delivered on Dec. 25, 2016
21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
A ten year old girl named Jenny went with her family and friends to see the Christmas light displays around the city. At one church they stopped and got out to look more closely at a beautiful nativity scene. Her grandma said to her, “Isn’t that beautiful! Look, Jenny, at all the animals, Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus!” Jenny responded, saying, “Yes, grandma, it’s really nice, but there is one thing that bothers me: isn’t baby Jesus ever going to grow up? He’s the same size He was last year!”
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”, As the song goes. Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day, is something we always look forward to. Again…celebrating Christmas means a lot of things to different people. Its a time to be with the family, singing our favorite carols, and of course the giving and receiving of gifts.
I don’t know about you, but my son’s and I were trying to convince my wife to open our presents last week. When we take the pictures, we’ll just write Dec 24.
Did you get what you wanted, were you surprised with the gifts that you received? I’m sure many here tonight, may not remember the gift they received from last Christmas.
I would like to remind all of you tonight of the gift that we not only enjoy one’s a year. Its a gift that we get to unwrap everyday, and that is our relationship with our FATHER, for the love that He has given us, He gave us the perfect gift of His Son.
The virgin birth… till this day has many puzzled of its existence. Did it really happen? How is that humanly possible? Or is it just a sweet story that we tell our children around this time of the year? ( Christmas )
The virgin birth is something you, and I cannot explain. Simply because it is supernatural power… a miracle that comes from above. Just like receiving a “new life”, being born again. We cannot explain it, but we know that it is a gift from Above. A miracle that we receive one time in this life, but a gift that we get to unwrap for all eternity. We are being made new everyday. Because of the the Baby born in a manger, born of the Spirit.
It is “A Gift Of A Lifetime”, I would like for us to look at the true meaning of this gift.
2 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife,[a] who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Because of the birth of this baby…because of the life that now existed in Him…we all instantly received the gift of life…to never have to die again. It is an instant gift that God promises to all who would be drawn to His Son…
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
When Jesus was born that day in Bethlehem, it was just the beginning of the gift unwrapping. See…Jesus came wrapped in swaddling clothes…a gift for us all to unwrap,
And not just once, but everyday of our lives on this earth. Everyday that we wake up, We get to unwrap another part of the gift of eternal life that God has prepared for you and me.
1 Corinthians 2:9
9 But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
Just when we think that we have unwrapped all we can, about Jesus…like the last present on Christmas…God continues to blow our minds away with something new everyday.
The gifts like peace, joy, love, faith, kindness, gentleness, meekness, understanding, application, revelation, tribulation, and on and on…you name it. There is always more to our God. Something more to unwrap! “A Gift Of A Lifetime”
Jesus is the most valuable gift the world has, and will ever receive.
2 Corinthians 9:15
15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” Did it happen? Is the virgin birth for real? How is it possible? Nothing is impossible with our God!!!
Who can begin to put a price on the gift that God has given us through His Son Jesus?
No One! It’s “A Gift Of A Lifetime”.
The Shepherds realized what an enormous gift they had been given…
15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
The wise men understood as they tried to bring gifts to present to a King, but they knew that His life was worth much more than gold, frankincense, and myrrh but this is all they could come up with.
What gift can compare to never dying, never suffering, crying, feeling pain, but to live eternally in a place called paradise? It is indescribable at best. Are you still…like the shepherds, “glorifying and praising God”, Daily? Are you still presenting that gift daily, glorifying, and praising God, since He did give you and I the best gift ever? Or is it something you only do around the most wonderful time of the year? Its a daily gift to be able to praise God. Its an eternal gift!
Many times when we get things that are precious to us…that are of enormous value, we want to keep it for ourselves.But that’s not what Jesus wants us to do…He doesn’t want us to keep it but He wants us to tell everyone of this “Gift Of A Lifetime”.
35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
This very special gift…this valuable gift from above, was not meant for us to keep to ourselves, we need to tell everyone of this gift.
Sure…we can never give the gift of eternal life to anyone, only God can do that, and that is through His Son. But, because we do have His Son, we can give the gift of…being at peace with everyone, give joy, give love, kindness, gentleness, and so on. Not only will we be giving these gifts, we also receive them. And that is a gift that will last a lifetime.
This gift that we have been given that takes a lifetime to unwrap was meant for us to give to others. It is not just our gift but a gift for all to receive. The Shepherds in the field realized that, here again on…
17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
This is the gift no money can buy. You don’t need to go to school, or get a masters degree. God gave you and I the gift to believe. How will the world believe if they don’t know about the Baby born of a virgin, born in a manger…a gift wrapped in swaddling cloth, if there is no one to His name known?
Everyone who has ever received this precious gift, has their lives enriched by His Grace.
I have not found one…who calls by the name “Christian”, ever say… “since I received this gift, my life was worse than it was before”.
Because God’s gift of salvation is meant to enrich the lives of everyone who will receive it. It enriched the lives of the Shepherds that day..here!
20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
They realized there life would never be the same again from that day forward. Such is the same response to all who embrace the gift of the virgin Birth. My life was never the same. And I am sure that your lives were never the same, since you have received the “Gift Of A Lifetime”.
Before we received this Gift…we walked this earth alone…forsaken…without hope, chained to a life of sin, doomed to eternal life in hell.
But after receiving this Precious Gift, we are never alone…
8 And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”
What??? who can make this promise? Who can explain this? Is it even possible? Nothing is impossible with our God. And He is not a God who breaks His promises. The gift of life is only through His Son. And it is “A Gift Of A Lifetime”
I know that…we all have opened our gifts for Christmas. But I want to remind us all that the unwrapping of the most precious gift of all is not just to be unwrapped once on Christmas day. But it is a gift that is meant to be unwrapped everyday…for the rest of our lives.
The child that was born in the manger that day…was a gift that was wrapped in swaddling clothes, but as we unwrap that gift we all can see that it is…
A Gift that is instantly ours when we receive Him.
A Gift that takes a lifetime of unwrapping.
A Gift that was of Enormous value.
A Gift that we can also share with others.
A Gift that enriches every life that receives Him.
Glorify and give praise to our God daily even when things are not going our way. That sweet innocent Baby in that manger is a precious gift, born only to take our place on the cross. A Precious gift, to be the Perfect sacrifice, just so, that we can be saved.
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
delivered on Nov 20, 2016
2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. 6 Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 7 And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.
Thanksgiving is coming up, as you all know. When you think of Thanksgiving, what do you think of? Well…time with the family, dinner, mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade rolls, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, and of course, turkey. At least, that’s what most people think of. What else do you associate with Thanksgiving? Watching a football game, family gets together, kids playing, the family swapping stories.
I know that we don’t really need a special day to give thanks to our Lord, and Savior. To a christian, giving thanks should be a daily devotion. It should be the first thing that pops into our heads when we wake up, and the last thing that we do when we lay our heads to sleep.
I’d like to look at why it is so vitally important for Christians to maintain an attitude of gratefulness toward God, not just one day a year, but as a habit of life. The very air that we breath should be to give thanks. Through the good times and the bad times, we should always give thanks. I know that at times that may be hard to do, especially when we are going through the storms.
From our opening text we can see that. When trials hit, we can be sure that God will always come to our aid. Why? Its His nature…1) He is “the God of all comfort”. 2) He’s training you and I, to be able to give comfort to others.
One of the many paradoxes ( a statement that seems to say two opposite things but that may be true) of the Christian life is that the grace of God is most keenly experienced not in the best but in what seems to be the worst of times. However much the Christian longs for exaltation it is when he is humbled, he receives grace.
2 Corinthians 12:9
9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
And yet again on….
