Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Day 12 - God the Good Giver - 30 Days of Grace

Sometimes it's hard to fathom or believe the wonderful things God does for us and the wonderful gifts He gives us.  He is so good and kind, it seems to good to be true tat we are getting off free from the punishment of our sins and getting to have a place at His family table totally for free, without our doing a thing, without cleaning ourselves up in the least!  It is hard to fathom such love!  One reason I think this is hard for us is that what we see so often in this world is conditional love, or love with strings attached.  This world is set up on a performance-based acceptance system, where you earn your way and get rewarded or punished according to how you act.

There's very little in this world that it truly for free.  Even Christmas presents!  For doesn't the song say that Old Saint Nick sees you when you are sleeping or awake and knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake?  For if you aren't good, you may not get the 'present'!  It is just the way this fallen world works.

But it is not the way God works!  God really is a good gift giver, and the gifts He gives have no strings attached.  He doesn't require us to do anything to get these gifts of His, like be good or do good works or try hard to please Him or beg and plead or say we're sorry for our wrong and promise to be better.  And He doesn't require us to do anything after we get them either, like improve or pray more or sacrifice all our plans and desires or commit ourselves to His cause or do good things or show that we're really thankful.  His gifts really are free! 

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.  1 John 5:11-12

In these verses, we see God is a giving God.  What has He given us?  He has given us eternal life!  Where is this life to be found?  It is in His Son!  So if I have received the Son, what do I automatically have? I have life!  God has given us the most amazing gift of all - His very own Son to live inside us.  This is His very own life, His very own Spirit coming to dwell in us!  Since God's life is eternal life, receiving the Son is receiving eternal life!  And eternal life is more than just having a 'thing' that will make you live forever.  John defined eternal life as knowing God!  When we receive the Son, the Spirit of the Son comes in and through the Spirit, God the Father and God the Son make there home in us and we all have fellowship and know one another!  Having real intimate relationship with God is real life, abundant life, eternal life!  And this is all ours how?  As a gift that we simply receive by faith (Receiving by faith - what does that mean? That means when we believe/trust in Him, take Him at His word that He has given us life in His Son, we are receiving that Son, that life into ourselves.  Faith is simple, it is just seeing what is already true, taking God at His word that it is so.  Seeing it is so makes it come alive in our experience, makes us come alive to God's reality!)

So God has given us this amazing gift of eternal life by giving us His Son.  With His Son comes all that He is, not just eternal life, but joy, holiness, hope, peace, strength, love, faith, authority, freedom, kindness, wholeness, security, righteousness, purity, etc.

According to the verses above, when is God going to give this gift - after we do something or beg or get cleaned up/worthy?  None of those things are needed, because the verse says God "has given" us eternal life - He has already given the gift!  He's not holding on to it, waiting till we're good enough or ask hard enough for us to finally pry open His hands and 'get' Him to give the gift!  I read the title of a book recently - it was something like this:  "How to Get God to Answer Your Prayers".  This frustrated me, because it made it seem God is sitting in heaven refusing to do anything nice for us, withholding good things from us, and we have to somehow figure out a way to get on His good side and change His mind and convince Him to be nice and give us things.  It makes it sound like it is all up to us to 'do' something to get a blessing.  But that is not how God is at all!  God LOVES to give, He LOVES to bless!  He looks for ways to bless us and give to us!  He only wishes we would just receive all He has given us already.  Yes, already!  This verse says God already has given!  God already loves us, has already released the good things for us, has already opened heaven and poured out the blessings!  We don't need to change His mind, we need to change our mind and see that He is loving, good, and not withholding any good thing from us!  He is always pouring out the love and good gifts on us.  He proved He is a giving God by giving His very best, His own Son!

So are there any requirements to meet to deserve this gift, according to the verses above?  No!  Is this gift only for a certain group of people, according to these verses?  No, it's for 'whoever', which means anyone and everyone!  Are there any requirements to do anything after getting this gift, any stipulations attached once you receive it?  No!  We have this gift totally by grace.  It is truly given as a gift, for free, not needing to be earned or merited in any way.  It is free for all, for anyone who desires to receive the gift!

Grace means everything is a gift in this Christian life, given just because God loves us, because He is a good giver, and given freely, with no stipulations or requirements to get or to keep the gift!

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May the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. 2 Co. 13:14