One of my favorite quotes regarding gifts and talents was penned by the author Dr. Charles Boyd. He stated, “Any strength pushed to an extreme can become a weakness” (2004). When considering the strengths God has given each one of us, we have to consider if we are us using our strengths as they were truly designed. I believe our gifts and talents are an integral part of our calling in life - that good plan God has for each of us. Furthermore, our gifts are designed to bless others.
Do you know anyone who is gifted and talented in a specific area, but can’t seem to get along with others or as many say, “play nice”? Many times that person has simply pushed his or her strength to the extreme. Let’s consider an individual who is gifted to lead. This leader has the gifts and talents needed in his or her life to successfully lead others. This leader can be direct and bold without fear- all characteristics needed for this person to lead. However, when boldness is pushed to the extreme it can come across as rudeness toward others. It can come across as being blunt and uncaring. So in this case, being too bold changes the very gift needed for success into a unwelcome weakness and many times a gift unaccepted by others.
The best way to be effective in a strength is to focus on operating that strength through love.
I Corinthians 13:4-5 in the Holman Christian Standard Bible states;
“Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs”.
For the idea of not being conceited, the Message Bible uses the phrase- “does not have a swelled head”. We probably all know dominant people- with true gifts to lead - who lead with swelled heads. They lead with a conceited attitude and thereby cause their strength to become a weakness. This is simply a picture of not walking out their gifting through the plan of God’s love.
What about an individual who has a gifting to help others? That sounds like a real strength! However, if helping is pushed to the extreme or not done in love, it becomes a hindrance to both the helper and the one being helped! The helper can start doing things his or her own way, being pushy, thinking only his or her way is correct and causing more problems than would have occurred if they didn’t even help. In this particular example, the strength of helping becomes a liability because it is not executed in kindness or patience. It is not done in love.
Another aspect that can cause a strength to become a weakness or liability is fear. When any part of life is lived out through fear, the result is never good. Martha gives a good picture of this truth. Being a person who also likes details, I always used to feel sorry for Martha. I mean, no question Mary chose the best thing- sitting at the feet of Jesus; but someone had to make sure the home was in order and the food was prepared, right?? In the back of my mind I would think...why didn’t Mary help her? Didn’t Mary care about any of those “things” that seemed so important to Martha? I would guess that Martha had a gifting or strength in the area of hospitality. It appears that perhaps in this particular event she pushed it to the extreme by maybe being fearful of what Jesus thought by focusing on how good the house looked, how great the food was, and why Mary wasn’t caring about these details. I believe Martha was upset because Mary wasn’t stressed, like she was! Fear can cause us to lose focus and use our strengths outside of the love walk.
I John 4:18 reminds us,
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” (NKJV).
We can love others by sharing our gifts and talents with them. We must never be afraid of any response from others; but rather be compelled to love.
Finally, each of us can find our best success when we share our strengths in love and when we celebrate each other’s gifts and talents by valuing them. By doing this, we not only find fulfillment, but also aid in helping others to walk out their callings.
Start today. See value in other’s gifts. Over celebrate those around you. And make sure you are using your gifting in love.
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“What are you thankful for?”
That was the question I was greeted with every morning from one of my instructors in Bible College. It didn’t matter that it was early in the morning, and that no one in the class was fully awake yet. He expected every member of the class to have their hand raised, fully prepared with something to be thankful for.
I remember during the first week of class most people were thankful for God helping them with their finances. Whether someone's tuition was paid for, someone received a large tip at work, or someone got a new job, many of my classmates were thankful for their financial breakthrough.
While our instructor encouraged us all to find reasons to be thankful and to acknowlede God working in our lives, he also began to help us make adjustments to our perspective about Thanksgiving.
He told us, the highest level of thankfulness is actually thanking God for who He is, for eternal things, and for things that will never change. He said, “Ask yourself a question. What if someone hadn’t paid off your tuition? What would you do if someone doesn’t give you a big tip at work tomorrow? Would you still be able to find a reason to thank God?”
He wanted us to see that we can’t let our circumstances be the reason we thank God. Circumstances are always subject to change. If I can only have a good day and acknowledge the goodness of God when all the areas of my life are just as I want them, I am setting myself up for a life of disappointment. But, if I allow my day to be good because I’m aware that God Himself is good, then I can live a thankful life regardless of the circumstances around me.
If I am aware that God Himself is good I can live a life of thankfulness no matter the world around me.
