Advent 2019: Rediscovering Christmas: Fourth Sunday: The Gifts of Christmas-12/22/19

The GIFTS of Christmas

Text: Various

Introduction: So, it’s just 3 days before Christmas. You ready?

PP: Do you have all your gifts bought and wrapped, the tree up and decorated and all the cookies made?

PP: More than any other time of the year, the idea of gifts is on our minds. Were thinking about

the gifts we want / need to get others
how much we should spend on gifts for others.
What happens if they spend more on me than I did on them?
And how can we return the gifts we don’t want w/o hurting people’s feelings… right?

The whole process of gift giving and receiving can singe that proverbial last thread that’s holding our sanity together.

PP: But listen, it’s not a bad thing to give and receive gifts at Christmas.

Jesus talks about the subject of gift giving, no not in the context of Christmas, but in general as He relates gift giving to God the Father.

PP: If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:11)

Yes, God wants to give His children gifts…

not just the physical, material kind,
gifts that make life worth living, gifts that touch us like nothing else can, gifts that transform us from the inside out.

God, being the good, good Father that He is, wants to give us gifts

Gifts that will never disappoint us, never break, never go out of style, never have to be returned.

It’s a few of those gifts, God’s gifts to His children, that I want to briefly look at this morning.

PP: 1. God’s GIFT of Hope

And we’ll begin with the gift of hope.

Truth is, all of us possess a measure of hope.

We hope for a better life for our children.
We hope to be healthier in the new year.

But when we suffer setbacks to those desires, hope fades just a bit each time… until hope isreplaced with despair.

Emily Dickerson wrote: Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words… and it never stops. (Poertyfoundation.org)

For too many people, the bird has stopped singing. Too many crises have stolen their song and their hope.

And the burden of those crisespark so heavily upon the bird that sits within their soul, that it can no longer sing, and they lose hope.

Everyone, to some extent, experiences that.

And when we get to that place, which can be often, we need our hope restored.

Let me show you want the Bible says about God’s gift of hope.

PP: Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.  (Jeremiah 17:7, NLT)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope (1 Timothy 1:1, ESV)

Hope does not disappoint, (Romans 5:5a, NASB95)

The gift of hope in the Bible, is the confidant assurance that God will keep His Word, will keep His promises.
The blessing of that gift, is that no circumstance is without hope.

Do you have that kind of hope? God’s Word tells us where to find it… a hope that will never disappoint us.

It’s found in 1 Timothy 1:1. That hope comes from a relationship with Jesus.

Rediscovering the gift of hope this Christmas is possible when we seek the ONE who is our hope… Jesus.

PP: 2. God’s GIFT of Joy

The prophet Isaiah writing about they people of his day said: PP: And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness. (Isaiah 8:22)

Folks, you don’t have to look far to see that people are living like that today… in distress, darkness, anguish.

You can see it in their Facebook posts.
We saw it Wednesday night caroling at Shoprite. The faces of many of the people were anything but joyful, some were plain angry, anxious, and even… sad.
Perhaps you see the darknessin your own home.

But it doesn’t have to remain that way, not when you rediscover the Gift of Joy this Christmas.

Listen: PP: And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:8–11)

Think about this: Even the angel’s declaration of the Good News.. is good news in itself.

And one of the things that makes the joy so great is that it was not just meant for the shepherds in the field that proverbial night…

Its intended for all the people… friends, you are All the people!

That alone is reason to fill your heart with GREAT JOY!

Listen, Joy, like Hope, is not associated with or dependent upon your circumstances.

PP: You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy(Ps 16:11a)

PP: These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11)

From a Biblical perspective,

Joy is knowing you are part of something incredible, something eternal, the Kingdom of God.
Joy is knowing, being assured that you are perfectly, unconditionally and eternally loved by God.
Joy is knowing your sins are forever and completely forgiven.
Joy is knowing that you are saved from hell and saved to heaven.
Joy is the celebration of seeing the ongoing work of God in and through your life.

Rediscovering the gift of joy this Christmas is possible when we seek the ONE who is our joy… Jesus.

PP: 3. God’s GIFT of Peace

There is an increasing sense of unsettledness in people today, perhaps you’ve experienced it yourself.

Resentment, hurt, confusion, anxiety, depression, fear. Sound familiar?

Yet, we sing the song ‘I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day’ which says ‘Peace on earth and good will towards men.’

Shouldn’t we be experienceing some of that peace, at least during the Christmas season?

Well yes and no.

The actual Bible verse that phrase comes from is Luke 2:14 PP: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased! (Luke 2:14)

The song is not a very good translation of the original Greek,where there’s a condition placed on God’s peaceamong those with whom He (God) is pleased!

