Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Gift from God

Numbers 8:13-19
13 “And you shall stand the Levites before Aaron and his sons, and then offer them like a wave offering to the LORD. 14 “Thus you shall separate the Levites from among the children of Israel, and the Levites shall be Mine. 15 “After that the Levites shall go in to service the tabernacle of meeting. So you shall cleanse them and offer them, like a wave offering. 16 “For they are wholly given to Me from among the children of Israel; I have taken them for Myself instead of all who open the womb, the firstborn of all the children of Israel. 17 “For all the firstborn among the children of Israel are Mine, both man and beast; on the day that I struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them to Myself. 18 “I have taken the Levites instead of all the firstborn of the children of Israel. 19 “And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and his sons from among the children of Israel, to do the work for the children of Israel in the tabernacle of meeting, and to make atonement for the children of Israel, that there be no plague among the children of Israel when the children of Israel come near the sanctuary.”

On the day God struck all the firstborn in Egypt He consecrated to Himself all the firstborn in Israel. And with the Law being given and the priesthood through Aaron established, God now consecrated to Himself all the Levites instead of the firstborn in Israel, of both man and beast. The reason for this is so that they, the Levites, could serve God throughout their generations in place of the Israelites in the Tabernacle duties. As well so that God could give them as a gift to Aaron and his son’s, the priests, so that they might serve them and be with them in the ministry work for Israel (Num. 18:1-7). Now these are interesting things and one can go into a lot of detail about them. Instead I want us to focus on just one verse and one specific thought from that verse. In verse nineteen God says to Moses in consecrating the Levites to Himself “And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and his sons from among the children of Israel, to do the work for the children of Israel in the tabernacle of meeting, and to make atonement for the children of Israel…” Therefore please consider that God gives us gifts: His salvation is a gift, His love is a gift, our lives are a gift… Not only to be enjoyed and lived out in peaceful union with Himself but also with others as well. That is essentially what a church body is. People separated to the Lord God because of their personal faith in and commitment to Jesus Christ living their lives out in love and peace amongst each other, and hopefully with others as well.

Now within this Body of Believers God by His Spirit has given every member gifts. These are Supernatural endowments given by the Holy Spirit according to His own will to each believer, by which we are to serve each other in love (1 Cor. 12:4-11; Gal. 5:13). Now these gifts are unique. And each gift, just like each person, makes a unique contribution to whole. Therefore no particular gift or person can be said to be unnecessary, for all are necessary for the proper functioning of the whole body (1 Cor. 12:14-27), just as each member or person is. For God has placed each member in the Body of Christ just as He pleased (1 Cor. 12:18). And thus for the church to function well it must not be dependent on one particular gift or gifted person, but on the whole Body of believers from the least to the greatest exercising their Spirit given gifts in love and in accord with God’s designs for us all. That is all things are done for the edification of church (1 Cor. 14:12, 26, 33). Therefore even those members who seem weaker are necessary. And those members who are less honorable we are to bestow greater honor on, since the more honorable have no need. And thus there should be no schism amongst the members. But all the members should have mutual care for each other (1 Cor. 12:22-25). Therefore if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it, or if one member is honored all the members rejoice with it; for we are the Body of Christ and members individually (1 Cor. 12:26-27). Now there is a hierarchy of Spirit gifts that make up for church leadership (1 Cor. 12:28-31), yet as chapter twelve closes chapter thirteen begins with love being exhorted as the greatest gift and greatest exercise of Spirit gifts and talents, not hierarchical authority.

