1 Think of it this way. If a father dies and leaves an inheritance for his young children, those children are not much better off than slaves until they grow up, even though they actually own everything their father had. 2 They have to obey their guardians until they reach whatever age their father set. 3 And that’s the way it was with us before Christ came. We were like children; we were slaves to the basic spiritual principles of this world.
4 But when the right time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. 5 God sent Him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. 6 And because we are His children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” 7 Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are His child, God has made you His heir.Galatians 4:1-4 (NLT)
Did you hear about the man who got tired of the Christmas hoopla. All the frantic rush and the commercialism was disgusting to him. So, he decided not to go along with the crowd. Among other things, he decided not to send Christmas cards, feeling that the expense and effort were non-productive. For the first 10 days of December he felt good about his decision. But then, as the mail brought him greetings from his friends, he began to feel guilty about not sending any cards. 4 days before Christmas, he couldn’t stand it any longer. He rushed down to the drug store and grabbed the only box of cards still on the shelf. He bought them, purchased stamps, rushed home, and addressed cards frantically all evening. He addressed 49 cards. He had one card left over which he tossed on the mantle.
That same evening he drove down to the post office and mailed the cards. The next day he was walking through the house and happened to see that extra card on the mantle. It occurred to him that he had addressed and signed all those cards but had not actually read what the card said. So, he grabbed the card and took a look. This is what it said: “This cheery card has come to say: A gift from us is on the way.”
For many, this is that frenzied time of trying to find the Perfect Gift. This quest creates a lot of stress for many, maybe some of you. But Advent Season is different. The whole meaning of the Advent season is this: God Has The Perfect Gift For Us. The reason we offer Christmas gifts to each other is to honor and reflect the only perfect gift ever offered—the gift of God through a Bethlehem baby named Jesus.
What makes a gift “The Perfect Gift”?
- The Giver Puts Something Of Him Or Herself Into It And
- The Gift Is Suited To The Needs Of The Recipient.
That’s The Perfect Gift. And if you can remember only one thing, this is it: God Has The Perfect Gift For You. When our loving God was thinking about this sin-scarred world that would be filled with warring, selfish, corrupted people, He had a plan. God knew that if he sent 10,000 educators, the people would simply become more inventive in their evil. God could have dropped tons of food to alleviate all hunger, but the people would have hoarded it rather than sharing it. God could have sent a powerful general to clean up the mess by force. As soon as the good general was gone, everything would deteriorate to business as usual.
And if you can remember only one thing, this is it: God Has The Perfect Gift For You. When our loving God was thinking about this sin-scarred world that would be filled with warring, selfish, corrupted people, He had a plan. God knew that if he sent 10,000 educators, the people would simply become more inventive in their evil. God could have dropped tons of food to alleviate all hunger, but the people would have hoarded it rather than sharing it. God could have sent a powerful general to clean up the mess by force. As soon as the good general was gone, everything would deteriorate to business as usual.
So, to give the perfect gift, God did not send a general or an educator or even a preacher. God sent himself. The late great preacher Wallace Hamilton put it this way, “God Came Walking Down The Stairway Of Heaven With A Baby In His Arms.”
Paul expressed this message beautifully to the first-century church in Galatia. Paul said that since the Fall, all people have been slaves to sin. And we need someone to redeem us, to buy us out of that slavery. The thing about trying to do enough to atone for our sins, is that it is never enough. In the process of trying to cover over one sin, we discover that we have another sin to atone for. And as we try to cover over for that sin, then there is another and another and another, ad nauseum.
We are all slaves to sin. We are powerless to atone for it, and we certainly are powerless to stop it from happening again and again. And when the time was both Right And Ripe, God sent the Gift that was prepared for us before the beginning of time. We celebrate Advent to remember that God has declared: “The Perfect Gift is on the way.” And we celebrate Holy Communion because we know that His gift has arrived, and is now among us. The gift of Jesus is the Perfect Gift. It is an assortment of the most needed items on earth. Let me mention three:
1. The Gift Brings Forgiveness.
(Verse 5) God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.
Forgiveness is absolutely powerful, life changing and soul-saving When It’s Given By Jesus. Nothing is more powerful, more liberating and more empowering for us than to know that because of the Cross, Jesus has forgiven us.
Tony Campolo tells a story that happened when he was about 7 years old. They were sitting in church. As the Communion Service was about to begin, the preacher read from 1 Corinthians 11:27, Whosoever shall eat the bread and drink the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. There was a young woman sitting in front of them who began to cry uncontrollably. As the plate with the bread was handed to her, she waved in on, then lowered her head in despair, as if there was some sin she couldn’t find relief from. Campolo said his Dad leaned forward and sternly said in broken English, “Take it, girl! It was meant for you!”
Sin goes too deep into the human heart for superficial cures. Only the spirit of the living Christ can free us from sin and teach us to forgive ourselves and others. It’s a miracle made possible by the Cross that happens each time one of us says to God with all our heart, “I’m so sorry. I’m not worthy, but please forgive me!”
2. The Gift Brings A Heart Transplant.
(Verse 6) And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”
We must have a heart transplant. Not the surgical variety. I am talking about the change of Values, Attitudes, And Will. It happens because of Christ living in us. He takes up residence in the deepest parts of us. He will never reside in the shallow places of our heart. He will live only in the deepest places, regardless of what it looks like right now. Transformation only begins from those deepest places inside our hearts. Superficial changes are useless. Only Jesus living in the deepest parts of our heart brings the transformation we must have.
In that presence we find the strength to do all those things we are created to do. In that presence we find the strength to keep from doing those things we know are sinful and self-destructive. We have a new heart because we have a new relationship with God!
A Harvard education is wonderful, but it alone will not touch the heart to change our Values, Attitudes, And Will. You can take all of the Dale Carnegie courses but still not touch the Values, the Attitudes, and the Will. But when Jesus becomes not only your Savior, but the Lord of your life, He creates a new heart that changes, The Values, The Attitudes And The Will.
Paul hits the bullseye when he wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17:, This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! Only He changes us from the inside out; and it happens through The Gift. What we cannot do in or for ourselves He is able to do. The miracle of the Gift is that when we allow Him, He gives us a completely new heart that changes our values, our attitudes, and our will.
3. The Gift Brings Eternal Life!
(Verse 7) Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are His child, God has made you His heir.
Our heavenly reservations were made that moment when we repent of our sins and genuinely Believe In Jesus As Our Savior And Follow Him As Our Lord. When we dare to step out in faith and claim Jesus as Savior and Lord, we don’t have to wonder where we will spend eternity. When we die and reach heaven’s gates, our future is secure, because of our faith in Jesus and our love for Him. The mark of Christ will be visible upon us. His righteousness will cover us and the gates of heaven will be wide open for us.
God doesn’t leave us to wonder about or to hope maybe we get it right to get into heaven. The seal of love is on and there is no doubt, no maybe—Eternal Life is guaranteed and it’s all because one day God said, A Gift Is On The Way. Why did God do it? The answer is clear in that most beloved verse in our Bible: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that whoever believes on him should not perish but have eternal life.” And This Truth Frees Us To Live Abundantly In The Here And Now!
People who do not have inner peace have inner war; a war between their selfish desires and the ways of God. When a person becomes a Follower of Jesus, our personal world changes, because we surrender to Jesus. The consequence of the surrender is that Jesus sends an inner composure nothing on earth nor in hell can touch. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27)
So, there you have it—and why you need to accept God’s Perfect Gift: forgiveness, a heart transplant, and eternal life. These are the world’s most needed gifts! No wonder Phillips Brooks wrote in his Christmas carol, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
We celebrate Advent, to remember that God has said that The Gift is on the way. And we celebrate Communion because we know that His gift has arrived, and is now among us. The Bethlehem Christ-child, born to die on Calvary’s Cross, is the ultimate expression of love. He is the only perfect gift the world has ever known. Have you accepted that gift?
This is your homework this week, and the Next Steps as we think about The Perfect Gift:
This Week Answer this Question: “Where is Jesus in these places?”
- Your Calendar?
- Your Purpose?
- Your Desires?
These places reveal if HE is your Lord, or just a crutch. If Jesus has just been a crutch for you, God has a better Gift for you!