Category Archives: Gifts

Unused Gift

Spiritual Gifts | Devotion #1: Unused Gift
Ryan Story | Location Pastor – Burton

Have you ever received a gift that you knew for a fact you did not want? Have you ever been given a gift, knowing you did not want it, but you knew you could not exchange it? We all know we have a bread maker or some random salt and pepper shakers that only comes out when the relative who gave them to you comes and visits. My wife and I received a gift for our wedding that is hanging up in our spare bathroom. I was thankful for the gift, it was not my “style,” I knew I could not get rid of it, so the only logical choice was to put it somewhere where we did not have to see it.

Sadly, we tend to treat God like that. Every person who has received the gift of salvation by putting their faith into what Jesus did for us on the cross, has received the greatest gift of all time, the Holy Spirit. John 16:8-9 says, “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me.” Jesus is telling His disciples that when He leaves, the Holy Spirit would be coming, and Jesus says that the Holy Spirit would be doing a very specific job, convicting the world concerning sin. This is one of those verses that when you read it, the first inclination is to look outward and get excited that someone is about to judge the world for how horrible it is. Then, hopefully, our pride starts to recede, and we realize that we too are just as guilty of sinning, we are just as guilty of unbelief, and we are just as guilty of being judgmental towards others.  

Conviction is an amazing gift. To have that feeling that you sinned is such a blessing. It means we are still connected to God. For some reason, we think conviction is a bad thing because it makes us feel bad. Sometimes we need to feel bad over sinning. I feel a major problem in our lives is we tend to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, but we only bring Him out when we want Him. I beg you if you have placed the Holy Spirit in your common hiding place because you do not like how conviction feels, please bring that gift back out in the forefront of your heart and mind. 

Confidence can come because you have the gift of the Holy Spirit. You know He wants you to be better. He convicts you to be better than you presently are. When we act on your belief it implies that we want to use the present from our Heavenly Father. When we work on our attitude and mindset, we start to look more like Jesus. When we realize that the gift of confidence brings us closer to Jesus, we should all make sure we are not hiding any gifts and see the value in them.  

The Free Gift 

The Gift of Eternal Life | Devotion #6: The Free Gift
Debbie Gabbara | Assistant to the Gathering Pastor

Everybody loves free stuff.  We once waited in line for nearly two hours to get a free tank of gas in our car. It is a fun memory. We happened to be driving by, at first we were irritated by all the traffic. It only took a little investigation to find out that a radio station was giving away free gas. Our attitude changed and all of a sudden we were not in that much of a hurry. We needed gas, and it was free! So, we got in the long line and waited. People are interested and intrigued by free. Free draws attention.  

The last part of Romans 6:23 tells us of the most precious “free” gift ever given, “The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God has a free gift for each one of us. We desperately need His free gift. Our very lives depend on it. We can not buy the gift or work to earn the gift. Salvation is a free gift to all who believe. This free gift never runs out, it lasts forever, and it brings eternal life with God. We do not deserve the gift. All we have to do is believe and ask for it because Jesus paid all that was due. Yet, so many never accept the gift.

We talked about the last part of Romans 6:23, but what about the first part? The verse starts, “For the wages of sin is death.” This is the part of the verse that no one wants to talk about, sin. We are all born into sin. As my very wise granddaughter once said, “We just sin. We do not want to, but we just cannot help it, we all sin.” There is nothing good about our sinful nature. The Bible says the cost of our sin is death. We are born deserving to be separated from God forever. “But God” has a free gift that gives us eternal life with Him. “But God” loved us so very much that He sent His Only Son to die for you and me. All we have to do is accept the gift.  

When I think about what Jesus did for me, I am so overwhelmed with emotion. I am so undeserving of the sacrifice that Jesus made for me. My sin deserved death. Jesus died on a cross to pay the sin debt that I owed, not because He thought that I deserved it, but because Jesus knew that I could never get to the Father without a Savior to give me the free gift of salvation.  

I love the song “Reckless Love. It talks about just how much God loves each one of us. I was His foe, I had no worth, yet Jesus, God’s only Son, left Heaven to come to this sin-filled world and chased me down so that I might one day say yes to Him.  

When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me
You have been so, so good to me
When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me
You have been so, so kind to me
And oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ‘til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

The overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God came for me, and He came for you. If you have not asked Jesus to come into your life and save you, you have not accepted God’s free gift of Salvation. Please do it right now.

From the Start

The Gift of Eternal Life | Devotion #5: From the Start\
Gareth Volz | Seniors 55+ Director

If you are like me, and I think most people are, you love to receive gifts. I will gladly take a gift from almost anyone, but especially from those who love me. That is because those who love me will give me gifts that are tailored to my needs and desires. 

Romans 6:23 talks about the gift of God being eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. What is this gift we are given and how does it meet my needs and desires? In Genesis 1:26, we are privy to a discussion amongst the members of the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We read there, “Then God said, ‘let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’” Why did God create us? The following verses give us the answer:

Revelation 4:11 says, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul adds, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Psalms 16:11 continues, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

We were created to have fellowship with God, to honor Him, and serve Him. But sin got between God and us. Satan tempted and deceived the first humans God created (Adam and Eve). From that point on, mankind has chosen sin over God.  In Romans 5:12 we read, “Therefore just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”  Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Sin is doing what God commanded us not to do. If we are honest, we have to admit that we are guilty of this. Ecclesiastes 7:20 sums it up, “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.”

