As Christmas gets closer we all start gathering Christmas lists from family and friends.
Mostly, we’re looking forward to getting gifts and giving gifts that will make a smile come to the face of the ones we love.
But there are other reasons…
We’re looking forward to watching little ones play with a new toy. It just blesses your heart.
We’re trying to show someone that we rarely see that they matter in our hearts. We miss them and care about them.
We might be trying to reflect the gifts given by the Magi to the baby Jesus as he arrived on earth.
We’re maybe fulfilling an obligation to give something to a list of people we don’t really know. How sad? But so true for so many.
Have you played what I like to call the “Mean Santa Game”? You know the one… One gift per person is sat on a table and one by one people pick up a gift from the table or if they like when their turn comes they steal a gift someone else has opened. Oh how mean! And big fun for some!
You know gifts are not just part of Christmas? Yeah I know, birthdays too.
A gift is something given to us that we didn’t have to earn. It might even be something that we don’t deserve.
Your pay check isn’t a gift. You earned it. (you were supposed to anyway) A tax return isn’t a gift. It is a returned gift.
A gift is unearned and sometimes undeserved.
Do you remember when you were a child and you would get gifts on Christmas morning? The best gifts were the ones I hated to leave at home when we left for Grandmas. I wanted to drag it with me everywhere I went.
Walkie-Talkies (Kids, think cell phones), football gear, a cool doll with all of the stuff, rock’m sock’m robots, Atari game systems (Nintendo Wii today)
We can all thank God for the gift of eternal life that he gave us through Jesus Christ. But the gifts I am thinking of are more personal; one to one. You know each of us has been given a personal gift from God?
1 Corinthians 12:1,4-11
1Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant…
4There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
7Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
So if you have already been given a spiritual gift like Paul is talking about how do you know what your gift is?
For some it seems so obvious. They are drawn to their gifts like a moth to a flame. But for some it is like wondering in a dark room full of booby traps.
So let’s get to unwrapping your gifts!
Here are some famous examples of people who unwrapped their Gifts and how they did it.
Nehemiah monitored his heartbeat
Joseph applied his abilities
David plugged into his personality
Mary submitted to the will of God
Saul of Tarsus was stuck by an experience
But Todd, All of those guys were people who looked after their people or the world.
I’m no one to rebuild a city, feed a country, defeat a giant, or form an entire peoples way of worship!
OK, maybe not. But you have been given a gift from God that can be used to the greater good of man. Everyone has been given one. EVERYONE!
You might think that it is my job to minister to everyone and your place is to be shown the love of God by your Pastor; to be fed.
But I tell you the truth; it is my job to train you. It is your job to minister to this world.
Does that freak you out?
Ephesians 4:11-12 (New International Version)
11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.
The body of Christ will never grow if the Pastor is the one using his gifts to MAKE IT grow through some cool program or inspiring turn of a phrase.
Notice in the people that I listed how many of them were Pastors when they started out? OK, maybe we could call Paul (Saul of Tarsus) a Pastor, but not when he was Saul. He was a zealot and a killer.
No as we look at Paul we see a man who had the gifts of wisdom, the gift of persuasion, and the gift of teaching. But these gifts didn’t help anyone until he learned to share them in God’s way. When he learned that the gift was not just for him and his people. The gift became his joy when he set out to share it with the world.
Romans 1:8, 11-12
8First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.
11I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
1 Corinthians 1:4
4I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5For in him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge— 6because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. 7Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.
2 Corinthians 1:3-7
3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
3I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
7It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
The joy of his gift was that he was allowed to share it with the people he knew.
I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
When we think of the personal gifts that God has given us it helps to look at the things we have that we can share with others.
There are three ways to share your gifts
Share them with the Lord
Share them with Brothers and Sisters in Christ
Share them with those who do not believe
Share with the Lord
Acts 13:2 (New International Version)
2While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
Share them with Brothers and Sisters in Christ
Hebrews 6:10 (New International Version)
10God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
Share them with those who do not believe
Matthew 5:13 (New International Version)
13″You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men
Why do we share?
When I was a kid I got the most joy from Christmas when I was receiving gifts. But today I really could get nothing more that a hug from my family members. OK, not DaRhonda (my wife)… She has to get me something.
But I get great joy watching people open there gifts. I hope it says to them that I Love them, that I thought of them, and that they have a place in my heart.
Ephesians 4:11-16 (New International Version)
11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
When we were kids and we got that one awesome gift. It was great for a few days. In fact, my walkie-talkies were probably the coolest thing I ever got… for about 2 days.
But I hold in my heart special Christmas memories of gifts I gave to others. I hold them forever. If I gave it with my heart in the right place then no one can take that from me.
The most special gifts I have been given were the gift of being able to give gifts to others.
No one can pull into town on a one dog slay and steal that from me.
Has the Grinch tried to steal your gifts?
Well turn the trick on him. Make sure that your favorite gift is the one you give to others.