II Cor. 9:15; Luke 2:7
"Thanks be unto God for his UNSPEAKABLE gift.''--II Cor. 9:15.
"For the wages of sin is death; but the GIFT OF GOD is eternal life.''--Rom. 6:23.
"And she brought forth her firstborn son, and WRAPPED him in swaddling clothes.''--Luke 2:7.
This is the time of year when we think back to when the Three Wise Men went to see the baby Jesus, and, according to the Book of Matthew, "presented unto Him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh. ''These are simple words, but if we analyze them carefully, we discover an important, yet often-overlooked, theological fact:
In this account: There is no mention of wrapping paper!
If there had been wrapping paper, Matthew would have said so: "And lo,
the gifts were encompassed about with 7 square cubits of paper. ``And the paper was covered within and without with pictures of Frosty, a man comprised of snow. And Joseph purposed in his heart to cast the paper into the barrel of refuse, but Mary saith unto him, `Cease man! Drop the decorative parchment! It should be set aside for future generations!'
"And Joseph didst roll his eyeballs."
And it came to pass that the babe WAS more interested in the paper than the frankincense.
…But these words do not appear in the Bible, which means that the very
first Christmas gifts were NOT wrapped. This is because the people
giving those gifts had two distinct characteristics:
1. They were wise. 2. They were men.
Men are not big gift wrappers. Men do not understand the point of putting paper on a gift just so somebody else can tear it off. This is not just my opinion: This is a scientific fact based on a statistical survey I conducted of a guy I know. He is my dad, who says the only time he ever wraps a gift is, quote, "if it's such a poor gift that I don't want to BE there when the person opens it.''
Then there’s me…no one ever has to ask which gifts I wrapped…"They are the ones that look like enormous spitballs or other objects!''
For some reason, I can never COMPLETELY wrap them. I can take a gift the size of a deck of cards and put it the exact center of a section of wrapping paper the size of a regulation volleyball court, but when I am done folding and taping, you can still see a sector of the gift peeking out. (Sometimes I camouflage this sector with a marker or masking tape.)
On the other hand, if you give my wife a 12-inch square of wrapping paper, she can wrap a C-130 cargo plane. My mother, like many women, actually LIKES wrapping things. If she gives you a gift that requires batteries, she wraps the batteries separately, which to me is bordering on mental illness.
My point is that gift-wrapping is one of those skills -- like having babies -- that come more naturally to women than to men.
Here’s some GIFT-WRAPPING TIPS FOR MEN.
Whenever possible, buy gifts that are already wrapped.
The editors of Woman's Day magazine recently ran an item on how to make your own wrapping paper by printing a design on it with an apple sliced in half horizontally and dipped in a mixture of food coloring and liquid starch. …They must be smoking crack!
If you're giving a hard-to-wrap gift, skip the wrapping paper! Just put it inside a bag and stick one of those little adhesive bows on it.
This creates a festive visual effect that is sure to delight the lucky recipient on Christmas morning:
YOUR WIFE: Why is there a Hefty trash bag under the tree?
YOU: It's a gift! See? It has a bow!
YOUR WIFE (peering into the trash bag): It's a leaf blower.
YOU: Gas-powered! Five horsepower!
YOUR WIFE: Thanks a lot!
YOU: Actually, I’m God’s gift to you.
YOUR WIFE: I don’t think God does Gag gifts!
[he almost retorted that she was a white elephant gift, and then thought better of it!]
Man doesn’t know much about wrapping, but man has learned all that he knows about giving from God. God is in the giving business.
God gave Adam and Eve a piece of skin from an innocent animal to replace the fig leaves and cover their shame of nakedness.
God gave Noah a plan for the ark that would provide for the saving of his household when judgment came.
God gave Abraham a promise concerning his seed. It would be as the sands of the sea, as the dust of the ground, as the stars of the sky.
God gave Sarah a precious miracle child in her old age, and she named him Isaac.
God gave Isaac the promised ram to take his place on the sacrifice altar on Mount Moriah as Abraham raised the dagger up.
God gave Jacob twelve sons who were destined to become heads of the twelve tribes of Israel, the people of the Lord.
God gave Joseph a position as prime minister in Egypt that he might rescue his own from sore famine in the days ahead.
God gave Moses the power to work miracles before Pharaoh.
God gave the Israelites possession of the land flowing with milk and honey.
God gave kings to preside over His chosen people.
God gave prophets to plead with His people and tell them of amazing things to come.
God gave the Scriptures to prophesy of a Messiah who would come to deliver and save.
God gave the shepherds a pronouncement by the angels that Jesus was born.
God gave the Wise Men a star to lead them to the young Child with their gifts.
God gave Joseph the patience to understand the strange circumstances of a virgin with child.
God gave the world the Prince of Peace.
God gave Jesus the place of sinners on the cross to bear the sorrow and shame, and Jesus gave his life for sinners. God offers to give all men the pardon for their sins that they might know the joy of everlasting life.
Surely God is a great Giver. Mankind can learn a lot about giving from Him.
John tells us that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life'' (John 3:16).
James states, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights'' (James 1:17).
Jesus told the woman at the well, "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water'' (John 4:10).
Paul states, "He that spared not his own Son...shall he not with him also freely give us all things?'' (Rom. 8:32).
He later stated to Timothy, "Neglect not the gift that is in thee'' (I Tim. 4:14), and "stir up the gift of God, which is in thee'' (II Tim. 1:6).
To the Ephesians he said, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God'' (Eph. 2:8).
2 Cor. 9:15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
It is very obvious that Jesus is God's greatest gift to us. Let us unwrap the gift to find out what God has for us.
I. GOD WRAPPED UP HIS GIFT IN OLD TESTAMENT MYSTERY
Jesus can be found in every book of the Bible. In the Old Testament He is found everywhere when you begin to consider or unwrap the types, shadows, pictures and symbols. You can find Him in the sacrificing of the animals, the metals of the Tabernacle, the colors of the garments, and a thousand other places; but you will need to unwrap Him by meditation and study.
He is the "Seed'' spoken of in Genesis 3:15. His heel shall bruise the head of the serpent.
He is the Shiloh mentioned in Genesis 49:10 who would come and gather the people to Him.
He is the "Sceptre'' spoken of in Numbers 24:17 to rise out of Jacob and smite the corners of Moab.
He is the "Prophet'' of Deuteronomy 18:15 to be raised up out of the midst of the brethren, to be hearkened unto.
He is the one conceived by a virgin according to Isaiah 7:14, the "Immanuel'' of Isaiah 9:6 that shall be called "Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.''
He is the "Messiah'' that shall come forth only to be "cut off'' according to Daniel 9:26.
He is the "Ruler'' in Israel to be born in Bethlehem of Judea according to Micah the prophet in chapter 5, verse 2.
He can be found everywhere if we only take time to unwrap the gift.
II. MARY WRAPPED UP GOD'S GIFT IN THE MANGER
"She...wrapped him in swaddling clothes.'' These are precious words. They can be felt best by a mother who has felt what Mary felt. But there is more wrapped up in those swaddling clothes than a little baby.
First, wrapped up in this little Baby is: the fulfillment of all the Old Testament. Every truth, every teaching, every type concealed in the Old Testament is being held in the arms of Mary. To understand the story of Moses smiting the rock, the brass serpent on a pole, the manna in the wilderness, Jonah and the whale, or to get any sense from the Psalms of David or the Proverbs of Solomon, you will have to watch closely what happens to this little Baby.
Second, wrapped up in this little Baby is the fullness of Almighty God. The God who created the heaven and earth, divided the Red Sea, appeared in the burning bush, delivered Daniel from the lions and the three Hebrew boys from the fiery furnace, is sleeping in the arms of Mary, wrapped in swaddling clothes.
John explains that "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.''
Paul declares, "In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily'' (Col. 2:9).
