Our Gift to the World
Community Group Discussion Guide

Message Summary - This message was the final message in a three part series entitled, “Christmas: It’s all about the gifts!” In the series graphic the letter s in the word gifts is has an x over it to indicate that Christmas is not really about the gifts under the tree, but about God’s gift to us, our gift to Him and the Church’s gift to the world. As members of the Body of Christ, we’ve been called by God to share the gift of God’s love with the world. This message seeks to answer four questions concerning our gift to the world: How do we give this gift? What does this gift look like? What does this gift cost?
What happens if we decide not to give this gift?

Community Group Questions

1. As you celebrated Christmas this year, did this series of messages help you refocus a little more on “The Gift” rather than the gifts under the tree? Why or why not?

2. As we think about God’s gift to us and our gift to Him, it stands to reason we should seek to share our gift with the world. Pastor Larry said you can’t give what you don’t own and it’s also important to value the gift you seek to give others. In other words, we’re not offering the gift of religion, but the gift of personal relationship with God.  Discuss these concepts and your thoughts on them. Paul spoke of the value he placed on his relationship with God in his letter to the Philippians...
Phil 3:7  But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
Phil 3:8  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ
Phil 3:9  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

3. God has chosen to use us to share His love with the world and one of the ways we do this is by giving our love to the world. We are to love others as we love ourselves. In order to do this, we must love ourself. In other words, people who hate themselves are not going to be able to truly love others. Why is this?

Psa 139:13  For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
Psa 139:14  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

2 Th 2:16  May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope,
2 Th 2:17  encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

4. While it is very important for the individual to have a healthy relationship with God in order to share God’s love with the world, it is also important for the church as a whole to be healthy. There are many characteristics which should be displayed in our lives as we seek to give the gift of God’s love to the world. Many of these are found in the following passage of Scripture. Read and then discuss how our gift to the world should look.
Col 3:12  Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Col 3:13  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Col 3:14  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Col 3:15  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.



Our Gift to the World!

Mark 12:28-31

Two weeks ago we talked about God's gift to us.

His love through His Son Jesus Christ!


16“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.
John 3:16 (NIV)

Last week we talked about our gift to God.

Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength!

30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
Mark 12:30 (NIV)

This week we're going to discuss our gift to the world!

The first thing you might ask is this…"what do you mean by our gift to the world?"

What I mean by this is: Once we receive God's gift of love and give Him our love, we become a part of His Body, the Church!

It's no longer just a me thing, it's an our thing! And now that you and I are a part of something so much bigger than ourselves, we have a responsibility to give a gift to the world!

And what would that gift be?

Let's look at our text and see if we can figure it out...

28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
Mark 12:28 (NIV)

29“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Mark 12:29 (NIV)

30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
Mark 12:30 (NIV)

31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:31 (NIV)

Let's Pray!!

Our gift to the world…

Love!!

Four questions!

1. How do we give this gift?
2. What does this gift look like?
3. What does this gift cost?
4. What happens if we decide not to give this gift?


First Question:

How do we give this gift?

Three things!


1. You must own the gift

You can't give what you don't have! Acquire the gift!
Receive the gift Jesus died to give you!
God's love!
Paul put it beautifully in his letter to the Philippians...

7But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
Philippians 3:7 (NIV)

8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ
Philippians 3:8 (NIV)

9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
Philippians 3:9 (NIV)

2. You must value the gift!

Your walk with God determines the value you place on the gift. People in the world don't want a gift you don't value, and don't think they can't tell. It shows in everything you say and do!

John put it like this...

6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.
1 John 1:6 (NIV)

7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
1 John 1:7 (NIV)

8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:8 (NIV)

9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9 (NIV)

It's not that followers of Christ are perfect, we're not, but we live in God's love and seek to love Him with our very lives. When we fail Him, forgiveness is a part of the gift we've been given!

We value the gift of our relationship with God so much we want others to have the same gift!

3. Do not under estimate your importance in delivery of the gift!

Love your neighbor as yourself!
You can't give the gift of love to someone else if you haven't given the gift of love to yourself!
I'm not talking about the kind of selfish, prideful, self-love the world pushes.

I'm talking about understanding how special to God you are. He created you! He planned you! He loved you! You've heard the Scripture, but have you applied it?

14I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

Have you accepted the fact God made you special? Have you accepted the fact God still loves you even though you haven't always lived up to His expectations for you? Have you accepted His forgiveness, His cleansing, His encouragement, His purpose, His plan?

If not, it will be hard to give away something you don't have!
Listen...

16May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope,
2 Thessalonians 2:16 (NIV)

17encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
2 Thessalonians 2:17 (NIV)

So, stop hating on yourself, and let God  encourage you and strengthen you so you can give a very special gift to the world! His love and your love!


