This Christmas season creates a perfect opportunity to ask God to renew your longing for the presence of Christ as you begin a new year.
If you have your Bibles this morning, and I pray that you do, let’s open together to Romans 8. Now, also, Matthew 1, but mainly Romans 8, what I would say via Matthew 1.21. No, Romans 5. I’m sorry, Romans 5, starting in verse 8 through verse 11. What we’re reminded of this morning is that Jesus was always born to die on the cross. At Christmas that gives of this fantastic yet sometimes unexpected gift of salvation. You know, when I was thinking about this week I was reminded that I love unexpected gifts. I love giving that kind of gift to that family member or friend that they … You know what I’m talking about. Some of you are shaking your head now, they get it, they didn’t expect it, and that look on their face like, What? I didn’t know you were gonna give me this. That’s awesome! And yes, like you, I love receiving that kind of unexpected gift. When Tammy and I were in our first year of marriage I received such a gift. I really, really … I’ll add the third really … really wanted the new PlayStation Console. And to show you my age, I think it was like PlayStation One or something, maybe Two. Either way, I wanted it real bad. Now some of you are judging me right now. You’re looking at me and you’re like, “I’m so disappointed that spiritual leader likes to play video games.” Well, let me help you. I’m almost 40 years old, and I’m almost over it. No, really, I like playing them but, like you, the really is what … I don’t have the time. But I do have the time to watch my son. I don’t have time to learn all the controls. It’s like 12 buttons. I’m like, “Do you have to use your feet to control this?” But I can sit there and watch him. Have you watched a video game in the last 10 years? It’s like watching a movie. He has the Zelda game, and I’ll sit there and just be like … caught up in the story, like I’m watching a 50 hour movie. Okay, that’s not the point. My point is in our first year of marriage, I really wanted a PlayStation Console, but we didn’t have very much money. We were what you might call “poor.” Because of that, I didn’t even ask for the PlayStation, so I just kind of let it go. Well, fast forward a couple weeks. Tammy and I are visiting her parents in Georgia. It was our first Christmas with them. I was a little nervous, and let me tell you they do Christmas the right way. Everything was red and green and Christmas music was playing. They have these crazy traditions that we still celebrate today. One of them is called The Feeding Frenzy. You’re welcome, by the way, after I tell you what this is. They have this bell in their home in which like one of the heads of the household like a dad or a grandpa, they can grab this bell and at any moment during the Christmas celebration they can ring it. Ring-a-ding-ding. When you hear that ring … I didn’t know what happened the first time. But everybody stands up and they start running toward the kitchen. I’m like, okay, let’s go. So we get to the kitchen and there’s this chocolate spread, and there’s like this tray with cheese and pickles, and that’s what you do, you just eat. When the bell rings, you just Feeding Frenzy, and it’s over and you go back to what you’re doing. Great times. Well, they also gave amazing gifts. We do the gift exchange. I was like, This is great.l And after the gift exchange we’re in another Feeding Frenzy around the kitchen table, just enjoying our time together. Then Tammy stands up and goes, “Oh, wait a second. Someone forgot to get this gift.” I’m like, “Okay, cool, who was that?” She goes into the closet and she grabs this wrapped box, and she puts it on my lap. Guess what was in there? Yeah, that’s right: The PlayStation Console! I was like mind blown! I was so excited! Some of you may have a better story, right? You may have gone outside and there was a bow on a BMW. That’s not my story. You can have that story. And for the amount of money that we made, the gift that I received from the PlayStation … don’t miss this … was more than I asked for, and it was more than I could have ever hoped for. It was good. When we come to Matthew 21, and then travel to Romans 5, I want you to have this mindset: That the gift of Christ at Christmas, as you’re thinking about it today, is probably more than you think it is. In fact, it’s more than you could have even asked for and definitely more than you could have ever hoped for in your own sin. See, when Christ came in that manger it was never to be disconnected from the cross. Christ came and was born in that manger of a virgin so that 33 years later he could die and give you the gift of salvation. We’re gonna use some other words today: The gift of justification, which means to be declared innocent. And by the gift of your salvation you also have another gift that we never talk about, but which is amazing in your everyday life. It’s the gift of reconciliation. Throughout this series I’ve been talking about the gifts