Using What God Gave You

God deserves your best. He shaped you for a purpose, and He expects you to make the most of what you have been given. He doesn’t want you to worry about or covet abilities you don’t have. Instead, He wants you to focus on talents He has given you to use. When you attempt to serve God in ways you’re not shaped to serve, it feels like forcing a square peg into a round hole. It’s frustrating and produces limited results. It also wastes your time, your talent, and your energy. 

The best use of your life is to serve God out of your shape. To do this you must discover your shape, learn to accept and enjoy it, and then develop it to its fullest potential.  The Bible says, “Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to find out and do whatever the Lord wants you to”-Ephesians 5:17. Don’t let another day go by. Start finding out and clarifying what God intends for you to be and do.   

Take a long, honest look at what you are good at and what you’re not good at. Paul advised, “Try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities”-Romans 12:3. Spiritual gift tests and ability inventories can have some value, but they are limited in their usefulness. The best way to discover your gifts and abilities is to experiment with different areas of service. You have dozens of hidden abilities and gifts you don’t know you’ve got because you’ve never tried them out. So, I encourage you to try doing some things you’ve never done before. No matter how old you are, I urge you to never stop experimenting.

Don’t try to figure out your gifts before volunteering to serve somewhere. Just start serving. You discover your gifts by getting involved in ministry. Try teaching or leading or organizing or working with teenagers. You will never know what you’re good at until you try it. When it doesn’t work out, call it an “experiment”, not a failure. You will eventually learn what you’re good at. 

Ask yourself these questions: What do I really enjoy the most? When do I feel the most alive? What am I doing when I lose track of time? Do I like routine or variety? Do I prefer serving with a team or by myself? Am I more introverted or extroverted? Am I more a thinker or a feeler? Examine your experiences and extract the lessons you have learned. Review your life and think about how it has shaped you. Moses told the Israelites, “Remember today what you have learned about the Lord through your experiences with him” -Deuteronomy 11:2. 

Forgotten experiences are worthless; that’s a good reason to keep a spiritual journal. Paul worried that the believers in Galatia would waste the pain they had been through. He said, “Were all your experiences wasted? I hope not!– Galatians 3:4. We rarely see God’s good purpose in pain or failure or embarrassment while it is happening. When Jesus washed Peter’s feet, He said, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand”- John 13:7. Only in hindsight do we understand how God intended a problem for good.

Extracting the lessons from your experiences takes time. I recommend that you take an entire weekend for a life review retreat, where you pause to see how God has worked in the various defining moments of your life and consider how He wants to use those lessons to help others. There are resources that can help you do this. Since God know what’s best for you, you should gratefully accept the way He has fashioned you. The Bible says, “What right have you, a human being, to cross examine God? The pot has no right to say to the potter. “Why did you make me this shape’ Surely a potter can do what he likes with the clay! -Romans 9:20

Your shape was sovereignly determined by God for His purpose, so you shouldn’t resent it or reject it. Instead of trying to reshape yourself to be like someone else, you should celebrate the shape God has given only to you. Part of accepting your shape is recognizing your limitations. Nobody is good at everything, and no one is called to be everything. We all have defined roles. Paul understood that his calling was not to accomplish everything or to please everyone but to focus only on the particular ministry God had shaped him for. He said, “Our goal is to stay within the boundaries of God’s  plan for us”. -2 Corinthians 10:13

God wants you to enjoy the shape He has given you. Satan will try to steal the joy of service from you in a couple of ways: by tempting you to conform your ministry to the expectations of others. Both are deadly traps that will distract you from serving in the ways God intended. Whenever you lose your joy in ministry, start by considering if either one of these temptations is the cause. The Bible warns us to never compare ourselves with others: “Do your own work well, and then you will have something to be proud of. But don’t compare yourself with others.” -Galatians 6:4

There are two reasons why you should never compare your shape, ministry, or the results of your ministry with anyone else. First, you will always be able to find someone who seems to be doing a better job than you and you will become discouraged. Or you will always be able to find someone who doesn’t seem as effective as you and you will get full of pride. Either attitude will take you out of service and rob you of your joy.  You will find that people who do not understand your shape for ministry will criticize you and try to get you to conform to what they think you should be doing. Ignore them. Paul had to often deal with critics who misunderstood and maligned his service. His response was always the same: Avoid comparisons, resist exaggerations, and seek only God’s commendation.

One of the reasons Paul was used so greatly by God was that he refused to be distracted by criticism or by comparing his ministry with others or by being drawn into fruitless debates about his ministry. God expects us to make the most of what He gives us. We are to cultivate our gifts and abilities, keep our hearts aflame, grow our character and personality, and broaden our experiences so we will be increasingly more effective in our service. Fail to use what you’ve been given and you’ll lose it. Use the ability you’ve got and God will increase it. Whatever gifts you have been given can be enlarged and developed through patience. 

In Heaven, we are going to serve God forever. Right now, we can prepare for that eternal service by practicing on earth. Like athletes preparing for the Olympics, we keep training for that big day. We’re getting ready for eternal responsibilities and rewards! https://amzn.to/2LuTXiR

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Living With Purpose

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven”- Ecclesiastes 3:1 

Most people struggle with three basic issues in life. The first is identity: “Who am I?” The second is importance: “Do I matter?” The third is impact: “What is my place in life?” As Jesus was concluding  His last day of ministry with His disciples, He washed their feet as an example and said, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them”-John 13:17. Once you know what God wants you to do, the blessing comes in actually doing it. 

There are many “good” things you can do with your life, but God’s purposes are the five essentials you must do. Unfortunately, it is easy to get distracted and forget what is most important. It’s easy to drift away from what matters most and slowly get off course. Can you imagine if we had the future all figured out? Life would not be as exciting! As you progress in your purpose and God reveals more information to you, keep a dialogue open with Him, pay attention to the road signs He provides along the way and listen to Him speak to you through His Word and the Holy Spirit.

God created each of us on this earth for a purpose to do His divine will. When we discover our purpose, then we have to walk in it. In my opinion, working for the Lord is better than working on a physical job itself. A job is a channel, but God is the source! There’s no doubt that God wants you to fulfill your purpose. In fact, it’s your duty since He has given you gifts to do so. However, be mindful not to neglect any of the areas that make up who are while you do His work.

I never knew what my purpose was growing up but God had to open my eyes to a lot of things that I never saw before. No matter who you are, or what you want to accomplish, the only leader you need to move toward your purpose is the Holy Spirit. What’s the purpose of life? Why was I created? Why am I here? Many ask these tough questions and many live their entire lives with these questions unanswered. Well, I have good news! God has a great plan for you. God not only created you with purpose, but with value. The Bible says in Ephesians 2:10 that “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”. God planned and prepared your purpose before your parents even knew you existed. 

Knowing your God-given purpose will give your life direction and fulfillment.!

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Made for a Mission

In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world. (John 17:18)

The most important thing is that I complete my mission, the work that the Lord Jesus gave me (Acts 20:24) 

You were made for a mission. God is at work in the world, and He wants you to join Him. This assignment is called your mission. God wants you to have both a ministry in the Body of Christ and  a mission in the world. Your ministry is your service to believers, and your mission is your service to unbelievers. Fulfilling your mission in the world is God’s five purpose for your life.

Your life mission is both shared and specific. One part of it is a responsibility you share with every other Christian, and the other part is an assignment that is unique to you. Our English word mission comes from the Latin word for “sending” . Being a Christian includes being sent into the world as a representative of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you”– John 20:21 Jesus clearly understood His life mission on earth.  At age 12 He said, “I must be about my Father’s business”-Luke 2:49, and twenty one years later, dying on the cross, He said, “It is finished”-John 19:30. 

Like bookends, these two statements frame a well-lived, purpose driven life. Jesus completed the mission the Father gave Him. The mission Jesus had while on earth is now our mission because we are the Body of Christ. What He did in His physical body, we are to continue as His spiritual body, the church. What is that mission? Introducing people to Jesus! The Bible says, “Christ changed us from enemies to His friends and gave us the task of making others His friends also“-2 Corinthians 5:18

God wants to redeem human beings from Satan and reconcile them to Himself so we can fulfill the five purposes He created us for: to love Him, to be apart of His family, to become like Him, to serve Him, and to tell others about Him. Once we are His, God uses us to reach others. He saves us and then send us out. The Bible says, “We have been sent to speak for Christ”– 2 Corinthians 5:20. We are the messengers of God’s love and purposes to the world. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR MISSION

Fulfilling your life mission on earth is an essential part of living for God’s glory. The Bible give several reasons why your mission is important:

1.) Your mission is a continuation of Jesus’ mission on earth. As His followers, we are to continue what Jesus started. Jesus calls us not only to come to Him, but go for Him. Your mission is so significant that Jesus repeated it five times, in five different ways, in five different books of the Bible. It is as if He was saying, “I really want you to get this”! In the Great Commission Jesus said, “Go to the people of all the nations and make them my disciples . Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I told you”– Matthew 28:19. This commission was given to every follower of Jesus. This is your commission from Jesus, and it is not optional. If you are apart of God’s family, your mission is mandatory! To ignore it would be disobedience.

