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Give As If You Are Giving to God

The Big Give  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Series Review

What an extraordinary story—mysterious Magi, traveling from the East, an astronomical phenomenon appearing to guide their way, and gifts offered to the infant Messiah. Giving : that’s what this series has been about.
Our Christmas sermon series has been following the December Sunday School lessons the children are learning this month. The Big Give. On the Second Sunday of Christmas, we continue to celebrate the mysterious miracle of God taking on human flesh and being born of the virgin Mary in a town called Bethlehem, to save His people from their sins!
What an extraordinary story—wise men traveling from the East, a star appearing to guide their way, and gifts offered to the Messiah. Giving : that’s what this series has been about.
This same Jesus eventually gave His life for our sake. This is the basis of our generosity. God loved us so much that he gave. We love God so much that we give. That’s how we demonstrate our love towards God. Giving is a grateful response to what God has given to us.
This same Jesus eventually gave His life for our sake. This is the basis of our generosity. God loved us so much that he gave. We love God so much that we give. That’s how we demonstrate our love towards God. Giving is a grateful response to what God has given to us.
This month our children have been focusing on a specific verse. Read it with me:
1 Timothy 6:18 NIV
Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.

Sermon Intro

Sermon Intro

I trust that you all are having a Merry Christmas. Notice I said that in the present tense. All families have Christmas traditions, and I remember one Sharpe family tradition growing up was going to grandmas for dinner on Christmas Eve. We would open presents afterwards and then grandma sharpe would break out the red velvet cake and Pepsi. And our parents wondered why we couldn’t sleep that night. Another tradition was trying to convince grandpa that Christmas wasn’t over.
Christmas isn’t over. In fact for our Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters in Christ it doesn’t begin until next Sunday, which is the day our Christmas season ends. We call it Epiphany, when God revealed to the wise men that Christ was born, and it comes later on the Christian calendar because the wise men probably came a little while after the shepherds. One year I wanted to emphasize this day by having a 12th night party, ever have one of those? You have some guests dress up like kings, you eat a kings cake and you tell the story Marti just told us. Then the people dressed like kings would hand out gifts.
I trust that you all are having a Merry Christmas. Notice I said that in the present tense. All families have Christmas traditions, and I remember one Sharpe family tradition growing up was going to grandmas for dinner on Christmas Eve. We would open presents afterwards and then grandma sharpe would break out the red velvet cake and Pepsi. And our parents wondered why we couldn’t sleep that night. Another tradition was trying to convince grandpa that Christmas wasn’t over.
This morning I want us to take a look at these gift givers. The sermon title is “Give like you are giving to god.” The Magi are a good example of what that means.
Who are these givers? This actually very important. We can’t fully appreciate the familiar story without knowing this.
Matthew tells us that they came from the east. They probably came from Babylon, who had an advanced understanding of astronomy. In those days, astronomy was closely related to astrology. This seems odd to us, but if you think about, Americans still read horoscopes. Many Americans can’t name the twelve disciples, but they can tell you whether they are a Leo, a Pisces, or an Aquarian.
We don’t know their names or how many there were (many traditions)Magi were a type of priest in their culture, serious students of the stars, and they interpreted them. These were the guys who wrote the daily horoscopes for the Baghdad Gazette.
We don’t know their names or how many there were (many traditions)Magi were a type of priest in their culture, serious students of the stars, and they interpreted them. These were the guys who wrote the daily horoscopes for the Baghdad Gazette.
In other words, they were outsiders, the last people you would expect to see coming to see the newborn king. They were sorcerers and astrologers, practices that God had outlawed. And yet they are examples for God’s people. They are gift givers, and they show us how to give.

They are Obedient Givers

Matthew 2:2 NIV
and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
Generosity should be a reflection of what we believe. If we believe that the church is the family of god, then we want to be a part of that. If we believe that the church is Gods primary mechanism for transforming the world, then that’s where we will want to give our time and money. If we believe that the Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ, then our passion mission in life will be sharing the gospel in our families, neighborhood and workplaces.
And when saw this astronomical phenomenon they concluded that a king was to be born in Israel and, they were filled with excitement because of this event. They received a revelation from God and were obedient to it.
And when saw this astronomical phenomenon they concluded that a king was to be born in Israel and, they were filled with excitement because of this event. They received a revelation from God and were obedient to it.
Generosity is not always convenient. It is often costly. They likely journeyed five hundred miles to see the Messiah, offer him gifts and worship Him. They weren’t throwing a baby shower, they were giving to god. Do we give like we’re giving to god.