that were given to Jesus. There were some amazing gifts. The Magi gave him the gift of worship. When they finally got there from the East, they gave him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. The shepherds gave him the gift of worship as well, when they showed up. And I made the bold suggestion last week that in the spirit of Christmas you could give Christ the gift of humility, living a humble life like he lived from the manger all the way to the cross. Well, this week I want to change gears a little bit and talk about the gift that Christ gave you, and not only salvation … yes, we must think about that … but also in justification and, finally, this very personal, intimate gift of reconciliation. You realize that in Matthew 1, the angel basically gives away the purpose of Christ to his father Joseph before Jesus is even born? Look there in Matthew 1.21. The angel comes to Joseph and says Don’t be stressed out about taking Mary as your wife. Because the child that’s growing in her womb is from me. Look what he says here: And this child is special. She will bear a son to you, and you shall call his name … What? Jesus. And then the angel defines his name: For he will save his people from their sins. Next week, we’re gonna talk about some of the things that we can call Jesus. But here the angel says, This will be his name. Jesus means God saves. So even when he was born in the manger, his parents knew … and I pray that you would never forget … that he was born to live, yes, but also born to die as our substitute on the cross, and to rise from the dead. Let us never forget that the cross and the manger are intimately tied together. Let’s read together. Stand with me. Romans 5.8. You can read it in your copy of God’s word or just look behind me. Paul says that God demonstrates his own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then … let’s not just stop reading at verse eight … Much more then … this is where it gets good … having now been justified by his blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled with God through the death of his Son much more having been reconciled we shall be saved by his life. And not only this, but we also exult … a word … rejoice in God, through our lord Jesus Christ from whom we now have received … What? The gift of reconciliation. This is God’s word. Please be seated. Church, Christ came to give us this gift of reconciliation through his death. And we can honor that gift, how? By receiving it with a grateful heart. By receiving it … and that gift meaning something for you today. Because I promise you this: Like that PlayStation was for me, but on a much grander scale, the gift of salvation and reconciliation in Christ is more than you could have ever hoped for. Let’s start here in verse eight. At Christmas, I want us to appreciate this unearned gift of love. That’s what Paul says the motivating factor was. He said God demonstrates his love to you, how? By when Christ died on the cross, he knew you were gonna be a sinner and not live up to the gift that he gave you. IF you think about that gift of salvation, earned for you in God’s love, you can only sit back and say something like “Wow, what a gift.” Imagine at the Christmas season, just to help you get your mind around this because we’re so familiar with these words, but I’m not sure the information always impacts our heart. Imagine you had really wronged a friend this year. And yet they gave you a gift anyway. Let me help you with some examples. Imagine maybe you just treated someone really hateful this year, just being mean to them and you’ve been spiteful towards them. Maybe you showed it in a couple different ways that you know you probably shouldn’t have, but you did anyway. And let’s say maybe you had this grand Christmas party, and you invited all your other friends, but that in your mind you kind of took this one friend and said, You stand over here because I’m mad at you and we’re not in a good relationship. So I’m gonna intentionally have this party, and one of the reasons I’m gonna make it so grand and so great is so that when you find out about it, it hurts you. I know none of you never do that. Or maybe it’s the friend that you say, you know what, we’re gonna have this fantastic, loving gift exchange, but as I’m thinking of the gift exchange I’m gonna intentionally not invite him or not invite her to the gift exchange, so it hurts them. Now, none of you or none of your family members would do this, but let’s go with it for a second. That’s bad enough to deal with, but then a week later imagine that same friend that knows that you’ve been hateful to them, that same friend that knows why you didn’t invite them to the party and why you didn’t get them alone a gift, they come to you the next week with a smile on their face and with joy in their heart, and they hand you an unexpected gift. You know what they’re doing in that moment? They’re teaching you the lesson of God’s love. What could be the motivating factor for a friend to be treated so badly