The Power of a Gift

Ephesians 2:8 – “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”

Gifts. We all love them. We love do-dads and widgets and practical things and things to eat – it doesn’t matter; we love gifts!

But as I was reading in my Bible yesterday, God laid it on my heart to further explore the word “gift”. 

Here in Ephesians, the word for “gift” means a sacrificial present. In other words, the gift cost something extreme. We all know that that cost for salvation was – God’s One and Only Son, Jesus Christ. 

Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Here, the word for “gift” means a spiritual endowment. An endowment is something given without expectation of return in payment but does come with the expectation that the receiver will utilize and work with what is given for a determined end. You receive wages for the work that you do. You receive an endowment with the expectation that work will follow to accomplish some goal. Death is the wages for working at a sinful life without Christ. Eternal life is the expected outcome from the free gift of salvation. 

The free gift of salvation is not something to put on a shelf and look at from time to time. No, the free gift of salvation should be seen more in the light of receiving a major appliance as a gift. When someone you know gives you a stove as a gift, you don’t put it in your kitchen and look at it. You use it. You feed your family with it. You make food for others on it. You provide comfort and assurity with it. Looking at it gets nothing done. Looking at our salvation does nothing to advance the will of God that all men should come to Him for salvation and thus eternal life. We need to use it. We need to share its’ blessings. We need to tell other people how to receive such a magnificent gift. 

So today, get out there and share your gift. It wasn’t given to you to make you look pretty. It wasn’t given to you to beat someone over the head with it. It was given to you to multiple and grow. It was given to you to bring others to Him. Be nice – share. 


The Mirror on the Wall

Ephesians 4:17-24 – “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

It’s Monday. I am guessing that each and every one of you have already looked in the mirror this day. Did you see wild and crazy hair? Did you see bags under your eyes from not enough sleep? Did you see someone well rested and refreshed?

When we look in the mirror, we tend to see only the physical aspects of ourself. We don’t look at who we really are as we look in the mirror. But maybe we should. 

We will stand in front of the mirror and point out every flaw and every wrinkle and every misplaced hair but when it comes to seeing the flaws, wrinkles and misplaced attitudes, well, we don’t have time to look at those. That’s just part of living in this sinful, old word, right? 

We will look into the mirror and tell ourself that everything is ok, that I’m going to be fine on my own. We will ignore the warning signs and keep on going because we can handle things. 

That’s the old way. Those thoughts and plans should be a thing of the past when we accept Jesus as our Savior. We don’t have to face it alone. 

Mirrors always show truth. And the truth is – we NEED Jesus. We need to be renewed in Him each and every day. That means spending time with Him. That means reading His word. That means praying. That means listening when He speaks. That’s what the mirror is trying to get across to us – we NEED Jesus. 

So today, look closely in the mirror. Don’t just see the physical attributes you have. Look deeper. See who you really are. Look at your intentions and desires. See why you really go on each and every day. It may not be pretty, but we all need a good, hard look into the mirror on the wall. 

Know who you fight

Ephesians 6:10-12 – “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places .”

We depend so much on our sight. We want to see the beauty of God’s creation. We want to see the smiling faces of our loved ones. We want to be able to read. Our sight is vitally important to us. 

So, how are we supposed to fight someone we can’t see? We can see the ground before us and look to where the holes might be in the grass, but sometimes we miss one and fall in. We can watch the traffic out on the road, but sometimes someone does something that causes an accident that we never saw coming. 

As a follower of Christ, we do not battle against things we can see and touch. We battle against principles and ideas. And at times, it gets really dark because we find ourself in a battle with “rulers of darkness” and “spiritual wickedness”. Serious stuff. 

We like to joke that the devil is this dumb little demon with horns and a pitchfork. But in reality, we are facing a fallen angelic being who is a maniac with destruction in his heart. This isn’t some little red being snearing in the corner, rubbing his hands together and giggling mischievously. No, 1 Peter 5:8 says this – “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”. A lion. There is nothing sweet and innocent about a full grown lion. I don’t believe that Peter was speaking of a cub here. 

