Summary: 1) putting ducks in a row 2) fixing misconceptions about evangelism 3) feel the blessing of giving 4) feel like you can give to your hearts content
Does anyone else really like to give gifts? I really love to buy and give gifts to other people because it makes their eyes light up and their face glow. Just seeing a shiny wrapped present is enough to have fun. You may feel this sermon is a little too late but I think it is just in time. Christmas has become a time for gift giving but the other 364 days each year work just as well. I think it is fun to randomly give gifts to people. Some of you may have received letters from me throughout the year. Some of you will be receiving some soon enough. It may only be a few minutes each but I still want to contact you somehow so that you know that I care. Sometimes we may feel like we are not able to give gifts because we don’t have the resources to give to others. Maybe finances are running a little short this year or maybe you just don’t have time to go out and buy a gift.
It could be a little like my situation. My dad is the biggest pain to shop for in the universe because he just doesn’t care if he gets anything. I hate to admit it but I am just as bad. No matter whether it is his birthday, Christmas, or even father’s day, no one can find a gift for him. So far, the best gift he has received is an electric razor that cleans itself. He loves that thing. So, I would really like to get something for my dad that would show him how much we, the kids, love and respect him. I once saw a show where a guy bought his father the car of his dreams and fixed it up for him. That episode made me think of buying my dad the vehicle of his dreams, a Harley Davidson motorcycle. I think my dad would scream like a little girl if he saw one of those pull in his drive with his name on it. It might almost be worth it to hear my dad scream like a girl. None of us make that kind of money, so it is out of the question.
I want to discuss with you today Matthew 10:8 which says, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.” Jesus had given this specific group of men and women miraculous powers for a short time so that they could go out and help people and give them the hope of knowing Christ. Christ has given each of you many assets and abilities that you too can give away and help those around you. It can become easy to make excuses for not reaching out to others and helping them. You might be afraid of rejection or maybe you don’t feel it is necessary. Yet, both the rich and the poor need what you can give. You can give time, love, your story, and most importantly, Jesus Christ. Let’s start with the smallest and yet still crucial giving of time.
I spent some time considering Jesus Christ’s ministry and found a very consistent pattern. One very clear example comes from Mark 6. Jesus had just fed five-thousand people with a couple of fish and five loaves of bread. He had just finished teaching them from light until dark. I would imagine he was probably exhausted from all that he had done. Before all that, he had been traveling by slowly by boat in tumultuous waters. Everyone wanted a piece of Jesus. “The people saw them going, and many recognized them and ran there together on foot from all the cities, and got there ahead of them.” Thousands and thousands of people saw Jesus on the water and ran toward where He was heading. The man could not get a break and yet look at how he deals with them. He commands his disciples to feed the people to make sure they don’t faint on the way home. Instead of being worried about himself, He put these people at the top of his list when giving out his time and energy.
I remember my family once we moved to Anadarko to take care of my grandmother. My father had been blacklisted from hospitals which means they refused to hire him and so my mother worked. My dad constantly worked trying to help make ends meet. Honestly, we just didn’t have time to do much together. We didn’t have any money to do stuff together either. We always wanted to go fishing but it never happened. The greatest memory I have of my father is when we went to cut down the Christmas tree every year. We got to spend 100% of our time as kids with my dad. I believe that is why that memory is so absolutely important to me today.