Summary: The greatest gift of all is love – the love of God that sent Jesus to earth, and the love of God that invites us to become a part of His family
The Gift of Belonging (Love)
December 21/22, 2002
It is by far the strongest force in the universe.
It is higher than the highest mountain.
It is deeper than the deepest sea.
It is better than the best bey blade or newest groovy girl.
Better than a new cell phone.
Better than a $500 Gap gift certificate.
Better than a box of Callebeau chocolates and a dozen red roses.
Better than new power tools, a big screen TV, and a remote car starter.
It is better than catching the biggest fish or putting for an eagle on the home hole.
It is better than a hot bath with candles and a good book.
It is better than losing 30 pounds.
It is better than seeing The Two Towers on opening day.
It is better than spending the winter somewhere in the sunny southern US.
It is better than a baby that sleeps all night, toddlers who don’t whine, elementary kids who like being with their siblings, teenagers who are appreciative and cooperative, college students who make up for not being able to pay their tuition by helping more around the house, young adults who phone mom twice a week, a spouse who appreciates how hard you work and how difficult your role is, and it is even better than grandkids who visit often and always give you a hug and kiss even when they’re 16.
It is better than a full belly, a full refrigerator, and a full bank account.
It is better than a clean house, clean car, and even a clean conscience.
And today, I want to tell you just a little bit about it.
Galatians 4:1-7 (NLT)
1 Think of it this way. If a father dies and leaves great wealth for his young children, those children are not much better off than slaves until they grow up, even though they actually own everything their father had. 2They have to obey their guardians until they reach whatever age their father set.
3And that’s the way it was with us before Christ came. We were slaves to the spiritual powers of this world. 4But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. 5God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. 6And because you Gentiles have become his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, and now you can call God your dear Father. 7Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, everything he has belongs to you.
The Gifts of God:
We’ve been walking towards Christmas by thinking each week about one of the gifts God has given us in His Son, Jesus Christ. The first week we talked about the gift of hope – hope because now, God is with us constantly. Second we talked about the gift of forgiveness, which brings peace between us and God and between us and others. Last week we talked about the gift of joy – of a delight in life that runs deeper than pain or pleasure. Today, the last weekend before Christmas, I want to talk about one last gift, a gift that is greater than all the things on your letter to Santa, greater than all the gifts under your tree, even greater than all the desires of your heart.
Have you figured out what it is yet? Let me tell you a story:
2 babies in the manger?
In 1994, two Americans answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics (based on biblical principles) in the public schools. They were invited to teach at prisons, businesses, the fire and police departments and a large orphanage. About 100 boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of a government-run program were in the orphanage. They relate the following story in their own words:
It was nearing the holiday season, 1994, time for our orphans to hear, for the first time, the traditional story of Christmas. We told them about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room at the inn, the couple went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger.
Throughout the story, the children and orphanage staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word. Completing the story, we gave the children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger. Each child was given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins I had brought with me. No colored paper was available in the city.