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Plastic Love

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!"- Romans 5:15

Over the years our culture has changed quite rapidly and drastically, and in many cases not for the better. However, there is one change that from my vantage point has been a hit, a revelation, a sweet spot in our society. I do not want to speak for the masses, but in my humble opinion GIFT CARDS are one of the best gifts you can receive. In the past (the golden days) gift cards were seen as the easy way out for the shopper who waited to the last minute and did not want the hassle of dealing with crowded stores and mall parking lots. They were also seen as quite impersonal. A gift card was the classic sign that the gift giver didn't really know the individual they were buying for or didn't put much creative thought into what they were getting. Well, all I can say is, "How times have changed!"

The thing that makes gift cards great is they provide such a wide array of purchasing options. A gift card to a restaurant allows for someone to perhaps enjoy a place generally out of their price range, to get a much needed date night with their spouse, or have the luxury of splurging on a sweet dessert. A gift card to a store like Target provides the option of adding a shirt to the wardrobe, getting your hands on that new electronic equipment, or upgrading a room in the house with a nice furniture piece or decoration. A credit/debit gift card that serves as cash can be used to bring a little cushion to one's monthly budget on items such as groceries and gasoline. And a Starbucks gift card...need I even say more!

Just this past Christmas we received a set of these small, rectangular, plastic beauties from dear friends. What made these gift cards especially meaningful was just a few weeks earlier we had received a gift card to the same restaurant, so these added cards totally changed and enhanced the gift. We went from an amount that would either be used just for a date night or taking money out of our own pocket, to a thrilling announcement to the kids that the entire family would be going out to enjoy some great grub in the near future.

The idea of gift cards and this recent Christmas experience has me thinking about the gift of God's MERCY to us. As our church family has entered into this Year of New Mercies, I want each of us to understand the depths and riches of God's gift in such a way that we become excited about it and enter into at every level possible. As we think more about the mercy of God and meditate on what the Bible teaches us about this gift, we will come to see how it opens doors providing so many levels of joy, peace, liberty, and life.

  • God's mercy releases salvation life into our hearts.

"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 our transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved."- Ephesians 2:4-5

  • God's mercy meets us each day to answer our daily needs.

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His mercies never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."- Lamentations 3:22-23

  • God's mercy opens the way into His presence so we can bring our prayers/requests before Him.

"Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."- Hebrews 4:16

  • God's mercy extends forgiveness to cleanse and redeem us from our faults.

"Be merciful, just as your Father in heaven is merciful."- Luke 6:36

What a wonderful gift that has been given to us that works wonders at so many levels. What a glorious thing that God's SALVATION is so much more than just what we experience when we get to heaven; that God's FORGIVENESS is so much more than just for a one-time failure we have; that God's PROVISION is so much more than just for today's need; and that God's PRESENCE is so much more than just when we find ourselves facing adversity and emergencies. May the mercy of God be received in such a way that we see the many dimensions it overflows in our lives, makes a way in our lives, and effects long-lasting change in our lives.

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