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What Will You Give?

Matthew 2: 1-12

With all the activities, the shopping, the parties, and all that is commonly associated with Christmas,
many may feel like the mother described in Edna Bowman's parody of the 12 Days of Christmas:

"On the twelfth day of Christmas
My littlest love gave to me
Twelve dogs a-leaping
Eleven cats a-creeping
Ten fingers gripping
Nine toes a-tripping
Eight drinks a-spilling
Seven glasses filling
Six friends and things
Five telephone rings
Four crayoned walls
Three loud calls
Two kisses free
And one mother up a pear tree
."

I read about a Christmas play where the little children dressed up like shepherds, wise men, angels,
and other characters of Christmas.
The highlight of the Christmas play was to show the radiance of Jesus.
An electric bulb was hidden in the manger.
All the stage lights were to be turned off leaving only one light on the manger.
At the appropriate time, all lights went out.

Even the manger light.
The silence was broken when one of the little shepherds loudly whispered, "Hey, you turned off Jesus."

Many have turned off Jesus in their lives.

Christmas is more characterized by shopping rather than the Saviour.
More thought is given to gifts for the family and friends than the gift from God.
More time is given to celebration than to adoration.

Giving should characterize the spirit of Christmas.
Giving has been part of the festivities of Christmas for hundreds of years dating back to Constantine.

I read about a lady who was doing her last minute Christmas shopping.
She noticed several boxes of Christmas cards that were marked 50 percent off.
She thought, "This is great!"
So, she purchased a box with 50 cards.
She was happy that she could save money on her Christmas cards.

She went home without looking at the cards or reading the verse.
After arriving at home, she quickly addressed the envelopes and hastily signed her name in all the cards but one.
She rushed them down to the post office, mailing all 49 Christmas cards.

Later that night, when she finally sat down, she noticed the one card that was left.
She thought, "I mailed all those cards and did not even take the time to see what they said."

Imagine her surprise when she picked up the card, opened it, and on the inside, it read,
"This card is to let you know a little gift is on the way."

The spirit of giving dominated the first Christmas.
Present at the first Christmas was the ultimate Giver and the ultimate Gift.
The greatest Christmas gift ever given was given by God to us when Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

Have you given any thought as to what you will give Jesus this Christmas?
Have you included Him on your Christmas list?
If there is anyone who should receive a gift this Christmas, it is Jesus!

What can you give Him?
He owns the universe and all that is in it.
What do you give someone who literally has everything?

The gifts the Magi gave to Jesus would be excellent.
The Magi presented gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Now, many of you are thinking, "How can we give those gifts?"

We can give what they represented.

Gold was given to Jesus.
Gold was the gift for a king.
Seneca told that in Parthia it was the custom that no one could ever approach the king without a gift.
It is believed that Parthia was where the Magi were from.

Gold is called the king of metals.
It was a fitting gift for a king.

In verse 2, we read that these wise men asked the question, "Where is he that is born king of the Jews?"
They recognized that Jesus was King of kings, and gold was the gift fit for a king.

Have you recognized Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords in your life?
Is He just an infant baby or an infinite Lord to you?

Nelson, the great naval admiral, always treated his vanquished opponents with the greatest kindness and courtesy.
After one of his naval victories, the defeated admiral was brought aboard Nelson's flagship and to Nelson's quarter-deck.

Knowing Nelson's reputation for courtesy, he advanced across the quarter-deck with outstretched hand,
as if he were advancing to shake hands with an equal.

Nelson's hand remained by his side.
"Your sword first," Nelson said, "then your hand."

Can you hear our Lord saying the same to us?
"Your sword first. I am your Lord. You are my subject."

A fitting and proper gift would be to lay your life at His feet, and crown Him King and Lord of your life.

His Lordship of our life is demanded.

Paul said in Philippians 2: 10-11, "That at the name of Jesus everyone should bow, of things in heaven,
and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God
."
Notice the Scripture passage says that every knee should bow and confess that Jesus is Lord.

Charlemagne was crowned Emperor of the Holy Empire on Christmas Day.
William the Conqueror was crowned King of England on Christmas Day.

Jesus should be crowned as King of our lives at Christmas.
Jesus demands Lordship.
His Lordship of our life is deserved.

Is He not King?
If so, then He has the right to rule and reign over our lives.
As King He demands our submission.
But even more, He deserves our submission.

Take a look at Jim and Mary.
They have just been married.
As they drive away, Mary moves away from Jim and says, "Take me home!"
Jim says, "Home? Our home won't be ready for two weeks. We are going on our honeymoon."

