Investing Time and Honor

As I recently painted the Christmas story, I thought how the wise men heard of Jesus’ birth and desired to seek him out and honor him with gifts. Then they not only honored him, they protected him from Herod, by not telling Herod where he was, because they realized Herod wanted to harm him. They knew Jesus was to be honored. Even though I feel there were more than three wise men, I depicted three of them bearing the gifts of worth, which were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These were lavish gifts bestowed upon a king of all ages. I want to focus on the fact that they put great effort and traveled many miles to witness that this ruler had been born. They invested time as well as luxurious gifts. They saw that a child had been born that wouldn’t be a typical man, he had a purpose to fulfill. His purpose was far above any purpose you or I have and he drew crowds everywhere he went as he grew older.

But in that same vein, how often do we overlook others in this world that we come in contact with each day and ignore their purpose in life? How many times do we wish we didn’t have to deal with lines in the stores or the person we have to call to arrange some event, reservation, or to buy something? How much time do we give others? Sometimes a simple sentence of encouragement is all a person needs to hang onto to make it through the day. Sadly, a negative phrase or sentence can have the reverse and harsher effects. Or perhaps there’s a family member who we don’t accept? But that person or those people also have a purpose in life, just like Jesus did, and just like we do. It isn’t just to service our needs or be a thorn in our side, God put them on this earth with a destiny. Are we helping them fulfill their destiny by honoring them as an individual? What gifts do we bring to them? I’m not talking physical gifts, I’m speaking of charitable gifts. The gifts we freely give to our friends. It’s easy to engage with our friends, to offer kindness, to fix a cool drink for them or offer food they like. It’s easy to converse, because we have things in common, but what about people we don’t know or haven’t taken the time to become acquainted? Do we leave them with words of encouragement? Or do we leave them wishing they’d never been born? Do we treat them with honor or impatience? We can make or break others. Words can uplift or they can destroy.

Proverbs 18:21 The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.

What about our family? Are we esteeming them or do we bring them words of derision? Do we act happy to see family members we haven’t seen in a while, or do we act like they’re a burden? Is it their character flaw that we see, or is it our own shortcoming that gets brought out when we’re around them and makes us feel exposed? I’ve been around people like this and I had to reassess myself and make adjustments in my own attitude because there was nothing wrong with them, it was their shining example that shone on my lousy attitude. Once I corrected, things were so much better. I was able to see that my outlook was the culprit in the relationship and they’d done nothing wrong. I was just offended that they had exposed my weakness.

Another weakness some of us have is in giving and receiving. When and if we buy gifts for family birthdays or for Christmas; do we purchase the first thing we see, or do we put thought behind it and buy things to honor the recipient? Because a gift given without love, is a gift without life. It would be better to offer love, and be empty-handed than to offer a gift given without love. It’s equally bad to give a gift only in recompense for a gift they’ve given. People know when gifts are sincere and when they are not. They also know when strings are attached, neither are correct. We should give expecting nothing in return and we should give from the heart, not out of duty! When we rush out at the last minute to compensate for another person’s gift, it isn’t heartfelt. I personally would rather leave empty handed and be genuinely thanked for a gift I’ve given than to be given a gift that I don’t need or won’t use, because there was no forethought by the giver.

Can you imagine the wise men buying things along the way or in a rush for Jesus? Or can you imagine them coming back to remind him one day about the gifts they gave and asking him for a favor or some compensation? Yet how many times do people do this? No, their gifts were given from a pure heart, with respect and honor. They were offering and worshipping a baby who had never given anything to them, but they knew the relationship they invested in would give them great rewards. Think about that for a minute… the wise men were investing. How many of us invest these days? Whether it be time, love, kindness, sincerity, or honesty; what do we truly and freely give?

We only get out of a relationship what we put into it. If we dismiss a person as insignificant then they will be insignificant in our lives. But if we see them as valuable and worthy, they become valuable and worthy, even if only to us. You only get what you expect, nothing less. And sometimes it has nothing to do with the other person and more to do with our perception and acceptance of them. Jesus can only be Savior to those who accept him as Savior. But the clerk at our local grocer or our family member will never be cherished if we don’t value them. Let’s try to at least offer kindness, acceptance, honor, and humility to those we come in contact with each day. And in this season of giving, with family members around, let’s go out of our way with them by putting their needs above ours. Give gifts of love, honor, and respect. Show them they’re of value and have a purpose. If we are following the Holy Spirit, this should come easy by evaluating them through Christ. He didn’t hold any sins against them and neither should we.

