What is the greatest gift of all? Well a really great gift is when you get something that you need or want without asking for it. But even better than that is when you are given a gift that you need AND you don’t deserve it.
But the greatest gift of all is the one that God gives to mankind for He has given us something that we both need and want, something that we do not deserve and something that we cannot get except as a gift from God. He has given us the gift of life. Not just life now but the offer of life with Him into eternity.
And the best part about this gift is that we did not deserve it and yet God still saw fit to give it to us. What we see in these scriptures is how great a gift this is, what sacrifice had to made to give it to us and the great love that God had for man in t.he hope that man would seek His gift and Him with it.
Here we see a link between these three and how they interact to help us as Christians to grow. This verse reads:
“…and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
In the previous couple of verses we saw the progression and process of growth as we walk with Christ. We saw how suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character and character produces hope.
Now Paul extends that teaching to show us how hope works in us so that we are not disappointed or ashamed as we walk in Christ, and the power that fills us, keeps us and builds us up in hope is the power of God's love with which we are filled through the infilling and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
The words of that most famous of hymns begin saying, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…” And grace is truly amazing. It is by grace that we have access to all the gifts and promises of God promised through the writings and words of His prophets, disciples, apostles and of course Jesus Christ his only begotten son.
But grace is an unusual concept and an odd word that is not really well understood. Moreover access to grace is even less understood because of the all encompassing nature of it.
But what truly shocked me about grace was when I read this one verse in Romans 5:2 and began to see that the giving of grace and the extent of grace was not as universal as both I and I know many others believed it to be. This was quite a revelation for it shows that there is a definite process and a way to receive the grace of God. It is not open to everyone but only to a select group, and when we know and understand the process then we are able to receive God’s grace and the bountiful promises that come with it.
There are many non-Christians who would like to paint God as being harsh, vindictive and one who metes out punishment for the smallest thing. They ask how could we Christians worship such a God and cite many of the harsh acts of judgement and the laws in the Old Testament as examples to justify their position.
But they do not know God and are not known by Him. They do recognise the love of God and the mercy He shows us when we seek Him out and come to Him through Jesus Christ.
God is a merciful God. This section of scripture at the start of Acts 20 is evidence of His mercy. And there are so many more examples of His mercy towards us that they bear discussing so we can remember, take heart and hold onto our hope in Jesus Christ.
The Lord will have the word of the gospel delivered to those who wish to hear it. All obstacles to the preaching of the word will be removed.
Sometimes this is more dramatic than at other times as this short section of scripture testifies to. But regardless of how it is done, the will of God will prevail and His word shall be proclaimed.
Let’s look at this short section which describes one of the more dramatic moves of The Lord to ensure those to whom the word would come received the gospel. In this case Paul and Barnabas had gone down to the island of Paphos and had been proclaiming the word. They then met up with the proconsul Sergius Paulus who was the governor of the region. Continue reading “No Stopping the Word”
I have been married for thirty eight years to the woman who for me was, still is and always will be “The One.” I cannot begin to describe how much she means to me and how much she is a part of me. The closeness we share is built on mutual trust, respect, honour and a deep love that goes deeper than I think even we realise.
It’s odd for I have friends and acquaintances who do not have the same closeness in their marriage or relationships as Colleen and I share. They would prefer to go out with their friends than be with their husband or wife.
Not so with us. She is my best friend as well as the the love of my life. And we would rather be with each other than anyone else in the world…and this, after thirty-eight years together, we still can’t get enough of each other.
I tell you all this as a pre-cursor to the scripture I am looking at today for I know that even as close and as deep the love we hold for each other is, the love of Christ is far greater. And here in this section of scripture we see Him show His expression of true love for us, His people and the children of God.
One of the last things the Lord did before He left this earth was to pray for the church, and more than that Jesus prayed for you. As He prayed for His people he gave us many insights into the relationship He had with the Father, and for us, the relationship between Him, the Father and ourselves.
This section of scripture is truly beautiful. You cannot read it without feeling the depth of love that the Lord has for you and the strength of His relationship with you. Read on and understand the beauty and wonder of this scripture.
Jesus is speaking here of His imminent departure from the world. He is telling His disciples that He is soon to be sacrificed and will leave this world.
In these words He gives us a few interesting teachings including a revelation about the love of the Father. But before we look at that, Jesus also spoke in this section about why he taught the people in figures and parables. So let us consider that first as a lead in to the love of the Father.
Jesus in this section of scripture is preparing the disciples for his impending death and resurrection. He is telling them they will be struck down with sorrow as a result of His death. But He also tells them that in due course they will be filled with the joy of Jesus, which no one will be able to take away from them.
Why did Jesus say they would experience this joy of Jesus? And what was the joy that they would experience such that it could not be taken away? Certainly they would be pleased to see the return of the Lord at His resurrection, but what would this joy be that they would experience that could not be taken away?
There were indeed a number of reasons for the joy of Jesus in the disciples life, and these same reasons exist for us to day. There are many reasons to have the joy of Jesus, which we will see in the following discussion as we look at just a few of the reasons the disciples may have experienced a joy that could not be taken away.
Many Christians say that they love the Lord and that they love Jesus, but often they are talking from emotion. The love they describe is based on feelings. In this section we are taught how to love Jesus, not through feelings and emotions, but through obedience.
If we want to love Jesus and love God we need to understand how to love Jesus in the manner He prescribes. And the basis of how to love Jesus is found in obedience.
The key to love even on this earth is not about what we want or think or feel towards another, but long-lasting love is based upon how we relate to another person the way THEY want. We love the way they want to be loved and this too is a form of obedience. Let’s look at this some more.