6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:
“God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
So Paul urges all sorrowing and troubled hearts to find strength in God. Paul knew that God bestows comfort for he had been recipient of it in his afflictions. When the Christian experiences affliction he finds God’s comforts which enables the believer to comfort others. With a burst of praise to God for comforting and encouraging him, Paul begins his letter in verse 3. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ the Father of Mercies and God of All Comfort,”
2 Corinthians 1:3
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.
Paul introduced this letter with a blessing and now blesses the Blesser! He wasn’t blessing God because of his difficult circumstances but was blessing God because He is worthy to be praised even in difficult circumstances. This word blessed is used in the N.T. only of God. Blessed is an expression of highest esteem and thanksgiving.
Paul’s uses three titles or names to address his blessing to God. The first is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is our mediator with the Father. Jesus humbled Himself in His incarnation and placed Himself in dependency upon the Father. Next he addresses God as the Father of Mercies. Mercy here is the feeling of compassion that goes out in seeing another in distress. He is the originator from Whom all mercies flow. God’s mercies include deliverance from the world, sin, and Satan, and fellowship with the Spirit in truth, light, and life.
The third title listed is the God of All (or every) Comfort. The English word comfort comes from the Latin, (confortis) which means “to brave together.” It has the idea of standing beside a person to encourage him while he is under testing. The same word is used by Jesus to describe the Holy Spirit as the Comforter.
16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever.
And again on…
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
The thought is that God is the Divine source of all consolation to His people. He is the God of All Comfort not only by delivering us from evil or by ordering our external circumstances, but by the inward influence of His presence on the mind and heart which casts out the disturbances and fills it with joy and peace.
You never know when you'll need the Lord's comfort the most for there will be a time when God's care will be your only hope of facing tomorrow. A daily devotion…
One day 1932, pianist, singer, and songwriter THOMAS DORSEY discovered his need for God's comfort. He left his pregnant wife Nettie at home in Chicago while he drove his Model A to St. Louis to sing at a revival meeting. All went well, and the crowd responded enthusiastically. After Dorsey had finished ministering, he received a telegram with the tragic news that his wife had died in childbirth. Within hours, the baby boy also died. Filled with grief, Dorsey sought answers. Should he have stayed in Chicago and not gone to St. Louis? Had God done him an injustice? A few days after Nettie's death, Dorsey sat down at the piano and began to play. Finally sensing God's peace and closeness, he began to sing some new words and play a new song:
Precious Lord, take my hand, Lead me on, let me stand;
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn; Through the storm, through the night,
Lead me on to the light; Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home. ( Daily Bread )
Paul also found genuine comfort in God. You will too. As you go through difficult times, real storms, immense challenges, you will find that even as Paul found, that God is a God of comfort. You will discover that He is the Father of mercy, who will comfort you.
Is there a problem too big for you to handle alone? Or a grief too great to bear? Let the "God of all comfort" lead you home.
2 Corinthians 1:4
4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Verse 4 states that we have been graced with encouraging comfort so that we might encouragingly comfort others. “Who comforts “encourages”, us in all our affliction, & “tribulations” so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort and encouragement with which we ourselves are comforted and encouraged by God. The God of All Comfort comforts us in all our affliction.
The trouble or affliction is the reason why the “God Of All Comfort”, constantly and unfailing comes to aid. Notice that He encourages us in “all” our affliction. All is any or every trouble, not just in certain kinds of afflictions. Notice the purpose clause introduced by “that we.” A purpose or reason why God’s comforts is to enable us to comfort those within every affliction. Receiving God’s comfort in our affliction enables us to comfort others. Being comforted by God qualifies you to minister, comfort to others, no matter what their affliction might be.
The comfort of God is not intended to terminate with the recipient but to be extended to others. God’s comforting prepares and equips us for the God-like ministry of comforting and encouraging others within whatever affliction they may be suffering. This is a principle of the Christian life. We receive so that we may pass on. We are blessed that we might be a blessing.
