There is something that takes places every Christmas that just doesn’t seem to make sense: wrapping presents. And even worse, paying someone to wrap presents! The person who is receiving the gift does not really care if the gift is wrapped, they simply appreciate the thought. Do not get me wrong, some people will go out of their way to mention how nicely wrapped the present was and taking dear precious moments of time to carefully unwrap each edge ever so careful. But in the end that wrapping paper is going in the garbage. Wrapping paper and all the accompanying accessories are a camouflage to disguise what people are really interested in – that which is inside the wrapping and box. What’s inside is what matters most.
Likewise, people today get superficially excited about the wrapping paper of people’s lives.
– He drives a nice “well-wrapped” car, I wonder if I could date him.
– She looks good in that “well-wrapped” dress, I bet she’s perfect for me.
– They have such a nice “well-wrapped” house and lawn, they must have it all and happiness.
– They have an iphone, an imac and an ipod, they must be “well-wrapped” superfly.
– He has… They wear… She looks…
The wrapping paper may be pleasant to some but its not primary. In fact, God is more interested in knowing the inside of our lives our filled with His presence that superficial pleasantries.
His Presence becomes Our Present.
Luke 24:48-49 48 You are witnesses of these things.49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Who was Jesus?
– Jesus could have been a superstar boaster:
“Did I ever tell you about the time when walked with Adam? Or the time I saved Abraham’s son? Or when Moses & I went up on the mountain? Or…”
– Jesus could have been a sensationalist / show-off:
“I could turn that horse carriage into a hummer. I could take you into the 21st Century… or the 201st Century.”
– Jesus could have been a smart-aleck:
“I know what you got me for my birthday. I have some property on planet Pluto to sell you. Do you want me to tell you who you’re gonna marry? I could tell you what you will do tomorrow… and when you will die.”
– Jesus could have had a superior ego
“I created you. You’re not in my league and you bore me. This place is so 1960 B.C. This cake is not as good as the angels make me back home (angel food cake). This conversation is so below my iq. This clothing is not worthy of me as a King… and where is someone to wash my feet.”
– Jesus could have been all of these but He wasn’t.
– His purpose was not to show off but to show up.
– He came to make Himself known and dwell among us.
– He came serve and share His presence.
– His Promise: His Presence – Our Present
This message is the 1st of 4 that will encourage, inspire and challenge us about experiencing the presence of God. As we move toward the celebration of Christmas, I cannot think of anything more significant to bring us joy in this season than to know – truly know the joy of God’s presence.
God’s presence is transformative through FAITH (Romans 8:9-11)
The book of Romans is a powerful look at God’s grace. The book’s first few chapters get’s you lost before it shows you how to be found; it reveals our sinfulness and need for saving (Rom 3:10 “none is righteous, no not one” and Rom 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”) and then points to the only Savior and His great salvation (Rom 5:1-2, 8 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God… [for] God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us”).
And here in Romans 8, Paul says we experience God’s transforming grace through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Faith is the exit of self and the entrance of God.
And to note, faith is not God living in your presence but you living in God’s presence. Too many treat faith the other way around as if God exists to bless us rather than us to bless God. The Psalmist understands the right perspective when he says, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory.” (115:1)
It is the Spirit of God, that same Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from death, dwelling in you to give you victory over sin “the body is dead bc of sin but spirit is life bc of righteousness” (Rom 8:10; John 10:10) and victory over death “life to your mortal bodies” (Rom 8:11).
Ephesians 5:18 says “do not get drunk with wine…but be filled with the Spirit”
God’s presence and Spirit-filled living is intoxicating.
– If intoxicated you could take blood test in any part of your body to verify;
should be true of the Spirit in every area of our life.
– If intoxicated you have a unique personality
Stubborn and uncompromising in certain issues
Uninhibited, candid, forthright and bold
– Spirit filled intoxications is not out of control (1Cor 14:40) or ignorant of reality (Eph 5:15-17)
God’s presence is transformative through Mortification (8:12-14)
Paul says those who have the Spirit of God are debtors, not to flesh but to the Spirit to put to death (kill, see same word in Rom 8:36 ‘slaughter’) the deeds of the body. The old Puritan writers called this mortification of the flesh. John Owen On The Mortification of Sin says, “Indwelling sin is compared to a person, a living person, called “the old man,” with his faculties, and properties, his wisdom, craft, subtlety, strength; this, says the apostle, must be killed, put to death, mortified, — that is, have its power, life, vigour, and strength, to produce its effects, taken away by the Spirit… be killing sin or it will be killing you.
Mortification of sin is a sign of God’s presence
The Bible presents the view that the Spirit of God brings about noticeable change in your life. The Holy Spirit of God captivates and consumes every part of our life; He takes full residence to dwell in and do His work in your life.
– If you eat ice cream too quickly you will get a headache.
– If you lick attached battery cable wires you will get a shock.
– If you run full force into a man wearing a purple & black #52 jersey you will feel pain.
– If you are a Dad with 4 daughters… well, the verdict is out on that result
– If you faith (verb) in Jesus you will turn into a passioned life for God’s glory
– Galatians 5:19-23 “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”
And so, God has given us all of His presence and Spirit and the Christian life is the outworking of grace and faith of surrendering all of me to all of God.
Who is the leader? Are you being led by the Spirit of God or are you trying to lead?
Faith is the exit of self and the entrance of God. The Holy Spirit is not a passive religion but a personal relationship in our life. He convicts of sin and righteousness, He guides and teaches us into all truth so that we can be the faithful followers of Christ.
Mary on God’s presence and birthing the Messiah
Luke 1:38 “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
God’s presence is transformative through Adoption (8:15-17)
As you consider what Paul is saying about faith and filling your life with the Spirit of God, it is overwhelming. How can my life be a home for the Holy Spirit? How can I mortify my selfish desires and be holy and righteous? The reminder is that because Christ is in you there is a power beyond yourself at work in your life. Jesus is Emmanuel – God with us, that we may be His adopted Children.
If I were to ask you who was Bing Crosby, you would respond he was a famous American actor and singer and his most popular song plays every December titled, “White Christmas”.
If I were to ask you who is Robert Pattinson, you would respond he’s the actor who plays Edward Cullen in the Twilight movies.
If I were to ask you who is #10 for the Washington Redskins, you would say (who cares?) RGIII (the qb who will throw for 4TD and rush for 100yards leading his team to victory over Baltimore today).
But if you were to think that Bing Crosby was a singer; Robert Pattinson was an actor or RGIII an football player, you would be wrong, for we would have only described what these people did not who they are.
One of the greatest mistakes people make today is to define themselves by what they do rather than who they are in your identity. People go to great lengths to portray an identity through their performance or external persona. Yet who you are matters more than anything else in all the world.
Paul is saying you are who your Daddy says you are. If you have faith in Jesus Christ, then you have been adopted by God and His Spirit gives you assurance and confidence in life. You have an eternal inheritance based upon your faith relationship with God.
1John 4:4; 5:4 “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world… For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.”
The best gift you can give to someone is yourself. God has given us His Son and His Spirit.
Faith is the exit of self and the entrance of God. What needs exiting from and entering to your life?
Christmas – more of Christ and His presence, may He be the air we breathe.