Posts Tagged gift

Gift from God

John 14: 16 – 17

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

When Jesus left the earth, life altered for his disciples. They had to learn a new walk. Jesus began to prepare them before he left, knowing that their lives were about the change dramatically. It was a new time for them, a new beginning.

We are at a new beginning also, the beginning of a new year. Each year we look at the course of our lives and often plot out some new coordinates. How will this year be like last year and how would you like it to be different? There seems no better approach for us than that which Jesus paved for his disciples, that being a new start with the Holy Spirit of God. What better way for us to begin our thoughts about a New Year with the Holy Spirit than to see how Jesus introduced the idea to his disciples.

Jesus laid the groundwork for their introduction to the Holy Spirit in these two verses. The Spirit is a gift, that gift is from the Father and the gift is that of a helper. The disciples must have been devastated at the idea of Jesus’ departure. It is telling, I believe, that Jesus direction to the future is the path with the Holy Spirit. Here is where we need to abide. Why was this coming of the Spirit so important? What does it mean for our daily lives? What did Jesus intend to impart to the disciples that we, too, should be participants in? Jesus distinguishes believers from the rest of the world. Life with the Spirit is only for those who belong to Jesus because the world is unable to receive him, the Spirit. That means we can receive him. Jesus said the spirit was abiding with the disciples but that he was going to ask the Father and then believers would be able to receive the Spirit so that the spirit would not abide with but rather “in” the children of God.

There is a third person of the trinity who wants to have an abiding relationship with us. We are learning about the Father and the Son. Now we can invite the Spirit to participate in our lives in a very dynamic way. There is more to him than we have discovered so far but 2018 is a great year for us to dedicate to the Spirit of God: to learning more about him, to spending more time with him and to walking in the power of his might. This could be the year that changes our spiritual atmosphere forever. I believe that environmental change is in the person of the Holy Spirit. Let’s get to know him better this year. Let’s seek him and abide with him. It is a guarantee that we will have a great year.

The Gift

Matthew 5: 23

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar . . ..

This week I wish to bring you Christmas themed messages. I have been especially touched through Christmas songs and movies this year. One of my traditions is to gorge on Christmas music and I love, also, to watch the old Christmas cartoons of my youth. I find such beauty and inspiration in their simple but profound messages. Today, I want to tell you the story of the song, “The Gift.”

The story goes that a young orphan girl was on her way to the market when she stopped by the roadside to rest. There, where she paused, she found a small bird which had a broken wing. Maria, picked up the little bird and carried it with her to the market where she spent her last peso buying a cage for a home and corn to feed it. Over time, the little bird grew stronger and under Maria’s kind ministrations, healed.

This was the time of Christmas and everyone in the town made their way to the manger, offerings gifts of love and adoration to the baby king. Maria, poor and without resources was embarrassed that she had no gift worthy of the king. She waited until just before midnight to go in when no one would see her. As she knelt at the manger she cried for “her gift was unworthy of him,” but then a voice out of the darkness spoke to her. “Maria, what you brings you to me? If the bird in the cage is your offering, open the door let me see.” Maria opened the cage door and the little bird took flight on its healed wing. Just then the midnight bells tolled, and the little bird began to sing. The song was beautiful beyond words, a song fit for a king. This is the story of the very first Nightingale’s Song.

I was struck, as perhaps you were, of Maria’s desire to present an offering worthy of the king. Perhaps you too are grieved, as am I, that you have no offering worthy of our beloved Jesus. All we have to offer him is ourselves. In my heart I know my offering is a gift less worthy than a little bird. My offering is so insignificant that it is embarrassing to lay at the feet of the savior and king. And yet, it is all I have. As I recoil at the very thought of offering Jesus and the Father such a useless, unworthy gift, I am lifted by love Himself who says, “Thank you. This is the gift I have always wanted. The only one I wished for.”

His graciousness and acceptance is beyond humbling. He creates whole universes but the one thing He cannot get for Himself is my heart . . . and yours. If you want to give Father the one thing on His Christmas list this year, I know what it is. He wants us to strip away all of the trappings of who we are, what we do, our successes and our failures and just give Him our unadulterated hearts. He wants the heart of the child within you.

I pray that you will be overcome with the joy of the season and immersed in the love of the Father. I hope this week’s devotions will help you share your love with Jesus, the Father and with all people you come in contact with. May you be blessed beyond measure.

Invested Bread

Ecclesiastes 11: 1

Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days.

This is such an archaic message. I wonder if it has lost its meaning. Let’s see if we can put a little modern spin on this for everyone.

The New Century Version says it this way, “Invest what you have, because after a while you will get a return.” There, that makes much more sense. I guess if you think of the term the way it was used in the 70’s it helps in understanding too. People back then called money “bread”. So cast your bread out there, invest it so that it can make a return for you. Several other versions agree with this idea even though they use the old language because they add that more will come back with the original. So you cast your bread, receiving it back and more besides.

The Living Bible reads, “Give generously, for your gifts will return to you later.” Here we learn that the investment is a gift. Is there a guarantee of a return when the invested bread is a gift? No, generally not, but then there is no guarantee in any investment. There is one giving that does guarantee you get your principle back along with earnings on it. It is the subject of today’s verse. When you cast your bread to God, or give to Him, then your investment is guaranteed. This is the Kingdom of God. “Do good wherever you go. After a while, the good you do will come back to you (ERV).” This is God’s investment strategy and He guarantees we will make money on it.

