30 Dec Three Christmas Gifts Money Can’t Buy
Message Series: Three Christmas Gifts Money Can’t Buy
Message #1: Faith, the Gift that Makes Christmas
Have you wondered if you’d really care about some of the Christmas presents mentioned in “Twelve Days of Christmas”? Here are the lyrics and images to a version of this popular song by John Denver and The Muppets:
On the first day of Christmas, My true love gave to me
A partridge in a pear tree. On the second day of Christmas, My true love gave to me two turtle doves. On the third day of Christmas, My true love gave to me
three French hens. On the fourth day of Christmas, My true love gave to me
four calling birds. On the fifth day of Christmas, My true love gave to me
five golden ring. On the sixth day of Christmas, My true love gave to me
six geese a laying. On the seventh day of Christmas, My true love gave to me
seven swans a swimming. On the eighth day of Christmas, My true love gave to me eight maids a milking. On the ninth day of Christmas, My true love gave to me nine ladies dancing. On the tenth day of Christmas, My true love gave to me ten lords a leaping. On the eleventh day of Christmas, My true love gave to me eleven pipers piping. On the twelfth day of Christmas, My true love gave to me twelve drummers drumming.
How many of the Christmas presents mentioned in The Twelve Days of Christmas would you really want this Christmas (besides the five gold rings)? Well, I think some of these gifts could actually be meaningful in unique ways. Let us consider a Christmas gift that you and I are not probably wishing to get as priced present this Christmas. Do you want to learn about it? The gift I want to talk about is faith! When you really get to think about it, faith is the gift that makes Christmas, especially for those who believe in the Christmas of the Bible. Let’s start with an introduction to faith, then focus on the faith of Mary that made that first Christmas possible, paving the way for us to have a Jesus-centered Christmas this year.
- The Origin of Faith: where faith comes from
- Faith comes from a source beyond human means.
- Romans 12:3 “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”
2. The Object of Faith: where to place your faith; why we need faith
- It matters what or whom put your faith in.
- Mark 11:22 “So Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Have faith in God.’”
- Matthew 17:20 “So Jesus said to them, ‘…assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.’”
- Little faith in a Big God is better than big faith in a little god.
- The Objective of Faith: what to do with faith
(a) We need faith to be saved. Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
(b) We need faith to understand our world. Hebrews 11:1-3 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”
(c) We need faith to please God. Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
(d) We need faith to serve God through His church. Ephesians 4:11-12 “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
(e) We need faith to exercise courage in times of doubt or trial. 1 Corinthians 16:13 “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.”
(f) We need faith to engage in spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6:16 “above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”
(g) We need faith to pray effectively. James 5:14-16 “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
(h) We need faith to receive resources from God. James 1:5-8 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
(i) We need to believe God for His planned miracle. Luke 1:34-38,45 (read from Bible) “Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’ 35 And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.’ 38 Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word…’”
Why is faith essential to a true Christmas experience? Because without faith, you and I cannot benefit from any of the other precious gifts that God gave us at that first Christmas. What are the invaluable blessings of Christmas that require faith to receive and enjoy?
- Salvation. Luke 1:68-69 “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people, 69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David.”
- Eternal life and everlasting life. John 3:15-16“…whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 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.”
- Peace. Luke 2:14 (the angel speaking to the shepherds) “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:29-30(Simeon speaking at the dedication of Baby Jesus in the temple) “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation.”
- Joy. Matthew 2:10 (speaking of the wise men who came from the East in search of the Child Jesus) “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.”
- Jesus Christ! 2 Corinthians 9:15 (Apostle Paul writing) “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” But the Son of God, the greatest Gift from Heaven, requires faith; the Jesus Christ is a useless Gift to anyone who refuses to believe! John 8:24 “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
- And no one can believe in Jesus and experience the real Christmas unless that person has faith that Jesus is the Messiah, sent by God to save everyone from sin and make everyone who believes a child of God and a citizen of God’s kingdom! Have you believed in Jesus Christ as your Savior and King? You are invited to receive Him now by faith. Then you will see Christmas in a whole new way, through the eyes of faith, and you can experience Christmas with a heart of faith – Christmas in the most meaningful way.
Message Series: Three Christmas Gifts Money Can’t Buy
Message #2: The Hope of Christmas
The Christ child of Christmas is the embodiment of hope.
- A baby is hope in flesh and blood. When a parent holds a baby, you see in that baby the potential for change, growth, improvement, a brighter future, better days. That is why God launched His redemption program with the birth of a baby: Hope!
We sing about this hope in some of the Christmas carols:
O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee to-night.
