THE GIFT

Speaking of giving a gift; I’d like to share a story with you that I watched unfold once in a little Church I pastored. Every year at Christmas we would all draw names and exchanged gifts at our anual Christmas party. On this particular year I told our Church we would be doing something a little different this year. I asked them how much money would be needed to put into each gift? We agreed on fifteen dollars. Then, I announced that we would not be exchanging gifts this year. What we are going to do is simply take up the money and give it to a needy family in our community. However, don’t forget, using myself as an example: I have a wife and two children, plus me. That means I have to pay for four gifts; being sixty dollars.

So, the Sunday morning finally came to receive the money in an offering for the needy family. Guess what? We didn’t take up half the money that was supposed to be taken. My point in telling this story is to say that; what most people were calling a gift wasn’t a gift at all. They were expecting something in return for the fifteen dollars they spent.

Another true story I could share is about me and, wiring a house for a member of a mission board here in the United States. As an electrician I often worked with a mission group called ( C.L.A.I.M ) ( CHRISTIAN LAYMEN AIDING INTERNATIONAL MISSIONARIES ). I was asked by the leader of that group to wire a house for a member of the mission board. The house was about 160 miles from where I live. A another man that was willing to help me and I went up there every Friday, worked Saturday and, drove back home until the job was complete.

As we worked and, weeks went by I became concerned about what we were doing. Why? Because, in all this free work we were doing; that missionary could get the house completed and, then sell it for a profit. I actually battled with that concept. As we were riding up there one night; this thought occurred to me. ( often a gift recieved is not a gift given ). This missionary was recieving a gift ( from me ) that, with my attitude, I wasn’t giving him. As I prayed about that, that night, I came to this resolve. Lord, I can only do what ( I believe ) you lead me to do. I cannot and, will not live in the fear of what someone else will do. I finished that job and rejoiced with the ability the Lord had given me to do so. If I’m going to give you a gift, I promise, it will be without strings attached.

Most people don’t like receiving gifts. That is; getting something completely free, no strings attached. The true problem with a gift to most people is that it makes you feel obligated, although you are not. ( I believe) that is the God consciousness in each of us. That was placed in each of us beginning with Adam. That doesn’t mean we all handle it the same or, we are all saved. It simply means that we are conscious of the existance of God.

Some people are more open to receiving gifts than others. I don’t know whether we can read anything into that fact or not. I can see how that can bring about both; good and bad attributes in people. We can either humbly receive a gift or, have a mindset it is owed to us. If we humbly receive it then I say we have a feeling of obligation and, ( I believe ) that is a good attribute to have.

I’m actually writing this because of the free gift of salvation. Salvation is free. It was purchased on the Cross of Calvary by the blood of Jesus Christ. The question is; can you receive that free gift? In the story I shared; some of the people were not able to receive a gift, nor were they able to give one. I’d like for you to consider something. When Jesus said; Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it up again. ( John 10 )( 18 ) No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down myself. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

( Romans 6:23 ) For the wages of sin is death; but the GIFT of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Now either Jesus ( laying his life down ) and ( taking it back up again ) was a gift or, it wasn’t. What was it in your mind? ( Romans 5: 15 ) But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift of grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

If we take this verse to heart, it’s saying that we received the condemnation of sin from Adam. That was not a gift, it was forced upon each of us. Therefore, no matter what we might think, we are sinners and, always will be. We’ll get back to this.

Now, Jesus Christ offers each of us a gift, ( the gift of eternal life ). He purchased it with his own blood and, that gift cannot be purchased at any price. ( Titus 3:5-7 ) Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost ( 6 ) Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Lord; ( 7 ) That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Now, look at this verse: ( Romans 9:32 ) Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;

I have no desire to teach all that is being said here but, Israel could not see what God was doing for them simply by faith. They were determined to live by the law. There are people cannot receive a gift. They are bound and determined to pay something for it. ( My personal opinion ) People that believe you can fall from grace or, lose their salvation have this problem. They have the very same problem that Israel had. Their mindset is to pay for a gift. In this case, the gift of salvation cannot be purchased. No gift is ever purchased.

