Gifts

Growing up in a church where gifts were celebrated and going to a high school where sports and the arts were promoted, I was always surrounded by an environment where gifts and talents were encouraged and valued.

Now I did consider myself fortunate to have a few gifts, but the only problem was that I never felt like I had a gift worth celebrating. 

Other than doing 300 sit-ups in a row, spinning a basketball on my finger, and bending my thumb all the way back I never believed I had any special gift or skill to offer.

There were interests that I found intriguing but when I compared myself and I saw how other people were gifted in ways I never could be I felt dumb, and in many ways, I felt as if my gifts were as useless as the letter B in the word dumb. 

My mistake was that I had a false definition of what a gift was supposed to be. I thought a gift, skill, or talent was something that you did to be seen and celebrated. I thought it was something that you were automatically good at with no effort. 

Looking into scripture I learned that God has a different definition of how a gift is to be appreciated and valued. 

1 Peter 4:10 says “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

When I read that scripture, it finally clicked! My gift should be used to serve those God has placed in my life. Soon I was looking for opportunities to serve rather than to be celebrated. 

Thankfully with the encouragement of my parents and mentors, the various interests I had were now being cultivated into gifts that I could use to serve my family, church, and community.

Part of cultivating our gifts is the task of stewardship, God can give us a talent or gift, but we are also responsible to nourish and grow that gift to where it can serve the Kingdom of God and those around us. 

To illustrate this let me share a short story with you. 

When the great renaissance artist Michelangelo was asked how he was able to sculpt a beautiful statue of an angle of impeccable life like artistry he replied, “The angle was always in the stone, I just chipped away the pieces covering it up”. In many ways, we too are like Michelangelo. We each have been given the blessing of life like he was given a stone, and inside of each stone, there is a beautiful angle waiting to be seen only if you can chisel it free.  

The chiseling process can sometimes be difficult and in many ways hurt a little but as your stewardship and service continue something amazing can be revealed. 

Each of us has a calling and gift that is as unique as our fingerprints so I personally cannot tell you what you are gifted in. What I can do is give you a few ways I learned to take responsibility and carve out my gifts from the stone. 

Here are 3 ways you can be a good steward with your gift:  

1. Gift’s need development – Every general started as a recruit, every manager had to first start out as an employee, and every popular You Tuber started out with 0 subscribers. What sets these people apart is that they continued to develop their gift when others at one point decided to give up. 

If you want your gifts to grow and excel you must first start by developing what you already have by focusing on how to better serve and solve problems. As you develop be careful not to live a life of comparison as it can extinguish the passion for your gifts. Development looks like practice, patience, hard work, and…

2. Gift’s need direction – You can be the fastest sprinter but unless you run in the right direction of the race/marathon you will lose. In developing our skills, we need to understand that for our gifts to flourish they need to move in the right direction.  If your skills are only there to serve yourself, or to serves others only when it’s convenient the gift will not be appreciated and valued. The best place we can implement our gifts and talents is in the Kingdom of God and in the lives of others. Connect with your church leaders, parents, and loved ones to find out how you can serve them.

3. Gift’s need deployment – An arrow can never hit the target unless it is released. Likewise, a bird will never learn to fly until it leaves the nest. God can place an amazing gift in your life but unless it is released…

Remember that there is no coupon for success

Thankfully with time, hard work, and dedication, I saw that the gifts God had placed in my life were able to flourish and it didn’t matter if my gifts were seen or celebrated as the joy of being a blessing and blessed through what God had given was all that mattered. 

Serve God and his creation with all your heart and strength and your well of gifts, skills, and talents will never run dry. 

© Jonathan Dawson 7.21.21

Questions and Answers

Often, we know the “how’s” and the “what’s” when we speak on forming a good habit on becoming like Christ.

We create a long list of ways to cultivate good habits. We listen to motivational speakers to receive encouragement. Nonetheless, have you reflected on “why” we need to do things for God? “Why” we need to reflect our behavior according to God’s will?

We acknowledge that if we build good habits, our habits become our character – it becomes who we are. Thus, we shape our character according to God’s character.

So here are a few “why’s” – reasons we should observe and build our character in God’s character to enter the Kingdom.

