Life is the fourth gift we receive this Christmas from the words in John 3:16.
God provided the gift of life through Jesus, but just like all the other gifts, it is our choice whether or not we accept the gift.
I get frustrated at times when I hear about all the many people and religions that believe that works gets them into heaven, or sacrifices make them seem more appealing to God, or that they are closer to being accepted by God because of the people they have helped, or the churches they have served in.
I understand that everyone has a right to practice whatever religion they choose, however, what I do not understand, is how one can distort the information that comes out of Gods Word in such a way that it meets their own expectations? Or how they can believe in parts of the Bible and incorporate those parts into their religion, and leave out other parts. How does one become so confused about the truths found in Gods Word? How does one who may have formerly been a Christian, suddenly decide the Bible is no longer true, and begins to allow doubt to overtake what they know to be true?
Unfortunately, people do all of those things at times, and the saddest part is that it leads them down a path of confusion, exhaustion, and frustration because they will never feel as if they are good enough for God, and they will always feel like something is missing. But thank goodness, that God knew we would get misguided, and He made it clear what it takes to recieve the gift of life.
John 6:28-29 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
This verse clarifies what God meant when He promised life, and what He expects of us. He did not say that we had to read the Bible through six times, that we had to serve on four committees at church, that we had to always make good choices, or that we should never sin. He did not outline specific ways to make Him love us, or guidelines for getting into heaven.
He said simply, “BELIEVE”, and you will receive life.
We are given life, not because we try to please God, but because we trust God; not because we are deserving, but because we are accepted by grace; and not because of who we are, but because of who He is.
Nothing we can do – makes us deserving of that grace – only our faith – our belief in who God is, and that His Word rings true – every Word, not just the ones we like.
Max Lucado once said, “Religion is man’s attempt to please God. Grace is God reaching down to man.”
You see, religion is based on do’s, but salvation is based on done. The payment for our sin has been paid, and grace is Gods love in action. That grace is what grants us life, not our efforts; belief, not works.
I came across an article on the internet recently about how to find the meaning of life. The topic grabbed my attention, but as I read the words, my heart sank, as I thought of the countless people who would read this article and believe that there was any truth in it. The article said this:
“The meaning of life is not found in nouns that describes places or things. It is not found in adjectives that describe experiences. Rather it is found in verbs of action. As the master of your own destiny you have free will. Even if your belief system is religion-based, free will is still an integral part of that belief – the basis of good and evil deeds. Therefore, no matter what your belief system, it’s what you do with you life that determines its ultimate meaning.
There are many roads that can be taken in determining your life’s course and its meaning. We have found four elements that act as our life’s compass and guide us in whatever we do. We hope they have as profound an impact in guiding your life as they have had on ours. Click on each to learn more. LIVE – LEARN – LOVE – LAUGH.”
What???!!!! Seriously? All we have to do to have life long happiness is breathe, think, spend time with people and go see a comedy show? I know that what we do with our life is important, but will we ever feel like we are doing enough if we are basing our worth on our own efforts?
Also, if I am truly the master of my own destiny, then I am going to start shaking in my shoes right now, because that is far too big a job for this girl, and I promise you, the ending would not be pretty.
And if what I do in life is truly the determining factor for whether or not my life has eternal meaning and significance, then I am already doomed.
What a huge weight to bear, for those who really buy into that self-motivated, self-prophesied, self-fulfilling, and self-defeating concept of how to be happy in life. This article says nothing about eternal life, which implies that it does not matter, because life is all about the here and now, our thoughts, our actions, our free will – not the future of where our souls will spend eternity.
If you think about it, looking for fulfillment in life outside of God is like trying to save ourselves from drowning. Think about how someone acts when they are drowning – kicking, screaming, bobbing up and down in the water, gasping for breath, frantically grasping for anything to hold on to, but nothing can be found. Nobody can save themselves from drowning, they desperately need help.
The rules of a lifeguard are to wait until a drowning person nearly surrenders before attempting to save them. The strength and fervor of the person drowning is so strong, that they can pull the lifeguard down with them, while everything in their body is fighting for life. The truth is, even though it sounds harsh, is that until the drowning person calms down, gives in, and surrenders to to the help of the one trying to save them, they will perish.
The same scenario can apply to our life. While we are fighting life on our own, grasping for help and guidance in all the wrong places, we are like that person drowning in the water. Helpless. Frantic. Panicked. Confused. Hopeless. Desperate for someone to reach down and help us get our heads above water.
But God – sent His son to save us. He sent Him to pull us back up. To give us life. And He is reaching down to save us, but we have to reach up first.
As Jesus hung on that cross centuries ago, he was taunted and mocked by the crowd. He was laughed at and spit at. They harassed Him, and yelled up to Him, as told in Mark 15:30 saying “come down from the cross and save yourself!”
Jesus could easily have called a thousand angels to His side. But Jesus did not come to save himself, He came to save you, and me.
He gave His life, for our lives. That is why He is called the Savior. The One who saves.
Recently, someone was telling me a true story about a family who had experienced tragic loss. A husband and wife and their ten year old son were involved a fatal car accident. The husband perished, and the wife and son were critically injured. The wife recovered and was released from the hospital, but stayed there for weeks with her son who was in a coma.
On one glorious day, the little boy awoke. His condition improved and he began talking. One of the first things he said to his mommy, was that he had seen Jesus while he was asleep, and that he had also seen his daddy in heaven.
The mothers eyes filled with huge tears. She shuddered to think how close her son had possibly come to death, but she also wondered if he was really just dreaming….until he asked her why she had never told him about his little brother.
The mothers face went white as she asked what he meant. You see, this mother had experienced a late miscarriage before she got pregnant with her current son, but she had never told him. But her son vividly explained how he had met his little brother in heaven, with his daddy, and with Jesus. He wanted to get closer to them, but they said he needed to be home with his mother, and it was not his time to be there.
I cannot stop thinking about that story. It was not made up, it was not fictional, it was not just another feel-good story. It was real. This little boy saw Jesus, with his little eyes, and lives to tell of that experience. I cannot even being to imagine how God will use Him throughout His lifetime and how this experience will impact his heart forever.
We cannot see Jesus with our eyes, but friend, Jesus is alive. He is real. He is there for you and for me. He is living in eternity, preparing a place for us. He is holding the ones we love that we have lost. He blesses us with life on earth, and promises us eternal life with Him.
He gave us this gift of life, through His life, and if you have never opened and embraced this gift of life, what better time to accept it, than at Christmas, when we are celebrating the most precious of gifts.
If you have accepted this gift in the past, treasure it today. Remember to unwrap it day after day, and allow His peace and love to saturate your heart.
If you used to treasure this gift in your heart, but life has pulled you away from God, He is still waiting for you to open the gift again, and embrace it.
And lastly, this gift is too wonderful to keep to ourselves. It is a gift worthy of re-gifting. 🙂 Pass it along this Christmas, and help someone else discover the gift of life. Embrace the joy that comes as you see someones eyes being opened to look into the face of Jesus for the very first time.