2 Corinthians 5:16-20 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”


The majority of my friends and family members are Awesome and help to maintain my Faith in humanity. Then there are those few that stretch me. At times, they really tttrrrrry my pa-tience and offers of grace, or even desire to show grace! Jonathan, my husband, will sometimes say the latter are the ones who are there for our “perfecting,” meaning that they make our faith grow. And I think, ‘Gee, how much more does my faith need to e-x-p-a-n-d?!!’

He’s right though, because if they are irritating me by the things they do and/or say, it shows I have not reached my own maturity in Faith. If and hopefully when I’ve come to a point that their actions, which are intended to provoke, do not irritate, but bring forth a response of love and compassion, then I’m getting closer to the patterned son, who treated sinner and redeemed alike. What greater love did he show than to give up his life to those who mocked and scorned him? 

What love can face a person who figuratively speaking, spits in their face and turn that anger to repentance without one word? What kind of love can heal? What kind of love, when weary will still minister to those in need? What kind of love is not angered when a close friend doubts their existence and allows them to touch him so they believe he exists? It is love full of grace; it is Perfect Love. I’m not there, but Jesus IS. May I grow to be more like him and exhibit His Grace!

Saved by grace… what does that mean?

Grace (charis in the Greek) is a free gift; something given without expecting anything in return; an undeserved kindness; a favor given by God through Christ Jesus. The one who gives grace offers a kindness or a favor; their speech is pleasing and courteous. One who bestows grace is not hindered by another’s sin or triggered by another’s good works. They are motivated by the heart of Christ Jesus, manifested in and through them. Grace is actuated by joy and imparts joy.  Grace prompts its possessors to confer benefits to others. Grace sustains and aids the efforts of those who labor for the cause of Christ, assisting those who are devout followers to be strengthened in their troubles. Grace is the ability to love those who don’t love you, to lend to others and expect nothing in return, to do without being asked. The one who receives and accepts grace feels gratefulness, homage (honor and faithfulness towards the giver) and respect (esteem) to the giver.

Divine grace – ‘Status gratiae’ in Latin – is the spiritual condition of someone who is governed (held in check) by the Spirit. Salvation is a gift of divine grace; it is a heart changing reality. Divine grace is also a Corporate Expression of the gifts given by God. 1 Peter 4:10 “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.”

Jesus is the epitome of grace; he knew how to answer every man, even as a child in the temple, his words were gracious. Luke 4:22 He lived out a life of grace to the very end of his human life. Grace and Truth come from Christ alone. Righteousness is declared by grace to us through Christ Jesus. Romans 3:24 Grace frees us from sin and the penalty of sin. Romans 6:14Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law.  Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.”

Grace is to be shared with others. When it is shared and received it brings glory to God. 2 Corinthians 4:15

There is victory in grace, even in the midst of trial because there is joy in the acceptance. Grace given is multiplied. Grace is the sufficiency of God in all that we face in our earthly life. Grace replaces the law. Galatians 5:1-4 Grace produces words seasoned with salt–put into fertile ground – healthy people, salt preserves & purifies. Grace produces wisdom. Malachi 2:7 & Colossians 4:6

Hebrews 12:28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. (NKJV) “Let us have grace” means let us continue to hold onto grace.

Grace Is inherited. 1 Peter 3:7 & 4:10 Grace can be multiplied through growth. We are encouraged to grow in grace. 2 Peter 1:2-8 The more grace we understand and walk in – the more we copy the pattern of Christ Jesus – the more grace we will be able to show and share with others.

Prayer: Father help me to grow in your grace and use the gifts you have placed within me to serve others. Help me to continue to hold fast to the grace you have shown me that I might grow in the knowledge of you and be able to share your grace with others. Thank you that your grace is Sufficient! In Jesus’ name – Amen

(Note: Words in blue are hyperlinks to some of the verses I based this study on, click on the words to be able to view them.)


Many times since my husband and I have been married I have heard comments from friends that I seem contented or happy. They are attributing my happiness to my marriage. I am not saying that my marriage doesn’t make me happy; because being in a loving relationship with a person who shows respect and honors you, does make life easier. The point that I’m trying to make is that I went into our relationship happy and contented. I went into our marriage a whole person. I wasn’t looking for someone to complete me… I already had that.

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Most of the people who make these comments knew me when I was going through some very difficult times. They knew me when I was in one of the worst relationships of my life. But I’m not writing to talk about that period of time except to say, if I had been in a place where I should have been, I probably would have never been involved with that person, nor would I have married them. You see, when we are fully committed to God, when we are betrothed to Jesus as our Savior, we are complete. We don’t get into such precarious situations that lead us into miserable relationships. I know that I wasn’t fully committed to God before my last marriage. I also know that there were red flags that I chose to ignore. Unfortunately, it took almost eight years to get out and I wasn’t the one that ended it. I was seeking God’s guidance and they ended it, but it was best for me. It didn’t feel like it at that time in some ways and it felt like a relief in other ways.

