GETTIN' GOOD GIFTS. 

SO...MY BIRTHDAY WAS INCREDIBLE! 

A surprise trip to Hawaii wasn't something I would have expected going into the 26th year of my life but THAT HAPPENED! The experience was humbling, outrageous, and one of the most fun times I've ever had.

In the midst of the adventure and even now looking back at the trip, it was so evident that God was pouring OUT His undeserving grace and at the same time speaking to me ABOUT the density of His grace. He's such an INCREDIBLE teacher. 

GRACE LIKE AN OCEAN

One of the greatest aspects of the trip was discovering the layers and depth of the surprise. For example I woke up on Wednesday excited that Mikayla was taking me on a trip, since she had told me earlier that week that she wanted to go some where with me for my birthday. When we pulled off I5 and headed to the airport I was a bit shocked. When I looked at the reader board letting us know that gate A12 would be taking us to Hawaii I FREAKED OUT. And when I showed up to the gate and saw all my homies waiting for me I was STUNNED. What was even more mind blowing was the fact that while boarding the plane I remembered a picture that the Lord had given me a day before about us surfing in the ocean and Him sharing a promise of protection. Throughout the whole trip things continued to fall into place and arriving home to worship at New Life on Sunday, I felt the Lord bump me, sharing the picture with me again, and then saying with a smile, "I told you." 

THIS IS HOW GRACE ROLLS

Undeserved, untamable, unbelievable blessing bought with His blood and given to us freely as a gift. There is such an intensity and immeasurable factor to the fulness of God's goodness towards us.

With this being said there is depth and layers to this gift that often become uncharted waters with many Christians, forcing many to settle for surface level treasure while the reserved riches of our King stays buried underneath lies. God's grace is a gift, waiting to blow you away; waiting to leave you in awe; waiting to construct in your soul a symphony of praise.

Has your warped perspective of God been blinding you from the fortune that has fallen into your lap?   

Has your life become more about what you're doing FOR GOD rather than what God has already done FOR YOU? 

THE TIME TRAvelER

God's gift to us can be summed up in two words and spread over three spheres of our life. The two words are: Jesus Christ. Jesus is the gospel. The gospel is not just the story of salvation (Him dying for our sins on the cross and raisin' from the dead) but the GOOD NEWS is Jesus Christ Himself. He is the true Christmas morning gift and the real surprise birthday party trip to paradise. This is because He's offered to take the zombie like aspects of our life and raise them from the dead, adhering Himself to our past, present, and future (the three spheres). He's traveled threw time and reconstructed reality, re-writing our past, showing up in our present, and suring up our future. 

But often times we don't see His work. We don't see His majesty and His goodness so we just fall in with the majority and become worthless. We hear that He has "died for our sins" but we don't see the weight behind those words and what that promise is bundled with. In reality it is the deal of all deals but we brush off God like He's a cheap car salesman. 

OUR PAST, PRESENT, & FUTURE IN CHRIST

If Jesus were a gift that showed up on our door step, what would we uncover as we unwrapped Him from the paper packaging (the bible) that He's presented in?

Often times the first feeling of seeing this gift is shame. The loss of control, having someone share something with you that is undeserved can feel unnerving. I use to offer to pay for people's groceries at WinCo and it amazed me how many people would say "no" out of pride. This is where some people stay with Jesus. They hear about this gift and yet it brings them great fear and shame so they keep Him at a distance trying to prove that they are worthy of His lavishing love without actually even opening the gift. Imagine someone insanely wealthy giving you something of great value and you pushing it away because you don't deserve it; only to run out to the store to buy THEM something. In giving them their freshly purchased gift it would be very confusing and cheeky since there is nothing that you could give this rich person that they don't already have and you failed to recognize their worth in them giving you the gift in the first place.

We do this with God. All the time. 

The first step of GRACE is receiving something you in no way deserve. 

If they are drawn to this person named Jesus the first aspect of Him as a gift that they will probably see is the gift of His PAST becoming their past. That He offers to trade His past performances with our past performances and provides full forgiveness for the places that we chose to be our own god. The idea that He loves us so deeply, that in our worst moment would die for us, and in doing so allows us to become blameless before the Father, free from all judgment, is intoxicating. 

The lame thing is that many people stop there and don't plumb the depths of His great promises, namely that our PRESENT condition has been transformed and that because we are now in Him, He is present with us at all times. He not only forgave us, brushed us off, and propped us up to "get back on the field" but He actually gave us a new nature that now offers a current conversion into a new name. You're not what you've done, you're not what you're friends think you are, you're not what you're parents hope for you to be, YOU ARE WHO THE LORD SAYS YOU ARE and HE SAYS THAT WHEN WE PUT OUR TRUST IN JESUS WE BECOME A NEW CREATION IN AN INSTANT. This truth offers us what we can live our whole life looking for . What we do flows out of who we are and often times when we begin a relationship with Jesus we get so focused on DOING and proving ourselves to Him, paying God back for what He has done for us instead of seeing what He has DONE, that He already approves of us, and that He has changed our inner being. The good news is not just a forgiven past but rather a present transformation that provides life abundantly through His promises. 

Not only is our past, and present changed but so is our FUTURE! That the best is yet to come, ALWAYS! We have an unshakeable hope; we have unwavering gain waiting to be displayed at Jesus' return. Because we are in Him, his future glorification is something that we get to share in and ENJOY. That no matter what happens in this world we know the end of the story and the end is that our King WILL re-create and clean away the mess of this earth to establish a new territory with flawless facets. New bodies, no tears, no death, no sickness, no disease, real community, real purpose, and the ability to stand shameless in the PRESENCE OF OUR MAKER. 

ENJOY THE JOY OF JESUS CHRIST TODAY. HE HAS GIFTED HIMSELF TO YOU!

-Brice Herrick