by you and yet still give you such a wonderful gift? If they do it with the right heart, I’m telling you the only motivating factor for them can be one word: L-O-V-E. Love. They gave you that gift despite you because of their love for you. Now, put that in the context of what Paul is telling you in Romans 5.8. That’s exactly what’s going on. Jesus had you on his mind as he marched towards Calvary to give you the gift of salvation. He knew you were wrongfully treating him your whole life in sin. He knew you would disappoint him, he knew you could not live up to it. But what did he do? He didn’t do anything to spite you. He gave you the gift anyway. That friend that comes back to you, the next gift that gives you the unexpected gift after you’ve mistreated them, all you have many times in return is spite for them, but can also teach you a great lesson that I believe God is trying to teach us through Paul here. Do you realize that we are the ones that mistreated him? When you think about the life of Christ, he was falsely accused, by who? Us. His children. He was abandoned by all of his friends. By us, humanity. He was wrongly beaten beyond recognition by who? By us, church. He was mocked and nailed to cross, by who? By us, his children. We’d like to say, Pastor, I wasn’t there. Oh, but were you not? Are we not the ones who sinned? I’m the one who sinned, of which he had to pay for that on the cross. I’m the one who cheated, he didn’t. And yet all of my burden was laid upon him. I’m the one who chose sin and my selfish desires, yet he’s the one who paid the price. I’m the one who failed, I’m the one who deserved to be killed, but he yet is the one who did what? He’s the one who died for me. We’re the ones who lie. We’re the ones who cheat, yet he is the one who knew we would do it yet took the punishment anyway. This is the gift of love. This is the gift of unearned love, which we call grace. That’s why grace is so amazing. You can’t earn it. You surely don’t deserve it. If you did anything, if you’re like me you’ve done things throughout your life to have it taken away, but what does God do? He says, I give it to you anyway. And what was the motivation for his gift? Like that friend who gives you a gift when you don’t deserve it, the only motivation God has in this is not selfish. It’s love. It’s God’s love for you and Christ’s love for you. Sometimes we look at passages like Romans 8, and we’re like, Okay, God’s the wrathful enemy, and Jesus is the hero of the story. No, they’re one and the same. God’s love for you allowed Jesus Christ, his son, to die in your place. And Christ’s love for you is what motivated him to walk up that hill, knowing that he was innocent, and yet still being your substitute. He has love for you, which is why Paul says in this passage that it was God’s love that sent him there, and it was Christ’s love that kept him there. So this is the gift of love that I want you to appreciate when you look at that baby in the manger. How can you show your appreciation for the gift of love that Christ earned for you on the cross? I’m gonna give you a couple suggestions. Number one, let it sink deep into your soul at Christmas. What I mean by that is never again would you look at the manger and divorce the sweet baby Jesus scene from the bloody body that was lifeless on the cross. You can’t disconnect the manger from the cross. The cross was always to be the culmination of the manger scene, just like you can’t disconnect the resurrection from the cross. Here it is. Jesus was born to die and to rise again, so that you could be and would be saved. Now, I don’t know what’s gonna make the connection for you. Find something. You know, there’s been lots of commentators that have been trying to do this because we’ve been around a long time, and the world has been stealing the Christian joy out of Christmas a lot longer than you’ve been alive. It doesn’t have to, though. You can remind yourself of the cross at the nativity scene. For example, if you look at the nativity scenes they have Jesus lying in a wooden manger. It may have been made of stone, but just go with it. The nativities are already out there. Well, what is that manger made of? Two pieces of wood crossed over each other that held the body of where our savior laid. Well, when you see that wood just be reminded of that 33 years later there was also two pieces of wood that were nailed together that held the body of where your lifeless savior laid. One is always to be connected to the other. Let it sink deep into your soul. Not only that, you can also show your appreciation for the gift of love of Christ on the cross at Christmas … now, don’t miss this this is gonna be harder than the first, but it is gonna be huge in your life … by showing that love to others. Let me give you some examples. Maybe this year at Christmas, to honor the love of Christ from the manger to the cross you give somebody a gift that has wronged you. Maybe it’s that family member that really did you wrong, and y’all have grown apart. Would you consider giving them the gift of love and showing them forgiveness despite them, ’cause that’s what Christ did for you? Maybe it’s that friend, maybe you’re the one that didn’t get invited to the party, maybe you’re the one that didn’t get the gift, maybe you’re the one that was treated hateful by them. Instead of spiting them and hating them, you show the love of Christ, of bringing that gift of forgiveness to them, though they don’t deserve it. That’s what Christ did for you. He forgave you despite you. Could you not consider forgiving them despite them? Now, that’s a wonderful gift. That’s embodying the nature of the manger as you connect it to the cross. But we must move on. Paul helps us remember that Jesus’s death gave us the gift of love, but through the gift of love and our salvation on the cross there’s another gift I want to talk about. It’s the gift of reconciliation, the gift of being in right relationship with the God of the universe. Look at verses nine through 11. Here’s my encouragement for you today for most of this passage. Receive the gift of reconciliation. This term “reconciliation” is like many of our other Christian terms that we don’t talk about enough, so we kind of just say it, and we don’t really know what it means. Let me help you this morning. Reconciliation simply means bringing back together in the way it used to be before it was broken. This can be a relationship that has been broken, and you see God bring it back together. But to better help you understand it, it could also be used when you’re talking about a fracture, a bone break. A bone can also be reconciled. So let’s say you’re going out there shopping tonight, which is a crazy idea, but some of you are gonna do it. And some of you really brave ones, you’re gonna go out there tomorrow, and you’re gonna sharpen those elbows and you’re gonna get ready and get your mind right, and you’re gonna get out there before you come to one of the Christmas Eve services at 3:00 and 5:00 p.m., and you’re gonna get crazy, or maybe afterwards. Let’s say you fall down because of the other crazy people, and you break your arm. What happens? Well, you have a bone in your arm … you have two bones there, in your forearm at least … and let’s say they get broken. What’s gonna happen to that? Well, if you don’t set it, those two broken pieces of that same bone are gonna come back together, but they’re not gonna form properly and … listen to me … if you don’t go to the doctor and get that thing fixed, you may never be able to use that arm properly again. But what about if you reconcile that bone? You go to the doctor and he takes the two broken pieces and he brings them back together, to the way they should have been before they were broken. What’s gonna happen? Whether through surgery or through a cast, they’re gonna grow together. And you know what medical science tells us? That when they’re brought together, are reconciled properly, and they grow back together many times that bone is … What? Many times, not every time, but many times it’s stronger than it was before. Are you following yet? This can happen not only to your bone, but this can happen to a relationship. It did happen between your relationship between you and God. And it can happen to any relationship in your life that’s been broken. Let’s say a husband and a wife get into an argument. One of them does something stupid, usually it’s me. Well, that breaks the relationship. Maybe we start arguing or we stop talking. That’s not functioning properly as we should. But in order for reconciliation to occur, at least one of the people in the relationship has to offer reconciliation through forgiveness. And the other person, they need … So this person offers reconciliation, and the other party who’s been offended needs to … or that needs forgiveness … needs to accept the reconciliation, the forgiveness. And like that bone, that relationship that was once broken, through forgiveness and acceptance of the forgiveness, can be brought back together. Many times I’ve lived it. Ask me about it after the service. Many times that broken relationship … and let me tell you I’ve seen some broken relationships, some stuff where like family members wanted to kill each other, some stuff where it’s like a compound fracture like, “You’re dead to me, I never want to see you again, never call me, never talk to me, I’m done with you.” I’ve seen it a thousand times. But never once have I seen a broken relationship when this process is followed, someone offers forgiveness and when someone receives that forgiveness, that the relationship cannot be reconciled. Many times, it’s stronger than it was before. Why do I believe this? Because this is what happened to you spiritually to God through Christ. If Jesus Christ can reconcile to himself all the broken relationships in the world that have lived in sin, then he can reconcile any one of the relationships that you’re in. See, spiritually it happens a little different. In a married situation it usually works something