The second offering the Magi presented to Jesus was frankincense, otherwise simply known as incense. Like the gold they brought to Him in abundance, incense was a valuable commodity in the ancient world, and it was used traditionally in temple worship and burned ceremonially by the priests as an offering to the Lord. Known for its calming and healing properties, this second in the trio of original Christmas gifts offers us a message of hope and encouragement in years like this one. Just as gold signifies that Jesus has dominion over the affairs of history, incense denotes that He reigns supreme in the Heavenly realm. While there is a very real spiritual battle raging around us, the baby who was born in Bethlehem triumphed over Satan when He died on the cross and came to life again. This means that everyone has been reconciled to God and that all of us, regardless of how badly we’ve “messed up,” can be forgiven and enter into a relationship with the Great High Priest who sympathizes with our weaknesses. He empowers us to live with our eternal destiny in mind, and He sets us free from the fear of death that tempts us to squander our days looking for peace in the wrong places. Even better, His authority gives us rest, because we know that He is more than able to do the “heavy lifting” in our lives. Whatever burdens us — whether financial loss, lingering addiction, sickness, or family difficulties — we can lay it in His hands, praise the power of His Name, and let the wonder of His sufficiency rise like incense from the altar of our hearts.
My friend, I know this year has been tough, but you can have the most joyful Christmas ever, despite the difficulties. When you set your mind on the eternal triumph of your Savior, every worldly trouble will fade away. Jesus never changes, and He has built a bridge to your heart that can never be torn down or destroyed. Even as the forces of darkness seek to discourage you and steal your peace, you can lift your spirit in worship and let your praises ascend like a sweet aroma before Him. The Lord is your strength and your song, and He brings comfort and healing to your soul as you cease striving, lay down your labor, and simply let Him love you.