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Posts Tagged ‘giftedness’

Distractions

January 3rd, 2014

“I am doing a great work.” Nehemiah 6:3 NKJV.

The things that make you unique enable your success.

My thoughts and comments today are about “distractions.”

In serving God and others, you are given something meaningful to do that is unique to yourself – your interests, experiences, natural talents, and spiritual giftedness. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another . . let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 4:10-11 NKJV. The things that make you unique enable your success. Your success and corresponding satisfaction result from discovering your life-calling and dedicating yourself to achieve that to the best of your ability and opportunity. Read 1 Timothy 4:14/2 Timothy 1:6-7 NKJV.

The obstacles to success can be many, and common among those are distractions. From those, discouragement results. Distraction creates detours and dead ends. The enemy of everything God wants to do in your life, and with your life, is the master of distraction and author of discouragement. Paul was ruthless about unprofitable distractions, “I am focusing all my energies on this one thing; forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize . .” Philippians 3:13-14 NLT.

Distractions can come in many forms – ambivalence, fear, doubts, busyness, tiredness, delays, disappointments, opposition, others’ opinions, people’s expectations, mistreatment, competing options, and/or people’s expectations. Every step in a wrong direction diminishes accomplishing your purpose and faithfulness to your calling. Jesus said, ”No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62 NKJV.

Nehemiah is a good example of avoiding distractions. From his zeal for God came a divine call to lead the monumental reconstruction project of Jerusalem. Read Nehemiah 2:1-18 NKJV. Because Nehemiah had a mission, vision, passion, and conviction, he succeeded where others failed. Besides the immense task, there were also enemies who opposed the rebuilding altogether. There will always be resistance – internal and/or external. After repeated attempts to dissuade Nehemiah from his work by ridicule, false accusations, threats, and even plots to harm him, his enemies finally sought to distract him – possibly their most devilish strategy.

“Our enemies . . sent to me, saying, ‘Come; let us meet together’. . but they thought to do me harm. So I sent messengers to them, ‘I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?’” Nehemiah 6:2-4 NKJV. Four times Nehemiah refused their efforts to distract him. Anything other than what God called him to do was lesser, and lesser things were irrelevant to Nehemiah. Compare Matthew 4:1-11 NIV.

The conviction, “I am doing a great work,” allows for no debate. If your efforts are not eternally consequential – important to yourself, others, and God – then reassess your priorities. Is there anything distracting you from doing God’s will? “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing your labor is not in vain.” See 1 Corinthians 15:57-58 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you dedicate yourself to the will and purposes of God.

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Creativity

March 20th, 2013

“God created man in His own image.” Genesis 1:27 NIV.

God is the Creator; you and I are to become His willing apprentices.

My thoughts and comments today are about “creativity.”

I admire people who understand and consecrate their creativity. Every person is gifted by God with creative abilities and potential, and that includes you. All persons are innately gifted in a diversity of ways and measures. On this, the Bible is clear.“God has given to each of you from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.” Read 1 Peter 4:10-11 NLT.

I read an interesting quote about the creative process, “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” Safely in God’s hands, you do not fear your mistakes. Creativity is so much more than the expression of one’s native talent, brilliance, or artistry. Creativity is the profound submission of yourself as a simple vessel through which the genius and greatness of God can flow. God is the Creator; you and I are to become His willing apprentices. The more prepared and diligent you are as you offer yourself to Him, the more creative you become.

Giftedness may differ in its nature or expression, but God is the source and origin of all gifts, and their best and fullest expression is with His empowerment and direction. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father . .” James 1:17 NIV. Some use their giftedness constructively and profitably for the common good and well-being of themselves and others. “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.” Proverbs 18:16 NKJV. Others leave gifts undiscovered or dormant, or use them selfishly and destructively.

God is the Creator. The Bible begins with the establishment of that truth, and underscores it in the New Testament. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth . . God created man in His own image . . all things were created by Him and for Him.” Genesis 1:1/27/Colossians 1:16-17 NIV. How then could you have been “created in His image and in His likeness” without potential for creative expression? Creativity should be more natural to us than is often the case. Creativity has to be valued and nurtured. As children, teens, or adults, some are praised and encouraged to cultivate their giftedness, while others lack necessary reassurance or opportunity to discover and develop latent gifts.

