Posts Tagged ‘Gifts

19
May
17

Heavenly Wisdom

James, in chapter 3, verses 13-16 talks about the earthly and demonic “wisdom” of selfish ambition and bitter envy. It creates strife, disorder and evil practices. Then he says:

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. – James 3:17-18 (NIV)

Heavenly wisdom is all about using God’s gifts to bring about peace. Too often we use what God gives us to our advantage in order to get ahead. Instead, we need to use the gifts God gives to us for others. Imagine if we used our time, talent and treasure to make the world a better place. If we invested ourselves in living for Jesus and living for others, what could we accomplish? This is the challenge for us in the church today. Let us commit ourselves to using what God has given to us to show His love and grace to everyone.
18
Apr
17

The Gift-Giver

We see in James 1:13-15 that God does not tempt us to do evil. God is not evil and He doesn’t want us to sin. In fact, God is the opposite. Instead of leading us into temptation, He gives us the good things we have in our lives. James wrote:

Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. – James 1:16-17 (NIV)

God doesn’t change. His character remains the same all of the time. He gives good gifts to His children and that won’t change, either. So instead of coveting the things that we don’t have and complaining about the gifts He’s given us, let’s be grateful for what the Lord has done in our lives. Let’s give thanks for our families, our homes, our jobs and all of the good blessings that He’s given to us.
01
Dec
15

Good and Best

(This post was originally published in December, 2010)

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! — Matthew 7:11 (NIV)

I’ll admit it.  I did it.  I absolutely, positively did it.  I walked into the kitchen this morning and gave my 4 year-old son a chocolate chip cookie for breakfast.

I said, “What do I have here?” pointing at the Ziploc bag of last night’s freshly made delights.

He said, “A cookie?”

I said, “Uh huh.  Do you want one?”

He reached out his hand and I put a cookie in it, albeit a small one.

Nonetheless, it was a cookie and they are good!

Why would I do such a thing?  Have I taken leave of my senses?  Chocolate chip cookies aren’t for breakfast!  Breakfast is for other such sugar-filled treats such as frosted cereals and pancakes, right?!?  I did it because of the look.  That look of sheer delight that he gets when I give him a gift.  Especially an unexpected gift!  Even if it is not the best thing for him.

Jesus tells us that the Father in Heaven desires to give good gifts to His children.  But God doesn’t bless us with chocolate chip cookies at 7:00 in the morning.  No, He does something much better.  In fact, God does what is best.  He knows our deepest needs and desires and He wants to give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4).  The key is that He will always act according to His will and His purpose and His plan.  God knows what we truly need and what we need most is Him.  He sent Jesus to earth and gave us the gift of Himself.  That’s what Christmas is all about.  As we move into this time of year, I pray that God will reveal a little bit of His plan to you and that you will delight yourself in Him.  I pray that He will give you what is both good and best.

PRAYER: Lord, I ask that today that You would help me to see Your plan and Your purpose for my life.  Help me to do Your will.  I know that You will give me what I desire when I desire Your best for me.  Thank You for always having my best in mind.  I love You, amen.

05
Aug
15

The Good Gift Giver

James 1:16-18 (NIV)
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
​God is a good gift giver.  ​He enjoys giving good gifts to His people.  Jesus said in Matthew 7:9-11 (NLT):

“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

James tells us that every good and perfect gift comes from God above.  Everything we need and more comes from our Heavenly Father.  He will provide for our needs.  We need only to trust Him.  The good news about this passage is that God’s character does not change.  We can trust Him because He does not change.  
The promises God made in Scripture are the promises we can rely on today.  God does not tempt us to do evil, for God does not delight in evil.  Rather, according to Jeremiah 32:41, God finds joy in doing good for His people.  I think that we sometimes believe that God is some kind of mean ogre in the sky who is just waiting for us to mess up so He can either withhold His blessing from us or punish us.  Not true!  God is good (all the time)!  He loves us with a perfect, unconditional love.  His love for us does not depend on our love for Him.  1 John says that He loved us first.  He reached out in love to us by sending His Son before anyone even knew that we needed a Savior.  Jesus is the evidence of God’s love and goodness.  He will bless you with good gifts because His character is good.
 
PRAYER: Lord God, I sometimes doubt Your goodness.  I fail to remember just how good You truly are and I am sorry.  Help me to remember Your goodness today.  Help me to trust You with my soul, my family and my life today.  Help me to live to share the good news of Jesus with a world in desperate need of good news.  Thank You for the good gift of Your love, Jesus.  Amen.
30
Apr
15

Why Do We Get Good Things?

