There is a principle that holds true with God and with man: “We need to be more focused on presence instead of the presents.” It is human nature to want God and other people to give us presents. We all like them, right? The problem is, we tend to focus on the material gifts vs having meaningful relationships. It is so easy to get focused on the wrong thing because we live in a materialistic world.
Our wants are often at war with our needs. We need a vital relationship with God and with our fellow man, and yet too often we forget what really matters. This is not to beat anybody up over misplaced values. We all struggle in this area, and the more money we have, the greater the temptation to focus on things vs relationships.
We need to teach kids about the value of presence. It is so vital to our spiritual and emotional growth. You know what? God wants our presence first and foremost, but He also likes to give us presents just as we like to give our kids presents. It is really a matter of priority. If we can just humble ourselves before Him and get THAT relationship in order, then the relationships we have with our fellow man tend to work with a lot less friction.
Relationships should never be taken for granted. We have to nurture them or they can and will die. Teach your kids that one concept and it will save them a lot of grief when they get older. Christmas and birthdays are good examples. Where do we typically put our focus? On the presents….not the presence.
When the value of presence exceeds the value of presents, we have taken a huge step in having healthy relationships and a lot less drama in our lives. 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Focus on what matters: relationships. Love God and love people. Use things. Don’t get that reversed. If you try to use God or use people, it never ends well. You WILL reap what you sow. It really boils down to what we prioritize in life. If we focus on the presents, we will continually be chasing the dollar and never experience the peace and blessings of God. So we have to ask ourselves, “What really matters to me in this world?” Nobody can answer that question for you. It is up to you to choose. Another question you might want to ponder is, “What will be my legacy?”
How well do you know yourself? Before you answer, let me ask you a few questions:
1. Do you ever tell yourself you will never do something and then do it against your better judgment?
2. Do you tell someone you are going to do something and then not do it?
3. Do you make decisions to do something positive and then make excuses as to why you did not do it?
4. Do you feel good about yourself?
5. Do you feel good about other people?
6. Do you see yourself as stressed, or too blessed to be stressed?
7. Do you have habits that you know you need to quit but don’t?
8. Do you live in faith or fear?
Hmmmm….now I know there are questions you are already forming and exceptions to the questions posed. LOL. I know YOU pretty well. That is OK. It is normal. The point I am making is that if you really know yourself you should be capable of doing the right thing for yourself and others without living in fear.
I know that some people have real struggles in this area and can’t figure it out on their own. That is left to the professionals to help them. I am not a Psychiatrist or Psychologist, so please forgive my simple observations, but here are a few things I think we need to do in order to know ourselves better:
1. Know your strengths, and admit your weaknesses. Too often we get paralyzed with the weaknesses we have and forget to capitalize on our strengths. If you don’t know your strengths, take a Strength Finder test (or one like it).
2. Quit telling yourself and believing lies! If you tell yourself or others, for that matter, a lie long enough you will take it as the truth. Be discerning with what you read, what you listen to, who you associate with, and what you accept as truth. “Trust but verify.”
3. Being educated is a wonderful thing, but sometimes it becomes a stumbling block if we think we “know” because we have been taught, how we have been raised, or because we have so many degrees. Being educated does not equate to having common sense. Never leave common sense out of the equation when evaluating something or someone.
As a Christian, I know who I am because of what God has said of me. Here are just a few of the promises of God:
1. I am a crown of beauty and a royal diadem in the hand of the Lord. Isaiah 62:3-4.
2. I am filled with joy because Christ is my strength. Nehemiah 8:10
3. I am adopted and a child of God. 1 John 3:1
4. I am His beloved. Zephaniah 3:17
5. I am seen by God. Genesis 16:13
6. I am holy and blameless in Christ. Colossians 1:22
7. I have the Holy Spirit of God in me, with me, and for me. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
8. I am treasured by God. Deuteronomy 14:2
9. I am alive in Christ and saved! Ephesians 2:5
10. I am God’s masterpiece. Ephesians 2:10
11. I am chosen and appointed by God. John 15:16
12. I am healed. 1 Peter 2:24
13. I am not forsaken. I am accepted by Christ. Psalm 94:14
14. I am secure in Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:22
15. I am no longer a slave to fear! Isaiah 46:10
16. I am a friend of God. John 15:15
17. I am an heir to the kingdom of God. Romans 8:16-17
18. I am made in God’s image. Genesis 1:27
19. I am free! Romans 6:14-18.
20. I am redeemed. Ephesians 1:6
21. I am victorious. 2 Corinthians 2:14
22. I am gifted. James 1:17
23. I am seated in heavenly places with Christ. Ephesians 2:6
24. I am a citizen of heaven. Philippians 3:20
25. I am one spirit with the Lord. 1 Corinthians 6:17
26. I am a branch of the one and true vine. John 15:1, 5
27. I am the salt and light of the world. I am a city on a hill and cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:13-16
28. I am an ambassador for God. 2 Corinthians 5:20
29. I am His and have no reason to fear. Isaiah 43:1
30. I am the head and not the tail. Deuteronomy 28:13
So, that is just a partial list of all the things that God says about us as Christ followers. That, hopefully, will help you know who you are in Christ Jesus. Have a blessed day.
I don’t think there is a person on the planet who wants to be taken for granted. Everyone wants to be appreciated for who they are and what they have done, and yet it happens daily to someone that they feel like somebody is not really appreciating them. That is a sad state of affairs for anyone.
Here are a few thoughts to deal with the dilemma:
- If you are feeling under-appreciated, let it be known. Don’t expect the other person to know how you feel if you don’t express it. Be specific if there are areas that the other person can improve upon.
- Check your own attitude. Are you having a pity party and taking it out on someone because you are feeling needy or just having a bad day?
- Ask yourself, “Am I guilty of the thing that I am accusing them of?” If you don’t show appreciation to someone, perhaps you are getting what you give. Just a thought. I am not saying that is right, I am just giving some insight to human nature.
- Learn the secret of self-esteem: People have a hard time feeling good about themselves if they are not appreciated. A word of encouragement, a thank you, and a sincere compliment go a long way.
I think too often people look at the glass half empty and forget to give thanks for all that they have been given. Gratitude is something that we need to cultivate early in life; that is why it is so important to show gratitude to kids and teach them to do the same. What we learn in childhood tends to be carried into adulthood. It is a sad thing to see an adult acting like a child with no self-discipline and no appreciation for what they have.
Gratitude is shown in many ways: verbally, acts of kindness, and being there for someone when they are in need. I am grateful for many things. God has blessed me in countless ways and I truly appreciate all that He has entrusted to me. My wife, my family, my job, my health, my spiritual gifts, and God’s provision for me are things that I am truly grateful for. I may not always show it or express it, but I am working on that to be more visible to others.
Every day we are faced with opportunities. Some are once in a lifetime, and some we get to repeat, but only time will tell. Here is something I know about God: He can open doors that no man can close, and He can close doors that no man can open. Let that sink in as you face the opportunities of today.
If you have been praying about something for a while and wondering if God is ever going to do something (I think we have all been there from time to time), know this about God: His timing is perfect. He is always on time…in His time. The thing about God is, He knows what is best for us, and He also knows that it is not just about us. Other people are affected anytime God does something. That is kind of hard to accept when you feel like you are overwhelmed or discouraged, but it should give you at least some insight as to why God does what He does. It should give you hope!
Trust God for the opportunities that come your way today. Ask Him to open the right doors and close the wrong ones. Ask God to help you have the faith to trust Him fully…including His timing, and give you divine appointments. Just as importantly, ask God to help you recognize the divine appointments when they come!
When you experience walking through the right doors and seeing the wrong ones close, you begin to understand God’s overwhelming, never ending love for us. He has a plan for each of us to walk out. He always gives us the opportunity to make the right choice. Choose wisely. You don’t want to miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime.