Tag Archives: gifts

Maximizing Your Gifts

One of the first talents I realized I had was the ability to memorize. It was pretty cool as a young kid. By the time I was in high school, I could study for a test from my locker to the classroom and ace the test. I began to hear words like, “No fair, I hate you for that and not cool.” When I started working, I again used it to gain a competitive advantage in sales. In one role, I had to take certifications. We would all fly to one city on a Sunday night for the test on Monday morning. Anything less than 95% was considered failing and there was a lot of pressure on these tests. I began to pretend to be stressed like everyone else. No one would go out to eat because they’d be up all night studying. I used to pretend to go to my room too to study. I’d wait about ten minutes then head out to a nice dinner. I allowed the people around me to make me feel like I had to minimize my gift.

I love Romans 12 because it talks about the different gifts God gives us. Verse 6 says, “God’s marvelous grace imparts to each one of us varying gifts” (TPT). I also love that it says the He gives each one of us gifts. That includes you. Don’t believe me? It’s repeated in Ephesians 4:7. It says, “However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ” (NLT). The problem most of us face is that we’ve spent a lifetime minimizing our gifts because of what other people think. For some, we’ve suppressed them so long, we may have even forgotten we had them. However, it is still in you, a more than likely just needs to be stirred up to be reactivated (2 Timothy 1:6). Because of your gifts, God has specific purposes and plans for you.

Timothy must have been facing the same pressure as a young minister. In 1 Timothy 4:12, he reminded him to not let anyone look down on him because of his age. He went on to say in verse 14, “Don’t minimize the powerful gift that operates in your life” (TPT). Timothy like us was tempted to minimize his gifts because of what other people thought or said. Just like Timothy, you and I need to not let others look down on us or minimize the gifts. Choose to worry about what God think rather than others. Use the gifts God has given you to make a difference where you are. When we minimize the gifts we’ve been given, we’re like the man who buried his talent in the sand. Instead, be like the ones who took their talents, invested in them, used them and doubled them. The more you utilize them, the greater impact you will have.

Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash


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The Giftings Trap

I’m often guilty of wishing I had someone else’s giftings. Have you ever felt that way? I can hear someone preach, and wish I could explain things the way they do. I’ve read other authors and thought, “If only I could write that well.” I’ve heard people give some wise advice and wondered why I can’t think of things like that. It’s a dangerous trap to fall into because I’m failing to be appreciative of the gifts God has given me. In those moments, I discount the very things God wants me to use for His glory.

If you look back across the years of your life, you will see a lot of ups and downs, mountains and valleys. In the low moments, God is smoothing off your rough edges and is sharpening the gifts He placed in you. It hurts to go through those times, but it’s in those valleys that God prepares you for your calling and destiny. Coming out of the valley, it’s natural to think you have nothing left, but even the little you have, used for God will be enough to fulfill your purpose.

2 Corinthians 8:12 says, “If you are eager to give, God will accept your gift on the basis of what you have to give, not on what you don’t have” (GNT). In other words, God isn’t expecting you to give Him someone else’s gifts. He’s expecting you to give Him what you have matter how small you think it might be. It’s time we quit comparing ourselves to each other when it comes to gifts. God didn’t give you their gifts because He didn’t call you to reach the same people they are called to reach. Give what you have and God will use it in ways you can’t imagine.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash


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The Best Gift

One Christmas I was invited to a party. On the invitation, i saw the words “white elephant”. I got so excited, and my mind began to race about what piece of junk I own would be the funniest gift. I looked in my closet, in my room and in the garage. I finally found a piece of junk that I could get rid of and would be the talk of the party. I couldn’t wait to get there and play the game.

On the night of the party, I kept laughing to myself at the poor person who would open my gift. After we sat down and drew numbers, the game began. When the first person opened their gift, it was nice. I was confused. The next person went, and their gift was nice as well. Did these people not know what a white elephant was? I opened the email while I waited for my turn. I read the whole thing that said, “White elephant style with a $20 minimum gift.”

When the person opened my gift, the looked confused. There wasn’t laughter at all. They said, “Really?” Another person chimed in, “That’s all?” The hits said, “Maybe there’s a gift card in there.” Instead of bringing the best gift, I had brought the worst. I stayed silent as they asked who brought it. I was embarrassed and didn’t want to own up to it. It got me thinking about the wisemen and how they didn’t just bring their leftovers. They brought their best gift that fit for a king.

