Summary: God gives each of us gifts by His Holy Spirit. Some gifts are special blessings while others may be special talents. These gifts are different for each of us, but they all have one thing in common. They must be unwrapped and opened or they have no valu

My sermon today is the first of two sermons I’ve planned and entitled, “Serving Up God’s Miracles.”

On the last day of school, children were bringing gifts to their teacher. The florist’s son brought the teacher a bouquet. The candy store-owner’s son brought the teacher a box of candy. Then the liquor store-owner’s son brought a big, heavy box. The teacher lifted it up and noticed that it was leaking a bit. She touched a drop of liquid with her finger and tasted it. “Is it wine?’ she guessed. “No” said the boy. She tasted another drop, “Champagne?” “No,” said the little boy. “It’s a puppy!” (contributed by Dan Cormie, “Sermon Central”)

Hopefully everyone here received gifts for Christmas, and hopefully those gifts were all pleasant surprises. Gift-giving is a time-honored way to show our love and appreciation for others. Gifts from God are also given to show His love, but sometimes we’re just not sure what to make of them. Sometimes God’s gifts are so much from the nature of God that we even have a difficult time accepting them . . . especially if they arrive in the form of miracles.

God gives each of us gifts by His Holy Spirit. Some gifts are special blessings while others may be special talents. These gifts are different for each of us, but they all have one thing in common. They must be unwrapped and opened or they have no value. Knowledge of God is just such a gift, and like the others, it must also be unwrapped and opened.

Have you opened your gifts? Or have you kept your gift in a box where you can’t use it, and no one can be blessed by it? Have you been keeping God in a box where His power and majesty seem safely contained and under your control? To open God’s gift means to be prepared for surprises and often even amazement. God is so much bigger and more amazing than we could ever imagine. What He can do, what He does, what He is going to do defies all our imaginings. That can be really scary unless you’ve truly surrendered to the Father and to His Son, Jesus Christ.

Anyone who denies the miracles in the Bible and denies that they can happen today is denying the very nature of God. Those who deny them are desperately trying to keep God inside a suitable box of their own making.

It doesn’t require a stretch of imagination to understand why some people act this way. After all, miracles are, by definition, beyond our understanding. That makes some people very uncomfortable. We like our labels and neatly stacked files.

If you enjoy history like I do, you’ve probably discovered the History Channel by now. If so, you’ve probably noticed as well that lately they’ve been doing quite a few episodes on the “Holy Bible.” In each episode that I’ve seen, there’s always at least one person described as “an expert” who presents very logical, very scientific explanations for whatever miraculous event is being discussed. This is the “box-builder.”

• The box-builder seeks to find a way to rationally relate to the Bible’s information. It seems only reasonable to me that they’d do this. After all, most people have a hard time absorbing what is actually an act of divine intervention. It means that one must accept that they don’t really have control over their surroundings. Yet, that’s what “faith” is truly all about. Rational investigation can take us only so far. The next step requires a leap of faith.

When we desperately rationalize and label things we don’t understand, we’re simply trying to make them less threatening to our view of the world. It’s rather like trying to lock a lion’s cage with scotch tape. It might appear to be sealed, but it simply won’t hold. And when the lion eventually does come out, then we’re forced to try building a bigger cage, a bigger box, a more complex set of labels and theories to explain away the inexplicable. In the end, the box builder always looses; the scotch tape always fails to hold back the power and majesty that is God.

The vast complexity that is God is partially revealed to us by the great diversity of the gifts He gives us. As we just heard in verses four through seven, “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:”

• Without faith to make the final leap, there’s no sense in trying to understand the truth of Jesus Christ. Any explanation without faith will always fall short.

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