It’s the Free Gift we Ignore the Most

IMG_0082Christmas is Here.. It’s sad how it all plays out.. Yes, that time of year we lavish gifts of extravagance and wants upon those we love, or feel obligated to buy for.. Sometimes we give for sure joy. Other times we give because we feel it’s our duty. We will wrap our gifts in various packaging, making the seams and creases tight. We will adorn the gift with a card, bow, or maybe both and present it to the intended party..

The frenzy of giving, ripping and tearing open of gifts soon parts and we are left with a mess.. Paper, trash, ribbons, stuffing, and torn boxes litter the floor. For a moment each gift is cherished, a warm thought of the person that gave it to us may melt our heart, maybe a tear for the love that was poured out as we feel its weight upon our heart.

But a lot of the time… We are critics. Really! By our nature, and what we have grown up with, we are first and foremost critics. We judge not only the gift, it’s worth and value, but also the giver. Thoughts go like this, “Did they spend as much on me as I did on them?” “They can afford to do more than me.”  “They just bought me something out of obligation!”

Or, Maybe your thoughts change after the gifts are exchanged.. “Maybe they do care.” “Maybe they IMG_3177aren’t as bad as I thought.” “Wow, why did they spend so much on me?”

Sometimes our hearts break as we fall short of being able to buy that which would most express our love, gratitude or thanks.. “I wished I could have gotten them something more.” “I really wanted to get you something else, but couldn’t..” And our hearts sink. We feel our gifts don’t match up. We are out done. We have failed in comparison, been weighted on the scale of status quo and have been found wanting.

  IMG_3187  The thing about giving is we are restricted. We never have enough to buy all we want for others. We usually can’t give that which is most wanted and asked for. We will try, and sometimes will achieve our gift goals, and yet even those best gifts end up in the back of the closet, in a storage room, or some may even make it to the trash before summer hits. The newness has worn off. The lust, glamour, and sparkle of something new has already caught our eye and we leave behind what we thought was precious once.

It’s sad how it all plays out. We judge the gift and the giver. We receive so much, yet most is unneeded. We place value and worth on the amount spent, and what is “in” for this year. How to often are we unaware of the giver? How often are we caught up with just the love?  And too often it’s the cheap, unwanted gifts that gets ignored, or pushed aside. This is our world. This is how we live today. But it has always been this way.

This is nothing new…

It’s the free gift we most ignore. It’s the free gift the world has 66788_2642255993841_1644378834_nalways despised. We have put no worth on that which is freely given and have no esteem for it. We honor, cherish, that which is rare and hard to get, that few can posses. Yet the most valuable gift one has ever received is free, “the free gift of God, which is eternal life,” yet few have found that which is available to all.”

Maybe because the price that was paid was paid by one that the world despised and rejected, so the costly gift has lost it’s sparkle and shine thru the dull eyes of human greed. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Isaiah 53:3

   The gift we have been given wasn’t cheap. It was costly. But if the worth is never known, the value never shown, the gift never cherished or treasured, then it never will have meaning or worth to those who see it.

joseph-baby-jesus-mary-in-a-manger   This Great Gift came to us, wrapped not in a box with a pretty bow, but wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger. This gift of Grace, which was given first to Mary and Joseph, is the greatest gift man has ever received, the gift of love, joy, peace, kindness, and mercy. Wrapped snuggled in it’s packaging for that special time when the gift would be presented for the whole mankind. On that night the gift was being given in love, yet was taken by force. On that night, when love should have felt it’s weight in the hearts of all around, only the kiss of betrayal was given. It was this Holy night, that the Gift of God should have been embraced waspassion-of-the-christ-2 shackled and dragged. It was on this Holy Night the gift of eternal life was to be torn open. The gift of Grace was RIPPED apart, laid bare on the floor, put away, despised and rejected. Where mercy and forgiveness was most given, the most brutal force was used to counter act it. Blood and water came forth, and so, Grace and Mercy flowed like a river swollen with the winter snow..

Oh, what a Gift. “He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53:2)

 the-passion-of-the-christ  The greatest gift came in a barren package. No paper or ribbon to adorn it.   There was no bow on this gift to be taken off. A Crown of Thorns Adorned the present like a ribbon. No care was taken for the gift that was given.

Even today, we are critics of the gifts. Do we see the worth of the Gift? Do we feel the love of the Giver? Has the weight of it all been felt on our hearts? “For God so loved the world, He gave His only Begotten Son.” “Here in is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His only Son to be atoning sacrifice for our sins.” “For it is by grace you have been saved.. it is a gift of God.”

If the worth is never known, the value never shown, the gift never cherished or treasured, then it never will have meaning or worth to those who see it.

     This Christmas, open the greatest gift that can be given. Receive itIMG_3208 not with judgment or doubt, but with a heartfelt embrace that was intended for you to receive, the love, joy, peace, kindness, and mercy you have longed for.  This is my Christmas Wish for you and your family. This is the Gift I can give Freely that will never fail or grow old. This is the gift of Life. Eternal Life. This is Love…

 

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Devil is Playing with Loaded Dice

“The Devil is Playing with Loaded Dice.” Sky Masterson (from Guys & Dolls)

Our high school put on a musical a while back called, Guys and 20121103_195315Dolls; it was set in the roaring 20’s and through humor, music, and gambling, the story is unfolded, a story roughly about a major player in New York, Sky Masterson, taking a bet to get a certain Doll, (A Lady, Sarah Brown), and in taking this bet he has to get this “Doll” to go to Cuba with him.  Well, the kicker here is that the “doll” he is picked to get leads a Mission.

Thru some twists and turns, Sky promises Sarah that if she will go out with him, he will guarantee “one dozen sinners” to their 20121103_205621Mission for a special service.  And to make a long story short, they go to Cuba, and in doing so they both start really falling for each other. Sky needs to come clean, so the relationship can be honest, also while they were gone the boys used the Mission for a Crap’s game; this leaves Sarah no other choice but to stick to her belief and to let Sky know she is a Missionary, first and foremost.

Well, Sky wants to make it right, and so he goes to where all the players are having a Dice Game and makes a bet for their Souls.  He bets them each a $1000 for their souls. If he rolls sixes they have to come to the mission with him and if he doesn’t, he pays each a $1000..  Sky actually steps out by faith and rolls the dice, which were known for being loaded, but as divine providence would have it, he rolls sixes. So, now they all have to come to the mission with him. This all happens in the nick of time as the head general of the mission is there wanting to shut this one mission down, because of the lack of results.

Well they show up, and the mission is saved, plus confessions are 20121104_144758made and Sky’s life is changed. He now becomes a missionary with Sarah; they get married and start serving together. At the end of the show, Sky comes out and tells the people, “Life is one big craps game and the devil is playing with loaded dice.”

We aren’t catching on to this game. We keep laying down our bets and hoping for a greater return. We are waging our kids, our family, and even eternity on a roll of the dice thinking that we can have something bigger, better, and more precious than the Love of God.

20121104_144426 We are not accepting that which given “the free gift of God, which is eternal life.”  We come to the tables, which ever that is for you, table of education, popularity, wealth, hobbies, and we lay down more money. More time! More energy! Just hoping we can get a greater return for our wager. The dice is rolled, the lot is cast and in the end we will stand at that table empty handed. We will have bet all our resources to find out that the Game is Loaded, it’s fixed. The devil is playing with “Loaded Dice.” He will allow us to win, here and there, to keep us in the game, to drag it out longer; for we will have a taste of success, or happiness, maybe some peace or popularity, and even fame, so that we don’t walk away from the table.  Oh, the devil isn’t against giving us some of our desires. No, by doing so he keeps that bait out there, or even the hook set, so that when he wants to he can cash in on our souls. “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

Jesus, who “has been tempted as we are, yet without sin,” had the 20121103_204723dice laid out in front of him. “ Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4: 8-9) 

  “Again,” signifying the repeated act of.. in this case tempting to get20121103_195318 the focus off of the goal of life and onto the lure of something “bigger and better”..  Really! Who isn’t drawn away when offered the world? Who among us isn’t tempted to earn more money? To have a nicer house? Car? Boat? Or better life? We want these things for ourselves and our children. They can be good things.. “But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions).” James 1:14

20121103_191807  It’s the holiday season, and Christmas is upon us, what are we drawn to? Are we coming to the table of chance, betting on something bigger and better, spending our money on things, or will we come to the table of “the wedding feast of the Lamb?”

He prepares a table for (us)!” Ps 23:5  He is waiting, knocking, saying  “Here I am!” “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelations 3:20

“Life is one big Craps Game and The Devil is playing with loaded dice!”