Yankee Swap

Bow and tagYour All Time Favorite Christmas Gift

Christmas is how many days away kids? Part of today, all of tomorrow…so just two days!

Everyone…what is your favorite Christmas gift ever? One that causes you to smile whenever you think back about it?

Growing up, there was a period where everything I wanted was G.I. Joe related…but I think the two Christmas gifts that stand out most to me were from my older brother and father. When I was a teenager, Erich gave me the album, “Double Vision,” by Foreigner…and as an adult my dad got me “Days of Innocence” by Moving Pictures…which had the awesome tune, “What About Me?”

Now, I’m sure I’ve gotten “greater” Christmas gifts…but those two stand out…how about you? Why?

[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the “extras” that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]

Yankee Swap

Now, going to the other end of the spectrum when it comes to Christmas gifts, has anyone ever been part of Yankee Swap?

I. Hate. Them.

If you aren’t familiar, everyone brings a wrapped gift…then everyone gets a number…and you pick a gift in order. So, far so good…

But, later numbers get to look at their gift and all the ones opened before then…and take any early one they want instead.

Nothing says, “Christmas cheer,” like taking a better gift from someone else, eh?

Grumble, grumble. 🙂

 

The Greatest Gift

Now, if we expand the “greatest gift” question beyond Christmas, what would it be? One could argue we see it in the first chapter of Genesis:

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27  So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:26—28).

What gift are those verses discussing?

Life.

Could life be the “greatest gift” ever for each of us? If you think about it, without it we could not appreciate any other gift, so maybe life is greatest gift ever.

However, let’s not stop there. What other gifts does God give us?

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (6:25-33).

How many people hear today have ample food? A closet with plentiful clothes?

A roof over their heads?

And myriad other blessings from God…myriad gifts from God?

We all do. We are abundantly blessed. Ridiculously blessed.

As James 1:17 says (in part), “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above…”

But, as great as all of those are, do you think any of them are the greatest gift we’ve ever gotten?

 

Spiritual Gifts

Probably not. Instead, it’s likely the greatest gift isn’t a physical thing…not even an iPhone. 🙂

How about something one of my…and perhaps your…favorite verses says?:

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Forgiveness. Now, that definitely is something that might qualify as the greatest gift. Think of all the tortured souls out there who would finally find relief if they realized that gift existed…and were willing to accept it.

Were willing to let God forgive them…and forgive themselves.

Yet, as incredible a gift as forgiveness is, I don’t think it is the greatest one ever for anybody.

Let’s try one more Bible reference…since part of my gift to you today is to keep my sermon short. 🙂

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him (John 3:16-17).

What gift does that that mention?

Actually, it mentions two. The second is eternal life, which brings us all the way back to where we started in Scripture, doesn’t it?

God always intended for our lives to be eternal…but we blew it…and we die. We lost that gift…eternal life…but now we can have it back.

However, that is not the greatest gift…because eternal life would be eternal hell if it weren’t for the true greatest gift ever, also mentioned in those verses.

Jesus.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son.”

Around 2,000 years ago that gift was born in a manger…and in two days we will remember that Reason for the Season.

More cruel than my hated Yankee Swap is the fact that the world will try to convince you to trade that greatest gift in for another lesser gift, or even worse, a curse.

It’s a con. If you are a Christian, you have the greatest gift already. No matter how neat, how exciting, or how valuable all the other gifts people have opened seem.

Jesus is greater.

What is the greatest Christmas gift? What is the greatest gift…Christmas or otherwise?

Can you say it with me?

Jesus!

Merry Christmas everyone! May you get some other great gifts, but I would rather you get nothing this year if it means you hold your greatest gift tightly:

Jesus!


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