|
Coming Soon

Generosity, Week 1

God Gave Us Jesus

1 John 4:9-11

Because God gave, I can give.

As Victoria picked up her keys and opened the door, she looked around her tiny studio apartment and sighed.

“Barely bigger than a closet,” she murmured to herself.

Victoria had been so excited when she landed her first job out of design school helping create display windows for Gimble’s department store. But moving to New York City hadn’t been what she expected. Everything seemed crowded and loud, and her apartment building was old and dingy.

As Victoria stepped out into the hallway, she spotted an elderly neighbor, Mr. Finkenhoffer, carrying groceries back to his apartment.

“Hello there, Miss Vicki,” he called out. “Going home for Christmas?”

“Yessir,” Victoria replied. “I’ve got a flight to Indiana tomorrow. Christmas Eve! What about you?”

He shook his head. “Oh, my son and his family are with his wife’s parents in Guatemala this year. So it’s just me.” He held up his bag of groceries and added, “I’ve got a canned ham right here.”

It sounded pretty depressing to Victoria, but she said goodbye and headed for the elevator.

“It’s broken again!” Mr. Finkenhoffer cautioned her. “Take the stairs.”

In the stairwell, Victoria passed Keisha, the woman from two doors down. “Merry Christmas!” Victoria said as she waved.

“Well, I hope it is,” Keisha said, shrugging. “My daughter’s home from deployment, but I can’t even do a Christmas tree this year.”

Victoria nodded. There wasn’t much you could do to celebrate in tiny apartments like these. She was even more grateful to be heading home for Christmas as she stepped out onto the busy sidewalk and then descended
the steps of her subway station.

As Victoria checked the weather app on her phone, she noted a snowstorm coming in. “Just in time for Christmas. That’s perfect!” she exclaimed. Her excitement died, though, as she recalled that she needed to fly home. Suddenly the snowstorm didn’t seem like such a good thing.

Victoria’s spirits rose again as she emerged from the subway, and spotted the huge windows of Gimble’s department store. She surveyed the gleaming lights and colors of a magical winter wonderland with pride. After all, she’d spent eleven-and-a-half hours the previous day twisting fake snow and tiny lights around hundreds of branches for the new trees just added to the display. It was tedious work, but she hoped soon she’d actually be designing displays.

“I’ll ask Ms. Robinson today!” she told herself.

But before Victoria could even ask, Ms. Robinson invited her into the back office. She didn’t exactly look full of holiday cheer as she offered Victoria a seat.

“We’ve really enjoyed having you on staff this month, Victoria,” she began.

“Oh, me too!” Victoria exclaimed.

“But,” Ms. Robinson continued, “Christmas sales haven’t been good, so we have to cut staff going into the new year. And, well, you’ve been here the shortest time.”

Victoria’s hands tightened on her seat. “You’re not . . . are you . . . firing me?” she asked in disbelief.

Ms. Robinson sighed. “I’m sorry, Victoria. I know it’s bad timing. But we do have to let you go,” she confirmed.

Stunned, Victoria gathered the few items in her locker and stepped back out onto the street. Holiday lights glittered everywhere, but she didn’t even notice.

“Why did I even bother moving here?” she muttered. “At least I’m going home tomorrow.”

Just then Victoria’s phone buzzed with a new alert. She glanced down at the screen, startled to see an alert from the airline. Due to the brewing snowstorm, her flight was cancelled!

“Great,” she muttered. “I’ll be stuck here alone for Christmas . . . eating Ramen noodles . . .”

Victoria had spent nearly every penny on rent for her tiny apartment and her now-cancelled flight home. She couldn’t even afford a nice Christmas dinner. Her feet carried her down the street, but Victoria was too busy feeling sorry for herself to notice the snowflakes beginning to float through the air.

Music finally caught Victoria’s ear, voices singing a carol. “What Child is this who laid to rest on Mary’s lap is sleeping . . .”