"Oh, no, Jim. I don't mean your home. I mean my home. My mother's home.
I really do love you and I have taken you as my husband, but you don't expect me to change my life, do you?
"

She continues, "I'll try to see you once a week, if it's convenient.
Then when I'm sick, I'll expect you to come and care for me.
And when I need money, I'll expect you to provide it.
And if there is something I can't handle, I'll expect you to help me out.
But in the meantime, leave me alone!
"

That wouldn't be a marriage!
That would be a mockery!

Yet, there are thousands of people who say to the Lord Jesus, "Jesus, thank You for loving me.
I have received You as my Saviour.
If it's convenient I will try to visit church services occasionally.
If I'm sick, I'll expect You to heal me.
And if I need money, I'll expect You to provide the money I need.
But Jesus, don't expect me to change my life.
Until I need you, leave me alone!
"

That also would be a mockery!

If that is your attitude, then I can say without reservation that Jesus is not Lord of your life.
That is so sad because Jesus deserves everything that we have and everything that we are.

Jesus demonstrated His love by giving His life for us.
He deserves our all!

The gift of fellowship

The second gift from the Magi was frankincense.
Frankincense was a gift for a priest.
Frankincense was used in the temple worship and in the temple sacrifices.
It was a sweet perfume that arose up to God.

In the Bible, frankincense is symbolic of our prayers rising up to God.
One of the greatest gifts we can give to anyone is ourselves.
Just spending time with them is a way of giving ourselves.

Many of us are like Martha at this time of year.
Busy, busy, busy!
We are rushed to death and pressed for time.
Few of us are like Mary who took time to sit at His feet.

The Scripture said that there was no room for Him in the inn.
It can also be said that there is no time for Him in our lives.

How many Christians will take time to honor and glorify Christ during this Christmas season?
Too many are attracted to every trivial thing that comes long,
than they are to the reason for which the shepherds left their flocks.
The sight for which the Magi came such a vast distance to behold is nothing to most people, today.

Some, while they observe the day of Christ's birth by doing no work, not only neglect Him, but insult Him
by immoral living and indulgence in the works of the flesh.
Instead of fixing their eyes on the Star of Bethlehem, they give their attention to the trivial and despicable things of the world.
Wickedness prevails, instead of worship!

We have time for everything and everyone, but Jesus!

A fitting gift would be for you and me to set aside some special time to spend with Jesus.
We become so busy that we fail to give the Lord the one thing He wants -- ourselves!

Let us give frankincense to Jesus for Christmas.
Let us take time to be thoughtful of Him and thankful for Him.

A gift of sonship

The third gift is myrrh.

Myrrh was a perfume that was used to embalm the bodies of the dead.
The wise men knew that Jesus was not only a King and Priest, but that He was also a Saviour, who was born to die.
By their gift, they were saying that the baby in the cradle would also die on a cross.

Jesus became the Son of Man and died that you and I might become children of God and live eternally.

A fitting gift for Jesus would be for you to come to Him and say,
"Lord Jesus.
You died for me that I might have my sins forgiven, and that I might become your child.
So this Christmas, I come to You and give You the gift of my heart and life.
Please, come into my heart and be my Saviour
."

I read of a fire that took place in Liverpool, England.
The Sailor's Home caught fire.
It was a place that sailors would often stay.

The house was rapidly burning.
The people who were watching the fire noticed that men in the upper floors were crying out for help.

Someone rushed to get a ladder.
They raised the ladder, only to discover, that it would not reach the upper floors.

A sailor in the crowd rushed up the ladder, and balanced himself on the top round of the ladder, and gripped the window
with his hands and shouted, "Quick, scramble over my body, and down the ladder."

One by one the men came down until all were saved.

Finally, the sailor came down.
His face was burned, his hair was singed, and his fingers were badly burned; but he had saved all the men.

That ladder went a long way up, but it didn't reach far enough.
It needed the length of a man.

That's what Jesus did when He came to this earth.
He spanned the gap between God and man.
He was born to die!
He died that we might live.

If you have never received Christ, give Him your heart.

"Suppose it were your birthday
And all your friends would come
And gather around your fireplace
There in your happy home.

They come with smiles and gladness:
And bring their presents, too.
But when they start to share them
There's not one for you.

They give them to each other,
A grand and costly lot.
But for the guest of honor
They somehow just forgot.

You say such things don't happen
Nor should it ever be;
It seems too crude and cruel
For folks like you and me
.

But friend have you considered
Just this is what men do?
Not, of course, to humans,
But of our Lord, it is true.

We celebrate His birthday
With all our pomp and style;
But give to one another
And grieve Him all the while.

'Tis Christ we claim to honor
At this glad Christmas time;
Don't spend on friends the dollars
And give Him just a dime.

To give to one another
Indeed is very nice;
But best of all to Jesus;
For Him let's sacrifice.

His cause too long has suffered
By thoughtless, selfish men.
Let's bring to Christ the firstfruits
And give our best to Him
."

-- Fred Jarvis

Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at hleewhite@AOL.com