Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Greatest Gift

Christmas is a time of giving and receiving.  Much is made however of the materialism that runs rampant during the Christmas holiday season.  Our lust to receive and give material things runs far above what is needed or what we even have the ability to pay for.  But regardless of how out of balance man can be, the idea of giving was not initiated by man.  Giving originated with God.  Giving was not only God’s idea; it is part of His nature, a part of who He is!   “God so loved the world that he gave…”  (John 3:16)   God gives, because God loves; and because God loves He by nature desires to give.   “When he ascended on high, he…gave gifts to men.” (Eph.4:8)

It is easy for us to understand that God has given us certain things.  But we don’t often realize the extent to which god gives unto us.  Psalms 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness of it, the world and they who dwell in it.”  Not only does the whole earth belong to the Lord, but all the creatures who dwell on the earth, including man, are His as well.  Living in a democratic society we have a hard time understanding the idea of kingdom rule.  In a kingdom “everything” within the kingdom belongs to the king.  That is why Robin Hood and his merry men were wanted for poaching in the “king’s forest.”  Not only did the forest belong to the king, but the animals in the forest were his as well.  Our flesh rebels at the idea of a kingdom society because our only concept of kingdom rule is one governed by “evil” kings who care not for their people.  By contrast the Kingdom of God mentioned in the Bible has a Holy and loving King who governs His Kingdom with “justice, truth, and righteousness.”  A holy and just King desires to give to his subjects all they need because he loves them.

An example of all that God has given to us is found in Joshua chapter 24.  The Lord is recounting to the Israelites the history of what has happened to them as a people and all that He, God, had done for them.  As he retells their history to them, he proclaims all the things that He has given them.  First, referring to Abraham God says, “I gave him Isaac, and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau.”   All the seed of Abraham was a gift from God.  Later in verse 8 God tell the Israelites that although they had many enemies who fought against them “I gave them into your hands, that ye might possess their land.”  God reminds them of the multitude of enemies that they faced, and how “He” had defeated them all on their behalf in order to give them the land as a possession.  He exclaims how He used hornets to drive some of the enemy out of the land even before they arrived.  When an enemy king sent Balaam to curse the Israelites, God refused to allow it, and turned the curse intended for their destruction, into a prophetic blessing spoken over them.  God goes on to say in verse 13 that, “I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and cities which you had not built, and you have lived in them; you are eating of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.”

Nothing has changed since God spoke these words to the Israelites; His giving hand is upon us just as it was upon them.  Our children and our families are gifts from God.  Our land, homes, possessions, and even the very food we eat, are gifts from Him.  The trials we have passed through, the enemies we have overcome, and the hedge of protection that keeps us, are all gifts given to us by Gods mighty hand.  There is nothing we have, or have done, or will ever accomplish that we can ever say was of our own doing; for our life, our health, our strength, our every breath, are all given to us as gifts from our loving, gracious, and all powerful King.   God has spoken favor and blessings over us.  He has extended unfathomable grace and mercy to us.  He takes pleasure in giving to us.  “For it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)

There are many more things we could talk about that the scriptures say that God gives to us; like wisdom, power, authority, liberty, and even the rain.  But the greatest thing that God has ever given man is announced in 1 Tim. 2:5-6 where it says, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all.”  Jesus gave himself for us.  The eternal creator God of the universe gave himself for “you!”  “No greater love hath one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)  Giving ones’ life for another is a gift to large to comprehend.  But when the giver of this "indescribable gift" is the King of all creation, who humbled Himself to die a cruel crucifixion for “Me,” that is beyond mind boggling.  So regardless of what other marvelous gifts you may give or receive this Christmas, please don’t ignore this greatest gift of all, and leave it unopened at the foot of the “tree.”

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a child is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The prince of Peace." (Isa. 9:6)

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