When Victoria looked up, she found herself in front of the arched doorway and towering spires of a soaring cathedral. Members of a quartet, dressed in wool coats with festive scarves, sang on the front steps.

“It’s beautiful!” she murmured.


Victoria glanced at the sign. Just below the name was a verse: 1 John 4:9 -11.

Curious, Victoria opened a Bible app and searched for the passage. Slowly she read aloud, “Here is how God showed his love . . . He sent his one and only Son into the world . . . so we could receive life through him. Here is what love is. It is not that we loved God. It is that he loved us and sent his Son to give his life to pay for our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us this much, we should also love one another.” (NIrV)

As Victoria tried to process what she’d just read, the voices of the singers continued to haunt her.

“. . . the King of Kings s alvation brings, let loving hearts enthrone Him . . .”

Victoria took a deep breath. It felt as though a great weight was lifting from her chest. She might not have much this year, but that didn’t change the great gift God had given to her. Or that she could still pass it on.

“I’ve got it!” she exclaimed. Then she turned around and hurried back the way she’d come. Before she reached her building, Victoria made a quick stop at the Ninety-Nine Cent Store. Then she bolted up the four flights of stairs to her apartment, cranked the music, and got to work.

When she was finished, half a dozen branches from the park down the street were wrapped in cotton and twinkling lights. Strings of popcorn and cranberries festooned the walls and ceiling. She surveyed her work with satisfaction, and then headed for the door.

In the hallway, she knocked on Mr. Finkenhoffer’s door. As soon as he opened it, she handed him a hand-printed invitation. “There’s been a change of plans. So you’re invited to my place for Christmas Eve dinner,” she explained. “Ramen Surprise!”

Mr. Finkenhoffer grinned. “Sounds delightful. I’ll bring the ham.”

Victoria knocked on Keisha’s door, too. She extended her dinner invitation and added, “I’ve got Little Debbie Christmas Trees for dessert.”

Keisha smiled at her and nodded. “Count us in!”

Victoria found herself humming “Deck the Halls” as she returned to her own festive wonderland and watched the snow come down outside. Though nothing was going the way she’d planned, she was grateful to recall she always had something to give.

++++++++++++++++++++++

What do you have that you can give?

Take a few minutes and share with each other what you think you have that you could give away. Think about more than just “stuff!” Here’s the awesome thing: God gave first. Generosity is completely His idea! Because He gave us
His love in Jesus, we’ve got love to give away to others in all sorts of creative ways, every single day. Pray for each other, that you will experience God’s love in a special way this Christmas season, and that you will find ways to
share that love with others.

Coming Soon

Generosity, Week 2

Parable of the Rich Man

Luke 12:13-21

Don't miss your chance to give.

Everywhere Jesus went, crowds of people followed—rich and poor, religious leaders and fishermen, scholars and shepherds. Many truly wanted to learn. But others just wanted Jesus to agree with them.

One day as Jesus spoke to those crowded around Him, a burly man with a sour face shoved his way through.

“Teacher,” he shouted. “Hey, Teacher!”

The burly man may have brought his brother along, gripping him by the wrist as they jostled others out of the way. “Sorry about that,” the brother murmured. “Pardon us. He didn’t mean to step on your toes . . .”

As they reached the front of the crowd, Jesus looked up, and the burly brother spoke.

“Tell my brother to divide the family property with me!” he demanded.

Jesus took a long look at the burly man. He could tell that whether or not the man’s brother owed him property, the man was far more concerned with getting as much stuff as he could and holding onto it.

“Friend,” asked Jesus. “Who made me a judge or umpire between you?”

“Well, he won’t listen to me,” groused the burly man. “Maybe he’ll listen to You!”

“Watch out!” warned Jesus. “Be on your guard against wanting to have more and more things. Life is not made up of how much a person has.”

The burly man’s face soured. This didn’t sound like the smug answer he had hoped for.