You may have been unaware that God holds you responsible for the unbelievers who live around you. The Bible says, But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.- Ezekiel 33:9 You are the only Christian some people will ever know, and your mission is to share Jesus with them. 

2.) Your mission is a wonderful privilege.  Although it is a big responsibility, it is also an incredible honor to be used by God. Paul said, “God has given us the privilege of urging everyone to come into His favor and be reconciled with Him“- 2 Corinthians 5:18. Your mission involves two great privileges: working with God and representing Him. We get to partner with God in the building of His Kingdom. Paul calls us “co-laborers” and says, “We are workers together with God” -2 Corinthians 6:1 

Jesus has secured our salvation, put us in His family, given us His Spirit, and then made us His agents in the world. What a privilege! 

3.) Telling others how they can have eternal life is the greatest thing you can do for them. For example, if your neighbor had cancer or AIDS and you knew the cure, it would be criminal to withhold that lifesaving information. Even worse is to keep secret the way to forgiveness, purpose, peace, and eternal life. We have the greatest news in the world, and sharing it is the greatest kindness you can show to anyone. One problem long-term Christians have is that they forget how hopeless  it felt to be without Christ. We must  remember that  no matter how contented or successful people appear to be, without Christ they are hopelessly lost and headed for eternal separation from God. The Bible says, “Jesus is the only One who can save people” -Acts 4:12. Everybody needs Jesus!!!

4.) Your mission has eternal significance.  It will impact the eternal destiny of other people, so it’s more important than any job, achievement, or goal you will reach during your life on earth. The consequences of your mission will last forever; the consequences of your job will not. Nothing else you do will ever matter as much as helping people establish an eternal relationship with GOD. This is why we must be urgent about our mission. Jesus said, “All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the One who sent me, because there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end”- John 9:4. The clock is ticking down on your life mission, so don’t delay another day. 

Get started on your mission of reaching out to others now! We will have all of eternity to celebrate with those we have brought to Jesus, but we only have our lifetime in which to reach them. This does not mean you should quit your job to become a full time evangelist. God wants us to share the Good News where you are. As a student, mother, teacher, salesman, or manager or whatever you do, you should continually look for people God places in your path with whom you can share the Gospel. 

5.) Your mission gives your life meaning. If you fail to fulfill your God-given mission on earth, you will have wasted the life God gave you. Paul said, “My life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus-the work of telling others the Good News about God’s wonderful kindness and love”- John 9:4 There are people on this earth whom only you will be able to reach, because of where you live and what God has made you to be. If just one person will be in Heaven because of you, your life will have made a difference for eternity. Start looking around at your personal mission field and pray, “God, who have you put in my life for me to tell about Jesus”? 

6.) God’s timetable for history’s conclusion is connected to he completion of our commission. Today there is a growing interest in the second coming of Christ and the end of the world. When will it happen? Just before Jesus ascended to Heaven the disciples asked Him this same question, and His response  was quite revealing. He said, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”- Acts 1:7-8 

When the disciples wanted to talk about prophecy, Jesus quickly switched the conversation to evangelism. He wanted them to concentrate on their mission in the world. He said in essence, “The details of my return are none of your business. What is your business sis the mission I’ve given you. Focus on that”! No one knows the day nor the hour when the Son of Man shall appear- Matthew 24:36. What we do know for sure is this: Jesus will not return until everyone God wants to hear the Good News has heard it. Jesus said, “ The Good News about God’s kingdom will be preached in all the world, to every nation. Then the end will come.”– Matthew 24:14

It is easy to get sidetracked from your mission because Satan would rather have you do anything besides sharing your faith. He will let you do all kinds of good things as long as you don’t take anyone to Heaven with you. But the moment you become serious about your mission, expect the devil to throw all kinds of diversions at you. When that  happens, remember the words of Jesus: “Anyone who lets himself be distracted from the work I plan for him is not fit for the Kingdom of God“- Luke 9:62

