There was a problem with the audio on Sunday so they won’t be posting the video of the talk. With my apologies, here’s the gist of what I spoke about.
Have you ever received a gift that left you speechless? It was so extravagant, or so unexpected, or so personal, or so … that you didn’t have words.
Suzi and I were childless for the first six years of our marriage and had more than one miscarriage. God gave us a family through the miracle of adoption. That’s how we felt each time we looked into the face of one of our adopted children for the first time.
That’s also how I felt that night on December 7, 1979 under the lightly falling snow on the corner of Dearborn and Chestnut Streets in Chicago when I asked Suzi to marry me and she said, “Yes”.
Paul had that reaction in 2CO 9:15. He is writing about financial assistance to those in need. That leads him to talk about how God supplies and he ends with the exclamation “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift”. The gift he’s talking about is called in another translation “unspeakable.” It’s unutterable, it’s inexpressible, it’s incomprehensible, it’s extraordinary because it’s paradoxical. Let me show you what I mean. Here are four Paradoxes of God’s Indescribable Gift …
This gift is given to everyone but only a few receive it
You could say It has been delivered to every front porch (or version thereof) on the planet – in fact it’s said to be knocking at the door, but many people don’t receive it, Why?
- Some reject it – they mark it “Return to sender” because they don’t trust the giver or they’re angry with him for something that happened to them. They don’t realize God is not the author of bad things and is the one waiting to help
- Some don’t know about it – someone needs to tell them what that knocking is at the front door.
- Some don’t “need” it – what do you give the person who has everything?
- Some ignore it – they have no time, or no interest
In John 1:12 the disciple John says that to all who do receive this gift, God gave the right to become children of God. When you adopt a child, you appear in court and the judge asks you if you are willingly receiving this child into your family with all the rights, privileges, and access of a fully legal member of the family including being heir to your estate. The answer, of course, is YES! John is saying that those who receive his gift have the full rights, privileges and access to God as a fully legal child including being heirs to the throne of heaven!
This gift is absolutely free, but it will cost you everything
You can’t buy it – this offer is not available in stores (or online for that matter) You can’t get it at Amazon, there is no auction on e-Bay, Wal-Mart doesn’t carry it. You won’t find it at Nordstrom. Even Neiman Marcus doesn’t carry it. The price is too high. You couldn’t afford it. No one but God could afford to pay for it.
You can’t earn it. In Luke 18 a young man came to Jesus and asked, “What must I do to [earn the gift]?” Jesus gave him an answer not to say, “Do this and you’ll earn it,” but to demonstrate how impossible it is to earn the gift.
You can’t bargain for it – You’ve heard of foxhole conversions, “God, if you get me out of this, I’ll start going to church (or whatever the promise might be)!” That doesn’t work. Neither does God say, ‘ll give you this gift if you do that for me. It’s not a quid pro quo transaction.
When you receive it, and you have to actively receive this gift. You have to sign for it at the door. There is no auto deposit. When you receive this gift, it changes you. This is not a gift you can just stick in your back pocket, or hang around your neck, or put up in the closet. When you take hold of this gift, it takes hold of you. It gets inside your head. It gets inside your heart and begins to change you from the inside out. In one place, the bible says just looking at this gift transforms you. The word “transform” is metamorphosis. Just like a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, this gift begins to transform your character.
You could say this gift will cost you who you are today to become who you were meant to be. That will Cost you time. It will cost you energy. It will cost you money. It may cost you friends. It has cost many their lives. Read Hebrews 11 in the New Testament, or Foxe’s book of Martyrs. Many of you know the story of Jim Elliott.
When you receive this gift, it also changes your trajectory. People who do not receive it are on a trajectory away from God. But this gift
- Redeems your life from bondage
- Restores your soul
- Remakes your brokenness
- Resurrects you from spiritual deadness, and
- Returns you to the one who gave it forever
This gift is given to you, but it is not for you
You’re supposed to re-gift this gift. The words from a song that plays at Christmas are, “Last Christmas I gave you my heart. The very next day, you gave it away.” In the song that’s a bad thing, but God says “Yes! Give it away the very next day, and the day after that, and the day after that.
None of God’s gits is intended to flow into you like a reservoir, they’re all intended to flow through you like a river to benefit others. 1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
One of the ironies of this gift is that it grows in value as you give it away. You reap all the benefits of the gift and as you give it away, you get more of it. It’s truly the gift that keeps on giving.
This gift is not a what It’s a whom
This gift is not a thing. Some treat it like an insurance policy, or like a certificate of membership is some club.
This is God’s gift of Jesus and all he is and does and has and brings when he is received. In the Bible names are significant. They speak of character and position and resources. Jesus is called by many names in the Bible. At this time of year we think especially of “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” I love the title King; King of Kings and Lord of Lords. In the front of my journal I’ve written, “I serve at the pleasure of the King.”
In 1981, Suzi and I were in our first year of marriage. It was my senior year at Moody Bible Institute. In February of that year, Suzi and I attended Moody’s Founder’s week, a week long Bible conference. During one of the sessions we attended, S.M. Lockridge spoke. His message was entitled, “Amen.” During that message he delivered this now famous description of the indescribable Jesus! It’s been memorialized as a modernized video here
During that video, pastor Lockridge asked several times, “Do you know him?” At this Christmas time I wonder, too, have you opened the door and signed for the gift God has delivered to you? There would be no better time than now.