Tag Archives: gifts

1 Kings 7; 2 Chronicles 4; Psalm 44; 1 Timothy 2

My drive time to work in the morning is an extended part of quiet time I’ve had with the Lord.  Some mornings I can’t get it together and fly out the door before even acknowledging God.  But I can depend on having at least 35 minutes of uninterrupted time in my car as I drive to work.  Some of my most profound moments have been in that quiet time. There are mornings so beautiful the praise flows in spoken prayer.  Sometimes I listen to music and praise at the top of my lungs because it is in that space I can sing like no one is listening except the Lord.  Other times there are tears streaming down my face as I think about how good He is to me and how grateful I am for all that He continues to do in my life.  There have also been times when the tears are from a place of pain as we’ve worked through some trials, some pruning, and places of brokenness.

7 You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies;
    you disgrace those who hate us.
8 O God, we give glory to you all day long
    and constantly praise your name. (Psalm 44:7-8 NLT)

This week’s readings spoke to me about the quality of what I do for God.

Solomon had received instructions from the LORD on how to build his Temple. We learn in a previous chapter that he had asked for a master craftsman to be sent from Tyre.  The brass maker, Huram-abi, was sent.  I can imagine he took his time and created each intricate piece to be placed in the temple. He was giving God his best.  These articles were going to be used for the sacrifices and glory of God in His holy temple.  God created him to have this talent and he painstakingly used his gift for the articles God had given instruction to create.

So at last Huram-abi completed everything King Solomon had assigned him to make for the Temple of God:

12 the two pillars;
the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars;
the two networks of interwoven chains that decorated the capitals;
13 the 400 pomegranates that hung from the chains on the capitals (two rows of pomegranates for each of the chain networks that decorated the capitals on top of the pillars);
14 the water carts holding the basins;
15 the Sea and the twelve oxen under it;
16 the ash buckets, the shovels, the meat hooks, and all the related articles. (2 Chron. 4:12-16 NLT)

I thought of my own gifts and talents.  Where has He asked me to use them? Am I giving Him my best?  Do I do everything with excellence or are there times I do just enough to get by?

I have noticed the difference when I serve God with what I think I am supposed to do vs when I am actually serving doing what He has called me to do.  With the later, somehow I never tire, am full of enthusiasm, and the time flies.  If someone gives me praise for what I’ve accomplished, I quickly point to God and give Him the glory for I know it was from Him I was able to do whatever it was.  However, there have been times when I did things out of a place of insecurity and wanting people to notice me.  There is no fulfillment in me when that happens, no joy, and I feel drained.  Over the years I have learned it is never good to strive to do what I want to do.  Learning to listen to God for those opportunities draws me deeper into relationship with Him.  It always amazes me how He sends me to the exact place, to the exact person, or the exact event where I can use my gifts and talents. When we all are acting as our part of the Body of Christ, we can see God make lasting change in people’s lives.

Heavenly Father, I continue to look to you to do what only You can do through me.  I never want to miss out on an opportunity to serve you, to be Your hands and feet, and fulfill my place in the Body of Christ.  My soul is filled when I empty myself and my motives and give You control. Thank you for letting me share the story of what you’ve done in my life with others.  In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Filed under 2 Chronicles, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Psalms, Uncategorized

Genesis 35-37; Psalm 12; Mark 14

Oh, what to do with Joseph and his brothers’ betrayal? Sold out. A beautiful gift his father had given (Joseph), the dreams (he was) given by God, his siblings’ seething hatred and jealousy fully surfaced in their hearts. Money exchanged. Blood. Lies and deception. Grief. That’s just their story.

And on some level, it’s everyone’s story–hater or hated: a dream is dashed; a haughty, hateful eye seethes over a beautiful gift/talent received. In bloodline or in Christ.

Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore;
    those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
Everyone lies to their neighbor;
    they flatter with their lips
    but harbor deception in their hearts.

