Thursday, December 1, 2016

26 Devotions Focusing on Christ in the Nativity Alphabet--Gifts

Nativity Alphabet by Krista Hamrick

Krista Hamrick’s beautiful original art print, Nativity Alphabet, has so inspired me. Each of the 26 words in the Nativity Alphabet are so intricately painted, almost like stained glass windows. My heart has been drawn to write 26 Devotions Focusing on Christ in the Nativity Alphabet.

While pondering the word, “Gifts,”
I was inspired by listening to this instrumental rendition of We Three Kings while reading all three stanzas of this beautiful hymn… We three kings of Orient are, Bearing gifts we traverse afar. Field and fountain, . moor and mountain, Following yonder star. O star of wonder, star of night, Star with royal beauty bright, Westward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to thy perfect Light. Born a king on Bethlehem's plain, 
Gold 
I bring
to crown Him again, King forever, ceasing never, Over us all to reign. O star of wonder, star of night, Star with royal beauty bright, Westward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to thy perfect Light. 
Frankincense
 to offer have I.
Incense owns a Deity nigh. Prayer and praising all men raising, Worship Him, God most high. O star of wonder, star of night, Star with royal beauty bright, Westward leading, still proceeding,Guide us to thy perfect Light.  
Myrrh
 is mine: it's bitter perfume, Breaths a life of gathering gloom. Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding dying, Sealed in the stone­-cold tomb 
O star of wonder, star of night, Star with royal beauty bright, Westward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to thy perfect Light. Glorious now behold Him arise, King and God and Sacrifice. Alleluia, alleluia! Sounds through the earth and skies. O star of wonder, star of night, Star with royal beauty bright, Westward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to thy perfect Light.

Gifts (doma from didomi) is a word that means present or gift but which lends greater emphasis to the character of the gift. Doma can mean a gift as such without any benefit necessarily derived from it.

After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Pastor John MacArthur states: “Matthew 2:11 tells us the Magi worshiped by doing what? Giving gifts. Their expression of praise. What did they give? They gave gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold was a super, super valuable thing; still is. Gold was used extensively in the construction of the temple and all its contents It was worn as jewelry. Next, they gave frankincense. This was pure incense from an incision made in the bark of a certain tree growing in Arabia. The resulting juice that came out was white. This was incense, it sent off a fragrant scent. It was used in the meal offering of Leviticus 2 as the scent was symbolically rising to God. It was used on Song of Solomon in a wedding. Finally, there was myrrh, from a little tree in Arabia which gave forth a beautiful perfume. They used it in Proverbs to perfume the bed, to put on your clothes.  According to Esther chapter 2, when Esther was getting dressed up to come into the king, she put on myrrh to smell good. Also, myrrh was used in the same bridal procession where frankincense was used. Mixed with wine, in Mark 15, it served as an anesthetic, and it was used in John 19 in preparation of Jesus’ body for burial."

Pastor MacArthur continues: "So there was gold, very precious.  There was frankincense, a beautiful smelling incense, and there was myrrh, a lovely ointment and perfume. Now the significance went way beyond the natural use of each gift. They were just lovely gifts; very, very valuable. In fact, I personally believe that this poor family, Joseph and Mary, who had nothing, and Joseph was now removed from his job, they were in a little while sent into Egypt, remember, by God. They had no way to support themselves in Egypt. He would have had a difficult time in a foreign culture establishing himself, and I’m very confident that the gold, and the frankincense, and myrrh were the resources, the bank account, that was used to support the little family as they first began, before they made their way finally back to Nazareth and he picked up his old trade. This was their livelihood. This was their support. Gold is a gift for a king. Joseph, when he was in Egypt, who was the vice regent next to the king, it says, was given a gold neck chain.  Daniel, the same, was given gold as he stood next to the king.  Kings, in the Bible, had crowns of gold, scepters of gold.  Solomon had gold all over the place. In a description of Solomon in 1 Kings 10, gold is mentioned ten times. Gold was the gift for a king. What is Matthew telling us?  Jesus is a King. What was myrrh?  Myrrh is the gift for a mortal.  It’s a perfume to make life a little less odorous, to make burial a little less repulsive.  Myrrh was the gift for a mortal man. In fact, myrrh was especially the gift for one who would die. He was a man, and he would die. From the very beginning it was clear he would die. Frankincense, a great old scholar, early church father, whose name was Origin said, “This is the gift to God.”  Frankincense speaks of deity.  Incense was always offered to God. It was a fragrance that rose to God. In the Old Testament it was stored in the front of the temple up in a special chamber, and it was taken and added to the offerings.  It was sprinkled so that the sweet savor would rise to God.  And in Exodus 30 it says, the incense is for God, not the people. In fact, Ezekiel 16:18 God says, “It’s My incense.” It was used even in the holy of holies. So the Magi come, and by the gold they say He’s a king, and by the myrrh they say He’s a man, and by the frankincense they say He’s God. That’s the beautiful symbolism of it.”


When we think of these precious gifts the Magi brought to Jesus, we naturally ask, what gift can we give Jesus? In Mark 14:3, we read, “Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head.” As we read this description of exorbitant devotion, so often we hone in on the fact that this was a costly, dear, and precious thing, a fragrant, expensive perfume worth more than a year’s wages, that Mary lavishly sacrificed in reverencing her King. Yet her extravagance moves us to ask ourselves, what thing that we consider costly and dear might the Lord want us to offer up to him: a relationship? a habit? a cherished possession? Perhaps it is one of the gifts God has given us that lies hidden or saved for use for a time that never comes. These very treasures could bring light to restore someone’s faith, to touch someone’s heart, to change a life. One of these important things could be the very “jar” that he wants us to break before him. Notice, Mary broke open the jar, representing that her life was no longer centered in herself but in Christ Jesus, that she counted Him as the treasure above all others. Is your life a broken jar, the contents poured out in joyful abandonment to the Lord? Of those who live as broken jars, Jesus says, they have “done a beautiful thing to me” (Mark 14:6).

Lord Jesus, please show me the things that I consider dear and precious that need to be broken so that I, too, may do a beautiful thing to You. The most costly gifts I can give You are my life and my love in ways that are pleasing to You. I give you also the gifts and treasures You have given me, and I offer them up for Your use. Today, let the fragrance of my brokenness bring joy to You. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.


Look Up—meditate on Mark 14:3 … pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In
—as you meditate on Mark 14:3 … pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out—as you meditate on Mark 14:3 …pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.


* If you liked this post, you’ll love this book – 
Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ


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2 comments:

  1. I love the quote you shared from John Macarther: "So the Magi come, and by the gold they say He’s a king, and by the myrrh they say He’s a man, and by the frankincense they say He’s God. That’s the beautiful symbolism of it." That is beautiful! Kaylin

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    1. Thank you for stopping by. I so agree with you. God's Word is amazing. Many blessings to you.

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