The Gift of Grace

gift_of_grace

It’s not unusual for children to think in simple, realistic ways, as this humorous story depicts:

In preparation for Christmas, a Sunday school teacher told her children to write on small slips of paper the kind of gift the infant Jesus would like and could use. They were to drop these slips in a box near the classroom crib. Some of the children misunderstood. Instead of the name of the gift, they put the gift itself in the box. In the box the teacher found a can of baby food, a small teddy bear, a toy truck, a tiny pair of mittens, and a disposable diaper. At their classroom party, the children were to “show and tell” their gifts. The little girl who had given the diaper said, “Jesus was a real baby. Real babies need diapers.” (Holy Hilarity)

The little girl was only being practical. I suppose if Jesus were born in this modern day and age, his mother would have used disposable diapers. But an even greater point the little girl made is the fact that Jesus was a real baby.

In manger scenes, we picture the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in his hay-filled cradle with Mary, Joseph, the animals, and shepherds looking on in awe and admiration. In the distance, the wise men are coming. The scene reminds us that Jesus is God’s gift to us. His arrival marked a momentous time that brought on praises by the angels themselves declaring peace on earth, goodwill toward men (Luke 2:13-14). His birth signaled a future day when Jesus will come again, this time as the Prince of peace, to bring everlasting peace on the earth when he establishes God kingdom (See Isaiah 2:1-4; 9:6-7; 11:1-9; Luke 1:31-33).

The following passages prove that God, out of his wonderful grace, gave his Son to be our gift for receiving eternal life in God’s coming kingdom:

JOHN 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

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

2 CORINTHIANS 9:15 Thank be unto God for his unspeakable gift. Or as the New Living Translation puts it, “Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!”

In Second Corinthians 6:1 and 2, the Apostle Paul applies God’s gift of grace to believers. He says, “And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain– for He says, “AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.” Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION.”

We could tag these verses, “God grace is our grace.” Grace comes from God as a gift because obviously we can’t save our ourselves. We’re too sinful and weak and susceptible to all kinds of temptations. When we try to live life without God’s grace and live under our own power and efforts, we louse things up like the Corinthians did. They were morally in trouble, their teachings were being watered down with pagan philosophy, and they were divided not united in various church matters. Paul, in essence, advised, Don’t waste God’s precious gift of grace. Rather, take advantage of it today—right now—and accept it; don’t reject it!

Jesus is God’s Christmas gift to us. God gave him to us out of love just like we like to give gifts to those we love. Whenever we remember this precious gift of love, we think of his marvellous grace.

Andrew Wyermann tells of an experience he had when he was young that reminded him of the greater gift:

At a Christmas celebration in a nursing home, I asked the folks to tell us about their favorite Christmas experience. The group seemed to light up. Spontaneously one by one they told their Christmas story. Each was different except in one respect. Every experience was taken from their childhood. They did not remember Christmas as a parent, but as a child.

Then I turned the question on myself. I, too, returned to my childhood. The first, and perhaps most memorable, experience I recalled took place when I was seven years old. Early Christmas Eve, my mother took my brother and me out for a treat. It was her way to get us out of our fifth-floor apartment in the Bronx while my father prepared for the evening festivity.

As we climbed the stairs back to the apartment, the shrill sound of a whistle filled the hallway. What was that, and where did it come from? Our pace quickened and a second burst of the whistle could be heard. We dashed into the apartment. There was my father playing engineer with the biggest Lionel train ever made. It was so magnificent, so unexpected, so wonderful!

Some fifty years later, I still have the train set and cherish it as much as any material gift I ever received from parents. The train is a warm reminder of the greater gift my parents gave me. This gift has nothing to do with any material advantages, or even with any piece of sage advice. Unconditional love was their gift. I never doubted their care for me, and from such grace sprang my own capacity to truth.

It was years later that I fully understood the gift my parents gave me had its source in God’s gift of the Child to us all. The sound of the whistle and the song of the angels have become one and the same. They are both the signal of God’s love. (Illustrations Unlimited)

God’s gift of grace is truly marvellous beyond all measure. Let us be reminded of this gift he gave when Christ was born in that stable long ago. No matter how difficult life becomes, no matter the problems we face, no matter the challenges that confront us, God giveth more grace as this song by Don Moen says (double click on the following link):

youtu.be/o63If7p-Z6E

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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