Friday, February 24, 2017

Give It Away

Surrounded by boxes, taped up, and carefully containing items we thought we couldn't leave behind, I began to think. These boxes have been in storage for over two years! Part of me wishes I could just haul them all away, but part of me wonders what if there is something in these boxes that we need? We are in our own home now, so some of the items are useful and needed, (like our dishes) but I am simplifying my life, so many of these items will have to go!

I have no shortage of space to store items in this home. There is an abundance of closets, cupboards, drawers, and shelves, but I have no desire to fill these spaces to overflowing. I am perfectly content to see a shelf with extra space. In fact, the more I give away the happier I feel.

We Christians can do the same thing. We have our spiritual and emotional baggage. We have the memories we carry of good times or better days. We hold on to those times for comfort, but sometimes we think we are storing valuable treasures when it really is a "weight" that easily torments or troubles us. Hebrews 12:1 says "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us."

Some of those "better days" we thought we had can distort our present life. We may look back with regret or longing. Take inventory of all the potions, creams, and dyes on the market today offering to turn back the hands of time. We start longing for what can never be, then we start to feel discontented. We overlook the abundance of blessings we have received and feel unhappy with what we do not have but think we deserve. Paul said, "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Philippians 4:11 Can we truly be content in whatever situation we find ourselves in? Is it possible? How did Paul do it?

When our eyes behold what others have, we fail to see all we have been blessed with. We pitch our tent in the valley of discontentment and set up camp in misery. We become dry in the desert of our desolation we have created for ourselves. Like preparing for a move, we box up our hopes and dreams, our gifts and talents to carry with us for "someday." We often lose our motivation to work for God and to bless others when we are so preoccupied with working to obtain more STUFF!

We must remember that when we die we cannot take it with us. Why not share your treasures with others now? The extra baking dishes only clutter up my kitchen cabinets. I do not need that many casserole dishes, pie pans, or cooling racks. I am choosing to give these away and bless others with my abundance. We can do that spiritually as well. We can share with others the things God has blessed us with: encouragement, hope, and faith. These gifts are from God specifically to us, each individual person having their own special talents but they are not just for us. We are to share them with others!

1 Thessalonians 5:11 says "Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do." We are to comfort each other when we see our brothers and sisters hurting. We are to build each other up in our faith. When you hear of someone being discouraged, go to that person and talk with them, share your testimony and how faithful God has been, give them a powerful memory verse that has helped you in a similar circumstance. Call up a loved one you haven't talked to you in a long while. Perhaps you always meant to call but you are busy and time just slipped away. Take the time today to reach out to someone. Mail them a card, write them an email, or send them a quick text. With technology the way it is today, we can easily reach across the globe with a personal message in a short time. Don't put it off, if God has put someone on your heart. Maybe you keep thinking about someone but you are no longer in touch with that person, would you take the time to say a prayer for them? They may need your intercessory prayer.

Psalms 31:24 is such an uplifting scripture! It is great for those who find themselves in despair and for those who have come through their trials victoriously! It says "Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD." Psalm 38:15 "For in Thee, O LORD, do I hope: Thou wilt hear, O LORD my God." Sometimes our gift to others is the hope we have in our Savior. I remember sitting in the doctor's office with my dad. He was at his oncology appointment and this was one of the last times he would be seen there. The doctor's report was pretty grim and I was so sad and distraught. I had lost my hope. And I turned to Dad and I said, "With news like that, what hope do we have?" My dad showed no emotion up to that point, but with complete resolve he looked at me and he said, "My hope is not in doctors. My hope is in the LORD." And that was all that I needed to get my hope in the LORD stirred back up. You see it may have looked like the end to some people the day we buried my father, but it was his beginning to a never-ending presence with the LORD. That gives me hope! I know God will hear me like the psalmist says. He truly did strengthen my heart and He continues to do so. Share your gift of hope with others.

The disciples walked with Jesus from the time He called them until the time He departed this world and was ascended up in the clouds. They had seen so many miracles; had witnessed healing of the blind, the lame, the leper; the dead were raised up to live again. And they still needed more faith. They recognized this need and in Luke 17:5 "And the apostles said unto the LORD, 'Increase our faith.'" Even though they had a close relationship with Jesus, they still asked Him to give them more faith. Some people are in your life and they believe in God, they have faith in Him to do great things, but when they get discouraged or overwhelmed they may call on you to increase their faith. Maybe they need to hear how God has delivered you from a similar situation. Know this: you never go through a trial or difficult circumstance without becoming stronger and wiser. Use those gifts to share with others who are right where you once were. Give them the gift of faith by sharing what God has done for you!

As I work my way through the rest of these boxes, and I carefully choose which items to keep and which ones to bless others with, I will remember the lesson God is teaching me right now: don't stop with STUFF.... I will bless others around me with the gifts He has given me! The more we give away the more He brings back to us! God bless you!!

~Bridgett Owens