He said Himself, "I and my Father are one'' (John 10:30).
Third, wrapped up in this little Baby is the future of all who would believe.
The destiny of all men rests in their attitude and relationship to the little Baby. He has come to be their Savior or else their Judge.
He is only a little Baby in Mary's arms, but He will soon confound the doctors in the Temple. He will be introduced and baptized by John. He will work miracles and call disciples. He will die on a cross, be buried in a borrowed tomb, be resurrected the third day. He will ascend to the Father to become our Intercessor, Advocate, Mediator and great High Priest.
III. SATAN WRAPS UP GOD'S GIFT IN IGNORANCE
Man will never know what is wrapped up in the gift if Satan has his way.
First, Satan has blinded the minds of men to the true value of the gift
2 Cor. 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
To the natural eye God's Gift looks just like any other gift (I Cor. 2:14).
The natural man receiveth not the things of God for they are foolishness unto him.
The spiritual eye can see through the Devil's wrapping and see that Christ is more than a great teacher and reformer. He is the Son of God.
Second, Satan has bound men in tradition and religious customs. Thousands who have realized that the modernistic, social gospel has no hope of Heaven are still tied to it by fear to step out and stand. Scores have accepted the religion handed down to them by ancestors, and they proceed through meaningless formalities and never unwrap the gift.
Third, Satan has built up barriers to Christ by sin and confusion.
The more sin and rebellion in the life, the harder it is to repent. Evil habits and social sins tighten their grip, and the obstacles between man and Christ get bigger each day. Satan is wrapping up God's Gift to keep poor sinners from knowing God's love.
IV. THE HOLY SPIRIT UNWRAPS GOD'S GIFT FOR ALL WHO BELIEVE
Jesus promised that, when He went back to the Father, He would send one to teach and reveal the truth to all. The blessed Spirit of God has come to unwrap the Gift and help us understand. God's Gift was unwrapped for the shepherds to see. He was unwrapped for the Wise Men to meet and present their gifts to. He was unwrapped for Anna and Simeon to behold. He was unwrapped to John the Baptist by the descending dove in order that he might introduce Him publicly. He was unwrapped to the disciples by His miracle-working so that they might believe. He was unwrapped to Mary Magdalene at the tomb; and after talking to a stranger, she suddenly said, "Rabboni.'' He was unwrapped for Thomas to see the prints in His hands and feet; and he who did not believe cried out, "My Lord and my God!'' The same Holy Spirit will unwrap Him to any sincere heart and show plainly that He is God's Gift to you and me. Praise God for His unspeakable Gift!
And thank God after we have received the gift of eternal life, the gifts keep on coming…He came to give us life more abundant! We should unwrap all of God’s gifts:
When you share your testimony, you are unwrapping the gift for someone else. When you:
Volunteer to serve/invite to church/pray with a friend/make a spiritual decision or commitment/bite your tongue [or is that NOT unwrapping the gift?!]
What we are is God’s gift to us…what we become is our gift back to God!
May others see the gift IN us…watch it unfold before their eyes…then share the gift w/ them!
Ill.—a baby changes everything!
During the Second World War the allied army was advancing through France. The Germans were making a last stand wherever they could. During a night of very heavy fog the opposing armies moved very close. Only a long green meadow and one farmhouse separated them. As dawn came the fog lifted. Bullets and bombs began to explode, and men began to die. After some time of severe battle, the house in the green meadow was hit and began to burn. Then someone whispered, "Look.'' It was unbelievable, but there a very small child walking across the field. As the soldiers saw the child, the shooting began to cease. Soon it became very still. Every eye was on the baby. Suddenly a soldier raised up from his position, ran out into the open, grabbed the baby up in his arms, and ran back to his line. In a moment a great cheer went up on both sides, and the bullets began to fly again. The baby brought peace just for a moment.
The war of ages has been in progress since Satan's rebellion against God. Then Baby Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea. He will give eternal peace to all who will put their trust and faith in Him. Friend, unwrap God's Gift and accept it from God right now!
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