Finding The Perfect Gift: A Gift Is On The Way!

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”? 

  1. The Giver Puts Something Of Him Or Herself Into It And
  2. 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?”

  1. Your Calendar?
  2. Your Purpose?
  3. 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!

10 thoughts on “Finding The Perfect Gift: A Gift Is On The Way!

  1. Don’t mean to intrude and I am not joining in to debate; I was asked by a Brother in Christ to add some thoughts and as I respect Pastor Randy and his teaching, there isn’t much I can add to his teaching. To the Comments and especially concerning the sacrament of Communion and it is a sacrament whether you belong to a liturgical denomination or not. It is a Spiritual Principle commanded by Christ Jesus Himself and passed down through the Apostles.

    Now, over the years as with so many traditions the style and format has changed. Man and his imperfections do that, thus the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to lay out the Spiritual Principle which will NEVER change until Christ returns and this type of Communion will no longer be necessary. God in His infinite knowledge and wisdom KNEW what man would do with this command.

    We need to remember the priority that was laid out by Jesus first to His disciples (present and future) and what Paul was reiterating and we can’t just rest our laurels on one verse, this is what gets us into trouble. Pastor Randy is right on about the format of the way the early disciples honored the Communion. And it did become abused. What the Apostle Paul was correcting wasn’t the actual of honoring it (though he WAS giving some practical correction and admonishment to the manner), as much as he was reiterating the MOTIVE for the Communion.

    We partake of Communion, communing as a group just as the disciples who witnessed the death of Jesus on the Cross. We partake of it to REMEMBER and to REMIND one another of the Grand significance of that death. We remember it the broken bread as a SYMBOL of His broken body for each of us individually and the wine (juice, whatever) as the SYMBOL of His spilled blood that was shed as a covering of our individual sins in our individual lives. The bread, we are dead in Christ Jesus to sin, the wine, we are covered by His blood so that our Heavenly Father no longer sees transgression in us, but rather holiness as white and unblemished as the pure snow.

    This is the First and main reason for partaking of this sacrament. As with so many other Scriptures, we take it communally to demonstrate our love not just to the Lord, but to each other and that forgiveness is a part of that communion. Forgiveness to others for their transgressions and forgiveness to ourselves identifying with Christ’s forgiveness of us.

    Now, as to motive and practical application. You cannot be forgiven if you have not repented and forgiven yourself. Forgiveness comes from Christ, always first and foremost and there are teachings today that tell you that you don’t and can’t forgive yourself, but the truth of the Word tells us “we forgive others as ourselves,” Jesus’ words, not mine. Forgiveness does not take place in a unrepentant heart, thus acknowledgement and repentance of sin HAS to be made or Communion, remembering the death of Christ for our sins, and the shedding of His blood for a covering, becomes a mockery. This is what Paul was referring too concerning being unworthy. And yes, there are natural consequences to our actions, especially our spiritual actions.

    Now, lest we forget, it is NOT the Churches role to police who takes Communion, for Paul was explicit in reminding those he was writing too (under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration) EXAMINE YOURSELVES FIRST! In other words, before you partake, look inward and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what we sometimes tend to overlook or dismiss. It only takes an instant to recognize something HE is pointing out and then asking forgiveness of it in sincerity. HOWEVER – if the community (the Church) is aware of ongoing, unrepentant sin, such as adultery, fornication, a habit of lying and deception, etc., etc., as Communion suggests, this being a communal activity in remembrance of Christ’s death, it definitely needs to be pointed out, as Paul did to the GROUP of Corinthians he was writing too (as opposed to an individual or a couple of individuals) that to take the Sacrament unworthily has consequences spiritually AND naturally. A Pastor should NEVER point out to an individual in the act of taking Communion they are not worthy, for judgment begins IN the individual themselves and this is what the Apostle Paul is clarifying in his remarks. The individual, as Salvation and Redemption suggests is an individual journey and only the individual can “work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12).

    As a COMMUNITY, a CHURCH (the Body of Christ) we NEED to be there for one another. Being there doesn’t mean being judgmental, but it also doesn’t mean that at times admonishment isn’t needed to clarify things.

    Romans 15:1-2, “We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.”

    Galatians 6:1-2, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

    1 Thessalonians 5:11-15, “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.”

    Pastor Randy wrote a GREAT article here and it is not just encouraging but inspirational as well. Let us all remember though that we, as Brothers and Sisters in Christ are each members individually part of the Body of Christ with Jesus Christ at the Head.

    And thanks Pastor for letting me add my “two-cents” worth! God bless each of you abundantly!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You’re very welcome, it was a great question!

    I appreciate your comments on how you handle admittance to communion pastorally. I agree…being legalistic about who should and who should not be admitted is the LAST thing we want! If we are going to err, I’d rather it be on the side of grace and inclusion. That is not to say that the church should close her eyes to serious ongoing sin, but such cases are better handled pastorally, on an individual basis.

    Interesting discussion though!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “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!”