It’s up to each individual to be able to realize a gift and, to freely except that free gift. Once we are able to ( receive ) a gift then, we might ask; what can I do in return? It’s not that we are obligated to do anything, it’s becomes our willingness to do because of our appreciation of that gift. So, look at this verse: ( John 15: 13 ) Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Jesus Christ gave his life for you proving that he is your friend. The question is, are you his friend? Will you willingly, not being forced, lay your life, your will down for him? The whole concept is one of choice. I cannot pay for the gift I received from Jesus Christ; I don’t even attempt to. I made a choice to give my imperfect life to him to use as he sees fit.

A true friend that offers you a gift is not looking for anything in return. Jesus Christ is my true friend, my desire is to be his as well. The free gift of salvation offered to me and, the gift I gladly received is so abundantly rich that I cannot contain it all. Therefore, I seek to share it with as many people as I can. It’s the same as saying; I own a whole mountain of gold. Look, what I have? Anyone that wants a part of it can come and get it. It’s mine but, I’m offering it to you as well.

Even the most common of men would not give you a gift and, then take it back. However, many say that Jesus Christ will do just that. I’ll use these verses to make my point. ( Luke 17:13 ) And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus , Master, have mercy on us. ( 14 ) And when he say them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. ( 15 ) And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, ( 16 ) And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.( 17 ) And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?

It’s more to these verses than I’m pointing out, for instance; did you notice that the one man that came back was a Samaritan? There’s another point to be made there. However, all ten men remained healed. Please realize this: all ten men still had to die at some point.

The healing, just like salvation is or, was a gift. What we choose to do with that gift is completely up to each individaul. Another point to be made is this; what all comes within the gift of salvation? How many gifts are in that one package? The first and, most powerful gift in the box of salvation is ( God’s Spirit ). It is placed in the heart of each believer when we are born by his spirit. Now, look at this verse: ( 1 Corinthians 12:7 ) But the manifestation of the spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

Profit what? Within the gift of the Spirit of God, what can be profitted? Within the package, the gift of salvation comes more than just salvation. The very spirit that is that gift; also gives us abilities to do Godly things while we journey toward our new home.

So, let’s say I give you a gift of one million dollars, it’s yours, not strings attached. What are you going to do with it? How will you use the gift you have? Now, this is an earthly example of a spiritual gift. However, the point might still be valid. If you waste it all on yourself with earthly possessions that will all fade in time, what have you gained? It’s very possible, once you have my gift, you will never see me again.

Jesus Christ gave you the ( free gift ) of salvation, you will see him again. When you do see him again; what do you think it will be like if you actually don’t use any of your talents, the talents that come with the free gift of salvation when you are living with him for eternity? Let’s say a man that has far less talents that you have used all he had for the glory of God because he was so thankful for his free gift but, for eternity, you are in the presence of Jesus Christ and, have to face the fact that you did not one thing to show your thankfulness for your free gift. What do you think that will be like, for eternity?

I’ll show you this picture in ( Edodus 21:1-6 ) and I’ll close. This is about a man buying an Hebrew servant. He is obligated to be his servant for six years then he has to be set free. In this spiritual picture, we see the servant with the ability to say alone or, possibly marry and have children, None the less, when he has the privledge of being free again he has a choice to make. If he come in with nothing, he goes out with nothing. However, if he loves his master and is willing to stay then the master takes an awl and pierces his ear as a sign of his willingnes to serve him by choice.

If you choose to read and study this, I want you to realize something. Nothing you have on this earth is yours, not one thing. When you die, you leave it all. Jesus Christ offers you your freedom from sin, you can leave and do as you please, that is, unless you, by choice choose to stay and work for him. What happens then? You have the rewards or things you earned.

We can build this continually but, I’m closing here and prayerfully seek the Holy Spirit to show you all I’m trying to say.

Marshall Clayton

2 Timothy 1:7

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