Archive for apply your gifts
if the goal is financial security and happiness in our lives, how do we get there? work hard, advance your education, get promoted, save money, buy stuff and gain peace through your pocket-book? if the goal is prosperity and contentment, is that the same thing? when you ask yourself what you need to be “happy” picture yourself with absolutely nothing. nothing. start with only what you brought into this world, your talents from God and go from there. begin by lowering the bar and start with the very simple idea of you and what your impact can be. are we focused on the right goal to gain the ultimate success He has planned for us. are we using it all or just some of what we have to impact ourselves and others? set the bar with yourself and raise the bar to Him. prosperity and contentment is the promise.
If they obey and serve him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment. Job 36:11
a marathon runners does not just wake up one day and decide to run 26.2 miles. it begins one mile at a time. professional athletes don’t just try out for the team and start raking in the big bucks never having played before. their talents build one practice at a time. athletes that desire to compete at a higher level, determine what has to be done for their ultimate accomplishment and they go to work. this can be said for artists, physicians, teachers and the list goes on. in fact, anything one wishes to accomplish, usually has a vision; a goal in the end. one doesn’t just wish to be thinner and once the decision is made the pounds begin to fall off. it must be rendered one calorie at a time. the smokers; one cigarette at a time, the alcoholics; one drink at a time, the shopaholic; one midnight infomercial at a time. we first have to see in ourselves a picture of better days in order to make that vision real. once the desire is born, we soon discover that our self-motivation and day by day action is required in order to really reach the full potential of our lives. accomplishing good health, maximizing our talents and realizing our dreams has to begin within. one day at a time. no one else can do the work for the dreams and desires of our heart. true success can be seen if we take our challenges bit by bit. as is the case with our faith…we aspire to be better stewards of God and achieve an everlasting life. we aspire to pray more, attend church more, give back more, be kinder to everyone, judge less and on and on. and just like the athlete that determines the work ahead in pursuit of the championship, each practice is a means to that end, for a practicing Christian, every devotion we read provides the road map to the winners circle. for the athlete, every day in strength training provides a stronger, leaner competitor. for the dedicated Christian, every prayer builds the strength we must acquire everyday to follow His path. for the addict that successfully overcomes the temptations of their poison, that discipline creates stability and results. in the confessing and dedicated Christian, the purging of our sins allows us to begin each new day fresh and forgiven. see the theme? the success in our lives requires the daily pursuit of these dreams and desires in order to insure true accomplishment. but make no mistake, the ultimate prize can not be found here in this life but can only be won here; bit by bit, day by day, prayer by prayer.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11
at some point we are going to need a hand….don’t deny it, don’t be too proud. that is how we were designed… capable, but not capable enough. resourceful, but not resourceful enough. our life presents itself in such a way that we can truly never be prepared for the spears that will be thrown our way. we can never be fully equipped, alone. many of us have done all that we can do to prepare. we’ve worked hard, maximized our talents for our best future. many of us strive everyday to prepare ourselves spiritually for the certain days of fear and uncertainty ahead. but anyone who has faced the simple misfortunes that life’s journey will surely deliver knows it can never be enough. we can’t do it alone and He knew it too. He sent His Son to be our tour guide through the wild and wooly jungle of strange creatures hanging from trees and lurking behind corners, unsuspected quick sand that was not on the map and surprise rabbit holes. He knows the way. He walked the trail before us so we could have a navigator. turning to Him in uncertain times is for most, a natural reaction. for even the least spiritual among us knows where the ultimate strength can be found. but in order to be pulled through the trenches, ask anyone who’s been there, He also delivers to us the gift of brotherhood (friendship if you want to call it that). we most literally need helping hands here, care given to each other here… tangible support. it is in these situations that we truly see the upside of humanity, the hidden treasures behind all our shortcomings as a race. when we have survived our dark days, when we are looking back at the blessing that miraculously came out of them despite all of our remaining unanswered questions, we will look back knowing the face of God was shown to us in the faces of the people who were there. it is Him who is there in spirit, but also in the hands of those who are helping us along the way. and make no mistake, that charity can come from nowhere else but heaven. so, if it is you who needs it, take the gifts others are offering in the name of the Lord. if it is you giving the charity, be sure you give your gifts in the name of the Lord and not for your own glory. because Christ has the patent, trademark and all the licenses on love i.e. charity, i.e. giving. if we are the giver or the receiver – we must remember it is truly His work being done.
