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Seven Presents

When I was growing up, my birthday was a big deal to me. It was the day that got celebrated more than once because both sets of grandparents wanted to give me the best birthday each year and of course my mom was not going to be outdone by her mom or her mother-in-law. Like most kids, I like the cake and the ice cream, but I couldn’t wait to get those over with so I could get to the point of my day: presents!

Both of my grandmothers had learned through my older brothers that clothes were appreciated by mom and dad, but we wanted toys! And not just any toys; I wanted the latest and greatest games, sports equipment, and electronics. Eventually, they simply gave me a birthday card with either a Ulysses S. Grant or a Benjamin Franklin inside (that’s $50 or $100 in case you’re wondering). I couldn’t wait to go use my gifts.

Fast forward a few years…

I accepted Jesus when I was 17 years old, but I didn’t really know what that meant until much later. I wondered if anything had really changed, or if it was just an emotional high that I was still on. It wasn’t until God showed me that it wasn’t just something that had changed, everything had changed. He had given me seven presents that I hadn’t even opened yet.

 

A New Relationship
Once we were separated from God because of our sins—and not just separated, but alienated from Him. The Bible says we were “excluded. … without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).
The Bible uses two vivid images to illustrate this. First, it tells us we have been born again. A second image the Bible uses is adoption. If we have given our lives to Christ, God has adopted us into His family. He is now your Father, and you are now His child, spiritually born into His family.

A New Citizenship
In Jesus’ day, one of the most coveted privileges a person could have was Roman citizenship. A Roman citizen paid fewer taxes, and if he went into the army, he automatically became an officer. A Roman citizen couldn’t be flogged or put to death by crucifixion (except in very rare cases, such as treason). If found guilty in a Roman court, he had the right to appeal directly to Caesar.

As long as we are on this Earth, we have dual citizenship. On one hand we owe allegiance to our nation and are called to be good citizens. But we are also citizens of the Kingdom of God, that invisible Kingdom of which Jesus is the King. Our supreme loyalty is to Him, and if someone demands we do wrong, “we must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:29). And someday, the Bible tells us, this world’s kingdoms will become “the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).

A New Family
God also gives us a new family. You aren’t just related to God; you are now related to other believers. Everyone who truly believes in Jesus Christ is now your spiritual brother or sister. We are bound together in God’s family, not by an organization but by a spiritual relationship. The Bible calls us “members of God’s household” (Ephesians 2:19). One of the most frequent terms for Christians in the Bible is “brothers,” underlining our family relationship.

A New Purpose
Now we want to live for Christ and not just ourselves. We begin to see other people differently—not for what they can do for us, but for what we can do for them. The Bible says, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

When I came to Christ, I had no clue what do with my life, but I knew something was different. Before Christ, I was a very selfish person. Now I deliberately tried to be giving and selfless. Some may not have noticed, but my parents did—and so did I. Little by little I was beginning to have a new purpose in life: a desire to live for Christ. I was learning that “those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:15).

A New Power
One of the Bible’s most comforting truths is that when we come to Christ, God Himself comes to live within us by His Holy Spirit. The Bible says, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9). If you know Christ, you don’t need to beg for the Holy Spirit to come into your life; He is already there—whether you “feel” His presence or not.

But why has God given us the Holy Spirit? “The Spirit helps us in our weakness” (Romans 8:26). Jesus promised, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” (Acts 1:8). We aren’t meant to live the Christian life in our own strength. God has provided His Spirit to help us.

A New Destiny
The word conversion means “change” —and the most radical change of all when we come to Christ is that God gives us a new destiny. Once we were headed for hell; now we are headed for Heaven. Once we were bound for eternal separation from God; now we will live with Him forever. Once we had no hope of eternal life; now we do. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

A New Journey
God gives us one final gift: a new journey—a new path to follow until the day He takes us to Heaven.

In other words, your decision for Christ isn’t an end but a beginning—the beginning of a whole new life. We aren’t only called to become Christians; we are also called to be Christians. Don’t ever think that faith in Christ is just a type of “spiritual life insurance,” something we obtain and then put away until we need it to get into Heaven. The Christian life is a new journey—one that will take us the rest of our lives. And the best part is this: We never walk it alone, Christ walks with us.

-Pastor Daniel Dangerfield

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