To make the point even more clear, Jesus told a story. If He told it to us today, it might sound something like this:

+++++++

There was once a farmer who made a fortune selling his Extraordinary Oats all over the world. One year, the rich farmer’s oat crop produced even more than usual.

His farm foreman brought the news. “Harvest is pretty big this year, sir,” he announced.

“How big?” asked the rich man.

“It’ll jam pack your barns, fill all those outstanding orders, and you’ll still have oats to spare!” declared the foreman.

“How many oats will be left over?” demanded the rich man.

“Well,” the foreman considered. “Enough oats to keep every man, woman, and child in this country stocked with oatmeal cookies for a decade.”

The rich man narrowed his eyes. “And why should I care about every man, woman, and child in the country?”

“Just a figure of speech,” said the foreman, backing up a few steps.

“These are my oats and I intend to do with them as I please!” the rich man asserted.

The foreman nodded quickly. “Well, of course, sir.”

“I’ll eat granola bars around the clock.”

“Sounds tasty.”

“I can take an oatmeal bath every night.”

“Oookay.”

“Baked oatmeal with add-ins every breakfast.”

“You still won’t use it up, sir,” pointed out the foreman.

“You have a better idea?” the rich man challenged.

“You could . . . give some away?” suggested the foreman.

“Give it away! Ha,” scoffed the rich man. “There’s clearly only one solution.”

“Oh?”

“A demolition crew! I’ll tear down my barns and build new ones. Big enough to store every single extra oat! I’ll never have to work again a single day of my life,” gloated the rich man.

The foreman hesitated. It was clearly not a good idea to make another suggestion.

“Well, what are you waiting for?” thundered the rich man. “Get me an architect. Schedule the tear down.”

So the foreman did exactly as the rich man ordered. In a short time, the old barns had been destroyed and the new barns were built, much higher and wider than the old ones.

“Now get all those extra oats inside!” ordered the foreman.

When everything was finished, the rich man stared out his large picture window and gloated over the stuffed barns. They looked like mammoth aircraft hangars squatting against the sunset sky.

“Those oats will last for years,” he told himself. “I’m set for life!”

Then he turned on his favorite tunes, ordered his cook to bake up some chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, and sank back into his ultra-soft recliner.

“Ahhhh,” he sighed in satisfaction. “Now where’s the remote . . .”

But as the man started to put his feet up, a voice boomed out.

“You foolish man!”

“Who’s there?!” The rich man jumped up, searching for the source of the voice. There was no one. At last he realized . . .

“God?”

“Tonight I will take your life away from you,” God told him. “Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”

“Hey . . . wait. No fair!” protested the rich man. “All this stuff is supposed to be for me.”

The rich man had been determined to hold onto every single oat instead of giving some away. And now it would do him no good.

+++++++

The crowd stood mesmerized, listening to every word. Jesus took another long look at the burly man, who shifted uneasily.

“That is how it will be for whoever stores things away for themselves but is not rich in the sight of God,” Jesus told him.

We don’t know how the burly man chose to respond. Perhaps, like the Grinch, his heart grew three sizes that day, and he stopped fighting for more stuff. Or perhaps he chose to ignore the words of Jesus and held tightly to everything he could get—instead of freely giving what he believed to be his.

+++++++++++++++++++++++


Take a few moments and share with each other what a normal day looks like . . .

. . . from home to school or work, practices and so on. You can even list it out on a piece of paper. Now, think about each of those places or times— what is one opportunity that you have to give each time? It might be giving encouraging words to a friend before a test, or sharing a cookie at lunch, or even giving your little brother fifteen minutes of your time in the afternoon to play Chutes & Ladders. Help each other out if you get stuck. Then pray for each other—ask God to help you notice even the smallest chances to give throughout your day.

Coming Soon

Generosity, Week 3

Be Rich Principle

1 Timothy 6:18

Look for creative ways to give.

Andy Short was the tallest kid in his class. In fact, he tried to be the most or best at everything he did.
Fastest in the 100-meter dash.
Reddest, spikiest hair in school.
Biggest grin in the class photo.

