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THE UNOPENED GIFT

    Christmas had come and gone once again. The family had all gathered together, eaten grandma's cinnamon rolls, laughed, talked, opened presents, eaten a large holiday dinner, watched football, napped, said their goodbyes and left.  Such a buildup for such a short time of pleasure.  Shopping had been going on for a couple months, plans made for who would bring which dish for the “Christmas feast,” decorating the house (inside and out), and wrapping presents.  But now, it was all over for another year.  The children were overwhelmed with all the toys which will most likely be broken, lost, or forgotten in four months.  Adults expressed their gratitude for gifts they honestly didn't need or like.  What is the meaning of all this???

    The tree and decorations were left in place for a few weeks, and then taken down and put in storage boxes in the attic for another year.  But then, a gift was noticed, sitting alone in the corner, unwrapped, untouched, actually with layers of dust collected on its surface.  Now you wouldn't think a group of excited, happy, anticipating people would leave a gift untouched…but there it was.  This gift wasn't only abandoned this year—it has been abandoned for people's lifetimes, for generations, for centuries!  

    Have you noticed how people judge the value of a gift?  For example, an item from an expensive jewelry store versus a T-shirt from Walmart?  It's assumed that if the giver paid more for the item, it must mean they cared more.  Also, people notice how a gift is wrapped—with beautiful wrapping paper, a ribbon and bow, or a brown paper bag.  Why wasn't the unopened gift sitting in the corner appealing to someone?  Did they assume it had no value?  Was the wrapping unattractive?

    Before Christmas, how many times are you asked, “What would you like for Christmas?”  When you're a child, the first thing you think of is a toy.  Teenagers would probably prefer an electronic device, while those older would prefer gift cards so they could spend them on any whim, or impulse, they might have.  As you get older, it becomes more difficult because you've had many things in your life, and you realize they're all very temporary.  There truly isn't much you need or want.  You also begin to realize it is the “intangible” things that count—the smile on a child's face; the love between two people, the firm handshake of an old friend, the beauty of nature, and music.  That is why it's common to hear older people respond to this question by saying: “world peace,” “unity,” “quiet,” “harmony,” etc.  These gifts are hard to find, especially in our day and age!   May I ask you that same question: “What would you like for Christmas?”

    Perhaps no one thought this unopened package was meant for them; but, if they had only taken the time to examine the tag, they would see it says: “TO – WHOSOEVER BELIEVES.”  Now, if it had just said “Whosoever,” it might have been opened, but that second word may have caused pause.  By “believing,” is there a requirement or commitment?  Many people prefer to make up their own “belief system” to be compatible with their current life style.

    Yes, there is a condition for receiving this gift.  And, yes, this is a gift of immeasurable value. 

    How much did this gift cost?  Well, the Giver suffered mocking, indignity, terrible torture and a terrible death to pay for this gift.  Have you ever seen a “gift” that cost that much?  He knew what the cost would be, and had the choice of withholding it, but He didn't.  Why?  Because He loved “Whosoever Would Receive It” much more than the suffering it would cost Him.

    So, I hope you're asking, what does this gift contain?  Well for starters: love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.  Could you use these characteristics in your life?  Also, “eternal life” or immortality—living with the Giver of this gift ~ Forever! 

    Oh, and He promised you would have “abundant life,” beginning with the opening of this gift!  He also promised He would return to personally take you with Him to a place He has been preparing for you—a place where there is no death, no sickness, no sorrow, no crime, no violence, no disappointment, no tears, no fear, no immorality, no sin, no lying, stealing, or hatred.  He promised to put His spirit within you, so that He would always be with you.  You can call on Him anytime, anywhere, and He is there!

    This gift is why there is a CHRISTmas.  The gift is Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, who came to this earth two thousand plus years ago to deliver this gift.  He gave up His throne in Heaven to become a man, remained sinless Himself, but took the penalty for the sins of everyone who would believe in Him and accept His gift of salvation.  I'm sure you've heard these verses from the Bible, but perhaps now they might have more meaning for you.

 John 3:16:  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes 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:  “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

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

    I recently saw a news report that said people would spend some 40+ billion (billion with a b), dollars on Christmas gifts this year.  Unfortunately none of the gifts will satisfy.  In less than a year from now, we'll be doing the same thing over again.  I am telling you about one gift that DOES satisfy, not for just a lifetime, but forever!

1 Corinthians 15:1-4: “Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.  Or unless you never believed it in the first place.  I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.”

Romans 10:9-11: “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.”

    If you haven't opened God's gift, please don't delay another minute!  Open your heart and receive His free gift of forgiveness and salvation.  It will give you a joy and peace that the world can't understand.  You will become a member of a large family of people who also believe and understand.  It will give you a desire to pass it on to others who have been too busy, or clinging to a life that is full of worldly things that will never satisfy the heart.