Patience – in Hebrews 10:36 “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”

Faith – In Hebrews 11:1-39, in this full chapter everyone in the OT who practiced their faith in God from Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Moses, and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, etc. all received God’s promised.

Kindness and Forgiveness – In Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgive you.”

Serving Others – In Matthew 20:28 “Even as Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Love Others – 1 John 4:19 & 21 “We love because He first loved us.” “Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

The Bible directs us and answer all the “why’s” that we have.  There is no need to reinvent what was written and commanded. We just need to trust and follow in reverence with His will, the rest is in God’s time.

As it is written in 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

© fm1 7.9.21

Gracious God…

That day, they killed my body, they destroyed my mind but not my spirit.

For my spirit is the center of my being. It is where my heart lies…

And it lies with God.

It is in my heart that lies the foundation of truth.

The truth that separates me from my enemies.

The truth that reminds me that I am a child of the one true God.

The maker of the heavens and the earth.

Justice belongs to the hands of the Almighty God, certainly not in man.

Through Him and only in Him lies salvation.

Man can destroy but can never defeat one’s spirit.

Man can bring condemnation but to Thee, thy God brings redemption.

For man is created from dust, and dust shall he return.

For whatever they have taken, only the Father of the heavens can affirm.

For our spirit belongs to the one who created us.

And our temporal bodies are just a vessel.

Without the mercy of the Father, it remains empty.

Through Thee, thy spirit shall be sanctified.

©fm1 6.30.21

Living in a Chaotic World, Facing the “Giant” in Your Life

In the Bible, King David, Apostle Paul, Peter, James, Matthew, Luke, Mark, John, Timothy, Barnabas …… are the cloud of witnesses who showed us how they face the “giants” in their lives.

Giants, let us think about that for a moment. Giant represents something colossal. It is what oftentimes appears to be so enormous in front of us that we could not move forward in our lives. How do we overcome it?

We live in a society that everything seems enormous nowadays. From dealing with the responsibilities within the circle in our families, our jobs, our neighbors, and even in our church community. We feel that all things around us are pulling us away from our own time. We never really have the chance to just sit down and watch it from the outside. It seems that we constantly find ourselves inside this ball of the day-to-day conundrum of life.

In our Life Group, we were asked this question “how do you live in a chaotic world as a child of God?” I had to pause on this question and evaluate how do I overcome and face these “giants” in my life?

During my younger years, it was a struggle to have that self-discipline in my nature. The level of my maturity could not handle the constant changes and revolving duties that life demands.

Through spiritual growth and maturity, I began to find my strength by practicing and staying mindful of these virtues:

Humility – accepting the circumstances in my life knowing that I cannot do everything on my own. That I will need to present my worries to God and trust Him (Matthew 19:26 “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”) That I will need the support of my family and my church community to pray with me to overcome my struggle (Romans 12:5 “so in Christ we, though many, form one body and each member belongs to all the others.”).

Prayer – reviving my relationship with God through the power of the Holy Spirit in prayer (Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”). Setting a time to meet with God every day praising Him and thanking Him (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.). Lastly, praying for others for healing (James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”).

Forgiveness – I ask God to release me from the bondage of pain and bitterness that others inflicted upon me, I pray to forgive me from my iniquities, and to teach me to forgive myself and accept that I am not perfect. (Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”)

Selfless Love – It is easy to think of what is good for us and satisfy ourselves with what we want but we find it difficult to open ourselves to others even to those who are in our inner circles because we normally set boundaries on how much time we want to extend ourselves to others caused by the busyness of our lives. But God’s Agape love is selfless. (1 John 4:16-21 “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world, we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”)  

Finally, Patience – this is the most difficult to practice when you are short-tempered, always aiming for immediate results. and lack of understanding of the importance of waiting. There must be over 100 verses in the Bible that tell us to wait on the Lord. Why do you think there are so many? God is wise and He obviously, knows that our human heart always lacks the patience that He desires for us. Throughout the Bible, we see people creating their little gods because they could not wait, the sense of self-gratification is one of the sins of mankind. So, let me leave you with this simple and inspiring verse and know that God encourages us to endure and wait on Him (Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”).

© fm1 6.16.21