OUR FINEST GIFTS

“Come they told me, Pa rum pum pum pum
A new born king to see, Pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring, Pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the king, Pa rum pum pum pum,
Rum pum pum pum, Rum pum pum pum
So to honor him, Pa rum pum pum pum
When we come”
-The Little Drummer Boy

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24

The Little Drummer Boy may be a fictional character, but his story is one of faith, humility, and love. Can you imagine what it would have been like for him? I mean, here there was a newborn King to see. His fellow travelers were bringing their finest gifts and he had no gift that he felt was worthy to give a King. He was expected to bring his finest gifts too, but he was a poor boy with only a drum. He failed to see that the drum was the very gift God had given him. God gave him the ability to present a special gift to the newborn King – one that only the boy could give.

God gives us our talents, our skills, and our gifts so that we can serve Him. He gives us these “drums”. He desires for us to come to Him and play these drums. He wants us to play our best for Him.

When we use the gifts God has given us to serve Him – when we play our drums, when we play our best – He smiles at us too as we follow His will for our lives..

“All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:4

PRAYER

Lord, show me the gifts You want me to use for Your Kingdom. Grant me wisdom and guide me in their use. Amen.

Friday’s First: First Paragraph, Fourth Chapter

Vivian Richards held her favorite coffee mug between her palms embracing its warmth.  The mug, handmade and painted with what she called a mix of goldenrod and mustard, was her favorite possession. She had found the mug sitting unloved, alone and unpopular on the shelf behind the barista taking her order at her favorite local coffee shop. With its retro coloring and slight hourglass shape it caught her eye. The barista more than happily wrapped it up for her most likely excited to have finally pawned it off on someone.

Noel

“The First Noel, the Angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!”
-The First Noel

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Luke 2:8-10

According to Merriam-Webster, Noel means a Christmas Carol. However, in olde english it is said to come from the world Nowell meaning “birthday”. It also has been said to mean “song” and “news”. These are all wonderful definitions which can be applied in their own way. For the purpose of this devotion, I am going to focus on its definition of “news”. The Good News.

Have you ever stopped to consider how even during His birth, Jesus is teaching us about humility? The angels didn’t bring the news to His extended family, to royalty, or to any rich people. Instead, the news is brought to poor, lowly shepherds. Shepherds who slept out in the cold so they could still be with their sheep, caring for them and protecting them. This was a lowly and humble job.


Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He watches over us, leads us, protects us, and brings us back when we wander off. He was born into this world, most likely surrounded by some sheep. He would give His life for His own sheep.


The news of the Messiah’s birth spread quickly. The King of Israel was born. He was born into a royalty which surpasses our understanding. This King, with such a rich title, would be the ultimate example of humility.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. “ Psalm 23:1

PRAYER

Lord, You gave us Your son to guide us, lead us, and protect us. He is our Good Shepherd. Thank You for the Good Shepherd who would leave the ninety- nine for the sake of finding the one. Help us to always listen and follow His voice. Amen.

The Triumph of the Skies

“Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”
– Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

“Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.” Proverbs 1:5

Hark! Otherwise translated to the words Listen! Pay Attention!

This was not a request. It was a command. Afterall, that’s what heralds do. They are official messengers sent to announce very important information. What they had to say on the night of Jesus’ birth demanded everyone’s attention. It was what everyone had waited for – the news of the arrival of the Savior.

God gave us His son so we would be saved from our sins and reconciled with Him – to be given a second birth. It was not by anything that we have done or deserve, but through His grace and mercy. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells us that all of this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ. He also implores us on Christ’s behalf to be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:18,20.) Hark! This is the news that we need to hear. This is the good news we need to share.

We need to join the triumph of the skies and proclaim with the angelic hosts about Jesus – the one who holds healing in His wings and gives a second birth.

“A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” Luke 9:35

PRAYER

Lord, help me always have my ears open to hear You above all the noise of this world. Help me be able to hear Your still, small voice above everything else. Give me opportunities to share Your story with those who need to hear. Thank You for the good news of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Hear the Bells

“And in despair I bowed my head; “There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, goodwill to men!”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God’s not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, goodwill to men.”
-I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14

“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” is a poem by Longfellow (It was later converted into a Christmas carol). It  is a beautiful reminder of the hills and valleys we travel through in this world.  Written during the Civil War and after the death of his daughter, despair and grief were Longfellow’s  focus – at least in the beginning. He couldn’t see God through the chaos and sadness. He became hopeless. He found no peace and felt no goodwill to men. The poem was written in 1863 yet the words still speak strongly today.  

Even in our darkest days, God is still with us and brings us out of darkness into His light.  Longfellow heard those bells and he was reminded that “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The Wrong shall fail,The Right prevail,With peace on earth, goodwill to men.”  His despair turned to hope and thanksgiving. The peace which rang out with those church bells is the same peace offered to us. It is a gift through our faith in Jesus Christ.

Church bells are one of my favorite sounds.  One day when I was traveling, I stopped by this old painted church to take pictures. I pulled into the empty parking lot and right when I got out of the car, the church bells rang out the hymn, “Blessed Assurance”.  I froze. Tears streamed down my face as I stood in awe remembering the blessed assurance we were given on Christmas morning so long ago – an assurance bringing peace, hope and goodwill to men.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;” 2 Corinthians 4:8

PRAYER

Lord, as I listen to Christmas hymns this season, help me to stop and meditate on the beautiful messages of peace and goodwill to men that they offer. Let the words resonate in my heart not only at Christmas, but all throughout the new year.