like this, if you’re gonna come see me for counseling. Usually, it’s not just one or the other that needs to offer forgiveness, because let’s say one of you messed up big time. The other person, because they’re a human, they received that so wrongly, they do something pretty evil back, and now they’re both breaking God’s commandments and have hurt the relationship. Probably both parties need to extend forgiveness, because Christ has forgiving them. That’s why you forgive, by the way, not because the other person deserves it. Both of them need to extend forgiveness, and then both of them need to receive forgiveness. But in the spiritual world, it’s a little different. Listen to me: God has done nothing to wrong you. God will never do anything to wrong you. He has no need of your forgiveness to him. What I’m telling you, God is the one every time in your spiritual relationship that is extending forgiveness to you. That’s what Jesus offered you from the cross, by taking your place as your substitute. You are the one that needs to receive the forgiveness, and then you will be reconciled. When did humanity become broken in our relationship to God? It didn’t’ happen yesterday. You remember Genesis 3 and the story of another couple named Adam and Eve? What did they do? They fell into sin. Literally we call it “the fall.” And in that moment that Adam and Eve sinned, and since every human has fallen into sin after them, we’re all the same, that relationship between God and his creation was broken. What Paul is trying to help us understand, what God wants you to understand today, is that the distance we created between us and God because of our sin, that’s a distance … don’t miss this … that you cannot make up on your own. And so God put a process into place, that he himself would allow you to be reconciled to him, to be brought back into a rightened personal relationship with him. What did he do first? God created the law. God put the law on this earth through his people, not that it would be a way that you could get back to him, but to show you that it’s impossible to get back to him on your own. If you read the Old Testament, understand this: The law never saved anybody. Why? Because no one was capable of living under the law perfectly. Everyone fell into sin. Except Christ, who fulfilled the law. And after the law, God created it not so that man could earn their way back to him, but to show them that the chasm between me as your eternal Father and you as my creation is a chasm that you can’t cross on your own through your morality. And then he put in place what we call the sacrificial system. Why? To show you how severe sin is, to show you that the penalty that you deserve for your sin is death. But also to show us what substitution looks like, but instead of you dying as an Israelite, he would allow you to bring a substitute, a lamb, an animal. And every time, as an Israelite, if you’d watch that lamb slain once a year or you’d watch that animal sacrificed and that blood was shed, it would remind you of just how severe sin is. No one is ever saved by the law, and no one has ever been saved by the sacrifice. They were pictures that Christ would complete when he came. They were like placeholders showing you what Jesus would fulfill when he came. And then 2,000 years ago when Jesus was born in the manger, yes, all of this fits. You can think like this. This is good biblical thinking. When Jesus was born into the manger, he lived his life to do what? To perfectly fulfill the law that you have no hope of fulfilling on your own. He came and was born and lived for 33 years and died, to be what? The fulfillment of the sacrificial system. He was the lamb of God. The was sacrificed for you, and his payment was sufficient for all men who’ve ever lived or whoever will live to be saved. Don’t miss this part: Though the sacrifice of Christ was sufficient for all to be saved, it is only effective for who? For those who believe. Now you’re ready for verse nine. Having now been justified by his blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through him. This is what we call “justification.” When Jesus came and was born in the manger, the ultimate goal was for him to die on the cross. And the first thing that he gives you is justification before God. This is another term that we don’t understand. “Justification” means simply this. You might want to write it down. It’s a legal term that means you have been declared innocent by the king of kings and the judge of the universe. So think about a courtroom. Think about God sitting on the bench as the judge. Think about Christ as your mediator, as your substitute, that God looks to him and sees the sacrifice that you believe in that he made, not that you made, and he looks back at you and he declares you innocent. It’s a legal term. And Jesus earned that right for you to be justified. But justification is a legal term and, honestly, it seems kind of distant. So let me help you with that. God is not just some eternal judge in the courtroom of heaven. He’s also a Father who desires a reconciled relationship with you, his child. So as justification is kind of a legal term, the term “reconciliation” cannot exist outside of the context of a relationship. So through Christ and his sacrifice you’ve been declared innocent, you’ve been justified, also you have been reconciled. So we travel, in Romans 5.9, as we travel to verse 10, from the courtroom of God where we’ve been declared innocent to the very intimate living room of God, who is also your Father. Now look at the distance we travel in verse nine in the courtroom to the living room of our Father in verse 10. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his son, how much more having been reconciled shall we be saved by his life. There’s a couple things about reconciliation I want you to understand. Not only is it an intimate term, a personal term where God wants a personal and intimate relationship with you, it also has a far distance that it helps you travel. For example, at the beginning here through reconciliation you go from enemy to family member. That’s a pretty big change, isn’t it? You say, “Wait a second, Pastor. Enemy? Are you telling me that before Christ I’m not just in bad shape, I’m actually an enemy of God?” That’s exactly what I’m telling you. It’s hard for you to get your mind around, but if you’re not in Christ, if you’re not for him, what does the Bible say? You’re against him. You can look at Colossians 121 where Paul says you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind. What does that sound like? An enemy. Engaged in evil deeds. And because of that, Ephesians says that you’re dead and your trespass is in sins. Or we could look at Philippians 3.10, where Paul says, “I have often told you, and I will tell you now with tears in my eyes,” he says while weeping, “that they, those who do not know Christ are enemies of the cross of Christ.” No, Paul doesn’t celebrate that. He says, I’m crying and you should cry about it too, that if you’re not in Christ, you’re an enemy of Christ, which makes you an enemy of God. I don’t want to be an enemy of God, do you? Because here’s what happens. If you’re an enemy of God, his wrath will rain down on your or your family member, it gets personal here, or your friend for all of eternity. I don’t want to be an enemy. I’ll tell you what I want to be, I want to be in the royal family. And Paul says, if you believe, that’s what you are, a member of the royal family, a child, a son or a daughter of the king. So if you’re here today and you believe, you’re not an enemy, but you’re a blood bought born again child of the royal family, a child of the king. So in reconciliation, God takes you from enemy to family member. That’s what I want to be, and that’s what I am. I pray that’s what you are today. But on another distance you travel, look what he says here. Not only do you travel from enemy to family member, you also travel from death to life, because of his death and his resurrected life. So when you think about when Jesus died, he rose from the dead three days later. And through his new resurrected life, it gives you access to the penalty that he paid for you three days earlier on the cross. But there’s another thing that it does for you here. It means that his life that he is living because Christ is eternally alive today, his life that he’s living not only gives you access to your salvation, but the life that Christ is living today benefits you every day. Look with me here in Romans 834. Paul says, Christ Jesus is he who died. Yes. Rather, he who was raised, who is at the right hand of God and who intercedes for us. Hebrews 725 says, therefore he is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. This is something we never talk about, the mediator, the intercessory ministry of Christ forever. When he died and rose from the dead, yes, he gave you access to salvation, but it gets real good here. Jesus is alive today, and he lives to do what? To continually make intercession before the Father on your behalf. Man, the gifts are like endless here. This is a lot to take in, I know it is. But don’t sell yourself short. God gave you a mind so that you as a human could stare at the manger and think deeper than just sweet baby Jesus. He gave you a mind so that you could peer at the manger and think about his love on the cross, and he wants you to think deeply about it. He gave you a mind that you could peer at the nativity scene and see the justification that Christ earned on your behalf in the courtroom of God. He wants you to think about that. That’s why Paul uses words like “justification.” He gave you a mind so that you could understand that not only have you been saved, but the relationship that was once broken in Genesis 3, that is personal and intimate with God, it can be shared by you on a daily basis. That means wherever you go, he is. Whenever you want to talk to him, he’s there. And as far as you try to run, you can never run away from him. So I’ve got two questions for you