This passage explains to us that the degree we can comfort others is the degree we have been comforted ourselves. It is only when we have experienced God’s faithfulness first-hand that we can minister to others the assurance that God will be faithful to them. Give them the testimony of what God has done for you. Maybe that is why they say EXPERIENCE is the best teacher. We learn the most from what affects us personally.
The English artist Joseph Turner once invited the clergyman and novelist Charles Kingsley to his studio to see a picture he had just completed of a storm at sea. Filled with admiration, Kingsley inquired, “How did you make it so realistic?” The artist replied, “When I decided to paint this scene, I thought it would be best to go to the coast of Holland and hire a fisherman to take me out in his boat during an actual storm . I knew this was the only way I could get a feel for my subject. The boatman bound me to the mast so I could watch the squall in safety. I not only observed it and sensed its power, but the tempest blew itself into me until I seemed to become a part of it. When it was over, I was able to depict on canvas all the fury I had felt at sea.”
If you have received consolation from the Lord in time of tribulation, God wants you to share with others the lessons you’ve learned. God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters. Along life’s pathway troubles come that God will help us bear. Then we can look beyond the pain to those who need our care.
A life of ease is commonly stagnant. It is those who suffer much for righteousness who experience much comfort of the Holy Spirit that are deepened as individuals and learn how to live a fuller more meaningful life. Suffering enriches life’s experiences and builds inner resources.
Jesus told His troubled disciples that after His departure He would send the Holy Spirit to be their Comforter…
John 14:26 (KJV)
26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
The peace that Jesus gives to us comes through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, if we want to bring comfort to others, we must have an intimate relationship with the Lord and experience His comfort.
Then… by our practical deeds and by our quiet presence we can show those who are hurting that we care. We can also pray that they will sense the comforting ministry of the Holy Spirit in their lives. God wants us to be channels of His comfort to sorrowing and hurting people.
For the Christian, no suffering is without purpose. Sometimes God lets us experience suffering so that we may share with others what we have learned. A similar reason for your suffering is that you may be better prepared to bring blessings and help to others. Let God comfort you so that in time He can comfort others through you. God doesn’t comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters.
Many think that when God comforts us, our troubles should go away. But if that were always so, then people would turn to God only out of a desire to be relieved of pain and not out of love for Him. We must understand that being comforted can also mean receiving strength, encouragement, and hope to deal with our troubles. The more we suffer, the more comfort God gives us. If you are feeling overwhelmed, allow God to comfort you. Remember that every trial you endure will help you comfort other people who are suffering similar troubles.
2 Corinthians 1:5
5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.
The sufferings of Christ are those afflictions we experience as we go through this life,and partake in Christ’s ministry. These are sufferings for righteousness and maturing sake. The result of suffering with Christ.. is that Christ overflows in comfort to us. No matter how great the sufferings a Christian is called to endure, they are matched, NO… far more than matched by the comfort which Jesus bestows.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
As the problems increase so does God’s comfort. As Christ’s sufferings was a prelude to glory so also those who share in His glory must first share in His sufferings…
2 Timothy 2:10-13
10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
11 This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him,We shall also live with Him.
12 If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him,
He also will deny us. 13 If we are faithless,He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.
“Therefore I ( Paul ) endure all things for the sake of the elect”. That is you and I church.
If you don’t experience Christ, your suffering can lead to coldness, harshness, or despair instead of consolation. This makes the great difference between the sorrows of believers
and those of unbelievers. Alienation from Christ does not secure freedom from suffering but it does cut us off from His consolation, His comfort!
As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our encouragement also abounds through Christ. When we experience tribulation for being a Christian, and suffering is poured into our lives, God will transform it by His supernatural grace and power and will abound or overflow encouragement into the lives of others. When trouble flows in, look to God for His overflowing comfort, first to us, then through us…then to others. We are all connected in Christ. No one is cleaner, bigger, or better. We are all in Christ, for Christ!
