Tag Archives: gifts

Sweet Million tomato

Gifts and talents

Walking through my vegetable patch in midsummer is like Christmas! The garden is full of nice surprises. It overflows with delicious, fresh, organically grown food. There is no candy on earth that can give more satisfaction than a ripe cherry tomato popped off the vine and right into your mouth, warm from the sun and bursting with flavor!

But we cannot devour every wonderful gift that the garden provides. Many are made into preserves, jams, or pickles and then “re-gifted” to others to enjoy. Sadly, many sit on the kitchen counter and do not get used quickly enough.

There is not much wasted in my kitchen, actually. Most excess food goes to my waist, rather than goes to waste. But in any garden, some perfectly good things go unused. It is part of the natural order. If we and the birds miss a tomato or zucchini, there will be seeds sprouting in the spring for a new crop. The rotting produce feeds the worms, which aerate and fertilize the soil.

Sometimes gifts are meant to be used in a different way than we envision. Continue reading

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Living Stones

“So as you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but chosen and priceless in God’s sight, you yourselves, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it says in scripture, ‘Look, I lay in Zion a stone, a chosen and priceless cornerstone, and whoever believes in him will never be put to shame.’ So you who believe see his value, but for those who do not believe, the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, and a stumbling-stone and a rock to trip over. They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do” (1 Peter 2:4-81 Peter 2:4-8
English: World English Bible - WEB

4 coming to him, a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God, precious. 5 You also, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Because it is contained in Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, chosen, and precious: He who believes in him will not be disappointed.” 7 For you therefore who believe is the honor, but for such as are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected, Has become the chief cornerstone,” 8 and, “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” For they stumble at the word, being disobedient, whereunto also they were appointed.

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When we build a house we often cover the exterior with bricks. Bricks are relatively easy to make and therefore inexpensive. Because they are all alike, they fit together well using some type of mortar to tie them together. When it all dries you end up with a strong wall which will last many years. Even in developing countries, people can make their own bricks using clay, some type of form, and leaving it to set and harden in the sunlight. Continue reading

Pretty, isn't it?

Giftsby Christine Berglund

In the photo is a bouquet picked for me by my one and only granddaughter, Maddux, daughter of my oldest daughter. Just finding this today in my photos caused me to shed a few tears; tears of happiness and nostalgia at the fond memories, and tears of longing for Heather and her family who live in another country.

This nosegay was picked on the last day I saw and hugged Maddi, almost two years ago last fall.

What struck me on that November day and what strikes me now is that this really is a pretty arrangement — certainly not by standards set by the Society of American Florists, nor to the untrained eye. Who puts dried garlic chive seedheads into a bouquet? That late in the season, when there are literally slim pickings, I would. And apparently so would my baby girl’s baby girl. It adds an artistic contrast to the bright colors of the single stem of Pineapple Sage and the late Bachelor’s Buttons, although I would not have thought that out until the bouquet was presented.

Frankly, I was surprised she found any flowers in my garden, which was zapped by frost numerous times before Maddi’s visit.

Finding beauty among the frostbitten debris takes true talent.

What a wonderful characteristic to be able to see something that is not usually considered beautiful by the world’s standards and elevate it to something that is appreciated!

Maddi thought the flowers were beautiful, and so do I. Her eyes were wide with excitement as she presented her herbaceous gift to me. Of course, she has the largest, most beautiful eyes on earth, but no matter. She was happy to see that I picked out the prettiest vase to put them in, and happy to see that I treasured her gift.

I want to treasure each of God’s gifts, however unlikely they seem to be. I have been given the gift of time right now. Temporarily out of work with an injury, I now have time to teach my youngest daughter how to cook. Time to work with her on her college preparations, time to talk with her about what is really important in life.

It’s too easy to wish that I were given a different gift, like a job that makes more money or speedier healing so I could get back to tending the garden that used to look so pretty.

I’m not saying that I don’t throw a pity party for myself once in a while, but I’m trying to look at the blessings that I do have. Like finding the good flowers among the dead stuff in the garden. Like appreciating the graceful symmetry of a seed head, and realizing there is life for next spring within.

Did you notice in the garlic chives some shiny black seeds? That could be a blessing to someone. Those plants are yummy in soups and stews and potato salads!

Do I have some blessings that I look at as annoyances? I’m sure I do. Those shiny black seeds annoyingly ended up on my counter once the bouquet dried out a little.

I love the story of Joseph, when he told his brothers, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good,” when he forgave them for causing such misery in his life. God means everything for good in my life (Romans 8:28Romans 8:28
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28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.

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May God grant us all the eyes of a child, finding joy and gladness in all of His creation.  It’s all good.

Wasted Resources

by Tim Hall
What God-given resources are we not putting to work?
gardening3.jpgAs one who has gardened, I often marvel at the process. In the spring I till the ground and bury small seeds under the soil.
Over the next few weeks the plants grow and vegetables are produced. I sometimes think, as I eat the beans I’ve harvested, of the phenomenon I’ve witnessed. Out of inedible dirt has come nourishing food for me and my family.
The wise man had this in mind in Proverbs 13:23Proverbs 13:23
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23 An abundance of food is in poor people’s fields, But injustice sweeps it away.

