Gift of Life

I love gifts. Especially on birthdays or holidays like Christmas. The anticipation of witnessing someone’s thoughtfulness and kindness towards you through what they present to you, helps to understand the value placed on the relationship and their feelings towards you. From a heartfelt card, to a personal hand-written letter. Gifts make our heart smile.

Gifts are presented in many ways. Sometimes through neatly wrapped paper with a beautiful red bow, by an expert wrapper seated at the exit of the store, or from a creative and artistic friend. The wrapping is not as important as the content.

At other times a gift may be presented by a child who with joy, unproportionately cut the gift wrapping paper, placed the gift in the midst of the paper, then gathered together the extra bundles of paper with (what seems to be the entire roll) piece of scotch tape that is trying its best to keep the contents of the gift from being exposed too soon.

But regardless of the outer presentation, the purpose of the content remains the same. The outer does not affect the gift. Even if the gift is fragile and happens to be damaged after unwrapping, it is still what it was created to be. The coffee cup is still a cup, even if it has a crack when it is exposed from wrapping. A mother still hugs her child the same because of the meaning, the effort, and the thoughtfulness of the child. The outside does not change what is on the inside.

Life presents so many external challenges that we forget that life is a gift and we allow the outside to change the inside.

  • Thoughts about our worth from outside voices, try to affect the inside.
  • Tragedies on the outside try to affect our inside.
  • Family disagreements and conflict on the outside, try to affect the inside.
  • Diseases and physical ailments are on the outside, try to affect the inside.

No matter how your life was wrapped and presented to this earth (the environment you were born in or who you parents are) it is still a gift.

No matter what and who attempted to destroy you from the outside, you are still who you are created to be. Be that person.

Appreciate your gift.

Functioning Dysfunctionally

Life basically boils down to this: Making the right decisions and the follow through. The right decision, however, depends on your emotional state. Having the wrong state of mind will cause you to make the wrong decision, thinking it’s the best decision for your life. This produces what I’d like to call a “dysfunctional decision.”

A dysfunctional decision a condition of having poor, unhealthy behaviors and attitudes which can cause a person to function in an abnormal or unusual way.

The Bible shares with us a story two sons and their dad, in the book of Luke, the 15th chapter. For the purposes of this devotion, we focus on the younger son. The younger son asks his dad for his share of his inheritance because he was out- he was done!!! He was getting away from his father, his older brother and everything he knew. He was ready to “do him” and live it up, on his own and do his own thing. Here is what I wonder: The young man had it made. What prompted him to even desire to leave? I have no idea but the audacity of him.

First of all, inheritance was typically given to the older son and the older was in control- unless the dad had already communicated what was gone be when he passed on. Hence the second point: The dad was STILL living. I could imagine the dad thinking: “So you asking for rights to something while I’m still here?” 🤔


Dad didn’t get an attitude. He granted his younger son’s request and the son went on his way. Pretty soon, after all the money is gone and the so called “best friends” have moved on, the younger son recognizes that he acted on impulse. He made a dysfunctional decision.

The prodigal (young) son made a dysfunctional decision that led him to hang out with the little piggies. However, hanging out with the little piggies actually worked on his behalf because the irrational and dysfunctional patterns disappeared- when the prodigal son was left with nothing but his thoughts; thoughts of who really loved him and not what he possessed. Thoughts of what really mattered in life.

Have you ever found yourself in a state of reality? After you had done all that you could think to do, deviating from the right thing, you were left alone to deal with the consequences of your behavior. And guess who was waiting? Your Father. He saw how the world was trying to beat you to a pulp. He could have intervened but he wanted you to want Him. When you came to your senses, your Father didn’t bring up your past. Although you had to suffer from choices you made, he welcomed you home with open arms. Just to have his son/daughter…safe in His arms, was all that mattered.

Do not allow yourself to have a “brain fart” as this young mad did. Sin is like a spiritual disease that corrupts our hearts and minds, causing dysfunctional behavior.

Conditional Love

If you would ask someone what type of friend is considered a true friend, you may hear:

  • Someone who is there for me through good and bad times.
  • Someone that I can talk to, share all of my frustrations with and vent to, without being judged.
  • Someone who keeps me accountable even when I don’t want to be.
  • Someone who tells me the truth even when I’m wrong.
  • Someone who celebrates with me, cries with me, and pushes me.

Today, one would call these types of people: “ride or die.” This is someone who would be there for us regardless of the situation. This person will not just celebrate the good, but also be the biggest shoulder and the greatest ear when things are horrible.

What is so interesting about this ideal is that we have the same expectations of Jesus, and quite frankly, He is all of this to us. We desire it all without sacrifice. We would like for Him to be the good friend, accept us regardless of what we do and how we live, give us everything we desire, strengthen us when we are weak, build us up when we are torn down, allow us to walk in heavenly places on earth.

But…just as soon as trials and unexpected twists and turns pop up in our lives, we give up on Jesus.

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“It’s too hard, this is not working, I’ve done everything the Pastor says to do, I come to every service when I can…

…and THIS isn’t working…”

You’re relationship just became conditional. A conditional statement means: “if this, then this…”

We want unconditional love from our Savior, while giving Him a conditional relationship and that, my friend, is a double-standard. The dictionary defines double standards like this:

double standard

a situation in which two people, groups, etc., are treated very differently from each other in a way that is unfair to one of them. 