One of my favorite verses about thankfulness is found in Philippians 4:6-7:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
At the heart of this verse, it says not to let worry about your situation overwhelm you, but rather talk to God about the situation and pray to Him about it. It’s important not to ONLY talk to Him about it. Scripture also calls us to enter into a place of thankfulness. I believe it’s not just thanking Him that the situation you are concerned with is taken care of, but thanking Him because he cares for you. Thanking Him that before the foundations of the world, He chose and accepted you. Thanking Him that before you did anything to earn it, He chose to love you. Thanking Him that He sent his Son Jesus to wash away all your sin, and to bring you back into a relationship with Him. Every day, I can choose to be thankful that I’m righteous, healed, and a child of God. I can choose to be thankful that He is always with me, always for me, and he will never leave my side. All these things are eternal and will never change, even when the circumstances around me do.
The benefit of entering this type of thanksgiving is experiencing the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. That means that even when I should have every reason to be stressed out, worried, or anxious, I can set my awareness on God. I can talk to Him, thank Him for who He is and experience His peace guarding my heart and mind.
When I am thankful to God for who He is, I can be confident that who He is will never change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Since I know that He loves me, I know that he will always have my back. Because He’s with me, I know that I’m never in any situation on my own.
When I’m thankful to God these things, it puts me into an awareness of Him. When I am aware of Him, that puts me into position to experience Him. That means that thanking God for who He is, gives me the ability to live from a higher perspective than my current situation. When I can see things from a higher view, I can see that the situation I’m facing will not last forever.
Whatever you are going through will fade away. This difficult and trying season will pass. But God, the very source of love and peace, will always remain. I encourage you this week, no matter what you’re facing, see things from a new perspective. Make yourself aware of Him and become thankful to God for who He is to you. As you do, I am confident that you will begin experiencing his peace and goodness in every area of your life.
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“Our souls crave intimacy” — Erwin Raphael McManus
All humans desire relationship. We crave to be known and genuinely heard. We desire to be cared for. It's in us. We were created to have intimacy. Through the fall of man, that pure desire for intimacy has been corrupted so much, that many of us today have never fully experienced intimacy. It is important that we understand what intimacy is and where it should be found.
Intimacy means closeness. It means connection Most commonly it is used in referring to the close relationship between a husband and a wife. It also means all these things, ”Closeness, togetherness, affinity, rapport, attachment, familiarity, friendliness, friendship, amity, affection, warmth and confidence."
All my life I had sought intimacy through relationships. Through people. I thought a person had to be the one where intimacy would be found.
Intimacy is never to be found ONLY through people.
Intimacy is meant to be found through the person of God. And from that place of experiencing intimacy with Him, we can experience genuine intimacy with others.
Scripture is strong on making it known that God wants intimacy with us.
Psalm 139:1-4 says
“1 Lord, you have searched me and known me
Lord, you know everything there is to know about me.
2 You perceive every movement of my heart and soul,
and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.
3–4 You are so intimately aware of me, Lord.
You read my heart like an open book
and you know all the words I’m about to speak
before I even start a sentence!
You know every step I will take before my journey even begins.”
One thing about intimacy we must understand is connection. When you have intimacy with someone, there is nothing between you and them. There are no hinderances, there are no walls between. If you are hiding something from the person, there can be no intimacy. Intimacy means unity, oneness, closeness.
This is how we are to be with God. Nothing between us. No hinderances in our relationship. Nothing between us. The Bible talks about “The veil”. The veil has many meanings, but perhaps the most important meaning is "what was between the glory of God & us". Meaning what was between us and intimately experiencing God.
2 Corinthians 3:18 says,
“16 But the moment one turns to the Lord with an open heart, the veil is lifted and they see. 17 Now, the “Lord” I’m referring to is the Holy Spirit, and wherever he is Lord, there is freedom.
18 We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
The moment you turn to the Lord, everything that was hindering you from experiencing an intimate relationship with God is removed. That's the freedom that Jesus provided for us. We can now draw close, because there is nothing for us to hide. There are no dirty closets God does not know about. There is nothing about you God is going to find out about, and change His mind. Once you say yes to Jesus, there is intimacy with you and God.
We must come to understand that there is nothing keeping you from intimately experiencing God everyday. You have the ability right now to have such an intimate, romantic, close, deep relationship with God. This is what you were created for. You weren’t created to live life and find intimacy only through your spouse. You must find intimacy with God.
The truth is, Jesus tore the veil. He got rid of everything that would hinder intimacy with God. Because of what He did on the cross, He provided intimacy for ALL of the world. Every person. However, even though He tore the veil for all, not all have intimacy with God.
Right now in this very moment, God is personally wooing all to Him. He is sharing His love to every single person. He is crying out. He deeply desires an intimate relationship with every person. It is our response to that love that puts us in a position to have intimacy with God.