Ecclesiastes 7:20 (NIV) says:

Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous,
    no one who does what is right and never sins.

and then​, verses 28-29 say:

 while I was still searching
    but not finding—
I found one upright man among a thousand,
    but not one upright woman among them all.29 This only have I found:
    God created mankind upright,
    but they have gone in search of many schemes.​ – Ecclesiastes 7:28-29 (NIV)​​

​Solomon was searching for wisdom and in his search he discovered a sobering truth – we’re all wicked.  We shake our fists at heaven and wonder why “bad things happen to good people.”  The reality of the situation is that there are no good people.  God created us good.  He created us in His image.  But, as he said, we “have gone in search of many schemes” (verse 29, NIV).  ​It is as if he is saying, “Everybody’s got an angle they’re trying to work.”  We’re all wicked, evil and despicable people.  We should wonder to ourselves, “Why do good things happen to anyone?”  We don’t deserve good things!
​But God, in His goodness, has given us good things.  He blesses us so much more than we deserve.  He even went so far as to send His Son to take our punishment that we did deserve.  In the cosmic equation of forgiveness, the Father sent His Son to be the ultimate human sacrifice.  Jesus shed His blood on a cross to take away our sin.  For as Scripture tells us, there can be no forgiveness without the shedding of blood (Hebrews 9:22).  We are told​ that the blood of bulls and goats cannot equate to the sins of humanity (Hebrews 10:4).  So there had to be a better way.  Why?  Why would God choose to send Jesus to die?  It is out of His great love for His creation.  God would rather be incarnated as a human being and suffer and die than to spend eternity without us.  He would rather die for us than to spend eternity without us.  Let that thought sink in as you move about your day.  The God who made you loves you enough to allow His Son to die for you.  He died for every sin you’ve ever committed or ever will commit.  For every lie you’ve told.  For every thing you’ve taken.  For every covetous, lustful or murderous scheme you’ve concocted.  For every evil word you’ve spoken.  Add them up and the scales tip against you.  But when the blood of Jesus Christ is applied to them by God’s grace through faith in Jesus, they’re washed away and you’re set free.  When you put your trust in Jesus and you believe in Him (Ephesians 2), repent from your sinfulness (Acts 2:38), confess your faith in Christ (Romans 10:9) and are baptized (Acts 2:38), God washes away your sins (Acts 22:16).  This is the best thing that could ever happen to wicked sinners such as ourselves.  Praise God for this wonderful, indescribable gift of His grace!
Ecclesiastes 7:19-29 (NIV)

Wisdom makes one wise person more powerful
    than ten rulers in a city.

20 Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous,
    no one who does what is right and never sins.

21 Do not pay attention to every word people say,
    or you may hear your servant cursing you—
22 for you know in your heart
    that many times you yourself have cursed others.

23 All this I tested by wisdom and I said,

“I am determined to be wise”—
    but this was beyond me.
24 Whatever exists is far off and most profound—
    who can discover it?
25 So I turned my mind to understand,
    to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things
and to understand the stupidity of wickedness
    and the madness of folly.

26 I find more bitter than death
    the woman who is a snare,
whose heart is a trap
    and whose hands are chains.
The man who pleases God will escape her,
    but the sinner she will ensnare.

27 “Look,” says the Teacher, “this is what I have discovered:

“Adding one thing to another to discover the scheme of things—
28     while I was still searching
    but not finding—
I found one upright man among a thousand,
    but not one upright woman among them all.
29 This only have I found:
    God created mankind upright,
    but they have gone in search of many schemes.”

13
Apr
15

The Gladness Of Heart

I think that we sometimes get the mistaken notion that we’re supposed to be miserable in this life and that we’ll be happy in eternity.  Solomon would disagree.

This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot.​ – Ecclesiastes 5:18 (NIV)​

​In verse 19, he adds:​

Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. – Ecclesiastes 5:19 (NIV)

The blessings of this life are just that – blessings.  They are to be enjoyed for they are the gifts of God.  Rather than being jealous of those who have more, be content and satisfied with what you have.
Let’s face it, those of us who live in America are truly blessed.  There may be others who have more material blessings than you, but you are blessed.  If you have a place to rest your head at night – you are blessed.  If you have food in your refrigerator and pantry – you are blessed.  If you have a car (or cars) – you are blessed.  If you have a cell phone – you are blessed.  If you have more than 3 or 4 outfits of clothing – you are blessed.  If you have an internet connection (and if you are reading this, you do) – you are blessed.  The very basic things of life that we far too often take for granted are, in reality, blessings from God.
Be satisfied in God and in the gifts He’s given you.  Let God occupy your heart with gladness for all He’s done for you.  Don’t dwell on the negatives.  God has done so much for us.  Let’s remember His blessings, especially the greatest blessing of all: the gift of His Son, Jesus.

Ecclesiastes 5:16-20 (NIV)

This too is a grievous evil:

As everyone comes, so they depart,
    and what do they gain,
    since they toil for the wind?
17 All their days they eat in darkness,
    with great frustration, affliction and anger.

