Sermons

It Is God's Pleasure To Give

December 20, 2015 Speaker: Reid Strahan Series: Advent

Topic: Advent Season Passage: Isaiah 9:6, Luke 12:32, Romans 8:32

I know there is much we could criticize about the practice of giving and receiving gifts at Christmas. But, in itself, gift giving is a godly thing to do! Choosing a gift for someone and then paying a price for it – That's what God did for us! God IS a Gift-Giving God. God is a generous and bountiful giver. He is the most generous person in the universe! Gene Veith, wrote an article titled “The God of gifts”. He said, “The God, as Christians know him, is always bestowing gifts”. And you were made to receive from his generosity! That is the plan of God. It is how he is glorified...And God takes pleasure in giving to you.

This truth is impressed upon us at Christmas: God gave us his Son. “Unto us a Son is given”. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son...” We needed a Savior! And he gave to us one! Through God's great gift of Jesus Christ, we are lifted out of the darkness of sin, the misery of sin, the horrible consequences of sin, the sadness of being without God, in the world. And we are given LIFE, eternal life.

The very essence of salvation is that it is A GIFT. God wanted it that way. “Not of works”, but it is “the free gift of God”! Jesus Christ himself is a gift. Paul wrote, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift”, a gift so great we cannot put it into words!

All that Jesus gives us is a gift. Jesus said, “The water that I GIVE you will be in you a well of water springing up into everlasting life”. “Whoever drinks the water that I GIVE him will never thirst”. “Whoever is thirsty, let him come, and whoever wishes, let him take the free GIFT of the water of life”. Salvation comes to you as a gift. Everything you need to save and satisfy your soul offered to you as a gift.

Peter said, “His divine power has GIVEN us everything we need for life and godliness”. Not just what you need to live a godly life but all you need in all aspects of life.

In Psalm 36:7 David describes God as being like a fountain, always giving, always satisfying those who drink! “How precious is your loving-kindness, O God. The children of men take refuge in the shadow or your wings. They drink their fill of the abundance of your house; you give them to drink of the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life....”

This verse says that, love, and life, and delights or pleasures, flow continually from God to his people. They are always pouring forth from him for you. He gives you to drink of the river of his delights, always, at all times. Like a fountain of gushing water, God gives himself to you in endless supply. Drink your fill of the ABUNDANCE of his house!

This is the key to life! Drink from God! Received from God! Draw upon his inexhaustible supply. Draw upon his inexhaustible willingness to give! The abundant life that Jesus came to give you comes by opening your heart to receive! Open your heart, receive from him all that you need in this moment. In your weakness, in your neediness, in your spiritual barrenness, in your inadequacy, drink from the fountain which never runs dry.

Luke 12:32 Jesus said, “Fear not little flock, for the Father is pleased to give you the kingdom”. In context, the message is that we should not be fearful about where the clothes we need will come from, or worry about how we will have enough to put food on the table, but we are to seek first the kingdom and all these things you need will be added to you. Jesus said, “Your Father knows you need these things!”. And then he adds the most amazing statement, “Fear not because the Father is PLEASED to give you these things, indeed he is pleased to give you the whole kingdom!”

How kind and tender and reassuring were Jesus words to his disciples! In essence he told them: God likes giving to you! God delights to do good things for you. He delights in saving you! He delights to give you the kingdom. He speaks that kindly and tenderly and reassuringly to you this morning! You and I are a bundle of needs. How good to know that it is Gods pleasure to give to us! He gives food and clothes, but he also comes to meet those needs at the very core of your being. It is his pleasure to meet those very deepest needs that you feel, that you can't explain to anyone else.

Romans 8:32 “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him, freely give us all things”. God freely gives – without restraint or reluctance. He is NOT a withholding God. He gave you Christ! He will not withhold from you any good thing.

James said, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who GIVES GENEROUSLY to all men”. You lack something, you ask God BECAUSE he gives generously!!

It is through Christ that we are brought into this state of receiving, it is through Christ that we receive gifts from God. It is only through being reconciled to God, that we are now in this state of grace, this state of receiving from God.

Salvation is only the start of his giving to you. Ephesians 2:7 tells us that God saved us “so that in the ages to come he might show us the surpassing riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” He NEVER STOPS GIVING! He never will! God saved you to show you the surpassing riches of his grace, in kindness, for all eternity! Paul said, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered into the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him”. You can't imagine all the wonder God has prepared for you!

