Years ago, I remember casually watching an episode of the Oprah Show. She was hosting a surprise give away of ALL her Favorite Things. The audience was upside-down with excitement…It was completely unexpected! What good fortune they had by being there that day. They hit the jackpot! They received gifts of every kind and value. The audience was losing it's collective mind over the free gifts that Oprah was giving away to each of them. There was jumping up and down, screaming, crying and looks of disbelief. These men and women of the audience were chosen to be the recipients that day of Oprah’s lavish generosity: Pure beneficence on behalf of the giver and no strings attached!
Everyone loves a free gift: Something thoughtful, valuable, free. Something you don’t have to work for or earn. Whether it is movie tickets and a dinner for two or a brand new car or even a new toaster oven—we all love to receive things that didn't cost us anything.
Sounds a lot like the gifts of grace.
Speaking of favorite things; the Book of Ephesians in the Bible is definitely one of my favorite things. One doesn’t need to read much beyond the first chapter to become completely overwhelmed with all that has been given to us in Christ Jesus; not because we worked for it or earned it, but because He simply delights to give it to us.
If you aren’t familiar with Ephesians chapter one, I would encourage you to read and re-read it until all the goodness about who you are in Christ just sinks in and settles into your heart. Here are just some of the gifts and graces we have received in the Beloved:
1- You are blessed in the Heavenly realms with EVERY spiritual blessing in Christ.
2- You were chosen specifically by Christ before the world began.
3- You were chosen to be holy and blameless in His sight.
4- In love, you were predestined to be adopted as God’s son/daughter in Jesus Christ.
5- He predestined and adopted you because it was what He wanted and it gave Him pleasure.
6- His glorious grace has been freely given to you in Christ, whom He loves.
7- In Him, you have been redeemed by the precious blood of the Son of God.
8- You have received forgiveness for sins because of how vast the riches of God’s grace are.
9- You have been lavished with God’s grace in addition to all wisdom and understanding.
10- God has made known to you the mystery of His will because it pleased Him to do so.
11- You are chosen and predestined according to what God wanted.
12- You and your life will be to the praise of His glory.
13- You are included in Christ.
14- Having believed the message of Christ; you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.
15- The Holy Spirit’s seal on you is your guarantee of the inheritance you will receive in His presence.
16- You are God’s possession and it is a glorious thing!
17- The same resurrection power that raised up Christ, is in us, by the Holy Spirit.
Wow! And that is only verses 3-14.
Oh the depths of His riches to us who believe!
I am being challenged to continually contemplate the value that I have so freely received in Christ and to find my ultimate identity in what He says about me... who He says I am...to see the great value in what I have been spared from and what I am receiving and will receive by being adopted into the family of God.
Just like the audience that was chosen for the ultimate prize giveaway, you and I have been chosen in Christ to receive an incredible inheritance in heaven, abundant blessings on earth and full acceptance in the Beloved…far beyond anything we could ever ask for or imagine.
Our sin debt is gone, paid for with the precious blood of Christ. We are co-heirs in an inheritance we did nothing to deserve. We have an eternity in Paradise that we could never earn. We have gained all of this and more through the adoption into God’s family. Oh, what a privilege to be chosen!
There is no room here for striving, for trying to earn. As if we could somehow repay the Lord for His kindness that drew us to Him! Nor is there room for arrogance, as if we somehow deserved any of it. It was not for any goodness of our own that we were chosen. It was for His delight.
We simply come, empty-handed to the table. Before us, we see a seat reserved and a place setting with our name beautifully inscribed. And we sit in wide-eyed wonder.
This is no potluck supper where we bring our meager covered-dish contributions. This is the King’s invitation to come and dine, and feast at a table of delights. Spread before us is a banquet of unending blessing and a glorious inheritance. Over all of it, God has pronounced a benediction of grace. Bought, paid for and prepared by the Lord of Glory himself.
So, there we sit: chosen, invited, and bidden to partake for His pleasure. This is all about Him. As we taste His goodness, His gifts--the saccharin trifles of the world pass away in the overwhelming presence of such abundance.
And what might our reaction be to such grace, such unmerited favor? I’d think that being upside-down with excitement, jumping up and down and tears of joy, much like Oprah’s audience, just might be quite the appropriate reaction the “fortune” we have received in Christ. And humility, soul-deep gratitude and a life poured out to His glory-- for such undeserved kindness-- would be, as well.
Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! (1 Cor. 9:5)