Matthew 2:11 says, “They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (NLT). You and I may not have gold, frankincense or myrrh laying around, but we have giftings and talents we can offer the King. What are we offering Him? Is it our junk? Or is it our best gift? We will each present Him with something on judgement day. Let’s make sure we are giving God our best.

Photo by David Everett Strickler on Unsplash

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Risk Your Gift

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

A few years ago I had my nephew read the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. After he read it, we went to dinner to discuss it. He explained to me how the king had given servants silver and asked them to invest it while he was gone. When he came back for his money, one servant made ten times the original, another made five times and a third just buried it in the ground. The king was happy with the first two, but furious with the third.

After he explained it to me, I pulled out a hundred dollar bill and set it on the table. His eyes lit up. I slid it across the table to him and told him to invest it for me. I told I wanted him to think of a ministry he wanted to support with the profits. He quickly named a missionary in Kenya who had made an impact on him. I then told him I was going to come and ask for the money back and that we’d give whatever he had left to that missionary. Three months later, he ended turning that $100 into nearly $500. Not bad for a 12 year old.

It got me to thinking about what am I doing with the talents God has given me. Am I using them? Am I growing them? Have I invested them so I can show a profit from what He gave me? Yes, the story with my nephew is about money, but I’m talking about gifts God has enabled me with. Each of us has been given certain gifts and talents. Not one of us is talentless. Sure, some have more talent and gifts than others, but that doesn’t give us the right to bury ours in the sand.

In Romans 12:6-8, Paul tells us that no matter what gift God has given you, you should use it well. And in I Corinthians 12:7, he says that a spiritual gift has been given to each one of us so we can help each other. That means that God has given you a gift and He wants you to take a risk with the gift He has given you by using it. There’s a saying in business that says, “No risk. No reward.” Don’t be afraid to take a risk today with your gift. You might fail or you might succeed. You’ll never know until you try


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Inadequate. That’s how I felt going on my first survival camp out. I was allowed to bring anything I could fit into a small bandaid box to survive with over a weekend. I didn’t know where I was going or what I would have access to. But once I arrived, I scouted a pond and was able to use fishing wire and a hook I had packed to catch fish. The knife inside helped me to clean it. The foil square I put in there made a great skillet to cook the fish with. It turns out that everything I needed to survive was already with me. 

Inadequate. That’s how so many of us feel when it comes to being a “good” Christian. We don’t know where we are going or what we’ll have access to in the future. We often feel unqualified and unequipped to do what we feel God has called us to. We question whether we have what it takes to live out our faith. Our feelings of inadequacy hold us back in our faith, our calling, and our life. The truth is that God has given each of us all we need in order to do exceedingly above and beyond what we think.

I Corinthians 1:7 says, “Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ” (NLT). You and I have been given EVERY spiritual gift we need. God knows what plans He has for you and has already given you those gifts. It’s up to us to unpack them from our bandaid box, develop them, and use them the way they were intended. As you become more mature in your faith, your ability to effectively use the gifts God has given you will increase. 

You may not see your giftings right now, but they’re there. If you’ve never taken a spiritual gifts test, I encourage you to look one up online or ask your pastor about one they trust. I Corinthians 12:7 says, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” That means that you are gifted and God wants to use those gifts to help someone else in their faith. The word “inadequate” doesn’t fit any of us so quit believing it and applying it to your life. “Equipped” is a better word for who you are. 


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The Greatest Gift

Since it’s Christmas time, I have a question for you. What’s the best gift you ever received? Some of you might say a ring, or a car, or a bike, or a child. Each of us will have different answers depending on where we are in life, but I’m pretty sure that none of you said that going through difficult times was the greatest gift you ever got. However, looking back on your life, and seeing how that dark time made you into who you are today, you might want to reconsider. Yes, I’m suggesting your darkest days could be the greatest gift you’ve ever received. 

Most of us think of those times, and try to put them behind us, or pretend that they never existed. But I believe God uses those times to move us into position for our future, to develop in us the qualities of character necessary for the future He has for us, and to grow our faith in Him. James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” (MSG).

