The First Greatest Gift

A few minutes ago I settled in to read a packet called The Baptism of the Holy Spirit downloaded from a website by Michael Bradley ( It was given to us Sunday by our Pastor in preparation for Pentecost Sunday this weekend.

I’ve actually had a few copies of this handout over the past several months as the above mentioned Pastor (who just happens to be my husband) and I have been leading small groups in studies on the Holy Spirit and this is one of the tools we’ve been using. So, I’ve received a few copies of the handout, thumbed through it at group gatherings, and discussed parts of it in depth as people have asked questions. But I never actually read it until today. I did my devotions, prayed a little, and then picked it up to finally read it. It’s nice and quiet here today and I had nowhere I needed to go, so I settled into it. And I was off to a good start, reading and taking notes, when I came to a screeching stop on page three.

The author was beginning to describe the baptism of the Holy Spirit as the “second greatest gift you can receive this side of heaven.” He then clarified the “first greatest gift” is the gift of our salvation. He wrote, “There is no greater gift than this one. With this gift you are truly born again into the Kingdom of God and you will go straight to heaven when you die and cross over. This gift now gives you permanent, eternal life with the Lord.”

I breezed right through this to get on to the meat of the article, his teaching on the Holy Spirit. That’s why I’m reading it, after all. I was a full sentence or two into the next paragraph when I was drawn up short, did a double take.  What had I just read? How had I sped past it so glibly? The significance of those words hit me. How have I come to take them so lightly? I was blown away by the glorious enormity of the gift I’ve been given, and I couldn’t go on. I had to stop right there for a few minutes and worship.

“With this gift” — Thank you, Jesus, for this gift. Thank you that you gave it freely. It was your idea, you purchased it, and you offered it. To me. I receive it! Thank you for your gift.

“Born again into the Kingdom of God” — I’m a new person, given a new life in a new realm. Our youngest son has been given a new life in a new family in a new country, but this is all that and more. Thank you, Lord, for giving me a new life in your family in your Kingdom.

“Will go straight to heaven” — Praise you, Jesus! You have made my way secure. When I leave here I will be there. I have nothing to fear.

“Permanent, eternal life” — I’m not sure why the author used both permanent and eternal, but this might be a case where it is so astounding that it’s worth repeating. I’ve been given life that will never end. You have chosen life for me, Lord, when I was headed for death. Thank you. You are good!

And, best of all, it will be “WITH THE LORD”! Oh, thank you! Thank you, Father, for making a way for me to be with you. With you. With you. It’s what I want. To the core of my being. One day I will be with you, Lord! Hallelujah! You have made a way that I can live in your presence. Until that day I long for it and wait for it; until that day I praise and thank you from here. But one day I’ll thank you face to face. And that is why I live!

Okay, I have almost an hour left of a quiet and still house. I’m heading back to my packet. Just needed to stop and share my joy in the “first greatest gift.”


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