As you know, there are a lot of broke Christians. Many of them have never been taught God’s economic system, which is really sad. Then also, there are some who are just stingy. They don’t give because they want every dime to spend on their pleasures. They don’t believe God rewards giving or that He gives a return on investments made with Him. Perhaps, many of us just have no faith, while others always seem to see a conspiracy like someone, the church, the pastor, are after their money. I don’t see my giving to a ministry solely as a gift to that ministry, even though it is worthy of my gift. I see it as a gift to Dad, money for His Kingdom work here on earth. That alone is a good return but then our Father actually multiplies the money as well and returns it to us.

Don’t you want in on this deal? How can we lose as we invest in spreading the Good News of God? Well, cast your bread on the water. Send out money on every wave so that every wave will bring you return. I guarantee that the Kingdom of God is the best blue chip investment you will ever find.

Free Wisdom

Proverb 2: 6

For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity.

All wisdom, knowledge and understanding are God’s and He freely gives it to His children. But like children, sometimes we forget that we have a parent with knowledge and wisdom who is willing to help us if we will only allow ourselves to be led. The irony is that it takes a great deal of maturity for us to begin to realize that we do not have all of the answers and to accept help from others. It may seem ludicrous that we would value our own advice and knowledge over God’s but that is the way we behave. Little children are proud of doing things for themselves and it takes a while for them to learn when to ask a parent for help.

Well, I like that God gives wisdom. He doesn’t sell wisdom but instead gives it away. When we listen to Him, we receive knowledge and understanding because that is what comes from His mouth. He has stored up the wisdom you need for every situation in your life. Will He not give it to you if He has been saving it for you? Of course, He will.

So how do you receive it? You ask Him for wisdom. Ask Him to give you understanding. Then you have to be quiet long enough to hear. For me that means turning off the television and the stereo because I cannot hear Him when my environment is full of sound. You may have to slow down a bit. Find some quiet time and let Him give you the answers you seek.

Mite or Might

Mark 12: 42 – 44

And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. And calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, his poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”

This is a familiar story to many of you. None the less, I am hoping we can allow this narrative, and its meaning, to sink deeper into our spirits today. This woman’s act certainly got Jesus’s attention. Why?

There was nothing to be criticized in what the other contributors did but there was something different about the donation of the widow. What was so special about what she did that it caused Jesus to stop and comment? Here is another question – why in the world did she give her last penny, what was it that caused her to give all that she had? That which she gave was all that she had to live on. Think about that for a moment. Better still, try to put yourself in her position. If you didn’t have much how would you feel about giving to anyone, even the Lord? What if all you had was your last dime? Could you, would you put your last farthing in the till? I confess that I would find that a difficult thing to do. Our natural impulse is to take care of ourselves first.

Let’s try to get into this woman’s head? What was it about this lady that caused her to toss her last centavo into the plate knowing she would have nothing later with which to buy bread? Wasn’t this almost like signing her own death warrant? Maybe she wasn’t absorbed with taking care of herself first because she knew that it was not her job to meet her needs. Could that possibly be the case? Could it possibly be that her love for the Lord was greater than her self-preservation instinct? How about this, was she, perhaps, trying to meet her need by sowing into the kingdom? Did this Jewish woman know, in her heart, something few modern day believers understand? That penny wasn’t worth much as provision but it was invaluable as seed. Jesus taught us that the entire kingdom of God is contained in the smallest of seeds (Mark 4: 30 – 32).

I do not know what inspired this woman but I do know that it was a significant enough event that Jesus called his disciples over to witness it. It certainly is a humbling passage. Although Jesus made a point of isolating the incident for his disciples and for us, he did little to explain it. Perhaps this is one of the points in our walk with Jesus which he designed as a “Selah” moment, a time to pause and reflect. Maybe the full account of this event is meant to be explained by the Lord himself in the still, quietness of our hearts. One thing is for sure, this woman and her unselfish gift live on in distinction and are a quiet testimony to each of us.

The Spirit

John 7: 39

But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
But now the Son of God is glorified and seated at the right hand of God. Now the Spirit is a gift to all those who believe in the Son. The Old Testament people met God though they knew very little about the coming Messiah. They only knew that He was promised. In the New Testament, we meet Jesus, the Messiah; the once promised, now come Son of God. Jesus then told about the promise of the Holy Spirit. He even said that it was to our advantage that He go away so that He could send us the “Helper” (John 16: 7). There were many who did not recognize the promised Messiah once he came. Let us not miss the promise that has come in our age, the promised Holy Spirit. He is our helper and our teacher and we really need His help. Call upon Him just as you would our Father and our Lord Jesus to help you in a time of need. Let Him lead you and guide you into all knowledge. He is your constant help in a time of need. Call Him.

The Gift that Gives Back

Philippians 4: 17

Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account.

The Apostle Paul, in this passage and its accompanying scriptures, taught the Philippians about giving into the Lord’s work. But he was not only teaching them to give into the support of the ministry. He also taught them the principle of sowing and reaping. He told them in this excerpt that their gifts accrue to their own account. You see, God works according to multiplication. He takes what you have to sow and from that creates a harvest. So the Philippians’ gifts to Paul not only supported his ministry but they were also the means God had to get more substance into their hands. I heard Minister Jesse Duplantis say one time, “God isn’t trying to get something from you. He is trying to get something to you.” I think that is Paul’s message in this scripture. As God continues to multiply the harvest back to the sowers, they have their needs met and more besides to support more ministries, to send ministers into every need.

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