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Previous Message From Virtual Church

Receiving His Gift

Christmas is almost upon us. Most of us will unwrap a present or two. This message is a little guide in receiving Godís precious gifts to you. His precious gifts come in many forms. The most precious of all, of course, came to us as a baby born in a manger.

Matthew 6:19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (NIV)

We all treasure things. Some of us collect things. We collect coins, antiques, cars, tools, ribbons, dolls, teddy bears, sports trading cards, and just "things." Some of us will get a collectible or two this Christmas. Just because we collect does not mean anything. It is what we treasure that counts.

What do we hold dear?
What takes up space in our thinking?
What takes up space in our heart?

There are sayings about thoughts. "Thoughts are things", "Thoughts become us", and "Thoughts become our health" are some of these familiar sayings. A lot of life comes at us and we think we have limited control. Sometimes it seems we have no control.

A million refugees are driven out of their homes.

Six million Jews die in a Nazi death machine.

The doctor says, "Iím sorry, there isnít anything we can do."

Jobs are lost.

Time slips away and we find out it is too late to do or be whatever it was we wanted to do or be.

However, maybe life is not always what it seems. Maybe there is more going on around us and through us than we can imagine. Jesus tells us there is a lot more to what is going on around us than what we see, hear, or touch. Jesus tells us there is a storehouse in heaven. What the storehouse contains is up to us. We control what we store away. We cannot put things of earth in this warehouse in heaven, but we can put the things of heaven there. Where your treasure is your heart is. Notice that what we store away goes before our heart. On the surface, you would think it would be the other way around. It would seem that what you hold in your heart goes to heaven. However, Jesus says we must be in an active storage mode.

Too often, we worship the things of earth. Things of earth disappear at some point through deterioration, demolition, being sent to the dump, thrown out in the trash, burned, or destroyed in some fashion. Like the wrapping paper that gets collected after the mass unwrapping ceremony, all the things of this life eventually disappear. What Jesus is saying in the above verse is incredibly important for each of us to know. There are consequences to our thinking. There are both heavenly consequences and earthly consequences.

One of the heavenly gifts we can unwrap this Christmas and then store away in heaven is hope. However hopeless things might look here on earth, there is hope in heaven. When we think about the hope of heaven, we store hope away for ourselves. What we put on the shelf in heaven appears in our heart here on earth. Notice that what we store up, up there, is where our heart is. When we think about our future, we do not always see the best and brightest aspects of what will happen. When we are young, we can see almost forever. When we grow older, there is, realistically, more of our earthly life behind us than there is ahead of us. However, no matter what age we are, what condition we are in, where we are, or how we are, there is for us a hope in heaven. There is for each of us a hope for an eternal blissful life in heaven.

The heavenly gift we unwrap and then treasure is a matter of the choices we make. Every day we make choices. Every second we make choices. We choose what we think. We choose what we treasure. If we could not choose or make choices Jesus would not have told us about choosing what we store away. No matter where we are or what we must undergo in life, we have until our last moment, many choices we can make. God has preserved in us the ability to make choices.

What we treasure or value can either help or hurt us. What Jesus is saying is that we can help our life now by what we choose to think.

We can think about Godís love.

We can think about Godís forgiveness.

We can think about Godís healing touch.

OrÖ

We can think about how difficult things are.

We can think about how bad things are in our life.

We can think about how we are owed something.

We can unwrap and treasure the gift that Godís love surrounds and uplifts us.

We can unwrap and treasure the gift that Godís forgiveness erases totally what we have said, thought, and done in the past.

We can unwrap and treasure the gift of Godís healing touch that heals us from every spiritual infirmity, and, as His will decides, He can heal us from physical infirmities here now, and eventually all physical infirmities when we reach His heavenly home.

If we do not receive His gift of love and treasure His love, and then hold the love of God in our heart, we see only loneliness and the darkness of being pressed down. Where Godís love is not recognized, there is loneliness and pain. Where Godís love is not treasured, there is darkness. Without God, there is aloneness. Without God, there is just you and no one else in your life.

