Posts Tagged ‘Gifts of God’

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VACATION FRUIT- Oct 6

October 6, 2014

“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.” 2 Corinthians 5:6-9

 There is nothing like a good vacation to make you want to go home.

My family and I have just returned from a vacation to the east coast of the United States. We spent two weeks continuously touring sites from New York through Virginia. Our heads are still spinning comprehending all we saw and the soles of our feet still aching from the miles trekked.

Every day, our vacation produced fascination and enjoyment as we explored places I had only known in books.

We saw the birthplace of English North American colonization at Jamestown.

We saw the birthplace of English North American colonization at Jamestown.

We walked the streets of colonial Williamsburg, the capital of colonial Virginia.

We walked the streets of colonial Williamsburg, the capital of colonial Virginia.

We visited George Washington's home at Mount Vernon.

We visited George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon.

We visited Thomas Jefferson's home at Monticello.

We visited Thomas Jefferson’s home at Monticello.

We walk the first halls of power at Independence Hall

We walk the first halls of power at Independence Hall

We were guided through the modern halls of power at the US Congress...

We were guided through the modern halls of power at the US Congress…

...White House...

…White House…

...and the Supreme Court

…and the Supreme Court

We joined a prayer walk for Pastor Saeed in front of the White House.

We joined a prayer walk for Pastor Saeed in front of the White House.

We contemplated the cost of freedom at the Lincoln...

We contemplated the cost of freedom at the Lincoln…

WWII, Korean, and Vietnam memorials

…WWII, Korean, and Vietnam memorials

We were overwhelmed by the collections of the Smithsonian...

We were overwhelmed by the collections of the Smithsonian…

...and Botanical Gardens.

…Botanical Gardens.

We pondered the destruction of the civil war at the flashpoint of Harpers Ferry.

We pondered the destruction of the civil war at the flashpoint of Harper’s Ferry.

We were assaulted by New York City’s time square.

We were assaulted by New York City’s time square.

We applauded the talent display on Broadway (The Lion King).

We applauded the talent displayed on Broadway (The Lion King).

We wept the loss captured at the 911 Memorial.

We wept the loss captured at the 911 Memorial.

We drank in the hope promised by the Statue of Liberty.

We drank in the hope promised by the Statue of Liberty.

Our east coast conceptions crumbled under the landscapes of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey.

We had a fabulously full vacation. Yet, the allure of home was universally felt as our vacation drew to a close. A desire for the familiar overwhelmed our affection for continued exploration. We had toured for two weeks through a land that was not our own. We created memories that will last our lifetime and enhanced a love for home.

A desire for home may be the greatest fruit of our east coast vacation.

I am reminded of a quote by C.S. Lewis:

I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death.

Most of us have lives filled with wonderful busyness. We have so many blessings to experience and enjoy; so many opportunities to explore and fulfill. I assert that the average person in North America and Europe are living what historically would be a life of wonderful vacation. Yet, there runs through our culture dissatisfaction with this prosperity. We live  fabulously full lives. Yet, there is an allure felt by most for something more.

It is the call of our true country. It is the unsatiated desire for our heavenly home. A home we were created for.

A desire for our heavenly home may be the greatest fruit of the dissatisfied prosperous. We need to redeem our incessant dissatisfaction with the wonderful and amazing. Rather than letting dissatisfaction turn to contempt or thanklessness, we need to be reminded that our tendency is to look to earthly pleasures to satisfy something that they were never created to fulfill.

The blessings of this earth are “only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage” to enhance our love for our heavenly home and Father. Our longing for something more is the reminder that we are not home. A reminder that should give us courage and direct our efforts toward pleasing our Lord and Savior who has created for us an everlasting home with Him.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the blessing of a wonderful vacation.  Thank you for the opportunity to travel with my family and see so many wonderful sites.  Thank you for my home.  Thank you for the reminder that you have created for me an everlasting home with you.  Forgive me for being dissatisfied in the earthly blessings you have given me.  Forgive me for forgetting that this is not my home.  Create in me a desire for my true country with you.  Help me to be of good courage and to desire to please you in all that I do.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

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TALENTLESS GLORY – Sept 10

September 10, 2014

“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19b-20

 The other morning, I once again watched this video as I ate my breakfast.

The emotions elicited from Carrie Underwood’s exaltation of our God’s greatness caused me to linger upon God’s glory. I am always encouraged to see God-given talent directed back toward our Creator.

Musicians using their talents to lead me in worship of God;
Teachers whose charisma encourages me to follow Jesus;
The intellect of pastors drawing me deeper into the mysteries of the divine;
Authors explaining difficult truths that ease my understanding;
Poets whose words plow fresh soil in my soul;
Artists who create works that raise my eyes beyond this world.

I can easily acknowledge and join in the praise that the talented present to the Lord through the works of their bodies.

I am equally tempted, in darker moments, to think that the glory potential of my body is significantly lower than that of the talented. I know that the price paid for my salvation is the same as that paid for Carrie Underwood or C.S. Lewis or Spurgeon or Milton or any number of talented people who love or have love our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, it seems that the Lord might have gotten a poor bargain when he saved me. When I consider what I have to offer God, I am inclined to place myself on the clearance rack.

I don’t want to diminish my talents, but I also recognize that they are not “world class”.  However, there are billions of people just like me.

We have never been at the top of the class.
We have never been invited to an audition.
We have never been courted for the corner office.
We have never won a race.
We have never had a best-seller.
We have never even been close to a platform.

As a result, the glory that God receives from my body and those like me comes quietly, without ovation, from a heart that fumbles with rudimentary talents in simple love for our Savior.

I wonder if this glory from the simple is not the glory highly esteemed by our Lord.

