THE GREATEST GIFT EVER GIVEN                                                                                            Andy Hollifield 11-28-17

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

1 Peter 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Acts 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.

1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

Ephesians 4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

Proverbs 18:16 A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.

Gift———- 1) something given voluntarily without payment in return as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion or make a gesture of assistance; present 2) something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned.

Give——— 1) to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation; bestow. 2) to place in someone’s care.

I knew it was bound to happen. I knew that I wouldn’t make it anywhere close to Christmas before I started talking about gifts. Here I am right in the middle of the H.O.P.E. Ministries annual shoebox project, constantly surrounded by gifts, and even getting to deliver them to the frontlines to those that are pulling folks back from the edge of disaster and despair. I am not being over-dramatic when I say that. In the pregnancy centers that we work with, the ladies that work with those young girls, and also some older ones, are literally trying to help them avoid a disaster that they will have to live with all of their lives. Abortion stops a beating heart but it often at some point breaks another one into. These ladies, with a heart for these women that find themselves in that situation and are being led by society to create a disaster in their own lives by having an abortion and killing their baby, work tirelessly to help them avoid the lies and preserve the life of that unborn child. The folks that work in the domestic violence shelters are taking in women and in a lot of cases even with their children, that have left all they have known because of fear for their lives. These are ladies that are most likely in the midst of deep despair because of abuse, both physical and emotional. These women in both kinds of centers, are in a desperate place in their lives and need to be shown that God still loves them in spite of their decisions or circumstances. The staff of those centers are often the last ray of hope before their clients lose all hope and give up. That is what I mean when I use the term “front lines.”

To get back on point, being surrounded by the beauty of Christmas gifts and also knowing in a lot of cases the heart of love that went into preparing them and the prayers that have been prayed over them, it is impossible for me not to get into the spirit of giving. Occasionally, I even get to meet someone our ministry is helping and to see the smiles and hear the gratitude in their voices only serves to make me want to do more.

I am that kid that sat at the top of the stairs, sometimes for an hour or more, just waiting to run downstairs and finally find out what was under the tree for me. Now that I am older, I am slightly more under control but the heart of that kid still beats inside of me at this time of the year. The one thing that has changed is that with age I have discovered it truly is more blessed to give than to receive. Just the thoughts that what the Lord has allowed me to be a small part of, is something that could possibly make a difference for someone who will not only impact their lives but will also make a lifelong memory for them, just excites me. I have been accused of being a sappy and sentimental person and I reckon I am guilty as charged. The biggest thrill I have from being a part of giving those gifts, is the fact that they all contain bibles and “God’s Simple Plan Of Salvation” tracts. God’s word comes with a written guarantee in Isaiah 55:11 which says, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” That verse lets me know that if nothing else I do has any effect on anyone’s life, God’s word will at some point have an effect on their soul. You just can’t beat a guarantee like that! It’s also an unlimited lifetime guarantee. When God’s word has its effect, it will last for a lifetime.

As the scripture in James says, God’s gifts are perfect. The verse in 1 Peter tells us that God’s gift is grace made possible by Christ “giving” his life on the cross for our sin. It also tells us that all of us that receive that gift from God, have an obligation to try to give it to someone else. On the spiritual side, the gift of God is wonderful beyond words. On the fleshly side, if we don’t inform a lost world about God’s free gift, our gift is just a light under a bushel. If it is worth having, it’s worth sharing with someone else. The scriptures in Romans and Ephesians tell us that what God has given us is a free gift from him; not because we deserve it or have earned it but just because God loves us and wants to give us his gift for free. The verse in 1 Corinthians 12 tells us that we all have differing gifts and Ephesians 4 makes the statement that Christ gave gifts unto men as he ascended back to heaven. Proverbs tell us that our gift will open doors so that we can stand before great men and tell them what a great God we have. One other thing about that gift that I have mentioned already, is that it is free to anyone that wants it. Revelation 22:17 says “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” We are all “whosoevers.” We all have access to the greatest gift ever given; God’s grace, mercy, and salvation purchased for us by Jesus’ blood, and all we have to do is accept that gift. The only qualifications are being able to hear him speak to your heart and being thirsty. He told the woman at the well in Samaria in John 4 that he is that living water of life. Do you realize that the words “whosoever will” is found in scripture 11 times. It’s interesting that 11 is also the number of disciples he had left after his arrest.

The word “gift” is in the bible 59 times while the plural “gifts” is found 53 times. Also, the word “give” is found 880 times! Can you believe that? It would seem that God places utmost importance on “giving.” He especially wants us to “give” ourselves to him in our worship, our service, and in our thoughts. Like James said in 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” We have the greatest gift ever given ; God’s grace and mercy. And if you don’t, you can. What will you do with that gift? Will you try to keep it or share it with those you meet? Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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