Virtually all of us receive gifts at various times in our lives. Maybe it is on your birthday, or at Christmas. Although many people receive gifts on special days, others are fortunate to receive gifts “just because.” I love giving my wife little gifts “just whenever,” simply to remind her that she is the love of my life.
I sometimes wonder what happens to most of those gifts that people receive. Even though they may be appreciated when they are received, they often end up in the bottom drawer, or out in the garage, or maybe even out in the … wait a minute, did I re-gift that present?
In America, with our affluence and our propensity to buy gifts that are not really needed, we often end up with far more stuff than we really need, and things seem to get misplaced or forgotten.
But it is not just affluent Americans who love to give gifts. People of virtually all cultures embrace the habit of giving gifts when they are able to. I wonder where we get this DNA drive to give gifts?
Maybe it is in us because God loves to bless people with gifts, and since we are created in God’s image, we have a hard wired tendency to give gifts. That is a new thought for me.
There are all sorts of gifts that God gives to us, and I have observed that God’s gifts are usually far more useful than the T-shirt someone brings me from their intrepid excursion to Alcatraz.
Many of the gifts of God are in the category of what we refer to as “common grace.” Those are gifts that God gives to everyone. Those would include such things as the sunlight and the rain, the crops that grow, and the children that we have. Those gifts God graciously pours out upon all people, evil as well as good. Even if someone does not believe in God they receive those blessings just as do those who believe fully in Him.
But there is one gift that God gives only to His children, only to those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. That is the gift of the Holy Spirit who dwells within those who are born again.
This is a precious gift that not only brings us into and keeps us in the family of God, but through the Holy Spirit, we are able to do all things that God calls us to do. The Apostle Paul points to the indwelling Holy Spirit in Philippians 4:13 when he wrote, “I can do all things through that which strengthens me.” God not only gives us eternal life, but He also gives us what we need to rightly live out our life in Christ — God the Holy Spirit.
I mention that at this time because in less than two weeks we celebrate in remembrance the day of Pentecost, which is the day that God gave the Holy Spirit to His people, the church. Of all the gifts you could ever receive, what could be more wondrous than God giving Himself to you?
The gift of God is that which cleanses you and makes you holy. It is the Holy Spirit that causes you to become a child of God. It is He who enables you to be transformed more and more into the likeness of Christ our Savior. And one amazing wonder of this gift is that once you receive the Holy Spirit, He is yours forever.
We know this because not only is the Holy Spirit a promise, He is a gift. Romans 11:29 says that the gifts of God are irrevocable — in other words, He will not take them back. What a wondrous thing to know that when God makes you His through faith in Jesus Christ, He keeps you as His for all eternity through the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. Hallelujah!
Sometimes the gifts we receive from others are useless. Sometimes they break. Sometimes they get lost, and as hard as we look, we simply cannot find them.
These things are never true of the Holy Spirit. He is not only always useful, we cannot really get along as Christians without Him. In addition, He is always on the job. He never wears out or breaks down. And you never need worrying about losing Him. The Holy Spirit doesn’t have a GPS, He is THE GPS – God’s Personal Spirit.
Since He is God the Holy Spirit, He always knows your needs, even the needs you are not aware of. He warns you of temptation, and He convicts you of sin. The Holy Spirit even prays on your behalf when you don’t know how to pray about something.
Not only is God a gift giver, He is a Great gift giver, and He wants to give His gift of the Holy Spirit to you. This He always does when you put your faith in Jesus, trusting that He alone has done all that is necessary for you to receive the gift of eternal life.
I encourage you to receive the gift of God today — receive Christ. Then you can celebrate Pentecost in a holy new way.
Jon McCartney is pastor of First Baptist Church of Tooele.