Did you open your gift?!

INTRODUCTION:

People normally wait for Christmas with anticipation. Certainly when it comes to Christmas gifts, we have all experienced that at one stage or another in our lives. As we mature, as born again believers however, we begin to anticipate Christmas, not because of what we will get but because of what we can give! When you shop diligently and spent hard-earned money for a loved one’s gift, only to see it ignored, it breaks your heart. Have you ever left a Christmas gift unopened?

I haven’t! In fact, the only Christmas presents that are ever left unopened are those wrapped for someone who does not arrive to receive them. Sadly, when it comes to God’s gift that is what many are doing. They have left the greatest of all gifts – the gift of God’s love wrapped up in His Son, Jesus Christ – unopened.

 

SCRIPTURE READING:

John 3:16-17 NKJV

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.

 

TEXT:

John 3:16 AB

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ([d] unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.

 

Johannes 3:16 AOV

Want so lief het God die wêreld gehad, dat Hy sy eniggebore Seun gegee het, sodat elkeen wat in Hom glo, nie verlore mag gaan nie, maar die ewige lewe kan hê.

 

THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A GIFT:

What are the Characteristics of a true gift? What makes it a true gift?

 

  1. the gift must be a surprise:

When Christmas comes around, you often try to figure out if you will get that gift you really wanted. And if you buy a gift for a loved one, you put a lot of effort in the buying or making of the gift. It is something that comes out of your heart. It is a way of expressing your love and your appreciation for that person. And it is supposed to be a surprise!

God’s gift to us was and still is a complete surprise. It was not expected, and as you examine it more carefully, you realize how great a gift it actually is. We as human beings expected to be punished – death penalty – because of our sins. But God surprised us and He gave us the opposite – eternal life! God surprised us with the perfect gift, His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is a gift that begins giving the moment you receive Him as Savior and then continues to give throughout your present life here on earth and for all eternity. We read in John 3:16 “For God so loved…” He gave us the perfect gift of His unlimited, unending and unconditional love. What a surprise!

 

  1. The gift must be wrapped:

When you bought that special gift for a loved one, you go home and wrap it in special paper with a ribbon on top and a card with a personal and special message. You put in a lot of effort and love in preparing and wrapping the gift.

God’s gift came to us in the humblest of wrappings. What would you think if you saw a gift under your Christmas tree that was wrapped in newspaper and tied up with string?

But think about God’s gift to us. Jesus was not born in a palace of gold; He was born in a stable. He was clothed with rags. He was laid in a feeding trough. Yet these things do not, in any way, diminish the gift of God to us. God’s gift to humanity, the ultimate gift of eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ, came in the most awesome wrapping. It is wrapped in the love of God and characterised with the ribbon of grace.

 

  1. The gift is not deserved:

You don’t deserve a gift. It is not something that you work for. It is a gift; it is given out of favour and good will. At Christmas, we give gifts to those whom we care about, who we love, who have been kind to us out of good will and with a loving attitude.

God didn’t give the gift of Jesus to us because we deserved it. In fact, it was just the opposite. It was given by God because He wanted to. It is an act of love and favour.

John 3:16-17 NKJV

(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.

(17) For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world,

but that the world through Him might be saved.

We deserve death penalty. We deserve to be punished for our sins. But God instead gave us the opposite, eternal life. He gave us grace – unmerited favour. He gave us mercy.

 

  1. The gift tells something about the giver:

When you want to give someone a gift, you start thinking about it ahead of time. Hopefully, you try to find what that person wants or needs. You give the gift out of your heart. The act of giving the gift is an expression of your love and appreciation. The kind of gift and the compassion regarding the gift says a lot about who you are!

When God decided to give us the gift of eternal life, it wasn’t something that He just thought of on the fly. Long before there was a town called Bethlehem, a garden called Eden, and a planet called Earth, a decision was made in eternity that God would send forth His Son, born of a woman, to redeem those that are under the law. The Bible says that He was slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8). Make no mistake about it: this gift that God has given to us was the most sacrificial thing He possibly could have offered. So Christmas isn’t about those gifts that you have under your tree. All of those things will be gone one day. All that will be left after this life is the human soul, and that will live forever. Life is about what happens beyond the grave. Life is about knowing the God who made you and who gave you the greatest gift you will ever receive. God gave you Jesus Christ. It tells you everything about God and His love for you!

 

  1. The gift must be accepted:

The gift must be accepted and received by the receiver. Then and only then can it be a true gift. Then and only then did the gift served its purpose. When we live in gratitude, our giving becomes receiving! Then and only then can we really experience what our Lord Jesus Christ meant when He said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ (Act 20:35). When you look at the person who received the gift that you gave and you see the gratitude and the joy, it is so rewarding and you are so blessed. Are you willing to receive and to accept the gift of God?

 

CONCLUSION:

I once heard the story of a young man who was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer’s showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted. As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car. Finally, on the morning of his graduation, his father called him into his private study.

His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautiful wrapped gift box.

Curious, but somewhat disappointed, the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible, with the young man’s name embossed in gold. Angrily, he raised his voice to his father and said; With all your money you give me a Bible? And stormed out of the house, leaving the Bible.

Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and wonderful family, but realized his father was very old, and thought perhaps he should go visit him. He had not seen him since that graduation day. Before he could make arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to his son.

When he arrived at his father’s house, sudden Sorry, sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search through his father’s important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as he had left it years ago. With tears, he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages. His father had carefully underlined a verse. As he read those words, a car key dropped from the back of the Bible. It had a tag with the dealer’s name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words…

‘PAID IN FULL’

When the Christmas wrappings have been tossed in the trash can, when the Christmas tree is gone and when the Christmas meals have been eaten and forgotten, Jesus will ever be the same. He is, after all, “the same yesterday, today and forever.”

So open your heart to Jesus this Christmas and He will open to you the greatest of all Christmas gifts – the gift of His love and grace. The gift of eternal life! This is the one gift you don’t want to leave unopened!

 

 

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