Summary: Want to give the perfect gift this Christmas to the ones you love? Give them the Gift of Acceptance, the Gift of Trust and the Gift of Great Expectation.


David Livingstone wanted to be a pastor. His first chance to preach was in the pulpit of a little church in Scotland. He'd worked and prepared his message well. He wanted to be a great preacher. He wanted to go give his life on the mission field. And when he got up to preach that night he tried to speak but nothing came out. Finally he forgot his sermon altogether; so he apologized to the people and left in great shame. But Robert Moffat, the famous missionary, was there. And Moffat came up to him after the service and said, "You can be a great and wonderful servant of God. Why don't you go to medical school?" Today you can't mention Africa without thinking about David Livingstone. But what would have happened to David Livingstone without Robert Moffat?

Heb 10:23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another -- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

The word here for spur is the word PAROXUSMOS which comes from the words PARA which means "by" and the word OXUS which means "sharp or pointed". Together they mean "by poking with something sharp". When you spur a horse you poke it in order to get it moving – which is a good picture of what this word means.

Years ago I heard of a youth group that hung spurs all around their church to remind people of this passage and the power of encouragement.

Painter Benjamin West tells how he loved to paint as a youngster. When his mother left, he would pull out the oils and try to paint. One day he pulled out all the paints and made quite a mess. He hoped to get it all cleaned up before his mother came back. But she came and discovered the mess. West said what she did next completely surprised him. She picked up his painting and said, "My, what a beautiful painting of your sister." She gave him a kiss on the cheek and walked away. With that kiss, West says, he became a painter. Every day you and I are trying to paint the picture of Jesus in our lives through what we say and do. But we make messes. The last thing we need is for someone to come along and say, "What a mess!" What we need is a kiss of encouragement. It's vital for life and for relationships.

1 Thess 5:10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

How do you spur someone on to love and good deeds. How can we as believers encourage one another? Today I want us to consider 3 key principles for bringing out the best in others. This is the season that we buy gifts for one another. Let me suggest these are 3 gifts to give those you love this holiday season:

1. The Gift of ACCEPTANCE

You can’t bring out the best in other people until you first accept their uniqueness. The fact is that God made everybody different. None of us are alike. We’re all different. Even twins are different.

1 Corinthians 12:4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men

To bring out the best in people we must embrace their uniqueness. We must all learn that we don’t have to compare ourselves with anybody else. God put each child on this earth for an individual purpose and reason. That’s difficult because today we live in a culture of comparison. We compare, literally, everything. Clothes, cars, homes, grade point average, income. We live in a constant culture of comparison. Often when we come across people who are different than us we reject them.

A few years ago I was pastoring a church and we had a new young couple join us. All the other young couples were your typical clean cut church kids. This couple had long hair, wore lots of leather and had tattoos. They stood out like sore thumbs and they had a very hard time fitting in because no one wanted to hang out with them. It wasn’t until I got to know them that I found out that they had been to Bible College and had an effective ministry to street youth.

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