If we have these, we really need nothing else.

"What ‘ya getting for Christmas?"

That’s a question we often ask or hear this time of the year. And, the answer varies according to who’s asking or answering it.

Sometimes we know exactly what we’re getting (maybe); other times we have to resort to the childish practice of shaking the package under the tree or trying to get the giver to accidentally tell us.

Likewise, our "wants" quite often exceed our "needs." And, again, whether or not we get those things depends upon who’s giving them, the cost, our relationship to them, etc.

I still remember the time in Manila when my family and I were up there for a meeting and had a free day to go shopping at Mega-Mall, the world’s fourth-largest mall. It was around a month before Christmas, so we decided to do some Christmas shopping while there.

When we arrived at the mall, I divided the spending money among the boys, told them to spend their money wisely and to meet us back at a designated rendezvous place at a set hour. They then asked me, "What do you want for Christmas, Dad?"

And, I made the mistake of replying, "Nothing."

Dear Reader, don’t ever answer that way unless that’s really what you want — for, believe it or not, that’s exactly what I got that Christmas! And, as Jerry Clower would say, "If I’m lying, I’m dying!"

I couldn’t believe it when our youngest son started passing out the presents at Christmas and everyone’s pile started stacking up — everyone’s, that is, except mine! Soon all the packages were distributed and there was nothing in my stack. But, thankfully, my dear wife had had a computer cabinet handmade for me and had it in the next room. Never again have I ever replied "Nothing" when someone asks me what I want for Christmas!

Did you realize there are two gifts every one of us needs this Christmas? What might those be?

Lots of money? A new car? Bigger house? Good health?

Well, those might be good; but, there are two other things we all need:

Grace and Mercy.

Someone once defined Grace as "Getting what we don’t deserve," while Mercy is "Not getting what we deserve." Simple definitions, but oh how profound the implications!

Think of it:

Grace is God’s Gift of Love to us that can’t be earned. We can’t please or appease Him into giving it by good works or benevolent deeds; otherwise, it’d be a salary, not a gift.

Likewise, Mercy is that Love that tempers God’s Hand of justice. And, in reality, that’s why Jesus came to earth to pay the price for our sins so we could be forgiven. Thank God for the Christ-child in the cradle Who later became the Christ-king on the Cross. Truly, it is His Blood that covers our sinfulness and saves us from God’s wrath (Romans 5:6-11). Hallelujah!!

The story is told about the time a mother came to Napoleon to beg for the life of her son, who’d been sentenced to die. He was one of Napoleon’s soldiers and had twice broken one of the French emperor’s decrees.

After hearing the weeping mother’s plea, Napoleon told her that justice demanded his death. She replied, "But, I’m not here seeking justice. I’m seeking mercy."

"He doesn’t deserve mercy," the emperor replied.

"Yes, I know," she said. "That’s why it’s called Mercy."

Upon hearing her response, Napoleon reflected upon her words and said, "You are right. Mercy is not deserved. And, I will therefore show Mercy to your son and set him free."

Powerful story, isn’t it?

Here’s praying you’ve already received both of these God-given gifts. If not, this Christmas would be a wonderful time to ask Him for them. You’ll be so glad you did—for they certainly give life meaning and make it worth living. God bless you.

To contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled "Morning Manna," write him at P.O. Box 10614, Fort Smith, AR 72917 or e-mail him at pressingon@hotmail.com.