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Friday, January 4, 2013

"Thanks Be To God"

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"We Are The Reason"

"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" (2 Corinthians 9:15). "For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that He might be the Lord of both the dead and the living" (
Romans 14:9). "This is how God showed His love among us. He sent His one and only son into the world that we might live through Him" (1 John 4:9).

As little children we would dream of Christmas morn
And all the gifts and toys we knew we'd find
But we never realized a baby born one blessed night
Gave us the greatest gift of our lives

Today's message relates to an experience I (Brooksyne) had yesterday in the course of our chaplaincy ministry in the workplace.

Before we enter the worksite Stephen and I pray for opportunities not just to engage the employees in meaningful conversation, thereby strengthening our friendships, but we especially pray for the opportunity to present the message of Christ to those who don't follow Him. We often pray that we might plant a seed, just as many of you do in your workplace. Yesterday a door opened that I didn't anticipate and am most anxious to follow through. I love to be a seed planter and then pray for a full harvest.

When I asked an employee I've known for quite some time how he celebrated his Christmas holiday he responded, "We don't celebrate Christmas." I remembered this from previous years but couldn't resist getting in a word about Christ's birthday even if it was mostly about the customs of the Christmas holiday. He indicated that he and his wife gave their son toys this year so he doesn't feel isolated when other children at school talk about their Christmas presents. That was a switch because I remember in past years that they didn't even do that.

He further explained, "We don't celebrate Christmas because we don't understand it." My friend is from a southeastern Asian country but has lived here for the past couple decades. I've talked about Christianity in the past with him but he didn't choose to engage in conversation about it. I responded briefly to his earlier explanation: "Christmas in the secular world does not present the true message of Christmas that we as believers in Christ celebrate". I went on further to explain that Jesus was born of a virgin and came to this world to save us from our sins.

But I quickly realized that much more needed to be explained and am working on that this very morning as I am in the process of obtaining literature from a Laotian pastor. I was relieved when the employee volunteered that, though he had a Buddhist background, he and his wife are not practicing Buddhists. He had not disclosed this to me in previous conversations so I concluded that he is more open than in the past. I talked with an Asian pastor this morning and he agreed with me that an explanation of the gospel from the perspective of one who has been raised in a Buddhist religion is most helpful, thus we will share literature with him that has been written with this in mind. 

I am reminded from my brief conversation that Stephen and I will further engage with this employee that, though he is now practicing the custom of giving gifts to his son at Christmas, he is missing out on the most meaningful and only lasting Gift that God presents to all of His creation. The vast, vast majority practice the exchanging of gifts but do not receive the gift that God freely gives to all who will receive Him, a gift Paul calls "indescribable".

Many of us gave and received gifts at Christmas, a custom that for so many is the main thing. The origin of giving gifts (at least in the Christian sense) probably goes back to the gifts the Magi presented to the baby Jesus. 

But no gift we receive on this earth even remotely compares to the spiritual gift of our Lord Jesus Christ, the gift we can all receive and share regardless of where we live or how much of this world's possessions we have or don't have. Jesus Christ is certainly the greatest Gift and deserving of our highest thanks!

Paul concludes a section in his second letter to the Corinthian believers by expressing appreciation to them for abounding in good works and for their generosity in supplying the financial gifts needed by the Jerusalem believers. He concludes his expression of thanks with today's marvelous exclamation of thankfulness, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!"  Many years earlier Paul had been converted and had moved from an attitude of hateful rejection to grateful acceptance of God's gift of salvation through Christ. Through the years his gratitude to God grew and that's the way it should be for all of us.

In this burst of praise he uses a very interesting Greek word to describe the gift. Linguists use the term hapax legomenon to describe a word or phrase that appears only once in a manuscript. The Greek word translated indescribable is used only once by Paul in all his writings. It essentially means, "not expounded in full." Other versions use phrases such as "beyond telling", "inexpressible", and "unspeakable". One words it this way; "a gift too wonderful for words!"

Indeed that is the case with God's greatest gift, a gift too wonderful for words, but deserving of our highest thanks.  Today and each day let us join with Paul in thanking God for His truly indescribable gift of salvation through Christ Jesus our Lord! And the wonder of this indescribable gift is that:

And we are the reason that He gave His life
We are the reason that He suffered and died
To a world that was lost He gave all He could give
To show us the reason to live

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You gave first and foremost as you selflessly gave of Yourself through the person of Jesus Christ. Your gift of grace defies human description, for the far-reaching effects in our lives is truly indescribable. It's too wonderful for words, but it brings unspeakable joy and glorious hope that makes our spiritual journey so worthwhile. We receive Your indescribable gift that brings forgiveness for our sins and reserves for us a home in heaven for all eternity.  Thank You, Father!  Amen.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"We Are The Reason"  Video  David Meece  We first heard David Meece sing this song at "Fishnet", a large outdoor Christian Festival near Front Royal, Virginia a year or two after we were married. We both still recall how it's message touched our hearts at that time and still does today.

"We Are The Reason"

"For God So Loved"  Video  Brian Free and Assurance

a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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