Stephen spoke from 1 Peter 1:3-9 on Sunday morning:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you,who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

The translation into English of some words in the Bible can result in the full meaning being lost: how can we fully understand what God means by the word ‘love’ or ‘great’?

Our text speaks of a gift. We have all received gifts for Christmas and said thank you to the giver and appreciated the gift. But our text talks of a different kind of gift – a gift from God.

In verse 3 the KJV uses the word ‘abundant’ rather that the word ‘great’ that the NIV uses. Other translations use ‘much’. We put limits on things (eglimits of time, money etc.), but this word ‘much’ implies something that is limitless. God’s mercy is limitless and immeasurable.

Gifts deteriorate with time; they break down, fade, rust or just cease to be useful.
But God’s gifts are imperishable; they cannot spoil or fade.

The text starts with praise and continues with joy for this wonderful gift.
For natural gifts we say ‘thank you’, but for this gift thanks is not enough – our thanks are to be never ending praise and honour to our God and the Lord Jesus.

Trials and hard times will come, as will trouble, chaos and mayhem. But we still thank God for His gift anyway.

We sometimes ask whether we deserve the gift: do we really deserve the gift of God?
But of course we can never deserve it. It is given in God’s ‘muchness’ – His mercy.

The text mentions gold. Gold is becoming increasingly valuable. Even though gold can increase in value, it will eventually reach the limit of its value – when it cannot increase in value anymore. But God’s gift cannot ever reach the limit of its value – its value is without measure.

This morning we sang
‘Thank you for saving me,
Great is the Lord.
Mercy and grace are mine.’ (Martin Smith)

That is the gift of God.
Take it and use it.