Matt Hagee - Unexpected Gifts
How many of you have ever opened an unexpected gift? You looked at the box, the way it was wrapped, the ribbons, the bows. And in your mind, you began to tell yourself that all that you had ever wanted was hiding underneath the paper. You stared at it for days. You picked it up when no one was looking. You shook it. You positioned it. You waited with anticipation for the moment for you to be able to unwrap it and throw the paper in all directions, only to lift off the lid and find out that it was next year's matching Christmas pajamas for the family photo that you were going to post on Instagram.
From the book of Galatians, we looked at Paul's writings: that in the fullness of time, Jesus was born under the law to redeem you. That means that what the law required, he paid on your behalf. And not only did he redeem you, but unexpectedly, he adopted you. Paul, in Romans, said it this way: "Seeing that God has now freely given us his only begotten son, how will he not give us all things"? Listen to that. "How will he not freely give us all things"? We see this God, who gave us his only begotten son. But today I want to ask you, "What can you give to him this Christmas"?
Because I believe in Matthew 2:1 and 2, we find that the first people who came to visit him came wisely. They did not come on their terms. They came for one purpose, to worship him and to give him the best that they had. Today we discuss the unexpected gifts that you can give to Christ this Christmas. Read with me Matthew 2:1 and 2. If you're there, say, amen. Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east and we have come to worship him".
Heavenly Father, let your Holy Spirit help us understand today what you most desperately want from each and every one of your children. You want us to worship you, to receive you as our Savior, and to thank you for being our Lord. Help us today not to consider selfishly what we need, but to offer you the sacrifice of praise that you so greatly deserve. It's in your great, precious, and mighty name, do we pray and say, amen.
You may be seated. Consider these first two verses in the 2nd chapter of Matthew, and suddenly you begin to see that the Christmas carol we sing about three kings might not exactly be correct. First, there is a king in the first two verses. But it's not any of the men who have come to see Jesus. The only king, who is there, is an appointed official by the Roman government named Herod. And then it says this: that in the days of king Herod, he's the appointed official. He's the person in power. There came wise men.
See, even the ancient truths of old recognize that not all powerful people have wisdom. All you have to do is watch the nightly news and find out that not everybody in position has wisdom. It says, "Wise men". It doesn't say, "Three wise men". It just says, "Wise men," multiples. They came from the east. And when they came, they went to king Herod, who was the highest office in the land, and they said, the reason that we have come is that we have seen his star. Say that with me. We have seen his star. I love the deliberate nature of the language here, because it doesn't say, "We've seen a star". It doesn't say there's a peculiar star. It says, "We have seen his star". Out of all of the millions of lights that were shining in the sky that they could have looked at, there was only one that said "Jesus is here".
In this life, there are so many things that you can look at. There are so many distractions. There are so many paths. There are so many ways. But there is only one that is the way, the truth, and the life. People look to money as if those resources bring you power. But the truth is there's only one source of power, and he is King of kings and he is Lord of lords. People look to relationships, as if those will bring you comfort and peace. But the truth is there's only one comforter. There's only one Prince of Peace. And he is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. His name is Jesus. People believe that good works can save you, or intellect can save you, or your heritage can save you. But the truth is there is only one who can save you, because the Bible says, "There is but one name under heaven by which we might be saved and that is the matchless and mighty name of Jesus Christ".
There is only one! There aren't many! There aren't a multitude! You don't get options! He is the way! He is the truth! He is the life! And his name is Jesus Christ! He was an unexpected gift and he deserves your unexpected effort. These wise men came. And the Bible says just a few verses later that when they saw where the star had stopped, they were filled with exceedingly great joy. And then it says, they bowed. They humbled themselves. "They fell down and worshiped him". They realized that no matter what they had accomplished in their life, it was nothing compared to what was standing before them. They didn't come in, and clear their throat, and talk about their accolades. They didn't come in and hand him a business card. "Wise men esquire. PDA, Ph.D., APA, MAC".
Some of you have more acronyms behind your name than there are letters in the alphabet. They just saw the one that they had been looking for, and they fell down and they worshiped him. So what's the first unexpected gift that you could give Jesus this Christmas? First and foremost, it's your attitude. When you come into his house, come with exceedingly great joy. Don't come in to talk about what you've been through. He already knows. Come in filled with exceedingly great joy about where he's taking you. Come in filled with exceedingly great joy that his hand has protected you. And even though you had to go through it, he never left you in it. Not only have an attitude of exceedingly great joy, but have an attitude of humility, because the Bible says that the Lord gives grace to the humble but he resists the proud.
Come in exceedingly filled with joy about what God is doing and what God's going to do. But have enough strength to humble yourself, and say, God, without you I can't take my next step. Without you, I can't breathe my next breath. Without you, I can't live my next day. I am nothing without you. In you, I live. And in you, I move. And in you, I have my being. You are the God, who has made this day: therefore, I'll declare this is the day that the Lord has made. And no matter what I'm facing, I'm going to rejoice. And I'm going to be exceedingly glad in it, because you are great and you are greatly to be praised! The first gift that you could give him is your attitude, because it's your attitude that sets the expectation of the outcome.