You, Lord, will keep the needy safe
    and will protect us forever from the wicked,
who freely strut about
    when what is vile is honored by the human race. (Psalm 12:1-2, 7-8, NIV)

Bloodshed still, and it looks different on social streams–hatred, slander, condemnation. Strutting about, honoring what is vile. Lifeblood flows, spirits crushed. Grief.

I looked to learn from Joseph’s perseverance (which was not in my reading today!), but instead, I find the lesson at Jesus’ feet.

While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over. (Mark 14:3-11, NIV, emphasis mine)

She did what she could. And it was a beautiful thing to the Lord. She gave her best, poured out.

Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me as you do. Help me, Lord, to do what I can with the talents and responsibilities you’ve given me. And while I grieve the betrayal of blood- and Christ-line, you show me it is nothing new. You encourage me to press on with the dreams you’ve placed in me, to serve you with the talents you’ve given me, to honor you with my attitude despite condemnation and criticism from those around me–be it bloodline or in Christ. Help me, Lord, to be mindful of my heart and my words, to encourage those who run alongside me. I answer to you. I serve you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 26; Matthew 25; Esther 2, Acts 25

Strengths, talents, and abilities. These are the internal resources that are essential to identify in those who struggle with addiction, low self-esteem, depression, and many other problems that cause impairment in day-to-day functioning.

Our Lord places in each of us gifts – talents, if you will. I remember taking one of those Christian surveys to determine my gifts so as to find my niche for serving the church. Organizational skills, faith, people skills were some of these identified gifts and abilities.  Even choosing a career was easy because I was drawn to a field where my strengths were needed.

For some people, however, knowing one’s talents or having the confidence to use those talents may be difficult. Many times life events have interrupted the development of these gifts from God – childhood trauma, extreme loss, disabling conditions, mental health disorders, etc. And some of us are simply unaware that what we have been given is something to use for God. Take Esther, for instance. She was “lovely and beautiful.” Those two words combined means she was in today’s world, ‘a perfect 10; model quality.’ Yet, growing up with her uncle Mordecai, both of her parents deceased; I can imagine that her beauty was not always appreciated. Girls can be jealous and vicious to the prettiest girl in the room. Who would have thought, however, that Esther would win the first beauty pageant in the Old Testament and become queen of a kingdom? Yet, at some point, Esther realized that she needed to hone her talent, gift of beauty and prepare for the big event. Until then, did she know her beauty would be used by God to position her to save the Jewish nation?

Sometimes I struggle with motivation or desire to use the abilities gifted by God. What happens when we tire of the ongoing work it takes to stay sharp, to keep producing excellent work, or to give so much of our time and energy to what God has called us to do? The parable of the talents in Matthew describes how God views our disregard for His giftings. Those who have much and use what they have been given for God’s glory are given more; those who have little but hide their ‘talent’ (the money to invest in this case) will lose even the little they were given. This isn’t about rich versus poor. This parable is to remind us that we are charged by God to be about doing His business. He will be pleased with our attempts to use the talents and abilities He has placed in us.

In the end, we all want to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…” Whether we dig ditches (think of Isaac’s talent for finding water and digging wells!), are persuasive orators (think of Paul’s eloquence in talking with kings and leaders), are skilled laborers, artists, counselors, stay at home moms/dads, and every other purposeful place of service, do all in the great name of our God. Let Jesus Christ be our model of sacrificial service, perfect obedience, and joyful giving to others what He enjoyed with His Father, and we, too, will find joy in honing and using our gifts for His glory!

 

Janet

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Exodus 35-37; Psalm 26; Philippians 4

Arghhhh!!! Work sometimes stresses me out so much that I want to take my computer and turn the screen toward the wall, just like putting a child in timeout until it learns to behave. This was especially true this week when the pressure was on to prepare for inspection of my work. Just when I thought all was well, a glitch – probably pointing back to my miscommunication with this binary speaking, error messaging, bleeping, cyber silencer -dropped hundreds of brain-draining, meticulous eloquence of thought into the miniature round basket in the background’s left corner,  snatching hours of deliberate labor in a nanosecond of apathy.

