2008-12-24 / Front Page

Gifts for the 12 Days of Christmas

By Dr. Charles F. DeVane, Jr.

There are 12 days of Christmas on the liturgical Christian calendar. They begin on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, and last until the day of Epiphany, Jan. 6. This represents a tradition that dates back at least to the middle ages, a tradition that spawned the familiar carol we call "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

Colossians 4:7-18 closes this colossal epistle with 12 important names. Each one could be considered a Christmas gift. So in the spirit of the season, let me share with you 12 gifts for the upcoming 12 days of Christmas.

On the first day of Christmas... you may have a partridge in a pear tree, or perhaps the virgin Mary closely guarding her first born Son, or a man named Tychicus (vs. 7-8). Tychicus represents the gift of evangelism. Tychicus delivered the good news of the epistle of Colossians to the people. This Christmas and new year, take some good news to some people. Take a gospel tract, a Christian book, information about services and activities at your church and bear the gift of evangelism.

On the second day of Christmas... you may have two turtle doves, or perhaps the Old and New Testaments, or a man named

Onesimus (vs. 9). Onesimus represents the gift of repentance. Belief in the gospel does change people. It changed Onesimus from a pagan, thieving, runaway household servant to a faithful, loving, servant of Christ. Repentance is the gift that keeps on giving, that binds you to Christ and keeps on changing you more into His likeness.

On the third day of Christmas... you may have three french hens, or perhaps the supreme gifts of faith, hope, and love, or a man named Aristarchus (vs. 10). Be careful though, for Aristarchus brings the gift of suffering. Because of his radiant Christianity, Aristarchus was a fellow prisoner with Paul. All of us who will live radical, radiant lives

for Christ will suffer persecution. It is not a gift we look forward to. But it is a gift that will deepen your faith.

On the fourth day of Christmas... you may have four calling birds, or perhaps the four New Testament Gospels, or a man named Mark (vs. 10). John Mark brings the gift of restoration. Have you ever blown it with God? Mark did. He had the great privilege of accompanying Paul on his first missionary journey. But when the going got tough, Mark got going and quit on the Lord. But by the end of the day, Mark became the first author of a Gospel, witnessed to thousands upon thousands and was of great use to the Apostle Paul and the Lord Jesus Christ. You may have blown it this year as a Christian. Your strength and witness failed you at school, at home, in the community. God still loves you and expects more out of you. Let Him forgive you and restore you this

Christmas. On the fifth day of Christmas... you may have five golden rings, or perhaps the first five books of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch), or a man named Justus (vs. 11). Justus bears the wonderful Christian gift of humility. You see, his real name was Jesus. But because of his faith and devotion to God, he did not feel it was a name he should carry (for centuries no one named their son Jesus). On the sixth day of Christmas... you may have six geese a laying, or perhaps the six days of creation, or a man named Epaphras (vs. 12-13). Speaking of

creation, it was Epaphras who founded the church at Colossae. His gift to us is initiative. Someone has got to get something started for Christ, whether it be a church, a Bible study class, a ministry or a solution to a problem. Take this gift and start something good for God this year.

On the seventh day of Christmas... you may have seven swans a swimming, or perhaps the seven predominant spiritual gifts, or a man named Luke (vs. 14). Luke brings the gift of sacrifice. He is the author of the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. Being a writer is a great career, but there wasn't much money in it in the first century. Luke had been a physician, a much more lucrative career even in his day. But he willingly sacrificed riches and a life of ease in order to follow Christ by following Paul around the world for a while. What will you sacrifice to serve the Lord this year?

On the eighth day of Christmas... you may have eight maids a milking, or perhaps the eight beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount, or a man named Demas (vs. 14). To be honest, this is the one gift of the twelve you do not want. Return it. Just like Judas, this one in twelve is rotten. It is the false gift of apostasy. So many in our day are like Demas, they make a decision for Christ then prove not to be disciples. Demas left the church for the world, and sadly there is no evidence he ever came back. This is a gift pretty common under the Southern Baptist tree, much to our shame. Don't let this be your gift to the kingdom of God.

On the ninth day of Christmas... you may have nine ladies dancing, or perhaps the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit, or one lady named Nympha (vs. 15-16). Nympha opened her home to house a Christian church in nearby Laodicea. She bears the gift of hospitality, the willingness to share whatever you have for the cause of Christ. We need sharers, givers, tithers, generous hospitable people for the Lord.

On the 10th day of Christmas... you may have ten lords a leaping, or perhaps the ten commandments, or a man named

Archippus (vs. 17). Archippus bears the allimportant give of ministry. All Christians, like Archippus, have a ministry fit by the Lord to fulfill. A person needs help, and lost person needs the gospel, a saved person needs encouragement, all people need love. Ministry is helping others with the love of Jesus Christ, and you don't have to be a pastor or a missionary to perform it.

On the 11th day of Christmas... you may have eleven pipers piping, or perhaps the eleven faithful apostles, or the apostle to the Gentiles,

Paul.

The gift Paul brings comes in a large box, for inside is his entire life. Paul gave his life to Christ, to his fellow Christians in Colossae and other stops, and to the world so that they might know Jesus Christ. When he went to personally sign this letter that Timothy or Epaphras had dictated for him, his arms clanked with the chains of imprisonment. Paul, the jailbird for Jesus, had freely given up his freedom and everything else for the one he loved the most, the Lord Jesus Christ. Would you take your life and give it to Jesus Christ?

On the 12th day of Christmas... you may have twelve drummers drumming, or perhaps the twelve articles of the Apostle's Creed, or the man who commissioned the apostles Himself, the man upon whom the whole church is founded and who serves as its head, the Son of Man, Son of God, King of kings, Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ (there is His name in vs. 12). He stands right in the middle of all of these names because His is the name above all names. He is the reason for the season, He is the greatest gift, and He gives the greatest gift of all, salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Him alone.

For the twelve days of Christmas and every day, may your true love be God. He is the gospel. He is the giver and the greatest gift of all.

Dr. DeVane is pastor of the First Baptist Church. He authors The Gospel Truth which is a weekly feature of the Early County News.

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