And at Christmas time, Andy was determined to be the best gift giver ever. He carefully thought through his list. “Okay, gotta get something for the class gift exchange,” he remembered. “And Mom and Dad. Oh, and Kirsten, I guess.”

Kirsten, Andy’s little sister, was only annoying about half the time. So he figured he should get her a present, too.

Andy picked up the piggy bank he’d used for saving money ever since he was a little kid. “Let’s see how much I got . . .”

He shook out coins and dug around for the bills, but when he counted up the total, it only came to eight dollars and sixty-two cents.

“I had way more than that!” he exclaimed. But then he remembered that the previous month, he’d nearly emptied out the piggy bank to buy the newest,fastest PSPgo for himself.

“Ooops,” he sighed.

Andy examined his limited funds and wracked his brain. “How do I get three of the best gifts ever with this?” he wondered. “I could just get candy. Um . . . giant candy canes?”

Andy looked up giant candy canes online. “Twenty-seven dollars each?!” he groaned. “Okay, I guess I’m just getting chocolate bars for everyone. I’ll make it peppermint chocolate.”

Discouraged, Andy wandered into the kitchen to get a snack. He discovered his Aunt Mischa hard at work. She wore a sweater with dinosaurs decorating a Christmas tree and was stirring a massive bowl of batter loaded down with fruit and nuts.

“What’s that?” Andy asked.

“Fruitcake!” his aunt announced. “We forgot the cranberries, so your mom ran out to get some.”

Andy took a look at the dozen cake tins sitting on the counter; there would be enough fruitcake to feed an army. “What are you doing with all those?” he wondered.

“Gifts!” Aunt Mischa exclaimed.

“Oh.” Andy wasn’t a fan of cake with prunes in it, but apparently some people were.

“You doing any Christmas shopping this year?” Aunt Mischa asked, shaking some more walnuts into the batter.

Andy sighed. “Yeah. Well, kinda. I don’t really have money for gifts.”

His aunt expertly whipped in the nuts. “Since when is that a problem?”

“Since stores expect you to pay for the stuff you buy,” Andy pointed out, thumping down onto one of the kitchen chairs.

“True.” His aunt grinned. “I had something different in mind.”

“Different than money is good.”

Aunt Mischa held up batter-covered hands. “My hands are a mess. Grab my phone, will you? And pull up the Bible app.”

Andy picked up his aunt’s phone off the table. The case was covered in bright green rhinestones.

His aunt frowned, thinking. “Search for, um . . . it’s in First Timothy. Chapter 6, maybe?”

She took a look as Andy scrolled. “Down . . . down . . . there it is.”

“Verse 18?” asked Andy.

“You read it,” Aunt Mischa told him.

Andy cleared his throat and read, “Command the rich to do what is good. Tell them to be rich in doing good things. They must give freely. They must be willing to share.” (NIrV)

Aunt Mischa returned to beating the batter. “There you go.”

Andy frowned. “But I’m not rich. That’s the whole point!”

“No, the second part,” his aunt reminded him. “Rich in doing good things.”

“So . . .” Andy thought for a moment. “Like, do stuff for people as gifts?”

“Fun stuff,” Aunt Mischa agreed. “Creative stuff. Use your imagination.”

Andy stood up. “Yeah, maybe,” he said. “Thanks.”

He grabbed a fresh-baked Christmas cookie and headed for the door—then glanced back at Aunt Mischa and her brightly colored sweater. The lights on the Christmas tree actually flashed on and off.

“Dinosaurs decorating a Christmas tree?” he couldn’t help asking.


“Who says dinosaurs can’t love Baby Jesus?” Aunt Mischa replied.

Shaking his head, Andy returned to his room. Even though his piggy bank was nearly empty, his head was full of new ideas.

The following week, Andy proudly added a small gold envelope to the table for the class gift exchange. It was the tiniest gift there. All the other presents were picked first, and a kid named Carlos ended up with Andy’s gift. He looked pretty bummed out—until he opened the envelope and pulled out the certificate inside.

He read slowly, “‘Three awesome lessons in how to win at LEGO® Indiana Jones or your game of choice. Plus, unlimited homemade snacks.’” After a moment of surprise, Carlos beamed. “Wow! That’s super cool! Can you show me how to beat the Chalice Challenge?”

“Totally!” Andy responded, excited his unusual gift had gone over so well.

On Christmas morning, Andy presented another small envelope to his parents.

“‘Wash and detail both cars,’” read his dad. “Whoa!”

Mom laughed. “You know how many old waffle fries are under those minivan seats?”

“I’ll track down every single one,” Andy promised.

“Now that’s what I call a real gift!” Dad exclaimed.

Andy had another envelope ready for his sister. “‘Ten games of Chutes and Ladders,’” Kirsten read, “‘And you get to pick the movie for family movie night three weeks in a row.’” She shrieked with delight, “Any movie I want?!”

“Even if it’s the same one every time,” Andy told her.

“I pick Frozen!” Kristen announced.

Andy even had a bonus gift for Aunt Mischa when she came over for Christmas dinner. He’d cut a small branch from the pine tree in the backyard and decorated it with lights and plastic dinosaurs.

“It’s fantastic,” his aunt said, examining all the detail. “I can see you got creative with your gifts this year.”

“It was really fun, too!” Andy said. “Though I may not think so when we’re watching Frozen for the third time . . .”

“Or when you’re scraping crusty ketchup out from under the van seats,” Mom added.

Andy grinned and nodded. Things might get a little messy. But it was all worth it to find the best new way to give.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Generosity is about so much more than just buying something at the store and popping it in a gift bag.

What’s the most creative gift someone has ever given you? It might be something they made, an experience, or even time. Take a few minutes and share with each other. Now brainstorm a list of creative ways that your family
could give this Christmas. Choose one and plan a time to do it. Pray for each other—ask God to help you use your imaginations to find creative ways to give.

Coming Soon

Generosity, Week 4

Jesus Is Born

Luke 2:1-8

God gave us Jesus.

The most amazing present ever given, the most glorious Christmas gift of all, arrived in the deep of night in a tiny town more than two thousand years ago.

It came without gift cards. It came without bells.
It came without candy canes, carols, or elves.

The gift was, and is, for the entire world. But it came first to a young girl named Mary.

Mary probably knew the promise God had given her people, the Jews, many centuries before: A child will be born to us. A son will be given to us. . . . There will be no limit to how great his authority is. The peace he brings will never end.

But Mary may have expected God to send a king with a grand entrance. So you can imagine her surprise when a messenger from God showed up in a towering blaze of light.

“What . . . who are you?” she gasped.

“Do not be afraid, Mary,” the angel said. “God is very pleased with you. You will...give birth to a son. You must call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God. . . . [He] will rule forever over his people.”

Mary’s mind raced. Her heart pounded. “How can this happen?” she asked.

“The Most High God will do it,” the angel told her.

Mary had no idea what any of this meant for her. But she loved God with all her heart, so she took a deep breath and said, “I serve God. Let it happen as you say.”

Just as God had promised, Mary became pregnant. She and Joseph, her husband, set to work preparing for the new baby.

But the Roman ruler of the land, Caesar Augustus, well, he was a bit of a Grinch. Maybe his heart was a little—undersized. Caesar ordered everyone to return to the town their family came from so they could be counted—and pay more money to the government.

Joseph’s heart sank when he got the news. “This means we’ve got to go all the way to Bethlehem.”

“But that’s a weeklong trip!” protested Mary. “This baby could come any day.”

Still, Mary and Joseph set out on the long, rugged journey. Perhaps Mary rode on a donkey’s back, which was anything but first class seating. And when they reached Bethlehem, they certainly didn’t find luxury accommodations.

