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Summary: Christmas Sermon. Along with Jesus come the gifts of Love, Joy, and Peace.

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GOD’S GREATEST GIFT

A. Christmas can be a STRESSFUL time of year, especially if you, like many of us, wait until the last minute to BUY your GIFTS.

1. The song says, "Tis the season to be jolly," but have you been to WALL MART?

ILLUSTRATION:

My family and I have gone Christmas SHOPPING at several STORES in Danville and Champaign over the past few weeks. The PARKING LOTS were FULL. People were BUSTLING here, there, everywhere frantically looking for BARGAINS or trying to FIND the right GIFT. And you wouldn’t believe the FROWNS, the GRIPES, the YELLING; and that was just from my FAMILY. You should have seen the REST of the PEOPLE. It was BRUTAL!

2. Where’s the JOLLY part?

ILLUSTRATION:

I heard about a lady who was Christmas SHOPPING with her daughter. The CROWDS were awful. She had to skip LUNCH because she was on a TIGHT SCHEDULE. Now she was TIRED, HUNGRY, her feet were HURTING, and she was more than a little IRRITABLE.

As they left the last store, she asked her daughter, "Did you see the NASTY LOOK that SALESMAN gave me?" Her daughter answered, "He didn’t give it to you, Mom. You had it when you went in."

B. With all the CHAOS that comes with the Christmas HOLIDAY, we often forget about the TRUE REASON for the SEASON- Matthew 1:23- "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him ’Immanuel’,which means, "God with us.’"

COMMENT:

I grew up in a CHURCH that taught it was WRONG to CELEBRATE Christmas as the BIRTH of Christ, and I really MISSED OUT. Whether you do or not, I believe you will AGREE that Christ’s COMING to this EARTH in the form of a tiny, helpless BABY is the GREATEST GIFT that anyone has ever received.

ILLUSTRATION:(By: Max Lucado)

The night the Son of God was BORN, there really wasn’t much FANFARE. Other than a few people, some lowly SHEPHERDS and traveling WISE MEN, and, of course, Mary and Joseph, there was no one else who knew that God had ENTERED the WORLD as a tiny, helpless BABY.

Yet, what an unusual place for the Son of God to be BORN in a STABLE. Whatever you have seen in BARNS, this was no DIFFERENT. God didn’t SANITIZE it before His Son was BORN. It was just a DIRTY, SMELLY, CRAMPED place.

Lying in a filthy FEEDING TROUGH streaked with ANIMAL SALIVA is Jesus, the Son of God. Joseph is COMFORTING his wife, Mary. They were both WEARIED from the long way they had TRAVELED from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be COUNTED in the CENSUS demanded by Caesar. And now the LONG, TEDIOUS, and PAINFUL process of giving BIRTH made both Mary and Joseph EXHAUSTED even more. Yet, the EXCITEMENT of the MOMENT kept them ALERT.

Undoubtedly they are ASTOUNDED by the fact that Mary has just given BIRTH to the Son of God. Mary looks into the FACE of her BABY. Her SON. Her LORD. Her SAVIOR. He looks like anything but a KING. His face is PRUNISH and RED. His CRY, though strong and healthy, is still the HELPLESS and PIERCING CRY of a BABY. He’s totally DEPENDENT upon his mother.

Although Mary didn’t really know what is in STORE for her BOY, she knew that He was SPECIAL, the Son of the Living God who would become the GREATEST GIFT to the WORLD.

MESSAGE:

I. GOD’S GIFT OF LOVE

A. "For God so LOVED the world that He GAVE His one and only Son . . ."- John 3:16a.

1. You talk about a GIFT of LOVE.

COMMENT:

We run all over TOWN going from STORE to STORE trying to find that one-of-a-kind STRAND of PEARLS or POWER TOOL to PROVE our LOVE to that special someone on Christmas morning. And it does feel good to GIVE a nice GIFT to the people you LOVE.

2. The ones that God LOVES is you and me, and to PROVE how much He LOVES us He sent His Son Jesus to this EARTH to LIVE among us and ultimately sent Him to the CROSS to DIE for us.

COMMENT:

The BABY lying in the MANGER is God’s way of saying to each of us, "To show you how much I LOVE you, I’m giving you my very BEST. You don’t have to SETTLE for what the world OFFERS. Accept the GIFT of my LOVE. Walk in it. Glory in it. Share it with others. You are WORTH to Me the GIVING of my one and only Son."

B. How does God feel about GIVING such a PRECIOUS GIFT?

1. There is absolutely nothing like GIVING out of LOVE.

ILLUSTRATION:

When my son Steven was 5 years-old, he wanted a Ghost Buster Proton Pack for Christmas. I don¡¦t think the MERCHANTS in the small town of Bowie, Texas where we lived even heard of such a thing. So Brenda and I drove 55 miles to Wichita Falls, Texas in search of this gift for Steven. We went all over that CITY trying to FIND that TOY, but it was SOLD OUT. We returned home EMPTY-HANDED.

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