John 3:16-17 - For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.
In the 1800s, the bars and pubs used to advertise they were serving a "free lunch."
Generally speaking, the "free lunch" consisted of various salty meats and snacks. All of these were designed to create a mighty thirst in those who ate there. Understandably, the parched soul would need something to wet his whistle, and he would order a brew. Occasionally, a fellow might come in and partake of the free lunch without having a beer or two. As he was being escorted out, he would find out that there's no such thing as a free lunch.
Truly, there may be no such thing as a free lunch, but Walmart has come close with a program that offers U.S. employees and eligible family members an opportunity to get a degree in business or supply-chain management from one of three universities. The employee-student can stay on campus or take classes online. And if those universities are too confining, or the courses unsatisfactory, Walmart offers discounted classes at over 80 different accredited universities.
Now you might wonder: "Is there a catch?" Well, yes there is. The cost to the student-employee is $1 a day, while Wal-Mart takes care of tuition, books, and fees. And if you're wondering, "What does Walmart get out of this?" it will tell you:
1. Our associates become better educated and equipped to do their job.
2. They believe they will minimize frequent turnovers at their stores.
Now it appears to be a great program but, as you can see, even in great programs run by well-intentioned earthly companies, there is still no such thing as a free lunch. In all honesty, if you want to talk about gifts that are given without any strings attached, you have to look to our Lord. The text above is one of the most familiar in all of Scripture. You see how it begins: "For God so loved the world that He gave ..."
You will note that the text says nothing about the world being especially lovable. No, the gift of a Savior begins, completely and totally, with the Lord.
Now, if you look closely at the phrase and yes, the rest of the verse, you will find the Lord's gift of love has no hidden clauses, no outrageous demands, no rules of performance, which have to be met before anyone is able to receive this gift.
So that we might be saved,
* our Heavenly Father made a promise to send a Savior, His perfect Son to redeem the fallen children of men;
* God's Son kept that promise when He was born in Bethlehem and lived a perfect life on our behalf. Then, when the work was near completion, Jesus shouldered our sins and took them to the cross;
* now, by the work of the Holy Spirit, that gift of a forgiving, living Savior becomes ours, and we have eternal life.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, in this world we don't get to see many free gifts. Which is why, because of this free gift of a Savior and all the blessings He bestows, we offer up unending thanks. He is the gift we need the most. In His Name. Amen.
The above devotion was inspired by a number of sources, including one written by the Good News Network on May 31, 2018. Those who wish to reference that article may do so at the following link, which was fully functional at the time this devotion was written: https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/walmart-is-offering-workers-and-their-family-members-the-chance-to-get-college-degrees-debt-free/
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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