Receiving His Gift
Christmas is almost upon us. Most of us will unwrap a present or two.
This message is a little guide in receiving Godís precious gifts to
you. His precious gifts come in many forms. The most precious of all, of
course, came to us as a baby born in a manger.
Matthew 6:19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But
store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not
destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your
treasure is, there your heart will be also. (NIV)
We all treasure things. Some of us collect things. We collect coins,
antiques, cars, tools, ribbons, dolls, teddy bears, sports trading
cards, and just "things." Some of us will get a collectible or
two this Christmas. Just because we collect does not mean anything. It
is what we treasure that counts.
What do we hold dear?
What takes up space in our thinking?
What takes up space in our heart?
There are sayings about thoughts. "Thoughts are things",
"Thoughts become us", and "Thoughts become our
health" are some of these familiar sayings. A lot of life comes at
us and we think we have limited control. Sometimes it seems we have no
A million refugees are driven out of their homes.
Six million Jews die in a Nazi death machine.
The doctor says, "Iím sorry, there isnít anything we can
Jobs are lost.
Time slips away and we find out it is too late to do or be whatever
it was we wanted to do or be.
However, maybe life is not always what it seems. Maybe there is more
going on around us and through us than we can imagine. Jesus tells us
there is a lot more to what is going on around us than what we see,
hear, or touch. Jesus tells us there is a storehouse in heaven. What the
storehouse contains is up to us. We control what we store away. We
cannot put things of earth in this warehouse in heaven, but we can put
the things of heaven there. Where your treasure is your heart is. Notice
that what we store away goes before our heart. On the surface, you would
think it would be the other way around. It would seem that what you hold
in your heart goes to heaven. However, Jesus says we must be in an
active storage mode.
Too often, we worship the things of earth. Things of earth disappear
at some point through deterioration, demolition, being sent to the dump,
thrown out in the trash, burned, or destroyed in some fashion. Like the
wrapping paper that gets collected after the mass unwrapping ceremony,
all the things of this life eventually disappear. What Jesus is saying
in the above verse is incredibly important for each of us to know. There
are consequences to our thinking. There are both heavenly consequences
and earthly consequences.
One of the heavenly gifts we can unwrap this Christmas and then store
away in heaven is hope. However hopeless things might look here on
earth, there is hope in heaven. When we think about the hope of heaven,
we store hope away for ourselves. What we put on the shelf in heaven
appears in our heart here on earth. Notice that what we store up, up
there, is where our heart is. When we think about our future, we do not
always see the best and brightest aspects of what will happen. When we
are young, we can see almost forever. When we grow older, there is,
realistically, more of our earthly life behind us than there is ahead of
us. However, no matter what age we are, what condition we are in, where
we are, or how we are, there is for us a hope in heaven. There is for
each of us a hope for an eternal blissful life in heaven.
The heavenly gift we unwrap and then treasure is a matter of the
choices we make. Every day we make choices. Every second we make
choices. We choose what we think. We choose what we treasure. If we
could not choose or make choices Jesus would not have told us about
choosing what we store away. No matter where we are or what we must
undergo in life, we have until our last moment, many choices we can
make. God has preserved in us the ability to make choices.
What we treasure or value can either help or hurt us. What Jesus is
saying is that we can help our life now by what we choose to think.
We can think about Godís love.
We can think about Godís forgiveness.
We can think about Godís healing touch.
We can think about how difficult things are.
We can think about how bad things are in our life.
We can think about how we are owed something.
We can unwrap and treasure the gift that Godís love surrounds and
We can unwrap and treasure the gift that Godís forgiveness erases
totally what we have said, thought, and done in the past.
We can unwrap and treasure the gift of Godís healing touch that
heals us from every spiritual infirmity, and, as His will decides, He
can heal us from physical infirmities here now, and eventually all
physical infirmities when we reach His heavenly home.