Among family and friends, I marvel at the unique expressions of Godly creativity. Often I see something as ordinary while they see extraordinary possibilities awaiting their touch. My wife is creative in so many ways, but especially as a hostess who makes anyone feel special; our son is an artistic genius at design and construction of homes and churches; our daughter sees beauty in people and loves them until they see it in themselves. (And talking about the grandchildren’s variety of interests and abilities, well that might just sound like bragging.)

Our friend, Jill, is masterful at managing people and administrating projects with skill and efficiency. Devi is a gifted author, teacher, and interior decorator. Ken, a pastor and church builder, is a creative force of unlimited ideas to reach and serve people. Rick and Andrew express exceptional creativity in sharing Biblical insights and teaching clarity. Rod has more stories, ideas, and images in his heart to communicate with children than he has time to fully pursue. Michael is an unbridled reserve of energy with wide-ranging, artistic creativity. Paul’s decided, “We have different gifts according to the grace given us . . use [your] gift in proportion to [your] faith.” Romans 12:6-8 NIV.

Pray as did Jabez, “Bless me and enlarge my territory.” Read 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 NIV. Creative potential is unlimited, unless you accept boundaries or allow others to impose them. Unwise comparisons with others will undermine your own God-given gifts and your confidence in using them. Read 2 Corinthians 10:12-13 NKJV. Be inspired by others’ gifts, not intimidated; share your gifts freely, not sparingly. He gave them; glorify Him with them.

My prayer for you today is this: serve God and others well with the giftedness He gives.

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Importance of Being Earnest

September 17th, 2012

Contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to all saints.” Jude 3.

Distractions become diversions that send your life in unintended directions.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the importance of being earnest.”

The most sincere direction and vital decision can be short circuited by distractions. Because there is so much that you could do and much that you should do, there will always be alternatives that beckon you along another path, away from the task at hand.

Most of the time such distractions usually have little or no lasting consequence, just a small matter of extra time. But what if the original intention were one of personal urgency or particular importance? Distractions, though brief, can become diversions that may more permanently set your life in an unintended direction; one you did not envision. Such diversions could be regrettable at the least, or inconvenient, or maybe even costly to you in missed opportunity or unfulfilled responsibility.

Later in life, many people find themselves in a far different place than they planned, and are perplexed why. What decision changed their expected destination? Sometimes it’s a casual acquaintance becoming an unlikely friendship, evolving into a questionable relationship, and eventually resulting in an ill-advised and ill-fated marriage. Or maybe it was a curiosity that became fascination, soon an indulging experimentation, then becoming a habit, and eventually an addiction from which you could not break free. “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful . . I will not be brought under the power of any.” 1 Corinthians 6:12. That is a wise rule for living prudently.

Be earnest about the Christian faith. In life, there is no intention more important than a clear decision to pursue God earnestly everyday. The Bible gives practical advice for such an earnest pursuit. “Contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to all saints.” Jude 3. Hold fast to the faith that will hold your soul fast in difficult days.

Earnest is not a word commonly used or always well understood. Being earnest is to live with an evident priority and pursuit of a lifestyle of discipleship and service. The Christian life is not a casual stroll on a sunny afternoon. To live earnestly, you must live with purpose and clarity.

Be earnest about living for Jesus. “According to my earnest expectation that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now Christ may be magnified in my body.” Philippians 1:20. Love Jesus with earnest devotion. Live in such a way that others will see His greatness in you.

Be earnest about prayer. “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly . .” James 5:16-18 NIV.  Effectual, fervent prayer makes a difference in the lives of yourself and others. Pray earnestly and expectantly.

Be earnest about spiritual giftedness. “Earnestly desire the best gifts . . and yet I show you a more excellent way (the way of love).” 1 Corinthians 12:31. Spiritual giftedness is for useful service; serve well for the glory of God and the blessing of others.

Be earnest about eternity. “Earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from Heaven.” 2 Corinthians 5:2. Heaven is certainly real, and eternity is sure. Avoid the mundane life; keep a heavenly perspective.

My prayer today is that you are diligent about all aspects of spiritual life.

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Giftedness

June 10th, 2011

“All these are the work of the same Spirit . . just as He determines.” 1 Corinthians 12:11 NIV

“God is to be the center and source in every moment and expression of everyday life.”

My thoughts today are about “giftedness.”

