Summary: God was never a gift-dispenser in the sky. But He wants to give good gifts, gifts that last in this life and that last into eternity.
The Feast Devotion - January 27, 2015 – Matthew 7:7-11
[This message was given at an inner-city mission, after a feast.]
During a Superbowl a number of years back, FedEx ran a that spoofed the movie Castaway, in which Tom Hanks played a FedEx worker whose company plane went down, stranding him on a desert island for years.
Looking like the b edraggled Hanks in the movie, the FedEx employee in the commercial goes up to the door of a suburban home, package in hand.
When the lady comes to the door, he explains that he survived five years on a deserted island, and during that whole time he kept this package in order to deliver it to her. She gives a simple, "Thank you."
But he is curious about what is in the package that he has been protecting for years. He says, "If I may ask, what was in that package after all?"
She opens it and shows him the contents, saying, "Oh, nothing really. Just a satellite telephone, a global positioning device, a compass, a water purifier, and some seeds."
If you know the movie, you know that Tom’s Hanks character would have spent a few days rather than endless months alone on the island, if had had that stuff.
Let me ask a question. Which is more fun to you? Being on the receiving end of a present, or being on the giving end?
If you think about it, receiving a gift is great because it might be something you really want or value. It can also make you feel cared for - like the person who's given you the gift really knows you values your friendship.
But receiving something also is passive...there's no action or consideration on your part if you're the one receiving. And then, if somehow you don't like the gift, or if you reject the gift, that can be a sign that you are rejecting the person who is giving it to you.
Giving a gift, on the other hand, is not passive, it is active. You are giving the gift to someone you care about. You might find it fun thinking about how to please your friend, you might put a lot of consideration into the gift.
And, really, you need to know the person fairly well in order to have an idea of what they like. Unless you're giving chocolate. Anyone here hate chocolate? Thought not.
But...there is a risk involved. Your gift might be rejected, and that could easily be taken as a personal rejection, even if it's not meant that way.
The passage today that _______ read talks about asking for something from God. Asking God for something, the passage says, always results in receiving an answer from God.
It's easy for us to think about this passage in terms of asking for things from God. If we think that, we might ask for a mansion or a fancy new car, and then find ourselves disappointed when we don't receive it.
But Jesus is talking not about mainly material stuff...He doesn't want us to think of God as a gift dispenser in the sky, because that's not what God is. He wants us to think of God as the Giver of good gifts.
What are the best gifts? Well, gifts that don't perish, things that don't wear out or that you don't get bored with. Everything THING we might want from God, beyond food and clothing and the like, will have built-in limitations, a shelf-life.
What may excite us at first will eventually bore us. What may seem to be the answer to our dreams will always eventually dissapoint.
But, like I said, God wants to give us gifts that don't perish and
wear out. The ultimate thing that God gives that doesn't wear out is His love for you.
And because God loves you, He gives you basic things - like a place to live, clothes, food, even a place like this to come to tonight, But beyond those basic things that just keep us alive, God wants to give you something that will add good things to your life.
He wants to give you faith in Him, so that you can have a real relationship with Him. So that you can walk with Him and be part of a community that also walks with Him, so you don't walk alone.
There is an old story about how the University of Chicago received a million-dollar grant from the heiress of a major department store. She had been a student at Northwest. So, administrators of Northwest went to visit her and asked why she had not made such a gift to her alma mater. Her answer was simple, "The people at the University of Chicago asked. You did not."