My Garden of Living Gifts

    I love flowers. I don’t always have time to take care of them properly; to fertilize and water and deadhead, but I love them. I get joy from looking at them around my yard. When I want to just be quiet and appreciate Jesus as creator, I look at the gardens. Every year they faithfully regenerate, they grow and bloom and get fuller, more lush. Every season brings greater volume, stronger plants and more of those luscious flowers.

    And so it is with people gifts. We love our friends, we nourish them and water them with the Word of God and we speak life into their spirits. We partner with people in the Body of Christ to accomplish Kingdom things. We build one another up in our most holy faith. We bear and share one another’s burdens. These are beautiful mature plantings in my garden of gifts from the Lord. Friends are truly a gift from Jesus.

     The Lord has given me family gifts; my children, Kelly, Shawn, Erin and Kerry. I didn’t give birth to them, but God placed me in a position to be a mom to them when I married their father. He has given me their partners, Chuck, Teffany and Ozzy. Together they have given me grandchildren and great grandchildren; an inner joy and wonder at God’s generosity. I’ve watched these precious ones blossom and grow. I’ve watched them wither and go dormant for a season, then renew and blossom again in magnificence; thicker, fuller, deeper, and more abundant. Jesus has given me Shelley, my spiritual daughter, who loves fiercely and blesses my spirit. These people decorate my soul house with beauty and love. My life would be a mess without them. It is my honor and privilege to pray for them, love them and encourage their lives. They grow in my garden and of living gifts from God. I look at every one of them with awe and wonder and love. They bring beauty and peace to me with laughter and joy. God uses them to restore my soul.

    Planted in my garden are spiritual gifts from the Lord that I love and nourish as well. I can’t just look at these gifts for my viewing enjoyment then tuck them away in a safe place. They need to be used. They are designed to be used continually and they never wear out. They need to be fed and watered and practiced over and over again to bring the word of Jesus to those who don’t’ know the good news. They are like some of the herbs in my garden. If I don’t cultivate the herbs, use them for cooking or medicine, they wither, lose flavor and go to seed. They are still available, just underdeveloped. James 1:17:  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

    I would encourage you today to use your spiritual gifts for the edification and encouragement of your people gifts. Seek and speak that word of wisdom, word of knowledge, word of prophecy, and word of encouragement. Use that gift of hospitality to invite someone over for lunch. Offer your organizational gifts to help someone who needs help in that area. Every gift is to be cherished, nurtured and cultivated, both your people gifts and your spiritual gifts. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, set aside what you need at the moment, and give into what others need with prayer and intercession. God will meet all the needs, exceedingly abundantly more than you can ask of think. I love this plan of His. His ways are higher than our ways, no human brain could have come up with this plan. Truly, the Body works together with parts that are seen and parts that are unseen. A perfect being is constantly working, with Jesus as the head. It’s amazing! Blessings!

The Container

    I was looking at my pantry, again! No surprise, I really have a sense of accomplishment when I look in that room. I have containers, lots and lots of containers. Some foods need to be stored in glass to protect the commodity inside, some just plastic or paper boxes. It all depends upon what preserves the contents most effectively. Dehydrated potatoes turn dark and unappetizing when stored in plastic because too much air is allowed to permeate the container. They do much better in glass. I couldn’t really freeze my homemade chili in mason jars, they would break under the pressure of expansion. It just shows me how very important the container can be and how taking care of those containers is crucial to preservation of what’s inside. One nick in the rim of a canning jar can prevent a proper seal and cause bacteria to invade. It’s imperative that I keep these containers clean and undamaged, ready to do the work I depend on them to do.

    And so it is with us. We are spirit, our bodies are the container. Yes, it is fearfully and wonderfully made according to the image of God. But it’s the spirit that is who we are, our essence. They work together to function as an effective ambassador of Heaven. We have to be good stewards of our container, but at the same time, not give it power and pre-eminence. The container holds the jewels. It is utilitarian, it protects the goods. We need to feed our flesh yet fight it at the same time. The flesh, our carnal man, is cunning. It hears the lie of the devil and perverts the will of God for our lives. It hinders us from developing our spirits. Our flesh is a wonderful thing, but it only a vessel; a container. The enemy uses our container to deceive us, to tempt us. Our spirits are not tempted; the enemy can’t mess with that. So, we are spirit, housed in flesh and nourished by God.

    My point is, you only get one container so take care of it. When not properly cared for, it can become weak and sick; bloated and worn out. It must be fed and cared for because it houses the precious Spirit of God. Our connection to God is our spirit. God is spirit, we are spirit. If the spirit is left undeveloped and immature, the flesh can hinder our communication with God. The spirit must increase; it must have the predominance. That’s not as hard as you think. It’s a lot easier to take care of your spirit than it is your flesh. You have to fight your flesh to get control, you spirit doesn’t give you any hassle. The enemy can try to distract you, but he can’t affect your spirit. If you determine to press in, to study the Word of God and worship Him, your spirit grows. By seeking first the Kingdom, you get your focus on Jesus. Your capacity for love increases, your spiritual gifts flow easily, you grow spiritually by leaps and bounds. You are set free from the earthly things that are such an annoyance!

    So you say to me, but I’m too fat, I just can’t stop eating ice cream! It calls to me, it haunts me. Cravings show up like clockwork every night at 8 pm! Ok, I get that, I’ve batted that all my life. Finally, I understand that I have to take those thoughts captive and cast them down. What if you’re handicapped or just stubbornly abusing your body not even realizing it? You have a purpose, diligently seek God for that purpose and stop allowing the hindering of your mind! I have to talk to my body and tell it I (my spirit) can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. He has strengthened and enabled me to win this battle and claim this victory for His glory! It can be done! It is a battle and I have to get off the couch and pick up my sword. The struggle is real my friends, but by giving in, you deny yourself abundance. You deny yourself what the Lord has planned for you in its fullness. Yeah, you are still a Christian, you are going to heaven and you have an amazing portion in the Body of Christ. You are still gifted and still contribute to the Body. I’m just saying we are designed to win this battle to be strengthened in the inner man and to be more in the Kingdom than we are at any given moment. The battle keeps us sharp, it’s actually discussed in Romans. So if you don’t like your container, polish it. Lose weight, gain weight, take a shower, see a doctor, feed it with wholesome food, treat it well. But please don’t disrespect it. The devil would love to pervert your way of thinking. He wants to take you down. If he can get you to hate yourself, he gets you to hate what God created in His own image. He made you specifically just like you are and for his good purpose. Stop judging yourself and focus on the bigger picture. Forgive my bluntness, but it’s realty not all about you! Clean up the container and don’t allow it to dictate to you. Start speaking life to your body, renew your mind about the container you have been given. Nourish and protect your heart and mind. Call on God for healing, stand on the scripture and believe in His goodness. His ways are higher than our ways, just go with that! Be free! Thank God for your container, praise Him and rejoice that you have been given such a miraculous, amazing, perfectly functioning vessel. I don’t mean to offend; I’m actually speaking to myself! Blessings and love my brothers and sisters.

Romans 6,7, and 8.