Monday, December 22, 2008

Fragrant Gifts

“Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany…
Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor…
Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume;
she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped His feet with her hair.
And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
John 12:1-3

Talk about your extravagant gift. How I would love to be in Mary’s skin during this act of worship to Jesus, to be able to express my love for Him in person so elaborately. I can only daydream!

I wonder, though. Would I really have traded places with her? She poured a perfume worth a year’s wages on His head. Then she proceeded to coat His feet with it in front of all those people...with her hair! Would I have shown Jesus I adore Him with that much abandon?

The most precious thing I have to offer Him is myself. The gifts that came first from His hand--my spiritual gifts--are as valuable as that fine perfume if they are offered from a pure and humble heart. After all, using them is my “spiritual act of worship.”

Yet I miss the point of this more often than not. I’ve been guilty of leaving my “bottle of perfume” on the shelf, afraid of what others will think of its scent. Fear, Insecurity and Laziness are familiar culprits of my flesh that work to give my gifts a long shelf life.

Of course, I am also guilty sometimes of spraying it on only when I can assure it will smell good to others. In the name of peace, I don’t want to offend anyone. Or worse, I might be ridiculed.

The worst mistake of all is when I use my spiritual gifts to my own benefit. I saturate myself in them so that others cannot help but be attracted to the “Good Smell Contest Winner"—ME! “Hi, Mom!”

Each day, I have opportunities to use the gifts God has given me, and each day, I make a choice. When I turn to the Word, it stirs my soul to live the Mary way.

I have no excuse to be lazy when I read, “Do not neglect your gift,” and “fan into flame the gift of God.” Clearly, I am to exercise my spiritual gift muscles in order to strengthen the Body of Christ as a whole.

And how can I use my gifts only when it feels good, knowing that God did not give me “a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline”? Did Mary run away when Judas rebuked her?

Furthermore, when I scream out “Look at me! See how great I am with my precious gift,” have I forgotten Who gave it to me in the first place? Even if I replace the exclamation point with a period or a question mark, I am totally missing the mark that Mary left behind as an example. She showed that gifts are given so that Jesus will smell good to others.

Am I alone in my struggle, or can you relate? The admonishments in Scripture are for each of us as believers. “The end of all things is near,” we are reminded. Shouldn’t that lead us to use our spiritual giftedness for the glory of Jesus Christ?

If the Holy Spirit has gifted us with hospitality, we should do so without prejudice and "without grumbling." Our wide open doors will hopefully lead to wide open hearts for Christ.

If we are led to encourage, instead of crossing the line to flattery, we should do it as “one speaking the very words of God.” Our deliberate words will hopefully lead toward decisions for Christ.

If and when any of us serve with WHATEVER gift He has given us, we “should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.”

Let’s break open our valuable jars today and fill the room with His aroma--in humility, in authenticity—with no duplicity of heart or mind, fully knowing that it is “Christ in us” who can accomplish great and mighty things according to His will.

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.”
2 Corinthians 2:14


To HIM be the glory and the power forever. Amen.

NIV Scripture references: Romans 12, 1st Timothy 4, 2nd Timothy 1, 1st Peter 4


In the Key of HE,

17 friends shared a comment:

Dee Yoder said...

Laura, you've written truths here that I want to take to heart. Being close to God and using my gifts to direct others to Him...what a prayer and a yearning that is. I see you doing that daily in your honest reflections. Blessings, Little Sister!

Denise said...

Thanks for sharing such precious truths. I love you.

Homesteader in Training said...

Woo hoo! Yes! That was awesome! Don't make me get all serious and start posting devotions again lol. Just kidding. I know my gift and though it's a strange one, I try to use it to it's full capacity!!!
I am just glad that people like you, with hearts bursting with love for the Lord can stand me!!! LOL. I'm kidding once again. I know you know I love the Lord with all my heart! That's why once in awhile I need to get a little serious and post about something of substance ha ha! Okay I've rambled enough. Maybe He gave me the gift of gab!
Hugs.

Yvonne said...

Lalee, you have such a wonderful way of taking a spiritual truth and make it real in your life...and ours. Sometimes it pinches, but that's GOOD! We need to see ourselves honestly. Thank you again for your beautiful thoughts.
Vonnie

Laurie Ann said...

Thank you for this post, LauraLee. You are so not alone in your struggles and I am stopping what I'm doing right now and taking that spiritual gifts test I have been meaning to take, for I have no idea of what my gift is. Well, I have an idea, but what I think and what God thinks may be two different things! I need to really do an evaluation and find out what my gifts are. Great devotion this morning. I love it.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Extravagant gifting leads to extravagant worship. Again and again, God prompts me to worship. To seeking hard after him. To pressing into his heart and seeking his face alone. He keeps reminding me that as I am faithful to do so, he is faithful to lead and perfectly define my life--my gifts and otherwise. Too often, I am focused on what others might think and on the polish I like to so adequately adorn myself in.

What he's really after is me. That's it. So when I get too wrapped up in the "outward", he is quick to remind me of the inward pause that has become my necessary if anything of him is to shine forth.

Thankful this day for the pause of Bethlehem and the remembrance of his fragrant and lavish expression of grace.

Merry Christmas...again and again. I keep saying that. I keep meaning to take a break from blogland. Goodness, I must get to the grocery.

peace~elaine

Daniel's Mom said...

"Furthermore, when I scream out “Look at me! See how great I am with my precious gift,” have I forgotten Who gave it to me in the first place? Even if I replace the exclamation point with a period or a question mark, I am totally missing the mark that Mary left behind as an example. She showed that gifts are given so that Jesus will smell good to others."

Wow, this was really eye opening! Thank you,LaureLee. This post was amazing! God Bless you and Merry Christmas!

Becoming Me said...

Beautiful truths my friend...a little hard to read as it convicted me so. THank you

Betsy Markman said...

Well said! Satan and the flesh are both so good at wanting to draw attention to ME-ME-ME! It's a constant struggle. Won't it be wonderful when we're in Heaven, and sin is no longer even able to tempt?

Josh said...

To serve God with such wreckless abandon and without focus on myself is what I truly desire. Time to open up my bottle and pour it out to honor and glorify Him.

LAURIE said...

Beautifully penned. I appreciate this truth that you have shared. -Blessings, Laurie

lori said...

"Do not neglect YOUR gift..."
That my friend is going to be the 2009 words for my year....It's so simply stated and yet you just have me sitting here in tears thinking about it....
IF we all could USE our gifts for the GLORY....wow...

You are surely using YOURS...your message here this morning just really spoke to my heart...it's going down in my "BOOK!;)"
dare I say....WOWZER!!

and hey, you have a 14 year old to be....hmmmmmmmmm.....;)

HUGS, Laura you know it's a HUGE blessing in my life that God has crossed our paths...
and for that I'm so thankful!!
peace and JOY!

Merry Christmas...and I love the image too!!

lori

"Do not neglect YOUR gifts."
love it...

Carmen said...

Verily, verily Sister!

Debra said...

LauraLee,

Stopping by to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

God bless you!

LAURIE said...

Lauralee,

I wanted to stop in and wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and tell you how much I have enjoyed the writings from your heart this past year!

Merry Christmas!
Laurie

Lori said...

Amen LauraLee! I don't know why I never thought this, but you said it brilliantly...That Mary poured the perfume on Jesus to make HIM smell good. That was well said.

Linda - Nickers and Ink said...

Lovely blog!

Merry CHRISTmas!

Blessings,
Linda

PS: We are reading through the entire Bible in chronological order in 2009. Would you like to join us?
HEART OF A READY WRITER – Bible reading and devotional