So then returning to where I started I want you to know that you are gift given by God. Your life has a purpose and meaning. First you are a gift to God Himself created to know Him and love Him and be loved by Him. Second through Jesus Christ you are a gift to the Lord Himself and the church. Set in place there by God Himself to honor His Son and build up the church in love with whatever Spirit gifts and calling God has placed in you. Third you are gift to your family. Maybe you’re a father or mother, child or grandparent, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew etc. Whatever role or roles you currently occupy you are a gift from God there. I don’t know anyone (in any circumstance of life) that cannot be a gift to others if they rightly see themselves as that, given by God to help and encourage others. Fourth you’re a gift from God to your community. The many volunteers who serve their communities in innumerable ways are indeed gifts from God. Equally in your workplace how you do your work there and treat those around you can very much be a gift from God to all there. And as Christians we should be gifts; i.e. a blessing to those around us. Same with what we do in our leisure time, we can be a gift not only to our families but also to the extended contacts and influences that come through family ties as well. Fifth you’re a gift from God to humanity. Every human being is an image bearer of God (Gen. 1:27). And thus you and I, no matter what our circumstance of life, whether healthy and strong or weak and farial have an inherent and immeasurable value and dignity placed on us and within us by God Himself (If you doubt this consider Jesus' warning not to disparage another human being, Matt. 5:22). For we are all exceedingly valued by God as Jesus Himself said of His purpose for coming forth from God to save us from our sins which separate us from God, and thus life itself (John 3:16). Therefore within us we all have the capacity to not only relate to God but also our fellow persons. People who say we cannot adequately relate to someone from a different walk of life, or life experience or culture are copping out. All people, whatever the culture or background understand common human experiences, like love or tragedy, joy and laughter, sadness and despair; dreams and failures etc. We’ve all experienced it, or have the capacities within us to do so. And thus we have the capacity to enter into another’s joy or suffering and be a blessing there, as well as by letting people into our own lives experiences. For we are all given by God as a gift to all our human brethren, equipped with natural abilities and personality traits that make us unique. But also immensely valuable in who we are as God’s creation, and what we can do and contribute and potentially contribute to the service of God and well being of others in this life. I’m always amazed and humbled by what God does through children. Little gifts of great curiosity and endless energy with a desire to serve and be involved if only given a chance. I remember when volunteering at a local food bank seeing elementary school age children arrive by the bus load and these seemingly little children with great zeal and joy would sort through the large wooden crates of potatoes donated from the various producers in the area, removing the spoilage from the usable ones. It seemed in no time flat they’d have a bin licked and be moving onto the next one. Amazing!
Parents I know you love your children. But do you know how much they want to be involved with you? Next time when you go shopping, or are doing something around the home, or in the yard, ask your children to be a part of whatever you’re doing. You’ll build some really strong bonds and be not only a blessing to them, but just maybe blessed by them. Now being a blessing begins by first receiving a blessing from God the Father. That is where it all begins. Not by trying harder in your own strength and resolve to be a Godly person, but by first admitting defeat. For it is there that God meets us, the broken, the failures, the poor in spirit, as Jesus said, and makes us into people of the Kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:3).

If you have never come to see your need for the Savior and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior, maybe today is the day. By a simple prayer of faith placing all of your hope on Jesus Christ the Lord crucified to pay for all our sins, and risen from the dead so that He can impart new and everlasting life within us the moment we believe in Him, by His Holy Spirit, you can. For it’s not what you have done or have not done that makes us or will make us acceptable to God the Father, it’s whether or not we believe in His Son Christ Jesus the Lord (John 3:16-21). That is the sole basis for our being restored to God the Father and brought to Spirit life, eternal life. For it is God's Righteousness given to us when we believe in Jesus that saves us.

If you would like to begin that relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ His Son and be blessed by Him simply pray in faith something like this: Dear Lord Jesus I know that I am a sinner and have sinned against You and am in no way capable of changing myself much less paying for my sins. Yet You were sent from God to not only save us from our sins and the judgment to come but to bless us with Your Person, Presence and Power dwelling inside us. For it is only by You that we experience God’s love, grace and life in all its fullness. Therefore I now invite You into my heart and life to be both my Lord and Savior; first for salvation; and then as You work in and through my life a blessing to others as well, In Jesus' Name, amen.

Scripture Quotations
The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

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