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Monday, April 30, 2018

God Will Use my Talents to Test My Unselfishness

In review of 1 Peter 4:10 it says, “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another” (NLT).

Today’s verse comes from 1 Peter 4:1-10, where Peter tells me how to live for God. He tells me that Christ suffered physical pain here on earth, therefore I am to arm myself with the same attitude Christ had and be ready to suffer, as well. For if I have suffered physically for Christ, I am done with sin and I won't spend the rest of my life chasing my own desire, but rather be anxious to do the will of God. It also means that I have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy, their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols. I need to keep in mind that the end of the world is coming soon. Therefore I should be earnest and disciplined in my prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for others, for this kind of love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share with those who need. God had given me a gift (and perhaps even gifts) from his great variety of spiritual gifts. I am to use them well to serve others.

Suffering helps me to be like Christ, yet I will do anything to avoid pain. However, as a follower of Christ, I should be willing and prepared to do God's will and to suffer for it if necessary. I can overcome sin when we focus on Christ and what he wants me to do. Pain and danger will reveal my true values. Anyone who suffers for doing good and still faithfully obeys in spite of suffering has made a clean break with sin.

The basis of my salvation is my belief in Jesus, but the the basis for judgment is how I have lived. I should be prepared to explain them to God.

I need to live expectantly because I know Christ is coming soon. My getting ready to meet Christ involves continually growing in love for God and for others. It is important for me to pray regularly and to reach out to those in need. What I have here on earth today, (my possessions), my status, and any of my power will mean nothing in God's Kingdom, however I will spend eternity with others. Therefore I should be investing my time and talents where they will make an eternal difference.

All of my abilities should be faithfully used to serve others; none are for my own exclusive enjoyment. Some, aware of their abilities, believe that they have the right to use their abilities as they please. Others feel that they have no special talents at all. Peter addresses both groups. Everyone has some gifts. As I seek to discover my gifts, if I see a need in the church, I should seek to meet it. I may find gifts in areas I might not have guessed.

God will use my talents to test my unselfishness. I have to decide in life for whom or what I’m going to live. I’m either going to live a self-centered, miserly life or I’m going to live for something greater than myself, the Kingdom of God.

A faithful person won’t live for himself. He will realize that the talents God gave him are not for his own benefit; rather they’ll make the world a better place.

When God made me, he gave me all kinds of gifts, talents, and abilities. These are often referred to as my SHAPE: my Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, and Experiences. These five things make me me. And God made me me. There’s nobody like me in the whole world, and he wants me to be me for his glory.

God shaped me to serve him, and there’s only one way to do that: by serving others.

Faithful people realize that their talents are not for their benefit. For instance, I may have a talent for art and say that I do it “just because I love to do it.” That’s nice, but that’s not a good enough motive. God didn’t give me artistic ability just so I can love to do it. He gave it to me so I can use my art in some way to help others.

Some people have an ability to fix things. Some people are good at math. Some people are good at closing deals. Some people are good at music. Some people are good at organizing. And some people are good at trimming and gardening.

God made everyone different so that everything in the world gets done. If we all liked to do the same thing, there would be a whole lot left undone.

I am the steward of my talents, and God is watching to see if I use what he gave me effectively on Earth. If I use those talents effectively on Earth, he’s going to give me more responsibility in Heaven.

God has put me here because life is a test and a trust and a temporary assignment. He’s watching to see if I’m faithful to use what he gave me here on Earth to bless others.

The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:10, “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another” (NLT). God gave me talents, and he wants me to be faithful with them.

Bottom Line:
God has given you a gift, use it to serve others.

What this means to me:
God has given to me a gift (or even gifts) from his wide variety of spiritual gifts. It is my job to use these gifts to serve well others around me.

