Thank You for the Gift He Gave Me

#strongwomen #writer #author #entrepreneur #blog #blogger #canadian #alberta #kingdom #faith #godisgood #bible #devotional #Jesuschrist #salvation #verseoftheday #quoteoftheday #thoughtoftheday #nevergiveup @youversion @ourdailybread

Choose your own adventure: Pick one or add one in the comments: For my seventeenth birthday, back when dinosaurs walked the earth, my father handed me the keys to a beautiful blue Nissan Versa. A free gift that would have taken me years to save up for. It had Bluetooth capabilities so I could blast my music. It was my favorite colour. It was compact and easy on gas, and handpicked with love. How do I react?

A: I take the keys from my father, throw my arms around the car, kissing it fervently and saying to it, “Oh, thank you! Thank you for this amazing gift, car. I love you, and I can’t believe you gave yourself to me.”

B: I take the keys from my father, throw my arms around myself, kissing myself fervently and say to myself, “Oh, good job, Lisa! Great job for getting this amazing car. You’re so amazing and smart.”

C: I take the keys from my father and say to myself, “I don’t really believe anyone gave me this car. It must have driven itself here because it needed to be here. I guess I’m just lucky.”

D: I take the keys from my father, throw them in the dirt, and say, “This is a 2012 car! It’s 2015, you must really hate me, everyone else got new cars, why did you give me such a piece of junk?”

Do any of these scenarios make you angry? I’m angry just writing them. Of course, I never had any of the above reactions. I was thrilled with my gift and hugged my dad and thanked him, since he was the one who gave it to me. I’m sure that most of you wouldn’t react in any of the above ways. Two of them are quite stupid, the third one assumes that things manifest themselves from thin air, and the last one is a good way to get slapped upside the head. And yet, I’m sure I can find a lot of places in my life where I treat God the same way I could have treated my father or anyone else who has given something or done something for me. Self-aggrandization, complaining, or dismissal. If you were in my father’s shoes, how would you feel, and what would you do if your child reacted that way to your gift? Todays readings relate strongly to asking for and receiving things like gifts and power. Who do we go to when we have a problem? Who do we thank? Do we live in fear of losing it? Who does it really belong to?

Bible.com

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 the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

Luke 11:13 NIV

The Holy Spirit can be something of a mystery to a lot of people. I mean, He is supposed to be kind of mysterious. You don’t really see Him in the Bible in corporeal form like God the Father when He spoke to Abraham, or Jesus when he came to die for our sins. The Spirit moved over the water at the creation of the world. It was given to Moses and the 70 leaders when Moses could no longer handle the people on his own. And it was given to the disciples and the followers of Jesus after Jesus ascended into Heaven, and is available now to those who believe and trust in what Jesus taught.

Think about it. Look around at something beautiful from the earth. In my city I can see the mountains, and there are rivers and trees and wild animals like deer, ducks, rabbits, and coyotes. All of this nature that was formed by a Spirit that now lives inside of me. How radical is that?

My women’s Bible study has been studying the Holy Spirit for the last month or so. Getting a better idea of who He is, what He wants, and what He does has been incredible. Being a Christian isn’t a one-and-done activity where you check off some boxes like baptism and daily devotionals and call it a day. It’s a progressive deepening of a relationship that is everlasting, and the Holy Spirit is instrumental to growing someone in their faith, according to what they are ready for. He equips and leads you, so that you can slay the day that has been prepared for you. It can be frustrating sometimes when you’re praying for a spiritual Ferrari when you’re a functional toddler. I know I’ve been frustrated when I’ve been praying for something that I think I’m ready for, when I’m really not. Looking back now I can see the places where God kept telling me no, but I stole the keys and took off roaring anyway, only to crash and burn. Maybe for you it’s a relationship when you’re not emotionally well.  Maybe it’s job that would require you work on Sundays when that’s the only time you currently spend with God. Maybe it’s an expansion of your business when you still struggle to manage the one that you have. All of these things have happened to me, and it’s not pleasant. As hard as it is to agree that something I want isn’t good for me, I’m slowly learning that I’ll thank myself – and God – later. It’s great to pray big prayers and to ask God to help you get ready for those gifts – but remember that the getting ready will likely involve some very unpleasant growing pains, without which you will surely be unable to manage the blessing. This is similar to what happened to the Israelites: They weren’t really ready to be one nation under God, so no matter how much they complained, they still continue’d to prove that they couldn’t handle it.

Our Daily Bread

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Philippians 4:6

The Quote of the day from Our Daily Bread is from Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious about anything, but with prayer and petition, take everything to the Lord in thanksgiving.” I’m not surprised that this is one of the most popular pandemic verses. Both for those trying to justify ignoring the pandemic as well as though just trying to get through the daily stress of fearing for the lives of themselves, loved ones, and strangers. This verse has been weaponized to shoot down those with crippling anxiety and depression, but when it’s used in it’s proper context. Verse 5 right before it says: “Let your gentleness be known to all.” Verse 7 right after it says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” So it isn’t to be used to shame those with mental health struggles, and the peace will come from God, not from someone spouting off Bible verses. When we don’t dwell in the peace of God, we get into a lot of trouble like the Israelites did.

Like many of us, instead of being thankful and remembering all the good God has done, and presenting their requests in prayer, the worries of the world choked them until they turned away from God instead. This proved that they weren’t ready to handle the blessings that God wanted to give to them – they would have squandered it away the minute things got difficult, and they would forget God’s goodness as quickly as they always do.

In my life, I’m beginning to realize that if I’m not grateful for the little things I have, it doesn’t matter how much more I’m given – I’ll still be anxious and on edge, wondering whether I’m going to lose it all or thinking that, because I’m still not at peace, I need even more. This downward spiral continues whether I’m making ends meet or only have a couple dollars in my bank account. It’s only when I hold on tight to God and remember that he’ll take care of my needs do I start to feel that peace. I’m working on it, at least twenty percent of the time! So I don’t have to worry if (wink-wink) my blog or novel blows up and I end up being unbelievable rich and famous and influential. I’ll always remember my roots and that all I have really belongs to God, who might just as easily decide someone else needs it.

This is what I hope, anyway. But just like the Israelites, I know there are things in my life where I start to believe that I achieved it all on my own, and I congratulate myself and pat myself on the back instead of remembering that my purpose is to glorify God in all I do. Instead, I glorify myself, and become my own god, even though in reality I’m just as powerless and impotent as a stone statue or a pole.  

Moses continues to give instructions to the Israelites, especially when it comes to avoiding being led astray by false idols. Anyone who even suggests worshipping other Gods is to be put to death, and if it spreads to an entire village, that village must be burned to the ground. This seems harsh to me, but then I think of the example of my birthday present, but on a nation-wide scale, with a perfect and just God as the giver of the gift. I would be disgusted if I gave something to someone and they immediately congratulated themselves or gave their gratitude and respect to the object or someone else. It’s making my blood pressure rise right now. I’m sure it’s annoying and frustrating to God when we act this way, too. It all goes back to pride, which was also a problem in the New Testament story as well.

In Mark, Jesus continues to be pestered by the teachers of the law of Moses, and after the Widow’s Riddle, Jesus tells them that they don’t know anything about the law. He has a lot of beef with the way that they are choosing to interpret the law according to what will be most beneficial to themselves and their cronies, and are threated by the way Jesus threatens the frameworks that they depend on. Even though they proved to themselves that Jesus was smarter than they were by refusing to give an answer about whether John the Baptist, yet they still continue to come at him with questions like these, to try to prove that He is doing something wrong. “Give to Ceasar’s what belongs to Ceasar,” Jesus said, ruining their case for him trying to break a law. Ironically, it is his accusers who are forced to break laws to get what they want – the conviction and execution of an innocent man that even the law makers couldn’t find fault with.  Because of their greed and pride, the Pharisees continue to make fools of themselves in a desperate bid to hold on to their power and save face.

In Conclusion

The most powerful being in the Universe gave up his power and his good standing. True power can never be lost. So why do we scramble for it, and sell our souls for it? When we ask for a gift or get one that we didn’t even ask for, why does our attention focus on the gift instead of the gift-giver?

Try to spend a bit of time in the word every day! It will be amazing, confusing, uplifting, perplexing, and at times disturbing – just like life, and so much better when you’re holding God’s hand.

For daily Bible verse breakdowns and more, go to http://www.bible.com. Don’t forget to download the app!

For a daily guide and devotionals on how to get through the Bible in a year, go to http://www.ourdailybread.ca

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“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.”
~ Romans 15:13

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