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Ever received a Christmas gift early? I do sometimes. From time to time my family in England sends presents. They often arrive early, and I have to confess that sometimes I have opened them before Christmas.
That part of God’s gift we call “eternal life” we have to wait for. Clearly we need to pass from this life before we can enjoy life in the next. But we would be mistaken if we believed we had to wait until then to enjoy the benefits of God’s gift.
God offers his gift of salvation to all people – and it is a gift we can start enjoying right now. You don’t have to wait until you die to enjoy the benefits of God’s gift.
In this account of the angel Gabriel’s visit with Mary, we see that there are at least three aspects of God’s gift that we can enjoy right here, right now.
1. KNOW THEY ARE PRECIOUS TO GOD (vv 26-30)
First of all we see that recipients of God’s gift can know with assurance they are precious to God (OHP)
Greetings you who are highly favored (v28).. Mary, you have found favor with God (v30)
Brigadier Jim Wallace, “God weeps over your rejection of the gift of his Son.” (Advocate and News this week re bolstering Army numbers for SAS response to terrorist attack)
You really matter to God. All people are precious to God.
The angel Gabriel said to Mary,
Greetings you who are highly favored (v28)
And also …
Mary, you have found favor with God (v30)
And we are told that Mary was “greatly troubled” by this greeting. Why would she be greatly troubled?
It may well have been because she didn’t feel particularly favored by God – she may well have felt unworthy of such an honorable greeting. To the world Mary was not worth very much – and she probably believed it! To the world she was an insignificant, impoverished child. And she was a woman in a culture where men ruled supreme! The world said she had little value – good for childbearing and housekeeping – that’s about it.
But in this account Mary reminds us that our worth in God’s eyes doesn’t depend on our age, how much we know about the bible, or on whether or not we are a Christian. Mary reminds us that our value is not dependent upon what we have achieved with our lives – nor is our value dependent upon what’s happened to us in life. The youngest, simplest and most despised - according to this world’s terms - can have a vital faith in God, be loved deeply by him and find their true value in knowing him.
To God every person is acceptable; loved; favored; approved; important; valuable; dignified; distinguished; priceless; significant – you matter to God!
In the Psalms we are reminded that we are “Fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps 139:14). Our value is built-in to who we are not what we have done with our lives.
Remember the prodigal son? The father loved him simply because he was his son, not because he was a success. To the world the son’s life was a complete write off, but he was still precious to the father.
The point is, everyone matters to God (Luke 15)
So part of the early Christmas present is to know you are precious to your heavenly Father.
So what? What does this mean?
Well for a start, being precious to God means that you have worth that is beyond adding up. No matter what you have done with your life – no matter what’s been done to you in your life – you
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