Have you ever met somebody, and when they met you, they weren't glad to meet you? What was your attitude about the rest of that conversation? Jesus Christ, when he came to earth, wise men came and they did not come empty handed. The Bible says that they came with their treasures. In verse 11, it says, "And they saw the young child with Mary, his mother. They fell down and worshipped him. And when they had opened their treasures..."
Now here's where the tradition of three kings comes into play. There were three types of treasure. There were not just three treasures. The first type came on one caravan and it was a caravan of camels. They were filled with gold. Imagine, if you would, a whole fleet of mayflower trucks, and in the back of every trailer was nothing but gold. Then there was another caravan. And on this caravan, there were incense, "Frankincense," as it says in Matthew.
And then there was another caravan, a fleet of mayflower trucks, and it was filled with myrrh. The gold was earthly provision for Jesus Christ to accomplish his earthly ministry. The Frankincense and the myrrh were types and shadows of the fact that he was anointed to heal and he was anointed to set free. One type of anointing was for lifting the yoke and breaking the burden. The other type of anointing was preparation for death. And when he came from death, he came with the keys to death, hell and the grave in his hand, and he handed them to you. The question is, "What are you bringing to Jesus Christ this Christmas"?
You know the birth of every child is something that builds great expectation. And the reality of it is there are thousands of children that are born every day, and many of them you never take notice of. All over this city right now, there are hospitals with labor and delivery wards filled with people whose lives are being changed as their children are entering the world. And you won't know their weight, and you won't know their name, and you won't know the color of their eyes. But when it's your baby, then you pay attention.
The more you adore the child, the more you pay attention to it. You write the delivery date down on the calendar. You begin to make preparations in your home. When the baby's born, you do things like count all their fingers, and count all their toes, and you begin to look at all of their features. And the handsome ones, you take those into your side of the family: and the not so handsome ones, you ascribe to your in-laws. The point is this: the more you care about the child, the more you'll adore it. And the problem is that the only time that many of us care about Jesus Christ is when it's December 25th, and it's time to adore him.
What gift can you give to Jesus this year? Maybe you would give him your attention every day instead of just Christmas day. Jesus told us in the New Testament, "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your mind, with all of your strength". When you love the Lord your God with all of your heart, like the wise men, you bring your treasure and you give it to him. Because the New Testament says, "Where a man's treasure is, there his heart will be also". Some people treasure their business. Some people treasure their family. Some people treasure themselves.
No matter what you treasure, whatever it is, would you be willing to surrender it to Christ today? Have you given him your family? Have you given him your children? Have you given him your parents? Have you given him your relationships? Would you love him with all of your heart, and say, "Lord, today, no matter what's in my life, I'm not in control. I'm surrendering all of that to you"? Would you love the Lord your God with all of your soul? You see your soul is where you do your reasoning. It's where you do your logic. It's where you come to your senses, so to speak. And I assure you, if you try to love God according to your senses, that's nonsense.
The greatest battles that you will ever fight in this life, you're going to fight between your ears. This is why the New Testament says that we do not have a carnal mind, but we have the mind of Christ. And we cast down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. How many things in this world exalt themselves against the knowledge of God? The Bible says, "Give and you shall receive". The world says, "Keep and you get". That's exalting itself against the knowledge of God.
The good news is, is that God does not ask us to understand him: he simply asks us to obey him. And when the time comes for obedience, you're going to have to love the Lord your God with all of your mind, because there will be times that, according to the world, you have lost your mind. But if you lose your carnal mind to receive the power of God, it's worth the risk. Jesus didn't just leave it there. He said, "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, your soul, your mind, your strength. And love your neighbor". Love your who? Okay. Y'all heard me. Because this one hurts. "Love your neighbor as yourself".
How do we treat our neighbors in this world today? Do we put them first and their preferences above ours? Do we see their need and try to meet that need? Or do we see that need and wish them well? When they're up, do we encourage them? Or when they're up, do we try to pull them down. And when they're down, do we try to step on them so that we can get a little higher? What if you were to give to your neighbor the same gifts that God gave to you? God gave you forgiveness. What if you forgave others? Maybe it's not the neighbor that lives across the street. Maybe the neighbor you need to forgive is your father, or your mother, your brother, or your sister, or a child who's ignored you. This Christmas, don't put $500 worth of merchandise and a gift receipt in a box, if what you really need to do is give the gift of forgiveness.
How many families will sit in frustration playing pretend this Christmas, when the truth is all they need to do is love their neighbor as their self and give to others what Christ has already given to them? Here's what Jesus said: he said, "If you do not forgive men their trespasses, God will not forgive you yours". In the Lord's prayer, we say, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors". Forgive me, God, for what I owe you, as I forgive others for what they owe me. How many of you've ever written an I owe you? When we were kids, if we borrowed something and we didn't have the money to pay it back, we'd say, "I owe you a coke". Unforgiveness is not I owe you. Unforgiveness is you owe me. You owe me an apology. You owe me an apology for what you said. You owe me an apology for what you did. You owe me an apology because you didn't... You owe me an apology. You shouldn't have done that. You owe me an apology.