In summary, to live for God means that I need to take on Jesus characteristics, be willing to put others needs above my own desires. My life should be centered around a deep love for others. I need to use what God gifts me with to serve others. While my salvation comes from my belief in Christ, my judgement will come from how I choose to live my life and use my gifts. How I use what he gave me is part of the test, trust and temporary assignment he has given me here on earth. I need to decide each day, what I will live for. My goal should be to make a difference in the lives of those around me.

This morning I pray, “Father, help me to recognize and use my talents to serve those around me. Help me to understand the work tasks that my team needs to accomplish. Give me clarity on which actions to take and how to communicate those to my team. Given the patience and understanding for the people around me. Help to mee serve them and not my own needs. Help me test my movies and keep them in check. Most of let me live a life that pleases you today. In Jesus name I pray, amen!”

Friday, April 27, 2018

God Looks For and Helps Faithful People

In review of 2 Chronicles 16:9 it says, “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (NLT).

Today’s verse comes from 2 Chronicles 16:7-10. This section takes place after King Asa decides to take matters into his own hands and makes a pact with neighboring king instead of trusting in the Lord. After that Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, "Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of the Lord your God, you missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram. Don't you remember what happened to the Ethiopians and Libyans and their vast army, with all of their chariots and charioteers. At that time you relied on the Lord, and he handed them over to you. The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.” Asa became so angry with Hanani for saying this that he threw him into prison and put him in stocks. At that time Asa also began to oppress some of his people.

What I understand is that both Judah and Israel suffered from faithless forgetfulness! Although God had delivered them even when they were outnumbered, they repeatedly sought help from pagan nations rather than from God. With help from God Alone, Asa had defeated the Ethiopians in open battle. But his confidence in God had slipped, and now he sought only a human solution to his problem. It is not sin to use human means to solve our problems, but it is sin to trust them more than God, to think they are better than God's ways, or to leave God completely out of the problem-solving process.

The Bible tells me three things about the importance of faith.

1. God is looking for faithful people. God is physically, visibly, actively taking the initiative to look for faithful people that he can bless. Second Chronicles 16:9 says, “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (NLT). What this teaches me is that If I make myself, God will wear me out. If I get “blessable,” he will bless me! God is looking for faithful people that he can use.

2. Faithful people are hard to find. The Bible says in Proverbs 20:6, “Everyone talks about how faithful he is, but just try to find someone who really is!” (GNT). A lot of people talk the talk, but they don’t really trust God. They may trust their credit card instead. They say they believe in God, but they don’t really trust him when it comes to their finances, health, or job. Psalm 53:2-3 says this: “God looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if anyone is truly wise, if anyone seeks God. But no, all have turned away; all have become corrupt. No one does good, not a single one!” (NLT).

3. Faithfulness is the key to blessing and victory. First John 5:4-5 says, “For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God” (NLT). The Bible says in Proverbs 28:20, “A faithful man will have many blessings” (HCSB).

So to obtain his blessings, I’ll have to learn and practice faithfulness. It shouldn’t be a surprise that God will test my faithfulness in different ways and not always in the way or timing I would like. I need to decide and make the choice to let him grow me in this area so that I can be a person of faith.

Bottom Line:
The Lord searches and will strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

What this means to me:
If my heart is fully committed to him, he will help strengthen me.

In summary, the Lord is not absent, God is looking for faithful people. If my heart is committed to him, He will strengthen me. I have to admit that I do find myself suffering from faithless forgetfulness, and looking for other places or myself over Him to solve problems. I need to be cautious to not let my confidence slip or to give up hope, or even convince myself that my way is better; leaving God out of the process. I can't just talk the talk, I need to walk the talk (I experienced a situation this week with an employee, I thought I had been doing this universally, but in this case I was not.) My faithfulness will be the key to blessing and victory and ultimately doing his will. So I need to learn to practice faithfulness. In addition I should know that God will test my faithfulness, probably in ways I’m not expecting. I need to make the conscious choice to let him grow me.

