February 25, 2016
Note: Today’s message honors a friend and illustrates a story from about 20 years ago. Bible text and exposition begins below the coffee cup.
Weather note: Yesterday there were tornadoes along the east coast and one was reported here in Lancaster County. Although we had a tornado warning last night and gathered as a family in our lower level family room we just had very heavy winds, thunderstorms and lots of rain.
Message Summary: Have you received the free gift of salvation? Are you living as a child of God? Are you walking in the joy of knowing that your sins are forgiven?
Listen to this message on your audio player.
Yesterday I said farewell to Fred Hammond, who is retiring after 50 years in the workforce. Fred began working at 16 years of age in a Lancaster City drug store. For the last 30 years he has worked in quality control and retires on Friday as manager of quality control for Val-Co. Fred is very conscientious in his work and I commended him for his consideration and thoughtfulness to those who worked for him. Yesterday we saw the sadness of his leaving from fellow employees.
He’s one of millions in our generation (baby boomers) who are completing their years of work service honorably. Brooksyne and I are both baby boomers, although any notion of retirement is several years away for us!!!
Fred practiced a quiet form of kindness demonstrated to me last fall when I joined the company on a community service workday. (Brooksyne was with another work group at a different location.) For some reason I left my keys in the van and locked the door. I didn’t discover my problem until the rest of the employees were loading on busses to return to the company’s location where they had parked their vehicles. I was clearly flustered and actually quite embarrassed! It was too late to even use the “services” of an ex-con employee who told me he could have gotten in my van. Fred, observing my dilemma and my embarrassment, discreetly suggested, “Ride with me on the bus back to my car and I’ll drive you home.” And he did, even though it was well out of his way.
Saying farewell to Fred yesterday brought to mind another “farewell to Fred” that took place about twenty years ago when we lived in New England.
For many years this Fred was the official spokesman for Dunkin Donuts. I am sure some of our readers will still remember him, especially those in the New England area where Dunkin Donuts populates just about every block of the city. Steve Higgins, a friend from our church knew Fred personally and told me that he was the same in person as the loveable, funny, and friendly actor he played in the frequent commercials Dunkin Donuts aired. He recalls Fred speaking in his daughter’s school and a little boy asking why they didn’t make a peanut butter and jelly donut.
When Fred retired Dunkin Donuts made a big deal about it with a “Farewell Fred” promotion. On Monday, September 22, 1997 in honor of his retirement on one special, heavily-promoted day they gave out a free cup of coffee and donut at every shop to every customer. That surely amounted to a lot of free coffee and donuts!
Well, I especially like anything that’s free so I stopped at a Dunkin Donuts coffee shop and got in the long line for my free donut and cup of coffee. I figured everybody knew about the offer since it was so heavily promoted.
But the fellow ahead of me just didn’t get it. He first tried to pay outright after placing the order but the lady at the counter explained to him that it was free. When he received his gratis order he also received a button honoring Fred which also offered a future cup of coffee and donut for the discounted price of $1.25. He even tried to pay for that! Shaking his head he walked out of the shop. I’m not sure that he ever really got it.
Some of our discerning readers already know where I’m headed with the above illustration. This customer was struggling with the free gift offered to him in a similar way people shrug off or refuse to believe that salvation is the free gift of God offered to those who place their faith in Christ.
“Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life” (Romans 5:18).
An old hymn states:
Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
A sinner, condemned, unclean.
Notice the glorious phrase in our daily verse “so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men.” That’s the very best free gift in all eternity! It is available to all people; men and women, boys and girls, from every tribe and language. The Scripture proclaims, “to all who received Him (Jesus), to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
When many of us hear “free gift” we wonder if it’s a gimmick. We’ve been conditioned to think that way. I get lots of offers for free gifts accompanied by small print such as Free Gift*. I look down the page for the * and it reads “Pay only shipping and handling” which may end up being more than I would have been willing to pay for the item in the first place!
But God’s free gift to the human race is not a gimmick. Jesus said, “Freely ye have received, freely give.”
But so many are like the man in front of me at Dunkin Donuts who expressed with frustration, “I must owe something.” Indeed, “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.” Or as another old chorus puts it, “He paid a debt He did not owe. I owed a debt I could not pay. I needed Someone to wash my sins away. And now I sing a brand new song, Amazing Grace. Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.”
Have you received the free gift of salvation? Are you living as a child of God? Are you walking in the joy of knowing that your sins are forgiven?
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we live in an age where both our land mailboxes and computer mailboxes are crammed with gimmicks. Offers are rendered to viewers through every media outlet so we’ve grown skeptical about receiving anything of value that we don’t pay for ourselves. Yet the greatest eternal gift offered to all of humanity is beyond our ability to pay. What we were unable to do through the Law You did by sending Your own Son, Jesus, in the likeness of our sinful flesh. In doing so He made Himself an offering for our sin so that we might receive forgiveness and be adopted into the family of God. Such wondrous love You pour out to sinners who disregard and defile Your Law. We are gratefully indebted to Christ Jesus our Lord who paid the ultimate sacrifice of laying down His life for our sins. which brought about forgiveness and places us in right standing with You, our loving Father. We cannot boast, for it is not in observance of the Law that we are cleansed, but through the free gift of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.We have freely received this gift and we want to freely share it with those who have not heard. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Yesterday’s message “What The Blood Is For” prompted this interesting response from Brian, a reader in New York state. Vern Thayer, age 99, lives in an assisted living facility in Rochester, NY. Vern had a call on his life to give blood (maybe for a specific procedure) in 1941. He was a blood donor all through his life and is top giver for this procedure in the United States. He had to give up tennis a few years ago due to his knees. I believe God puts people in your life to show you how to live. Vern has been severely hard of hearing all his life and now clinically deaf, but it has never impacted his attitude or communication skills. Vern is my hero for not only coping with a profound hearing loss, but his heart for the Lord and all people he comes in contact. I thank God for people like Vern who is a role model for serving others.
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