Tag Archives: talents

Standing Before Kings

Years ago I read the autobiography of Ben Franklin. He was an incredibly gifted person who spent a lot of time learning and developing his sold. He was always testing things and inventing solutions. He was very diligent in his studies and in solving problems. He invented bifocals, rounded glass for street lights, lighting rods, fire departments and so much more. He was the oldest person to sign the Declaration of Independence, which he helped draft. He also was able to stand before five kings.

When Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem, he used around 150,000 workers and it took just over seven years. 2 Chronicles described what it took. People from Tyre were gifted in cutting trees like no one else so they provided the wood. There was a man named Huram-abi who was an extremely skilled in working with gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone. To build such a magnificent building it took many skilled workers who all got to stand before kings.

Proverbs 22:29 says, “If you are uniquely gifted in your work, you will rise and be promoted. You won’t be held back— you’ll stand before kings!” (TPT) Each of us are born with raw talent in something. If we want to rise, be promoted and stand before kings, we must develop that talent. In the same manner, God provided wheat. However, we must harvest it, separate the chaff, mill it and combine it with other ingredients to make life giving sustenance. The same is true with our raw talent. If you want to stand before kings, we must be willing to work at developing our talents.

Thanks to Willian B. for making this photo available on unsplash.

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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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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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Being A Go Giver

Epaphroditus is one of the lesser known people mentioned in the Bible. He was barely mentioned at the end of Philippians 2. From what Paul tells us, we can tell that he was a former soldier possibly from the Praetorian Guard. We also know that he was a believer in Christ and a big help to Paul. We don’t know how he was saved or how he ended up in Philippi, but we know that he was willing to give his time, energy and life for the sake of Christ because verse 30 said he risked his life for the work of Christ.

He is a great example of giving for each one of us. We don’t have to have a lot in the bank to give something. We can be like the widow who gave her two mites in the offering. Jesus said she gave more than all the others. We can be like the churches in the New Testament who gave to the apostles as they spread the Gospel. Without their contributions, the Early Church wouldn’t have had the ability to spread like it did. We can be like Epaphroditus who gave of his time and talents to help others.

God isn’t so much concerned with how we give as He is with us just being givers. I heard a phrase yesterday that sparked something in me. It said, “We need to be go givers instead of go getters.” The world tells us to be go getters. “Take all you can, save up your money, get rich and live in luxury.” But that’s not what Jesus said. He said, “Sell all you have, give it to the poor and come follow me.” His point was that we shouldn’t be tied to earthly wealth. We shouldn’t store up everything only to make ourselves comfortable. We should be mindful of others and store up our treasures in Heaven.

I’m not saying that saving money is bad or even having a lot of money is bad. I believe God blesses each one of us according to our abilities and willingness to give. If you want more of what you have, give it away. If you want to know what it’s like to have the windows of Heaven opened up and blessings poured out that you can’t contain, then give. Give your time, your talents, your abilities, your money or whatever God asks you to give. He is interested in our ability to trust Him for our needs rather than for us to feel self sufficient in our own abilities to accumulate wealth or to develop talent that will get us where we want to go.

One of my favorite phrases from one of my favorite hymns says, “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” God’s love for us outweighs anything we could ever do to repay Him. The least we can do is to give back to Him what He has blessed us with. For Epaphroditus, that was his life in service. For the widow, it was all the money she had. For the Early Church, it was their possessions. Each of us have a choice. We can be like the rich, young ruler and walk away sad because we’d rather be a go getter or we can choose to be a go giver. We can be someone who stores up treasures in Heaven through giving. What will you give to God today?


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Get Up and Go

In the NBA Finals game last night, San Antonio was up by 5 points with less than a minute to go. The coach of the Spurs pulled Tim Duncan, the team’s best rebounder, so he could put more speed on the floor. The plan backfired. San Antonio missed two critical rebounds in the remaining seconds that gave the Heat the ability to tie the game sending it into overtime and ultimately win.

