Practical Gifts

Practical Gifts

2 Corinthians 9:15 (NLT) Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!

Giving gifts to loved ones and friends is my favorite. It brings me great joy. I am more comfortable as the giver than the receiver. When selecting a perfect something for someone else, there is tremendous pressure to please that individual. It requires knowing them. The more important the person is to us the more crucial it is to find just the right thing. Longing to see their expression when they open it, there is much anticipation until finally the moment comes. It is in the first thirty seconds that we discover if our gift is acceptable or not. It doesn’t matter what words come after the initial reaction. A person cannot hide their feelings most of the time. There is no worse feeling than a gift left unused or unwanted. I would rather the receiver tell me that they have one, don’t like it or need it so that the item can be exchanged for something of use. These are tangible gifts and not the one that is referenced in 2 Corinthians.

As believers who the Lord has invested His Spirit into there are gifts that come from the Father deposited directly inside of us. When allowed to grow and develop, it turns into generosity. A giving spirit in the natural is limited to our financial situation. The Holy Spirit cultivates a whole new kind of giving inside of us that allows us to literally give our life away. There are many famous people who have died over the years very wealthy people who had wasted souls. Feeling no love, value or worth these talented individual have numbed their pain and self-medicated to death, sadly for some an eternal death. The Gift of Love and Grace imparted to us by Jesus Christ is too wonderful for words. It is a call to action.

2 Corinthians 9:10-11 (NLT) For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. 

God is very thoughtful and practical when it comes to processes. He is very straightforward though many times man complicates it. God provides seed for the farmer and bread to eat. The Word of God is the seed sown in our life. It hits our heart and is either received or rejected. When good seed comes to rest on a fertile heart, obedience is produced. The Lord grows that seed with the help of His Spirit into something that satisfies us. Not only enough for the person, but more than enough to give away. God operates in abundance that is only limited by our willingness to continue the process of sowing and reaping in our life. You will always harvest what you plant. God enriches those who give by giving more to share. Generosity is a calling on our life that must not be ignored. It is representative of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 9:12-14 (NLT) So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.

Two things are accomplished by giving – it supplies our life and it benefits the life of others which brings Glory to God. Obedience in giving is essential to express our deep affection for Jesus because of the overflowing grace God has given us. We must give our life away. Our faithfulness in giving allows God to give us what He promises in this process. If our resources natural, physical or spiritual are limited, it is time to evaluate our offering. The things we give above what we are required. For example, the tithe is 10% of what you get. Our giving begins in our offering which is anything more than 10%. You cannot give God an offering until you are willing to be obedient. Our life is our ministry. Every single day. Every single moment. Every single breath yields an opportunity to give something away for the Lord.

Luke 11:36-42 (NLT) Then the Lord said to him, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over. “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.”

Obedience to the rules and regulations of the Word of God are easy. If one takes the time and self-discipline to change certain habits, our life is better simply through our own pursuit of change. Religion versus relationship. Outward change does nothing for our heart though. We can look different, act different and be different but until our heart is changed through a thriving relationship with Jesus – all we have is a religion.

When our son was fighting cancer, the insurance denied his bone marrow transplant. Not once but six consecutive times until all appeals were exhausted. We needed about $350,000 for the hospital to consider the procedure without insurance. I begged and pleaded with every entity that would listen. In the midst of this battle to secure financing for his treatment, the headlines reported that a mega ministry had been robbed. The thieves took more than $650,000 from their petty cash fund. I was speechless.

I believe that church culture is changing from building big fancy cathedrals dripping in gold to evangelist ministries that are taking it to the streets. The remnant church is rising of men, women and young people who are desperate for a move of God and know it will not happen until they take the Gospel outside the church evidenced in generosity to the waiting, watching and dying world. Small groups are on the rise. Church growth is planting rather than hoarding. In other words, rather than building bigger buildings or adding more services, they are developing leaders to move to where the people are rather than waiting for them to come to us. One of my favorite values of our church is the commitment to do anything short of sin to share the Gospel. We must have giving hearts to be an acceptable church.

Ephesians 4:7-10 (NLT) However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ. That is why the Scriptures say, “When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.” Notice that it says “he ascended.” This clearly means that Christ also descended to our lowly world. And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself.

Salvation gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit. Through baptism, the Spirit is ignited and released in our life. The Holy Spirit is not our personal assistant to do our missives but rather our partner of power to facilitate the growth that is needed to give our life away. He is the One who cultivates the gifts and callings from God in our life. These gifts and callings cannot be withdrawn. (Romans 11:29) If this were the case it would challenge the sufficiency of God’s Grace which is more than enough. Paul exhorts us to desire the best gifts in I Corinthians 12 and then goes on to say, “…but now let me show you a way that is best of all.”

I Corinthians 13 is considered the love chapter of the Bible. This is the heart of giving. Love. Love is a commitment not a feeling. I don’t always feel loving towards my husband when we are at odds but I am in love with him always. Love is not emotional but devoted no matter how we feel in that moment. Love is the basis of generosity for the believer. Our giving can never be because we have to but because we love Jesus. If my giving were able to facilitate the Hand of God, I would not need the Lord but that is not the case. You cannot buy God’s Gifts. They are produced from our heart even when facilitated by our hands. (Acts 8:18-21) Every good gift in our life is from the Lord. Everything I have can be used for His Glory.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I am challenged in my heart today to reconsider giving in my life. I can write a check, lend a hand or even pray with another person. But how can my life impact the Kingdom in every exchange? Could it be so simple? We pursue the gifts of the Spirit that result in signs, wonders and miracles. But the Word of God indicates that those who believe without seeing are blessed. The Holy Spirit promises to produce an abundance of “fruit” in my life contradictory to human nature. In Romans 12:6-18 many of these things are listed as “gifts”. I can choose to share the fruit of my life in every single interaction by choosing to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, and gentle while maintaining self-control that gives good fruit even when it is underserved or unmerited. The abundance of grace that I have received allows me to give getting nothing in return. Could it be that these the gifts that the Lord desires of us to? Lifestyles of generosity that extend from the heart not our hand?

I Corinthians 1:4-9 (NLT) I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge. This confirms that what I told you about Christ is true. Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Each day the Lord provides opportunities for us to plant and harvest Kingdom blessings in our life. One day I was walking into the grocery store just as a woman was leaving. Though her cart had just a few bags, it could’ve have been overflowing with the amount of energy she was exerting just to push it. Clearly struggling, it began to rain. As she passed, I turned and fell into step with her extending my umbrella over her. She told me she was sick and having a horrible day. I shielded her from the rain and helped her unload her cart and she was on her way. I thought about praying for her but as the rain got heavier it was clear she just wanted to go home so as I turned back on my errand I began praying for her.

I believe that this is the generosity that Christ is talking about in sharing our gifts. People don’t need us to tell them how to live. They don’t need the Bible force fed. What they need is to encounter people who are genuinely in love and committed to Jesus Christ. More than how we feel or what we have, totally trusting and believing that He supplies all our needs (physical, emotionally and spiritually) so we can give to others even strangers and enemies without a second thought. These are gifts of love that touch hearts beyond any other “thing” we could give away. Love must always be the foundation of giving. I Corinthians 12:6-7 puts it like this, God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.

James 1:16-18 (NLT) So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” To fully understand Luke 6:38 is to know and understand the currency of God. The commodity of the Kingdom always has been and always will be love. There came a point in my life when money could not solve my problem. The price tag on our life demanded a sacrifice of self. Jesus paid the price that I could not pay in my sinful condition so I am now free to live in His Kingdom. I have the ability to bring His Kingdom to earth. I have the keys. Jesus gave them to me. Until I know and understand how the Kingdom operates, I will remain subject to the world’s system of giving and receiving which is limited and lacking. As I learn to give more of my life to the Lord, He will show me how to give His Love away appropriately. His Spirit will recreate my heart so that giving is an immediate response rather than forced action. I must commit myself to giving of the love that I have received.

Yes, I have a gift too wonderful for words. There are many “good” things in my life. Even more that the Lord is perfecting by faith and trust, He will see them come to pass. My role is to participate in the sowing and reaping process. To give practical gifts to everyday people. To plant love and sow souls for His Kingdom by sharing this gift too wonderful for words that can only be expressed in the generosity of offering our life to others freely. It is in the slightest gesture of sharing from the Fruit of His Spirit. It is offering a helping hand desiring nothing in return. It is to give a kind word in response to a violent verbal assault. It is to hold the door for another. It is take the Good News to the world rather than waiting for them to come to us. Our generosity is representative of Jesus who gave His All. Lord, show me where to start, what to give and how to perfect generosity in my life!

I Peter 4:10 (NLT) God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

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