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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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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2 Kings 10, 11; 2 Timothy 1; Hosea 2; Psalms 119:97-120

For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline. (ASV)

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. (AMP)

For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of strength and of love and of temperance. (JUB)

God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible. (MSG)

God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power and love and self-control. (NCV)

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (NIV)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (NKJV)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (NLT)

For God did not give us a spirit of fear. He gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a good mind. (NLV)

God didn’t give us a cowardly spirit but a spirit of power, love, and good judgment. (NOG)

For the Holy Spirit, God’s gift, does not want you to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them and enjoy being with them. (TLB)

You see, God did not give us a cowardly spirit but a powerful, loving, and disciplined spirit. (VOICE)

2 Timothy 1:7

Since I have been walking with the Lord, this is one of my go-to verses. When I am struggling in the battlefield of my mind – when I am full of anxiety and fear, filled with bitterness and resentment, feeling insignificant, overwhelmed, and out of control – it helps me remember that I have not been abandoned to my own devices. It reminds me that I am not alone, even when it sometimes feels like it, because He is in me and I am in Him (John 15:5). It reminds me that God has equipped me with the tools that I need to overcome every struggle. And, it prompts me to look to the Lord for the strength I need to triumph over the tactics of the enemy to control and manipulate my thinking and disrupt my journey.

God has given me so many gifts, not because I did anything in my life to deserve them, but because He is my Father and He loves me. The most important gift He gave me was grace given through the sacrificial payment for my sins by Jesus on the cross. At the moment I believed, in Christ’s death and resurrection, I was made new and filled by God’s Spirit. His Spirit became alive in me, and transformed my essence from one of fear and desperation to one of strength.

The original Greek1 offers deeper insight into this spiritual transformation. God gives me the inner quality and character of ability (dunameos), of love (agapes) and of sanity (sophronismou).

God is capable. He is effective, productive, powerful and mighty. Because He has empowered me and given me boldness; even in my weakness, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).

God is love (1 John 4:7-9). His love enables me to love God with all my heart, soul, and mind and makes it possible for me to love others generously (Matthew 22:37-39; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

God is the epitome of self-control, discipline and balance. He gives me the ability to exercise good judgment, to govern myself, to manage my emotions and not allow them to enslave me. He gives me awareness in times of danger, wisdom, forethought, and common sense. He helps me use my resources well and helps me keep my priorities in godly order.

John MacArthur says:

…all believers possess these marvelous, God-given endowments: power, to be effective in His service; love, to have the right attitude toward Him and others; and discipline, to focus and apply every part of our lives according to His will. When those endowments are all present, marvelous results occur.”2

Just as I am assured that these good gifts come from the Lord, I am certain that when I experience a spirit of dread (deilias), it is an offering from my enemy designed to trick me into taking my focus off of God. At times, because I am human, I will still experience fear and anxiety; a lack of courage will creep into my psyche or my self-confidence will wane. But, putting my focus back on God, on His goodness and grace, will help me to quickly move from a self-destructive state to a position of strength and poise. His love removes the fear, injects peace, and quiets my heart (1 John 4:18-19).

Yesappa, Thank You for Your life-giving Spirit. Thank You for being with me always. Thank You for giving me wisdom, understanding, and direction. Thank You for building strength and instilling in me the knowledge and reverence of God. Thank You for casting away my fear and replacing it with power, love, and discipline. You are my hiding place and my shield. I love Your teachings, Your Word. Help me to meditate on them throughout each day, allowing them to become a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. Through You, and by You I live; only because of You, I am saved. In Jesus’ name. Amen.3

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

1Greek Word Study and Commentary on 2 Timothy 1:7

2MacArthur, J. 2 Timothy. Chicago: Moody Press.

3Isaiah 2:11; Psalm 119:97-120

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1 Kings 3; Ephesians 1; Ezekiel 34; Psalms 83, 84

While he was at Gibeon, the Lord appeared to him in a dream during the night. God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Solomon answered, “You were very kind to your servant, my father David. He obeyed you, and he was honest and lived right. You showed great kindness to him when you allowed his son to be king after him. Lord my God, now you have made me, your servant, king in my father’s place. But I am like a little child; I don’t know how to do what must be done. I, your servant, am here among your chosen people, and there are too many of them to count. I ask that you give me a heart that understands, so I can rule the people in the right way and will know the difference between right and wrong. Otherwise, it is impossible to rule this great people of yours.”

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked this. So God said to him, “You did not ask for a long life, or riches for yourself, or the death of your enemies. Since you asked for wisdom to make the right decisions, I will do what you asked. I will give you wisdom and understanding that is greater than anyone has had in the past or will have in the future. I will also give you what you did not ask for: riches and honor. During your life no other king will be as great as you. If you follow me and obey my laws and commands, as your father David did, I will also give you a long life.” 1 Kings 3:5-14 (NCV)

 

I am like a little child; I don’t know how to do what must be done. Give me a heart that understands…

There are so many times in my life when this has been my exact sentiment. There are times when I don’t know how to manage in the circumstances of the moment. And, times when I don’t understand how to maneuver within the vast differences between the culture I was raised in and the Indian culture in which I live.

And yet, time and again, I walk through life thinking that I have all of the answers, that I know how to accomplish everything, manage everything. I neglect to ask God (or anyone else) for help. I go at it alone, and in my pride, I often take a fall. Then, picking myself off the floor, nursing my scrapes and bruises, I turn to God, remembering that His wisdom is much greater than mine.

I see this duplicated in my toddler. She is 2 ¾, going on 23. She thinks she knows it all, acts like she has got it all together. But even she comes crying when she realizes she can’t do it by herself, when she can’t reach the play dough, or when she has spilled the juice while trying to pour it into her toy tea cup, or when she has climbed up onto the washing machine and can’t figure out how to get down without falling.

And like God is ALWAYS there for me, I am there for her. I am there to pick her up when she falls, there to kiss her booboos and wipe her tears. I am there to help her learn from her mistakes and gain greater knowledge for her future endeavors. I am there to teach her to look to God for wisdom, instead of looking only to herself.

I know in my heart that God will never leave me nor forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6) no matter the situation. I believe that it is God’s desire to give good things (Luke 11:13), like His wisdom, His understanding, and His discernment through Holy Spirit. Just as Solomon asked for those things when God asked him what he wanted, it is important that I also ask. When I ask, He will give me those things as well (John 16:23; 1 John 5:14).

When I seek Him, I take the focus off of myself and put it back in the right place – on God. When I humble myself before Him, there is no more room for pride. I am able to accept His gifts and I am able to be used by Him.

My prayer for myself, my children, and for you:

I have not stopped giving thanks to God for you. I always remember you in my prayers, asking the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, to give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you will know him better. I pray also that you will have greater understanding in your heart so you will know the hope to which he has called us and that you will know how rich and glorious are the blessings God has promised his holy people. And you will know that God’s power is very great for us who believe. That power is the same as the great strength God used to raise Christ from the dead and put him at his right side in the heavenly world. Ephesians 1:16-20 (NCV)

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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