GOD’S INDESCRIBABLE GIFT – A Gift Worth Waiting For
The anticipation level is increasing around our house. There are only 20 days left until Christmas! (In addition to the countdown to Christmas we have other countdowns happening at our house; the countdown stands at zero for Pearl’s Birthday, 14 days until Mikey’s birthday, 21 days until Susie’s birthday, and let’s not forget we only have 12 more days to wait until Chrysta comes home.) Around our house the decorations are all up, and if you look closely you will already begin to find some Christmas presents wrapped and waiting to be opened.
Now think about all the anticipation we all have for Christmas day and finally being able to open our presents. Can you imagine the disappointment if you didn’t receive anything you could needed, or worse you received nothing you wanted! We anticipate Christmas because we know that we will receive a gift worth waiting for.
This morning we are going to look again at GOD’S INDESCRIBABLE GIFT, “A Gift Worth Waiting For.”
1. Jesus is God’s gift, a gift worth waiting for!
What is so special about Jesus? What is so special about the birth of another baby? Babies are born everyday; what is so special about Jesus that makes Him a gift worth waiting for?
ILLUSTRATION: Ask any parents and they will tell you that there was an anticipation and excitement that they had with the birth of their children. Each one was special in his/her own way as the parents waited and planed for their baby’s arrival. The Buttos and the Thornburgs are both counting down to the due dates for the birth of their new family members; they will tell you that the upcoming birth is special.
But what is so special about Jesus that each of us and people around the world would agree that Jesus is God’s gift, a gift worth waiting for?
Luke records the timing and the details surrounding the birth of Jesus.
• Luke 2:6-7 (NIV)
 While they were [in Bethlehem], the time came for the baby to be born,  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
On the surface we would say there is nothing special about the birth of Jesus. He was just the firstborn son of a Jewish woman named Mary recently married to her husband Joseph. But there is another verse in the Bible that talks about the timing of Jesus birth.
• Galatians 4:4 (NIV)
But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman.
Jesus was not just the son of Mary; Jesus is also God’s son. Jesus is both fully human, born of a woman, and fully divine; He is the Son of God. That is the miracle of the incarnation: that God became flesh, the creator was born to live among His creation.
Jesus was no ordinary child; He was the “God/man” born fully human, but also fully God. Now that’s a gift worth waiting for!
Matthew confirms the uniqueness of the birth of Jesus, and that He was not just the son of Joseph who claimed to be God.
• Matthew 1:18-25 (NIV)
 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.  Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us."
 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.  But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Jesus is one of a kind; no other child in all human history was born in such a way. Jesus is God’s gift, a gift worth waiting for because He is both fully human and fully God.
A gift worth waiting for, both Luke and Paul refer to the timing of Jesus’ birth. Luke 2:6 said simply “the time came for the baby to be born.” In Galatians 4:4 Paul said, “When the time had fully come.” Luke is referring to the natural time of child birth; at the conclusion of 9 months of pregnancy Jesus was born to Mary in the town of Bethlehem. Paul on the other hand is referring to the completion of God’s eternal plan.
When we think of all God’s gifts He has given us, HIS TIMING IS ALWAYS PERFECT. God sees and knows the personal details and events of our life; He is aware of the individual times and seasons of our lives. But God is also working in and through our lives with the prefect knowledge of His eternal timetable and perspective. God knows how the temporary moments of our lives that come and go fit into the complexity of time eternal; God sees the beginning to the end with an eye toward the present time happening in our lives at this moment.
God’s perfect timing is what makes His gifts worth waiting for.
• Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 (NIV)
 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
 What does the worker gain from his toil?  I have seen the burden God has laid on men.  He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
God has established the times and seasons of our lives. Though we may grow weary and tired, though we may feel like giving up, GOD MAKES EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL IN HIS TIME. God is at work in moments of our lives, the times that come and go so quickly God works through each detail to accomplish His eternal purpose.
Someone has said, “God is never early; He is in no way late, but God is always right on time.” While God’s timing is always perfect, we may not always have our clocks set to agree with God’s ideal time schedule. Sometimes we get ahead of God and think He is late and other times we miss God all together and think He showed up early, but God’s timing is perfect.
2. God’s gift came at an inconvenient time for Mary and Joseph.
Like Mary and Joseph we sometimes will question God’s timing; “Lord couldn’t you reschedule this for a later time because my calendar is a little full right now; how would it be with you if we rescheduled this for after the first of the year?”
