THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:11-12
As we look at our ability to show love, it comes back to our ability to be ONE with God. For so many years, I remember watching hallmark commercials that would finish with the tag line, "Give the gift that keeps on giving". As a child through my young adult years, I remember always asking what was that gift? Was it a jelly of the month club that allowed you to continue to receive a jar of jelly every month and it would just keep coming until you died? Was it the everlasting gobstopper as portrayed in the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Or was it a gift that I had not yet experienced and I would continue to search for this unending gift. Just an aside, please note that I would think about things in a different way just so I could try to fight my way out of a box if I needed to. It was a way that allowed my mind to think creatively and gave me freedom to not be confined to the box that the world wants to keep us all inside. Being able to dream and think outside the box is one of the greatest gifts that God has given to all of us. Some of us may have just not figured out how to open it yet.
This leads us back to our discussion on fasting. See the most amazing thing that God is able to do during those times that we let Him into our world is show us love in a way that we have never seen before. The GIFT that keeps on GIVING is the sacrificial love that was given by God through Jesus. We see this gift as it was wrapped as a baby in swaddling clothes, displayed on the cross for all to see, but the powerful moment of the gift was not revealed
until the gift was opened to show the empty tomb. And for many people in the world, the gift that has been opened and revealed but has still not been taken out of the box. I know that we live in a world today that is skeptical about everything, but I really wish that we would be able to find a way to share what we have received from this free gift to the world. In sharing this gift, others would be able to finally realize that God is not going to take the gift back, but is going to allow the gift to grow more and more in our lives when we take the time to truly open it in our hearts and see what the gift fully entails. See I see the gift like one of those presents that you continue to open and there is another gift on the inside ready to be opened. God's gift of grace, love and mercy is always there and is always ready to be revealed to anyone who is willing to open the box and see what is inside.
This is where the true meaning of the gift is revealed. See the more that we are willing to dig deeper into our relationship with God through fasting, the more gifts we are able to watch God reveal in our lives. The truth is always found through the intention of our desires. Let me try to emphasize it a different way. If we are truly willing to desire a deeper relationship with God through our prayer time and discernment through fasting, we will be able to see that God's love is never-ending. God's intention for our lives is to reveal HIS fullness and that fullness cannot be kept in a box. God has so much more He wants to share with us, but we have to be willing to unwrap the gift and then put the gift into practice. I mean think about it this way. If you were given a brand new car or a new phone, you would expect to be able to drive the car or use the phone almost immediately. The same is true with the gifts that God wants to reveal to us. Now, just for a second I need you to realize that I am not professing a prosperity gospel, but what I am saying is that God has so many gifts, spiritual and physical, ready to share with us, but we have to be willing to spend the time to open and put them into practice in our every day lives.
As we look at John's lesson today, I hope you see and realize the power of the statements that have been made. Once again, since God gave us the gift of love first, we are to put that gift into action to show others the same gift that God is wanting to reveal to them. There is a clear point John is making and trying to show us that God's love is unfailing. God will continue to offer this sacrificial gift, one for all, until the very last moment. Then through our
willingness to receive this gift of God's love, we then become the package that the gift of God's love is wrapped in for others to see. We become a carrier of God's unending love. See what John says, "No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and
his love is made complete in us." If we truly are willing to spend the time developing this gift of God's love in our lives, then guess what... GOD LIVES IN US and HIS LOVE is made complete because it has fulfilled the purpose of connecting us with God. See the GIFT that keeps on giving is the CONNECTION that God so desires to have with ALL of His creation. That is why it was such a HUGE decision to send Jesus into the world, because God knew once the gift was opened, it could never be closed except by God Himself.
It all starts with making a decision. It starts by opening up our hearts and receiving the gift that God has given to us that has eternal ramifications. We must be willing to spend the time in prayer and fasting to cultivate these gifts that God is so ready to reveal in order that others will finally see the gift God has given them as well. I want to close with a story that I remember from Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life. There is a fable of a man who died and went to heaven. Upon arrival he was given a welcome tour where he was shown many great mansions and wonders. Coming to one building with no windows, he asked to go in but was encouraged and his guide to not pay any attention to it. The man insisted on seeing it and once inside he discovered a huge trove of beautifully wrapped presents. Looking closer he saw that each one had a tag with his name on it. Asking why they were here, the man was told, “These are the blessings you were freely given in life, but never received; they are gifts you never opened and so never enjoyed.” God is ready to give us so many things in our life that will continue to share God's story of love to the world. We just have to be willing to take the time to unwrap God's gifts by spending time in prayer and fasting so that we can recognize that as soon as one gift is revealed, God has other gifts waiting to be opened.