NOTE: While Pastor Charlie is on a trip out of the country through June 5, he has chosen some of his favorite blog posts from his weblog from 2020 to 2021 to share.
From March 12, 2021, What a gift!
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9 he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14 this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.
It was a Christmas party for a class in 7th grade. We were asked to bring a wrapped gift for a gift exchange. The unmarked wrapped gifts would each have a number assigned to them, and then we would pull numbers out of a hat to see who got what present. If someone pulled the number of the gift he or she brought in, a new number would be drawn.
The amount to spend on the gift was $2 (remember this was 45 years ago or so – things were cheaper back in the Boomer days!). Mom helped me pick something out. What we found was a checkerboard set.
Not too exciting, I know, but it would do, and it was within the budgeted amount. And to be honest with you, I really didn’t care about the gift I was wrapping for the gift exchange. Someone would get the not very exciting checkerboard set.
What I was really excited about is what I would get! I couldn’t wait!
The day came, and we placed our presents on a table at the front of the class. Numbers were drawn and we each got to pick up the present with the number on it. And we all opened the presents at the same time.
My joy and excitement were quickly dashed when I opened my gift. Someone else had shopped at the same store and bought the same thing – a crummy checkerboard set! I was devastated! Who would want a gift like this? Not me!
A lesson learned that day about giving and receiving.
Since that day in seventh grade, I have grown up a bit, and hopefully matured. I have come to find great joy in giving, and with kids and grandkids, the joy of their receiving far outshines anything that I receive.
What God has to offer is nothing short of incredible! What great gifts God has given to us as God’s beloved.
What can we offer God in return?
What God desires is that we give to our neighbor as a way of giving back to God.
God does not need your good works, but your neighbor does.
Again, Eugene Peterson’s version of today’s verses:
7-10 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.
11-12 It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.
13-14 It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This down payment from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.
What God offers us is a praising and glorious life! Accept the inheritance – what a great gift!
Let us pray: Good and gracious God, your gifts are abundant and priceless. Empower us to not hoard but to share. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen