By Beverly Ueti
Take a minute to just breathe before you read. Close your eyes. Let the stress of today fade away.
Scripture: John 3:16-17 NIV
”For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
By Beverly Ueti
This is the first verse I memorized from the bible for myself near Thanksgivings of 1993. God sent his Son, as a gift, to me, so I would not perish, not to condemn who I was, but to save me and the world through His Son. I was so delighted with this verse that I sent it in all my Christmas cards. Even now, it brings tears to my eyes because I remember God’s Gift of grace and mercy I received through Jesus’s death and resurrection. Grace is receiving something that is not earned. And mercy is not receiving the punishment earned. I did not earn this gift of eternal life, nor the gift of knowing God’s presence. But I did fully earn the punishment of perishing that the world is quick to condemn me with.
How was Jesus’s birth a Gift from God? God had a plan of salvation for us predicted in the Old Testament. The birth of Jesus was known, down to the town, housing, and time. Even a Christmas star for the wise men to follow and dreams to keep the baby safe. “For to us a child is born, to us, a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.” Isaiah 9:6. God gave his Son to be born as one of us. Jesus' birth was the start of a process that appears to end with his death, but then he returns. Jesus sacrificed his life to pay the penalty of sin which separated people from God’s presence. He then gave the people the gift of God’s presence (grace) and the freedom from paying the price of sin (mercy) if we will believe in him.
Jesus' birth was the start of a process that appears to end with his death, but then he returns.
What is it that we are to “believe in him”? The Quest Study bibles answers “To believe in Christ involves more than just agreeing that Jesus’s words are true. It means to trust in Christ alone for your salvation. It is deciding to place your fate in the hands of Jesus, trusting him to be your Lord and his Word to by your command.” Romans 10:9-10 “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”
Ephesians 2:4, 8-9 (4)“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” … (8)”For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—(9) not by works, so that no one can boast,”
Questions to Consider
Have you received God’s gift of eternal life?
Do you extend your love as a Gift with Grace and Mercy to others?
Lord, help me to understand Your love, grace and mercy. Teach me to love others as you have loved me. Strengthen me with your power through Your Holy Spirit, so Christ may dwell in my heart through faith, being rooted and established in love. Please grant me the power to grasp and to teach others how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. (Adapted from Ephesians 3:14-19 Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians.)