I wonder if the work went smoothly for the artisans, craftsmen, weavers, perfumers, and others building that first Tabernacle that God designed. I used to hold the view that the pastors, the musicians, the maintenance crew, and so many others involved in the daily upkeep of our own sanctuary were somehow more holy and at peace because their work was devoted to the house of God. I still have tender thoughts towards churches, in sync with Psalm 26:8 “Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house, and the place where Your glory dwells.”

In fact, I like to watch the podcast of a service streamed from Trinity Fellowship Church http://www.tfchurch.org/ , the place of worship that I attended for over 30 years before moving to another state. When we started attending there, we met in a small church building quickly outgrowing the crowded sanctuary of about 300 people, I never envisioned the again bursting at the seams House of Worship that now seats more than 10,000. Yet when I watch these services, listen to the worship, see the glory of God on familiar faces and the declaration of praise with uplifted hands of the congregation, I see a parallel to that first Tabernacle of God; I see years of devoted work to create a setting for God’s Presence to dwell.

I say that I use to think only those who served in the House of God emanated holiness because I now believe that every Christian’s work is an offering to God, even that which serves a secular purpose. God gifts each of us to perform our work just as He did to those building the first Tabernacle. Exodus 36:1 says, “The gifted artisans in whom the Lord has put wisdom and understanding, to know how to do all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, shall do according to all that the Lord commanded.” How secure and humble I feel when I focus on God’s good gifts and leave off obsessing on all the stress about my performance. So it is with a sigh of relief when I read and remember the truth in God’s Word: Philippians 4:8-9

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble,whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy –meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and  the God of peace will be with you.

Guess I’ll bring a soft cloth to work next week and wipe all the smudges off of that expectant face on my desk…a more appropriate act of holiness than my actions at our last signoff.

Janet

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Ecclesiastes 4-6; 2 Corinthians 10

Contentment.

18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 19 And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. 20 God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past. Ecclesiastes 5:18-20, NLT.

After reading about the oppressed; the success-driven from neighbor envy; the lonely; the rejected; the futility of wealth; the chasing of wind … I land here on such a simple thought, possibly a key to happiness: enjoyment. In the very basic of things–eating, drinking, enjoyment of work. Enjoy appears four times in three verses.

I can clearly remember times in the sometimes-struggle (and that struggle is different for each of us), where hurts overwhelmed. Too much time was spent stuck in that pit. My focus became narrow and intentional, out of necessity–to enjoy a cup of coffee … the warmth of wooly socks on my feet … the fragrance of summer in a field of cut grass. It took time to climb out, but my view was broader, and my world a feast–friends over for play dates … company around the table for dinner … woodsmoke smells from the fireplace. My kids began to notice, commenting once at a park, “Mom, don’t slow us down by looking at the pretty flowers.”

Those hurtful things, the ones that wounded so deeply five years ago–I’d rather be defined by God’s grace to me, than imprisoned by things in the past. I will enjoy those momentary sunsets from my dining room window, the woodland chorus in summer, and his perfect timing for many other things.

10 Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be. So there’s no use arguing with God about your destiny.

11 The more words you speak, the less they mean. So what good are they?

12 In the few days of our meaningless lives, who knows how our days can best be spent? Our lives are like a shadow. Who can tell what will happen on this earth after we are gone? Ecclesiastes 6:10-12, NLT.

Thank you, Lord, for your very good gifts. I look for you and find you everywhere, and you don’t disappoint. You show me how my problems are temporary, and help me to take thoughts captive.

4 We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, NLT.

Thank you for your Word–a weapon, and peace that comes through gratitude and contentment. I have not always known that, but now that I do, I don’t want to let go.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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