God’s Greatest Gift
This is the next sermon in our current series, “Do You See What I See”
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As we continue our series, “Do You See What I See” we are going through Advent and this message will look at the greatest gift that you’ll ever receive.
Christmas can really be summed up in the most famous verse in the Bible: “God so LOVED the world that HE GAVE his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life!” (John 3:16) That’s the whole purpose of Christmas…God so loved the world. God so loved the world that He gave the very first Christmas gift…the gift of His Son. It’s the greatest gift you’re ever going to receive.
To build the foundation of this post I want to read Romans 8:32, “Since God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, then can we not expect that, with him, God will freely give us ALL his gifts?” So, if God loves you enough to send Jesus Christ to come and die on the cross for you, he loves you enough to take care of all your other needs.
Have you ever received a gift inside of a gift? You get a box; you open it up and there’s another box inside. You open it up and there’s still another box inside that one. Inside one gift is a bunch of other little gifts. At Christmas, God’s gift to you is Jesus Christ. That’s the big box that God gives you. But inside the big box are many other smaller gifts. Yet all of God’s gifts are wrapped in Jesus.
People often say, “The spirit of Christmas is giving.” I’m going to shock you, but that’s wrong. The spirit of Christmas is not giving. Giving is a subset…a little box. It’s an application. The spirit of Christmas is not actually giving. The spirit of Christmas is actually receiving God’s gift to you. We receive so many gifts from God, but I only have time to talk about two in this post.
When I accept Jesus Christ, the big gift…
1. God gives me a new identity.
Some of you will be able to relate to this letter: “I feel like for my entire life I have been defined by other people. First, my mom constantly berated me to be something or someone she wanted me to be, but I had no interest in that. Sometimes my dad would join in. And the pressure to perform and to please and to gain their approval was overwhelming. I never felt validated growing up for who I really was. Then in school I always felt pressured by my friends to fit in and to be cool and to do things I didn’t want to do or didn’t like to do. I wore a mask and felt like an imposter most of my time in school. Then when I started dating and later when I married my spouse, I felt constant pressure to please others and to stifle my own feelings and needs about who I wanted to be. I’ve worried so much for my entire life about gaining the approval of others that I don’t really know who I am or what I’m supposed to be.”
That’s an identity problem. Do you know what the fastest growing crime in the world is today? It’s identity theft. Sadly, the truth is that we’ve all had our identity stolen…the identity that God gave us at birth. Sometimes your identity is stolen by your parents. They want you to be what they want you to be and not who God made you to be. Sometimes your identity is stolen by your friends, by your peers. Sometimes your identity is stolen by our problems…both current or future. Sometimes your identity is stolen by our culture and the pressure to conform. And if you don’t conform to the world’s ideal, you’re considered not relevant. Because of this pressure, you may end up not knowing your true identity. Let me ask you a very personal question: Where do you get YOUR identity?
Most people get their identity from one of three things: from their work, from their relationships, or from their possessions. Let me give you some very important advice as a pastor who loves you. Never, never, ever, ever base your identity on something you can lose. Never.
If you build your identity around a relationship and you lose it, what happens to your identity?
If you build your identity on your career, or on your job, and you lose it, you get fired, you get laid off, what happens to your identity?
If you build your identity on your possessions and you lose them what happens to your identity? I’ve seen the rich become poor and most lost their identity.
If you build your identity on your looks – remember…beauty fades.
If you build your identity on something that can be taken from you, you’re going to lose it because it’s not your true identity.
The only thing that cannot be taken away from you is this:
God’s unconditional love.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is they let their failures define them.
They let their fears define them. They let their faults define them. They let their sins and their struggles define them.
You are not your sin. You are not your struggle. You are not your weakness. You are not your past. You’ve got to stop seeing yourself the way the world wants to see you. On the other hand, you’ve got to start seeing yourself the way God sees you. You’ve got to stop listening to the lies of the world and you’ve got to start listening to the truth of God’s Word.
So, the first gift you receive from God is a new identity.
But there’s a second gift God has for you.
2. God gives you new ability…through His Spirit.
Not just a new identity, God gives me new ability. He gives me a new power, new energy, new strength, new capacity through His Spirit.
You’re not just depending on willpower to change. How often do we try to change things in our lives on our own, but discover that approach doesn’t work? You eventually get tired or discouraged and give up. You don’t need will power; you need God’s power.
God says he’s going to give you new ability.
He says he’s not just going to be Around you. He’s going to put his Spirit IN you. Romans 5:5 says, “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” God’s Spirit is His second gift. He says I’m not just going to be working ON you – I’m going to be working IN you.
Let’s be honest. We know the right things to do. We know the changes we want to make in our lives. We have the desire, but we don’t have the ability. God says I’m going to give you the desire and the ability to fulfill my purpose for your life. God’s Spirit gives you the ability and the power to keep going.
It’s not about trying it’s about trusting.
It’s not about willpower, it’s about God’s power.
It’s not about guilt, it’s about grace.
It’s not about legalism, it’s about love.
Love is what changes us and the more I’m filled with God’s love the more power I have to change. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God does not give us a spirit of fear, but instead He fills us with power, love, and self-discipline.”
And that brings us to God’s third gift…the love received from the body of Christ.