Every good and perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of heavenly lights with whom is no variableness neither shadow of. James 1:17
with the loss of our modern-day thomas edison, steve jobs, it has to bring front and center the mark one person can leave behind. the potential a man possesses when coupled with determination and sweet freedom that can literally change the world. a life like that passing with such impact has to reminds us of what one man’s idea can become when paired with total commitment. when thinking about the contributions of his work it tends to make some of us feel small to see such gigantic accomplishment. for some of us, we are inspired to reach our own greatest potential to watch a talent such as that. hopefully, lives like these allow us to look at ourselves and if even for a moment wonder what impact we are making and what are we leaving behind. whether we can affect one man or thousands, what is it that we have been given by God that we are being called to share? and more importantly are we listening to His call for us to use our gifts to better our world no matter how small our little corner of it might be. in our world of continual distraction it is very easy to turn up the volume and tune out our real purpose. in order to truly accomplish in this life we have to go to the apex of the alpha. it says there will be no other but Him and if we are not setting aside the world here to hear the world we are seeking we will never see through the glass clearly. once the fog is settled and the path is clear our truest calling can be heard loud and clear. our direct impact does not have to be colossal, nor does it have to be famous. the truth is our impact is being made right now, everyday. the questions is for whom are we making our mark?
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,”
1 Peter 2:21
posers: the people in our lives who profess they are “this” or “that” but really aren’t. some are able to keep up the show for folks that don’t know them well enough because of what they wear, their profession, or associations. for example, we have all watched political figures or great athletic role models in recent years and have believed they must be well-disciplined, hard-working and ethical based solely on their stellar professional performance. we later find out about their lies, their infidelity, and addictions. we have all been lied to at one time or another. we have been saddened to find out someone we held up in our minds fell desperately short of real character. but in order to resolve the issues of trust and honesty in our society shouldn’t we look inside ourselves first to determine if we are guilty of professing we are “this” but acting like “that”, the posers. how honest are we with ourselves? how honest are we in our daily interactions? with our family and friends? since we are all sinners by definition then maybe we could change the dynamics of forthrightness if each of us just started with ourselves. if we say we are Christians then what are we doing different to live that truth? how is that changing our actions? the suggestion is not that we become Jesus just by saying so, but to just try to live more like who we say we are…His followers. this means telling the truth and when we don’t we must own it, confess. sincerely worshiping Him, and when we don’t we must own it, repent. it means serving others before ourself and when we don’t we must own it, try harder next time. the talk of a Christian is no different from the talk of a non-believer if we don’t live the difference. talk is cheap and it doesn’t really change anything, but the high price of Christianity has already paid on our behalf. we are able to battle our shortcoming each day with his strength and the great thing about being us is that we can choose everyday to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. if we remain living our lives for ourselves and for the eyes and judgement of others we can not be putting Him in His rightful place…first.
“beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” 1 John 4:1
“all talk and no actions”, “one day i will…”, “oh, i keep putting it off”, “when i find time”…how many times have we all said these words? we want to, but there are “things” in our way. we have goals. we have simple “to do” lists but the action itself is delayed for one reason or another. now, we can look at the things on “life’s list” and they vary from “make a deadline” to “make a difference”. so, let us take “make a difference” into consideration for a moment. what would it be like if we were fearless enough to follow our dreams right now? if each one of us took even a small step in that direction. if all the talk about what we’d like to do someday, and all the thing we say we believe were really acted upon? if we saw a need and created an outlet to achieve an impact? even if it wasn’t on a large-scale, even if it effected only one person. even if it means we are the only one that would grow in the process. the end result would be following our beliefs with not just strong and convincing language but action that could change ourselves, impact another and most importantly glorify God. so next time, even for a fleeting moment, a call to act is presented let’s do it. one of the most profound statements made in modern time was the words of king nike, “world leader of all that is athletic”- ”just do it”. think about that for just a moment and let’s ask ourselves if we are living and acting on our words and beliefs. if we aren’t than it’s just blah…just air.
