Shame Off Your Gifts

Shame RX: The measure of a gift is the heart of the giver, not the gift itself.

1 Peter 4:10

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 

My kids like to tease me about some of the gifts I give them. They know my heart is to bless them, and I seek to know them well enough to get what they desire, but sometimes this bargain hunting momma can’t help it and can’t pass up a good deal. Let’s just say that some of the gifts I have given *might* not have been appreciated. Like the “momma jeans” I bought one of my precious girls. Designated as momma jeans because they um, lacked style.

Have you ever felt the pressure building as the time comes for the gift you have given to be opened—you wonder . . . will it be enough?

Enough for what?!

Enough for the recipient? Enough for the bystanders watching? Enough for the giver? And who determines whether a gift is “enough” and how is a gift is rated?

Shame. Again. Goodness. Just the act of giving is an act of grace and kindness. There should be no shame there. But shame lurks wherever there is an audience . . . unless we have stopped giving the audience that power to hold shame over our heads.

The measure of a gift is the heart of the giver, not the gift itself. When we give, we don’t do it for the audience, or at least I hope we don’t. We do it from a motivation of love, generosity, and thoughtfulness. We can let go of man’s opinion of our gift when we keep in focus our intention in the giving of the gift.

It is so sweet to remember that we are merely stewards. Everything we have was given to us and we get to take what we have been given and share it with others. How cool is that? May we do so without shame. How people respond to a gift does not determine its value. In all we do, may we give for the glory of God!

Shame Off You this Christmas, friends!

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 15 – Provision

copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-30-days-1

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Sometimes it is not until we are lacking that we can see God’s provision.

Scriptures of the Day:

Ecclesiastes 7:14

“In times of prosperity be joyful, but in times of adversity consider this: God has made one as well as the other, so that no one can discover what the future holds.”

Philippians 4:19

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Matthew 6:26

“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

Simply thanking God for provision would be hardly sufficient for all He provides for us. He gives us life and grace to live this life. He provides for our basic needs and even delights to lavishly express His love and care for us.

Psalm 34:10

“The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.”

I vividly recall seasons in my life when my husband had lost his job due to the economy and the Federal Government cutting back on defense spending budgets. Trying to find a job when whole offices were let go was challenging, to say the least, but this time became precious to me as I noticed the many ways God provided for us.

Sometimes it is not until we are lacking that we can see God’s provision.

I remember telling my children that we would have to do without things we were accustomed to. Things that we thought were necessary were now understood as amazing blessings. During this season of “lack”, our garden flourished (boomed!) and we were able to give to others.

Unspoken requests and desires in my heart were met by my God Who sees all and Who sometimes goes to great lengths to demonstrate His care. I missed coconut oil, feta cheese, fruit, veggies, cheese and popcorn. I thanked the LORD for the times when we could afford those things and repented for when I had not been more grateful. Barely were these thoughts formed, when, within days, two people randomly said they felt led to give me coconut oil, feta cheese and popcorn. Wow. I had not told anyone. Friends brought fruits and veggies that were not growing in our garden and I realized how blessed we were to have a God Who lived in these precious friends who considered it a joy to help us in our time of need.

In times of need, our flesh can be prone to doubt God’s goodness. But it is in the times of scarcity that we can draw nearer to our God and accept blessings and burdens from His hand. For the burdens of this life cause us to depend on our Maker and remind us that we were not made to live solitary lives apart from God. We were made to know and worship Him.

God truly gives us every single thing we have. Friends, family, home, food, health, work, talents, favor, joy, hope, strength . . . EVERYTHING! His gifts are never taken back, but given at just the right time. Most of all, I am grateful that God provided Himself as a sacrifice for us because of His great love for us. Saved. Forever.

We cannot boast in any belonging, any gift of God in our lives. We can only humbly bow to our Jehovah Jireh, our magnificent Provider, who faithfully gives His children what they need.