Wouldn’t it be terrible if everyone was identically alike – looked alike, dressed alike, acted alike, talked alike – copies and clones of one another? I am glad we are each a wonderful original. When I look around at God’s creation, I am amazed at the diversity of His creation, whether talking about people or fish or fowl or animals or insects or flowers or weeds. And then within each of those broader categories there are even so many more species even more diverse. How dissimilar are the giraffe and the hippopotamus? Just saying! Why then do so many of us expect everyone else to be so much like we are? How boring would that be?

Much beyond outward dissimilarities, a significant distinction is the uniqueness of how God has planned to use each person and the giftedness He releases to accomplish that. After identifying various spiritual gifts, Paul says, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God who works all of them in all men . . All these are the work of the same Spirit, and He gives them to each one, just as He determines.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-6/11 NIV.

There are a few misconceptions as it relates to spiritual giftedness. Don’t be misled by the word, “gift;” spiritual gifts are unlike natural gifts that you possess or acquire. Your spiritual gift does not reside in you nor is it yours to use when and as you choose; God’s Spirit dwells in you and your giftedness is an expression of His presence and power there – “a gift of the Spirit” that operates through you at His direction and with His enabling. “The Father . . will give you . . the Spirit of Truth . . for He lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17 NIV.

You don’t choose the task for which you were created, nor the gift you prefer. “All these are the work of the same Spirit, and He gives them to each one, just as He determines.” 1 Corinthians 12:11 NIV. Those are sovereign decisions, because Father knows best. Your spiritual giftedness will best fit your task, and vice versa. Forget artificial distinctions between sacred and secular; all you are and do is sacred to God – your faith, your family, your occupation, your relationships, and your recreation. Let God be the center and source in every moment and expression of everyday life.

Your spiritual gift is not for your personal amusement, benefit, or enrichment; they are for God’s purpose and glory. “To each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:7 NIV. Spiritual gifts have an essential purpose: to reveal and express God’s love and caring, for the edification – building up – of others, and for the accomplishment of God’s intention and will, all of that “as He determines.”

Sincere Christians may differ on their understanding of spiritual gifts, and/or their nature and exercise, but I doubt any of us would argue that whatever we attempt and accomplish of eternal value is dependent upon the Spirit of God working in and through us.

My prayer for you today is that you welcome God into every area of your life everyday.

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Uniqueness

February 8th, 2011

“Our goal is to measure up to God’s plan for us.” 2 Corinthians 10:13 The Living Bible

Maximize your effectiveness by serving out of your unique giftedness.”

My thoughts today are about “uniqueness.”

I think everyone at some point wonders what is the best and right thing to do with their life. Sometimes it seems hard to know what you are supposed to do. Of course, ultimately you need to discover God’s assignment for you, for that is where you find the greatest sense of satisfaction and success. You are unique, but how do you find God’s unique design for you?

Let me suggest a practical way to begin: (1) Examine your interests. (2) Take inventory of your abilities. (3) Consider your previous experiences. (4) Reflect on your successful endeavors. These practical things may direct you on a path of personal discovery.

Years ago, a friend shared with me a simple way to know myself better. He drew two overlapping circles. In one circle he asked me to write this: “things I do well.” In the other, he had me list: “things I enjoy doing.” Clearly, there are some things that I do well, but don’t find particular satisfaction in doing so. On the other hand, there are things that I enjoy doing, but where my expertise is less or lacking. His exercise helped me to better understand the things that I both do well and enjoyed doing. Probably God’s design would likely be found there.

You certainly should do what you enjoy sometimes, even if you are not the best at it. That’s how you develop skills and get better. And you are often needed to help out where you have a special talent or ability, even if you do not find a desire to be more regularly involved in that way. That’s how you can contribute to others’ well-being.

Neither of those circles by itself  is likely to be where you are especially called or gifted. Where those two circles intersect – the overlap of where both the things you do well and things you enjoy doing – that is likely where you will find your greatest sense of fulfillment and fruitfulness for a lifetime. At the intersection of your desires and successes you will find your God-given uniqueness.

Too many people spend much of their life unhappily doing things to make a living that they really don’t want to be doing. That’s okay for a season, but not good enough for your lifetime. And others struggle unsuccessfully far too long, wanting to do something they do not have the skills to accomplish. Either of those results in frustration, even failure.

“If anyone serves, his service should be from the strength God provides, so that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 4:11.  Where in your gifts, skills, interests, experience, and endeavors do you see God giving you strength? There you will find your preferred direction for life. Maximize your effectiveness by serving out of your unique giftedness.

My prayer today is that you will know God’s custom made calling and gifts for you.

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