It is Better to Receive than Give

December 31, 2012

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. – John 1:10-12

During Christmas, it’s better to receive than give.

No, that first sentence wasn’t a mistake. Sound shocking? Greedy? Maybe even anti-Christian? Yes, yes and yes … if we are talking about gifts under a Christmas tree. But everything changes when we begin talking about gifts sent from heaven. In that aspect, it is far better to receive than to give. Here’s why …

Many people drift into thinking of Christmas as a special, magical month when folks generously spend money on others. Some give to the less fortunate; others give anonymously; most give to family members, coworkers and friends. The phrase, “it’s better to give than receive” is used repeatedly as an important Christmas theme. Some might go so far as to think they have earned their way out of trouble with God because of their generous, greed-less giving around the holidays.

Don’t be mistaken. There is absolutely a time and a place for generous giving – the kind that is from the heart and without any strings attached. In many scenarios, it certainly is better to give than receive. After all, “the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”(Acts 20:35) But all our greed-less giving is not enough to earn our way out of the debt of sin that we have with God. We cannot give enough to free us from that debt. But the good news is that God gives us a heavenly gift to rescue us. In regard to his gift to us, it is indeed better to receive than to give.

Our Bible reading today is about Jesus. Look again at these verses: “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” Jesus came all the way from heaven to rescue the world from sin and death. He made a bigger Christmas sacrifice than all the rest of us put together. However, when he arrived, he was snubbed, ignored, rejected and despised. Many people didn’t think they needed a Savior. They refused God’s gift from heaven.

But the reading of God’s Word goes on: “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Not everyone turned away from him. Some took him at his word and believed him when he declared himself to be the Savior of the world. In faith, they received Jesus as God’s heavenly gift. To those precious people, Jesus gave the right to be the children of God, and still does.

This Christmas season enjoy giving to others. But always remember that regarding the heavenly gift of Jesus, it is better to receive than give.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, you are my best Christmas gift. Open my heart to receive you and rejoice in you as my Savior. Amen.


First Sunday after Christmas

December 30, 2012

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

Today’s Readings

Today’s Adult Bible Class Slides

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Christmas Day

December 25, 2012

Divine Service II, Page 158, Lutheran Worship

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Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

December 24, 2012

Divine Service I, Page 136, Lutheran Worship

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Christmas Eve Children’s Program

December 24, 2012

Order of Service Printed in the Bulletin


How Will This Be?

December 24, 2012

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” – Luke 1:34-38

Mary’s question resonates within all of us: Lord, how will this be? What fears or concerns are alive in your heart today? What’s your reason for asking the Lord, “How will this be?” The details of Mary’s conversation with the angel Gabriel are worth pondering for all of us.

Mary asked, “So I am going to have a baby boy that will rule forever … how will this be, since I am a virgin?”

The angel declared, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God … For nothing is impossible with God.” The angel pointed Mary to the fact that God is not limited in any way; he able to do anything.

And Mary was perfectly content with that. She believed what the angel said. She trusted the almighty God, and that she was simply the Lord’s servant. “I will let God figure out how it will be,” she thought. “My Lord can be in charge of the ‘virgins-having-babies’ department. I will take the role he has given me, and with the Lord in control, I will enjoy this chapter of my life in his peace.”

When you ask the Lord, “How will this be?” let him be in control. Take him at his Word, for nothing is impossible for him. After all, he accomplished your salvation through the sacrifice of his holy Son; he took away your sin and made you a member of his kingdom by faith in Jesus. Enjoy your status as the Lord’s very own treasured servant. That way, no matter what chapter in your life comes next – and it doesn’t even matter what the details are – you will have the peace of God.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to take you at your word like Mary did, that I might cast all my anxiety on you, trust that nothing is impossible for you, and live the next chapter of my life in your peace. Amen.


Fourth Sunday in Advent

December 23, 2012

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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