 

The Bible defines double standards like this:

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. James 1:6-8  (NIV)

To be double-minded means that a person is always living in a state of compromise, a life lived in two directions…one foot in and one foot out. Living with this type of mindset means that you never give Jesus the opportunity to demonstrate His power. You have a “just in case” on the side. You give old habits a reason to remain. it’s like the ex that you say you are no longer involved with but you still have his contact information in your phone.

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When we live under these terms, we cannot expect God to move on our behalf. The choice is yours. Who do you love? Are you sure?

Breathe!

What does it mean to breathe? Have you ever thought of the concept of breathing? A breath is soft and can be quiet, yet vital to life. Breath is so powerful that it causes our bodies to physically expand and contract, in order for it to function properly within our bodies, filling our lungs with the oxygen.

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A person should never say that they have not had a close encounter with God. Next to being in the presence of God, our breath reflects an intimate relationship with Him. God defines this intimacy in the Bible:

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Genesis 2:7 (NIV)

God breathed and man lived. God’s breath produces life.

Our life is God’s breath.

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Second, every word of God was breathed upon.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV)

The word of God is intimately connected to Him, which is why it is quick and powerful and produces a change. Anything that is touched by God is alive.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12  (NKJV)

When Jesus wanted to impart the Spirit of God into the disciples, He breathed on them:

And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:22  (NKJV)

Every breath we take has purpose attached to it.

  • Whenever you are feeling anxious, breathe.
  • Whenever you are afraid, breathe.
  • If ever you are uncertain, breathe.
  • Whenever you are feeling alone, breathe.

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Whenever you are tempted to respond in anger or to react based on your feelings, breathe. Your breath is a reminder to reflect God’s character, as we represent the image of God in this world.

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Our Daily Bread

There is something about dining at a restaurant with waiters who take pride in their service and who they represent. The dinner seems to be much more enjoyable. The environment is more pleasant, and the experience is worth a revisit.

Being served makes you feel special – knowing that your food is prepared to your liking versus receiving food and service without quality attention.

Whether you have dined at the best of the best, you have been served the best of the best. The question then becomes, did you accept what was on the menu?

“just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28 NKJV

God sent His best representation of Himself. Jesus humbled Himself and came to into this world, to offer us life eternal.

Just because you say you will eat, does not imply you will become full. Daily bread is being served along with living water.

Are you seeing a quick, drive thru meal with minimal to no nutritional value, or sustainment to get through to your next meal?

Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” John 6:32-33, 35 NKJV

You’ve been served. Are you ready to eat?

What Are You Saying?

Before we can verbalize an expression through our mouths, more than likely we have already thought on what we would speak. You have put together what you will say and how you will say it, before it is spoken.

Communication means to transmit or pass on thought, feeling, or information from one person to the next. Before I can pass on what I say or feel, I have to internally process it.

The Bible says:

“It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” Matthew 15:11 NLT

What comes out of your mouth is a reflection of what is already in you. As you read this, consider what is in your heart. This basically means, what you inwardly feeling or what thoughts about a person or come to mind when you think about that person?

To communicate godliness you have to be godly in your heart, in your mind, and you have to practice godliness.

Although we have all heard the term godliness used a few times, allow me to provide a quick and easy definition for godliness.

In its simplest understanding the entire Bible is a book on godliness, being God-like. Acting like God. Responding like God. Full of God-like qualities.

The ability to teach, demonstrate and communicate godliness means that we must be able to communicate in non-threatening, and non-defensive ways.

If we cannot imitate God, according to the scripture, how can we teach about Him? At what point do we deny ourselves? At what point do we present ourselves a LIVING sacrifice?

Here is a rule of thumb: If you do not know how to answer or may run the risk of offending someone through your reply, simply do not respond. Wait. It is best to say: “Let me get back to you,” or “I’ll speak with you later,” versus spewing choice words that you will feel guilty for saying.

If the Holy Spirit is your guide, He will make certain, that you realize your communication was not godly, oh and be prepared to apologize.

What is the point?

Control your feelings, so that your feelings don’t control you. If you control your feelings, you can control your thoughts. If you can control your thoughts, you can control what you say.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6 NIV

Adios!

Sometimes things occur in life that rattle us and take us off course (or so it appears).

In our quest to better ourselves, we sometimes allow the wrong people or the wrong connections to occur, which delays our purpose.

Perhaps this sounds like you.

  • You thought that you were making the right business decision.
  • You thought that person would be a life-long friend that you opened your heart to.
  • You thought the relationship would transition into until death do us part.

Regardless of what comes up against you, YOU have the power to control the end result. It’s okay if your kindness was mistaken for weakness. It was not faith that you were taken advantage of, but that’s okay.

The end result of the matter is that you WIN!

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John 6:70-71 (NKJV) Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.

Jesus chose a devil to show you that the enemy cannot stop you. Just as Jesus used the enemy’s scheme to fulfill His ultimate purpose, the Lord will use the enemy’s ploy against you to fulfill His purpose through you.

Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Yeah, it looks bad; it feels horrible, but wait until you see what God does with this situation. 

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Don’t worry about the Judas in your life. Let him/her go. Their evil deed will produce God’s plan. Do as Jesus did (John 13:27); tell them: Hurry up, do what you gone do so I can reach my destiny on time.”

 

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