FRIDAY, DECEMBER 7                    MALACHI 3:13-18                        VICKI BAKER
13 You have spoken harshly about me, says the Lord; but you say, “What have we spoken about you?” 14 You said, “Serving
God is useless. What do we gain by keeping his obligation or by walking around as mourners before the Lord of heavenly
forces? 15 So now we consider the arrogant fortunate. Moreover, those doing evil are built up; they test God and escape.” The
scroll of remembrance 16 Then those revering the Lord, each and every one, spoke among themselves. The Lord paid attention
and listened to them. Then a scroll of remembrance was written before the Lord about those revering the Lord, the ones
meditating on his name. 17 On the day that I am preparing, says the Lord of heavenly forces, they will be my special
possession. I will spare them just as parents spare a child who serves them. 18 You will again distinguish between the
righteous and the wicked, between those serving God and those not serving him.

God established the tradition of gift giving when He sent His son to earth to be crucified as atonement for our sins. God’s
sacrificial gift not only provided us with salvation but with an exemplar of life as a child of God. During Christ’s brief time on
earth, He spent a great deal of time teaching about God’s love and promises and demonstrating how to live a consecrated life.
Christ clearly defined good and evil and spoke of both the punishment of the wicked, as well as the rewards for the righteous.
Even as He was dying on the cross, Christ taught by example when He assured the repentant thief that he would join Him in
heaven, but the thief who refused to accept His gift of forgiveness was sent to hell for eternity.

The legend of Saint Nicholas, which dates back to the fourth century, is based on the life of a Bishop who had a generous heart
and a reputation for helping the poor. His parents died when he was young and left him a fortune, which he used to purchase
gifts that he would secretly deliver to the needy. Over the ensuing 2,000 years, the story, name, and appearance of the saint
central to this legend has been adapted for various cultures across the globe. However, the one part of the legend that has
remained universally constant is the delivery of presents.

“He’s making a list and checking it twice, Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice, Santa Claus is comin’ to town.
He sees you when you’re sleepin’, He knows when you’re awake, He knows if you’ve been bad or good, So be good for… goodness sake!”
According to the song, the omniscient nature of Santa Claus places him in a position to judge the actions of children as either good or bad. Based on his observations, he creates a list of children who are “nice” and rewards them with presents, whereas “naughty” children receive a piece of coal.

The Old Testament prophets foretold a day of judgment, when God would divide believers from nonbelievers. In chapter 3, Malachi provides us with the attitude of the wicked towards God. Malachi 3:16-17 tells us of God’s reassurance to His children. God maintains a Scroll of Remembrance on which He records the names of His followers. He promises that on a day of judgment that there will be a clear division between the righteous and the wicked. God’s children will be spared because He gave them the greatest gift of all—eternal life.

So, this Christmas season, keep the following in mind:

• The tradition of gift giving began when God sent Jesus to earth to sacrifice His life for our sins.
• The traditions surrounding Santa Claus are based on the legend of a godly man who anonymously provided gifts for the needy. Reach beyond your circle of family and friends and buy presents for the needy.
• When you listen to “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” and you hear the line, “He’s making a list and checking it twice,” think about God’s Scroll of Remembrance and the assurance we have as believers.

Prayer: For awareness of others’ needs.