No Rocks or Snakes

Our kids are getting older, but it’s still fun to watch them open their Christmas gifts. Basketballs, bicycles, and dolls have given way mostly to clothes these days, but the joy of giving and receiving continues. Through the years, as mom and dad, we hit some home runs (electronics), and we hit some singles (cool sweatshirts) and we swung and missed sometimes (socks). But one thing we have never done is wrapped up a rock or snake and put it under the tree.

Jesus asked the crowds: “Which of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?” (Matthew 7:9-10). Pretty sure none of us have done this. Jesus’ point follows: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (v. 11). This last verse is a question but it ends with an explanation point. A question mark is inappropriate for a God who gives only good gifts; an explanation point more fitting for the One whom always gives the very best.

And next week we celebrate the giving of His very best:

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

And if there ever was a gift that fits the old advertising slogan, “The gift that keeps on giving…” surely it is our Savior. He has saved, will save, and will continue saving. What a blessed gift! There is no greater.

Maybe we deserve a rock this year; maybe our kids do—twenty centuries ago we actually received one. In Matthew 16, Simon Peter gave the correct answer to Jesus’ “Who do you say that I am?” question: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” That was a rock-solid answer, one in which Jesus’ responds: “On this rock I will build my church.”

Not wanting to get too playful with words, the Rock would crush (as Genesis 3:15 pledged) the head of the serpent. All this to say, enjoy next week. We celebrate once again the giving of God’s greatest gift; the One “wrapped…in swaddling clothes and laid…in a manger” (Luke 2:7).

Merry Christmas,

Pastor Rich Hamlin

December 19, 2013

“Amending the Soil” Christian Education Conference

Register or volunteer for Bible Day Camp now