Sometimes, we all need a reminder of who it is we are dealing with in our daily life. We need to be vigilant in remembering that this devil is no cute and mischievous little demon. He is a full grown, mean and nasty, ready to tear you apart kind of being. You need to be prepared. 

The great thing about all this is God doesn’t leave us without protection. We have the armor of God. Read Ephesians 6:13-18. It’s all right there in black and white. It is ready for you to check out and apply. 

Be a pineapple 

Ephesians 6:13 – “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

I found this on the biggest time waster in the world, Pinterest. Love that but man, does it waste time!

However, I thought this was great! I have never really considered the personal applications of a pineapple. 

Pineapple is one of my most favorite fruits. I have very fond memories of pineapples. I also LOVE the taste of them. Their sweetness is unparalleled. But they are a booger to get open, sometimes. Their “skin” is so very tough and really attaches itself to the sweetness found inside. 

So, do you know how to pick the very best pineapple? You tug on a leaf of the crown. If it comes out easily, the pineapple is ripe and ready. If not, leave it for another day. 

Did you know that you can grow your own pineapple from the one you buy at the store? Yep! When you remove the crown, plant it. It will take several years, but eventually you will have your very own pineapple. Knowing that they take so long to grow really makes you appreciate them all the more. 

So, what does this have to do with my spiritual life, you might ask. First of all, a good pineapple will always stand tall. God doesn’t ask us to initiate a fight. He asks us to be prepared and stand tall – be ready to defend. Pineapples have a tough outer skin. We need to be tough as well – not allowing everything that is said or done to us affect who we are or what we do. Secondly, we need to wear our crown. We are children of the King if we have received Jesus Christ as our Savior. A pineapple is known by its crown. We should be known by our crown as well. And lastly, we need to be sweet. Being sweet can take many forms –  love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Do you recognize those? Look up Ephesians 5:22,23 – the fruit of the Spirit. 

There are so many lessons to be learned from pineapples. This only touches the crown, so to speak. Pineapples also are a sign of hospitality (1 Peter 4:9). And we already touched on this one, but one could dive deeper into the armor of a pineapple. They have a core that extends from the base (foundation) that makes the fruit. I could go on and on, but you see what I mean? I never really put much thought into it but wow! God can truly use anything to express Biblical truths!

So, even if you don’t like pineapples, be a pineapple. Take a few moments this week and study the pineapple. Learn its traits. Apply the principles you can learn from this majestic fruit. Every thing around us is here for a reason, multiple reasons usually. Don’t let the devil fool you into thinking it’s just a yummy fruit. The pineapple is truly a gift from God.  

Children and wrath

Ephesians 6:4 – “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

I know that everyone who reads this doesn’t necessarily have children. But we all have children in our life. And the same principles apply to them and to the adults in our life as well. It’s about living in peace. 

Yesterday as we were driving home from soccer practice, my son was concerned over a text he received from a friend, who happens to be a girl. She was having symptoms of a panic attack stemming from an argument that she had with her mother. 

When I heard this, it truly burdened my heart. It made me sad. What is going on in our homes? 

I am not naive enough to think that people are living peaceably with teens and preteens all the time.  I know that hormones and society and many other factors are and can be given the opportunity to wreak havoc on our children. But how do we follow the commands of the Lord and not provoke our children to wrath in this delicate time? How do we keep our teens following after Him instead of following after the world?

I don’t know. (I hate saying those words!)

I’m not the perfect parent by any stretch of the means. I just TRY to follow the commands of The Word and do the best I can with what God has given me. 

Before my children were born, I found a poem at an art show. I had to buy it because it exemplified exactly how I wanted to bring my children up in this world. It is titled “Children live what they learn”. It has made me think, over the years, about what and how I am teaching my children. 

