Last week we said God’s greatest gift to us is eternal life — made possible by Jesus. We said everybody needs to receive this gift. It can be received by praying a prayer of acceptance. Following is an example of this prayer.
Dear Lord — I realize that you love me. I know my sins form a barrier between us, but I know You want to have a relationship with me anyway. I know Lord Jesus that You removed that barrier by taking my punishment for my sins on the cross. I know You are offering to forgive me right now and remove the barrier. I accept your offer. I ask you to forgive all my sins. I ask you to come into my life and make me a new person. Please help me to follow You in all that I do. In your wonderful name I pray. Amen.
When we sincerely pray this prayer, God forgives all of our sins. This allows us to go to heaven where we will spend eternity with God. In addition, it opens the door for God to give us other gifts. Let’s look at Romans 8:32.
“Since he did not spare even His own Son but gave Him for us all, won’t He also give us everything else?”
OK, so what else does God want to give us? God has many gifts that He would like to give those who have received eternal life. I would like to talk about a few.
The first gift that God wants to give us is a new identity.
I recently read a letter that someone wrote to their pastor, and I have included a portion of it.
I feel like for my entire life I have been defined by other people. First my mom constantly berated me to be something or someone she wanted me to be, but I had no interest in being. Sometimes my dad would join in. And the pressure to perform and to please and to gain their approval was overwhelming. I never felt validated growing up for who I really was. Then in school I always felt pressured by my friends to fit in and to be cool and to do things I didn’t want to do or didn’t like to do. I wore a mask and pretended a lot, most of my time through school. Then when I started dating and later when I married my spouse, I felt constant pressure to please and to stuff my own feelings and my needs and to be who they wanted me to be. I’ve worried so much my entire life about gaining the approval of others, I don’t know who I am or what I’m supposed to be.”
And the letter continues on from there. This person is confused about their identity. But the truth is most of us have the same problem – perhaps in different degrees.
Typically, when people are asked who they are — they answer in one of three ways. The first way is by identifying their work. They will say, “I’m an accountant… I’m a plumber… I’m a truck driver… I’m a homemaker…” whatever. But that’s not our identity. That’s what we do.
Another way people identify themselves is by their relationships. In this case people will say: “I’m a mom…a dad… a husband… a boss.” But once again that’s not our identity. That’s the people we interact with.
A third way people commonly identify themselves is by what they own. They will say I am a business owner – I’m a landlord — I have lots of money. But once again that’s not our identity. That’s what we have accumulated.
Our identity doesn’t come from any of these things, because when we lose them, we lose our identity. True identity can only be based on things that are true and immutable — things that are absolute and don’t change. And God is the only One Who can provide them. Take a look at 2 Corinthians 5:17.
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ (someone who has accepted God’s big gift) has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT
Notice the two expressions — “a new person” and “a new life has begun”. These expressions are talking about our new identity in Christ. Our old identity is gone. I’ve heard people say, “I wish I could start over”. Well, let me tell you — you can. When we accept God’s big gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ we are transformed. We are no longer who we were – we are now children of God. And God begins the work of changing us.
That leads to God’s second gift which is power.
God wants to give us power when we receive eternal life through Jesus Christ.
This is power that we didn’t have before. Actually, we get a new power source — which gives new energy, new strength, new capacity, new insight, new knowledge. We don’t have to depend on our own power any longer.
This a big change.
For years we have attempted to manage our own lives — using on own power. We set goals. We made plans. We implemented them. But most of the time we fell short. Why? Because when we rely on our own power, it’s never enough. We ultimately get tired and overwhelmed and fall short and give up.
What we need is extra power – beyond what we have. And God says “I will give it to you”. God says, “When you accept my gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ — I will give you the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God – just like the Father and the Son are God. Each One is a separate Person — but They are equal – and They are all God. And it’s God — the Holy Spirit — Who comes to live within us. Imagine that! The God of the universe – almighty and powerful and eternal God – living in us!
Well, that covers two gifts that God wants to give us after we have received eternal life. Next week we will talk about two more. See you then …