each put the card in our Bible or someplace where we will see it throughout the year and be reminded of our promise.

The trick is to start asking Jesus what He would like ahead of time, much like we ask for wish lists from family members. It helps to know what people really want rather than try to guess. It’s not much of a blessing if we just buy them what we want ourselves, or grab the first thing we come across so we can quickly exit the store.

What is on Jesus’ “wish list”? Since giving is such a big part of the way we celebrate His birth, I thought I’d find out what God says in His Word about giving.

Give Willingly

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

Give the Good News

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve. Isa. 61:1-3

Give to the Needy

There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded. Deuteronomy 15:11                         

Give to Please God

“When you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do…to be honored by others…But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:2-4                              

What you will give Christ this Christmas? If you’re like me, you will fail many times to perfectly accomplish your goal. If you truly desire to give yourself to God, however, He will appreciate the fact that you love Him and desire to give yourself to Him more than anything else, every day of the year.

May we all joyfully say: “Merry Christmas; Happy Birthday Jesus!”