today. No matter what level you understand this, I can ask you this question: Have you been reconciled? Has the broken relationship that you live in as a human because of your sin, has it been made right with God? Do you have a personal relationship with him through Christ? If not, I plead with you, repent of your sin and believe upon Jesus Christ today. The rest of my message will mean nothing to you if you don’t make that decision first. You can be where you’re at. I don’t care who’s around you. This decision is way more important than what you’re eating for lunch. This decision is way more important than what present you gave to your child or what present you’re gonna get from your friend or family member. This decision is eternal. Even right now where you’re at, close your eyes and say, “Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner. I realize that my sin has separated me from you and it will do so for eternity. I believe you died for me and rose from the dead. Please forgive me.” But the way I’m looking at most of you right now, most of you would say, Yes, Pastor, I have been reconciled to God through Christ. Then my next question is: Do you take advantage of that? The word “reconciliation” means to have a relationship that has been restored to what it once was. Do you have an intimate relationship with God? Do you talk to him every day? Did you get his word and say, God, what do you have for me to learn today? What do you have to say to me today? Do you pray to him on a daily basis? Receive the gifts of reconciliation, but also live like you’ve received the gift. Finally, in verse 11 as we close today, there’s one more thing that Paul wants you to do. Not as he want you think about the gift of love, not as he wants you to appreciate that and to receive the gift of reconciliation, but look what he says in verse 11. He wants you to brag about it. He wants you to boast in the gift of reconciliation that he has given to you. Verse 11 says: And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have now received the reconciliation. That term in the NSV “exult”, anybody has a translation that says “rejoice”? It’s a great translation, but you know what the words “exult” and “rejoice” mean in Greek? They mean to boast about. That means you need to go to somebody else and tell them how awesome that gift is. Does anybody in here know how to boast? If not, let me teach you. Okay. So let’s say you’re in the gym this week, and you’re bench pressing 135. Okay? Then you slap a couple fives on there, and now you go from 135 to 145, and you’re excited about it. You’re like, “Yeah, baby!” What do you do? You go tell your buddies or your girlfriends … Listen, if you can bench 145, that’s pretty awesome. Most of you probably could. Anyways, so you go to your girlfriend or your boyfriend and say, “Listen! I just benched 145 pounds!” You tell them about it. Or like me when I received the PlayStation. You know what I was telling my friends when I got back home the next week? “Oh, yeah. I got the PlayStation. You want to come over, ’cause this gift is awesome!” Then I would tell them how awesome my wife was for buying it for me. How does that translate to you? I’ve told you about a great gift you’ve been given in your salvation, the gift of love, the gift of reconciliation. Tell somebody about it. No, I don’t expect you on Facebook this week to say, “I am rejoicing at Christmas in the gift of reconciliation.” You can say that, but they’re not gonna understand it. Here’s what you do. You tell people how excited that you are that you have an intimate and personal relationship with the king of the universe. You tell them things like, “Listen, I was down this week, and God was there for me. I had a conversation with him, and he helped me. I was mad at a family member, and I literally said that I hated them, but because I remembered the sacrifice of Christ and what he did for me, I forgave them, and we have been restored. And the things that he did for me, he can do for you.” That’s how you brag about your reconciliation gift. But just like I didn’t just brag to my friends about the gift itself, I also bragged on Tammy. Brag on God. Not just brag to your friends about, Look at this great gift of reconciliation that I have, that I have this right relationship with God, but I want to praise God because he is the one who did it for me. He’s the one who lived perfectly under the law. Christ is the one that was the lamb of God. Nothing that I did, but everything that he did. And just try praising his name at Christmas. Oh, I pray that you never look at the manger the same again. That every time you see that manger scene you would realize that it was culminating in a blood soaked body on a cross. That that blood soaked body was buried, and three days later he rose from the dead so that you could be saved, so you could be declared innocent, so that you could have a personal and intimate relationship with God the Father. Would you show that love as well? And not only just receive that love?