This morning Father I pray, “you help me determine where my heart is. That you help remind me via the Holy Spirit to be faithful and put my trust in you. Let me look to you for help and guidance in solving problems and situations. I also pray for guidance in my daily interactions with team members and co-workers. Allow me to clearly think through priorities and put together plans to accomplish what seems like the endless supply of task. In Jesus name, Amen!”

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Change Requires New Thinking

In review of Ephesians 4:21-24 it says, “Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God — truly righteous and holy” (NLT).

Today’s study is once again is from Ephesians 4:21-24. In it Paul tells us how to live as a child of light. He explains that since we have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, We are to throw off our old sinful nature and former ways of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew our thoughts and attitudes. Then put on our new nature, created to be like God, truly righteous and holy.

Paul also remind us that the Good News will seem foolish to those who forsake faith and rely on their own understanding. The goal for me however, is to have others see a noticeable difference in the way I live. For I am to live as a person of light. Therefore I leave behind my old life of sin. And although I have a new nature, I will not always automatically think good thoughts and express all right attitudes. But if I keep listening to God, he will be working in me to slowly change my nature, as I trust God.

My old way of life, before I believed in Christ, is now completely in the past. I should put it behind me like old clothes to be thrown away. My decision to accept Christ's gift of salvation, was a once-for-all-time decision and is a conscious commitment I make each day. My life is not to be characterized by a drive for desire or impulse. Now I put on a new nature, head in the new direction, and have the new way of thinking that the Holy Spirit provides me.

Therefor real change in my life will require a new way of thinking. The battle to change the unhealthy habits will always be a mental battle. It starts in the mind, and it’s won or lost there.

Ephesians 4:23 says, “Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes” (NLT). Ultimately I’m not going to change until my thoughts and attitude change. My daily quiet time is important to this process. The time I spend intentionally studying God’s Word and in prayer is the spiritual renewal in my mind. If I’m not doing that, I’m not going to have the power to change.

I have learned that the theological term for “change of mind” is the word “repentance.To repent literally means to change your mind.

The word “repent” is actually a Greek word metanoia. Metanoia means to change your mind to turn from death to life, sin to forgiveness, guilt to peace of mind, Hell to Heaven, your way to God’s way. The most positive change in my life will be when I repent of my sin and turn from regret to peace of mind and forgiveness.

I have to learn to think in new ways about my unhealthy habits. For instance, those habits are often strengths being misused. That in and of itself is a new way of thinking. I probably never thought of that way, but that would be repentance! That’s a change of mind. My unhealthy habits are often God-given strengths being misused.

I need to change the way I think. Philippians 2:5 says, “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had” (NLT).

I believe that God wants me to learn to think like Jesus. I do that via a choice. I need to make a choice and say, “God, how would Jesus think about this?” The more I fill my mind with the Word of God, the easier that’s going to be.

Bottom Line:
When we accept Him and His teaching, we can throw off our old way which was corrupted by lust and deception and let the Spirit renew our thoughts and actions.

What this means to me:
Since accepting Christ and learning the truth that comes from him, I can throw off my old sinful nature and former way of living, which had been corrupted by lust and deception. Now, I should let the Spirit renew my thinking and attitude. Put on that new nature, the one created to be like His character.

In summary, I need to learn the truth from him. Get rid of my old way of thinking that was corrupted by selfishness, deception and lust. Allow the Holy Spirit to renew my thoughts and attitudes. Put on a new nature created like God. Then my life should illustrate this new nature. Also renew my mind by using the time I intentionally spend studying God's Word to renew my perspective, values and ultimately my behavior.

This morning Father “I ask you to help me think about my work tasks and relationship in light of what I have learned from you. Allow me to have the perspective to see things differently today, especially those items that frustrate me and add pressure. I also pray that you allow me to react in a loving manner with others that I interact with. Please allow me to not be irritated by interruptions. Allow me to think clearly, outline plans for future actives and effectively communicate and help to influence those around me. Lastly allow me make a difference. In your Jesus name, amen!”

