Thursday, December 17, 2009

What's Your Greatest Gift?

What is the greatest gift you have ever received? Think back through all your Christmases and birthdays; maybe the greatest gift came on a random day of the year for you. Think hard. What gift would you most want to keep, or said the other way, which gift would you least want to give up?

In my life I have been given many things. I remember when I was about 8 I had a paper route. I rode all over the little town we lived in. I asked for a new bike and I got a 10 speed. Of course it came "under the Christmas tree" so it was rainy the first 3 months I had it, but I kept it in my room and when the time came to ride it I made "a lot" of money with it. I even would ride into town and buy groceries for my sisters and they would pay me in food. It's a good think I rode a lot or I would have weighed a lot more than I did. I really loved that gift. I'm sure when I got it there was happiness written all over my face. But that gift's value faded. Today it has probably been through a metal compactor and has no value.

26 years ago yesterday I got the gift of a wife. This gift has been with me much longer than the bike and has given back to me in so many ways. Spouses stretch us to untold lengths. Teresa's patience has been tested so many times over these years and she has had to do things she would have never dreamed of doing. She has been an amazing helper to me, a hard person to help, and has given our family 3 kids and has nurtured them and loved them. I can't imagine not having this gift from God. Thanks for 26 great years Teresa.

Having a wife is a stewardship opportunity maybe unmatched by any other. She has been under my care longer than she was under her parent's, so if there is something I don't like, it is probably my fault. Trying to figure out what is best for her while still working on the many areas in my own life that need work, is challenging work, but that is what God has called husbands to do. There is much work to do on me and hopefully while He is working on me, she will see that I am trying to help her.

Was a bike the greatest gift I have ever received? Is Teresa my greatest gift? Measuring the worth of a gift has to be done by what our lives would be worth if it were taken away. W/o the bike my life now is no different. Without Teresa my life would be much different. It would look very different than it does today, but not completely. The greatest gift each believer has ever been given is the Gift of Salvation through the blood of the Son.

Take away salvation and what do I have left? What is there left to live for? PG had better succeed in an amazing way if there is no salvation, because much of my "worth" will be measured by how successful I have been in business. If the kids don't turn out well and there is no salvation then I am a failure as a parent. If there is no salvation in Christ I had better get as many toys as are available in this life because "He who dies with the most toys wins", right?

BUT, if my greatest treasure/gift is the Salvation that has been purchased by His blood, then all the rest of those things don't matter very much. I won't be measured by any of those things in eternity. My family will be, Lord willing, in Heaven with me, my earthly successes will not matter one bit in Heaven- there are so many people who have been filthy rich on earth that not one single person remembers anything about today- maybe even your great-great grandfather.

We are studying 1 Peter in 128 and J Sarr has been faithfully going through the text. Shouldn't our lives look different than those of the world because of the amazing Gift? Our focus should be on completely different things than those that are considering their greatest gift their wealth, or family, or health. God can take all those things away immediately and then what is left if we don't have Christ?

Salvation should cause us to Hope. "We set ourselves up for disappointment because we place our hope in the wrong things. Is our hope a good investment for our heart? If our hope is in God who is unchangeable then that is a good investment. There is a cause for hope. It is grounded in the truths of His Word- promised to deliver. This is a certain hope and exactly what Peter’s readers needed- it would come in eternity." "This kind of hope would bring about in us a grateful heart, frequent praise, eager anticipation of eternity, a happy heart, joyful spirit, deep and sincere love for Christ, a hunger for the Word, a curiosity of the Word, and conversation dominated by spiritual things." J Sarr.

Salvation should cause us to live holy lives. "Wanting to know more of God’s Word is a natural response for the believer and makes us long to live in obedience to that Word. This comes with a desire to sever ties from who we once were and live to the new person God has made us to be." J Sarr

Salvation should cause us to honor, or fear the Lord. "If we are saved, the entire time we are on earth we should understand that we are exiled from our true Home and live in such a way that others will see that it doesn't matter if we lose all our earthly possessions, we still have Christ waiting for us, interceding for us, at the right hand of the Father. He is our Hope in Heaven- the One Who is able to save, the One with the power to keep His promises."J Sarr paraphrased.

That is a great Gift. If I lose all I currently have that I can see, and He allows me to keep Him, then I have not lost anything. We can't live on unseen things with some wimpy faith. He gives faith as we walk through this life's trials and He builds our faith through each one. Trials are hard, but hard times make us long for Heaven and focus us back where our focus truly needs to be-Him.

If we are saved we should long to have others receive this greatest gift. If we are saved we should live like this is our greatest gift- it should be the most talked about thing in our lives. Can you believe that God gave the Gift of His Son so that we might be saved? Shouldn't we be excited about that amazing Gift?

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