From Heaven to Earth What will you do with your gift?
Sermon Summary
This message looks at the gifts the wise men brought to Jesus and their meaning. Details concerning the wise men and their backgrounds give insight into the truth that those who seek truth will find it. The message then takes a turn when the question is asked: “Do you wish you could have been there to give Jesus a gift on that first Christmas?” The good news is we can still give Jesus gifts. The most important gift would be accepting His gift! Nothing thrills God more than for a lost person to come to know Jesus as their personal Savior. Secondly, we can give gifts to Jesus every day by the way we live our lives. We don’t work for our salvation, it is a gift, but we do work out our salvation by allowing the benefits and features of salvation to become a part of our daily lives. As we do this, we have the opportunity to share the gift of salvation with the world!

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. When you were a child, did you ever try to give your parents a gift that would make them really happy? Maybe a painting, or a craft you tried to make? Maybe your special gift to them came when you were older. Tell us about it.

2. If you are a parent, you were a part of giving the gift of life to your children, and you provide for them daily. It’s nice when your children try to show you their gratitude by giving you a gift, but the greatest gifts they can give to us are found in the way they live their lives. How does this help us understand what God wants us to do with the gift of salvation He has given to us?
Hosea 6:6  For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

3. Read Philippians 2:1-17a. Now go back and discuss some of the things we can do with our gift of salvation.
Phil 2:1  If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,
Phil 2:2  then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
Phil 2:3  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Phil 2:4  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Phil 2:5  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Phil 2:6  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
Phil 2:7  but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
Phil 2:8  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!
Phil 2:9  Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
Phil 2:10  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
Phil 2:11  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Phil 2:12  Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,
Phil 2:13  for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
Phil 2:14  Do everything without complaining or arguing,
Phil 2:15  so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe
Phil 2:16  as you hold out the word of life--

A question for reflection...What are some things you might have to change in your life in order to share your gift of salvation with others?



Full Sermon Notes
From Heaven to Earth
What will you do with your gift?

Hope you had a good Christmas! We got to see some family we haven't seen in quite sometime. It was a blessing. How many of you got gifts? I did. One of them is this fancy watch my Father-n-law gave me. I had told my wife I was going to take some of my Christmas money and get a watch.

I was going to look at those 10.00-20.00 watches, My Father-n-law's gift was far better than anything I would have done for myself. Kind of like God's gift to us. I guarantee it's better than anything you could ever do for your self!! Today we're going to talk about gifts. Over the last few weeks we've talked about the amazing preparation God had put into that first Christmas gift. We've talked about the reactions of some of the principle people involved. Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Mary. We'll see some other reactions in the course of our message today. Last week we talked about the actual arrival of the gift!
Today we turn our attention in a little different direction. The gift God gave us on that first Christmas many years ago changed our world, and for those who have been willing to believe and accept the gift, their lives have been forever changed. Jesus was God's gift of salvation to all who would believe. Today we will look at one last part of the Christmas story. It has to do with the gift of God, the wise men's gifts, and your gift. That's right your gift! You see, Jesus was God's gift of salvation to us, our gift to God is what we do with that gift. Let's pray and then we'll jump right into our story. PRAY!!

1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem

2and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

Last year I preached a whole sermon on the wise men and King Herod. I need to remind you of some of the details of this story...
The wise men were not Jewish. The magi may have been from Babylon, Persia, or the Arabian desert. Magi were variously considered priest of other religions, astrologers, sages, or magicians.

They were teachers of religion and science and had particular interest in astrology and medicine. There is nothing to suggest that these magi were kings and Matthew doesn’t give the number of wise men. It was because of their diverse knowledge, they were considered wise men. There is another reason, however, I would call them wise! These wise men weren’t just trying to attain knowledge when they read, they were looking for truth. Their motivation was truth! Even though they were not Jewish, it was not unusual for a magi to be well versed in other religions. They were expected to know allot about a lot of things. After all, they served as consultants for the kings. These guys had not just read the Scripture, they had studied it. They genuinely wanted to know the truth! How else would they find the one very obscure reference to a star in Scripture...

15Then he uttered his oracle: “The oracle of Balaam son of Beor, the oracle of one whose eye sees clearly,

16the oracle of one who hears the words of God, who has knowledge from the Most High, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened:

17“I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.
Numbers 24:15-17a (NIV)

They also knew about Bethlehem...

2“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. ’”

So these wise men were motivated to know the truth! They sought the truth.
Have you heard the statement, "Wise men still seek Jesus"?
So cool! So True!
Here's a crazy thing. The wise men believed, and even Herod believed the prophecies.
Look at our text: Matthew 2:off

3When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.

4When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.

5“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

6“ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’ ”

7Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.

