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Summary: Last in the Series - God has given us gifts that are perfectly fitted to us - to be used to advance His kingdom.

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Christmas in Narnia

THE PERFECT GIFTS

I Corinthians 12:4-11 / Ephesians 4:7ff

“So, wadya get for Christmas?”

[Solicit responses from the children]

That’s a question that has been asked more over the last week than any other. Kids ask their friends. Grandparents, uncles, cousins and friends ask the little children what they got. When school starts this week, it will be one of the most talked about subjects around the lunch table and in the hallways.

“What’s the best gift you’ve ever received for Christmas?”

[Solicit responses from the adults]

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, the Mayville News, and a radio program I listen to regularly both asked the question, “What was the best Christmas gift you ever received?” People shared a wide variety of responses. One older guy called and responded that his best gift ever was a 1937 Lionel Electric Train that was still running around the Christmas tree at his house. Some called in about an unexpected bike, or some responded that it was a favorite doll. I understand that one little girl I know told her teacher that her best Christmas present was when her brother showed up unexpectedly from the war last year!

Gift giving is a great part of the Christmas holiday when it reminds us of the gift of life that God has given to us through Jesus Christ. Like everything, Satan has perverted gift giving, and made it into a competitive, stressful, greedy part of our lives – but if we can keep it in perspective, and keep our focus on the real meaning of Christmas, it can be a wonderful thing.

Most of us can remember some Christmas gift that stands out to us. I remember Christmas 1969- My uncle David got my brother Ed and I a clock with the Apollo 11 lunar landing depicted on it, with a little orange flame light that flickered. It was in our shared bedroom for years, I can remember watching that orange flame dance as I fell asleep on so many nights - now it sits in my office – and the orange flame light still flickers!

One of the most memorable gifts I ever got for Christmas was one that was incredibly practical – it was a trouble light that you could attach to the battery posts of your car – you carry it around in your car, and if you break down along the road somewhere, as long as your battery has some charge in it, you’ve got a light! I received it for Christmas in 1980, and I still have it! Toys are fun, but don’t tend to last too long. Some gifts are deeply meaningful, even sentimental, while others are great because they are practical. Practical gifts tend to be the ones we remember a year later – or 20 years later.

In The Chronicles of Narnia, the four children who are the main characters in the story, receive gifts that are not only practical, they are vital to them. Peter receives a sword and shield, Susan receives a bow and arrows, as well as a horn, which will summon help for her whenever she blows into it. Lucy receives a small vial, or cordial, of oil, which brings healing, as well as a small dagger for fighting off enemies. Over the course of the story, each of the gifts is used as the children advance the kingdom of good over the forces of evil.

When CS Lewis wrote the Chronicles, he was writing an allegory of the Christian story. There is imagery of the curse of sin, the long waiting for the coming of the Savior, the sacrifice of Christ for the redemption of world, and His resurrection. The parallels are obvious and powerful.

The giving of gifts is in keeping with the theme. Lewis’ gifts – the shield of faith, the sword of the spirit, intersession for help, anointing with oil for healing – remind us that God has indeed gifted us for the battle that lies ahead of us.

My goal for us today is three fold: First, I want us to wrap up, as it were, the Christmas season, by examining the gifts we’ve been given by God. Secondly, I want us to revisit the message that was shared one year ago today, which some of you might remember; and thirdly, I want us to look into the year ahead, returning to our study of the book of Ephesians.

But we’re going to start this morning in I Corinthians, chapter 12, where we read, beginning with verse 4:

4 Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are different activities, but the same God is active in everyone and everything. 7 A manifestation of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial: 8 to one is given a message of wisdom through the Spirit, to another, a message of knowledge by the same Spirit, 9 to another, faith by the same Spirit, to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another, the performing of miracles, to another, prophecy, to another, distinguishing between spirits, to another, different kinds of languages, to another, interpretation of languages. 11 But one and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each one as He wills

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