WHAT IT COSTS TO FULFILL YOUR MISSION

To fulfill your mission will require that you abandon your agenda and accept God’s agenda for your life. You can’t just “tack it on” to all other things you’d like to do with your life. You must say, like Jesus, “Father…I want your will not mine.” You yield your rights, expectations, dreams, plans, and ambitions to Him. You stop praying for selfish prayers like, “God bless what I want to do”. Instead you pray, “God help me to do what you’re blessing”! You hand God a blank sheet with your name signed at the bottom and tell Him to fill in the details. The Bible says, “Give yourselves completely to God-every part of you… to be tools in the hands of God, to be used for His good purposes.” Romans 6:13

If you will commit to fulfilling your mission in life no matter what it costs, you will experience the blessing of God in ways that few people ever experience. There is almost nothing God won’t do for the man or woman who is committed to serving the Kingdom of God. Jesus has promised, “God will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. Matthew 6:33

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When GOD Seems Distant

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like God was nowhere around you? God is real, no matter how you feel. It is easy to worship God when things are going great in your life-when He has provided food, friends, family, health, and happy situations. But circumstances are not always pleasant. How do you worship God then? What do you do when God seems a million miles away? The deepest level of worship is praising God in spite of the pain, thanking God during a trial, trusting Him when tempted, surrendering while suffering, and loving Him when He seems distant.

Friendships are often tested by separation and silence; you are divided by physical distance or you are unable to talk. In your friendship with God, you won’t always feel close to Him. “Any relationship involves times of closeness and times of distance, and in a relationship with God, no matter how intimate, the pendulum will swing from one side to the other”. That’s when worship gets difficult. To mature your friendship, God will test it with periods of seeming separation- times when it feels as if He has abandoned or forgotten you.

God feels a million miles away. Besides Jesus, David probably had the closest friendship with God than anyone. God took pleasure in calling him ” a man after my own heart”. Yet, David frequently complained of God’s apparent absence: “Lord, why are you standing aloof and far away? Why do you hide when I need you the most?” Why have you forsaken me? Why do you remain distant? Why do you ignore my cries for help?” Why have you abandoned me ?’ Psalm 10:1-3

Of course, God hadn’t really left David, and He doesn’t leave you. He has promised repeatedly, ” I will never leave you nor forsake you”.- Hebrews 13:5 But God has not promised “you will always feel my presence”. In fact, God admits that sometimes He hides His face from us. There are times when He appears to be MIA, missing-in-action, in your life. Floyd McClung describes it as this: “You wake up one morning and all your spiritual feelings are gone. You pray, but nothing happens. You rebuke the devil, but it doesn’t change anything. You go through spiritual exercises…..you have your friends and church family pray for you….you confess every sin you can imagine., then go around asking for forgiveness of everyone you know. You fast….still nothing. You begin to wonder how long this spiritual gloom might last. Days? Weeks? Months? Will it ever end?….it feels as if your prayers simply bounce off the ceiling. In utter desperation, you cry out, “What’s the matter with me”? 

The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with you! This is a normal part of testing and maturing your friendship with God. Every Christian goes through it at least once, and usually several times. It is painful and disconcerting, but it is absolutely vital for the development of your faith. Knowing this gave Job hope when he could not feel God’s presence in his life. He said, “ I go east, but he is not there. I go west, but I cannot find Him. I do not see Him in the north, for He is hidden. I turn to the south, but I cannot find Him. But He knows where I am going. And when He has tested me like gold in a fire, He will pronounce me innocent”. Job 23:8-12

When God seems distant, you may feel that He is angry with you or is disciplining you for some sin. In fact, sin does disconnect us from intimate fellowship with God. We grieve God’s Spirit and quench our fellowship with Him by disobedience, conflict with others, busyness, friendship with the world, and other sins. But often this feeling of abandonment or estrangement from God has nothing to do with sin. It is a test of faith- one we all must face: Will you continue to love, trust, obey, and worship God, even when you have no sense of His presence or visible evidence of His work in your life? 