8He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

Shocking isn't it? They people of God knew the prophecies!! They quoted the prophets! They knew, but they ignored God's Word! They weren't seeking the Messiah! They had long since become motivated by the things of the world rather than the things of God! Sad but true!
I think these wise men also had read a song that King David had written. It is powerful and talks about our gift of Salvation. Listen to just a few of these verses...

23Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day.

24Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

25For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.

26For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.

27Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy in his dwelling place.

28Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength,

29ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name. Bring an offering and come before him; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.

30Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.

31Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns! ”

Why do I think the wise men had read this?
First of all, remember, they knew about a lot of religions, but something about a religion that claimed to follow the living God, not idols, statues, or man made images, was appealing to them. And you want to know something really amazing? They were seeking with anticipation. How do I know?
This is exciting!! Look at our text...

9After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.

10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.

11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

They anticipated finding the Messiah! They brought gifts with them! They came prepared to worship! They were motivated to seek the truth! They anticipated God would reward their search for truth, so they prepared in advance to worship the True King, the Living God!

And the gifts are specific and prophetic. It seems the wise men knew just the right gifts to bring!

Gold
A Gift of Value! Precious metal. Valuable. Used to fashion crowns for Kings.

Incense - Frankincense
A Symbolic Gift. Used in making the perfume for the most holy place in the tabernacle.

Myrrh
A Useful gift!
An aromatic resin used as an ingredient in anointing oil...
applied as perfume, placed in clothes to deodorize,and used to embalm bodies.

We don't have time to get into all that these gifts meant, but they were gifts with powerful symbolism for the Baby Jesus! Don't you wish you could have been there with the wise men to give a gift to the One who would one day give His life "as a ransom for many!" That many included you and me!!

Here's the amazing thing. You're not to late. You still have a chance to give the Christ Child a gift!
First of all, the greatest gift you could ever give to God is to accept the gift He offered to you. You can't even imagine how God is thrilled when a person accepts His gift of salvation. It cost Him so much!!

When we accept His gift of salvation through Jesus, our spirit man is saved. Remember, it is not by our good works we achieve spiritual awakening or enlightenment. It is by God's amazing grace offered to us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
If we insist on saving ourselves, God's gift of salvation is tragically left unopened, and unused. The last part of this message is void of meaning if you leave God's gift unopened. Why? Because we are going to finish today's message by talking about what we are to do with our gift of Salvation.  

So let me remind you again of one of the most important passages of Scripture in all of the Bible. Ephesians 2:1-10

1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,

2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,

5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —it is by grace you have been saved.

6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,

7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

9not by works, so that no one can boast.

10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ok, now that we have the concept of grace firmly understood I can tell you what God wants you to do with your gift of salvation. It's so exciting. It will give you purpose in life and you'll never be bored, never, ever again. Phil 2:off

1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,

Ok, when you received your gift from God, were you encouraged by being united with Christ?
Did you receive any comfort from His love?
Have you sensed God's Holy Spirit guiding you and at times inspiring you to live your life with eternal purpose?

Did your gift from God come with tenderness and compassion? Mine did!!!
Like I said, I was so lost, so messed up, so lonely and at the same time very prideful, but Jesus looked at me from the Cross and with amazing tenderness and compassion said, "Father, forgive Larry, he didn't understand what he was doing!"
Now God's Word gives us instructions on what we are to do with our fabulous gift of salvation. If you answered yes to any of the  questions I just asked you, Paul the apostle says...

2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.

3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death —even death on a cross!

9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,

10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,

Work out your salvation, not work for! Don't miss that!! Work out all the benefits and features of salvation's gift into your everyday life. Let the power of salvation not only save your soul, but your daily life. Let God's gift help you overcome life's struggles, life's disappointments, life's, temptations, and even life's tragedies.
Let God's gift also help you find the greatest meaning in the good things in life. The celebrations, the victories, the accomplishments, friendships and relationships

Why does Paul say with fear and trembling?
I think it is because we must understand the terrible cost if we only allow salvation to be something for the sweet by and by. If we only receive God's gift of salvation for a free ticket to heaven and then forget about it until we someday face death, we could end up with saved souls and lost lives.
God cares about our lives here on earth. If He didn't have a purpose for us to fulfill here in this life, He would just zip us right up to heaven the moment we said yes to salvation. He doesn't because…next verse please...

13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

14Do everything without complaining or arguing,

15so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe

16as you hold out the word of life—

What does he mean when he says "as you hold out the word of life?"
I read you a Scripture last week and told you it would be important to today's message. It gives the answer to what it means to hold out the word of life!

17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:

19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

What are you going to do with your gift. The world is still waiting for God's people to share with them the gift of salvation. First of all by living a life that shows them the difference salvation makes and secondly by sharing with them the truth that could give them the hope they yearn for in the depths of their souls!! Let's pray!!