18 This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot.19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.

14
Aug
13

A Job To Do

Everyone has a job to do in getting the work of God’s Kingdom accomplished.  In Nehemiah 3, we see a long list of names of those who went about the repairing and rebuilding of the gates of Jerusalem.  You may not know who these people are.  We probably won’t ever figure out how to pronounce half of them.  But their work on the walls of Jerusalem did not go unnoticed.  Nehemiah gave them credit.  God took note of their efforts.  Their names are recorded for all of history.
You have a job to do in accomplishing the work of God’s Kingdom.  You have a responsibility to use your God-given gifts to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Your name may not be written in an historical narrative, but it is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  No one on earth may notice your efforts, but God sees every act of kindness and every deed done in Jesus’ name.  He has taking note of what you’ve done.  He will reward you on the day Christ returns.
Do not get discouraged.  Do not give up.  Persevere and keep pressing on and doing the good works which God has prepared for you to do.

Nehemiah 3

New International Version (NIV)

Builders of the Wall

3 Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate.They dedicated it and set its doors in place, building as far as the Tower of the Hundred, which they dedicated, and as far as the Tower of Hananel. 2 The men of Jericho built the adjoining section, and Zakkur son of Imri built next to them.

3 The Fish Gate was rebuilt by the sons of Hassenaah. They laid its beams and put its doors and bolts and bars in place. 4 Meremoth son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, repaired the next section. Next to him Meshullam son of Berekiah, the son of Meshezabel, made repairs, and next to him Zadok son of Baana also made repairs. 5 The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors.

6 The Jeshanah Gate was repaired by Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah. They laid its beams and put its doors with their bolts and bars in place. 7 Next to them, repairs were made by men from Gibeon and Mizpah—Melatiah of Gibeon and Jadon of Meronoth—places under the authority of the governor of Trans-Euphrates. 8 Uzziel son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired the next section; and Hananiah, one of the perfume-makers, made repairs next to that. They restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. 9 Rephaiah son of Hur, ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, repaired the next section.10 Adjoining this, Jedaiah son of Harumaph made repairs opposite his house, and Hattush son of Hashabneiah made repairs next to him. 11 Malkijah son of Harim and Hasshub son of Pahath-Moab repaired another section and the Tower of the Ovens. 12 Shallum son of Hallohesh, ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, repaired the next section with the help of his daughters.

13 The Valley Gate was repaired by Hanun and the residents of Zanoah. They rebuilt it and put its doors with their bolts and bars in place. They also repaired a thousand cubits of the wall as far as the Dung Gate.

14 The Dung Gate was repaired by Malkijah son of Rekab, ruler of the district of Beth Hakkerem. He rebuilt it and put its doors with their bolts and bars in place.

15 The Fountain Gate was repaired by Shallun son of Kol-Hozeh, ruler of the district of Mizpah. He rebuilt it, roofing it over and putting its doors and bolts and bars in place. He also repaired the wall of the Pool of Siloam, by the King’s Garden, as far as the steps going down from the City of David. 16 Beyond him, Nehemiah son of Azbuk, ruler of a half-district of Beth Zur, made repairs up to a point opposite the tombs of David, as far as the artificial pool and the House of the Heroes.

17 Next to him, the repairs were made by the Levites under Rehum son of Bani. Beside him, Hashabiah, ruler of half the district of Keilah, carried out repairs for his district. 18 Next to him, the repairs were made by their fellow Levites under Binnui son of Henadad, ruler of the other half-district of Keilah. 19 Next to him, Ezer son of Jeshua, ruler of Mizpah, repaired another section, from a point facing the ascent to the armory as far as the angle of the wall.20 Next to him, Baruch son of Zabbai zealously repaired another section, from the angle to the entrance of the house of Eliashib the high priest. 21 Next to him, Meremoth son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, repaired another section, from the entrance of Eliashib’s house to the end of it.

22 The repairs next to him were made by the priests from the surrounding region. 23 Beyond them, Benjamin and Hasshub made repairs in front of their house; and next to them, Azariah son of Maaseiah, the son of Ananiah, made repairs beside his house. 24 Next to him, Binnui son of Henadad repaired another section, from Azariah’s house to the angle and the corner, 25 and Palal son of Uzai worked opposite the angle and the tower projecting from the upper palace near the court of the guard. Next to him, Pedaiah son of Parosh 26 and the temple servants living on the hill of Ophel made repairs up to a point opposite the Water Gate toward the east and the projecting tower. 27 Next to them, the men of Tekoa repaired another section, from the great projecting tower to the wall of Ophel.

28 Above the Horse Gate, the priests made repairs, each in front of his own house. 29 Next to them, Zadok son of Immer made repairs opposite his house. Next to him, Shemaiah son of Shekaniah, the guard at the East Gate, made repairs. 30 Next to him, Hananiah son of Shelemiah, and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, repaired another section. Next to them, Meshullam son of Berekiah made repairs opposite his living quarters. 31 Next to him, Malkijah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs as far as the house of the temple servants and the merchants, opposite the Inspection Gate, and as far as the room above the corner;32 and between the room above the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and merchants made repairs.




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