We continue in our series, “Discovering the Hidden Gifts of Christmas.” Christmas holidays tend to be stressful. Most of us tend to get wrapped up the world’s view of gift giving and buying. We need to let the Wise Men guide us to discovering how they handled the gift giving situation. Pastor Elwin will share with us what they are. In the end, we hope we all will see gift giving in a special way - God’s way.
During Christmas when we give gifts, we tend to base our decision on two categories. They are obligation and favor. The first one is obligation. Obligation gift giving is when someone gave us a gift, so we need to get a gift for the gift. It could be given to us on Christmas Eve, so we have to rush to the store to buy our gift in reciprocation. Typically we then buy a gift of equal value or more. We don’t want to be out done. The next one is a gift of favor. This is when a gift giver expects a current or future favor in return. In the Three Magi’s journey, they saw gift giving in a different way. No matter what the cost was, they gave their special gifts as if they were giving their gifts to the Lord Himself.
As the Bible says, Let us read what it says in the following verse.... "When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the Child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him... and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh." (Matt. 2:10-11 NIV)
How many wise men were there? We are not sure. How much of frankincense were there? We don’t know. How much myrrh was gathered? We don’t know. What they gave was priceless. Cost was not important. They wanted the best. It is important to note that it was sacrifice on their part. The Wise Men had to travel far. Traveling away from the comforts of their palaces, they had to travel to see the King. Maybe a large entourage came with them. But the Magi believed that the best gifts are…
With sacrificial love, spending time together with love ones is very important. In my Bible I keep a picture of Jared and a note he gave me. This picture and note remind me of the time I adopted him and the time I need to spend with him now. These moments are very precious. I cannot put time with him off. So too, it should be with you. The Wise Men gave us a gift that lasts a lifetime which is the…
2. Gifts that last: CHANGE.
"And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way." (Matt. 2:12)
The Wise Men had to come face to face with Jesus. They had to do some changes in their lives to stay on course to find the baby Jesus. They could not remain the same. It is the same with us now. We need to change when we come face to face with Jesus.
"But when the people of the land come before the Lord...he who enters by way of the north gate to worship shall go out by way of the south gate. And he who enters by way of the south gate shall go out by way of the north gate. No one shall return by way of the gate by which he entered..." (Ezek. 46:9) In other words, we should let God change us for the better each day. As a reminder of this, let us leave New Hope by a different way from the one we came in. Let us leave as a different and better Christian. Once we do change, we can create …
If we don’t change, we miss living in the present. Remember, yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery and today is a gift. That is why it is called the present. Do all your actions as a Godly legacy to your family and friends. As Pastor Wayne has said, “More will be caught, than taught.”
This means that we need to be a good example. People are watching us.
Infuse your entire gift giving with this next point…
3. Gifts of URGENCY.
Let us do everything with a sense of urgency. We need to do things now. Don’t wait. We need to give our sacrificial love, forgiveness, togetherness and friendship to people now. I have counseled many troubled families. Most of them have said that they wish they had spent more time with family members or talked more with their children. Life is short. Don’t let it be too late. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring or even if there will be a tomorrow for each of us.
"Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." (James 4:14)
If you could take off to play golf, go tailgating or to a football game, you could have taken your wife or child out or spent time with them. Don’t waste your time on things that don’t last.
Let us read the following…
They were going to be all they wanted to be, tomorrow.
None would be braver or kinder than they, tomorrow.
A friend who was troubled and wearied they knew,
Would be glad for a life and needed it too
And on him they would call and see what they could do, tomorrow.
Each morning they stacked up the letters they'd write, tomorrow.
And thought of the folks that they would fill with delight, tomorrow.
The greatest of people they just might have been.
The world would have opened its heart up to them.
But in fact, they passed on and faded from view,
And all they had left when their living was through,
Was a mountain of things they intended to do, tomorrow.
In conclusion, we need to remember the Wise Men’s precious gifts were not the frankincense, gold and myrrh but the gift of sacrifice, gift of change and gift of urgency. Those gifts give us heavenly rewards which are for eternity.
1. What are the two wrong motivations when we want to give gifts to others?
2. Discuss some examples of them.
3. What is sacrificial love?
4. Who is the best example of giving sacrificial love?
5. What kind of memories are you building with your loved ones?
6. How are you going to use the gift of urgency?