Use Your Gift, Start a Fire

For this season of my life, God has me seeking Him on His will for my life. He hasn’t revealed it in whole, but in small glimpses.  Such as, possibly, a non-profit cafe ministry. Or, for instance, right now, I have decided that I am going to be on the leadership team of our young adult ministry. I decided to read up on the New Testament  to see what the great evangelist, Paul, told young newbie, Timothy. Two lessons stick out the most. One is gossip, which Paul mentions so many times, it can’t go without note. The second thing, and the one I will mention today, is our gifts.

Paul writes:

1 Timothy 4:14-  Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
2 Timothy 1:6- For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

Simplified: Know your gift, use your gift, start a fire.

Most of us know the story of “The Talents” in Matthew 25. A king gives three servants 5, 2, and 1 bag of gold respectively. The ones with 5 and 2 doubled their amount for the king, but the man with 1 buried his. While this story is talking about money, we can use the story for our own talents, time, money, etc. Basically, Jesus is asking us, “What will you do for me while I am away?” At the end, will it be “well done” or “depart from me, I never knew you”?

There’s one last thing that I want to mention about Paul’s letter to Timothy.

1 Timothy 4:15, 16- Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Your gifts will definitely bring you happiness, but more importantly, they will “save your hearers”. Living like Christ and using your gifts have a far greater reach, a reach that we may never see this side of Heaven.

So, go on and start a fire in someone’s life today.

When the Fire Goes Out

Sometimes I am the Richard Simmons of Christianity. I am on fire for God, hootin’ and hollerin’ with “Woohoos” and “Amens”. Then, suddenly, my fire is snuffed out and I am boring, ole me once again. It’s very frustrating. I love the joy, boldness, and courage I have when I’m on fire for God.

So, why does the fire go out?

This is not necessarily any fault of my own nor God’s for that matter. There’s not any sin or disobedience. I know, because I checked with Him. So, for a week, I wander around asking, “Where are you God? I don’t feel you. I don’t sense you.” And all of a sudden I’m struck with doubt.

I find myself like David in Psalm 13 saying, “1 How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? 2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?”

Like David, I know the truth in God’s word. I know He will never leave me nor forsake me. I know he’s there just as before. However, I think there are times when God wants to force us past emotions. He wants us to get to the point where we trust Him no matter what, no matter how we feel. God is bigger than our emotions. If we struggle to converse with Him when we don’t “feel” Him, how are we ever going to stay near to Him when the storms really hit hard?

The key to overcoming feelings is to continually trust God even if we don’t necessarily see, hear, or feel Him. At the end of the Psalm David says, “5 But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
6 I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.”

Because of Christ’s ongoing love, we should never be lacking in praise or thanksgiving.

Path to Greatness

Ha! Who am I that God can use me?

I’ve heard this so many times before as I’m sure you have too. In actuality, there is a bit of truth to this statement. We are nothing and nobody without Christ. However, with Him, we are the perfect specimen, if we are willing to be used by a perfect God.

Many people look at the sins of their past and argue that  God wouldn’t want to have anything to do with them, but that is just not so. God created you. He loved you. He formed you in your mother’s womb. He knew all your sins, but more importantly, He awaits the day when He can reveal all the little treasures He has in store for you.

So, for anyone who has thought this sentiment in the past. Here is a lineup of the characters God used. Not only did he use them, but He loved them unconditionally and forgave them when they went astray:

Adam and Eve– Disobedient. Ate the fruit after being told not to and so began the wretched state of this world.
Abraham- Impatient/ Doubt. Called by God to be the Father of mankind. Lay with his wife’s handmaiden and had Ishmael. Later, God’s promise is fulfilled. His wife, in her old age, had Isaac. Started a family feud that would continue into the present day.
Isaac’s son Jacob– Liar. Tricked his twin brother and their father into giving him the birthright and blessing of the first born.
Rahab the prostitute. Mother of Ruth.
Ruth the widow. Mother of Jesse, father of
David– Adulterer/ Murderer. AKA “A man after God’s own heart.”
Solomon– Selfish/ Married Foreigners. At one time was the wisest and richest man in the world.
On and on the lineage goes until you get to
Mary, Mother of Jesus- Unmarried and pregnant (by the Holy Spirit, of course).

One would believe that Jesus would descend from a lineage of pristine perfection. But He didn’t. He came in the line of regular people whom God used to do extraordinary things despite their very human flaws.

Even though these men and women may have been sinners or society’s discards, God saw them as faithful. Read Hebrews 11 where God commends these people:
By faith, Abraham…
By faith, Rahab…
By faith, David, Isaac, Jacob, etc…

Wherever you are on your journey, God knows your path, trust in Him. No one is too great a sinner or too lost for God. Psalm 139 reminds us of God’s presence wherever we go: “8If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.”

I love this verse:

Isaiah 30:21
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’.”