Each person on a team has a critical role. Each person in Christianity also plays a critical role. I mentioned yesterday how Peter was the one who got out of the boat, spoke up when a question was asked, chopped an ear off and preached at Pentecost. Jesus chose 12 men who were different because each had a role to play in the kingdom. Some were fishermen, some were tax collectors and he even chose a doctor.

Jesus was able to take those 12 men and turn the world upside down. He was able to spend three years coaching them, training them and teaching them before turning them loose. Not all of them were rock stars out in front of the crowd. Many were role players that fulfilled their calling through their abilities. None were stagnant though. Each of them gave their life for the cause of Christ.

Our churches are filled with people sitting on the bench. They have a great seat to watch what God is doing, but rarely jump in and help. It may be because they feel their abilities aren’t up to par with someone else’s. It may be because they’re not sure what their talents and abilities are. Whatever the case, it’s time we all got off the pew and started fulfilling our roles in His church.

The great commission wasn’t to go to church. It was to go into all the world preaching the Gospel and making disciples. We are to use our relationships, our abilities and our talents to share what God has done for us with the people we meet. It is our responsibility to go. It is our duty as Christians to make disciples so that they can repeat the process with someone else. We were not called to sit and listen. We were called to go and give.

You were created with a purpose. Whether you know that or not, you were. God has a desire and a plan to use you. It may not be on a stage in front of 20,000 people. It may be in a coffee shop in front of one person. Where ever it is and however it is, He is looking for your willingness to be used and to not hold onto the treasure He placed in you. We are to give away the love that He gave us. We are to live a life worthy of the call that He has given us. What will you do today with the love and message He has given you?

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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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Break Your Box

It was Wednesday of Holy Week and Jesus was a guest in the home of Simon the leper. While He was reclining at the table, a woman from the village silently walked in the room. Every eye was on her and the alabaster box she was carrying. The fragrance peeked through the box giving those around her a tease of the pure Nard that was inside. Suddenly, without warning, she broke the box and poured the perfume on Christ. The fragrance permeated the house. I imagine everyone closed their eyes and drank in the smell of this perfume with a slow, purposeful breath through their noses.

There was no undoing of this gesture. The box had been broken and all of the perfume purposefully poured out on Jesus. When others criticized her for her actions, Jesus said in Mark 14:8, “She has done what she could.” He accepted her offering and it was a sweet, savory smell to Him. No one else in the room had the will to do what she had done, though they all had the ability. We each have the ability to do great things for God, it’s having the will to do them that stops most of us.

Like the disciples and others in the room, we start adding up the cost of doing something for God and find all the reasons we can’t or shouldn’t do them. We allow our minds to tell us, “It’s not worth it. Your resources are better spent elsewhere.” All these excuses come in that keep us from being obedient. We also wonder what others might think if we do what God has called us to do. But not this lady. She didn’t care what the others thought, and neither did Jesus!

In fact, He said that wherever the Gospel would be preached, what she did will be told about. A single act of obedience has been told all over the world over a couple of thousand years. Why? Because she had the will, not just the ability. We wish we had her kind of will power to do something so extravagant, so costly for Christ. We all have the ability in us to do it. We just lack her will. We lack her recklessness.

I don’t know if she had doubts. I’m sure she did. She was probably even scared, but she didn’t let those things stop her. She knew once she broke the box, there was no turning back. Once she broke the box, she was committed. So she walked in and broke it immediately before doubt, the disciples or fear could stop her. She poured out this costly perfume on Jesus even though His own disciples criticized her. She wasn’t concerned about their approval. She was concerned about His.

What box have you been holding that has your precious gift in it? What’s keeping you from breaking it and using it for Christ? You have the ability to do what He called you to do. You have the strength to do it. It’s time to get the will to do it no matter what others say. If you are holding it back because of others, remember that it’s not their approval you seek. It’s His. Step out and break that box today. Let your story be told wherever the Gospel is preached.


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