“Strangely Wrapped Gifts”

Christmas At The Movies series feat. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

December 2, 2018

“If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children – how much more does your Father in heaven know how to give good gifts to you?” - Luke 7:11

It’s so easy to get caught up celebrating Christmas, the birth of Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem, and miss the true meaning behind why we celebrate. The true gift of Christmas is that we get to experience life with Jesus now and for all eternity. So many families have the gifts and the tree, but they are so busy looking for Santa that they miss their Savior.

Christmas isn’t just about the event, but it is about the people we share it with. The most important relationships we will ever have are with our family, even though these can often be some of the most difficult relationships in our lives.

Family does not always look the way we dreamed it would.  Even Jesus’ family wasn’t perfect. God chose to introduce his son into a somewhat dysfunctional situation.  Mary and Joseph had to choose something uncomfortable in order to give birth to Christmas.

Mary and Joseph never imagined that their lives would be wrapped the way they were. In Matthew 1:19, Joseph even considered walking away from Mary and the Christ-child-to-be, but he had to accept that God had initiated this change for him. Mary never thought she would start her life as a mother like she did.  In one verse she asks, “How can this be?” but inevitably accepts this change in her heart saying, “Nevertheless, at your word, let this happen.”

Many times Christmas won’t happen the way it should if we don’t accept the change that family brings into our lives. If family isn’t what brings change in your life, sometimes finances will.  

Finances have a way of bringing out the worst in people. All throughout Scripture, we see instances of people with a wrong relationship with money or possessions. Even in the New Testament, people walked away from the opportunity to follow Jesus simply because they had a wrong relationship with possessions.  A lot of people see possessions or money as their source, instead of seeing God as their provider.

We can either choose to believe that God has departed from our situations, finances, life, health, and take matters into our own hands, or we can believe that God is Immanuel, meaning, “God with us.” Things are always better when we believe that God is with us and for us.  It’s up to us to trust that God is Immanuel, “God with us,” and that he is our source, rather than money.  

I heard a story about a father and son who had a strained relationship. The son knew his dad had everything he needed, and he could probably ask for anything he wanted, and his dad could take care of it for him. His dad owned a sports car, so the son asked his dad for the sports car when he graduated from college. He was sure that his dad was capable of giving this to him.  

When he graduated from college, his dad gave him a box. It was small, and the son assumed it was the keys to the car. He opened up the gift, and it was a Bible. The son was outraged, and threw the Bible into his dad’s chest. He screamed at him and told him he never wanted to have anything to do with him.  The son left and went on to lead a successful life.

Decades go by –and the son realized how childish he had been and decided to reconcile with his dad. During his journey home, his dad had a heart attack and died. The son attended the funeral, and then went to his dad’s mansion.  As he was cleaning up his dad’s office, he found the same box his dad gave him at his graduation. He opened the gift and pulled the Bible to his chest, when he heard something fall to the floor. It was the keys to the sports car that he had wanted all those years before.  He opened the Bible to a page that was marked in it-- Luke 7:11 - “if you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children – how much more does your father in heaven know how to give good gifts to you?”

The moment he asked his dad for the sports car, his father had planned to give it to him.  It was inside the gift his dad had given him. He got what he wanted; it just wasn’t wrapped the way he thought it should be. The moment we go to our Heavenly Father, he answers us – even if sometimes the gift or the answer isn’t wrapped the way we think it should be.  In this Christmas season, let’s remember that God’s gifts often come strangely wrapped.  

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

  1. Who are the people that you celebrate Christmas with? How can you put your priority on people rather than on events in this season?

  2. What changes has God brought or allowed into your life lately? What has your response been like to those changes?

  3. How has God provided for you financially in this season? How can you put your focus back on him, rather than on a paycheck, as your provider?

  4. What gifts has God given you in years past, and how were they wrapped?

  5. What gift do you think God wants to give you this year, and how can you prepare your heart to accept it?