If we do not receive His gift of love and treasure His love, and then
hold the love of God in our heart, we see only loneliness and the
darkness of being pressed down. Where Godís love is not recognized,
there is loneliness and pain. Where Godís love is not treasured, there
is darkness. Without God, there is aloneness. Without God, there is just
you and no one else in your life.
If we do not receive and treasure the love of God, there is in each
of us an innate recognition that tells us that life is hopeless. Many
people have a sense of hopelessness about themselves and their life.
Most of these people who confront their hopelessness in life run away
from the hopelessness, drink it away, drug it away, play it away, watch
TV it away, or try to escape it by whatever means possible.
One of our real plights in life is how we deal with the end. Most
people do not want to think about deathÖbecause when you do think
about deathÖwhat is there? Is there for you, just nothingness,
blackness, or some kind of uncertain and horrible hellish unknown?
Alternatively, is there something wonderful and beautiful, which lasts
forever and ever? What happens to you at the moment of death is a result
of the choice your make and what you treasure in your heart.
We are to receive His gift and to treasure that Godís only Son died
We are to receive His gift and we are to treasure that God was
willing to let His Son die for us because God loves us.
We are to receive His gift and we are to treasure that God wants us
to spend eternity in His home.
We are to receive His gift and we are to treasure that we can spend
eternity in heaven with Him.
We are to receive His gift and we are to treasure this opportunity to
spend eternity soaking up the greatest love, caring, and acceptance
anyone could ever imagine.
We are to receive His gift and we are to treasure the love of God by
treasuring our times of private worship. When we worship, we are to
receive His gifts and to treasure up all the beauty of Christ. In
addition, we worship because we know the truth. We worship because we
experience the truth of Godís love for us, and by holding Godís love
inside of our hearts.
Jesus told us to treasure the love of God for our survival as a human
race, for our spiritís survival, and for the glory of God, which in
turn can glorify our spirits as we join our spirit with His.
What we treasure is a choice we make and that choice can bless our
lives or curse our lives. Storing up for ourselves blessings in heaven
can be accomplished by being a blessing here on earth. Our faith is not
and was never meant to be a one way street where we are to constantly
walk around with our hands out waiting for God to give us what we want.
To often people are led to believe that God has all the blessings and
all we have to do is open our mouths and God pours them in. This idea
reduces us to be like a baby in a high chair. Sorry. We are responsible
or we are supposed to be responsible persons. We cannot receive from God
what we do not give away here on earth. However, if we give away here on
earth to get from God, we do not get from God. When we give to get, this
is selfishness. We cannot "work" God. We cannot manipulate
Him. We cannot control God. We receive blessings from God by giving to
God and giving to Gods children in anonymous ways here on earth. We
receive blessings from God by blessing Godís children. Storing
treasures in heaven works like a system, or like a reflex. What we give
away is stored up in heaven and usually comes back to us here on earth.
If we curse God, we get the curse back. If we curse man, man curses us
back, or our life is left as if our life is cursed.
We can receive the gift of giving. We are not talking about some kind
of intellectual thing; we are talking about a spiritual lifestyle thing.
Our spiritual life is based upon giving or taking. We can accept Christ
as our Savior, and still not get the idea that how we live our life is
based upon giving or taking. What we give away in Christí name we
store up in heaven. What we take we have to live with here on earth. In
addition, there are consequences. There are good and wonderful
consequences for storing up good and wonderful things in heaven.
What we treasure is a choice and we can choose to either bestow mercy
or wound. We can choose to help or hurt. There are consequences to
either helping or hurting. We store up treasure in heaven by bestowing
or giving peace. Alternatively, we live the wounds we inflict upon
others. Each of us has a conscience. It is hard to believe (sometimes)
that all people have a conscience. However, we always have a choice. We
must always make a choice. The choices we make store up treasures for us
What we treasure is a choice. We can choose to grace or injure or we
can choose to give a healing touch. When we seek to heal others we store
up healing in heaven and some of it overflows into our own lives. Giving
healing can bless. Why would we not always, always, always heal?