The Were Risk Taking Givers

Matthew 2:3 NIV
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.
The Magi were looking for a new born king in Jerusalem, the center of wealth, power and royalty. They chose the obvious, the predictable, the safe route. They chose this location based on a superficial reading of :
Isaiah 60:3 NIV
Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
The Magi were looking for a new born king in Jerusalem, the center of wealth, power and royalty. They chose the obvious, the predictable, the safe route. They chose this location based on a superficial reading of : Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. If they had dug deeper into the Scriptures -- reading Scriptures like Micah they would have gone straight to Bethlehem -- a rural place of poverty, the last place for a king to be born.
If they had dug deeper into the Scriptures -- reading Scriptures like Micah they would traveled to a different location:
Micah 5:2 NIV
“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.”
After talking with the king, they went straight to Bethlehem -- a rural place of poverty, the last place for a king to be born.
But they soon realized that their trip to worship and give gifts to God was a bigger sacrifice then they first thought. When they encountered King Herod, they realized he was a dangerous person.
Herod was a ruthless ruler, murdering his wife, three of his sons, his mother-in-law, his brother-in-law, his uncle and many others he suspected of treachery and potential rivals to the throne —If you continue to read the story, Herod slaughtered thousands of innocent children, so he would have no rivals to the throne.
(ex. church taking dangerous risks) Most churches today have become havens of safety. The programs are predictable. The church buildings have become the primary location for church activities. Why? Because the building provides us with safety and predictability. Jesus said “take up your cross and follow me.” There is nothing predictable and safe about Christian discipleship. Where are the risk takers that used to be the church?
(ex. church taking dangerous risks) Most churches today have become havens of safety. The programs are predictable. The church buildings have become the primary location for church activities. Why? Because the building provides us with safety and predictability. Jesus said “take up your cross and follow me.” There is nothing predictable and safe about Christian discipleship. Where are the risk takers that used to be the church?
The knew the risk of their generosity, but since they were giving to god, they took the risk. A risky faith doesn’t guarantee safety. (Steve Camp, Keith Green, beaten up, a blessing…)

They Were Generous Givers

The knew the risk of their generosity, but since they were giving to god, they took the risk. A risky faith doesn’t guarantee safety. Steve Camp, Keith Green, beaten up, a blessing
Matthew 2:11 NIV
On 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, frankincense and myrrh.
The gifts were gold, frankincense (“a white resinous gum, obtained from a certain tree in Arabia, used both medicinally and for cult purposes, and myrrh (“the resinous gum of the bush. Clearly all three were valuable, and together they formed a magnificent gift, suitable for offering to a king. Christians have often seen symbolical meanings in them, gold for royalty, frankincense for deity, and myrrh pointing to suffering and death, but Matthew says nothing about this.
The gifts were gold (which Matthew has in more than half its New Testament occurrences, 5 out of 9), frankincense (“a white resinous gum, obtained fr. several kinds of a certain tree in Arabia, used both medicinally and for cult purposes,” BAGD), and myrrh (“the resinous gum of the bush ‘balsamodendron myrrha,’ ” BAGD). Clearly all three were valuable, and together they formed a munificent gift, suitable for offering to a king. Christians have often seen symbolical meanings in them, gold for royalty, frankincense for deity, and myrrh pointing to suffering and death, but Matthew says nothing about this.
Morris, L. (1992). The Gospel according to Matthew (p. 41). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.
Expensive, costly, but since they were giving to God they wanted their gift to match the recipient.
Expensive, costly, but since they were giving to god they wanted their gift to match the recipient
Expensive, costly, but since they were giving to god they wanted their gift to match the recipient
Does our giving reflect the recipient? Do we give like we’re giving to god, or do we give like we’re giving to an institution?
(shocking, but effective)
Debra Blue has written a book titled Sensual Orthodoxy, a group of Christians with a strange mission, which was to plant shocking figures in manger scenes. People were horrified to find Batman on the roof of the manger. Churches will be offended to find Barbies and plastic dinosaurs on their altars. But people will pay attention. They will look twice. They would stop their cars when they see a garden troll or a pink flamingo or a big plastic Homer Simpson leaning over the baby Jesus on somebody’s lawn. But then she wonders: “Maybe they’re not the first to come up with that idea. It might have been some radical Christian group that first placed the magi in the manger scenes.”
Debra Blue has written a book titled Sensual Orthodoxy, and she is thinking starting a group of political activists. Their mission would be to plant shocking figures in manger scenes. They would do this inside private homes and public places. Suburban households would be horrified to find Batman figures on the roof of the manger. Churches will be offended to find Barbies and plastic dinosaurs on their altars. But people will pay attention. They will look twice. They would stop their cars when they see a garden troll or a pink flamingo or a big plastic Homer Simpson leaning over the baby Jesus on somebody’s lawn. But then she wonders: “Maybe I’m not the first to come up with that idea. It might have been some guerilla activist group that first placed the wise men in the manger scenes.”
It must have been shocking for the original readers to see pagan astrologers among the first people to understand the identity of this peasant baby, not the religious people. It was shocking but it got their attention, and it should get ours too. They are an example of what it means for us to give: not giving to another religious institution, but giving to God. When we give our time, talents and treasure to God, we give gifts that are worthy of him.
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