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Change Requires Making Choices

In review of Ephesians 4:21-24 it says, “Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God, truly righteous and holy” (NLT).

Today’s passage is the same as yesterday’s. In Ephesians 4:21-24 Paul tells us how to live as a child of light. He explains that since we have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, We are to throw off our old sinful nature and former ways of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew our thoughts and attitudes. Then put on our new nature, created to be like God, truly righteous and holy.

Paul reminder is that the Good News will seem foolish to those who forsake faith and rely on their own understanding. However, others will be able to see a noticeable difference in the way I live. For I am to live as a person of light. Therefore I leave behind my old life of sin. Although I have a new nature, I will not always automatically think good thoughts and express all right attitudes. But if I keep listening to God, he will be working in me to change my nature. Although this change may be slow, it will come as I trust God.

My old way of life, before I believed in Christ, is now completely in the past. I should put it behind me like old clothes to be thrown away. My decision to accept Christ's gift of salvation, was a once-for-all-time decision and is a conscious commitment I make each day. My life is not to be characterized by a drive for desire or impulse. I must put on a new nature, head in the new direction, and have the new way of thinking that the Holy Spirit provides.

It’s not enough to want to change. It’s not enough to desire to change. It’s not even enough to say, “I have a dream of changing.” Dreams are worthless unless you wake up and act on them. I’m not going to change until I choose to change.

How am I going to be different six months from now? Will I be emotionally stronger, mentally sharper, physically healthier, spiritually deeper? None of this will happen automatically. I won’t just get healthier by accident in any category of my life. A lot of times I’m think I’m waiting on God to change me. Well, the realization is that I’m not waiting on God. God is waiting on me.

There will be no growth without change. And there is no change without loss. Which means I have to let go of some old stuff. And consequently there is no loss without pain.

I need to consider if I’m stuck right now because I haven’t learned how to let go. That’s a choice. Ephesians 4:22 says, “Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception” (NLT). The good news is: Once I became a believer, I have a new power in me that is greater than those old tendencies.That power is the Holy Spirit. Philippians 2:12-13 says, “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (NIV).

This doesn’t mean that I’m supposed to be afraid of God. Rather, I should be afraid that I’ll miss God’s best and waste my life. Be afraid that I will go my entire life and never know God’s purpose.

The secret to changing my life is not willpower. It’s God giving me the will and the power through the Holy Spirit to do what needs to be done.

Bottom Line:
When we accept Him and His teaching, we can throw off our old way which was corrupted by lust and deception and let the Spirit renew our thoughts and actions.

What this means to me:
Since accepting Christ and learning the truth that comes from him, I can throw off my old sinful nature and former way of living, which had been corrupted by lust and deception. Now, I should let the Spirit renew my thinking and attitude. Put on that new nature, the one created to be like His character.

As I follow Jesus, he teaches me truth and gives me the power through the Holy Spirit to throw off any of my old ways of selfish thinking. He will use the Spirit to remind me of what he had taught allowing me to renew my thoughts and attitude. I would like the goal of how I live my life for him to be visibly noticeable and to be an example and cause for others to be curious.

I need to take action to change, which means to put into practice what he is teaching me. I've come to realize that I’m not waiting on God, rather he is waiting on me. Substitute my selfish nature to be caring like him. He has given me the Spirit to be present with me.

As I pray for assistance in things, I need to remember that he may give me the assistance by putting me real life opportunities to work out what I need help with. I need to recognize and embrace those opportunities. As such I don't want to miss out on what God has intended for me. I want to know and do his purpose in my life. This morning Father, I pray that you “give me the will and the power through the Holy Spirit in me to do what needs to be done. Also grant me the patience and wisdom to make decisions, respond to others and help guide and encourage my team as we work to accomplish the goals and tasks set before me. Amen!”

Look for Ways to Bring People Together

In review of 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 I'm reminded that “ God has restored my relationship with him through Christ , and has given me a mi...