Look, the Good News the angels announced to the shepherds was Good News, because there’s also bad news. As hard as this may be to hear,

God promises peace to those who are

His children, by faith in Jesus… it’s to those with whom God is pleased.

To others God says in the Bible PP:  There is no peace, says the Lord, for the wicked. (Isaiah 48:22)

From the Biblical perspective, wicked is anyone who’s sin is not forgiven by faith in Jesus.

So, yes, those who are not yet a Christian by faith in Jesus can know peace, to some degree in life. But it’s not constant, nor is it deep.

Because like hope and joy, it too is tied to their circumstances.

But, God made the way to real peace through faith in Jesus.

And we see how in Colossians 1:20 PP: and through Him (Jesus) to reconcile to Himself (God the Father) all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1:20)

Peace between God and you and I, becoming a child of God, was made possible by Jesus’ death on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. BUT, it’s not automatic.

In Johns Gospel we read: PP: But to all who did receive Him (Jesus), who believed in His name, He (God the Father) gave the right to become children of God, (John 1:12)

The result of faith in Jesus’s death on the cross is peace with God. PP: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)

The result of faith in Jesus’s death on the cross is a wonderful promise from Jesus Himself: PP: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)

The peace that led Jesus confidently and calmly to the cross, is the same peace He gives to lead you through the unsettledness of life.

One last text to show the pervasiveness of God’s peace to those who place their faith in Jesus: PP: Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. (2 Thessalonians 3:16)

God is peace…

He will give you the gift of His peace

At all times
In every way

How?

By His constant and intimate presence 

Rediscovering the gift of peacethis Christmas is possible when we seek the ONE who is our peace… Jesus.

PP: Next Slide

4. God’s GIFT of Love

We’re all familiar with the Christmas Carol ‘Santa Clause is Coming to Town.’ One of the particularly important lines in the song is this one:

PP: He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice, He’s gonnafind out whose naught or nice.

In the song theres a connection between our behavior and whether Santa gives us gifts at Christmas.

Aren’t you glad God doesn’t work that way?

Many times, we give gifts at Christmas to people we love. And we often, give great thought and do a lot of searching to find the perfect gift for them.

The most famous verse in the Bible is not related to Christmas but perhaps should, because it talks about the greatest gift God gave to humanity, because of His love…

PP: For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) and like it PP: God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

God gave us the gift of Jesus to prove His love for us.

PP: Quickly let me tell you 2wonderful truths about God’s love:

God’s love is unconditional:

The world around us says that love must be earned in order to receive love from someone.
God’s love is different, it’s w/o condition or price tag.

God’s love is limitless:

The world around us says that I will love you as long as you treat me well and love me.
God says, I am love, I can’t love you any more or less than I already do. So as long as I am God, I will love you!

Rediscovering the gift of lovethis Christmas is possible when we seek the ONE who is love… Jesus.

PP: 5. God’s GIFT of Jesus

I know people say ‘It’s not the gift but the thought that counts’ but is that REALLY true?

How happy would you be if you got a bag of toothpicksfor Christmas or a 1/2 gallon of milk in your stocking?

What would be your perfect gift to get on Christmas, the one that would, without a doubt, top your list forever? The absolutely best gift you could ever get?

Well, did you know God has such a gift… for you? The Apostle Paul recognized the enormity of God’s gift and put it this way: PP: Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Synonyms for inexpressible are:

Indescribable, indefinable, overwhelming

Words cannot explain just how marvelous, wonderful, significant and perfect this gift of God is.

And to top it off.. God gives it to us FREELY, w/o cost to us.

The inexpressible gift, is Jesus!

PP: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8–9)

That’s what I’ve been saying all morning. Jesus is the greatest gift, the inexpressible gift that makes Christmas… not just special, but transformational.

Why transformational? PP: For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

PP: Next Slide

Because of our sin against God, we deserve only death, eternal separation from Him… and yes, in the real place called hell.

That’s the bad news. Here’s the good news of Christmas.

PP: For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:17)

Into the world, means, God sent Jesus to you. Not to condemn you, but to save you.

Look, God is not against you, Hes for you!
God doesn’t want you to die apart from Him. He wants you to be with Him forever.

The inexpressible gift, the transformational gift, is Jesus!

At Christmas, God came… for you! The question this Christmas is

Will you accept the gift of His Son, Jesus?

PP: Next Slide

Conclusion: A little girl once misquoted John 3:16 when she said:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only forgotten Son. (Brian Bill)

Please, don’t forget Jesus this Christmas season.

 

PP: Next Slide

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