December 21, 2016 – Fourth Wednesday in Advent
by Pastor Pete Scheele
Grace and peace to you as you live in the assurance of God’s love, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Read Romans 6:19 – 23
It’s rather interesting that the light of the world would come at the time of the year, winter, when we see the sun the least. Winter is filled with many things that remind us of death or the lack of life and yet the Apostle John remind us in first chapter of his Gospel of Jesus Christ that, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 16 For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (Jn 1:14 &16)
This year in our Advent services we have been talking about all the gifts that God has given to us; the gift of Hope, the gift of Love, the gift of Peace and tonight the gift of Life. The Word of God, who was from the beginning of time the Son of God, came down from heaven above to give us grace upon grace, upon grace, upon grace and each one of these gifts are so precious that we should never want to give them away or exchange them or stop using them but we do. The Apostle Paul reminds us tonight, “19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.” (Rom 6:19-21)
I’m sure that in another 4 day or less there will be many small and large hands grabbing a hold of a gift that was given to them in celebration of the Christ child’s ultimate gift of Life. Oh, some of those gifts that will be opened will be used over and over again but they will eventually break, wear out or no longer be needed and this will be expected because of our human nature. There will also be some of the gifts that will be exchanged for a different size or a different gift that meets our needs and this too will be expected because of our human nature. But what about the gifts that God has given to us through the fullness of His Son coming down from heaven to be alive with us in every way? Would we give up the gift of hope? Now if we are really honest with ourselves we have to say, “Yes, there have been times in our lives when we have given up the gift of Hope given to us by God and exchanged is for something material or financial or temporal that really didn’t give us any hope at all. So, what about the gift of Love that came for the heaven above, have we ever given it up or exchanged it for something else? Yes, if we are really honest with ourselves, we would have to say that in our sinful nature have thrown away this gift from God also. So what about Peace? Have we exchanged the gift of peace given to us from above? It’s sad to say but yes we too have given up the peace of God that is beyond the worlds understanding and what have we gotten in exchange turmoil, hatred, anger and more signs that point to the lack of holding on to God’s gift to us.
Remember what God told us through the Apostle John, “For from the fullness of Jesus Christ we have all received, grace upon grace.” (Jn 1:16) God has been giving us all these gifts out of His grace for us and though we keep falling back into our old sinful nature He kept giving them to us again and again and then in the dead of winter God send from heaven above His Only Son to give us the gift of Life. Now this isn’t just any ordinary life from on this earth that has been corrupted by sin. NO, this life is different because it is connected to the perfect righteousness of God, God and Man born as a tiny child. The Apostle Paul put it this way, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 6:22 – 23)
The gift of Life given to us by the Christ Child who came down from Heaven above, now that’s a gift worth hanging onto isn’t it? This gift will never break or become un-useful or un-needed. Yes, the gift of Life is a free gift from God that last for all eternity, that can be shared with others and you will still have more than you can use, because is comes from God’s grace upon grace, upon grace, upon grace. The gift of Life it’s something that we all need and want, but will we use it in the way that it was given to us? That is with all that other gifts that God has given to us from heaven above. For this gift of Life God gives us Hope, Love and Peace that is not found in the thing here on earth but only from the gifts that were given from heaven above. This gift of Life given to us by the life of the Christ Child who came to take all our sins away so that we could have Life instead of death is given to us freely to give us Hope when there is no hope, to give us Love when the world is filled with hatred, to give us a Peace that is not found in our world of turmoil. How precious is the life of little baby! How precious is the life of any living thing! How much more precious is the life of the Son of God who gave is life for you and me! It is by far the most precious gift of all that we can share with our family, friends and everyone. Amen.
Service Four: From Heaven Above The Gift of Life
Children’s Sermon – Living In Freedom Evermore: LIFE
Needed: A Christmas present (Show the children a Christmas present.)
Look at this beautifully wrapped present! If I gave this present to you and then asked you to give me twenty dollars, would it be a gift? No, if you have to pay for it, then it isn’t a gift. When someone gives you a gift, it’s free. It doesn’t cost a thing. That’s what makes it a gift. What was the greatest gift you have ever received? Was it your first bike? Maybe it was an Xbox 360 or a Sony PlayStation. For some of you it may be a battery-operated remote control fire truck or for others, it might be a cozy stuffed teddy bear. We might have a lot of different ideas about the greatest gift, but today I want to tell you about a gift that is, without question, the greatest gift ever given. What is that gift? Romans 6:23 describes it as, “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Did you catch that? Instead of death—which is what we deserve because of sin—Jesus gives the free gift of eternal life. Life, then, is Living In Freedom Evermore. The first letters of the words in this phrase spell the word life: L-I-F-E. Now, when someone gives you a gift, it’s not polite to ask them, “How much did it cost?” But in the case of this gift, it’s okay to ask God, “How much did it cost?” God tells us. It cost God his only Son—Jesus. Can you imagine how much Jesus loves us to be willing to die on the cross so we have eternal life in heaven? LIFE is Living In Freedom Evermore. So let’s live in the freedom of God’s love and forgiveness every day. That’s what I call living! Amen.