Now, I want to try to clarify somethings about God's gifts, that confuse and cause anxiety and bring needless condemnation for many Christians.

First: God's greatest gift is himself.  The most fundamental promise God gives us is this: I will be your God and you will be my people! God gives himself to you! Even if we have very little in material things we are still greatly blessed in all that matters most. Losses should not overwhelm us. We can be content with, or without.

God said to Abraham, “I am your shield, you very great reward”. God gave Abraham himself. If you have come to know God, and seen and experienced his glory and experienced his love for you, then you know something of the riches of possessing God. If you have God with you, for you, and on your side, you have it all. When God spoke that to Abraham he was a stranger and a sojourner in the land; he did not own one sq ft of land be he had God. This is a place you need to come to if you will every be truly happy and content.

Asaph said, in Psalm 73:28, “But as for me the nearness of God is my good”. He had looked around at ungodly people who had so much more than he did, who seemed to be so much more blessed and it disturbed him deeply. But when he went into the temple to worship God, he came to this ultimate conclusion - “As for me the nearness of God is my good”. And he was happy again.

This is a place you need to come to if you will every be truly happy and content. This satisfaction in God, this happiness in God, can lead saints to say things like, “If we have food and clothing we will be content.”. To know that God is yours, to be able to call him, “my God”, to know that he loves you, are gifts beyond anything in this world. Without this contentment, all earthly blessings are ruined by a restless greed for more, by idolatry, selfishness, and anxiety about losing what we do have.

The real enjoyment of ANY of God's gifts begins with enjoyment of God himself.

BUT it is NOT only spiritual things we receive from God. This is the Second point. Jesus was born into a material world. We live in a material world – God knows that! Jesus healed bodies, and well as souls. He fed the multitude with real fish and bread. He paid Peter's tax and his own with real money. I love that line from Matthew 6.. “Your heavenly father knows you need these things”. We are not spirit beings, with no material needs or wants or desires.

I remember one weekend we were Cindy's mom and dad in Humboldt, I was driving a Ford Pinto at the time, and when I woke up my car was gone. Kenny brought it back later that morning filled with gas and with new tires on it. When we left to come back home, Lorraine would laden us down with gifts of food and cinnamon rolls. One time, I said, I don't know where I will put all this food! Kenny said, well here take our refrigerator too. Such was their heart. We drove home on the joy of their generosity.

I felt God in each of those situations. These were strictly material gifts! Yet I felt that I was receiving from God. That's what the Bible says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father”. I you received an increase in your pay at work, you probably sensed within your heart the blessing of God.

Food, work, abilities, marital sex, money, families, children, laughter, friends, flowers, birds singing, sunshine and blue skies, orange and purple sunsets, rain, rainbows, pure white snow, bacon and eggs and sourdough pancakes, pizza on Friday night, walking, running, talking - all these are gifts from God! Anything that you find pleasure in (that is pure), anything that is good in your life, is from God!

The difference for the believer is that we see all these as a gift on our creator and give thanks. The unbeliever sees these things yet does not honor God or give him thanks.

We are not to become materialistic is the sense that we love and worship things instead of God. But God did create a material physical world for our benefit! Genesis 2:9 “The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground, trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.” God made stuff to look good and taste good and for our enjoyment! As Doug Wilson put it, “The sin is not in the stuff; the sin is in the human heart”.

Psalm 35:27 says, “The Lord be magnified, who delights in the prosperity of his servant”. I know this verse could be twisted, but doesn't that bless you to know that God is happy when you are blessed?

Romans 8:32 He did not withhold his Best Gift – his Son. Therefore he will not withhold the lesser gifts, the all things! I heard a story of an old man who is very poor and as he sits down to his meal all he has is bread and water. But he bows his head to pray and just says,, “All this and Jesus too!”

Yes, there is the danger of idolatry. Yes, people put their things before God and before faithfulness to God's people. That's wrong!!! BUT if we love God and seek first his kingdom there is a pure joy we have in God AND in his gifts. We rejoice in the God who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy! As Joe Rigney put it, “God's gifts become avenues of enjoying him”. Which brings us to our third point.

Third: Loving and enjoying God does not mean we do not enjoy his gifts, or that we don't want his gifts. I heard a pastor share a story about their little daughter who for a long time wanted an American Girl doll. But they had no money and couldn't get her one. So they cut out a picture of an American Girl doll and attach it to cardboard , put some clothes on it and that was her American Girl doll. Well a couple of years later they came into a situation where they could buy their daughter a real American Girl doll.