Consider the fact that He has created more “unexceptional” people than the world class variant.  There is rarely a question of motivation for the under-gifted. The gifted will always have to struggle against their love for the praise of men.

I have never made melody with my voice in praise to our Lord with the secret hope of a compliment. I am not musical. Therefore, I have only one motivation when I worship our Lord through singing – love. I sing praises to the glory of God because I love him. I believe that the glory from my body, at that moment, is purest and most undefiled by my love of self, primarily because I lack talent.

I believe God relishes that glory – pure glory coming from a heart that is loving Him first and foremost.

However, I have preached with a secret hope of being complimented. I have written with a desire to be liked. I have used my talents in assorted ministries for God’s glory and gotten a little boost in my self-love. This self-love complicates the purity of my worship. It contaminates the motivation of my praise. As a result, the glory to God from those who were blessed by the use of my talents was probably purer than the direct glory from my conflicted motives.

Those with unexceptional talents should be encouraged when we consider the primary purpose of man – to glorify God and enjoy him forever. God has created us perfectly. He has given everyone some gifts, but He has not given those gifts equally. He was not random. He was not arbitrary.

Consider for a moment that God has not given you talent so that you can better serve your God-given purpose, which is to glorify Him with your untalented body.

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5)

Let us use our under-talented bodies to glorify God; motivated by a love for Him from a pure heart, good conscience and a sincere faith. We are the one who can do that the best – we were created for it.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the gifts that you have given me. Help me to use them to glorify you. Forgive me for using the talents that you have given me to seek the praise of men. Teach me how to use the talents that I have with a pure heart, good conscience and a sincere faith. Lord, thank you for the gifts that I don’t have. Thank you for depriving me of world class talent. Thank you for obscurity. Thank you for anonymity. Thank you for creating me just as I am so that I can better fulfill my purpose with all that I am, in purity and sincerity.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

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“GIFT OF UNDERSTANDING” – Mar. 28

March 28, 2013

“Only, may the Lord grant you discretion and understanding, that when he gives you charge over Israel you may keep the law of the Lord your God.”  1 Chronicles 22:12

We would say of a man who drives his car 70 mph through a 25 mph school zone, “Does he not understand the danger he is posing to everyone?”

Of a mother who prepares her family’s meals seasoned with arsenic, we would ask, “Does she not realize that will kill her family?”

The young man who takes his inheritance to Vegas for one bet on the roulette wheel would cause us to shake our heads and question, “Does he not understand how irresponsible that is?”

We would say of the middle-aged man who, on national television, assaults a beautiful young woman, “He has lost his mind.”

Of the employee who berates, insults, and curses her employer in the company newsletter, we would ask, “Did she not realize what they would have to do?”

The couple who moves all of their neighbor’s belongings into their backyard would cause us to wonder in disbelief, “Do they not understand that we can see that they stole these possessions?”

Discretion is the ability to make responsible decisions. 

Discretion is a fundamental ability necessary for a society to function under the rule of law.  The rule of law has the assumption that people will understand the law and the consequences of not adhering to the law and choose the appropriate response.  However, the news is full of people whose arrest, prosecution and conviction demonstrates that they lacked discretion and understanding in the activities that they pursued.   Many folks bear the burden of ill consequences due to their lack of understanding and discretion.  Discretion and understanding are essential skills to function appropriately in the world of the physical.

Likewise, we need discretion and understanding to function appropriately in the world of the spiritual.  God gave us His law not to hurt us or punish us.  He gave us His law because He loves us and cares for us.  His law is for our own good.  However, there are many people who live as if the only consequences are associated with the tangible.  They don’t understand that they need a savior.  They lack discretion in their decisions because they don’t recognize that the law of God is over them.

Understanding our position under God’s law is a gift granted by God. presenting

When we understand that we face condemnation because of a life of indiscretion and that leads us to repentance – it is a gift.  It is the first act of God drawing his children to Himself.  No one will ever seek a savior until they understand their deep need for one.  It is indiscretion to think that God will be appeased, as long as the good works of our lives, out-weighs the bad.  That is not a responsible decision.  That is a decision that does not understand the holiness and righteousness of God.  That is a person who does not understand the law and the consequences of not adhering to the law because they are clearly not following the appropriate response that comes from understanding.

When Christ hung on the cross, He prayed for the Father to forgive those who crucified him because they did not know what they were doing.  They did what they did because they lacked understanding and discretion.

That lack of understanding continues on a daily basis.

I have read many articles written by atheists.  They tend to be some of the most mean-spirited, rude, and insulting articles in the blogosphere.  They reject the idea that there is a law from God that applies to them.  They make condescending jokes about those who believe such foolishness.

They are demonstrating a lack of understanding.  They are people of indiscretion.  They do not know what they are doing because they have not been granted the understanding and discretion of God’s law.  When God opens someone’s eyes to the consequences of His law, it leads to repentance because it is the only logical choice.  It is the only responsible decision.

This is why we should have compassion for the lost.  They do not understand what they are doing.  We need to pray David’s prayer for them, “Lord, grant them discretion and understanding, that they may keep the law of God.”  The only why for that to happen is to repent and accept the One who kept that law perfectly, for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for showing me the condemnation that my indiscretion had earned.  Thank you for opening my eyes to my need for a savior.  Thank you for drawing me and saving me.  Thank you for continuing to reveal to me what it means to follow you in grateful obedience.  Lord, I pray for my friends and family who do not understand the true condition of their souls.  Father, grant them the understanding that they desperately need Christ as their savior.  That they must be born again.  Please draw them to yourself – to repentance and everlasting salvation.  Lord, adopt them into the family through the power of your Spirit.  They are stiff-necked just as I was and still have a tendency to be.  Soften their hearts to receive the good news of your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen

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