Wow! - The gift is free
My grandfather used to tell us stories. Looking back I cherish those moments. He always talked of what we were doing that day or a few days previous. The difference was, he was making our lives into a story. I had no idea he was teaching us how to document history. Then he always ended the story with, in 1933 it was that way that year. To us children the stories were fun and full of wonder, excitement and beauty.
So I thought I could share a brief story with you. There was a poor family, the father worked for another rancher, the daughter was sick and the dad had no money to go to the doctor. It would cost $10 for a good doctor and $1 for the not so good doctor. His child would die and he couldn’t bear the thought. He sought counsel from friends and others all of whom had ideas. The first man told him he would lend him $10 if he promised the daughter to be his lifetime housekeeper. Another man told him he would loan the $10 if he could guarantee the girl would get better and he agreed to be his laborer for two years without pay. Another person told him he didn’t deserve the money. Another said it was her destiny and life was not supposed to improve.
Broken hearted the man went to bed sobbing at the hopeless situation. Just a few miles down the road a woman was praying and felt in her heart that she always wanted to do something special for somebody, but she was just a poor widow, who nobody even knew. She was an outcast in society, and spent her days tending to her garden and putting up food. Few people bought some of her goods because her sauce seemed to prevent colds. When others saw her they seldom spoke to her, and even fewer knew her name.
One day while the woman was getting supplies in town, she overheard a couple of people laughing at the ranch hand who had been going around begging people for money to try and get his daughter to the doctor. She asked who the man was and they told her. They also told her what ranch he was on.
She knew she didn’t have anything magical, but she did know her spaghetti sauce always helped people feel better when they were sick. She didn’t have anything else but felt compelled to give the spaghetti sauce to the poor rancher. She sought out the father, and told him about her spaghetti sauce. She told him she would give it on one condition. When the girl was better they were all, to simply tell others of this miracle. No charge, no slavery, no strings attached.
The little girl took the sauce, and within days her health improved dramatically. Soon she was completely healed. Her father felt so indebted to the woman that he offered multiple ways of repayment. The woman refused and simply replied, the gift was free, and the blessings will last a lifetime. In 1933 it was that way that year.
Many times we find ourselves in difficult circumstances, a relationship isn’t healed, the bills are piling up, people are making fun of you and work stress is immense. You question if you will ever be successful in any situation. Imagine living in the days of the Mosaic Law. On top of everything else you fight in life the burden of righteousness is unbearable. We all try to be good people but inevitably we laugh at something we shouldn’t. We offend when we don’t mean to. We take subtle advantage like being undercharged at the store, or other opportunities where our character can be contaminated.
During 740-686 B.C.E or B.C there was a prophet of God named Isaiah. Isaiah had a mission of helping restore Israel from Babylonian destruction. John 12:41 said Isaiah saw Jesus’ glory some 600 years ahead of time. He lived a normal life. His wife was a prophet too. They had two sons. They were very well educated. Given he and his wife’s prominence, they were likely upper-class citizens. He was wise and recognized the lack of hope and ability to measure up.
He began speaking a message of hope to help sort out situations. He forecasted a hope to come. The hope to come was going to be a person. This person would take the monotony from Christian worship and would save the earth. Isaiah predicted the savior to come would judge between the nations (Isaiah 2:4). He would be a branch of God, Isaiah 4:2; Isaiah 11:1. He would be born of a virgin and be called “Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 8:8, 10).
All people heard this. It gave them hope to hang on and at the time it helped Israel prosper. He was encouraging everyone telling them of a coming savior in a fashion nobody would expect. It says in part of Isaiah 53 how this person would be perceived, “The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum.”
This gave the Israelites something to hold on to or was it just a story? The Israelites were looking for him this savior for the next 500 years. Think of the generations and life changes or world changes for that matter during this time. Could we hold onto that promise or would it become a story that was passed down without much extra thought. Have you ever received a word of encouragement and gave up? I can only imagine the frustration. Many people died with frustration in their hearts because what they experienced was Isaiah was wrong. Nothing came of what he said. This wasn’t Isaiah’s timing, it was God’s timing. This time mechanism none of us can really explain.
500 years later God honored Isaiah’s word. The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary. He told her that she was going to miraculously have a baby, and this baby would be the son of God. In spite of the situation and fear, Mary diligently pressed forward and agreed to take this challenge on. In fact she was so excited, she went to see her cousin Elizabeth and couldn’t wait to tell her the good news. She stayed with Elizabeth and Zachariah’s for three months and then returned to Nazareth.
An angel of the Lord, Gabriel again appeared to Joseph in a dream and explain to him about Mary‘s pregnancy and how exciting it was to get to have this baby Jesus. In a dream Joseph received several instructions. Meanwhile these astrologers had been looking at the stars and recognized its significance. They traveled to Jerusalem as they tracked the star and followed it. There they met with the King Herod. They told Herod that the Messiah was coming from the Star and they wanted to worship him.
Herod freaked out but he didn’t tell the wise men. He secretly ordered all little children to be killed because he didn’t want Jesus to take his throne. He was very intimidated. He deceived the astrologers and told them he wanted to worship this King as well and asked them to tell him when the child was born.
Joseph and Mary had no idea about the star. They had to go to Bethlehem because of the census because everybody needed to be counted in the area to know how many people were living in Herod’s kingdom. They couldn’t find any hotel to stay in so finally after pleading and begging a nice man let Joseph and Mary stay in his barn.
The next day they were to be counted but that night an incredible miracle happened. Angels came down from heaven and started telling Shepherds who were watching their sheep at night to make sure the coyotes wouldn’t get them what was happening. The shepherds were so excited they started running from their fields to the barn where the star was shining so bright it look like a spotlight on the building, you couldn’t miss it.
Everybody got to the barn just after this little baby Jesus was born and his mom grabbed some old blankets and she wrapped him to keep him warm and show him how much she loved him. Everybody began celebrating. The angels in heaven were singing glory in the highest, some peace on earth and all of the shepherds began celebrating and rejoicing with Mary and Joseph.
Mary and Joseph took Jesus in a few days to the temple to have him dedicated and a woman profit name Anna saw the baby. She said this is the Messiah and rejoiced that the messiah had come. She knew this baby was going to forever change the world. The miracles weren’t over. After that miraculously angels appeared to Joseph. They told Joseph that he needed to go to Egypt and live in Egypt because Herod was trying to kill baby Jesus and he had to protect him. They lived in Egypt for a few years and every year they went to Jerusalem because Joseph wanted to teach Jesus all about Mosaic Law and the Jewish life style.
In spite of their poverty Joseph gave Jesus the best Christian education he possibly could give. Once King Herod died an angel told Joseph that it was time for him to move back to Nazareth because there was no longer any threats against little Jesus.
Did you know the monumental set of circumstances caused the way time was tracked to change? The calendar changed. 6th century monk Dionysius Exiguus would suggest a calendar starting at Christ’s birth. This savior would take away our guilt our sin. He sent the Holy Spirit so we could have constant communication instead of seeking out a prophet. He gave us a relationship opportunity instead of a ritual. This was freedom, redemption, favor, and direction.
Our savior came to seek and save the lost. He lives and He directs. He is the miracle cure for everyone’s dilemma. Healing for the sick, strength for the weak, money for our bills and the joy that makes us whole. You can’t pay it back and you can’t work it off. Because this gift is free and …………………………………………….the blessings will last a lifetime.
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Philip Lukens is the senior pastor of the Carr Community Church. To receive updates please enter your e-mail address below and click subscribe.
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