2 Corinthians 1:6
6 Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.
Verse 6 expanses and reapplies the lesson of verse 4 concerning the purpose of our suffering. “but if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation”, or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort”, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer. They knew the cost, ( and also should we )… Paul paid and should be aware that they, (and we ) would suffer also. Yet if they would seek Christ… God could bring about the triumph of sanctification and salvation even in the tragedy of their affliction. Suffering helps make us the ministers… God would graciously transform us into being.
It’s easy for a Christian to be happy and bright when everything goes smoothly, but it takes great faith to rejoice in the Lord in times of darkness and tribulation. Yet that is the kind of attitude that glorifies God. Consecrated believers… knowing that He is working out His all-wise purpose in their lives, patiently await the Lord’s rainbow of blessing that follows the storm.
Another encouraging story of victory…
When the brilliant WILLIAM MOON of England was at the height of his mental powers, his future looked promising. Then tragedy struck–he became stone blind! At first he couldn’t accept this trial and exclaimed bitterly, “What are all my abilities worth now that I am shut up here in my room and the whole world is shut out?” Slowly he began to realize that God had a wise purpose in allowing him to be afflicted. Because his own eyes were sightless, he began to develop a unique system of reproducing the alphabet to assist others in a similar condition. It soon was adapted to fit the languages of many different countries, including remote areas of the world. More than 4 million blind people were thus enabled to read the Bible.
They found that the kind of embossed type he used was easy to learn, even though it required more space on the page than the Braille system that was later modeled after it. William Moon had become a “missionary” in an unusual way and had brought “encouragement and salvation” to many. He could rejoice because out of his tragedy had come a great triumph.
My dear friends… how do you react to trials? Do you wallow in self- pity, or do you see them as opportunities to rise to new heights of usefulness and sanctification? God desires to use our tribulation to refine our gold and redirect our goals. As we are delivered by our affliction and equipped with the ability to identify with others and administer divine encouragement to them, they too can find the empowering spirit that brings deliverance, just as Paul was presently doing with the Corinthians.
God uses suffering to bring about His good pleasure in those who persevere and don’t grow bitter. He uses suffering to cause us to need the ministry of others and grow more dependent on fellowship, and the Lord to bring about His good pleasure in our lives.
2 Corinthians 1:7
And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.
Hope for enabling sanctification is grounded in the infusion of divine encouragement that suffering brings as verse 7 states. “and our hope for you” (on your behalf) is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.
Hope carries the idea of waiting in expectation, confidence and patience. Despite their deficiency of love and loyalty, Paul regards the Corinthians with an unshakable hope. Yet how could he do otherwise since the transforming power of Christ was at work in them.
6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
Paul and his companions suffered greatly for bringing comfort and salvation to the Corinthians. But just as God comforted Paul, God would also bring comfort the Corinthian believers as they suffered for their faith. He would give them the strength to endure. When affliction strikes us, how do we react? Are we embittered, or do we trustfully appropriate God’s sustaining grace?
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Do we prayerfully encourage those around us by our Spirit-enabled cheerfulness, our courage, and our confidence in God? As we rely on the Lord, He can help us to turn pain into praise. When you’re up to your neck in hot water, be like a teapot and start to sing.
In the service of Christ there will be disappointments, but there should not be despair; there will be conflicts, but there should not be doubt, there will be afflictions but never without comfort. This epistle is permeated with this spirit of faith which abides calm and firm, no matter how much the outward circumstances of life may tempt into the shadows of distrust.
May we gain God’s Perspective through our Bible study of 2 Corinthians. Which, we are close to finishing, and am excited to jump into the book of Galatians.
When you find yourself discouraged because of difficult circumstances, it is easy to focus on yourself and your feelings, or to be absorbed in the problems around you. But the first step we must take is to look by faith to the Lord and realize all that God is to us. May we be, with the psalmist declare…
I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help?
2 My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.
Pastor Richard Santos
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