Over the course of the three years following that time, I grew in my relationship with God and I knew that I would be fine if I never married again. I wasn’t looking for someone to fill a void, because there wasn’t a void to fill. God had filled it. I had become complete in Christ. Yes, I had been a Christian most of my life, but I had never fully surrendered my life to Christ. Earlier in my Christian life, I was not in a relationship with God that was so intimate that I was certain when God spoke to me without second guessing whether I had heard from him. Many times there were doubts. But during those three years and since, I have become so close to him that I get an idea and realize it isn’t my idea, but it is an idea that my Heavenly Father has given me. You know the verse that says “He will give you the desires of your heart?” (Psalm 37:4) Well, the desires of my heart are his desires, the two have become so interlaced that my ideas are his. That is how it should be… We should be so caught up in what our Heavenly Father wants that we see with his vision and we hear with his ears. We should be able to love with his love. Everywhere we go and everything we do, we should do with the Father’s heart, so that our hearts beat as one. This is when we are fully complete. Do I do this all the time? Certainly not! Just ask my husband. But I do it now more than ever before. Sometimes I am brought to tears by what I see in stores and on the street. People who need love, people who do things to get attention, or people who are so poor either physically, emotionally, or spiritually, pull at me and at times brings me to tears. I was never that way before. Many times I’m drawn to do things for people or at least to engage in conversation with them and I pray for people that I never had the boldness to pray for before.

People who have met me more recently, have asked me to pray for them to “find a mate” who is sold out to God. They say I seem so happy and they have been looking for a while and they thought I must have some luck or power. ?!? Usually, these are “Christian” women, sometimes men ask also, though! This was a request that shocked me! I told them that I wouldn’t pray that for them, and they didn’t like what I said. Yet, if these people themselves were “sold out to God” wouldn’t they know God’s will for their lives? Wouldn’t they recognize his path for them? Why would they “need” a mate to complete them? I asked them how much time they spent with God, how much time they spent reading their Bible, and if God was first in their lives. I received various answers to those questions. I told them they had to be completely sold out to God and completely his before I would pray for them to have a mate. I told them I, myself, had given up on marriage before I met my husband vowing never to marry again at first and then I had told God that IF I was to marry again that he was going to have to show me. I was happy just having God as the “man” in my life. Well, obviously, God had another plan. What I am saying, is that we cannot go into a relationship expecting the other person to make us happy or to complete us. Only God can do that. We have to be fully committed to God. We have to find ourselves complete in Him. If we go into a relationship unhappy or incomplete, we will only take that unhappiness or incompleteness with us and we will not be any happier or whole in a marriage. Our partner cannot provide our happiness or wholeness, they can only supplement what we already have. God must be our first love, even after we marry, or maybe I should say, especially after we marry. But all kidding aside, to be fully committed and whole in any relationship, we must be fully committed to and complete in God first. 

Now you’re probably wondering how you fully commit to God. Well, just as you would in any relationship, you spend time with him. You have to get to know him intimately. This starts by reading the Word daily. As you read the Bible, ask God to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the meaning of the scripture to you, he has promised to do that for us in his Word: 1 Corinthians 2:10-12 As you grow in the Word, the path that God has for you will become clearer and you will begin to know what direction he has for you. I expect your compassion to grow and your focus to become more peripheral, instead of self-centered. When you look in the mirror, your visage will change, you will start to see the Christ in you, because the more Christlike you become, the less of yourself you’ll see. I challenge you to read your Bible every day but start by asking him to reveal at least one truth to you each day. After reading daily for a month, see if you start to feel less empty and more complete. At the end of that month, continue reading daily. I hope during these readings that you are also talking to God. Find a quiet place if you can and talk to him, just as you would talk to anyone. This is a time just to communicate with him and also to Thank him for all that he has done in your life. Start with the small things. If you tend to be a pessimist, start by thanking him with the fact that you’re alive. You have to start somewhere. 😉 Ask questions about things you don’t understand. You may not get the answer right then, but you will get an answer, maybe through another person or a minister. Also, find a good church, ask God about that too. We need fellowship and the strength of other believers. This is your road to becoming complete, and everyone’s journey is different, don’t compare it to anyone else’s. The map that has been charted for you will not look anything like your friend’s, neighbor’s or anyone else’s in your family, so don’t expect to move at the same pace or on the same path as others. Just trust God that he is taking you down the right path for you. 

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Proverb 3:5-6 (The Message)

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:19 (NLT – my emphasis)

Prayer: Father, today I pray for anyone who reads this; if there is a void in their life, if there is anything lacking I pray that you would fill it. In Jesus’ name. Amen