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Monday, December 26, 2022
"His Indescribable Gift"
Message summary: God's greatest gift is 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!
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"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" (2 Corinthians 9:15).
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
Many of us give and receive gifts at Christmas, a custom that for 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. Above all, let us see the example of God's greatest gift to us.
Our most notable gift this year was a robotic vacuum from Brooksyne's sister. Ester set it up for us and we have already used it this morning, although like so much in the hi-tech world we wonder if it can spy on us! At least we think we would be rather uninteresting spying subjects, but then it depends on what subject matter spies are looking for, doesn't it!
Have you ever received a gift you would truly describe as "indescribable"? Marketers and advertisers would like to create the illusion that buying their product as a gift will be "indescribable". An ad shows a wife surprising her husband (or vice versa) with a new luxury car adorned with a car-sized bow on top. He or she looks genuinely surprised and pleased but after 46 years of marriage we really can't imagine surprising one another with a car! Whatever it is, like all gifts, in time this new car will get old, the miles will rapidly accumulate, the excitement will diminish and then something new will be needed.
What is our response to the gifts we received yesterday? There will be a few that we cherish for many years, perhaps our entire life. Some might even be passed down to our children and be meaningful to them. But other gifts will soon be forgotten. Some are appreciated but will wear out or break in a relatively short time. And some will likely be returned. Today will be another very busy shopping day with many returned items, Christmas clearance and after-Christmas sales.
One year the church we served in New England presented our annual Christmas musical/drama to our community. Our people did an outstanding job of presenting the message of Christ. In one scene a single mother played by a young college student has tried diligently to buy gifts for her children and is quite certain they will be pleased with the gifts. But the children, one by one, reject their gift and scornfully express dissatisfaction. The mother expresses deep disappointment at their rejection. That's so typical of the way many respond to God's mercies and particularly His indescribable gift of salvation.
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 which moved him 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 until it overflowed to those around him and even to us 2000 years later. 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 that appears only once in a manuscript. The Greek word "anekdiēgētō" which is 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 might express 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, "Thanks be to God". 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 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, (Hebrews 3:13)
Stephen and Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, You gave first and foremost as you selflessly gave of Yourself through the person of Jesus Christ. Your gift of grace exceeds 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, peace within our hearts, and reserves for us a home in heaven for all eternity. Thank You, Father! Amen.
Today’s message relates to an experience Brooksyne had years ago 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 own workplace. One time 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 a Laotian 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.” 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 was 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”.
Postlude Note: I did get a Jesus DVD in the employee's language shortly after I wrote this note a few years back. He never gave me feedback but in my heart I knew the gospel had been presented to him. He'd suffered a stroke years earlier an about three years ago had another one that caused him to be homebound and led to his eventual death. His wife also worked at the company and I am still in contact with her even today. She speaks very little English so communications are difficult but she is very responsive and appreciative of our interest in her and her son.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"We Are The Reason" Video David Phelps
The Calvary Church Christmas Eve service began with lots of percussion! Video
When we approached the entrance to Calvary Church Christmas Eve service we heard brass instruments playing Christmas carols and knew it was more than just a recording being piped in. We were pleased to see a brass ensemble in the foyer before and after the service and Brooksyne recognized them since they are part of the orchestra that accompanies the choir.
Following the service we headed over to the Old Windmill Farm to share a Christmas Eve meal with the Lapp family and exchanged gifts. The most tasty appetizer was roasted mushrooms smothered in cream cheese and wrapped in bacon prepared by the teen girls! They must have brushed jelly over the top as it was a sweet but salty treat and oh, so good!
Rosie doesn't quite know what to make of the robot vacuum! The dogs barked fiercely at first as they thought they were being chased by a non-human or should I say a non-canine! Brooksyne's sister, Elaine, considered that we could use this device often since we now have five pets in the house. She was right, especially these winter months. In the warmer weather they can spend more time out on the deck and in our fenced in back yard.
Rosie and Sadie sharing a pet cushion. Friends, this is real progress since Rosie "invaded" Sadie's space and it has taken quite some time for her to be accepting of these two additions to our fur family.
Special Year-end Financial Appeal
We want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year (and some for many years!). Like most ministries, we typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support at this time but if you would like information about making a donation to our ministry see here.
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Stephen & Brooksyne
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