The Free Christmas Gift

LastSunday, when our children were at church practising their Bibleverses for their “Bible Quizzing”, my wife and I decided to takea drive to the centre of town, where we used to live (that was backin 1992 when we first got married). We drove up Preston street, and,lo and behold, passed a place called “Peloso Cleaners” onthe right hand side. Well, you would not have thought much of it,except that before we got married, my wife used to rent a room from awoman whose last name was also “Peloso”. My wife said, “Iwonder if the owner is related to her.” In not many days, we wouldfind out!

Somebody,

it seems, was listening in on our conversation. We were not alone.However, it was just the two of us in the car. But the Bible says,”The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Watching the evil and thegood.” (Proverbs 15:3) He was listening in. Plus, both my wife andI are Christians. The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit (GodHimself) lives inside each true believer. We were not alone, afterall! Evidently, the Lord Himself decided to setup a “face-to-face”meeting with the owner of the dry cleaners. And here’s exactly how ithappened.

Four days later was Thursday,

December 23rd. Now that’s just a couple of days beforeChristmas. Well, as it turned out, I had some errands to do, and oneof those errands was to deposit some money into a banking machine. Sooff to the “bank” I went. Only, the bank machine I normally useis located, of all places, inside a grocery store. That would havebeen strange twenty years ago. Today, that’s not strange at all. So Iused the bank machine, and made my deposit. I had not thought at allto do anything else, so I started to head towards the exit. However,the Holy Spirit who has lived inside of me ever since I decided totrust in the Lord some twenty-five years ago told me to do somethingelse!

Now I hope you don’t mind, but I’d like

to take a little “time out” in my story, and tell you somethingabout the Holy Spirit. He’s God, after all, and worthy of beingmentioned! Many people don’t really understand the Holy Spirit, and Icannot claim to fully understand Him, either. But slowly, as theyears have been moving forward, I have been understanding Him moreand more. I have come to learn that He does things in ways that wemay not expect sometimes. He is not “limited” in this sense.After all, can He who made the heavens and the earth be in any way”limited”? Certainly, He is limited in His morality, for He cando no wrong. But He is hardly limited in some of the ways that He maydecide to communicate with us.

When I was about to go outside the door

(into the parking lot), the Holy Spirit distinctly spoke to me, butit was not an audible “word” that I heard Him speak. Rather, itwas what I will call a “leading.” I have actually created awebsite that talks all about how God speaks to us, in various ways,and I would encourage you to please check it out atwww.lifesanswer.com,because it’s full of real-life examples of how God has spoken in thepast (in my own life) as well as in the distant past (through men andwomen who lived a long time ago). This might help you to betterunderstand what I’m going to share with you.

When I was about to head out the door,

the Lord spoke to me (through a “leading” or “inner prompting”)and told me to go left, into the store, instead of outside. Somepeople may feel a little uncomfortable with that, because they maythink that is too subjective but, by the time you finish reading thisarticle, you will not only see that God led me straight to Mr. Pelosohimself who unbeknownst to me was in the store at the time, He alsomoved on Mr. Peloso’s heart to do something else, as well (which youwill find out about at the end).

The Lord led me through the store but,

in order to line everything up “perfectly” so that I’d actuallymeet Mr. Peloso “face-to-face”, He led me in a certain specificfashion. Now the Bible says, “Let the peace of Christ rule inyour hearts” (Colossians 3:15a). For God’s peace to reign insomeone’s heart, you must have the Holy Spirit living inside of you,so you first need to commit yourself to the Lord. Then, the HolySpirit will live inside of you, and you will be able to follow Hisleading. When we are sensitive in this way, then His perfect peacereigns in our heart. To have this constant peace means we mustcontinually be filled with God’s Spirit. It’s a matter of learning toabide in His presence. In my case, it was a matter of being fullyobedient to His leading right there in the store. I knew that He wasspeaking with me. So I simply had to do whatever He told me to do. Inthe end, the blessing always comes when we submit ourselves to Godand do what He says. Well, the blessing would come!

Now how it worked out was in this

manner. I sensed the Lord leading me to purchase something, but I didnot know what it was that He was leading me to purchase. The Bibleteaches us that God works in and through us, when we seek to do whatis pleasing in His sight. Here’s how the Bible puts it: “Delightyourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of yourheart.” (Psalm 37:4) Some might explain it this way: God actuallybirths some of the desires that are in your heart, since you areseeking to follow Him and do what is right. Others might explain itthis way: Since you are seeking to honor Him and do what is right,God will honor you by giving you what is in your heart.