Oh, God! I worship You, our Provider! Thank You for all You graciously give to us! Help us to cultivate gratitude in our lives as we recognize Your abundant provision moment by moment!

31 Days of Reinventing Our Hope in God


31 Days of Reinventing our Hope in God – in 5 minutes a day
Welcome to 31 Days of Hope in October – not the hope you have grown up with or grown accustomed to, but a hope that is transformed in the very presence of God.
Scroll down to catch a glimpse of what this hope just might look like. This page will be the directory for you to come back to for easily finding posts within this series.
Click to read the other days, I’ll be adding a link to each day once it goes live.
I pray this is a blessing to you and that it will be a refreshing to your soul, even if it is only 5 minutes. Thank you for coming and exploring hope with me!

Day 1: Salvation is Here
Day 2: Not in Kansas Anymore
Day 3: Where Was God?
Day 4: The Grief Process: Finding Our Way & Thriving in the Desert
Day 5: Vision From the Pit: Purpose in Crisis
Day 6: Revelation in the Darkness -Who Was the Thief?
Day 7: Facing Depression
Day 8: Facing Disillusionment
Day 9: Facing Fear
Day 10:Facing Judgment
Day 11: Facing the Sin Within
Day 12: Facing Memories Through a Biblical Lens
Day 13: Facing the Enemy
Day 14: Facing and Embracing Reality – The New Normal
Day 15: Facing the Future
Day 16: Understanding Sin & The Sovereignty of God
Day 17: The Christian Culture
Day 18: Telling Ourselves the Truth – exposing Our Unbelief
Day 19: Fairy Tales Remixed
Day 20: Uncovering the Goodness of God When Life Hurts
Day 21: Hope’s Debtor: Gratitude & Humility
Day 22: Hope in Sorrows & Affliction
Day 23: Exploring Hope: Making Sense in a Fallen World
Day 24: Superficial Hope
Day 25: The Promise of Hope
Day 26: The Foundation of Hope
Day 27: The Formation of Hope
Day 28: The Fruition of Hope
Day 29: Hope Discovered
Day 30: Hope Reinvented
Day 31: 31 Days…How Was It?

We were all children once, dreaming of a fairytale life and happy ending. The thing is, we fail to see that fairy tales are often fraught with suffering before the main character gets to a place of peace and blessing. So it is with life. For the Christian, there is hope in suffering, but there can also be disillusionment. This series on hope is not going to give you false hope. It is not about living the American Dream and it is not dependent upon our worldly circumstances, but this hope we have is real and it belongs to those who are in Christ Jesus.

Sometimes hope is hidden from our eyes and seems impossible to reach. I pray this series will help you to find your hope again, but this time it will look different. This month our expectations and desires will have passed through God’s sovereignty and purposes and redefined our understanding of what hope really looks like.

It might hurt. It might feel like death at times to explore our concept of hope and the loss of what we thought we wanted, but when our eyes are opened to see the fullness of this living hope, unlike any this earth offers, we are set free. Set free from the trap of a superficial hope and awakened to a new sense of purpose toward the hope God has for us – and His plans for us are not just good – they are the best!

31-days-1

Mundane Monday: Bless You!

god-is-for-us

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

God is for us more than we are.

Scripture of the Day:

Numbers 6:23-27

“Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is the way you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: 24 The LORD bless you and protect you; 25 The LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; 26 The LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.’. 27 So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

Bless you, friend! It’s always good to start Monday off well. Go ahead – bless someone around you. It does not deplete our joy to give joy and blessing to another. In fact, it is an incubator that increases our joy all the more. Let’s start this week with a blessing, what say you?

Ever just feel like you wish someone would encourage you? Critical judgments come easily, but for someone to take the time out to encourage us goes beyond the norm. We, too, can often be so wrapped up in the busyness of life or preoccupied with self that we don’t notice the deep need around us for some en-COURAGE-ment.

A blessing might be the very thing someone needs to give them strength and courage to carry on or to undertake a challenging assignment. Why not give it?

