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Devotional July 14 2020

Trinity Church exists to love God / love others / serve the community

POSSESSING THE GIFT

Pastor Vernon Giesbrecht

At the end of April, I celebrated another birthday. (You can ask me in person which one. 🙂 ) My family surprised me with a gift I never thought I’d possess – a set of AirPods. Those who use Apple products will know that they are wireless “ear buds”, through which you can listen to any audio on your phone, iPad, etc. As I enjoy listening to music, I began adding to my downloaded playlist to accompany me on my early morning walks. Of course, my wife, Jayne, began noticing the charges on our credit card, which resulted in some discussion.

That aside, this gift was of no use until I “took possession” of what I had received. AirPods come in an attractive box, carefully packaged. I could have continued to admire the box, roll it over in my hands, or put it on a shelf as an unexpected treasure. No, I had to open the box, take out the AirPods, follow instructions to sync them with my phone, and put them in my ears to fully enjoy the benefits of this technical marvel.

My devotional reading has been taking me through various passages in Deuteronomy. The book begins where Numbers ends, on the plains of Moab and, as one commentator quips, “The picture remains frozen, while Moses speaks on… and on… and on…” God’s people are about to enter and “take possession” of the Promised Land. This was the land “flowing with milk and honey” which God had promised them…covenanted with them. This was His gift to them. However, through disobedience, their parents had delayed their entry into the land and had died in the wilderness. This younger generation needed some important reminders regarding violating God’s covenant, and so the general theme of Deuteronomy is about covenant renewal. God’s people were to love God with all their heart, soul, and mind, trust Him completely, and obey all His commands/instructions so that they could fully enjoy the benefits God had in store for them.

Here are two passages that represent what is often repeated in Moses’ speeches.

“And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you.” Deuteronomy 4:1

“For you are to cross over the Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you. And when you possess it and live in it, you shall be careful to do all the statutes and the rules that I am setting before you today.” Deuteronomy 11:31, 32

Did you notice the phrases: “God is giving you”, “take possession”, and “do all the statutes”? All three of these truths are intertwined and related, and are applicable to our Christian life. Just like the gift God gave the Israelites, we have been given the gift of eternal life through what Jesus accomplished on the cross. The Israelite’s experience is a picture of God’s grace toward us. God, in His infinite wisdom and love, made it possible to again enjoy peace and fellowship with Him, a relationship that had seemingly forever been broken by Adam and Eve’s disobedience, their sin. The tension of God’s necessary judgement on sin – death – and His infinite love for His creation was solved by Himself, in the person of His Son. Jesus took the penalty we deserved and, in turn, gave us the gift of eternal life. It is God who initiated this rescue mission; it is God who saves us; salvation is all of God!

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 3:23, 24; 6:23

We are then asked to simply receive the gift of salvation by faith; God has done it, we believe it. In confession and repentance (making a 180 degree turn), we transfer our trust in our own sense of goodness to Christ’s perfect sacrifice for our sin. Our slate is wiped clean; we are now seen by God as in Christ; we become a member of the family of God with all the spiritual resources and eternal inheritance available to us.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3, 4

At times, exercising that first step of faith can be difficult. Our self-righteousness clouds our need of trusting exclusively in Christ’s righteousness. But, it is the only way to be forgiven and begin a new relationship with Him. This relationship now requires ongoing steps of faith as we follow God’s guidelines, His commands and instructions, and His Spirit’s promptings. “Salvation is about a new birth, but also about a new life of holiness. Sanctification is a cooperative effort: the Spirit partners with us to the extent of our assent.” (T. Ferdinandusz) He wants to change our character, He desires to send us on mission for His glory, and there is a multitude of spiritual resources available to us on this new journey. We are to take possession of all that God has promised, just as God’s people did thousands of years ago. “Working out our salvation” requires continual steps of faith and obedience. It is the only way to experience the benefits of God’s gift, His blessings.

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12, 13

By the way, I’ve taken possession of my AirPods and am enjoying their benefits.

 

 

 

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