Those final sentences are tough for us to hear. When we are in a trial or test, we want them to end quickly. We pray and beg God to get us out of them. When we do get out of them early, the work is unfinished that He was trying to do. In Max Lucado’s book “The Anvil”, he writes that of God has you in these times, rejoice. It means He still thinks you’re worth reshaping. He hasn’t discarded you as useless and put you with the other tools the He no longer uses.

If you happen to be going through one of these times right now, I’d like you to look at the next verse in James. It says, “If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it.” God will be there to help you through instead of out of it. Pray for His help, but also pray to ask Him to develop in you what He needs to during this time. Right now it may not seem like a gift, but what God does in us during the hardest times is often one of He greatest gifts He gives. 

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Cheating God

I once heard of a man who worked as a construction foreman. He worked for the same man his whole career. When it came time to retire, his boss asked him to build one more house. Reluctantly he agreed. On this particular house, his heart wasn’t in it. He cut corners, allowed shoddy work, and didn’t take his time to do quality work. All he could think of was retirement, so he wanted to build the house quickly. 

When the house was finished, the boss came out to do a final walk through as was their custom. When he pointed out things here and there, the foreman made excuses. At the end, he asked him if he was happy with his work. He said he was. Then the owner said, “Thank you for doing this last house got me. You have done great work in all the years you have worked for me. I want to thank you for your hard work and faithfulness by giving you this house.” The foreman showed appreciation, but in his heart, he remembered how poor of a job he did.

In Malachi, God was upset because they were offering poor sacrifices. They offered blind, diseased, and crippled animals to God. When God called them out on it, they asked how they had defiled his altar. In Malachi 1:12, God said, “You dishonor my name with your actions” (NLT). Then in Malachi 3:8, He said, “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me.” Just like the foreman, they offered shoddy offerings to God. Their heart wasn’t in their gifts to God. 

I’ve heard it said that our talents are God’s gift to us. What we do with them are our gifts to Him. Beyond our gifts of money, our actions are a gift to God as well. What kind of offering are you giving God? Are you cutting corners, offering shoddy work, or lowering the quality of your work? Are you being thankful to God for the gifts He’s given to you? Psalm 50:23 says, “But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.” We can’t afford to cheat and dishonor God through our actions any more. 

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The Journey Of Success

As you know, David was told by God that he could not build the temple. God had told him that his son Solomon would build it. In II Chronicles 22:5, David recognized that his son Solomon was young and inexperienced. He then decided to make preparations for building the temple. He ordered everything that Solomon would need in order to build the temple. Even though Solomon had everything he needed to be successful, it was up to him to do something with all the material if he was going to build successfully.

Success doesn’t lie in having the things God gives us, it lies in doing something with them. In Matthew 25:14-30, we read the Parable of Talents. Jesus told the story of three men who had been given bags of silver from their master according to their abilities. Two of the servants took that material and invested it while one hid it. When the master returned, it was the ones who did something with the material who were considered successful, not the one who let it sit.

I Corinthians 12:7 says, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other” (NLT). God has given each of us the materials to be successful just like David did for Solomon and the master did for his servants. The question is, are you going to let the materials sit there or are you going to do something with them? You can’t let the fear of being unsuccessful to prevent you from doing anything. If you do nothing with what God has given you, you’re no better than the man ho buried his bag of silver.

If God has given you a dream, quit often it’s as big as the task given to Solomon to build the temple. You may look at yourself and think you’re too inexperienced to do what God called you to. If you read the Bible, the greatest heroes of faith were the ones who didn’t let their inexperience keep them from their calling. They trusted God to do His part, so they did theirs. It’s up to each of us to take the gifts God has given us and put them to use. The greatest successes in life start with the smallest of steps. What can you do today to get started on your journey of success?


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Walk With The Wise Men

Matthew 2 tells the story of the wise men coming to visit Jesus after He was born. Over the centuries, we’ve put crowns on these men and called them kings. We’ve also narrowed down the number of them to three. The Bible doesn’t tell us how many there were. It just says, “Men.” The Greek word used for them is magos. It’s interpreted as wise men, teachers, priests, physicians and astrologers. Debates can go on about who they were, how many there were and where they came from, but that’s not what I think we should focus on.

One of the main things I think we should focus on is that they were seeking Him. They traveled a great distance to find the King. They weren’t even afraid to ask for help. They stopped in Jerusalem and asked King Herod where the newborn king was. They kept searching until they found Him. You and I tend to quit seeking Him after we’ve found Him, but I think that our lives should be lived in pursuit of the King. We should search to know Him more each day. We should spend time seeking out who He is and what He says. Our lives will be fuller for it.