Well, in my case, being in that store,

I thought of buying a small present for my family. This would beconsidered to be “part” of God’s leading while I was in the storebecause, as I was there in that store, the thought of buyingsomething from the bakery came to my mind. Do you see how it works?The Bible says, “And we know that God causes all things to worktogether for good to those who love God, to those who are calledaccording to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Something good wasdefinitely going to happen. God was “in” this thing. I sensedgrace from Him to be able to purchase something that came from thebakery, but I wasn’t sure what to buy. So I meandered a bit in thatsection.

Not finding what I wanted, I then

noticed that there had been some cheesecake on sale, yet the one thatwas on sale was apparently sold out. I say “apparently” becausethere was actually one more left, but I didn’t know it. Grace waspresent for me to ask the man at the bakery about the sale item, andas soon as I did that, the man said, “I think I might have onemore in the back.” He went to the back, and handed me the lastof these items. As he handed it to me, he told me that he had beensaving it for a friend of his who had told him she wanted it, but wholater changed her mind. So he was now free to give it away to me.That is, a gift.

Now who is the perfect giver of

gifts except God Himself? The Bible says, “Every good thing givenand every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father oflights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James1:17) So that gift came from that man, but it really came fromGod Himself. Had not God Himself led me there, straight to that man?Yes, He had. The gift really came from Him. God is the perfectgiver of gifts.

The Meaning of Christmas

Now today, as I write these words, it

is still Christmas. Do you know what Christmas is all about?Christmas is all about the greatest gift of all. Christmas is aboutthe Lord Jesus Christ, who came into this world as a baby, grew up,and displayed His authority over all creation, by doing things thatonly God Himself could do. Some scribes, when they saw Jesusforgiving a man of his sins, responded by saying, “who can forgivesins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7b) They understood who Jesus wasmaking Himself out to be. In another passage, we read that some ofthe Jews said to Jesus, “You, being a man, make Yourself out to beGod” (John 10:33b).

Who is this Jesus? Have you come to

understand that He is more than just a historical figure who oncewalked on the earth? He is the One who has the power of death andlife. To Him all authority belongs. Jesus Himself said, “Allauthority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew28:18b)

Now this is really what Christmas is

all about. But it’s not just who Jesus is, it’s about whatHe came to do. And what did He come to do? He came to save us fromthe rightful punishment that we deserved to take by taking thepunishment for our sins on the cross. Jesus is the long-awaitedJewish Messiah. He is the One that Isaiah the prophet spoke aboutwhen he wrote, “But He was pierced through for our transgressions,He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-beingfell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

If you have not yet come to understand

who He is, He is the One before whom one day we must all stand. Hecame once, as the Savior of the world. But He is coming again (andvery soon) as the Judge.

Abraham

spoke with Him, and called Him, “the Judge of all the earth”(Genesis 18:25). Jesus said to His accusers, “Your father Abrahamrejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56)What about you? Who do yousay Jesus is? When asked that question by Jesus Himself, Simon Peterresponded, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”(Matthew 16:16b)

When the man at the grocery store

handed me the cake because his friend no longer wanted it, he addedthese words, “It’s nice how that works out, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” I said to him. It certainly

was nice!

I thanked the man, and went on my way

and proceeded to the checkout.

The Second Gift

But yet another gift awaited me, and I

didn’t know it, yet.

Now I had mentioned “peace” before

and, up until this point in time, I had not had any peace to leavethe store. But when he handed me the cheesecake, all of a sudden, Ihad 100% peace to make my way to the checkout.

When I got to the checkout, the line

that I was in slowed down a bit. Because of this delay, I sought tofind another line. As it turned out, the line right next to me seemedto be going a bit faster, so I changed lines. Sometimes, in life,things might slow down. Perhaps it is sickness that has slowed youdown. No matter what the reason, you can trust God in the midst ofit. He can and will use that “delay” in ways that you perhapsnever thought possible. The delay caused me to search for anotherline. I turned around and saw that the line next to me was almostempty, except for one customer, so I left the line I was in and stoodin that line.

Now the Lord had me right

where He wanted me – right beside Mr. Peloso!