Why would we injure? However, we do injure. The track record of
humanity is littered with the trash of manís sin, which has caused us
to injure others on a personal, family, and national level. Out of our
anger, fear, pain, and frustration comes the desire to hurt and injure
others. Instead of storing up treasures in heaven, manís anger, fear,
pain, and frustration make for a personal hell on earth. And these
personal hells lead to war.
We can receive the gift of love. We can choose to treasure the Love
of God, and the capacity God has given us to love others. However, if we
are to truly and unselfishly love others then work is required. To love
others we must understand others. We must walk in others shoes. To love
others we must get out of ourselves and take on forgiveness.
We can receive the gift of peace. We can choose to store up peace. We
can desire peace in the world. We can desire peace in our hearts. Sadly,
the world is at war. The world is always at war. In our individual
lives, each individual makes a choice between war and peace. Every day,
every minute we choose war or peace. Some people continually choose
turmoil and upset. However, they may not realize they make this choice
between peace and turmoil. Some people do actively choose turmoil. Life
comes at us. Life piles up on us, and we get into turmoil. However, what
Jesus is saying is, we have a choice. No matter what our circumstances,
we can choose.
We can receive the gift of forgiveness. We can choose to store up
forgiveness. There is a universal spiritual law that says essentially,
what we give away comes back to us. When we are willing to be forgiving
and then forgive, we get forgiveness back. When we add forgiveness to
our storehouse in heaven, forgiveness is stored and as we are willing to
erase the wrongs done to us, our wrongs are erased by God. When we hold
grudges, or when we keep thinking about the wrongs that have been done
to us instead of letting it go, then we store up nothing in heaven. In
addition, what we get for holding a grudge is what we generate in our
heartsÖour own anger, pain, and hostility.
We can receive the gift of prayer. When we pray, those prayers are
prayer requests. Those requests are stored away in the heart of God. The
fact that we call upon God to help others, to remember others, to touch
others livesÖthat gesture is stored up for us by God. In addition, we
get those gestures back. Both now and later when we live in heaven.
Whether we realize it or not, blessings are poured out on those people
who deserve them. Sometimes it does not look like it. It seems that
there is a lot of unfairness in life. It often seems the bad people seem
to get more, and the good people seem to get less. In the Christian
faith, what is in our heart is the important thing. Even if by outward
appearances, we are not blessed, we can be blessed in our hearts. Even
if we are beset by all kinds of physical problems and afflictions, our
heart can overflow.
We can receive the gift of a thankful spirit. We can store up in the
heart of God thanksgiving "points." When we praise God or
thank God, that spiritual action is stored away. In ways we cannot
understand, we get those blessing "points" back. We take so
much for granted. Think what an awful place the world would be if there
was no joy, no peace, no forgiveness, no love. There are families like
this. There are workplaces like this. There are whole regions of the
world like this. What we store up comes back to us in our heart.
We can receive Godís gift of compassion. What would the world be
like if no one cared? Kosovo is an example. Our survival as a race has
probably hinged on our compassion for one another. If no one cared about
anyone else, if we all were looking out only for ourselves, the human
race would have vanished.
We must all make the choice to care because caring is a choice. There
is no guarantee that when you care about someone else they will care
However, it does not make any difference because what you are doing
is storing your caring away. God blesses those who care. Some way, some
how, some time God blesses those who care.
Every good and beautiful gift is stored up in heaven. Gifts and
wrapping so wonderful we have no way to describe them. Every good deed.
Every kind thought. Every prayer, every moment of true worship, every
temptation resisted, every enemy forgiven is a treasure God stores away
for you under a glorious Christmas tree. Every time we give to God,
every moment of meditation about Godís love puts another gift under
All of these and more are put in Godís storehouse and we get them
back, if not today, certainly when we see Him in all His glory. However,
what we put away up there is not quite what we thought we put away. No,
God has a lot of wonderful surprises in store for each of us.