They were so excited to give it to their daughter on Christmas morning. They couldn't wait to see her face. Of course their little girl opened the present the next morning and was ecstatic with joy and jumped up and down and said thank you mommy and daddy. But this father said his daughter's joy could not have been greater than he and his wife's own joy in giving her that doll.

Then he said this, “How would we have felt if our daughter had opened that package and said, mommy and daddy, I don't want this doll, all I want is you, all I want is to be with you. We would have been devastated because we wanted her to enjoy us, by receiving and enjoying our gift.”

Part of the way God communicates himself to us is through his gifts. If we don't enjoy God through that hamburger grilling over the charcoal we are missing out on the full enjoyment of God. I recently read a book by Joe Rigney called “The Things of Earth - Treasuring God by enjoying his gifts”. He points out that rejecting God's goodness in creation is demonic. He wrote, “in general, thinning out the gifts and rejecting the stuff, and suppressing our delight in created things, actually hinders our growth in grace and our ability to resist the pull of the devil's lies.”

Richard Baxter put it this way, "We need to guard our lives against the love of riches and worldly cares. All love for earthly goods, however, is not a sin. Their sweetness is a drop of his love and they have his goodness imprinted on them. They kindle our love for him as love tokens from our dearest friend. Loving them is a duty, not a sin"

Material blessings are not to make us lovers of things of things. They are to make us lovers of God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy! We see through all good things to him!

That's why Christians give thanks at meals for their food! It is not God OR his gifts' it is seeing God IN his gifts, and THROUGH his gifts. We see God in all good things and gift thanks and enjoy him. “Every good thing is to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything is created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; FOR IT IS SANCTIFIED by means of the word of God and prayer.” I have often read that verse when we exchange gifts. And say “let us sanctify them with the word and with giving thanks to God”.

Applications:

Most of all, thank God with all your heart for the indescribable gift of Jesus Christ. He is the gift of all gifts. This gift expresses the love of God and the giving heart of God more than any other gift.

Two: Change your attitude about God. See him as a Giver, a tireless, ceaseless giver to his children. God never tires of giving to you! If you asked him for grace and help yesterday, you can ask for it again today!

Sometimes we don't enjoy God and the things he wants us to enjoy because we do not believe his willingness to actually give those things. Some can be believers for years and not believe that God wants to love, forgive, heal, bind up their broken heart, take care of them.

Three: Pray to a God who gives good gifts. Matthew 7:11 “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him”. The basis of asking is that God gives.

Jesus taught us to pray “Give us this day our daily bread”. We are to live each day in the expectancy that God will give us every moment, every day all that we need.. Not an empty prayer. Very real. GIVE ME WHAT I NEED FOR THIS DAY.

Four: Do not become obsessed about taking care of yourself and your duties: We ARE to be responsible, hard working but also to be able to put down our work and rest and not worry. Psalm 127 says we can do this because He gives to his beloved, even in his sleep. The gist of this Psalm is that you don't have to work through the night, because God does things for you, even when you sleep. He guards the city, he builds your house, so you can stop working and rest peacefully at night because you serve a God who GIVES... even in your sleep.

Five: Choose a gift for someone you love and then paying a price for it. God did that for us. That's why we do it for others. So go ahead and give and receive gifts, if you choose to celebrate Christmas that way with joy and freedom.

Six: Whatever your need this morning, God has a gift to meet it. Whether you are lonely, disturbed, downcast, troubled, anxious, facing daunting responsibilities or overwhelming troubles, … You do not have a problem that God does not have a gift for. God's gifts provide comprehensive coverage for all of life and godliness.

Listen as I pray this prayer in closing and see if it does not express your own heart to the Lord this morning: “Lord, I am here to receive your fullness for my emptiness; I am here to receive your joy for my sorrows, your supply for my needs, (my emotional needs, my financial needs, and every other need). I am here to receive your wisdom for my lack of wisdom, your love for my deep longing to be loved, your answers to my problems, your presence for my loneliness, your strength for my weakness, your comfort for my disappointment and grief.”

“I receive from your generosity, and from your abundance. I trust in your willingness to give me all things. I rejoice that you are pleased to give and give and give to me. I am ever in need, yet you are always there for me with all sufficiency for all things. Amen.”

Closed with VIDEO

 

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