"Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" —2 Corinthians 9:15

The word ‘selah’ throughout Scripture is used as an exclamation mark at the end of a verse to help us pause and reflect on its meaning. Today, in day three of our Christmas devotional series, we are resting on 2 Corinthians 9:15. Selah.

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The Gift of Thankfulness

by Rory Shiner

Every marriage is an exercise in cross-cultural understanding. Families are different, and marriages bring different together. One of the differences my wife and I have noted is our approach to Christmas presents.

I am from a family in which a present, no matter how unwanted, superfluous, or inappropriate, is welcomed with gushes of approval. I have seen socks received like jewellery, aftershave accepted by eleven-year-old boys as “just want I wanted!” and already-owned books praised for their thoughtfulness.

My wife’s family is the opposite. In their Christmas-gift culture, each present is subjected to royal-commission-level interrogation: “Why did you think I’d want this?” “What is this for?” “You know that’s not my colour”.

At first, I found it all rather bracing. I have since come to enjoy the value placed on honesty.

At Christmas we remember the gift of God. God’s gift to us all is the same—the gift of salvation and new life in his Son, Jesus. What changes is not what God gives, but our response to His gift.

The Christmas stories are full of diverse responses: The angels rejoice; Herod sheds blood. Mary is quietly confident; Joseph is apprehensive, but righteous. The wise men leave their land to worship the child; the holy family leave their land to save the child’s life from the jealous king. Same gift, different responses.

At Christmas we need two gifts: we need the gift of God’s Son, and the gift to receive God’s Son. We need to ask God for the gift of gift-receiving.

This is neither false thankfulness, nor cynical indifference, but for hearts that cry out: “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).

May God, who gives us the gift of His Son, give us also the gift of heart-felt thankfulness for what He has done for us in Jesus.

Father God,

You have given us the great gift of Your Son. Please work in us by Your Spirit to meet Your gift with full hearts and open hands, in Jesus’ name,


Rory Shiner

Rory is the Senior Pastor of Providence City Church in Perth, Western Australia.

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At the Table Conversation Starter

How can you describe the gift of Jesus in your life?

Let’s shape our expectations this Christmas to focus on being present with our loved ones, being moved with compassion.

Advent Compassion Challenge

Let’s do something crafty together to slow down and breathe with creativity this season. A suggestion is to make an orange garland—a plastic-free decoration for your Christmas tree!

What do you need?

Oranges sliced into 5mm rounds Twine, yarn, or string Yarn needle

Preheat your oven to 250ºC and line a baking tray with oven proof paper. Dry orange slices on paper towel, then arrange them on the tray. Cook, and turn regularly, for three hours or until dehydrated. Remove from the oven and stand in a cool place until completely dry. This may take two to three days.

To assemble garland, use your yarn needle to string the rounds together. Stitch through the flesh, running the needle into and behind the slice. Repeat until all slices are used.

Knot ends to secure oranges, then tie off for hanging.

Why not send a photo of your Christmas craft to your sponsored child? Share a piece of your celebration with them, and ask about their family traditions, when you write a letter today!