Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Gift Which Keeps On Giving

Don't be deceived, my dear brothers.  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.  Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
James 1:16-18  (NKJ)
We've already determined God doesn't tempt people to cause them to sin (vs. 13-15).  It's impossible for God's holy nature to tempt us to sin.  However, to test us, He may allow us to be tempted either through Satan or through our own fleshly desires;  mainly the testing is to reveal to us what's in our hearts...the good and the not so good.  We do need to understand God is for us and He has only the best intentions for our lives.  James 1:13-16 makes it clear what God doesn't do but verses 16-18 tell us what God will do for us. 

good gift:  Greek - agathos - produces benefits
perfect gift:  Greek - teleios - finished complete
What God does do is give us good and perfect gifts.  His gifts produce benefits in our lives which are made complete in us.  There's no variation to His gifts meaning He doesn't change His mind and take them back.  He keeps His promises since His word is truth; in fact, the greatest gift He offers us is the word of truth which is "the good news of our salvation" (vs. 17; Eph. 1:13).  The incredible thing about this gift of salvation is that it's a gift which keeps on giving. 
In the Hofer family, Mike was a "firstfruit" (v. 18).  He is the youngest of eight children and the first one to be saved.  Since Mike committed his life to the Lord while in the Navy, there has been a "harvest" of family members including our children, our grandchildren, his father and mother, a sister-in-law, a niece and nephew and five great nieces and nephews.
Don't be deceived into thinking God's out to get you and cause you to sin.  That's simply not true; it's not in His nature.  The truth is He loves you with an everlasting love and offers you good and perfect gifts straight from the throne room of heaven.  These gifts are not only for you only but for your children, your children's children and to those who are afar off (Acts 2:38, 39).

Application of God's Word:

1.  Besides the "good news of our salvation," what other good and perfect gifts does God give to His children?

2.  The apostles were "firstfruits" in the early life of the church and Christianity.  Meditate on their sacrificial lifestyles which helped to spread the "good news" of Jesus Christ throughout the world.  What did it cost them to be the "firstfruits" of our spiritual inheritance?  (Fox's Book of Martyrs is a good place to start although it's not for those with queasy stomachs.)

3.  Who were the "firstfruits" in your family to commit their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ?  How many generations does that include?

4.  Express gratitude to the Lord for those family members who paved the way of faith for you.  If you're a first generation Christian, express gratitude to the Lord for those family members who will reap the benefits of your faith.

5.  When a person "commits their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ," it's in reference to a specific time in their life when they pray a specific prayer as a result of realizing their need for a Savior.  It involves praying to Heavenly Father admitting they are a sinner; asking Father to forgive their sins; and asking Jesus, the Son of God who died as punishment for sin and was resurrected from the dead, to come into their lives (sometimes people refer to it as "Jesus coming into their hearts" or being "born again").  It involves desiring friendship with Jesus and drawing closer to Him.  That's the "good news" in a nutshell.  If you desire to know more, please let me know and I'll send you an email explaining it in further detail with the support of scriptures from the Bible.

Personal Matters:

The gift which keeps on giving is indeed the good news of our salvation.  I'm a Christian today because of the prayers of my Grandma Walls and Grandma Reynolds.  They both loved the Lord and prayed for their children and grandchildren regularly.  I only met my Grandma Reynolds once when I was 20 years old.  Even though we didn't know her, she told me she prayed for my sister and me on a daily basis.  What a thrill it was for me and my grandma to sit together in her living room in Kentucky one summer day in 1971 and share with one another our love for Jesus.  I lived with Grandma Walls until I was five years old and she faithfully took me to church with her.  I can also remember her laying her hands on me when I was sick and fervently praying the prayer of faith (see James 5).  And I do recall several times when God did heal me.  I really don't know how many generations our Christian heritage goes back but I do know I owe my spiritual awakening to two faithful grandmas who prayed for the best for their families.  My family has benefited immensely from the complete work of God which began in my grandmothers.  Those good and perfect gifts are still at work today.    


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