Saturday, December 27, 2008

#22 The Best Gift of All

"...the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans

Each year Ginger and I attempt to make Christmas as special as we can for
our children. We want them to look forward to Christmas, but not just for
the gift aspect. This year we had the privilege to attend Candlelight
Communions and Agape Feasts with both of our church families. At each
church there were a little over 50 people who braved the icy Michigan roads,
and those that came expressed the blessing that they received by coming.
Before and after the special events we talked with our children about how
Christmas is not just about how many toys or other gifts we may get. Yes,
it is hard to get a six year old to recognize that the greatest gift in the
world is one that you cannot see, but we still try to explain it to each of
our children. During each service we had a special time for people to share
something for which they felt blessed. My heart was deeply touched when one
of my children said that they were thankful for mommy and daddy. Truly, I
wanted to cry right then and there. I was touched so deeply because it
reminds me of how our heavenly Father must feel when one of His children
speaks a word of praise and honor about how much they love their heavenly
Father. God made each of us with reasoning power and He longs for us to use
that power to discover His greatness and the joy that comes from being
connected to our Creator God. It breaks my heart when I meet people whose
only thoughts surround what they can get out of this life. I have even told
people to "live it up" because this life is all that they will get if they
do not know Christ.

When I think of gifts, I can honestly say that I do not really need
anything. I have been blessed so immensely by God that I would feel guilty
to ask Him for more. Just a few short months ago God led us to Michigan to
serve the Midland and Mt Pleasant SDA churches. The whole time I was in
school at Southern Adventist University I wondered where God would place us
to serve. I could not have picked a better place to begin our ministry than
where He has placed us. We truly love our church families and we are
thrilled to be here. Yes, there are challenges. But greater is He that is
in me than he that is in the world right (1 John 4:4)? I know that the Lord
will see us through any challenges that will arise and I pray that each of
you will have the faith to believe that God will do the same for you.

Among the gifts that God has given me, I have to give my praise to God for
the greatest gift of all: the Lord Jesus Christ. Without Him what hope
would we have? Without Him where would we turn in times of trial? The
world turns to drugs, alcohol and immoral behavior. Praise be to God that
we have a blessed hope in the soon return of Christ! Praise be to God that
we can look forward to the coming of our Redeemer. One day soon we will
lift our eyes to heaven and say, "Behold, this is our God for whom we have
waited that He might save us. This is the LORD for whom we have waited; Let
us rejoice and be glad in His salvation" (Isaiah 25:9). Today as we look
back on Christmas 2008, let us look back on the year and examine where we
have been with the Lord. Have you really lived as if you appreciate the
gift of eternal life in Jesus? Or have you lived your life for yourself
attempting to gain more and more material possessions while neglecting the
weightier matters of life? If you are reading this just now there is still
hope. If you have not lived you life as you should have, why not pause just
now and commit or recommit your life to Jesus? Without Him you must pay the
penalty for your sins by way of eternal death, but with Him you too can have
the free gift of eternal life. In a life full of gifts, please make
provision to accept the greatest gift ever offered to mankind; the gift of
Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.

Dear Father God,
Most of us come to You just now with hearts that are full of praise. But I
realize that there may be some who will read this that do not know You as
they should. Father, just now I pray that each one of us will fully
surrender our hearts and lives to You. For some this may be their first
time. For others it may be a daily recommitment. Whatever the case may be
Lord, please forgive us where we have failed You. Please wash your precious
blood over the record of our sins and wash away the blot of sinfulness that
mars our character. I ask that You would come into each of our hearts and
remove those things that compete for Your Lordship. May the throne room of
our hearts be filled by You and You alone. We claim Your promise that You
will forgive us of all unrighteousness, and we ask that You forever keep us
within Your care. It is in the name of Jesus that we pray, Amen.

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