Here are some ways that the birth of Jesus did not come at the best of times for Mary and Joseph.
1. Mary and Joseph were not married yet; they were only engaged. When it became known that Mary was pregnant people made the logical conclusion; she has been promiscuous. Either Mary has been unfaithful to Joseph by fooling around with some other guy, or Mary and Joseph have gotten carried away and gone to far before the honeymoon. Joseph knew he had not slept with Mary, so it was obvious to him that Mary had been unfaithful. It took an angelic visit while Joseph slept to prevent a breaking of their engagement; only then did Joseph concede to bring Mary home as his wife.
2. Joseph was not ready to take Mary home as his wife. In the Jewish culture once a couple was engaged the groom would make preparations to bring his bride home; this could include things like building a house, adding on a room, or simply saving up a nest egg so the new couple could properly celebrate their marriage. Joseph wasn’t ready for his wife to come live with him let alone a new baby in less than nine months time.
3. Mary and Joseph would have to start their family under Roman occupation. While Joseph could work to provide a home for his new bride he would have to do so under the watchful eye of the Romans; it’s hard to start a new life when your freedom is restricted from the outside.
4. An unexpected census has disrupted all their plans. Mary and Joseph were finally becoming a family; Mary was getting settled into her new home. They were adjusting to their new roles as husband and wife. Because of the census they would have to leave their home in Nazareth and travel to Bethlehem.
5. Mary and Joseph had no income. As a carpenter Joseph could not take his work with him, the journey to Bethlehem meant he would be unemployed. They would have to survive on the little they had until Joseph was able to again use his skills to provide for their needs.
6. Mary and Joseph are outsiders in Bethlehem. Suddenly they find themselves in a strange town, torn away from family and friends. The support Mary and Joseph thought they would have at the birth of their baby was taken away from them; Mary and Joseph were on their own.
7. Mary and Joseph are homeless in Bethlehem. They know no one in Bethlehem who will welcome them into their home. The city is crowed because of the census and all the inns are full; no one was even willing to offer a clean warm room to a woman ready to deliver a baby. The only place they could find shelter was in a stable; they made their home with animals.
How many of you can identify with Mary and Joseph? God’s timing was just not convenient. Couldn’t God have picked a better time for Mary to give birth to the Messiah? Look beyond the circumstances and remember God is in control!
When we find ourselves not understanding God’s timing; if we think God has brought some inconvenient situations into our life that we could handle better at a latter time, then we need to remember what the Psalmist discovered. The Psalmist caught a glimpse of God’s eternal perspective and has passed it down to us when we are tempted to sing the blues.
• Psalm 37:37-38 (NIV)
 Consider the blameless, observe the upright; there is a future for the man of peace.  But all sinners will be destroyed; the future of the wicked will be cut off.
God is in control of the seasons and times of our lives. All who hope in the Lord for salvation have a future that cannot be taken from them.
• Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
God knows what He is doing. God knows what needs to be done today in order to bring about the future that He has planned for those who love Him. When you look at the big picture the inconveniences of life fit perfectly in to God’s timing.
3. God’s gift was given at the perfect time.
Long before Jesus was born God had promised that He would send a Messiah, a savior to redeem His people. When you consider everything God said prophetically about the birth of His Son, HIS TIMING WAS PERFECT.
God’s first prophecy was made in the Garden of Eden shortly after Adam and Eve’s fall into Sin. God promised that through the seed of the woman a Savior would come; that while the serpent would strike His heal, the promised deliverer would crush the serpent’s head. (Genesis 3:15) Mary was the woman through whom the Messiah would be born. (Galatians 4:4)
God promised Abraham that through him all the people on earth would be blessed. (Genesis 12:3) Mary and Joseph were both Abraham’s descendants a part of the nation of Israel. (Galatians 3:16)
God narrowed the descendants of Abraham to the tribe of Judah and the house of David. (Genesis 49:10; Psalm 132:11; Jeremiah 23:5) Mary and Joseph both trace their family line through David to Judah. (Acts 13:23; Romans 1:3)
God said the Messiah would be born of a virgin. (Isaiah 7:14) God had to inconvenience the virgin Mary to give birth to the Messiah before she was united with Joseph in marriage. (Matthew 1:22-23; Luke 2:7)
The prophet Micah made it known that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2) God sovereignly inconvenienced Mary and Joseph with a census that moved them from Nazareth to Bethlehem right when the baby was to be born. (Luke 2:4-6)
The Psalmist said that the Messiah would be presented gifts by great men from foreign lands. (Psalm 72:10) The wise men were able to find Jesus with Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem not just because they were guided by a star, but because the priest told them to search there for the child in accordance with Micah’s prophecy. Mary and Joseph were living in a house in Bethlehem when the wise men found them (so much for a quick return home to Nazareth). (Matthew 2:1-11)
These are but a handful of the prophecies fulfilled by Jesus. The promises God made to send the Messiah, the Savior, were fulfilled perfectly because God inconvenience Mary and Joseph. God’s timing is perfect.
We not only see the perfection of God’s timing through prophecy, but we also see how perfectly God timed the birth of Jesus historically. Why was Jesus born to Mary and Joseph at that time in history? The world stage was perfectly set and ready for the coming of the Messiah. God set the course of history for this time and place.
First, a favorable religious climate among the Jewish people. Prior to the birth of Jesus, the “Diaspora” or dispersion of the Jews moved the Jewish people into cities through out the Roman Empire. Why is this important? These God fearing Jews were not just assimilated into the culture of the city were they moved. The Jews retained their identity and their religious faith. Therefore, these Jewish people formed the synagogues where they could continue to worship God and receive instruction from the religious leaders. It would be within these synagogues that the message of the risen Christ would first be made known throughout the world. Before God allowed His son to be born he established communities of Jewish people throughout the world that were looking for the coming of Messiah.
Second, there was a favorable legal climate when Jesus was born. Within the Roman Empire many different people groups had been conquered and within each of these different cultures there was a variety of religious beliefs. The Romans were very tolerant of these different religious beliefs with one exception; the Romans required all their subjects to accept Caesar as a god. That was the one area of where the Roman Empire was intolerant and that worked with every religious sect except the Jewish people. The Jewish people never would do it. For decades the Romans tried to force the Jews to acknowledge Caesar as a god by killing and intimidating many God fearing Jews. Ultimately the Roman Empire got tired of the Jews and gave a legal exemption to the Jewish people. Again the timing of God is perfect. Once the Jewish people do not have to proclaim Caesar as god, Jesus is then born and for the first 70 years after the death of Jesus, the Roman Empire did not distinguish any difference between the Jewish people and Christianity.
Third, historically the political climate was favorable for the birth of Jesus. Julius Caesar, who was probably the best known as Roman emperors, was assassinated during a time of more civil war. But as Augustus Caesar came to the throne, which was about 25 years before the birth of Christ, peace broke out in the Roman Empire; for the next 200 years there was peace. Now instead of fighting amongst themselves and putting down uprisings, the Romans could focus on other things; things like building roads and making the world a safer place. And, in fact, it was under Augustus Caesar, at the time of Christ, that they even began to take care of the safety of the people that traveled and thus was born the highway patrol. God made the world a safe place to travel and spread the good news and fulfill the great commission.
Fourth, there was also a favorable cultural climate. That is to say, for the first time since the tower of Babel, people through out the world all spoke a common language. Because of Alexander the Great, a true world conqueror, everyone could speak the common language of Greek. Therefore, as the New Testament was being written it was written in the language that people throughout the world could read and understand. God prepared people throughout the world to be able to hear the message of Christ by giving them a common language for a time, God’s perfect time.
Fifth, there was a favorable philosophical environment. Philosophically people were ready for the coming of Christ. Plateau, Aristotle, and other Greek philosophers did a better job at raising questions than giving answers. Christianity offered answers no one had thought of before. It’s been said that the Greek philosophers plowed fields but planted no seed; Christianity came into those cultivated, fertile, plowed minds and to sow the seed of faith by the word of God.
God’s timing was perfect. His timing was perfect to fulfill the prophecies given in advance that announced the coming of the Messiah. And God’s timing was perfect historically. God had put everything together just right for the birth of His Son to come at just the right time.
4. God’s gift is for you today! His timing is just right in your life.
1. Today is the day to anticipate and desire His second coming. In the same way Jesus came at an unexpected time, at a time that was inconvenient, so too will we find ourselves questioning the events in our lives at the time He comes again.
• Matthew 24:27 (MsgB)
The Arrival of the Son of Man isn’t something you go to see. He comes like swift lightning to you!
2. Today is the day of salvation! Don’t put off receiving God’s gift; be ready for the day He comes to take us to heaven to live with Him forever!
• Hebrews 9:28 (NIV)
Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.