And the truth is you're right: they do owe you. But God says, listen to me. If you do not pardon them from what they owe you, I will not pardon you from what you owe me. So what an unexpected gift, if this Christmas, you were to give others the same forgiveness that God has given you? What an unexpected gift, if this Christmas, you were to give others the same grace that God has given you? Grace and forgiveness are two different things. They work well together, but they're separate. Forgiveness is what you extend to someone, who you have to pardon. Grace is what you extend to someone that you will accept as they are. Here's how the grace of God works. The Bible says that while we are yet sinners... Sin is not acceptable to God. But in his grace, "While we were yet sinners, he accepted us in his love".
Now the question is this: can you accept people like they are? Or will you only accept them when they are the way you want them? Because oftentimes, we let the imperfections become the irritations that build up the walls that require forgiveness. What if you extended grace to say, you know what: you're not all right but you're all right just like you are? Think about it. I love you just the way you are. I'm willing to extend to you the grace that God extended to me. He accepted me when I wasn't all right, so I'm going to accept you and believe that God has better in your future. What an unexpected gift if not only were you to give grace and forgiveness, but you were also to give mercy? Mercy is a wonderful recipe that works with grace and forgiveness, because mercy is when you have the ability to judge but you choose not to.
I love the verse and say it often, "His mercies are renewed every morning". That means that God Almighty has the ability and the divine right to judge this world every day at sundown. And yet, every morning, his mercy is renewed. What if you were to take forgiveness and grace and mercy, and extend it to those who need it, to those that you live with, to those in your family, to those that the Bible would call your neighbors? What would that create? The Bible tells us whenever the angels sang and the shepherds heard, it said, "Peace on earth and good will to men". The problem is that when God looks down upon his kids, he seldom sees peacemakers. He sees troublemakers.
In Ephesians 5:17 through 20, it says, "Do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. When you come together, come together speaking to one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart unto the Lord". God's will is the same thing that Jesus prayed in John 17, "God, let them be one, even as you and I are one". When God looks down on his children, he wants to see a house filled with people, who are celebrating the good things that God has done, who are testifying to one another of how faithful he's been, who are encouraging each other: that if he can do this for me, he can do that for you. What can you give God this Christmas? I believe that John 4:23 tells us very clearly. You see, Jesus is talking to a woman at the well. And they're talking about worship. And here's what he says: he says, "Now as the time and the hour is coming when true worshippers will worship God in spirit and in truth".
Now listen to this next line. Jesus said, "For the father is seeking". Take a moment and think about that. God Almighty, who out of nothing could create heaven and earth, when the earth was void and without form, he said, "Let there be light". When there was no land, he created it. When there was no water, he created it. When there was no man, he created it. God, who is omnipotent, all powerful, can do anything that he needs to all by himself, through himself, without anyone else: that God is looking for something. Think about it. Out of all that he can do, he's still looking for something. He's seeking something. He's looking for worship.
What made the wise men wise? Not what they had done in this life. But when they came to Christ, they worshiped him. What will change your life? You giving God the unexpected gift of worship no matter what you're going through. You deciding that no matter what's against you, you're going lift your hands and you're going to magnify his name, you making up your mind that God has been too good to you to do anything but bless you in your future.
You, Heavenly Father, are the one who has provided for me in the past. You'll provide for me today. And you're going to provide for me forever, because you promised that you would supply all of my needs according to your riches in glory. You told me you would rebuke the devourer for my sake. So I'm going to put my trust in you today. I'm going to put my hope in you today. I'm going to lift my hands and worship you today. Your promise to me was that you would make me the head and not the tail, above only and not beneath: that you would bless me in my going in: that you would bless me in my coming out.
Child of God, today I want Cornerstone Church to give heaven a gift. I don't want God to look down upon us and see a bunch of disgruntled children, who are waiting for him to give us more. I want him to look down and see a bunch of willing children, who are lifting up their hands, and raising their voice: and magnifying Christ, who is King of kings and Lord of lords.
Today Father, I worship you, because you bless me. I worship you for all that you have done. I worship you for every family that you've mended. I worship you for every life that you've brought to the cross. I worship you because you have forgiven us. I worship you because you have set us free. I worship you because you have protected us. I worship you because no weapon formed has prospered. I worship you because you've poured out blessings that we cannot contain. I worship you because you have redeemed us. You've broken yokes of bondage. You've healed sick bodies. I worship you because you've been a joy in an hour of sorrow. You've been a help in a time of trouble. I worship you because you have given us the strength to carry on. Through days of doubt, you've given us courage. In hours of despair, you've given us hope. Heavenly Father, I worship you because you are great and greatly to be praised!