At this time of year of gift giving, Randy and I like to reminisce over the gifts we have given to our children and grandchildren. We think of the reactions and the looks on their faces when we got it right. (We didn’t always get it right, for we are human). In our lean years of ministry and teaching, our kids received clothes because that’s what they needed most along with one requested toy. Because they had generous grandparents, aunts and uncles, they also had a variety of others gifts that brought joy to their faces and filled in what we couldn’t do financially at the time. I praise God for them.
When our grandchildren came along, we loved trying to bring joy to their faces with what we thought they wanted as opposed to what they needed. That’s always a lot more fun in the giving, right? When needing is coupled with wanting, then you really hit the jackpot of giving! (Smiling) When we succeeded, it made gift giving all the more enjoyable. I felt my heart skip a beat to know they were happy. When a gift is received well, it encourages us to want to give all the more!
One year, we gave one of our young grandsons a particular gift that he had been longing to have for quite some time. Because children are fickle, what they say they want can change in 24 hours, we wondered if he still remembered asking for it. As soon as the first big rip of the paper revealed his heart’s desire, he shouted, “It’s the one!” “THIS is the one I wanted forever.” Yes, children are dramatic. That’s what we love about them—when we are on the receiving end of their ecstatic joy! It brought tears to our eyes to hit the mark with him with just the right gift!
God gave us a Gift we didn’t know we needed until we realized we needed this Gift most. His gift was Jesus, who came at just the right time to make things right for a world of individuals, His created, who might stop routines and receive this Gift with open hands and outstretched arms. Embracing this Gift with both hands, we grasped a forever Life!
Friends, I wonder, did God shed a tear of joy when we shouted, “HE’S THE ONE!” “THIS is the ONE I wanted and needed!”, upon opening our Gift? Jesus, the One and Only, is the forever Gift that keeps on giving. Jesus is THE Gift that is the difference between life and death forever! Jesus is the Gift that opened the door to God’s heart. God, who loved us from the beginning, prepared this Gift in advance for us to redeem us from sin and death.
THIS is the message of the greatest Gift in a nutshell. Paul explains…
ROMANS—OUR CARE AND CALLING
Romans 5:12-21, The Message
The Death-Dealing Sin, the Life-Giving Gift
12-14 You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we’re in—first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. Even those who didn’t sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God. But Adam, who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it.
15-17 Yet the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man’s sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, just think what God’s gift poured through one man, Jesus Christ, will do! There’s no comparison between that death-dealing sin and this generous, life-giving gift. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; the verdict on the many sins that followed was this wonderful life sentence. If death got the upper hand through one man’s wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, absolute life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides?
18-19 Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right.
20-21 All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.
ICYMI: THE GIFT OF GRACE WINS EVERY TIME!
- Sin is the gift of death; it looks enticingly pretty on the outside, but is nasty on the inside.
- Grace is the Gift of Jesus. For a while, it was ugly on the outside because of the price paid on a cruel cross, but the inside of this Gift produced salvation for all.
- This Gift of Grace was planned before creation from a Love that is extravagant and unconditional.
- God had us on Him mind we He prepared the Gift to come to earth and live among humanity. Jesus had us on His mind as He moved among us and taught us and then obeyed God with laying down is life for ours.
- Sin’s debt paid in full.
- This Gift is beyond our wildest hopes and dreams. To receive this Gift and hold tightly to Him brings joy that we never knew before in life. When Jesus, the Gift was unwrapped from grave clothes and brought back to life, Life eternal was born and is reborn in all who receive God’s Gift.
- Wow, there IS no comparison!
“…imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, absolute life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides…” Paul is overjoyed when telling about the Gift he received and wants everyone to receive as well.
This Gift is a “one-size fits all” for all who have sinned and fall short of the knowing the glory of God. Believe and receive the Gift for HE’S THE ONE!
The Gift has been received. I will always believe for you keep on giving all that I need to mature in your love and grace. There is no one like you. There is no comparison between life or death, sin or grace. Grace wins every time when compared to the alternative of life without you. I choose life. I choose the Gift of your salvation through you, dear Jesus. Thank you, thank you, thank you, you ARE the One we want and need. You are everything to me. Thank you for your love that brought us together. Help me to love like you love me.
In Jesus Name, Amen
And we’re singing, “Grace Wins” by Matthew West…
There’s a war between guilt and grace
And they’re fighting for a sacred space
But I’m living proof
Grace wins every time, yeah
No more lying down in death’s defeat
Now I’m rising up in victory
Grace wins every time