“Bless your heart, we’re packed in tighter than a bowl full of cheesy grits. No room,” said one innkeeper, shutting the door in their faces.

“Blimey!” exclaimed another. “I can sell you a spot of tea or some fish and chips, but I got no place for you to kip.” He, too, shut the door.

Even the last possible place to stay looked, well, impossible. “Every bed is spoken for,” the owner explained. “But . . . I can offer rudimentary housing amongst my livestock, should you so desire.”

Mary and Joseph were so weary that they accepted the offer immediately. They were welcomed into their new room by several cows, a few sheep, and a flock of hens.

“Plenty of straw to sleep on,” Joseph pointed out. “A little scratchy, but it’ll do.”

A short time later, Mary gave birth to a brand-new baby—God’s very own Son, Jesus. Mary wrapped their tiny boy tightly in strips of cloths and laid Him in fresh straw in the cow’s feeding trough.

This most amazing gift, they had found, couldn’t be purchased with gold, because Christmas, you know, is a greater story to be told!

The incredible gift wasn’t only for Mary and Joseph. In the field outside town, shepherds were watching their flocks.

It was quarter past dark, all the sheep still abed,
all the sheep still asnooze when one shepherd said—

“What is that?!”

A blaze of light nearly blinded the shepherds as a gleaming angel appeared. “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news,” declared the angel. “It will bring great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord. Here is how you will know I am telling you the truth. You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.”

The shepherds stood frozen in amazement.

Then they heard a sound rising up with the glow.
It started in quiet. Then grew loud as a riot—

A huge choir of angels appeared in the sky, singing, “May glory be given to God in the highest heaven! And may peace be given to those he is pleased with on earth!”

Then the angels disappeared, just as quickly as they had arrived. The shepherds stared at each other, stunned. Then they nearly exploded with excitement.

“In Bethlehem? Let’s go!”

“Gotta see, gotta know.”

“God’s told us, just so!”

Then the shepherds said, “Run!” And their feet started down, Toward the homes where the people lay asnooze in their town. All their houses were dark. Quiet stars filled the sky.

When they came to the first little building nearby.

“There’s a light!”

“What a sight.”

“God told us just right.”

Mary and Joseph welcomed the shepherds inside. Those rough sheep herders were so overjoyed to see the tiny baby that when they left, they spread the news to everyone they met.

“God’s sent His Son, a baby boy!”


“He’s come so all can have great joy.”

“He’s a better gift than any toy.”

Everyone who heard the story was amazed. For they were some of the first to discover God’s greatest gift to the whole world:

A gift that came with out eggnog. It came without bells.
It came without gingerbread, reindeer, or elves.

And because God gave, the world will never be the same.

+++++++++++++++++++++

What’s the best gift you’ve ever gotten? What made it so amazing?

Take a few minutes and share with each other. It may be kind of strange to think of Jesus as a gift. After all, it’s not like He’s wrapped up with a bow, under the Christmas tree! But the truth is, God sent Jesus for each one of us as the most incredible gift ever. Jesus lived on earth, among us, as a human. He experienced all the tough stuff we do, and then He gave His life to pay the price for the wrong things we’ve done. And because of that, we can live forever with God. That’s mind blowing! If you’ve already experienced Jesus as a gift, that’s awesome. If you aren’t sure about it, ask God to show you. Pray for each other—ask God to help you see His amazing gift for you in Jesus every single day.

Coming Soon

Generosity, Week 5

Wise Men Visit Jesus

Matthew 2:1-12

Give like you're giving to God.

Far to the east of Bethlehem lived a group of scholars. We don’t know much about them, but they may have served as wise men in the court of a king, like the prophet Daniel long before them.

At the time Jesus was born, some of these men stood in a wide-open field, gazing up at the night sky. We’ll call three of them Zeb, Jeb, and Neb.

Zeb had been gifted with the keen eyesight of an eagle. “Look!” he exclaimed. “There’s a brand-new star, right up by the Big Dipper.”

Jeb could solve any mathematical equation in seconds. “It’s precisely 15.4 days from the full moon,” he began, “that’s when we’ll have the optimal viewing time for stars in this quadrant.”

And Neb, well, he was pretty good with animals. Especially camels.

“Easy there, Rudolph,” he crooned, wiping camel spit off his face. “Now why would a star just show up out of thin air?”

These wise men, through the legacy of Daniel, may have known some of the Old Testament prophecies.

“The Jewish writings,” Zeb recalled.

“A star will come from among the people of Jacob,” Jeb quoted.

“A king will rise up out of Israel.”

“So the star means a new king!” Neb declared.

“We should pay him a visit,” said Zeb.

“The journey will take approximately 3.78 moons and require 9.4 bushels of provisions for us,” Jeb figured.

Neb, prompted by more spit from his trusty steed, added, “Plus what we’ll need for the camels. And gifts fit for a king!”

The wise men prepared for their journey and set out across the desert. After months of travel, the star led them to the city of Jerusalem.

“Where do we go from here?” they wondered. They began to ask everyone they met, “Where is the child who has been born to be king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose. Now we have come to worship him.”

The king, Herod, flew into a rage when he heard that strangers from the East were asking questions about a new king. “No boss baby is taking my place!” he snarled.

Herod called together the chief priests and law experts. “Where is this so-called Messiah supposed to be born?” he thundered.

“Bethlehem,” they told him. “The prophet Micah writes about this. He wrote:


‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are certainly not the least important
among the towns of Judah. A ruler will come out of you. He will rule my people
Israel like a shepherd.’”

“Get me those strangers!” ordered Herod. Then he quickly smiled to cover his anger. “So I can treat them to dinner.”

The wise men came before Herod. “When did the star show up for this boss baby?!” he demanded, before changing his tune and adding sweetly, “I mean . . .new king.”

“Well,” Jeb began, “if you measure by the lunar calendar, dividing each moon into an equilateral—”

Impatient, Herod cut him off. “Go find the kid in Bethlehem and report back to me!” Then he smirked and continued, “Then I can go and worship him, too.”

“We’ll bring an eye witness report and detailed map,” the wise men assured him.

Neb’s camel didn’t seem happy about this plan, spitting right at Herod before the wise men set off on the final stage of their long journey.

A short time later, Zeb pointed upward. “Look! There’s the star. Standing right over Bethlehem.”

“I’d say our destination is approximately 6.1 miles away,” Jeb noted.

The star seemed to stop right over a small house near the edge of town. The wise men dismounted from their camels and knocked on the door.

A young woman, Mary, opened it. “Hello?” she asked, staring at the camels with curiosity.

“We’ve traveled a long, long way to see the new king!” the wise men told her.

Mary smiled and welcomed the men inside, where they found a young child watching them with shining eyes.

“We’ve been given so much,” the men explained. “We want to give the best we have to honor the new king.”

The men knelt down on the floor before Jesus and each offered one of the presents they’d carried so far: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Each was a royal gift, fit for a king.

Meeting God’s Son was pure joy. But that night, the wise men’s dreams were troubled as God sent them a strong warning.

“I’ve seen it,” Zeb told them. “We can’t go back to Herod.”

“His story just doesn’t add up,” Jeb agreed.

“Plus, the camels don’t like him,” added Neb.

The next day, the wise men began their trip home—along a different route. They were filled with joy to have discovered God’s great gift.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

We don’t know whether the wise men were aware that Jesus is the Son of God.

But they did know that God had given them a lot—wisdom, talents, material possessions. And they gave up a lot of time and comfort to travel months and give royal gifts to a new king sent by God. They were literally giving presents to God Himself! Though we can’t actually wrap up a gift and give it to God, when we give the best of what we have, it’s like we’re giving to God. Brainstorm together what it might look like in your lives to give as if you’re giving to God Himself. Choose at least one way to give together this week. Pray for each other—ask God to show you ways to give with a generous heart every day.