No Greater Gift

As we near Christmas, we might question ourselves on whether we purchased the best gift possible for the one(s) that we love. But what if you were living away from town and all the stores, what might you give for Christmas? Perhaps, like Paul, we should stop and ponder what might be the greatest gift ever given to us! It might help us to stop the complaining about how little we have but instead about how much we are loved.

DATE WRITTEN: Friday, 2020-12-18
WRITTEN AT: Paul B Johnson State Park, Hattiesburg, MS

BIBLE REFERENCE: 1 Timothy 1:15-17
TRANSLATION: Living Bible (TLB)

BIBLE TEXT: 15 How true it is, and how I long that everyone should know it, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—and I was the greatest of them all. 16 But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as an example to show everyone how patient he is with even the worst sinners, so that others will realize that they, too, can have everlasting life. 17 Glory and honor to God forever and ever. He is the King of the ages, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God, and full of wisdom. Amen.

OBSERVATION: As we near Christmas, we might question ourselves on whether we purchased the best gift possible for the one(s) that we love. But what if you were living away from town and all the stores, what might you give for Christmas? Perhaps, like Paul, we should stop and ponder what might be the greatest gift ever given to us! It might help us to stop the complaining about how little we have but instead about how much we are loved.

APPLICATION: We often think of gifts at Christmas time. Those given and those received over the years. There were some Christmases where we may have been disappointed, because we didn’t receive quite the gift that we expected. But were there years that you received an awesome gift, although you weren’t expecting anything at all? Imagine this for a moment today: Saul had murdered many Christians, and had done everything imaginable to disrupt the work of God through His church. What gift would you give him? No doubt some of the very men and women that Saul persecuted, were hard core workers in the church, and possibly local pastors trying their best to share the love of Jesus Christ with the unsaved. Yet when God was ready to promote the work of His church, He didn’t choose one of the local pastors, but instead, the man that terrorized them and their ministries. Why? Why? Why? I’m sure this must have been asked multiple times while Paul began his earthly ministry under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. But can you imagine how humbled Paul was, to have avoided the pit of Hell for all the evil he committed, and instead be promoted as one of God’s key ministers? It is easy to see that this kind of love came from a level never experienced before. This was a unique love that Paul would have felt; one that the local church would have possibly questioned, but yet marveled at; a love that only God was capable of giving to an opposer of the faith; a love that you and I could look back on and better understand how God also forgave us of our sin; a love that helps us better understand how God could have permitted His only Son to hang on a murderer’s cross and die for the salvation of sinners – those that mankind would have hated or put to death. This expression of love by our awesome God, to someone that seemed so undeserving, should open our hearts and minds this Christmas season and help us to remember that there is no gift that we could give to a loved one, that compares to the tremendous gift given for our salvation, and our ultimate security in knowing that heaven is our final home – with our Savior. So let’s learn from this that instead of being quick to criticize, find fault in, dislike or even hate someone for their actions, that we should be like God in giving the greatest, unexpected gift possible, by seeking ways to forgive them and love them better, and eternally. We may have never murdered, nor fought against Christians, but like Paul, we were steeped in sin and far from God, yet He allowed His Son to die a cruel death so that we may know Him and know about His love for us. Know that you are no better than Saul was – a sinner. Know that God is the same today as He was for Saul/Paul, He loves us enough that He would turn our lives completed around and place us on a track destined for Heaven. Now that’s a ‘GIFT’ my friend! Accept it this Christmas and meet my God!

PRAYER: I am most thankful for the greatest gift ever given, one that is out of this world, and one that will last eternally – thank You Jesus! Paul told us about this gift, and many other Bible scholars have also celebrated this precious gift. It is challenging to imagine that God loved even us so much that He gave His all so that we may live with Him in heaven for all eternity. Thank You Lord for recognizing the value in Paul, and I thank You for looking on us as Your precious sons and daughters, in spite of our ugliness in sin here on earth. I’m forgiven and I praise God for His wonderful mercies and grace towards me. Please Lord, speak again today to my family and friends, especially those who will read this devotional. Draw them unto Yourself and fill them with the eternal hope of being in heaven one day soon with You. AMEN!

FOOTNOTE: There are two more pages on my blog at https://NuggetsFromGodsWord.org that will provide you with additional information, one of them being ‘To Know Jesus’. If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading or listening to this devotional, please go to the above page, or speak with a local Bible Teaching Pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com. Please allow someone to pray with you and give you help and/or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. If this devotional was forwarded to you and you would like to see more, please go to Nuggets From God’s Word and see all of my posts, or you may freely subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each day’s devotional. I would encourage you to find a church home near by your home, and attend as frequently as you could. Get to know God, and allow His people to encourage and strengthen you in your Christian walk, while making every effort to be a blessing to them. God is at work among His people! Please consider growing in your faith, as you worship with fellow believers!

Step Up To The Plate and Tell Your Story!

Saul lived a very dramatic life. He was known for persecuting and killing Christians of his day. However, in our Scripture today we can see where God completely turned this man’s life around. In fact, there was such a change that it involved Saul’s name being changed to Paul in order to identify the drastic change in the man himself. This kind of change may cause some to stay out of the public’s eye, because it would be so challenging for anyone to believe their story. But this was not the case for Paul, for he was overjoyed and wanted the world to know his story!

Tuesday, 2019-05-27

Bible Reference: Acts 22:7-11
Translation: The Passion Translation (TPT)

Bible Text: As I fell to the ground I heard a voice say, ‘Saul, Saul . . . why are you persecuting me?’ “I answered, ‘Who are you, my Lord?’ “He said to me, ‘I am Jesus, the Victorious. I am the one you are persecuting.’ “Those who were with me saw the brilliant light, but they didn’t hear the voice of the one who spoke to me. 10 “So I asked, ‘Lord, what am I to do?’ “And the Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told about all that you are destined to do.’ 11 “Because of the dazzling glory of the light, I couldn’t see—I was left blind. So they had to lead me by the hand the rest of the way into Damascus.

OBSERVATION: Saul lived a very dramatic life. He was known for persecuting and killing Christians of his day. However, in our Scripture today we can see where God completely turned this man’s life around. In fact, there was such a change that it involved Saul’s name being changed to Paul in order to identify the drastic change in the man himself. This kind of change may cause some to stay out of the public’s eye, because it would be so challenging for anyone to believe their story. But this was not the case for Paul, for he was overjoyed and wanted the world to know his story!

APPLICATION: There are several miraculous things about this experience shared by Paul:

  • It was Personal – Paul didn’t share a story with the group arresting him about a friend of his, or a story he had read in ancient transcripts, he shared his story;
  • Recognized it was God speaking – Paul’s first response to the voice he heard was “Who are you, Lord?” When God gets our attention, we know that it is divine, holy and very personal;
  • It was transformational – Paul, a persecutor of Christians and a destroyer of churches, immediately recognized it was God, and instead of cursing God, as he had been doing, he asked for further instructions!
  • It was shared without regard to the place or occasion – Paul didn’t wait until he was in the synagogue, or among fellow believers, or until it was church time. In fact, this seemed like a very odd time to share his testimony, but Paul shared his story anyway!

I believe that the whole purpose of Paul sharing his story was: that he not only wanted his captors’ eyes to be opened to the fact that he was a fellow Roman citizen, but also that they might hear, understand and come to know the God that touched, and ministered through, Paul. He was a true evangelist, both in the pulpit and out of it. Like Paul, we have a ‘story’ that we should share with folk. Often in conversations we step up to the plate and tell a story about an incident in our lives that we believe is far greater than anything said so far by anyone else. Imagine the quiet that would fill the room if, in the middle of discussions about sports, or hunting or family, we would jump in and share our story about our conversion? This is basically what happened here! Among all the confusion and excitement of calming the crowds and making an arrest, Paul asked for a moment to share his story. Wow! Friends, God can use us for His glory in any circumstance that He chooses, if we let Him. But it will only be impactful if we share our story for His ultimate glory and not ours. So why don’t we do that more often friend? We need to do this as often as we can, because we have no promise of a future moment with that individual or group that we are meeting with. Don’t be shy or afraid, God will never lead you into a situation that He will not help you through! Allow Him to do His great work through you! Be bold, yet humble in allowing all the praise to flow straight up to your Master and Lord.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, in Your precious and holy name, I come humbly before You to first say thank You for getting my attention back in 1976 and leading me to accept You as Lord of my life. Thankfully, You have since lead me through many situations and given me ample opportunities to share Your saving power with many people. Please forgive me for lost opportunities, and give me wisdom, humility, boldness and power to share my story with many more folk in all walks of life, so that others might see the glow of Your presence in and through me, and subsequently want to also accept You as Lord. Father God, it is only through Your continued grace that the wicked and lost of this earth can come to know a holy and righteous God, so I ask that You touch lives that I interface with today so that in something that I might say or do, You might impact their lives for Your ultimate glory. I ask all this in the name above all names, the King of all kings, Your one and only Son, JESUS. AMEN!