Use it or Lose it! The choice is yours!


Today’s devotional brought back to mind a time when God was calling me to do something with the gifts and talents and calling He had given me and I was resistant because I didn’t think I could, didn’t think I was qualified, and mostly out of fear of failure.

What’s holding you back? Do you think you aren’t qualified? What has God asked you to do? Have you done it? God has created us on purpose, with purpose and for a purpose! We get to choose if we will be a good steward of the gifts and talents or if we want to lose it! We get to choose if we will use the gifts and talents in obedience to God’s calling and purpose or if we are willing to lose it! When I think of the times where my first response was no or to resist, I remember getting to the crossroads and needing to deal with the options and consequences God put before me. Be it “you will be president or you will be nothing” in once case or be it “forgive them because forgiveness is the key to freedom”! God won’t call us to something where He won’t provide what we have need of! If God calls us to it, He will get us through it! God will qualify the called! So today don’t worry about tomorrow, but your hope and trust in God! I still remember when I was asked about what leadership position I thought I would consider and I started telling the story of being on the board and didn’t have a clue why or where I was going with it and kept praying that God would tell me what to do too through this story. He did and now getting to serve the foster youth through camp is such an incredible blessing! God’s Word tells us that we are to take care of the widows and the orphans and He has called me to help those in the foster care system through camps that poor love and hope and truth into their lives! God is the God of second chances and even though I missed the mark by not being obedient to start with, God gave me a second chance to be who He was calling me to be! What will you do with your second chance? Do you have any reason why you shouldn’t or couldn’t … Do you remember a time when you were called to step up? Ever had words come out of your mouth and wonder where did that come from or what did that mean?

So no matter where  you were at yesterday, today is a new day! So let’s take hold of today for what it is and what it can be! Let’s give up our schedule and our plans to God so that our plans are His plans, our goals are His purpose in the hopes that in and through it all He will receive all the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name! God gifts us according to our abilities! He won’t give us more than we can handle! Let’s walk out our lives today so that we can hear God say “well done my good and faithful servant”

I hold onto today as I step up and step out:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

–from James 1:27

I hold onto today as I step up and step out:

The Parable of the Bags of Gold

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

–from Matthew 25

I hold onto today as I step up and I step out:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

–from 1 Corinthians 10


Day 38: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Psalm 18:43-50, Matthew 25:14-46, Job 40:3-24, Job 41, Job 42

Today’s devotional from Bible in one year 2017 – day 38 is titled:

Use It or Lose It

And it closes as we get ready to read from God’s Word with…

Life is not a competition that you have to win. It is not supposed to be a rat race. Life is a huge privilege and an opportunity. God has trusted you with gifts and abilities, which he wants you to use. Use them or lose them. He is faithful to us and he expects us to be faithful to him.

–from Day 38: Bible In One Year 2017

So let’s start looking into what today’s reading and devotional will speak to us through God’s Word:

1. God’s faithfulness … Psalm 18:43-50

43You have delivered me from the attacks of the people;you have made me the head of nations.People I did not know now serve me, 44foreigners cower before me;as soon as they hear of me, they obey me. 45They all lose heart;they come trembling from their strongholds. 46The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock!Exalted be God my Savior! 47He is the God who avenges me,who subdues nations under me, 48who saves me from my enemies.You exalted me above my foes;from a violent man you rescued me. 49Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;I will sing the praises of your name. 50He gives his king great victories;he shows unfailing love to his anointed,to David and to his descendants forever. –from Psalm 18

Do you realize that everyone around you is in the midst of a battle? Knowing that now, how will you treat everyone you encounter today? Will you be kind to them? Will you show them unfailing love? Will you reciprocate the kindness and unfailing love God has poured out on you and into you over the people who you encounter today? No matter the battle? No matter the challenge? No matter the trials or the troubles? Will you accept and receive God’s unfailing love and kindness? God shows kindness all the time, so let’s imitate Him and show kindness and unfailing love to the people He has brought into our lives all the time! We are His anointed and so we know from David’s psalm that He will show us His unfailing love and kindness!

21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. –from 2 Corinthians 1

But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. –from 1 John 2:20


2. A life of faithfulness … Matthew 25:14-46

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ 21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ 22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ 23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ 24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ 26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. 28 “ ‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

–from Matthew 25

Today’s reading speaks to the importance of being a good steward of the gifts and talents God has given us. Do you realize how much a talent of gold is worth? On this day when I looked it up it shows US$1,116,000. The gifts and talents God has given you are worth a lot! The purpose and plans God has prepared in advance for you to accomplish are good and similarly worth a lot! So let’s not waste the breath in our lungs today but to complete the good work God has given us to accomplish today!

