Seward United Methodist Church
Friday, May 25, 2018
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The Gift of God

Titus 2:11-14

 “The grace of God has been revealed.”  Well, that is Jesus.  Jesus is the grace of God revealed to us.  And it’s a good thing, too, because I don’t know that we would ever really understand grace, if it weren’t for Jesus.  

 Romans chapter 5 explains it this way:  “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.  Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, perhaps for someone who is especially good.  But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”  

 God is perfect and holy.  And we are sinners.  Despite that, Christ still died for us; for people who had done nothing to deserve such grace.  And that’s how we know what grace really is.  Grace is a perfect man dying for a world of lost sinners.  Grace is an obedient Son, dying for a rebellious humanity.  Grace is a gift that is undeserved.

 “The grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.”  Now that doesn’t mean that everyone is saved.  It means that salvation is available to everyone.  Just like any gift must be received before it belongs to us, we must also receive God’s gift of salvation in Jesus Christ, or we don’t have it.  

 But for those who do receive it, God’s grace has a purpose in our lives.  It sets us free from sin and cleanses us for a purpose, so that we can be God’s very own people.  God is creating a new humanity in Jesus Christ.  In Jesus, we become children of God, a people committed to doing right.  

 Therefore, we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasure and to live in this evil world with self-control, right conduct, and devotion to God while we wait, filled with hope, for the glory of Christ to be revealed at his return.  It’s not enough that we turn away from the wrong.  We must also turn to the good.  Both are necessary for us to become children of God.

 And this is all the more important because we carry God’s message.  We are the messengers of God’s good news.  If the world doesn’t see something different, something good in us, then they won’t receive our message.  Our lives must show something different to the world for us to be effective messengers.

 At Christmas time, we think a lot about gifts.  When we’re children, I think most of our focus is on receiving gifts.  As we become adults, we tend to focus more on

buying gifts and giving them.  Though to be honest, I think most of us still enjoy receiving them!  

 I think the commercialism of Christmas is a problem.  It’s over the top excessive, and I think it detracts from the true meaning of the holy day.  But the basic idea of gifts is not wrong.  It’s good; because it points to the true meaning of Christmas and the message of Christ. 

 God gave a gift to the world:  Jesus.  That gift must be received to be effective in our lives.  But once we receive it, we become a part of the gift.  If Christ is in you, then you are part of God’s gift to the world:  a people who belong to God, who are cleansed from sin, self-controlled, devoted, and eager to do right.  God’s gift to the world isn’t just Jesus Christ; it’s also the Body of Christ.

 If you have been blessed to receive God’s gift, then you should be a blessing to the world by being God’s gift.  The gifts we buy and wrap and put under the tree are only a faint reflection of the real gift.  The real gift of Christmas is to embody Jesus, to show his love and grace and goodness to the world.  

 This year at Christmas, I hope you will not just give gifts, but that you will be a gift.

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