O holy night the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn
Questions to guide our understanding and application of Christmas hope:
- What is our cultural notion of hope? What is the scriptural meaning of hope?
In Webster’s Dictionary, the verb “hope” means “to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true; to cherish a desire with anticipation; to desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment; to expect with confidence.” And as a noun, Webster says, “hope” is “the feeling of wanting something to happen and thinking that it could happen; a feeling that something good will happen or be true; the chance that something good will happen; someone or something that may be able to provide help.”
Wiley Online Library points out, “…in the Bible hope is the confident expectation of what God has promised and its strength is in His faithfulness.”
- Why is hope essential to life? What difference does hope make? Just how powerful is hope?
Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.
Romans 5:5 Now hope does not disappoint…
Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Psalms 42:5,11 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.
Hope is the ultimate coping mechanism. Hope strengthens our will to cope.
Hope is oxygen to the soul. Hope is our spiritual and psychological breath that keeps us alive and going, looking forward to a better day. What air is to the body, hope is to the spirit and soul; the soul breathes hope, making it possible to expect a better day coming.
Pastor John Piper explains, “Biblical hope not only desires something good for the future — it expects it to happen.” He says, “Hope is like a reservoir of emotional strength. If I am put down, I look to the emotional reservoir of hope for the strength to return good for evil. Without hope, I have no power to absorb the wrong and walk in love, and I sink into self-pity or self-justification. If I experience a setback in my planning — I get sick, or things don’t go the way I’d hoped in the board meeting, for example — I look to the emotional reservoir of hope for the strength to keep going and not give up. If I face a temptation to be dishonest, to steal, to lie, or to lust, I look to the emotional reservoir of hope for the strength to hold fast to the way of righteousness, and deny myself some brief, unsatisfying pleasure.
- How does the Bible describe God-rooted hope?
Colossians 1:27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.
Titus 3:7 …having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
- How did and how would Christmas hope impact the conditions and cultures of people as well as the world and all of creation?
Mary, expressed in her song: Luke 1: 46-49 And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. 48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. 49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.
The shepherds, under the open sky in the fields at night: Luke 2:10-12Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.
Simeon, the priest: Luke 2:26-32 …it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus… 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: 29 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation 31 which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, 32 a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”
Haggai 2:6-7 “For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; 7 and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts.
Isaiah 9:1-2 Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be afflicted, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles…will be filled with glory. 2 The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.
Romans 8:18-21 (NLT) Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who His children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.
In what areas of your life do you need hope right now? How can you tap into the hope of Christmas to better cope with the challenges you are facing?
Message Series: Three Christmas Gifts Money Can’t Buy
Message #3: Christmas Love
The Three Abiding Gifts: 1 Corinthians 13:13
The three most abiding gifts of God around which the biblical story is wrapped are faith, hope and love. These are three abiding gifts that money cannot buy. With faith we believe God enough to receive from God. With hope we expect God to deliver on His promises. And with love we can relate to God on a personal basis, even as a child relates to a father.
Though the longer versions of the Christmas story in the Bible are found in Gospels of Matthew and Luke, it is in the Gospel of John that we discover the Christmas story as a love story. The shortest version of the Christmas love story is the most widely known verse in the Bible. You guessed it: John 3:16. Let’s unpack God’s love gift, which He gave to us when Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came from Heaven to Earth in the form of a Baby Boy. What kind of love is this?
The Shortest Christmas Story: John 3:16
- Christmas love has its roots in the God of Heaven, and it reaches down to the people of Earth. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son”
- 1 John 4:8,16,19 “Anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 19 We love each other because he loved us first.”
- Christmas love reaches out to all people, inviting them to to receive God’s gift by believing in God’s Son. “that whoever believes in Him”
- Ephesians 3:17-19 “Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”
- Christmas love reconciles God to humans and bridges the relational gaps between people. “should not perish but have everlasting life”
- The widest gap of separation exists between God and people, as wide as Heaven is separated from Earth. Out of love, God sent His son to bridge this gap. Christmas love bridged the spiritual gap between Heaven and Earth, between God and the human race. “Immanuel” – God with us!
- 1 Timothy 2:5 “For, There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 “And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.”
- Once we are reconciled to God through His love by Jesus, we can then truly reconcile to each other by the power of God’s love. This reconciling power of God’s love was on display that first Christmas, as we watch separated groups come together through the Christ child.
- God’s love bridged the age gap between Elizabeth and Mary.
- God’s love bridged the social gap between the shepherds and the holy family.
- God’s love bridged the ethnic gap between the Gentile wise men and a Jewish family.