Today’s devotional speaks to this reading of God’s Word with the following:

How can you be ‘faithful’ (vv.21,23)?

Use them or lose them

God is so generous and kind. He gives us so much. A talent was a huge sum of money – probably equivalent to twenty years’ wages. Even the person with one talent was given so much. In the parable, the talent (this is the origin of the English word ‘talent’) represents not only your money but your gifts, skills, time, energy, education, intellect, strength, influence and opportunities.

Be faithful with whatever you have been given. It is no good wishing that you had been given more. You are simply called to do the best you can with what you have.

To be faithful means to use the gifts and abilities that God has given you. Many of us are tempted to be like the third servant who said, ‘I was afraid’ (v.25). We hide our talents because we are afraid of failure and what others may think of us, or of the hard work and responsibility that may be involved.

It has been said that, ‘The greatest mistake you could make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.’

The servant who received five talents and the one who received two talents must both have had to risk losing it all. Step out in faith, use your gifts and risk failure.

Jesus says, in effect, ‘use them or lose them’ (vv.28–30). If you do the very best with what you have, God will give you more and say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ (vv.21,23).

See the least and the last as Jesus in disguise

Jesus said, ‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ (v.40). He tells us that faithfulness to him is shown in what we do for the most vulnerable and most needy in our world (vv.35–36,42–43):

The hungry

Millions of people are dying of starvation. Every time you feed the hungry, you encounter Jesus. Mother Teresa said, ‘The dying, the unwanted, the unloved – they are Jesus in disguise.’

The stranger

To be homeless, a refugee or an asylum seeker must be one of the most painful experiences of life. When you encounter people who are ‘strangers’ and when you look after the homeless, provide them with shelter and invite them into the heart of your community, you encounter Jesus (vv.35b,38).

The sick

Another way in which you can meet Jesus is through ministering to those who are sick, whether they are in hospital, at home or at church. Every time you pray for the sick you have the opportunity to encounter Jesus.

The prisoners

Those in prison often come from the category of ‘the last and the least’ of our society. Jesus challenges us to imitate his grace and acceptance of ‘sinners’. We need to remember that we too are forgiven sinners. Many prisoners have committed appalling crimes – and yet Jesus still loves them, and calls us to love them too.

It is a huge privilege to go into the prisons or to care for and mentor ex-offenders. I remember the chaplain general to the prison service saying that when he first went into the prisons he thought he would take Jesus in with him. He soon realised that Jesus was there already. He said that from then on he went into the prisons in order to encounter Jesus.

In all these areas Jesus says, ‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ (v.40). Jesus tells us that when he comes again in glory there will be a judgment (vv.31–33), and it will involve a separation that will surprise people (v.37,44). How we respond to Jesus has eternal consequences (vv.30,46).

–from Day 38: Bible In One Year 2017


3. Job’s faithfulness … Job 40:3-42:17

Job always has an interesting impact on me when it comes up in my reading. The weight! The concern! The pressure! The challenge! The loss! The victory! As we draw near to the close of Job in today’s reading our devotional speaks to Job’s faithfulness! Let’s reflect on it because we read from God’s Word…

God has had a good plan for you from the moment you were conceived. He also had a good plan for Job. Right from the start he had planned Job’s restoration and blessing.

Job is remembered throughout history for his faithfulness. The apostle James says, ‘You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about’ (James 5:11).

Once again God fires questions at Job making him realise that there are simply some things ‘too wonderful for [Job] to know’ (Job 42:3b). Job holds on to the faithfulness of God: ‘I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted’ (v.2). This is a wonderful promise to hold on to when things in your life are not going according to your plans. God has a good plan for you and it will not be thwarted.

God does not give us trouble-free lives. He does not answer all our questions. But he does reassure us that he is with us in our troubles.

God tells Job to pray for his friends who had hurt him, let him down, wrongly accused him, judged him and criticised him (vv.7–8). Job forgave them and showed his total forgiveness by praying for them. As he interceded for them, God not only accepted Job’s prayer for his friends but also, ‘The Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before’ (v.10).

Joyce Meyer writes, ‘If you do things God’s way, he will give you double for your trouble.’ ‘The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first’ (v.12). As with David, God showed his kindness to him and his descendants (v.16).

Job is commended for his perseverance in the face of suffering (James 5:10–11). Satan believed that suffering would cause Job to turn away from God. Job’s perseverance demonstrated that Satan was wrong. With brutal honesty at times, Job was nonetheless able to maintain his worship of God in good times and times of great trial.