We probably all know what it is like to be on the giving and receiving end of a blessing as well as being one who withholds it. The irony in sticking ourselves out there to try and accomplish a project or work God has placed on our hearts is that we are often misjudged as being prideful for doing so, when we are actually being vulnerable and obedient, motivated by a desire to honor God and giving ourselves over to our calling. Observers watching the progress can misjudge our hearts as promoting self and withdraw their blessing or seek to discourage us from the work we are doing.

Ever felt like that? Reminds me of Nehemiah. Many detractors sought to undo his work. But He pressed on. Not a lot of blessings flowing his direction. But he knew the One Who had called Him and His blessing was all he needed. It is all we need, too, and this same blessing He has given to us so we can freely give to those around us.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the disciples who were envious of other co-laborers who were baptizing; their methodology wasn’t the same “brand” – must be sinful. Not according to Jesus.

It is easy to encourage someone we admire, but what about someone we don’t? Maybe they just don’t stand out or maybe we envy a person and can’t bring ourselves to praise them. Yuck. Jealousy is insidious and ultimately hatred disguised in a competitive spirit. We all hate being envied, but we can be guilty of it ourselves, if we are not careful.

Ok, back on the encouragement bandwagon. God wants us to bless believers around us – He spoke it as an imperative, not a suggestion. He even spoke the kind of blessing to be given.

Maybe we don’t feel that we deserve God’s blessing or perhaps that an enemy does. Well, none of us do. But isn’t it amazing that the God Who made us, whom we sinned against and violated His Holy covenant would turn around and bless us?

God is for us more than we are.

In that moment of blessing others, Scripture says that we are putting God’s Name on that person. Wow. What a picture of Christ being an atonement cover for us. His Name being placed upon us, blessing us now and for all eternity.

Maybe the hesitation to bless others can be set aside and blessing can become a norm for the body of Christ. As we share God’s kindness and love with all of His children, amazingly we end up just as encouraged – and maybe the blessing we give might impact generations and eternity through the encouragement of one vessel.

Oh God, we are all one body and all need encouragement to run this race. Help us to be on mission to offer Your sincere blessing to those around us.

 

Scriptural Saturday: The Present of His Presence

the-present-of-his-presence

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The present of His presence is all we need.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 73:25-28

“Whom do I have in heaven but you? I desire no one but you on earth. 26 My flesh and my heart may grow weak, but God always protects my heart and gives me stability.27 Yes, look! Those far from you die; you destroy everyone who is unfaithful to you. 28 But as for me, God’s presence is all I need. I have made the sovereign LORD my shelter, as I declare all the things you have done.”

As we prepare to come together in congregational worship, my heart thrills at the thought of joining voices to praise the One Who is omnipresent but also present in such a special way when we gather together. He is indeed enthroned on our praises.

The stage of conflict is set in this Psalm, yet the Psalmist declares He stands firm in the presence of God. Once an enemy of God who could not stand in the presence of a Holy God, Asaph’s comfort was in God’s sovereignty as his shelter.

This peace the Psalmist had was formed as he declared all that God has done for him. 

As we struggle with conflicts of our own, the Psalmist has blazoned a trail we can follow. As we praise God for all He has done and recount His mercy and kindness, faithfulness and unending character, we, too, are satisfied in His presence. He truly is all we need.

Lord, You are beyond description, beyond comprehension, yet You invite us to know You. Help us to find our complete soul’s rest in You alone, no matter what surrounds us in this life.

 

Scriptural Saturday: Chosen in Christ

happylabor day!.jpg

Some Scriptures to meditate on as we prepare for the Sabbath tomorrow. He has chosen us in love to know Him and to do His work. We see evidence of this salvation at work in our lives. How amazing is that? Our salvation is sure. Our calling known from before the foundations of the earth. He has called, equipped and will fulfill His perfect will in us. Wow, what a God. What a salvation.

1 Thessalonions 1:4

“For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.”