I had never met Mr. Peloso

before, so I didn’t know it was him. But inside of me – that’s theplace where the Holy Spirit lives, if you have come to trust in Jesusas your personal Lord and Savior – I felt a strong grace to beable to speak with this man. As it turned out, Mr. Peloso had alsobought a cheesecake, but not the same one as I had bought. It doesn’ttake much to get me to start talking to my neighbour, so I said tohim, “I notice you bought a cheesecake.” And because of that, westarted to talk. Well, it was now Mr. Peloso’s turn. What I found out(very quickly) was that Mr. Peloso is an incredibly friendly man.Because of everything that happened, it must have been God Himselfwho was working through Mr. Peloso because, without any coercing atall, he said to me, “I’d like to buy that cheesecake for you.” Hepushed it through to the front of the line (in front of his ownorder) and had it bagged and ready within, well, I would have to sayit was well under 60 seconds. You can imagine I wanted to at leastknow who this man was! So I said to him, “What is your name?” Andhe said, “I am Joseph Peloso.” I also found out that he was theowner of Peloso’s Dry Cleaners. So here I was standing face-to-facewith the same man that my wife and I had talked about in the car justfour days earlier. The Lord – who was with us in the car that day -heard my wife’s request, when she had said, “I wonder if the owneris related to her.” And now, just four days later, He was answeringit!

It was a divine “setup”

for sure.

Now I’m always impressed

with a good story. And who needs fiction? A good true story isthe most impressive of all. The story I have told you is 100% true,and it’s about a personal God who wants to have an intimaterelationship with you. Have you come to trust Him yet? If not, Iwould like to encourage you to trust Him today, and surrender yourlife completely into His care, for He cares for you!

Have you Received God’s

Free Gift?

In the store that day, I

received two gifts. Both came from “above” in that I firmlybelieve that God was in on it. The first gift was the gift of thecheesecake itself. You will remember that it looked like they hadbeen “sold out” of the particular one I had been looking for, butin reality they were not. Perhaps you’ve tried everything, and youdon’t think that the “real deal” exists when it comes to findingeternal favour with God. Well, the “real deal” does exist, andthere is only one. His name is Jesus.

Second, however, is that not

only did I receive a gift, but when I got to the “checkout”, thegift was presented to me as an entirely free gift. In a likewise manner, the gift that God wants togive you is an entirely free gift. We already know whothe “real deal” is. The “real deal” is Jesus. It’s notanother. It’s not Buddha or anyone else who is still in the grave.It’s the One who is no longer in the grave, because the grave was notable to keep Him. But what about His gift? This gift is golden -sweet and perfect. This gift is the “ultimate gift”.

The Bible tells us, “For

the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal lifein Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). In other words, withoutChrist, we don’t stand a chance. Would He have gone to the cross ifthere was another way to find forgiveness before God for the sinsthat we have committed? In Christ, we are offered the free gift ofeternal life, simply by trusting in the sacrificial work that Heaccomplished on our behalf when He bled and died on that cross. Andwhat exactly did He do? He paid the “debt” that we should havepaid. We are credited with righteousness and forgiven before God bysimply trusting in that finished work. Therefore, this gift providesus with eternal life. In other words, this is a gift that none of uscan do without.

I hope that today, you’ll receive the free

gift of God that is being presented to you. If you’re wondering aboutthe “fringe benefits”, they are hugely relational. First, you getto be part of a huge and growing family who are part of the realchurch (as opposed to the counterfeit church). How you know thedifference between the two is that the real church carries with itsigns and wonders (which include God specifically leading us like Hedid in the store that day) whereas the counterfeit church merely hasa form of religion but denies it’s power – there is no real”relationship” with Christ in the counterfeit church (you maywant to read 1 Corinthians 4:20 and then 2 Timothy 3:1-5). It allstarts with trusting in Him. It’s about a relationship with theliving God … not boring!

The Answer to the

Question

Was Mr. Peloso related to the woman

from whom my wife rented a room more than 18 years earlier before wegot married? Of course, I asked him! And the answer was “No.”

To answer it, the Lord had to lead me

through the store in order to do various things, before I would come”face-to-face” with Mr. Peloso himself at the checkout. But oneday, the Bible says, it will not be Mr. Peloso that we will have tomeet “face-to-face” at the checkout of a store. It will beour Creator whom we will meet face-to-face at the checkout of our lives. For the Bible says that each of us will one day have tostand before God to give an account. Now you may have done an awfullot of good things but the Bible tells us that our good works cannotsave us, for it is by grace that we are saved and “not as a resultof works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:9).

Therefore, your good works cannot save

you. You may have done incredible things, but if you don’t haveJesus, you have rejected the only provision for your salvationthat God has provided. Concerning Jesus, the Bible says, “And thereis salvation in no one else; for there is no other nameunder heaven that has been given among men by which we must besaved.” (Acts 4:12)

For all unbelievers, the Bible

says, “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable andmurderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and allliars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire andbrimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8).Therefore, this is serious business (an enemy who merely wanted toflatter you would not tell you this).

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