[Calvary Chapel] 1999-12-23 - The Unopened Gift

The Christmas Character's Series, Part 11

Matt 2:3 And when Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.  (NAS)

The Promise of Messiah was given to Adam and Eve in the Garden after they fell from innocence. By the most conservative estimates, four thousand years have passed. Israel is once again politically subjugated under an foreign power. King Herod is a puppet of Rome. He has some level of authority, but could be swept away at the displeasure of the Roman government at any moment. Three Magi arrive from the far area of Persia. Herod takes advantage of the situation to collect news from far away. The news troubles him greatly. These men have traveled many hundreds of miles to visit a newborn king. There is now a new threat to his tenuous power.

But we see here that the people of Jerusalem are troubled too. If nothing else, there might be a change in the wings. Change, and the uncertainty that goes with it, trouble we frail humans enough all by itself. Then again, how would Rome react to a new king? Herod would certainly see this as a threat to his position. How would he react? Would he call in soldiers to protect his rule? How wide would this hypothetical conflict spread? How much would Rome tolerate? Any of these thoughts and others may have troubled the minds of the citizens of Jerusalem. The Magi were exultant at the thought of meeting this new ruler. They had traveled far at the literal risk of their lives. In their stores were rich gifts for this yet unconfirmed child king. All this would rock Herod's political boat.

What about you? This child born king, does He trouble you? Is He a threat to your rule? That is, have you struggled with this king and yet you do not wish to give up the control over your life? Do you think Jesus will make you go to South America to reach out to primitive tribesman if you accept His offer of eternal life in Heaven? The offer of Jesus' salvation from your failures and short comings and His willingness to accept you for who you are right where you are is tempting. But, give Jesus Christ control of your life? That is a big, scary change to face.

Well, let's start with the fact that the control we all think we have is an illusion. Our control can be swept away by an accident, or illness that can very quickly change the direction of our natural lives permanently. Christopher Reeve will tell you that as he struggles to rebuild his life after accidentally braking his neck after falling from a horse. So, what does this boil down to really? The offer is forgiveness, acceptance and peace that can not be taken away, for control over your life which you can not keep. Jesus may send you to South America, but if He does it will likely become one of the desires of your heart to do. Will life be trouble free? No, but it's not now either. But the struggle to maintain control and the fear of losing it will be settled in eternity.

If you have come to grips with the reality of Jesus Christ as God and Savior, then there is an unopened gift waiting for you. If you will say yes to the offer of forgiveness, then His promise is to make you a new person in His new life that He has for you. Are you tired of fighting? All you have to do is pray - just talk to God. He's listening and hoping to hear from you. Ask Jesus to forgive you for the thing you've done wrong and let Him know you want Him to take control. It can't be that easy? It is - try it. Give that big bow a tug and unwrap the package, lift off the box lid and see for yourself. There are new challenges and new problems to solve in this new life, but you are no longer alone as you walk this life's journey.

Heb 13:5 Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you," (NAS)

Lord Jesus, I pray that many will open the matchless gift You offer them. To give up the life that death will eventually steal from them, something they can not keep, for the eternal love and forgiveness in the life that is Your salvation, something we can not lose, even though it makes sense is not simple for us. Lord, I ask You provide the courage these men and women, boys and girls will need to take that step of faith and reach out to You. They will not be disappointed in what they find. Amen.

Grace & Peace,