So how do we live peaceably with those around us? One of my main attempts is through respect. I want to respect my children. I want to respect my husband. I want to respect my family, my church, my government, my work, my patients, the person at the grocery store who is tying up the cashier, the crazy person who cut me off in traffic, and I could go on and on! When people feel they are respected, their attitude, and mine, take on a whole new demeanor. 

So let me encourage you, whether you have children or not, to be respectful and do not promote others to wrath. Yep, it’s hard sometimes because people make us so mad, but how would Jesus handle the situation? Jesus dealt with teenagers too. You know there had to be some in His following. I’m sure they spoke with Him as well. We have no record of it but how could He not have interacted with them? But one thing Jesus did do, He respected everyone – from the highest official to the lowest beggar. And we should do the same. 

Fuzzy mornings

Ephesians 4:23 – “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind..”

Do you ever have one of those mornings where your coffee just isn’t doing it’s job? The cobwebs are still there and all you can think about is how in the world you are going to get anything done today?

Well, that seems to be me this morning. My kids have the day off from school and I still have to go to work. Life isn’t fair sometimes. It’s one of those days that I would just prefer to stay in bed. But, that’s not how things are to go today.

I need to be “renewed in the spirit of (my) mind”. Now then, how is that supposed to happen? Coffee isn’t doing it. I’ve read my Bible this morning. I understood it and comprehended what I read but still feel fuzzy.

What is it going to take?

Submission. I need to submit my day to my Holy God and Savior. I’m holding onto it for dear life. For some reason, I’m having trouble letting go of my troubles this morning. Perhaps it’s because the devil knows that by letting go, I’ll be much more successful for the cause of Christ. Maybe it’s my sin nature just being it’s mean, nasty self.

Whatever the reason, I think that in order to think and function clearly, I’m going to have to let go of the fuzziness. I’m going to have to choose to lay my troubles at the foot of the cross and walk away – don’t pick them back up again. That’s my problem, I like to gather my belongings before leaving the cross. I don’t want to leave a mess. But you see, the cross is all about collecting my mess and turning it into something beautiful. However, Christ can’t work if I don’t leave my mess, my fuzziness.

So, if you find yourself in the same boat today, won’t you join me? Lay it all down – the troubles, the sadness, the fuzziness or anything that is keeping you from being with Him – and let Him do His thing. Let Him make something amazing out of your mess.

My Time

Ephesians 5:15,16 – “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

Hello. My name is Melissa and I waste time…sometimes.

I think we are all guilty of wasting time. There are things that need to be done, things that should be done, but I just can’t muster the strength or the desire to get them done.

But here, we are warned to not let time go to waste. “Circumspectly” means “cautiously; vigilantly; heedfully; with watchfulness to guard against danger.” Most days, I don’t incorporate any of those actions into my day. I just go along my merry way doing what I think that I need to do and sometimes getting it done.

One of the many specific definitions of “redeeming” is “to save”. We are “to save” our time. We need to rescue it. Something or someone is trying to take it away – evil, sin, the devil, that is who or what is stealing our time.

What are we supposed to redeem it to? What should I be doing with my extra time? Theoretically, I should be doing something to advance the cause of Christ. Ideally, that is what I would be doing with all my redeemed time.

But you know what? Sometimes, I find that staying out of trouble is enough. Sometimes my redeemed time is used to relax and keep my heart and mind from the sin of complaining and being mean spirited. On days where I am stressed to the utmost, I treasure wasting time. I need that. And I am learning to be grateful for the unexpected opportunities to waste time.

I am also learning to appreciate how God can work in my life to provide the time that I need to get accomplished all that He wants me to do. Sometimes I stop and review my day thus far and think, “How did I get all of that done? Thank you God for giving me the stamina and the desire to get it all done!”

So, let me encourage you today to waste time but don’t waste time. Don’t let your time be used in activities that don’t honor and glorify God. Redeem it for His use – even if that use is relaxing. God knows that we all need that sometimes.