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: “Much food is in the fallow ground of the poor, and for lack of justice there is waste” (NKJV).
The first part of the proverb is what we’ve described: the wonder of being able to make food appear out of the ground. The second part points to unrealized potential. It speaks of soil that could do much good, but instead lies fallow (untilled).
Why was this ground not put to work? There are two views of what the writer had in mind. First, some say that the injustice of others has kept the poor man from working his field. Someone seized his assets and that is why he remains poor.
Others argue that “justice” is better translated as “judgment.” It refers to the landowner’s slothfulness. His lack of industriousness keeps the food in the soil. What might have been will never be because he is lazy or distracted by other pursuits.
In either event, God has provided a resource that has the potential to bless many. How sad when those resources are wasted!
Many Christians have learned the fine art of “poor mouthing.” When asked about their involvement in the work of the kingdom, they reply that they’re not capable of doing the work. Someone else will have to carry the burden. But is that really true? Are there some who have been given no resources at all?
Peter answered that question clearly: “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:101 Peter 4:10
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10 According as each has received a gift, be ministering it among yourselves, as good stewards of the grace of God in its various forms.

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In the next verse he mentioned two such gifts: speaking (whether in preaching or in conversation), and ministering our various gifts to others. No one, though, can truthfully claim to be without any gifts at all.
As I dig potatoes from the soil in the fall, I’m made aware of the grace of God. Energy invested in tilling the ground will bless me and others whom I love. But will I also till the spiritual soil God has provided? Using these resources, I’ll bring blessings upon myself and others.
How sad to see rich soil left untended!

Gifts We Give to God

by Tim Hall
Is there a name we omitted from our gift-giving list?
The custom of giving gifts at Christmas has its roots in information found in the Bible. Matthew tells us of the response of the wise men to the star that suddenly appeared: “For we have seen his star in the East and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2Matthew 2:2
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2 “Where is he who is born King of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east, and have come to worship him.”

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). They didn’t come to worship empty-handed; precious gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh were presented to the young child (2:11).
God didn’t command us to celebrate the birth of Jesus. He did, however, command celebration of his Son’s death for our sins, and we fulfill that command every first day of the week when we partake of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:261 Corinthians 11:26
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26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

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). But is it ever wrong for us to give gifts to God? If loved ones merit tokens of love, God certainly does!
What kinds of gifts might we give to the Lord? Here are some suggestions:
• A commitment to draw closer to the Lord through daily Bible study and prayer would be a wonderful gift to give God. We’ll actually receive the greater benefit from such a gift, but a close relationship is what God desires. Communication with him is the way to make that happen.
• A decision to serve God more regularly would be another great gift. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Jesus said even a cup of water given to some thirsty stranger would be rewarded by God (Mark 9:41Mark 9:41
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41 For whoever will give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you are Christ’s, most assuredly I tell you, he will in no way lose his reward.

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• A mission trip would be a way of showing our gratitude to the Lord. People in some places rarely (if ever) hear pure New Testament Christianity presented to them. Perhaps more could consider devoting a week, month or more to doing something for the Lord’s kingdom.
• Your warm smiles and handshakes at worship and Bible study assemblies are gifts to God. Will visitors to these assemblies be warmly received? You can determine to be more outgoing to visitors as your gift to God.
• Your contribution each Lord’s day is a gift to God. Yes, it is how the church “pays its bills,” but it’s so much more than that. My offering is a response of my heart, showing either gratitude to God or a hollow act born of habit.
You can surely come up with other ways to give a gift to the Lord. He has given so much to us. Isn’t it only right that we show in tangible ways how grateful we are?

Giving An Account

by Tim Hall
Those who receive resources are accountable.
accounting.jpgNumbers and dollars are not my areas of expertise. Yet when the end of the month arrives, I go through the routine of gathering receipts and expenditure logs. If I’m late with the task, I receive friendly but firm reminders to get it done.
I don’t like this simple exercise in accounting, but I do like having a credit card for expenses I encounter. Because this resource has been given to me, I’m expected to give an account of how I have used it.
The same is happening on a larger scale in our nation. For too long, some financial institutions have engaged in risky lending practices. Loans have been made without sufficient backing and the dominoes are now falling. Criminal investigations are under way to learn who is accountable for the most troubling monetary crisis of the present generation.
Accountability is a prominent theme in God’s word. Jesus based a parable on the idea: “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward'” (Luke 16:1,2Luke 16:1,2
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16 1 He also said to his disciples, “There was a certain rich man who had a manager. An accusation was made to him that this man was wasting his possessions. 2 He called him, and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give an accounting of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’

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, NKJV).
Those are chilling words: “Give an account of your stewardship!” When such words are heard in a work place, we suspect the ax is ready to fall. Is it possible God might use those words toward us?
The scenario is not just possible, but predictable. A fact we must never forget is that God regards us as stewards. Here’s how Peter described it: “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:101 Peter 4:10
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10 According as each has received a gift, be ministering it among yourselves, as good stewards of the grace of God in its various forms.

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“Each one” of us have been given resources by God. They’re not ours to abuse or to waste, but to use for best effect in God’s kingdom. Have we been treating these gifts as resources on loan? How will we account for our use of God’s gifts?
Every good resource we hold in our hands has been given to us by God. One day there will be a reckoning, and we’ll be required to step forward, one by one. “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12Romans 14:12
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12 So then each one of us will give account of himself to God.

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The money in my possession, the words my tongue is able to form, the smile my face can show, the time that is mine to use as I choose – all of these are resources God has bestowed. It’s my choice how I will use them. But may I never forget that one day I will give an account.