Iliff and Saltillo UM churches
December 21, 2003
4th Sunday of Advent
“Love Lifted Me”
INTRODUCTION: On a recent TV interview, Dr. Joyce Brothers, named three types of Christmas gift givers and the characteristics of each. We can probably identify ourselves in each of the types at one time or another. One is the Duty-Gift Giver. This person has an obligation gift to buy--it really doesn’t matter what it is just so it will serve the purpose. The intent is that you give so you will get something back from the other person. Your heart is not really into choosing “the right” gift or the “perfect gift” or “even something that the person will like”--just something--ANYTHING will do.
The second kind of giver is the Traditional Gift Giver who always chooses something “appropriate” to give. It might be a book for on the coffee table--always “acceptable” but maybe not a really “Personal” gift. It is a Nice--Acceptable--Appropriate gift and it never goes over budget.
The third type of Gift Giver is called the Passionate Giver. The giver ENTHUSIASTICALLY looks for just the Right Gift and knows the person well enough to say, “I know that this is something he needs or this is what she has been wanting.” The giver knows the right color, the right size, and doesn’t mind going over budget if need be. The gift fits the need, or the desire of the recipient and the giver is simply happy to give it.
How does this relate to today’s scripture? The sacrifical system was a system that served the purpose for a time, but it didn’t meet the needs of the people. It only dealt with the sin problem in a temporary way. The blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins and the temporary offerings had to be repeated time after time, year after year. The sacrificial system was only a shadow of what was to come.
John 3:16 says that “for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
I think we could say that God was a Passionate Giver. He didn’t give the least that he could get by with.
Today’s scripture in Hebrews also gives us insight into what Jesus thought about coming to earth. The writer restates an old prophecy from Psalm 40:6,7 referring to Jesus.
“Sacrifice and offerings you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me. With burnt
offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.
Then I [Jesus} said, “Here I am--it is written about me in the scroll-
“I have come to do your will, O God.”
This prophecy in Psalm 40 restated in today’s scripture points out the pre-existence of Christ. What did he say about giving his life for the sins of all people? Was it too high a price to pay? Was he willing to “go over budget”?
Hebrews 2:14 tells us that he was not only willing to come but that he identified with us “since the children have flesh and blood he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy the power of death--that is the devil and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
Scripture shows us that Jesus was a passionate giver as well.
What do we do with the gifts that people give us? Do we value them? Do we toss them aside as soon as the holidays are over?
One of the new terms I’ve been hearing on TV is “Re-gifting”--if you get a gift you don’t like or can’t use you pass it along to someone else. Some news commentators thought “re-gifting” was a good idea and others thought it was a bad idea--especially if the person who gave it in the first place finds out.
Do we treasure the gifts or toss them?
We can ask the same question at this Christmas season. What about God’s gift? When people remember sins they either repent and turn from them or persist in their sins. We either treasure or toss His Gift of Salvation.
A passionate giver, Christ has provided the ONCE FOR ALL SACRIFICE. Christ came to make a SINGLE SACRIFICE for sins and that was it.
It cost a lot but he didn’t care.
No other religion speaks of one great even that brings salvation through the centuries and through the world. This is the distinctive doctrine of Christianity.
It is up to each one of to decide whether we receive the gift of his love or toss it aside. What will you do about it today?
Let us Pray: