I sat up in bed, blinking into the dark, trying to remember if I had to get ready for school, or if it was Saturday. I squinted at the clock on my nightstand—2:03 a.m. Why am I awake? I yawned, rubbing my eyes. Suddenly I remembered, and grinned from ear to ear. It was early Christmas morning!

I listened closely… not a sound could be heard. This is the perfect time to do some midnight reconnaissance, I schemed. I decided I had to use the bathroom, because going to the bathroom meant a journey through the living room, which was where the Christmas tree stood. More than anything, I hoped I’d get my new bike, but I couldn’t be sure my dad even knew what type of bike I wanted. You know how it is for a ten year-old—you just can’t take a chance with such an important matter. 

The anticipation was nerve-racking.

Earlier that evening, after I had run out of excuses to avoid going to bed, I lay there straining to hear anything I could. There it was… the sound of a lot of rustling paper, and low, excited whispers! Something big had happened, I just knew it, and by goodness, now I had to check it out. I quietly pulled back the covers, slowly climbed out of bed, and opened the door, wincing as it creaked loudly, trying to blow my cover. I paused for a second… Okay, no one had stirred.I tiptoed down the hallway, into the living room. The moonlight cast its bright beam squarely through the living room window, across the tree, and lit up all the treasures beneath it.

Sure enough (that’s a southern way of saying “for real”,) there it stood! Tall and proud on its kickstand gleamed a bright, shiny new banana-seat bicycle! “Wow!” I whispered loudly, quickly covering my mouth to quiet myself. Boy, was I ever excited! It was all I could do to not squeal out loud with joy, and take the bike for spin down the hallway. I ran my hand down the soft, padded seat, and gripped the handlebars. It was beautiful!

I stood next to the bike, wrestling with the desire to sit on it and risk waking the whole house if I fell over. After a long few minutes admiring my gift, I decided to patter back to my room, still grinning from ear to ear. I completely forgot to go to the bathroom, which I didn’t really need anyway. My true mission had been accomplished; the intel had been successfully gathered, and it was very, very good news. 

The problem was there was zero chance of getting any sleep for the rest of the night. I say the rest of the night, meaning I could only take the suspense until 4:30 a.m., when I was intentionally successful in waking the house full of family. By that time, they (well at least my brothers and sisters,) were ready to see what gifts they may have received too. Excitement and anticipation far outweighed the sleepy grumbles of the adults, as the joy of Christmas filled the air!

I ran up to the tree and shouted for joy, finally able to sit on my banana-seat bike. What made the bike even more special was it came from my dad, (with some good coaching from mom of course.) Dad and Mom had separated a couple of years earlier, so we were living with one of my uncles. My dad lived in another town about an hour away, but he really wanted to have a part in getting us gifts we would like. Mom knew just what I was hoping for, as she always did. You know how all moms have that special way about them? As I see it, my mom also got an extra dose of caring for her kids in just the right way.

Sure, I had been given bikes in the past, and they were special, but none like this one. This bike was cool, and was like what a lot of my friends had. This one said I had “common ground,” with them; this one said I was accepted.Most important, this one said Dad was thinking about me. It made me feel special. Thanks Dad, I know that special gift cost you extra. And thank you mom for always knowing what would bless me. It seems kinda crazy that I’m now in my fifties and I still get emotional thinking about those times. 

But that’s the nature of Christmas, isn’t it?

Christmas stirs up all kinds of thoughts, emotions, and experiences. For some it can be a lonely time, but for many it is a time full of joy, laughter, and love. A time of family gatherings, food, gifts, and for a moment, many things that usually divide, now bring us together. 

It is a time of connection around a central theme—peace

For me, it is especially a time to celebrate the Prince of Peace—Jesus, the true reason for Christmas. I know firsthand He came that we might have divine peace; the kind of peace that can heal a young heart, wounded by a broken home. The kind of peace that makes me sing the verse found in Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!”

Luke 2:14

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!