23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
James 1:23-25 NIV
words of encouragement…how many times has someone believed in us, given us a chance and only then did we begin to believe in ourselves? some of us are really good at doubt, particularly when it comes to ourselves…maybe it is a defense mechanism to protect us from failure. but once someone we respect thinks we can accomplish something we may otherwise doubt, we are more likely to take the first step. with someone who is positive, energized and excited behind us along the way we fear less, we work harder and we can and have accomplished new successes when someone else believes we can. there are so many inspiring people in our lives, some don’t even realize the impact they make to bring out our greatest talents. if our mission as believer is to be Christ-like in our words and actions then we should inspire and be inspired as He has shown us. we don’t have to wait for “someone” to be a believer in us since He already is, but we should serve Him by supporting each other. while we should never be afraid to try and applying our best work, even if we fall, He is there to pick us up. so go…be inspired by who we know is great, who we know believes in us. make it great because He is there all the time, coaching, teaching, and bring out the best we have if we allow Him. and with that, anything is possible.
“I can do all thing through Christ who strengthen me” Philippians 4:13
practice. that is the key to being better. coaches, piano teachers and math teachers alike will tell you that. heck, doctors even “practice” everyday. the human condition is designed to develop from the moment of inception. at the first sign of “you”, you are already developing. once we start to walk, talk, get a driver’s licence, go to school, get a job, we somehow forget our development goes on. practice is still necessary for our success in life. we aren’t done yet. in fact, we are never done! new hobbies, new careers call us to practice our skills/ trade. but what do we do along the way to grow/develop our faith? do we practice that? do we study, take lessons, hire a coach? God, of course, inserts lessons for us along the way, allowing for a “new assignment”. some of these are tough ones too. the kind where you say…”wait, I did not sign up for this!” He is calling us to stop, crack The Book and hear Him. Some will develop a little more because they have been called to “practice”, while others still will miss the opportunity to see His teachable moment. Blessed are those of us who have seen Him as our coach/tutor. taking in these life lessons and seeing thing different now. allowing us to re-commit to “practice” our faith with a brand new perspective. there is statistical evidence showing that when an individual commits 10,000 hours to their talents/gifts the likelihood of success for that person rises exponentially. that’s why we see olympic swimmers show up for “practice” at 5 a.m. this kind of dedication increases their chances for a gold. but stop. think. what would happen in our individual lives if we dedicated those kinds of hours to “practicing” our faith? what would our relationships look like, our communities? what would our personal goals look like? going to church, reading devotions, reading The Book, sitting in prayer long enough to hear, not just talk. taking what we have learned to the streets… interacting with strangers could change our lives and those we come in contact with. none of us will be complete until our work on earth is done, but we are always faced with the opportunity to be better than we were yesterday.
we are told “practice makes perfect”. we are also told that we only find true perfection in Heaven. so, let’s go to work. let’s practice.
“But be ye doers of the word, and not just hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” James 1:22 KJV
no matter what we face today…an exciting beginning or an uncertain future, Christians are promised the best is yet to come. you know they say, whoever “they” are… “the only thing constant is change”. well, “they” are right. the problem is most of us resist it. we go on believing that the way things are is they way they will always be. until it changes and we act surprised. where do we get that from? looking back on our lives what is the same as it was? every aspect of our mental, physical, social, and economic condition for example is different than it was. but, we’d rather live in our bubble thinking that the way things are is the way it will always be because we are comfortable in what we know. even though looking back…not much really remains the same. maybe it’s a by-product of the human condition. we change, so it changes. we grow, and our needs grow. we mature, and our perception develops. we take new challenges, while new challenges are given to us.
when looking back on our lives we can count on really only one thing, that no matter what happens God’s word, promise and presents will be there. isn’t that cool! in the midst of turmoil and celebration, sadness and glory, loss and discovery, He is there for us with words that are as un-changed as the bible (hey, maybe we’re on to something here). His words don’t change. His promise does not change. so in the midst of the changes, good and bad, apply Him like a bumper sticker on your car to all you face. like a cloak around your person, cover yourself with this constant and the so-called changes thrown at us every day will be neutralized with the armor of our faith. it’s just so simple.