If we do not receive and treasure the love of God, there is in each of us an innate recognition that tells us that life is hopeless. Many people have a sense of hopelessness about themselves and their life. Most of these people who confront their hopelessness in life run away from the hopelessness, drink it away, drug it away, play it away, watch TV it away, or try to escape it by whatever means possible.

One of our real plights in life is how we deal with the end. Most people do not want to think about deathÖbecause when you do think about deathÖwhat is there? Is there for you, just nothingness, blackness, or some kind of uncertain and horrible hellish unknown? Alternatively, is there something wonderful and beautiful, which lasts forever and ever? What happens to you at the moment of death is a result of the choice your make and what you treasure in your heart.

We are to receive His gift and to treasure that Godís only Son died for us.

We are to receive His gift and we are to treasure that God was willing to let His Son die for us because God loves us.

We are to receive His gift and we are to treasure that God wants us to spend eternity in His home.

We are to receive His gift and we are to treasure that we can spend eternity in heaven with Him.

We are to receive His gift and we are to treasure this opportunity to spend eternity soaking up the greatest love, caring, and acceptance anyone could ever imagine.

We are to receive His gift and we are to treasure the love of God by treasuring our times of private worship. When we worship, we are to receive His gifts and to treasure up all the beauty of Christ. In addition, we worship because we know the truth. We worship because we experience the truth of Godís love for us, and by holding Godís love inside of our hearts.

Jesus told us to treasure the love of God for our survival as a human race, for our spiritís survival, and for the glory of God, which in turn can glorify our spirits as we join our spirit with His.

What we treasure is a choice we make and that choice can bless our lives or curse our lives. Storing up for ourselves blessings in heaven can be accomplished by being a blessing here on earth. Our faith is not and was never meant to be a one way street where we are to constantly walk around with our hands out waiting for God to give us what we want. To often people are led to believe that God has all the blessings and all we have to do is open our mouths and God pours them in. This idea reduces us to be like a baby in a high chair. Sorry. We are responsible or we are supposed to be responsible persons. We cannot receive from God what we do not give away here on earth. However, if we give away here on earth to get from God, we do not get from God. When we give to get, this is selfishness. We cannot "work" God. We cannot manipulate Him. We cannot control God. We receive blessings from God by giving to God and giving to Gods children in anonymous ways here on earth. We receive blessings from God by blessing Godís children. Storing treasures in heaven works like a system, or like a reflex. What we give away is stored up in heaven and usually comes back to us here on earth. If we curse God, we get the curse back. If we curse man, man curses us back, or our life is left as if our life is cursed.

We can receive the gift of giving. We are not talking about some kind of intellectual thing; we are talking about a spiritual lifestyle thing. Our spiritual life is based upon giving or taking. We can accept Christ as our Savior, and still not get the idea that how we live our life is based upon giving or taking. What we give away in Christí name we store up in heaven. What we take we have to live with here on earth. In addition, there are consequences. There are good and wonderful consequences for storing up good and wonderful things in heaven.

What we treasure is a choice and we can choose to either bestow mercy or wound. We can choose to help or hurt. There are consequences to either helping or hurting. We store up treasure in heaven by bestowing or giving peace. Alternatively, we live the wounds we inflict upon others. Each of us has a conscience. It is hard to believe (sometimes) that all people have a conscience. However, we always have a choice. We must always make a choice. The choices we make store up treasures for us in heaven.

What we treasure is a choice. We can choose to grace or injure or we can choose to give a healing touch. When we seek to heal others we store up healing in heaven and some of it overflows into our own lives. Giving healing can bless. Why would we not always, always, always heal?

Why would we injure? However, we do injure. The track record of humanity is littered with the trash of manís sin, which has caused us to injure others on a personal, family, and national level. Out of our anger, fear, pain, and frustration comes the desire to hurt and injure others. Instead of storing up treasures in heaven, manís anger, fear, pain, and frustration make for a personal hell on earth. And these personal hells lead to war.

