Sermon Outline

Gifted: What God Has Given Us and What We Can Give Back

Pastor Stephen Hayes

Sunday December 4, 2016

 

Theme – God has given each of us gifts, accompanied with the expectation we will take care of them and effectively use them.

The expectations of the Messiah

  • There are expectations attached to gifts.

  • Matthew 2: 1-12 tells the story of the wise men (magi) arriving in Jerusalem at some point early in Jesus’ childhood.

  • The Messiah came to earth as a gift from God with great expectations.  Much Old Testament prophecy described the Messiah and what he would do.  (Matthew 2:6 is quoted from an Old Testament prophet inMicah 5:2.)

  • The gifts given by the magi to Mary and Joseph were confirmation that Jesus was a type of royalty.

  • The magi’s arrival in Jerusalem was a big event.  They had an entourage.  They also possessed knowledge about which King Herod was curious.

The magi’s gifts

  • The wise men were from the area of the Old Testament nation Babylon.

  • The Old Testament prophet Daniel had been held captive in Babylon when he received visions from God.

  • Those visions were recorded, and were known, by the educated people in the magi’s country.  The magi knew these prophecies and were alert to the signs of their fulfillment.

  • One of the gifts the magi brought to Jesus was gold.  At that time, gold was a recognized symbol of divinity.  It also had practical value because it was likely used to finance Joseph and Mary’s upcoming trip to Egypt.

  • Gold was a planned, prepared, deliberate gift from the magi.  They did not bring it casually.  They packaged it and took care of it on their trip.

The keys to taking care of our gifts and using them appropriately

  • Preparation

    • Gold is a refined mineral; it is not simply pulled out of the ground and used.  It is prepared and packaged for a future use.

    • Likewise, each of us needs to refine, prepare, and package (protect and present) our gifts for the place God intends us to use them.

  • Perception

    • Your perception determines your direction.”

    • The magi received divine direction from God after they had determined to give their gifts to the Messiah.  The magi had been paying attention to the right things (the prophecies and the heavenly signs), and therefore were in a place to be used by God.

    • What we surround ourselves with, and pay attention to, will determine our ability to effectively use our gifts.

  • Use your gifts today

    • If we are taking care of our gifts, whenever we dedicate them to God He will – in turn – empower us to use them again to even greater purpose.

    • God knows how to use whatever we give to accomplish things we can’t know or imagine.  

    • “Authority goes where your gifts go.”

    • We should willingly give what we have to give when the Holy Spirit moves us to give.

    • “Don’t let what you don’t have keep you from giving what you do have to Jesus.”

Reflective Questions for Gifted: What God Has Given Us and What We Can Give Back

  1. What new perception about the magi and their gifts did you receive from this message?  How is this new perception different from the traditional Christmas story about the wise men?

  2. The wise men were not Jewish, yet had taken better care of some Old Testament prophecies than had Jewish scholars.  How is that meaningful to us today?

  3. How does one go about “preparing” a gift one has been given by God?

  4. Give an example of how proper “perception” is determining an outcome for you right now.

  5. Do you have a testimony of how a small gift multiplied in its effectiveness after the gift was given?