His perseverance is an example to us of how to respond to suffering. When you respond with faithful perseverance, Satan is defeated. Job is a ‘type’ of Christ. Through Jesus’ faithful perseverance in response to his suffering on the cross, Satan has been totally defeated, once and for all.

–from Day 38: Bible In One Year 2017

I remember how on my last day on my previous job, I was reading from Job and the verse from chapter 42 verse 12 jumped out at me encouraging me and providing hope because God’s faithfulness and kindness and unfailing love protected me through everything and spoke to be of the double portion that would take place in the second half of my life! In v10 God calls it out too, but Job 42:12 is what I cling to. I remember sharing it with a friend over lunch and he questioned me and said that isn’t what it says and so I showed him the comparison between the start of Job and this verse…

He starts out in Job 1…

1There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. 2Seven sons and three daughters were born to him. 3His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east. –from Job 1

He ends up in Job 42…

The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. –from Job 42:12

And then he said, you know what? You’re right! So don’t lose hope and live a life faithful to God! If He brings you to it then He will bring you through it!

Today’s reading concludes with Job…

3Then Job answered the Lord: 4“I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?I put my hand over my mouth. 5I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more.” 6Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm: 7“Brace yourself like a man;I will question you,and you shall answer me. 8“Would you discredit my justice?Would you condemn me to justify yourself? 9Do you have an arm like God’s,and can your voice thunder like his? 10Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor,and clothe yourself in honor and majesty. 11Unleash the fury of your wrath,look at all who are proud and bring them low, 12look at all who are proud and humble them,crush the wicked where they stand. 13Bury them all in the dust together;shroud their faces in the grave. 14Then I myself will admit to youthat your own right hand can save you. 15“Look at Behemoth,which I made along with youand which feeds on grass like an ox. 16What strength it has in its loins,what power in the muscles of its belly! 17Its tail sways like a cedar;the sinews of its thighs are close-knit. 18Its bones are tubes of bronze,its limbs like rods of iron. 19It ranks first among the works of God,yet its Maker can approach it with his sword. 20The hills bring it their produce,and all the wild animals play nearby. 21Under the lotus plants it lies,hidden among the reeds in the marsh. 22The lotuses conceal it in their shadow;the poplars by the stream surround it. 23A raging river does not alarm it;it is secure, though the Jordan should surge against its mouth. 24Can anyone capture it by the eyes,or trap it and pierce its nose?

–from Job 40

1“Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishhook or tie down its tongue with a rope? 2Can you put a cord through its nose or pierce its jaw with a hook? 3Will it keep begging you for mercy? Will it speak to you with gentle words? 4Will it make an agreement with you for you to take it as your slave for life? 5Can you make a pet of it like a bird or put it on a leash for the young women in your house? 6Will traders barter for it? Will they divide it up among the merchants? 7Can you fill its hide with harpoons or its head with fishing spears? 8If you lay a hand on it, you will remember the struggle and never do it again! 9Any hope of subduing it is false; the mere sight of it is overpowering. 10No one is fierce enough to rouse it. Who then is able to stand against me? 11Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me. 12“I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs, its strength and its graceful form. 13Who can strip off its outer coat? Who can penetrate its double coat of armor? 14Who dares open the doors of its mouth, ringed about with fearsome teeth? 15Its back has rows of shields tightly sealed together; 16each is so close to the next that no air can pass between. 17They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted. 18Its snorting throws out flashes of light; its eyes are like the rays of dawn. 19Flames stream from its mouth; sparks of fire shoot out. 20Smoke pours from its nostrils as from a boiling pot over burning reeds. 21Its breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from its mouth. 22Strength resides in its neck; dismay goes before it. 23The folds of its flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable. 24Its chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone. 25When it rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before its thrashing. 26The sword that reaches it has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin. 27Iron it treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood. 28Arrows do not make it flee; slingstones are like chaff to it. 29A club seems to it but a piece of straw; it laughs at the rattling of the lance. 30Its undersides are jagged potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge. 31It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment. 32It leaves a glistening wake behind it; one would think the deep had white hair. 33Nothing on earth is its equal—a creature without fear. 34It looks down on all that are haughty; it is king over all that are proud.”

–from Job 41

Job

1Then Job replied to the Lord: 2“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 3You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. 4“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ 5My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

Epilogue

7After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. 8So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” 9So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.
10After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.
12The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. 15Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers. 16After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17And so Job died, an old man and full of years.

–from Job 42

 

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