    I thought if we as believers are living in willful unrepentant sin… we should pass the bread and wine plates, until we stop this sin ?? Please correct me, if I am wrong…

    1 Corinthians 11:27-30… Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and [e]blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many [h]sleep. (NKJV)

    Blessings in Christ, bruce

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As I understand it, Paul was addressing how the Corinthians were abusing the moment. For the early church, it was more than what we do today. It was more like a “covered dish” supper with the added emphasis on The Bread and The Cup; they called it”The Agape Feast”. The rich would get there early, eat and drink a lot, and when the poor were able to get there, there was little left of the Holy Meal. It was a classic case of “class separation”. Holy Communion is a Means Of Grace, a way to connect with what and Who we need. The young woman in this story was obviously broken, and needed God’s Grace made available to here visibly through the signs of Holy Communion. Unworthy means to not remember what this Sacred Meal cost. Holy Communion reminds us that God has a fresh start for anyone, even someone like me.

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      1. I have spoken to a few pastors about this, and they all believe that if a believer is living in willful unrepentant sin (like fornication before marriage), and they have no thoughts of stopping, they should NOT take communion… There can’t be two right answers here ??
        Is there any link you could send me that could support your understanding ??

        Blessings in Christ, bruce

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Bruce, I agree with you that if one does not “intend” to give up a sin, then they abuse the Sacred Meal. But then, what about the member who doesn’t do some “dirty” sin, but is holding on to a grudge? Or the member who receives the Sacred Meal out of habit and routine? Or worse, the member who thinks they have earned the right to have a seat at the Sacred Meal? Do those attitudes qualify as being “unworthy”?

          Are their sins “less” than the “dirtier” ones? My point is that Paul’s words were spoken into a particular situation–yet some have used it as a broad brush stroke. The Sacred Meal is for those who need to recognize that their sins led to Jesus dying on the Cross–and THAT death is enough for forgive us–IF one is willing to accept This Gift called GRACE. I have witnessed people who become broken like the broken bread as they take their seat at the Sacred Meal. FEAR of being unworthy has kept a lot of people, true disciples of Jesus, away from this Sacred Meal which is all about God offering Grace to whomever God wants to offer grace (which is all of us).

          I know my view is a bit “different”, maybe “radical”. Here’s what the Spirit taught me: “Would you rather God call you out on the day of judgment for offering The Sacred Meal to someone considered ‘unworthy’, OR for God calling you out on the day of judgment for ‘refusing’ to offer HIS grace to a sinner?” I’d rather be judged FOR offering The Sacred Meal to someone deemed UNWORTHY, than to be chastised by God for REFUSING to offer someone a seat at His Table. This would be a great shame for me. I’m not arguing with the other pastors view; but sharing how The Spirit has helped and taught me. Blessings, Bruce! I’m loving this conversation!

          Liked by 2 people

    2. If I may chime in…

      You are correct – those who are in unrepentant, willful sin should refrain from receiving the Supper.

      But there is a huge difference between one who is unwilling to give up their sin, and the one who struggles to give it up.

      When we are in a struggle with a particular sin, it can be tempting to think that it has placed us BEYOND God’s grace and therefore we shouldn’t receive the Supper, but that is not true, it is exactly the opposite. When we are in a struggle with sin – even (perhaps especially) a losing battle – this is precisely when we need the Supper the most.
      Partaking of the Supper is not something *we* do for God, it is God who is working through this meal for US. The body and blood of our Lord, which we receive by faith in the meal, strengthens and preserves us in the true faith unto life
      everlasting.

      As for the broken woman given as example, who can say what was in her heart? Perhaps she finds that she is living in a sin that she knows she must give up, but is unable to extricate herself from. What is the sinner to do then? Do we say, “Oh, you’re too broken, unworthy to partake”? If that is the case, then NONE of us should partake.

      According to the Scriptures, there are two circumstances under which we partake of the meal unworthily. One, as you pointed out, is to approach the meal while in a state of unrepentant sin. We are to examine ourselves for any unconfessed sin and repent of it before receiving Communion. The other is to fail to discern the Body of the Lord in the meal. Both are serious conditions, for both are a rejection of God’s word, and rejecting his word brings judgement.

      So how should one tell if you should or should not go to the Supper? You examine yourself.

      Do you have anything against a brother? Go and be reconciled with him and then go commune. If you are unwilling to do that, you should not commune until you are.

      If anything is going on in your life that God calls sin, but you have decided is “not really sin” (so that you can keep on doing it) then you should not be admitted to the Supper until you have repented. Once you have repented, run to the Supper so that you may be strengthened by it!

      If you are in sin that you know is sin, know you should stop, but seem powerless to overcome – the Supper was meant for you, to strengthen and assure you of forgiveness.

      And finally, if you do not discern the presence of the Lord in the Supper, you should not receive it, for the Spirit does not reject the gifts of God but receives them eagerly.

      Bottom line – guilt over sin is not a reason to stay away from communion, but rejecting that you are in sin (when you are, in fact, clearly sinning) disqualifies you from partaking. It’s not the sin itself that disqualifies, it’s the rejection of the offered forgiveness that is the problem. In effect it says, “I don’t NEED forgiveness for this”

      Liked by 2 people

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