Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights… (James 1:17a)
Jesus is the most perfect gift – the greatest gift – we celebrate during the Christmas season and Christmas Day. A child was born, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. This precious gift from the Father of all light, love, and life, gave us the greatest gift the world has ever received. And think about it, we can personally know this person who not only was born, lived the perfect life, gave His life on the cross, raised by the power of God on the third day, ascended to Heaven, but also sent another of the same kind (the Holy Spirit) to live in us. Wow! What a day! What a reality! What a gift we joyfully celebrate!
We are living in very challenging days. We have been impacted by the father of lies, the deceiver, death, disease, and destruction in a horrific fashion. But please hear me my friends: not only was a child born, but the King of Kings and Lord of Lords came to earth and He came to give us meaningful life filled with love, joy, and peace – even in the most challenging times.
My own birth was the result of a forced sexual relationship on a home health nurse who was 40 years old. When a doctor refused to abort me, I was allowed to live and because of my birth mother’s difficult circumstances, she placed an ad in the newspaper, and sent me to a loving Christian home. Yet she took me from that home when I was five years old. I was taken away from “Mommy and Daddy” to be with my mother. There is no way to describe the pain and confusion I felt.
Two years after being with her, I remember a Christmas when I was seven years old and we barely had enough income to eat. We lived in a one-room house behind the homes on a small, narrow street and the entire backside was a salvage dump, which in some ways became my playground. But what I really remember as a seven-year-old is that we couldn’t afford a Christmas tree or any decorations to put on it, so our tree was a watercolor painting that I had done in my second grade class. I remember us sitting by that picture of a tree with some tiny gifts my mother had purchased. She had cut me off from my foster parents and from an aunt who loved me because she so longed for love that she had not known since her parents died when she was a young girl and she had a very unhappy marriage starting when she was 15. Yet, even then, I know the Father above looked at a little boy He really wanted to bless and bless others through him.
I made the best of it in those circumstances and God, the Father above who gave the perfect gift, was watching me. When I came to know this perfect Father, my life was changed. Everything changed and although I was very shy, when God called me to preach just before my 18th birthday, I found His kingdom purpose and really did, with all the understanding I had, sell out to Him!
God gave me the most beautiful bride, Betty. He gave us a very special relationship and blessed us with three children and then eleven grandchildren. For so many years Betty and I, our children and their spouses and our grandchildren (19 of us), celebrated every Christmas together. They are precious memories, and believe me, when you’re 77, every precious memory becomes even more precious. We celebrated with those children all those memories and now we will soon have our ninth great-grandbaby! If we brought all our family together with twenty children and grandchildren, there would be 37 of us!
This is what I want you to hear: Jesus is the center of our life in the face of any storm He gives us peace. I recently prayed with a couple that I love very much who said goodbye to the wife’s parents. Last week, they died a few hours apart with COVID. They had said their entire marriage that when they died, they wanted to go together, and they told me they sang her dad into heaven a short time after his wife preceded him. This is the peace that surpasses understanding that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords came to give us as the Prince of Peace. It is that peace I’m praying for to prevail in your life no matter what happens during these challenging days.
Betty also wanted to share a few words with you at this special time:
James and I wanted to let you know we are especially praying for you during this Christmas season. We are aware of the many challenges we all face with the effects of the virus still a challenge. I know it has impacted your families and friends. Some of our close friends and family members have been hit directly by the virus. We must continue to lift everyone in prayer for healing and restoration. You may have lost a loved one. If so, we pray for God’s comfort as you walk through that terrible loss. We do know how you feel, as this time of the year is very difficult for James and me.
Eight years ago on the 28th of this month, we lost our beautiful daughter, Robin. She now has two sweetheart granddaughters that she watches from heaven. I’ll never forget her asking me as she was battling so hard to beat the cancer that had devastated her body: “Mom, do you think I will get to see my grandchildren?” Well, she is—but she watches from heaven. We have come to know the real faithfulness of God as He has held us close and brought His comfort for the hurt and loss we have experienced. We must grab hold of God’s hope, comfort and great love for us and remember that He gave His greatest treasure to us through His Son, Jesus. He sent Him that we might have eternal life and share His life with others through our witness. We owe Jesus our love and commitment to serve Him and the Father by giving of ourselves that others might come to know Him personally.
Thank you for all you do to help those who are hurting, hungry, thirsty and who do not know the Christ whose birth we celebrate. We pray God’s richest blessings on you and all those you love.
Please know how much Betty and I love you. Thank you for helping us put God’s arms around people who are too often overlooked around the world. Thank you for helping us share the Prince of Peace, the Lord of Lords, King of Kings with so many. God wants to hold you real close to His heart. While we celebrate His birth and life, please remember these words:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all people. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think about these things. As for the things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philipppians 4:4-9)