In today’s blog we will finish our discussion of God’s Christmas gifts to us. In our first blog we said God’s greatest gift is eternal life. When we receive that gift, God gives us four additional gifts. Last week we talked about the first two – a new identity and power. Today we will finish our discussion and talk about the last two gifts.
The third gift God gives us when we receive eternal life is a new community.
God calls this community His family. Let’s look at Ephesians 1:5.
“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure (meaning He was super excited to do it).”
So, what happens after we are adopted? Well, God unites us and makes us like Jesus. Let’s look at Galatians 3:27-28.
“And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on the character of Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
God’s family is not based on heredity or ethnicity or affinity or nationality. It’s not based on religious background. People can be Jewish or Muslim or Mormon or Buddhist or Baptist or whatever. They can even be atheist or agnostic. It doesn’t matter. Everybody is adopted into God’s family and becomes one when they receive the gift of eternal life. Everybody becomes a child of God.
The fourth gift that God gives us is a new destiny.
Earthly gifts don’t last, but God says, “My gift to you will last forever”. God says “I’m giving you a new destiny, and it’s permanent”. Let’s look at 1 Peter 1:3-4.
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.”
Notice God calls our new destiny “an inheritance that is kept in Heaven”. That means it’s impervious to change and decay. Now, I know for the past several weeks many parents have been searching for the perfect gifts for their kids. Let’s look at Matthew 7:9-11 where Jesus used this as an illustration.
“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”
Jesus says in spite of being “sinful people” — we know how to give good gifts to our kids. And then He says how much more will our Father in Heaven — who is perfect — give us good gifts? But notice there is a condition for receiving God’s gifts – we have to ask Him. Well, you might ask, “Why doesn’t God just give them to us?” The answer is God never forces anything on us. He makes His gifts available, but He wants willing recipients.
OK, let’s summarize what we have said.
God says, “I sent my Son to die for you so that you could go to heaven. That’s my big Christmas gift to you.” And then God says, “When you accept that gift, I’m going to give you more gifts. I’m going to give you a new identity – in other words I am going to change who you are. I’m going to give you power to live the Christian life. I’m going to give you a new community to support you as you live your new life. And I’m going to change your destiny.”
Let me ask you. Where else can we get these things? Nowhere. They are not available anywhere else. But remember we have to accept God’s big gift first – eternal life through Jesus Christ.
So, if you have never prayed the prayer of acceptance that we talked about in our last blog, you can do it now. I have copied it here for your convenience.
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.
By praying that prayer, you have absolutely nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
Can you imagine if somebody offered you a million dollars, and said “I don’t want it? I’m happy with the way things are”. You might say, “Nobody would do that”. But — a lot of people have done just that — by refusing God’s priceless gift of eternal life….
See you next week.