Ephesians 1:4-5

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”

Need some verses to meditate on to confirm your salvation in Christ? Click here.

Lord, we worship You and thank You for your salvation. May we endeavor to work for Your glory and remember that work is a gift from You that You will enable us to do.

 

Thoughtful Thursday: Opportunity Knocks

Opportunity is Knocking

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

 

Luke 8:10

“He said, ‘You have been given the opportunity to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that although they see they may not see, and although they hear they may not understand.'”

“Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?”

Don’t worry, I won’t tell a cheesy knock knock joke. Had you wondering, though, huh?

Opportunity is a funny thing. We long for opportunities but often do not even recognize them. We hope to be used by God to do something amazing but miss astounding promise all around us, dubbed as “ordinary”.

We can feel it in the thump of our heartbeat. Hear it in the soul’s cry. Sense it with our Spirit. Somewhere within us is a sense of a calling. Opportunity is knocking on the door of our soul – wondering if we hear our Master’s call for us to see the longing around us.

The moment we are awakened to hear and to understand God’s word, we are on mission. Entrusted with secrets that God has revealed, do we pretend not to see the needs, the hurts, the deadness in their eyes? Maybe in our own?

Growing up, I always felt special when someone trusted me with a precious secret or a position of leadership. Those who Christ has revealed His Gospel are the most blessed people on the face of the earth. We hold the keys to salvation and the opportunity to share it with lost people who we once were identified with.

The resounding knock stirs our souls to act on the knowledge and insight we have been given. The world’s din can try to silence the relentless needs and opportunities, but if we listen carefully, we will hear the knocks and answer. The souls God has called us to reach around us are counting on it.

Lord, help us to hear the needs around us and to listen attentively to Your word so that we might share what is on Your heart.

Worshipful Wednesday: Revelation’s Invitation

His Revelationisan invitation (1)

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

His revelation is an invitation; the imperfect enveloped by the perfect – filled to know Him and represent Him on the earth.

Scriptures of the Day:

Psalm 75:1

“For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” A psalm of Asaph. A song. We give thanks to you, O God! We give thanks! You reveal your presence; people tell about your amazing deeds.”

Psalm 76:1

“God has revealed himself in Judah; in Israel his reputation is great.”


As a worship leader it makes me smile that this Psalm opens up with instructions to the musicians. “To the tune of Do Not Destroy” – I wonder what that tune sounded like.

Either way, God’s people had something to sing about, indeed. The fact that our Creator, the King of this universe, Holy and perfect, reveals Himself to imperfect man is beyond understanding; it is astounding. Overwhelming.

Those who violated His covenant and chose fake gods over His presence – those people – He chose to love and to show Himself to.

His revelation is an invitation; the imperfect enveloped by the perfect – filled to know Him and represent Him on the earth.

As we catch a glimpse of Who He is – just a part – we are overcome with His awesome presence and led to a deeper walk with Him.

Seeing part of His character motivates us to desire to be like Him. Seeing One so Holy, so far above us, Who would choose to stoop down and help us to see, causes us to act on that revelation and to be His ambassadors on this earth.

Lord, thank You for revealing Yourself to us, moment by moment. Help us to bask in Your presence and take what we know of You to the uttermost parts of the world.

 

Truthful Tuesday: To Know Him is to Serve Him

Serving and Knowing God

Photo credits from 924jeremiah.wordpress

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Knowing God means we begin to have His heart for His people, particularly the poor and needy.

Scripture of the Day:

Jeremiah 22:16 (NET)

“He upheld the cause of the poor and needy. So things went well for Judah.’ The LORD says, ‘That is a good example of what it means to know me.'”

Righteousness cannot be attained by good works, yet valid faith cannot exist apart from them. The life hidden in Christ is one that seeks to follow after the Spirit, walking in obedience to God, which will undoubtedly involve service to others.

Christ, Who reigns over all, chose a path of humility and service. His followers will do the same. Seeking to understand the real need around Him, Jesus met people where they were at and ministered to the physical and spiritual need of all people.