The most common mistake Christians make in worship today is seeking an experience rather than seeking God. They look for feeling, and if it happens, they conclude that they have worshiped. Wrong! In fact, God often removes our feelings so we won’t depend on them. Seeking a feeling, even the feeling of closeness to Christ, is not worship. When you are a baby Christian, God gives you a lot of confirming emotions and often answers the most immature, self-centered prayers- so you’ll know He exists. But as you grow in faith, He will wean you of those dependencies. 

God’s omnipresence and the manifestation of His presence are two different things. One is a fact; the other is often a feeling. God is always present, even when you are unaware of Him, and His presence is too profound to be measured by mere emotion. Yes, He wants you to sense His presence, but He’s more concerned that you trust Him than that you feel Him. Faith, not feelings, pleases God. The situations that will stretch your faith most will be those times when life falls apart and God is nowhere to be found! This happened to Job. On a single day he lost everything- his family, his business, his health, and everything he owned. Most discouraging- for 37 Chapters, God said nothing! 

How do you praise God when you don’t understand what’s happening in your life and God is silent? How do you stay connected in a crisis without communication? How do you keep your eyes on Jesus when they’re full of tears? You do what Job did: “Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mothers womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, may the name of the Lord be praised” -Job 1:20-21

Tell God exactly how you feel. Pour out your heart to God. Unload every emotion that you’re feeling. Job did this when he said, ‘I can’t be quiet”! I am angry and bitter. I have to speak!” He cried out when God seemed distant: “Oh for the days when I was in my prime , when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house”. God can handle your doubt, anger, fear, grief, confusions, and questions. Did you know that admitting your hopelessness to God  can be a statement of faith? Trusting God but feeling in despair at the same time, David wrote, “I believed , so I said, ‘I am completely ruined!” -Psalm 116:10 

Focus on who God is-His unchanging nature. Regardless of the circumstances and how you feel, hold on to God’s unchanging hands. Remind yourself what you know to be eternally true about God. He is good, He loves me, He is with me, He knows what I’m going through, He cares, and He has a good plan for my life. “Never doubt in the dark what God told you in the light”! When Job’s life fell apart, and God was silent, Job still found things he could praise God for:

  • That He is good and loving
  • That He is All Powerful
  • That He notices every detail of my life.
  • That He is in control
  • That He has a plan for my life
  • That He will save me.

Trust God to keep His promises. During times of spiritual dryness you must patiently rely on the promises of God, not your emotions, and realize that He is taking you to a deeper level of maturity. A friendship based on emotion is shallow indeed. So don’t be troubled by trouble. God’s grace is still in full force; He is still for you, even when you don’t feel it. In the absence of confirming circumstances, Job held on to God’s Word. He said, “I have not departed from the commands of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread”. -Job 23:12  This trust in God’s Word caused Job to remain faithful even though nothing made sense. His faith was strong in the midst of pain: “Though he slay me, Yet will I trust in Him.” -Job 13:15 When you feel abandoned by God yet continue to trust Him in spite of your feeling, you worship Him in the deepest way. 

Remember what God has already done for you. If God never did anything else for you, He would still deserve your continual praise for the rest of your life because of what Jesus did for you on the cross. God’s Son died for you and me! This is the greatest reason for worship. Unfortunately, we forget the cruel details of the agonizing sacrifice God made on our behalf. Familiarity breeds complacency. Even before His crucifixion, the Son of God was stripped naked, beaten until almost unrecognizable, whipped, scorned and mocked, crowned with thorns, and spit on contemptuously. Abused and ridiculed by heartless men, He was treated worse than an animal. Then, nearly unconscious from blood loss, He was forced to drag a cumbersome cross up a hill, was nailed to it, and was left to die slow, excruciating torture of death by crucifixion. While His lifeblood drained out, hecklers stood by and shouted insults, making fun of His pain and challenging His claim to be God. 

Next as Jesus took all mankind’s sins and guilt on Himself, God looked away from that ugly sight, and Jesus cried out in total desperation, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me”? Jesus could have saved Himself-but then He could not have saved you or me. Words cannot describe the darkness of that moment. Why did God allow and endure such ghastly, evil mistreatment? Why? So you and I could be spared from eternity in hell, and so we could share in His glory forever!  The Bible says, “Christ was without sin, but for our sake God made Him share our sin in order that in union with Him we might share the righteousness of God”. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus gave up everything so you and I could have everything. He died so we could live forever. That alone is worthy of your continual thanks and praise. Never again would I wonder what I have to be thankful for even when God is silent! 

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