II Corinthians 8:1 And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 5 And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.
Paul’s words about gifts brought this “gifting” process to mind: * Choosing, * Presenting, * Receiving.
* Choosing: God chose a part of himself, Jesus Christ, to be his gift to us and for our celebration.
* Presenting: God chose to present himself to us in a surprise package for an unusual reason. A baby is a far more intimate gift than the might be expected from the supreme ruler of the universe. God chose intimacy not intimidation and possibilities not preconceived ideas as his preparation for us to receive.
* Receiving: God chose and presented his gift. Now all that’s left is opening that surprise package filled with growth, change, nurture, grace and His own will for us to give ourselves back to him. The gift has been successfully delivered. Open it and follow the example of the church at Macedonia to keep the gift going. “They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.”