The next thing I noticed is that they said in verse 2, “We saw His star as it rose, and we have come to worship Him.” They were face to face with the king of the country and told him that they had come to worship another. Their priorities in whom and what they worshipped were in order. Too many times, we let Jesus take a back seat to who or what we are worshipping. We allow sports to dictate whether we go to church or not. We allow other things to occupy our minds when we have designated time to spend with the King of Kings. We treat our worship as a spiritual box than can be checked off as part of a requirement. We would be wise to follow the precedence set by these wise men.

Finally, they brought Him gifts. They opened up their bags and presented Him with what they had. They prepared ahead of time to give Him things that were most precious to them. They didn’t offer Him something that had no value or that only cost them a little. They were all in so they went all out with their gifts. You and could learn a lot from their sacrifice. God isn’t interested in our leftovers. He has always wanted our best and our first fruits. The gifts we bring to Him should have value and be meaningful to us. These gifts don’t just have to be monetary. They can be our talents and abilities.

I’ve always been intrigued by the wise men who visited Jesus. God chose not only the poor of this world to celebrate the arrival of His son, but He also chose men of stature to share in it. These wise men had their priorities right so God chose them to share in this history changing moment. I wonder what moments in life that God wants to include you and I in if only we would get our priorities right and be willing to offer Him our best. The great news is that is a decision you and I can make today. If you want to be wise, walk in the steps of the wise.

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Ministering in Love Languages

At church last night, our group was discussing a church in Austin, Texas that had someone who ministers to the homeless in that area come in and speak. At the altar call, he didn’t ask anyone to come down and get saved. He didn’t ask anyone to come down for prayer. He asked that each person would pray and ask God if they should give their shoes to the homeless. If they felt they were, they were to come to the front, take off their shoes and leave them there.

I started thinking about that and the book “The 5 Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman. In it, he describes five ways that people give and receive love: words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, physical touch and gifts. Then I started thinking, if those are the ways people receive love, shouldn’t we the Church be showing love to the lost in their love languages? The story in Austin was showing love through gifts. For a lot of believers, this is the easiest way to show love because we give out of our abundance and then move on with our lives. What if we continued to give gifts until it came from our necessity and not our abundance?

Words of affirmation are another one that doesn’t require much of us, but we hardly do it. I was having a rough day recently and had a lot on my mind. As I stopped to pump gas, my mind was working. A lady on the other side of the pump said, “Hey, you should smile every once in a while. It’ll do wonders!” I snapped out of my thought coma, looked at her and smiled. She said, “See. Doesn’t that feel better?” She got in her car and drove off. Her words of affirmation changed my mindset. It made my day better. We can do that too.

Where things start to get difficult are the remaining three. I once heard it said that many people spell “love”, T-I-M-E. Quality time is not something we usually want to do with “the least of these”. We’d rather give something that costs us less. The problem is that those who receive love this way are left out when we’d rather take the easier route. If we truly care about the lost, we need to find ways to spend quality time with them, invest in a relationship and share the love of Christ with them.

I like acts of service when reaching out to the lost. I call it “putting sweat equity in the Kingdom”. Give a day of your time, labor and talents to someone who needs it. This speaks volumes to those who receive love this way. Find a widow or elderly couple nearby who need yard or house work done and help them. Find a single mom who needs help and offer to help her. Find a ministry who is doing one of the other love languages and help them. It requires your time and effort, but is well worth it.

Finally, there is physical touch. Jesus was good at this. He laid His hands on people and touched them. He wasn’t afraid to go up to lepers and touch them. They were considered unclean and people were forbidden to touch them, but Jesus did it anyway. Who are today’s “lepers”? Who does society deem “unclean”? They need us to reach out to them, hug them and to share God’s love with them.

The book shows that we typically give love in ways we like to receive it. In a relationship, you have to learn someone else’s language to keep their “love tank” full. In ministry, I think that if you’re good at giving love in your language, that’s the area you need to show love to others in. Each church should have ministries that give love to others in these five ways. It will allow those in the church who give love those ways a place to plug in. It will also allow the church to share love in the ways that people in their community receive it. Think of the difference that could make for your church and God’s Kingdom.

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