This is so much more than just saying yes to Jesus & going to heaven one day. This is living it what Jesus died for now. This is what real Christianity is. Intimacy with God.
Intimacy with God will teach you how to have intimacy with your spouse. It will teach you how to have healthy dating relationships, how to have healthy friendships. This love relationship with God is the most important relationship because out of it will flow the development of your life.
Find Intimacy with God
How do I have intimacy with God?
This may look different for every person. It is your own personal relationship with God that you must develop. However, these are some things that helped me. Feel free to steal them. Try them out.
1. Seeing myself as His Bride
This one may be easier for ladies. But guys, you have to do this too. Not in a weird way. But I encourage you to get alone with God. Shut the door. Use your God given imagination. See yourself before the Lord. See Him pull the veil off of you. Read the Book of Song of Songs in the Passion Translation. See how the Lord speaks to the Bride. See what He is saying over you. See how He feels about you. See how you make Him feel. Talk to God about How He says He feels about you. Thank Him for it. Thank Him for seeing you how He does. Talk to Him about how that makes you feel.
What you are doing in that moment is developing your relationship with God. God is the master at relationships. However you still have to put effort in on your end to put YOURSELF in a position to experience the Master at relationships.
2. Worship personally
This one was huge for me. At church, instead of just entering into a sing along concert, personally see yourself with God- alone. Sing the song to Him. Sing the song personally. Use personal pronouns. Go off the melody. Use your imagination. Thank Him for the truths you are singing. What this does at church is it teaches you how to have this kind of relationship with God when you are alone. This is how you can be in the car, in the shower, in your kitchen. The world is filled with “love songs”. Why not develop a relationship with God where you sing love songs to each other.
A great place to start is to listen to songs that are from God’s view towards you. Listen to Him singing over you. Then sing to Him. Find a song that would be you letting Him know how you love Him too.
Example: Cece’s Lullaby - Steffany Gretzinger (God to you)
Jesus We Love you (You to God)
3. Start seeing yourself as one with God.
It's so important that you view yourself as one with God. Unified. One. Together. One great tip to developing intimacy with God is to realize that at every moment of every day God is with you. Not only is He with you but He is thinking good things about you. Start making yourself aware of this on your way to work. God is totally infatuated with you in a healthy way. What this does causes you to respond to the most pure and healthy love. God's love.
These are just a couple things I have done to help my relationship with God. Everyone is different. Develop your own. Personally talk to Him.
If you have any questions at all, thoughts, comments about intimacy with God please reach out to me. Part of my calling in life is to help people develop a real genuine relationship with God. Not something complicated. But the truth.
You can have an intimate relationship with God today.
I am persuaded that one of the missing ingredients in the world in which we live is Godly fear. Yet the Bible is not silent on this subject. The book of Proverbs, God’s wisdom book for practical living, is full of references to this indispensable attribute. As a Christian we need to live a life of Godly fear. Let’s find out what the fear of God (fear of the Lord) is and how we develop it.
To properly define and understand the fear of the Lord we must go to the Bible. As we stated the book of Proverbs is a study in the fear of the Lord. In it we find the answers for which we are looking.
Proverbs 2:1-5 “My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; 2So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; 3Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; 5Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.” (Bold lettering and italics added by author)
Does that describe you? Are you crying after knowledge and lifting your voice for understanding? When you seek after God’s wisdom as you would a buried treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord.
The fear of the Lord is the first or starting point. In order to finish the race you must start. And no one should start anywhere but at the starting line or beginning. With the great revival of the teaching of God’s Word that we have seen in the last forty years there is a desire for more knowledge and wisdom. We are admonished to seek after wisdom and get knowledge with understanding. However, many have not seen what comes first.
Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”
Before knowledge comes the fear of the Lord. Before wisdom comes the fear of the Lord. Or we may say it this way; the first knowledge and wisdom to gain is in the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is the foundation upon which all knowledge and wisdom finds its stability. The Hebrew literally says that the fear of the Lord is the principle part of knowledge and wisdom.
So, let’s define the fear of the Lord. There are many definitions given and all of them have merit. There are two that speak to me:
Proverbs 8:13 “The Fear-of-GOD means hating Evil, whose ways I hate with a passion-- pride and arrogance and crooked talk.” – Message
Ask yourself these questions to see where you are in fear of the Lord:
As you begin to have healthy Fear of The Lord, your walk with God will fall into the place it was always meant to, real relationship. You will learn & grow as a believer.
- Gregurich Ministries