by Pastor Hammond
(On December 22, 2011, the Trumbull Times ran this article exactly as it appears below).
Over the years, I have read innumerable Christmastime articles that reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. Predictably, they contend that Christmas is less about receiving gifts and more about time for family, reflection, and, of course, for giving gifts.
That all sounds good. But, I really like to receive gifts.
Earlier this Christmas season, I was invited to share the story of the best gift that I ever received. A friend invited me to share my story with a woman in his family who has been fighting a terminal illness. I quickly accepted the invitation to visit her at a local nursing home.
When I entered her room, I introduced myself and prayed with her. Then, I began telling her the story of the most wonderful gift that I had ever received.
I told her how, when I was a boy, a man took a book and told me the story of a Father who understood the importance of giving like no one else. The man described a Father who was so concerned for others that he was willing to send his only son to die for them.
I told her how that Father’s gift was motivated by unfathomable love. And I told her that his son shared that love so perfectly that he was willing to shed his blood and to die for me.
Puzzled, the women in the hospital bed turned away. And then she turned back toward me.
I explained that the book that was read to me was the Bible. And I explained that Father who was described to me is God the Father. I continued that the son who was offered by his own Father is the long-prophesied Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.
I explained that God the Father sent his son both to be born of a virgin in Bethlehem and to die on the cross at Calvary – exactly as had been prophesied in the Scriptures. And I told her why he did that: According the Bible, I am a sinner. Because of that, I deserve death – eternal separation from God. But, according to the Bible, “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
I told her that I had received that gift and I explained how she might receive it, too. I explained that the Bible teaches that our good works aren’t good enough to earn forgiveness.
I told her how Jesus said, “ye must be born again.” And I told her that Peter, the Apostle, said, “Repent (turn away from sin) … and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” I explained that Salvation is a free gift that must simply be received by turning away from sin and by placing one’s faith in Christ.
That night, she too decided to receive the greatest gift that I have ever received – the gift of eternal salvation. She prayed and received Christ as her Savior. Because of her decision to receive Christ, she may know with certainty that, whenever her battle with illness ends, she will be in Heaven with her Savior. That’s a great Christmas gift indeed.
Have you received the greatest gift of all – the Lord Jesus Christ? Click to learn more about knowing Christ.
by Pastor Hammond