Today’s Reading: Acts 3:4 (NIV)
4 Peter looked straight at [the beggar], as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Have you ever received a gift from someone that you didn’t expect to get? Or maybe you expected something that you didn’t get. It used to be a time honored tradition for my parents, in-laws and spouse to give me new clothes on my birthday. This just never seemed to go very well. While my husband can still wear some of the clothes he wore in high school, I have hard time getting my big toe into something I wore thirty something years ago. Unfortunately, my body tends to fluctuate from year to year. I hate to return gifts, but find myself in the uncomfortable situation of having to exchange that sweater for a different size. The best gift I have ever unwrapped is when the tag on the garment says, “One size fits all.”
Every Sunday morning when I attend worship, I leave with a personalized gift. I go there specifically to give my praise and thanksgiving to the Lord who saves me day by day, and yet, He offers me so much more than what I can give back! As I listen to the message, it is as if He has prepared a special present just for me; and it is my job to pay attention and listen for what it is God is saying through the preaching and teaching of His Holy Word.
There are moments when I know the Father is speaking to my heart directly. It is important that I give Him my full and undivided attention as He begins to correct my thought patterns, words, and behaviors. Sometimes I’d like to exchange some of what He’s saying for something less convicting and more socially appealing. It is so very important for me to own my sin and confess it, so that I may receive His free gift of forgiveness and the opportunity to begin again. He waits for me to choose whether I will receive His gift and accept it unconditionally. Every time I listen to the teaching and preaching that is birthed from the Holy Spirit and spoken through my pastors and Sunday school teachers, I grow in faith.
Often, we try to exchange His Truth for a lie. The gift of His truth is as sharp as a double-edged sword. It is not the gift we most often want to receive, and yet, it is His gift that we need! We sometimes think His gift will not fit us perfectly as a body of believers, that one size can’t possibly fit all. Yet, God’s love for His children is so big that death and hell could not hold it. He loves us so much that He would give us His only Son as the supreme sacrificial offering for our continued sin and willful rebellion. Christ carried our sins to the cross just so we can receive the Father’s gift of everlasting life through Him! Even when His truth hurts, it causes us to take a deeper look into who we are and whose we are, recognizing His gift is waiting to be opened. We need to open our hearts to His gifts of forgiveness and grace.
The birthday presents we hope to unwrap today may not be exactly what we expect to receive. For the crippled beggar sitting at the entrance to the Beautiful Gate, his new birth day gift was more than he could have ever imagined possible. When God gives you a gift, please pay attention to what He is saying. Do not be afraid to accept the Truth of His Word. If you will ask Him, He will save you today! His gift of salvation is for all, and no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, you are not so far away that He cannot reach you with His nail-scarred hands. Won’t you receive the gift of new life today, in Jesus’ name.
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO
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