    I pray this will be the most blessed of any Christmas you've ever had.  The True meaning of Christmas changes a person's life and outlook.  It gives hope that nothing else offers, and it's there just waiting to be opened and received.

May God Bless you and keep you, and always walk with you.

Posted by Dan Hubbell with
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Psalms 103:15-16: “As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.  For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more”.

If you watch the news at all, you really don't need to be reminded that we face some very serious issues in these last days.  May I mention just a few:

            Radical Islamic Terrorism

            Nuclear threat from North Korea (Hydrogen bomb??)

            Threats and nuclear push by Iran

            Tense relations with both Russia and China

            Continuing wars in Syria and Afghanistan

            Protests, dissension in our Country

            War against police ~ authority

            Disrespect to our flag, our faith, our history

            Moral decadence

            Hurricanes, flooding, wildfires

            Epidemic of drug overdosing ~ suicide.

You might be asking, “Is there any good news?”  Actually there is!  You may not find it on TV or in newspapers, magazines, or the internet.  But, Jesus had a word of encouragement for us in:

Luke 21:2:  “So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!”

Regardless of what we may be “hoping for,” the situation in this “broken world” isn't going to improve.  As a matter of fact, it is destined to become worse!  Yes, there will at some point be a “One World Order” led by a dictator worse than any we've ever known.  There will be a “One World Religion,” a “false religion” that will be mandatory.  When these things come to pass, God will pour out His wrath on this wicked world.  Jesus told us in:

Matthew 24:21-22:  “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.  And except those days should be shortened, there would be no survivors:”

So, if you're thinking that things are pretty bad now (review the above list), you “ain't seen nothing yet!!!”  A day is coming when God will pour out His wrath on this broken and sinful world.  The book of Revelation describes what will happen during those seven years of “great tribulation” and it isn't pretty.  Thirteen times in Revelation it mentions the “wrath of God.”  Can you recall the warning and the consequences of the great flood where only Noah and his family were saved?  Do you remember what the consequences were in Sodom and Gomorrah?  How about the plagues that were brought on Egypt?  As it says in:

            Hebrews 10:31:  “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”.

Just a couple verses from the Book of Revelation...

  • Revelation 6:17:  “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”
  • Revelation 11:18:  “The nations were filled with wrath, but now the time of your wrath has come.  It is time to judge the dead and reward your servants the prophets, as well as your holy people, and all who fear your name, from the least to the greatest. It is time to destroy all who have caused destruction on the earth.”

If I could read your mind as you read this, I imagine at this point you would be saying, “Why are you being so negative?”  This news isn't “uplifting” or “encouraging,” it's frightening!  I must admit you're right.  If you haven't accepted Christ, if you don't believe in Him and His Word, if you don't trust Him as your Savior; you should be very concerned and frightened.

If, however, you are a believer, you have repented of your sins, and you have a personal    relationship with Jesus Christ, then Jesus has provided a way of escape.  You can hold on to these next three promises.

Romans 5:  “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from      wrath through him”.

1 Thessalonians 1:10:  “And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come”.

1 Thessalonians 5:9-10:  “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him”.

You see, before that “day of wrath,” Jesus is coming in the clouds to take us out of this world.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18:  “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words”.

So, when will all this happen?  Will it “interrupt” plans you have for your future?  Jesus said He would come as a “thief in the night.”  I don't know of any thieves that announce their coming ahead of time.  Jesus tells us to “Be Ready.”  He explained there would be signs of his coming, and that they would increase in number and intensity, “like the birth pangs of a mother.”  They not only include natural disasters, but threats to Israel and Jerusalem, apostasy in the churches, immorality, violence, and hatred.  Are you seeing the “trend??”

It is for this reason that I titled this article “Last Call.”  It may be your last opportunity to hear this warning.  People in Noah's day didn't believe until after the door of the ark was closed and the water began to rise.  Will you look back on this day and say “Oh, if I had only listened?”  Please, I'm asking you, don't wait another day.  Call on the name of Jesus, confess your sins, believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, ask Him to come into your heart; and tell Him that you submit your life and will to Him!  It's a matter of dying to yourself, and self-will, and letting Him be the Lord of your Life.

Whether this message is “negative” or “positive” depends on your choice.  I love the promise in:

John 14:1-3:  “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also”.

Several Years ago, Andrea Crouch wrote a song that goes; “Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King, Soon and very soon we are going to see the King, Soon and very soon we are going to see the King, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, we are going to see the King”!!  Let me say with John in:

            Revelation 22:20-21:  “He which testifieth these things (Jesus) saith, Surely I come quickly.

            Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen”.

 

Posted by Dan Hubbell with 1 Comments

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