With Christmas fast approaching, I’m reminded of the 90-year-old lady who, one Christmas, found buying presents a bit much.
So she decided to give checks to all of her family and friends. She bought a nice card with a thoughtful message to mail with the checks. At the bottom of the card, she wrote, “Buy your own present,” signed her name, then sent them off.
However, after the Christmas festivities were over, she found the checks in her desk! Everyone had gotten a Christmas card from her with “Buy your own present” written inside but without the checks!
We all like gifts. We like to receive them from those whom we love. And we enjoy giving gifts. However, we are limited by our resources. The size of our gift list. And sometimes by knowing what is a good gift that someone both needs and appreciates.
However, the same thing cannot be said about the gifts God gives. The Bible says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (Jas 1:17).
Yesterday I preached for the West Citrus church in Crystal River on the topic “5 Gifts God Gives.” Here’s the “cliffs notes” version that summarizes the 5 Gifts.
(1) Pardon. This is the theme of the Bible. The prophet Isaiah proclaimed that “God will abundantly pardon” (Isa 55:6-7). God’s grace and mercy makes pardon possible (Eph 4:2-8). The New Testament calls this “redemption” or “the forgiveness of sins” (Eph 1:7). Five times in Romans 5:15-18, Paul speaks of “this gift of God” found only in Jesus Christ.
The terms of pardon are clearly enunciated in the New Testament. They are simple. Clear. Concise. And within the reach of those who will obey the gospel of Christ. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Cor 9:15).
(2) Peace. When we accept God’s gift of pardon we experience peace. Peace within. Peace with others. And most of all peace with God. The Bible says we can enjoy “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1). It is a peace that surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7).
This peace cannot be found through philosophy, human creeds, or mere ritualistic religious rites. It is not experienced in aestheticism. Nor can it be realized through wealth, fame, or status.
Jesus promised, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (Jn 14:27).
(3) Power. God gives power. Not physical or material power. But spiritual power. Since the gospel is “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom 1:16), we can expect to be strengthened spiritually through His power (Col. 1:11). We are guarded by His power and through it we can overcome infirmities. Minister our God given gifts. And defeat the devil ( 1 Pet 1:5;2 Cor 12:9; Eph 3:7).
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph 3:20).
(4) Purpose. The book of Ephesians points that God had an “eternal purpose” for us before the beginning of time. Our purpose transcends our profession. Our hobbies. And our material goals. It knows no bounds restricted by race, ethnicity or nationality.
In Christ we have a reason for living. Objectives that are spiritual. Ambitions that are godly. And aspirations that are eternal.
(5) Paradise. We can be with Jesus in paradise–the heavenly home of the soul.
However, to receive the gift of paradise, we must accept His pardon. Enjoy His peace. Appropriate His power. And live by his purpose.
What would you think of a person who was lawfully convicted of a crime? Sentenced to a life in prison. But received a pardon from the governor of the state. Yet after a short time breathing the fresh air of freedom, returned to the prison and said to the warden, “lock me up. I don’t want to be free.” Sounds ridiculous.
Yet, no more so that one pardoned from sin and the enslavement of Satan, but returns to a life of spiritual bondage.
Accept God’s gracious gifts. Receive their benefits. And enjoy their blessings.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman