Summary: This sermon examines how we can sincerely receive the ultimate gift from God and have our lives reflect that truth.
Date: December 17th 2006
Title: Unwrapping The Gift That Lasts!
Bible Text: Various
Subject: How do we truly unwrap and appreciate/use/enjoy/embrace/participate in/demonstrate the real gift for all humankind so as to embody Christ’s holiness during the holiday?
Intro: Gifts are exchanged with tremendous regularity during this time of the year. One thing that is interesting to see in this society that is so saturated with stuff is how some of the gifts we give are received.
Let me ask a question. “When is a gift really received?”
Is it when we offer it and a person reaches out their hands and takes it? What if they never open it? Did they really receive it or are they just holding onto it till their next office party to pass it on to someone else? Or do you feel they received that gift when at next years Christmas party you see someone else opening that same dish, or gadget as it is “re-gifted”.
Isn’t it really received when you see it in use the next week? And I should add, it’s proper use. Giving someone a tie that you picked out for them and a couple of weeks later when you are over at their house you see the tie being used as a rope to hold something together in the garage…well, that’s not what you had in mind and most people would be thinking, “Wow, I guess they didn’t really like my gift if they are using it to tie something up.” Or even if it’s used but not according to its real value. Imagine giving someone a signed autographed baseball or football from some sports star, an item that needs to be in a glass cabinet and when you are over to visit you instead see the kids playing catch with it in the mud in the back yard or Bone Crusher the dog is chewing on it.. Throwing the ball and letting the dog play with the ball falls within the realm of what it was designed for, but the real value is not appreciated.
No, we sense that a gift has been received when it is accepted, opened, and then used according to it’s designed purpose and value.
So here is the question for today, “How do we demonstrate holiness in keeping with the purpose and value of the ultimate gift that last for ever?
I. Some People See The Gift Being Given To Them And Reject It.
1. The Bible addresses the whole issue of gift giving and receiving.
2. Several places in the Gospels, we have the telling of the parable of the farmer sowing seed.
a) In the parable, the seed is referred to as the message about how a person can enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 13:19)
b) The seed is the ultimate gift that one person can give to another.
3. The parable is really a story about gift giving and receiving.
a) It speaks to the issues of a person’s heart when they accept a gift from another person.
b) It speaks to the nuances regarding when a person just accepts a gift and when they truly receive it!
4. Jesus describes different types of soils that seed can potentially fall on and He compares these soils to the receptivity of people’s hearts as well as the capacity of people to receive, that is “own for themselves” this wonderful gift.
Trans: People have several negative responses to the greatest gift ever given.
A. People Reject The Gift Because They Don’t Understand it.
1. One response Jesus shares are those who are like a hardened path.
a) Hard, packed down, beaten down with weeks and months and years of people treading on it.
b) This soil represents those people who see the gift but say, “Oh, no thanks!”
c) Even though you tell me it’s free, I know that there will be a price attached.
d) I will have to give up the lifestyle I have become accustomed to and have come to enjoy.
2. These people just don’t fully understand the value of the gift offered and so reject it.
a) They have in their hands the solution to so many of their problems in life.
b) But they say with a shrug, “Uh, no thanks!”
3. The Bible has Jesus describe it this way, “When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.” - Matthew 13:19 (NIV)
B. People will reject the gift because they aren’t willing to make the commitment required to see results.
1. The Bible describes this heart condition and this type of person as one who has a heart that is like rocky soil.