Who doesn't like getting a gift cards? They are truly a favorite choice of Americans, both for giving and receiving. You might be shocked, however, just how many gift cards never get used. The other day, I read that the typical American home has, on average, $300 in unused gift cards.
What’s up with that? Why all the unused gift card balances? Sometimes the gift cards get misplaced - wedged in the back of the sock drawer, or forgotten at the bottom on a desk or counter. Other times they are accidentally thrown out. And, when they're not thrown out or lost, they sometimes end up only being partially used.
Check this out. Over a recent six year span, $41 billion in gift cards went unused. Wow! That’s roughly the GDP of Central America. Lost. . .discarded. . .forgotten. . .unwanted. . . A staggering fortune wasted.
It reminds me think of that sacred gift from God to every believer - the gift of his very own Spirit. Jesus called it - "The gift my Father promised . . . (Acts 1.4 NIV)."
How many Christians receive that priceless treasure only to let it fall into neglect? As Paul advised his friend Timothy - "Do not neglect your gift, which was given you . . . (1 Timothy 4.14 NIV).
I'm sad to say that for much of my Christian life, I heard very little about the Holy Spirit. When I did, usually it was to explain what the Holy Spirit didn't do or wouldn't do. Like many other believers, the gift I received from God fell into neglect. I wasted the life-giving presence of the Spirit within.
Thank God that’s changing for me. What helped me most was finally hearing some very simple advice from Jesus. Ask. "Don't you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him (Luke 11.13 MSG)?"
5 REASONS I'M ASKING FOR THE SPIRIT
1. I ask because I want my relationship with God to grow deeper and more meaningful through the years – I WANT MORE! "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15.13 NIV)."
2. I ask because I want to live under the presence and power of God – I DON’T WANT TO GO IT ALONE! "If you use your lives to do the wrong things your sinful selves want, you will die spiritually. But if you use the Spirit's help to stop doing the wrong things you do with your body, you will have true life (Romans 8.13 NCV)."
3. I ask because Scripture is full of counsel and commands that I cannot carry out on my own – I NEED HELP! Think - love your enemies. . . deny yourself. . . love my spouse as I love myself. . . bless those who curse me. . . forgive 70 times 7 . . . I need help, Holy Spirit help, to become the man God has called me in Christ to be! "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being . . . (Ephesians 3.16 NIV)"
4. I ask because there are still habits and hang-ups that hold me prisoner – I WANT TO BE FREE! "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3.17 ESV)."
5. I ask because the Church needs me – I NEED HIS GIFTS SO I CAN SERVE! "God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another (1 Peter 4.10 NLT)."
So, if you've been neglecting the gift, if you've got an unused Holy Spirit balance, if you've shelved the Spirit and forgotten about his presence in your life - get on your knees and ask!