No trips on donkeys. No angels singing. Not even a baby in a manger. Yet, there are still 25 gifts God wants to give you for Christmas. We can find them in a little, six-chapter book halfway through the New Testament. These are The Greatest Gifts, as revealed in Ephesians. Along the way, you’ll find the gift of love, the gift of salvation, the gift of unity, and many more. Prepare your heart in a special way this Christmas season by receiving, and giving, God’s greatest gifts.
Welcome to Advent, the season that heralds our Lord Jesus and leads to the celebration of His birth. This devotional will perhaps take a slightly different slant to the season as we open Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus. Why Ephesians? You are right to suggest that the book isn’t very “Christmasy.” There are no stories about trips on donkeys, a baby born in a stable, or angels singing outside the window.
However, the book of Ephesians mirrors many writings throughout the Bible. It includes these two main points:
- God loves you and has a plan for you.
- That plan includes the gift of hope, glory, power, wisdom, and the love of Jesus, our Messiah.
Even if you have never bowed your knee to Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord, know that God loves you and has a plan for you, and He has good gifts for you, His child.
So, let’s take the month of December, between now and Christmas Day, and give Ephesians a closer look. At its core, we’ll discover 25 wonderful gifts God desires to give each one of us. They are The Greatest Gifts. Are you ready to receive them?
A prayer for you from the author and rabbi Paul:
For this reason, eve I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Ephesians 1:15-23, NIV).
The very words of God.
Paul starts this prayer by offering thanksgiving for the people of the church congregation in Ephesus. He asks God to give them all wisdom and revelation so that the people may know God better, and then Paul prays for their hearts — that each may know His hope, His inheritance, and His power! Finally, he affirms that that power is the same that raised a dead man to life — Jesus — and, in its fullness, is available to us, filling everyone in every way.
DAY 1 – The Gift of Every Spiritual Blessing, which is the Gift of Love
December, Christmas, and gifts. They go hand in hand, don’t they? Do you remember the best gift you’ve ever received? How about the worst gift?
Sometimes, it’s a matter of perspective. My sister tells the story of a gift she and her husband once gave each other — gutters. Yep, gutters. You might not think that’s a very romantic gift, but rain gutters were an extravagant luxury for this newly married couple building their first home. So it was a delightful welcomed gift for each!
There are things we want and things we need. I believe there are three basic categories of “needs” that we all have:
Physical needs: food, water, a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs — tangible things.
Emotional needs: happiness, peace, tranquility. Those are generally easy to identify, but this third one is sometimes harder to grasp.
Spiritual needs. What are the spiritual needs we have?
One definition is from a man named Howard Clinebell. He is a clinical psychologist and a university Ph.D. He says we all have at least seven spiritual needs in our core. The first is this:
“All people need to experience regularly the healing and empowerment of love — from others, from self, and from God.”
Paul says right at the beginning that Jesus “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 1:3, NASB). Jesus is the source of spiritual blessings! So it makes sense that even the worldly scientist, Dr. Clinebell, says that spiritual blessing is love because we know that 1 John 4:8 says that “God is love.”
Jesus is the One who gives us the greatest gift we can have — every spiritual blessing. Love!
I can live without physical needs like a house or food for a while anyway. I can survive without emotional needs. I don’t have to be happy. I can choose to be grumpy, but I would say that none of us can fully live the lives that God has for us without embracing the unlimited spiritual need for love — provided by the grace-filled hands of Jesus.
That gets us back to the greatest gifts.
“God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, Jesus, that whoever believes in Him may not be lost but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NCV).
Open your hands and receive the season’s first gift – the gift of love, the gift of every spiritual blessing!
God, thank you for the gift of every spiritual blessing. Help me receive it with joy. Help me receive Your love this Season, and help me give joy and love to others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
This advent devotional can be found on the YouVersion Bible App here.