Since God is holy, sin separates us from Him and must be punished. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Spiritual death separates us from life with God (Ephesians 2:1). Eternal death separates a person, body and soul, from God forever in Hell (Revelation 20:15). 

Our situation was hopeless, but God loved us and gave us the perfect gift – the greatest gift ever given – eternal life with Him, courtesy of His Son Jesus Christ. God solved the problem that kept us from having a relationship with Him by sending His only begotten Son to die for us and pay the penalty for our sins. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, we read, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

What a perfect gift designed just for each of us by the God who loves us. If you have not already done so, accept your gift. If you have, enjoy it. God gave it just for you.

Puppy Love

The Gift of Eternal Life | Devotion #4: Puppy Love
Sierra Combs | Women’s Director

Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love the lights; I love the music. I love the sights, the smells, the cheer, the snow, and the excitement in my kids’ eyes. I love the presents under the tree. I love the bells that ring at grocery store doors and the cheesy movies that play on the Hallmark Channel. I just love it all. As soon as Thanksgiving dinner is over my heart jumps straight into Christmas and for the whole next month, I feel like a giddy little child.

I remember when I was around 11 or 12 and I just had to have a puppy. I begged for what seemed like years. I wrote lists of every single responsibility that came with being a dog owner and promised to do them all. I even rewrote Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is you” into “All I want for Christmas is a dog.” It was a full-length version that I performed with choreography for my parents several times from probably October to December. My talent for song and dance clearly must have shown through because sure enough, that Christmas morning I was awakened by the cutest little beagle puppy with a giant red bow licking my face. At that time in my life, there was no greater gift that I could imagine receiving. It was something that I had longed for, I had begged for, and here it finally was. It did not take long before it was apparent that I did not deserve that gift. The puppy grew and quickly lost its luster. Everything that I said I would do to take care of it soon became the bane of my existence. I probably should not admit this, but it took me the last 15 minutes to even remember the dog’s name.  

When I think back to so many other years, I recall similar stories. We have the best time in the world opening our gifts on Christmas morning only just to toss them aside and forget about them a few weeks or months later. We tend to get so wrapped up into what we are giving and receiving, that we forget about the perfect, everlasting Gift that was given to us a couple of thousand years ago. It is a gift for which the waiting world had been longing. It is a gift that will never lose its luster. When the gift arrived, it was wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger. His name is Jesus, and He is the most amazing gift that was ever given to the world.

Romans 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Here we see some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that there is a penalty for sin, and that is death. Guess what? We are all sinners. We are all deserving of complete and eternal separation from God because of our sin. But praise the good Lord, there is a “but” in there, “But the free gift of God is eternal life.” 

Think back to the gifts you have been given throughout the years. You did not have to pay for them and did nothing to earn them. You just had to open and receive them. While our wage (something that we have earned) is death, Jesus gives us the gift of eternal life. That gift is totally free! We do not deserve it, and we can never earn it. If we could, it would be a reward, not a gift. All you have to do is receive it. Jesus loves you so much that He saw that wage on your life- the one you earned by your sin- and paid it for you. It cost Him His life. He died that death on a cross to pay that penalty for you. He loves you and wants to have a relationship with you! If you have yet to receive this free gift of eternal life, today is the day to unwrap the most incredible gift ever given! Merry Christmas! 

The Best Gift

The Gift of Eternal Life | Devotion #3: The Best Gift
Michael Fox | Creative Director

What do gifts look like in your family? As a child, as I am sure was the same in a lot of families, gifts were a central focus around Christmas and birthdays. I remember going to sleep on Christmas Eve as a child with an excitement for the next morning that was like no other. What would I get this year? Did Santa bring me everything I asked? I remember feeling like I could not sleep at times with anticipation. 

I did not grow up in Church; however, my family began attending Church when I was in my early teens. The desire for gifts never went away, but over the years my family began to see importance during these times to thank God for the gift of eternal life as a part of the Christmas season as well. I have memories of waking up on Christmas morning and the first thing we would do as a family was read the story of Jesus’ birth from the Bible and take a moment to reflect on that. 

Now as a grown adult, I often reflect on what God has given me. If I take a moment, just the fact that I am alive and breathing today is a gift from God. Sometimes I think about how the human body works, how the world is put together, and how the atmosphere and ecosystem all work together to create a world in which we can live. It is hard for me not to see God and in turn be thankful for the gift He has given us.

Romans 6:23 talks about the gift God gives us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God has promised us eternal life in Heaven, with Him. We were all created for a purpose, by God. What is even greater, the gift is free, and all we have to do is believe and ask! Romans 10:9 tell us, “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Having a relationship with Jesus and knowing I have eternal life with Him is the greatest gift I could ever receive! 

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