If You Only Knew

Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask Me, and I would give you living water.”

—John 4:10
So many people do not know the gift God has for them. 

They do not know the love God has for them. 

They do not know that they can be forgiven of their sins. 

They do not know they can live forever in eternity. 

Do you know?

What Great Love

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Roses are given as a gift of love.

Graceful and elegant, their aromatic petals delight us as we accept them.

We have been given a gift that is the greatest gift of all.

We must choose, however, to accept it.

God has lavished His love on us!

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.  Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

—1 John 3:1-2

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No One Can Boast

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While visiting a gym this past weekend, I noticed a scoreboard on a platform.

Of course, scoreboards are used to keep track of points earned and to display who is the best.

They proclaim who is the winner.

Do you ever try to “measure up” to other people?

It’s easy to consider that someone you know is kinder, smarter or more talented.

You might even think other people are more spiritual or closer to God.

Does your response lead you to try harder to be acceptable?

There is nothing wrong with desiring to be more like Christ.

We can hope to be kinder to those around us, showing them His love.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be closer to God.

But if we think that we must reach a certain level of acceptability to finally achieve God’s approval, we are missing an important truth.

Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.

We should want to live our lives the way that He would have us to out of gratitude for what He has done for us, not in order to gain our salvation.

There is no heavenly scoreboard that keeps track of our works, finally declaring one day that we have “won” our  redemption for ourselves.

We are free from that kind of burden.

If this has been a concern for you, consider these words form Ephesians 2:8-9:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast.

Faith.

Not works.

A plan of love from God to us.

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The Gift

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We give gifts at Christmas.

We give gifts on birthdays.

We give gifts at Valentine’s Day.

We give gifts to show love.

The one who receives the gift then has something that they hadn’t before.

God did not want us to be lost forever without Him.

He didn’t want us to be separated from Him.

He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sins.

Then, He offered us the gift of eternal life.

We did not have eternal life before.

There was no possible way for us to get it for ourselves.

The gift must be accepted.

What if Jesus spoke these words to you—

“My child, won’t you please accept this gift from Me?”

Would you accept?

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When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.  What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!  But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

—Romans 6:20-23

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According to the Blessing

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There is a passage of scripture in the Old Testament that tells about the Festival of Tabernacles. Within that passage are these two verses:

Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the Lord empty-handed:  Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.

—Deuteronomy 16:16-17

The last part of verse seventeen speaks to me apart from this context.

The gifts that God has given us–our spiritual gifts and our talents—are to be given back as gifts or offerings to God.

If our spiritual gifts include teaching, then when we teach we are offering it to God.

If our talents include construction skills, when we are building a structure, our actions can be an offering, as well.

On Christmas morning, I drove to a local hospital by myself.

I had decided that since one of my talents is piano playing, I could play Christmas songs on a piano located in the lobby.

In some way, I hoped that the music would bring both comfort and cheer to those who were there.

As I played, many people came walking by.

Nurses and other hospital staff.

People with young children.

Senior citizens.

Young adults.

Family groups.

Everyone had a reason for being at the hospital on Christmas.

Several people made positive comments and smiled.

A young man found a seat in a waiting area, looking sober and thoughtful.

Was he worried?

Who did he love that was ill?

I played on.

Songs about the birth of Jesus.

Songs about Christmastime.

Because God had given me the blessing and ability to learn the skill of piano playing, I had piano playing to give to others on Christmas Day.

As I left to go home to my own family, I walked past a life-sized nativity scene outside the hospital.

The wise men brought gifts to Jesus long ago.

On this Christmas, my offering was one of music, given back to Him.

What gifts has God given to you?

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From Start to Finish

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Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

—Ephesians 2:7-10 The Message

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Be Glorified

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In the last few months, I have been challenged to actively be a part of things, be a visible presence (which is the opposite of hiding who I am) and to be a person who shows courage.

That’s quite the challenge, isn’t it?

Although I could look back through the years and make mental check marks beside the events I participated in, the times I was “visible” and the courage I was displaying, I would have to be honest about the rest—

Those times that I didn’t participate, the times I was truly hiding, even if I was the only one who knew it,

and, of course, the times that I was anything but courageous.

About three weeks ago, I got through this challenge in a small, almost insignificant way.

Later, I became aware of just how significant it had been.

One of our sons was having surgery at a local hospital.

While waiting to hear that he was out of recovery, news came that there was a complication.

Nothing huge, but he was going to have to stay there for an extended time.

I had been praying for him.

Not far from where I was sitting stood a grand piano.

Silently, it only gave the memory of music to those that passed by.

A thought came to my mind.

I argued with the thought for a second or two, struggling with just a twinge of non-participation and the need to hide.

Walking over to the desk where my son had been admitted, I calmly asked if I could play the piano.

Given permission, I sat down and played one song after another for perhaps a half hour.

Hospital employees, along with people visiting for one reason or another, came walking by during the impromptu concert.

When I was finished, I stood up, noticing a brass plaque adorning the piano.

I believe it read, “To the Glory of God.”

A doctor’s name, along with that of his wife, was engraved there, identifying them as the ones who had given the piano to the hospital.

As I began to walk away from it, a man rushed up to me.

He had been friends with the doctor who had given the piano.

The doctor was no longer living, but his wife was.

While I had been playing, this man called the doctor’s wife and told her that someone was playing the piano they had given!

Others came up to speak with me, happy to have heard the music.

I may never know of the comfort God may have given to someone who heard the sounds of the hammers striking the strings, creating the familiar hymns for those that passed.

I can imagine that the doctor’s wife would have been happy that the instrument she had given was in use.

I can also imagine the musically silent atmosphere on the first floor of the hospital that day if I had not taken that first step toward the desk, refusing to hide in my waiting room chair.

Since the ability I have to play the piano was given to me by God, I truly do want to honor Him with my playing.

To do so, I must actually step up to the piano and begin—

to the glory of God.

 

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God;  whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

—1 Peter 4: 10-11

 

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