I know not everyone reading this story has peace with God, but He desperately desires peace with you. So much so that He gave us the best gift of all—He sent His Son to be born as one of us, for the purpose of dying on the cross to purchase this peace for you—this precious peace in your soul. We know this peace is ours because in Romans 5:1, the apostle Paul writes, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” And in Romans 5:8, this amazing good news tells us, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” 

This is a mind-blowing statement, and if you can accept it, it can be the best Christmas present you could ever get. Way better, and even more life changing than that banana-seat bike.

This good news means God is always thinking about you, and He paid extra—a lotextra—so you could have the perfect gift.

This good news says that even when we rejected Him, Jesus paid the price so you could have peace with God. You can’t earn it, and you can’t “clean your act up” to be accepted by Him. There is no need—He accepts you as you are, even while we are sinners. His gift to you is that He forgives, He heals, and He loves with an everlasting love. 

To put it simply, Jesus saves!

Yes, when Jesus was born for the purpose of paying this unexplainable price, our Heavenly Father was thinking about you.Like a good dad, He wanted that perfect gift just for you—what you need most—and He provided it in His infinitely precious, only begotten Son, Jesus. This is what John 3:16 means when it says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Wow! What a gift! When you fully understand what this gift covers, you would be so excited you couldn’t sleep either, and would wake the whole house full of family to celebrate this good news. 

Just as my dad wanted me to have something that would fill me with joy, God is offering this special gift to you to you today. A gift that takes away loneliness; a gift that grants total forgiveness; a gift that fulfills allyour soul yearns for. A gift that gives you eternal life.Yes, this gift is priceless—it cost His very life. He paid with His life so you could have this gift of total forgiveness, hope, healing, and eternal life—this gift of salvation.

But do you really know its value? Believe me, there is nothing like it. This is the greatest treasure in this life. It brings true freedom, love, joy and peace that cannot be explained. May I ask if you have received the gift of salvation which is offered only in Jesus Christ? If not, I’d love to show you how today.

Just follow these steps: 

First, it is important you admit you are a sinner, as we all are. What this means is you admit you missed the mark of perfection required by God (Matthew 5:48.) God knew we would all fall short of His perfection, but the required payment for sin (missing the mark) is still death. The good news is you don’t have to pay this price—Jesus did for you! Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” 

Once you recognize you are a sinner, the next step is to believe with all your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins. As you read this message, I’ll bet the Holy Spirit is tugging at your heart. If you search deep down, I believe you know it is true that Jesus died for you. He did this so God could adopt you back into His family. 

The final step is to confess Jesus is your Lord, and commit your life to Christ. Romans 10:9 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Similarly, Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

God made it that easy to receive this gift that makes all other gifts pale in comparison (even a banana-seat bike!) All you have to do is accept it as a child would, and it is yours. 

Yes, it is that easy, and it is that powerful!

So how about it? This Christmas season, accept the wonderful, free gift of salvation! Simply admit you have missed the mark (as we all have.) Believe in your heart that Jesus died to pay for your sins, and was raised from the dead. Then commit your life to Christ. Then you belong to God! He adopts you as His child, and provides all the blessings Jesus purchased for you.

Believe me, when you do this in all sincerity, you will enjoy the most merry Christmas ever! You will have new life! New peace! You will experience the true, unspeakable joy of Christmas that so many sing about. 

May you richly experience God’s love this Christmas.

Author: Greg Joyner

Greg was born and raised in the “Tar Heel” State of North Carolina. He enjoyed a successful career with two different corporations in sales, training and market development. In 1991, their family moved to the Philadelphia area and settled in Collegeville. After many years of serving faithfully at Valley Forge Baptist and with much prayer, Greg responded to God’s call to serve Him in full-time vocational ministry. Greg joined the staff of Valley Forge Baptist and was ordained to the ministry in 2003. He received his Biblical studies from Trinity College and Theological Seminary in Pastoral studies with emphasis in Evangelism and Biblical Counseling. Greg loves ministry and currently serves with Missions, Business Leaders and Young Families which includes weekly Bible studies, banquets, retreats, and conferences. Greg and Peggy have been married 36 years and have three children and one grandson.