Let Nothing You Dismay

“God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r
When we were gone astray
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy”
-God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6-7

God did not give us a spirit of fear or worry. We can be reminded of what was told to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 1:21, “See, the Lord your God has set the land before you. Go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has told you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

God has given us a hope that can only be found in Him. God is our refuge of strength during times of trouble and provides rest for our weary souls. During all seasons, we can turn to Psalm 23 to be reminded of the promise He gave to restore our souls and lead us “beside quiet waters”.

Even when we do go astray, step off of His path and follow our own instead, God still loves us and will never leave us. Isaiah 53:6 compares us to sheep that wander away from their shepherd: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” We shall not be dismayed.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

PRAYER

Lord, help me to not be dismayed when things look bleak. Help me remember to go to You in prayer and be strengthened by Your comfort and joy. Amen.

PERFECT LIGHT

“O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.”
-We Three Kings

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

These three kings followed the star that shined with royal brightness, guiding them to the Perfect Light: Baby Jesus. They were guided by a star, we are guided by the Word of God. It guides us to who Jesus is and how and why we are called to imitate Him and His ways.

We can be the light in this world for so many people. We can shine our living light and outshine the darkness which consumes this world.

How do we walk in the light? The first thing we have to do is stay faithful in the time we spend with the Perfect Light. This means, through our faith, maturing with His help, so we can lead others to Him. Focus on the reminder from John in 1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

We need to be guided so we can lead others. Ask for wisdom and guidance. Ask HIs light to shine through so you can light the way through the darkness, leading others to the Perfect Light. It’s a procession which will never end on this side of Heaven.

“For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” Psalm 56:13

PRAYER

Lord, help me to walk in the light daily and be a faithful, leading example to guide others to You – our Perfect Light. Amen.

ADVENT-URE

“Oh they sailed to Bethlehem
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day,
Oh they sailed to Bethlehem
On Christmas Day in the morning”
I Saw Three Ships

“And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.” Luke 2:3-5

Although we know ships didn’t actually sail into Bethlehem since it is landlocked, this hymn reminds us of adventure. In this case, an adventure taking Mary and Joseph into Bethlehem. Normally, we see Mary depicted as riding on a donkey, but maybe she was riding a camel (which was nicknamed the “ship of the desert”) Whatever the case may be, Mary was on an adventure that would change her life and the lives of many.

An adventure can be described as an exciting or dangerous experience. The adventure started with Mary and Joseph, then continued with the magi who came to worship Baby Jesus. Later, we have the disciples who dropped their fishing poles and left other jobs to follow Jesus. Everyone who follows Jesus sets forth on the ultimate adventure. It was an exciting one, but a dangerous one for the first followers. However, the result was worth it – eternal life.

When we accept Jesus into our hearts, we choose to travel on this adventure through this life on earth with Him. We aren’t promised a perfect, smooth or easy journey, but we know it will be exciting. There will be moments of calmness like floating on peaceful waters. There will be others that will be treacherous like the roaring seas. However, at the finish line, we too are given the ultimate prize – eternal life.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” 1 Peter 1:8

PRAYER

Lord, thank You for walking with me through all of my circumstances. Thank You for the calm waters and for being with me during life’s storms and roaring seas. May I always remain joyful in the promises You have made. Amen.

THE CHRIST THORN

The holly bears a prickle,
As sharp as any thorn,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas Day in the morn.
The holly bears a bark,
As bitter as any gall,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all. – The Holly and the Ivy

“And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe.” John 19:2

Holly and Ivy have been decorations for the Christmas season for decades. The Holly’s green leaves with red berries make beautiful accents. There is a powerful symbolism written in each leaf and berry. The Ivy, in its own right, displays strength in what its vine is rooted in. This Christmas carol displays the power of what we may consider as simple accents in its lyrics.

The edges of Holly are prickly and as “sharp as any thorn”. These represent the crown of thorns placed upon Christ’s head by the soldiers. In fact, in Scandinavia and Germany, Holly is known as The Christ Thorn. The red berries symbolize the blood of Jesus Christ shed for our sins upon the cross.

Ivy is a vine. Vines need something to cling to if they are going to grow. Ivy can be a reminder for us to cling to God’s Word, to His promises, to the hope which is found in Christ and Christ alone. We must “let our roots grow up in him” (Colossians 2:7).

It is my prayer for all of us to look at these decorations differently this Christmas and for every Christmas to come. They are more than just Holly and Ivy. When you look at them, stop and rejoice in celebrating His birth. Rejoice in Him who came to take away the sins of the world.

He bore the crown of thorns for us. He shed his blood for us. He came to redeem us all.

Rejoice!

“ In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” Ephesians 1:7

PRAYER

Great and merciful Lord, thank you for sending your only Son to us. Thank you for the undeserving redemption You have given us all through the cross. Amen.

© Raelyn Pracht 2022

Friday’s First: First paragraph of the fourth chapter

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