Sunday, December 22, 2019

“The Wonder Of It All” [Matt's Messages]

“The Wonder Of It All”
December 22, 2019
2 Corinthians 9:15

Just for a second, imagine being Mary that night after Jesus was born.

Skip past giving birth. Some of you know what that is like. Many of us will never know.

But imagine being there after giving birth.

And knowing yourself that it was a great miracle. Because you are a virgin. And a angel told you all of this was going to happen.

And you’ve swaddled the baby boy in cloths and placed Him in a manger because there was no room for you in the inn.

And then these shepherds show up with an astonishing story about a skyfull of terrifying angels singing gloria in exclesis deo, “Glory to God in the highest.” And then they’ve sought ought you and your little boy. And then after finding you both, they run out into the countryside to spread the amazing word of what they had been told about this little child.

Imagine being Mary.

What does she do then? After all that?

What do you do when all of that has been thrust upon you?

You wonder at it, don’t you?

Luke chapter 2, verse 19 says that “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

She pondered them in her heart.

She turned them over and over again and considered them and wondered what did they mean.

There is a popular Christmas song called, “Mary, Did You Know?” and basically the answer to that question is “Yes.” She did know.

The angel told her.
She heard it with her own ears.

And if you read her song, traditionally called The Magnificat, you can tell that she did know what was happening to her. She predicted it a lot of it herself. She was a true prophet and an amazing theologian.

Mary did know.

But she pondered.

She turned these things over and over and over again in her mind and heart.

Because who could know what was going to happen?

Not really. Even if you did know intellectually, how could you understand what you did know? How could you comprehend this story?

Because nothing like this had ever happened before or would ever happen ever again!

It was totally unique and strange and fantastic and marvelous and...wonderful.

O the Wonder of It All!

Just like Mary we need to take some time and ponder these things in our hearts.

That’s one of the benefits of holding a holiday of Christmas.

Just stopping and thinking about the wonder of the incarnation.

Have you taken time yet to stop...and to ponder this season what has happened that God became Man?

I think that’s what the Apostle Paul did when he erupted in praise in 2 Corinthians 9:15. He pulls “a Mary” and ponders just how amazing is the gift of Jesus Christ.

In the context of this letter, Paul is writing to encourage the believers at Corinth to participate in a missions love offering that was intended to go to aid the poor and suffering believers in Jerusalem.

They were taking up an offering and sending the money with the missionaries to help those other Christians in need.

And Paul was sure that they were going to participate, and he gave them some good reasons for it.

The biggest reason? God had been so gracious to them. They should be gracious to others.

God had been generous to them. They should be generous with others.

You know how just about every week, the guy who prays for the offering here says something like, “In this offering, Lord, we’re giving back just a small portion of what you’ve given to us.”

And that’s exactly right. Because God has been so good to us, we can be so generous to others.

That’s one of the reasons why we give gifts to each other at Christmas. To remind each other of the greatest gift that was every given to us.

And that’s where Paul goes with this last verse of chapter 9.

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”

The key word is...“indescribable.”

Which I looked up in the dictionary, and it means, “You can’t describe it.”

Which does not mean that we shouldn’t try. There are words to describe God’s gift, but there aren’t enough words to do it justice. Does that make sense?

The King James Version has “unspeakable gift.” Which might give you the idea that it’s forbidden to talk about this gift. Speak not of this gift!

And that’s clearly not what Paul means.

But the King James also might give you the idea that there just aren’t words to use.

It’s unspeakably good.

The ESV, the English Standard Version says, “inexpressible” gift.

You almost get the idea from the ESV that you not only run out of words to describe this gift, but you run out of words all together.

Have you ever been left speechless at a gift?

A few years ago, I bought Heather a plane ticket to got Europe and visit her sister.

And she had no idea it was coming.

And on Christmas, when she opened up the gift, she just started crying and shaking her head.

My kids were worried there was bad news in that envelope!

“What is it?”

And she still couldn’t say.

Because it was just so good.

I’ll probably never top that one. And I probably shouldn’t try.

The Wonder Of It All!

Just think about this gift of Jesus Christ.

By the way, can gift be a Person?

We got a great gift on Tuesday when we went to the Pittsburgh Airport, and there was Robin Joy Mitchell!

Certainly a person can be a gift.

And the greatest gift ever is the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Now, don’t miss those two alternatives at the end of that verse.

“Perish” or have “eternal life.”

Those are the two opposite realities hanging over every single human being.

And the default destination is perishing.

That’s where we are all headed unless something diverts our path.

Thankfully, God’s indescribable gift is just such a thing to divert our paths.

“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son...”

And He didn’t just give Him to walk with us but to die for us.

A new friend of mine said on social media this week, “Our treason is the reason for the season” (Tim M. Shorey).

Jesus came because we were hellbent on our rebellion and needing a Savior.

And so He came.
And so He lived.
And so He died.
And so He lived again!
And so He ascended.
And so He is coming again.

Because the Father gave Him.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

The Wonder Of It All!

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”

The New Living Translation paraphrases our verse, “Thank God for his Son–a gift too wonderful for words!”

Does God’s gift leave you speechless?

If it doesn’t, why not?

I know that we talk about it all of the time.

One of the downsides of having a holiday every single year is that we can kind of get this on repeat like a broken record, just looping the same recycled thoughts every year.

Mary, Joseph, Angels, Shepherds, Manger, Wisemen.
Mary, Joseph, Angels, Shepherds, Manger, Wisemen.
Mary, Joseph, Angels, Shepherds, Manger, Wisemen.

But this is incredible stuff.

Don’t let it get “old hat” with you.

What do you need to do to cultivate a sense of wonder over God’s indescribable gift?

O, the wonder of it all.

On Wednesday night, I asked the kids what do you do when someone hands you an awesome gift? There are two main things.

The first is to receive it.

To take that gift and make it yours.

Have you done that with God’s indescribable gift?

The Bible says that not every does.

It says, Jesus “was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. [Jesus] came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him [who received the indescribable gift!], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God...” (John 1:11-12).

Have you done that?

If you have, what’s the second you do after you receive a truly great gift?

You say “Thank you.”

Which is what the Apostle Paul was saying in 2 Corinthians 9:15.

Thanks be to God...
Thanks be to God...
Thanks be to God...

"...for his indescribable gift!”