When we examine ourselves in light of Scripture and the example of Christ, we will always come up short, but that does not mean we replace the standard of Christ. The plumb line of Jesus reveals our desperate need of a Savior and His costly salvation exposes our inability to ever be able to adequately thank Him for His free salvation.

Christ simply asks that we believe and do what we see Him doing – serving others. Knowing God means we begin to have His heart for His people, particularly the poor and needy.

The same things that burden Him become our mission. In His infinite wisdom, God knows we need to serve others. Our flesh is preoccupied with self, while so many unmeet needs surround us. Knowing God makes all the difference in our service to and for our King and is a witness to the world that our God is living and we belong to Him.

The Holy Spirit within provokes us to do righteous deeds – not to earn our way to Heaven, but because we know God and love Him.

Religion can attempt to do the work of God and make great strides in helping people, but it can never achieve inward heart change. Serving others from a relationship with God is not self-motivated by achieving glory for ourselves or securing a spot in heaven, but fueled by a zeal to please God and initiated by the living Holy Spirit within us.

Ultimately, when we are serving God’s people, we are serving Jesus. Our service to our King might be radically different from person to person. One might be poor materially while another might be poor in spirit. Being sensitive to our Master Who instructs us how to serve, we become the beautiful hands and feet of Jesus, affecting His people for eternity. How blessed are the feet who bring good news!

Lord, help us to see where You are working around us and to join You. May our hearts burn with compassion and may we be poured out for Your glory alone.

Mundane Monday: Freedom in Yielding

masterpiece-1

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When we yield to our Creator’s will and plans, we become what we were meant to be.

Scripture of the Day:

Jeremiah 18:4-6

“Now and then there would be something wrong with the pot he was molding from the clay with his hands. So he would rework the clay into another kind of pot as he saw fit. 5 Then the LORD said to me, 6 I the LORD, say: “O nation of Israel, can I not deal with you as this potter deals with the clay? In my hands, you, O nation of Israel, are just like the clay in this potter’s hand.”

My youngest child still loves to play with clay. The delight shown on his face by a new creation made according to his specifications is felt by those around him. The clay responds to his touch and yields to the form the creator is making. If it were made of another material that was less pliable, it could not do so.

So, too, when we yield to our Creator’s will and plans, we become what we were meant to be. But when we fight His working in our lives, we do not rise to our God-given potential.

There are many ways a lump of clay can resist the work of God. We might look the part on the outside, but on the inside we resent the work being done. Instead of yielding, we can inwardly seethe and doubt God’s goodness when we would rather be left alone.

Or perhaps we can compare ourselves to other vessels and wonder why their process of being shaped seems easier. We wonder what the purpose is in it, anyway. It might seem mundane or perhaps cruel, this shaping of our wills in which our flesh has to die so our spirit is made alive.

But when we resist the shaping of our lives because it hurts, we do not recognize that we are in fact harming ourselves. Protecting ourselves from God’s work on our hearts is only impeding the progress He is making. The tools might seem crude or unnecessary, but our loving God sees the complete design. His character is revealed in the fruit of the work He is doing, and His grace is sufficient to enable us during the process.

There is hope in the knowledge that God’s work is always redemptive and for our good. It is in fact in yielding that we taste of the freedom of being a child of God. Free from the shackles of sin, at peace and free to be what He intended in the first place.

The joy my son has in displaying his creation reminds me of the joy of the Father, delighting in His children. He is glorified when we surrender our lives to Him and let Him work in us. Patient perseverance develops us, changing us from the inside out. The end of His labor is a beauty to behold – forever changed into His image, made to be more like Him!

Lord, help us to trust Your working in our lives and to yield to Your purposes, even when they do not make sense to us.

Denise Pass Promo Pic

Denise Pass  •  www.seeingdeep.com  •  www.denisepass.com

Author | Worship Leader | Singer/Songwriter | Speaker