An Undeserved Gift (Christmas in July)

Posted: July 22, 2019 in Uncategorized

When the arrival of Jesus was announced to the shepherds, the angel said, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ, the Lord.”  At the end of his life, as Jesus hung on the cross between two thieves, one thief taunted him, but the other, recognizing who Jesus was, in the last moments of both of their lives, made a request of Jesus.  He said, “Remember me when you enter your Kingdom.”  Jesus replied, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

Throughout His life and ministry, there was a sense of urgency about Jesus.  There was always a choice or a decision to be made.  “Today” mattered and today’s choices had eternal consequences.  The Bible is filled with people who encountered Jesus and were faced with choices.

Jesus met Peter, Andrew, James, John and Matthew, said “follow me” and they dropped everything to do so.  Zacchaeus climbed a tree to encounter Jesus and was changed, while the rich young man walked away because he was too attached to his “stuff”.  A woman suffering from bleeding for twelve years had the courage to work her way through the crowd to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe and was healed.  He said her faith had healed her.  Another woman encountered Jesus at a well in Samaria and in spite of her past mistakes was used powerfully by Jesus.

All of these people lived, like we do.  They had their failures and successes, their illnesses, their responsibilities, their doubts and their struggles.  Then, they each had an encounter with Jesus.  That day … that “today” presented them with decisions … choices. Meeting Jesus always does.  I will give you a heads up … Jesus is coming.  As the angel announced to the shepherds on that first Christmas day, “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ, the Lord.”

Today we celebrate Christmas in July.  Why?  Because Christmas is not just December 25.  On that first Christmas day over 2,000 years ago, God presented us a gift.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Who was on your gift list last Christmas? Most of us usually give gifts to family and friends. We buy gifts for people we love and people we care about. Most of us tend to give gifts to those who treat us well, people who are kind and compassionate to us. However, we generally don’t buy gifts for our enemies. I know I usually don’t buy gifts for people who oppose me. We really don’t even give a gift to the person who has slandered us in the past year. We don’t give a gift to the irate neighbor who never has a kind word to say. A co-worker who causes drama or trouble. We don’t give a gift to someone who has tried to run us out of business. Nor do we send a gift to the thief who broke into our car or home and stole something from us.

But consider this: when God sent Jesus Christ, His Son, and gave us this ultimate gift, He gave it to us while we were still His enemies. We heard in this morning’s scripture, Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. None of us did anything whatsoever to earn or deserve this gift. In fact, what we really deserve is judgment. Why? Because we all have sinned against God (Romans 3:23) and the wages for our sin is death (Romans 6:23). We all have deliberately crossed that line. We have rebelled against God. We have been disobedient to Him.

The amazing truth about Christmas is that, in spite of our sins, God sent His Son to save us. In that tiny manger in Bethlehem, He loved us so much that He gave us a gift that not one of us is worthy to receive.

Today, we prepare ourselves for the arrival of the Savior.  Revelation 3:20 says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

Today, we will have choices to make.  Will we go out of our way to see Jesus, like Zacchaeus, and let him change our lives?  Or will we be like the rich young man and walk away because we are chained too tightly to our possessions?  Will we be brave enough to approach Jesus, like the bleeding woman?  Will we be strong enough to overcome our past and know that Jesus wants to use us just the way we are?  When Jesus says “follow me” what will your answer be?

Today is not just another day.  It’s Christmas day, and the gift is still being offered to us.  Will you accept it?  Amen.

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