Good morning everyone. Merry CHRISTmas. I pray that while you exchange gifts, cards and visit friends and family, that you will take the time to wish our Lord and Savior a happy birthday. After all, that is why we have this special time of year.
Today, I want to challenge you to contemplate what actually happened some 2000 years ago. I want to get you to think about what was given up and what was endured so that you and I could receive this special gift.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Ecclesiastes 3:13 says, “and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor--it is the gift of God.” John 4:10 says, “Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." Acts 2:38 says, “Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 8:20 says, “But Peter said to him, "Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! “ Romans 5:18 says, “Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.” Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God”. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” 1 Peter 4:10 says, “ As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,” Acts 20:35 says, “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "
Let’s take a look at what God has given us according to His word. God gave us His Son. He gave us the Holy Spirit. He gave us the breath of life. He gave us spiritual gifts to not just benefit us, but to be used to help others. He gave us the gift of salvation. The Bible tells us that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above”. The Bible goes on to tell us that God is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think”. We also see from above that all these gifts are give freely to us and that we can/could not earn them or pay for them by any means. God gives them to us because He loves us, not because of anything we can, could have or will do.
Now that we have the knowledge of all the above, I want you to think about what it took for God to make these gifts available to you and I. God, knowing all, knew that nothing less than His Only Begotten Son could pay for the sins of the whole world, yours and mine. So, He sent His Son, who came willingly from the splendor of heaven to be born in a manger. This statement alone is more than most can comprehend. The Alpha and Omega, Creator of all, took off His crown and rob, stepped off His throne and came to earth, not to be born at the finest hospital with great fan fair, but to be born in a barn. He did not grow up in Trump Plaza and attend the finest private schools with some silver spoon in His mouth. He lived a life that most of us can relate to so that He could say, I know what you are going through because I have been where you are. Jesus then went on to endure a separation, loneliness and excruciating death to give us the gift of eternal life, should we accept it.
With all this to reflect on, I want to call your attention to the last verse listed. Jesus said, “it is more blessed to give than to receive”. He proved this over and over and still gives today. So, I ask you to look into that spiritual mirror and ask yourself, “what have I given, what am I giving and what can I give”. There are many materialistic people in this world who all they care about is what they can get out of everyone they come into contact with. This is not and was not God’s plan for man. The Bible teaches that we are to give, not expecting anything in return. We are to share what blessings we have, so that we might be a blessing to others. 1 John 3:17-18 says, “17 But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth“.
What gift can you give today? You may say, well I don’t have money for gifts. I would remind you that most of the best gifts cost nothing. The gift of a smile can lift someone’s spirits more than you may know. The gift of a phone call, a card, a visit or maybe just some of your time. I’m reminded of a story of a boy who wanted to spend time with his dad who always had to work. The boy ask, “dad, how much do you make an hour?” The dad said $8. The boy broke open his piggy bank an scraped together the money, went to his dad and ask, “can I buy an hour?”.
Remember: A gift given, brings joy to two souls, the giver and the receiver. What can you give today?
Until next time, please pray for each other, and me, as I continue to pray for each of you.
Love in CHRIST,
Bethel Baptist Church