We can receive the gift of love. We can choose to treasure the Love of God, and the capacity God has given us to love others. However, if we are to truly and unselfishly love others then work is required. To love others we must understand others. We must walk in others shoes. To love others we must get out of ourselves and take on forgiveness.

We can receive the gift of peace. We can choose to store up peace. We can desire peace in the world. We can desire peace in our hearts. Sadly, the world is at war. The world is always at war. In our individual lives, each individual makes a choice between war and peace. Every day, every minute we choose war or peace. Some people continually choose turmoil and upset. However, they may not realize they make this choice between peace and turmoil. Some people do actively choose turmoil. Life comes at us. Life piles up on us, and we get into turmoil. However, what Jesus is saying is, we have a choice. No matter what our circumstances, we can choose.

We can receive the gift of forgiveness. We can choose to store up forgiveness. There is a universal spiritual law that says essentially, what we give away comes back to us. When we are willing to be forgiving and then forgive, we get forgiveness back. When we add forgiveness to our storehouse in heaven, forgiveness is stored and as we are willing to erase the wrongs done to us, our wrongs are erased by God. When we hold grudges, or when we keep thinking about the wrongs that have been done to us instead of letting it go, then we store up nothing in heaven. In addition, what we get for holding a grudge is what we generate in our heartsÖour own anger, pain, and hostility.

We can receive the gift of prayer. When we pray, those prayers are prayer requests. Those requests are stored away in the heart of God. The fact that we call upon God to help others, to remember others, to touch others livesÖthat gesture is stored up for us by God. In addition, we get those gestures back. Both now and later when we live in heaven. Whether we realize it or not, blessings are poured out on those people who deserve them. Sometimes it does not look like it. It seems that there is a lot of unfairness in life. It often seems the bad people seem to get more, and the good people seem to get less. In the Christian faith, what is in our heart is the important thing. Even if by outward appearances, we are not blessed, we can be blessed in our hearts. Even if we are beset by all kinds of physical problems and afflictions, our heart can overflow.

We can receive the gift of a thankful spirit. We can store up in the heart of God thanksgiving "points." When we praise God or thank God, that spiritual action is stored away. In ways we cannot understand, we get those blessing "points" back. We take so much for granted. Think what an awful place the world would be if there was no joy, no peace, no forgiveness, no love. There are families like this. There are workplaces like this. There are whole regions of the world like this. What we store up comes back to us in our heart.

We can receive Godís gift of compassion. What would the world be like if no one cared? Kosovo is an example. Our survival as a race has probably hinged on our compassion for one another. If no one cared about anyone else, if we all were looking out only for ourselves, the human race would have vanished.

We must all make the choice to care because caring is a choice. There is no guarantee that when you care about someone else they will care back.

However, it does not make any difference because what you are doing is storing your caring away. God blesses those who care. Some way, some how, some time God blesses those who care.

Every good and beautiful gift is stored up in heaven. Gifts and wrapping so wonderful we have no way to describe them. Every good deed.

Every kind thought. Every prayer, every moment of true worship, every temptation resisted, every enemy forgiven is a treasure God stores away for you under a glorious Christmas tree. Every time we give to God, every moment of meditation about Godís love puts another gift under the tree.

All of these and more are put in Godís storehouse and we get them back, if not today, certainly when we see Him in all His glory. However, what we put away up there is not quite what we thought we put away. No, God has a lot of wonderful surprises in store for each of us.

   

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSIONģ. NIVģ. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (RSV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Copyright © 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Entire contents copyright © 1999 - 2010 by Rev. Patrick Kelly, All rights reserved.
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Shepherd's Care Ministries author and webmaster, Rev. Patrick Kelly, is affiliated through ministerial ordination with Church of God Ministries, Anderson IN 46018