God offers us more than this world does, but most of us never take the time to see it. There was a 15-year old boy named Joey, whose mother died at birth. She was a severe alcoholic, and that had affected his pre-natal development. The result was that he was slightly retarded.
Joey’s dad always took him to church, and he especially looked forward to Christmas at church. There was always a Christmas tree with lots of gifts under it. Each gift had the name of a young child. Even though Joey was a little too old for this, they always included him because he enjoyed it so much.
On one particular Christmas, Joey and his dad got there early. Joey ran to the tree to look for his present. There it was! It was the biggest present under the tree. It was all wrapped and looked so pretty. Joey’s anticipation skyrocketed.
All during the service, all he could think about was opening that present. What was in it? Was it a sled – a bicycle – would could be in that biggest box?
Finally, at the end of the service, the pastor called all the kids up to the tree and began handing out the gifts. Joey couldn’t wait. He was so excited! He finally got his gift and he ran over to the front pew and sat down to open it. With his eyes full of joy, he tore open the wrapping paper and opened the box.
He suddenly stopped and just stared in the box. His eyes began to fill with tears and he began to sob. The box was empty. Somebody had played a game on him, and it hurt him. Who would do this to him? The gifts under the tree always promised something good inside, but now, he found the box that had been wrapped so pretty was empty. There wasn’t any gift inside. Somebody tricked him with a lie.
Can you imagine how hurt Joey was? But that is what the world does to us. The world offers us all kinds of promises that are wrapped in very pretty boxes. The world promises us that if we would but follow it, we would find the joy of a lifetime, or if we forget about serving the Lord, we will be rewarded with everything we ever wanted.
But what really happens? When we turn our backs on God and follow the world, what do we get? We get an empty box, don’t we? We get lied to. There is no reward.
It is my prayer that we see the manger as the only real promise we have. The manger offers us the true gifts of God Almighty. The world is offering us the empty box. I pray you see this in the light of Christ, and choose Jesus above everything else in your life.
(From a sermon by Diane Ball, God Pursued Us, 1/3/2011)
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