Second Question:

What does this gift look like?

 First of all, remember, we are the church, the Body of Christ, and we've been called to give the world a gift. Remember, we are ambassadors for Christ! We represent Him!

Just as an individual must have love for his or her self, the church must exemplify the qualities of the gift if it hopes to share the gift with the world!

We've read the following Scripture recently, but I must read it again, because it shows us what our gift to the world should look like...

12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Colossians 3:12 (NIV)

13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Colossians 3:13 (NIV)

14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Colossians 3:14 (NIV)

15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Colossians 3:15 (NIV)

Are we not to give to the world compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience?
Is this what the world experiences from the church? Remember, you are the church! So as you answer this question, ask it of yourself!


Does the world see us as a compassionate people or a judgmental people?
Do they receive kindness from us or a cold shoulder?


 Do they see the humility of a sinful people saved by God's gift of grace or do they see a spiritual pride that indicates we think we're better than them?

 Do they see the gentleness and patience that Jesus displayed in His life toward the lost sheep of Israel?

Remember...

36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 9:36 (NIV)

37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.
Matthew 9:37 (NIV)

38Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Matthew 9:38 (NIV)

When the world looks at the church today, you and me, do they see a willingness to forgive? Do they see the kind of love that should flow from those who claim to have received the gift?

Are we bringing peace into the world by our actions and attitudes?

The gift we are to give the world must include all of the above!

One exception to the above, I must mention. If you've tried to give the gift of love to someone, including forgiveness, compassion, kindness etc, but they refuse to accept the gift and simply use your kindness and compassion to continue living a destructive lifestyle, you may have to give some tough love.

God would not have you, in His name, enable someone to continue living an abusive or destructive lifestyle.

Question Three:

What does this gift cost?

1Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children
Ephesians 5:1 (NIV)

2and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 5:2 (NIV)

To live a life of love will require at least three sacrifices...


Sacrifice of Time

The biggest sacrifice may be your time!
If you're not willing to give time, you won't be able to give the gift to the world! It's not always convenient. Sometimes the needs will arise at the most inopportune times.

However, if we're going to follow the second greatest command of all time, we must be ready to respond whenever the call comes in!

Kind of like our first responders. People don't schedule their crisis. We just have to be ready to give the gift when the need arises.

And we must realize, we may need to build a relationship and stick around a while in order for the other person to get a good look at the gift we are offering to them. This will require time!!

Jesus put it this way...

14“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Matthew 5:14 (NIV)

15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
Matthew 5:15 (NIV)

16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16 (NIV)

Sacrifice of Talent

 God has gifted you with specific talents and abilities which will allow you access to certain people I would never have access to. Remember this verse?

10Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)

Some of us have talents we're not using and it does hinder our efforts to share God's gift of love to the world!

Sacrifice of Things

 God has given some of us resources and He desires for us to be good stewards of what we have received.
Paul said it well in his second letter to the Church at Corinth...

6Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
2 Corinthians 9:6 (NIV)

7Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)

8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:8 (NIV)

9As it is written: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”
2 Corinthians 9:9 (NIV)

10Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
2 Corinthians 9:10 (NIV)

11You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
2 Corinthians 9:11 (NIV)

Question Four:

What happens if we decide not to give this gift?


 Two things!!

The world loses hope, and Jesus takes it personally!

The world loses hope...

14How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
Romans 10:14 (NIV)

Jesus takes it personally...

31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.
Matthew 25:31 (NIV)

32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
Matthew 25:32 (NIV)

33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Matthew 25:33 (NIV)

34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
Matthew 25:34 (NIV)

35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
Matthew 25:35 (NIV)

36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Matthew 25:36 (NIV)

37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
Matthew 25:37 (NIV)

38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
Matthew 25:38 (NIV)

39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
Matthew 25:39 (NIV)

40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Matthew 25:40 (NIV)

There was a young man who appeared on American Idol. You may remember him, his name is Chris Sligh.
He is a young man with a strong faith and put out several very good CD's.

One of them, called The Anatomy of Broken has a song entitled "In the Weak"

Here's what he says...

I wrap God in my perfect packages/ A self-made box of wants and needs/ With hands raised high, I sing my praise/ and forget the ones left in the street/ But God does not reside in churches made of stone/I will not find Him in palaces of gold/ He's in the weak, He's in the orphan/ He's in the broken and abandoned/

That have been too long ignored/ He's bring out His arms are reaching/ We find Him in the helpless and the poor/ The least of these is who His heart beats for/ So will we stand for the sake of justice?/ Will we live in the name of love?/ Will we defend the case of the fatherless/ And take their cause up as our own?

'Cause God does not reside in churches made of stone/ We will not find Him in palaces of Gold/ with the same mercy/ that we've been given/ From His grace received/ We must freely give!