Archives For gifts

What does Christmas mean to you? To some its presents, time off from school, or crazy shopping expeditions. To others it is a time of loving, giving, and forgiving; a time of demonstrating peace and goodwill to all. To be certain, Christmas has become a commercialized extravaganza spanning cultures and to the religious and non-religious.

the glory of Christmas,Christmas,God's love,love,Christmas commercialization,true meaning of Christmas,Christmas tree,Christmas gift

image © daynamore via Fotolia

In this season when the world pauses to celebrate, how do we live in such a way as to point them to the one whose name we have placed at the very beginning of the word Christmas? What does Christmas mean to you? More specifically, what should Christmas mean to a disciple of Jesus Christ?
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As I was praying recently, a thought occurred to me: “I am nothing except what You are through me.” We love to pose and posture. We love to talk about our accomplishments and achievements. But the reality is nothing we do would be possible if not for God. He created us, gave us our skills and abilities, provided our wisdom, and nurtured our development.

nothing without God,gifts,humility,mission,purpose,1 Corinthians 3:12-15,Matthew 7:21-23,the sheep and the goats

image © hriana

Not a single thing we have ever done would be possible if not for some gift of God. That doesn’t mean everything we’ve done is good or blessed, but it does mean we are all absolutely useless and weak except for the providence of our loving Creator.
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We live in a world where people are constantly searching for their identity. They try and find it in their career, in their relationships, in their possessions, or in their looks. There is a gnawing ache inside each of them that longs to be filled, so life becomes a relentless pursuit to define who they are. Typically when you ask someone who they are, they respond by telling you what they do or in what circles they run.

what defines you,your season of life does not define you,circumstances do not define you,only God defines you,love,mission,kingdom of God,identity,define me,spiritual gifts

image © Marek

Identity is an intensely personal and internal concept that we mysteriously try and define through that which is external. Sadly, even some believers in Christ fall into this trap of Satan. In order to define ourselves, we must first understand what does not define us.
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wisdom,blessings,prayer,gifts,selflessness,andy stanley,hugh halter,your move is,fleshimage © jodie777 – Fotolia

I heard something recently that really struck a chord with me: “When you pray, don’t ask for more blessings. Ask for wisdom to use the blessings you already have.” If you are anything like me, so much (too much!) of our time in prayer is spent asking God for things we need – or at least perceive that we need. I don’t know if this malady is exclusive to American Christians, but I suspect it is not. Still, in our culture of constantly wanting more, and success being measured by what we have, it’s easy to slip into the bad habit of always asking. We need to spend more time reflecting on and utilizing the blessings God has already bestowed upon us.

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Integrity,God’s character,character of God,God’s wrath,lies of Satan,spiritual giftsimage © creative soul – Fotolia

“Satan’s plan was to distort God’s character and incite Adam and Eve to distrust God. Satan knew once they stopped trusting God, they would be powerless to overcome his temptations”, writes Brad Cole in the fantastic book, “Servant God”. Ever since that initial deception, God has been at work revealing His true character to humans, and Satan has continued to try to twist our perception of it.  As long as we don’t trust in the integrity of God, we can never experience the fullness of life He intends for us. We have bought the lies of Satan that convince us we need the things of this world to fulfill the desires of our hearts. We have become blind to the fact that all we need is Jesus. Worse still, we have come to distrust in the promises of God, and ultimately in His character.

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complacency,,laziness,Luke 10:27,mission,passion,giftsPhoto Credit: Betsie Nel via Compfight cc

Complacency and laziness are two of the deadliest enemies we face in our walk with Jesus. There are more insidious and despicable foes that will come our way, but none are more dangerous and deceptive than complacency and laziness. They sneak up on you with stealth-like wonder and infest themselves throughout your entire body. Complacency says we’ve “prayed the prayer” or “live life as a good person”. We’re good. We can coast from here. Complacency is fed by those who teach that our works don’t matter when it comes down to it. As long as we believe in Jesus we’re safe. Laziness is the close companion of complacency. It convinces you that it’s okay to spend a few extra hours sleeping or eating or watching television. After all, the world will still be there when we’re done. Meanwhile children starve, families are homeless, and people die faced with an eternity separated from the God who loves them.

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gateway drug,sin,satan,temptation,Christmas,Easter,Easter bunny,santa clause,easter egg huntimage © Mangojuicy – Fotolia.com

According to Wikipedia, “The gateway drug theory (also called gateway theory, gateway hypothesis and gateway effect) states that the use of less deleterious drugs can lead to a future risk of using more dangerous hard drugs or crime.” I think sin is a lot like this. Satan uses a “gateway sin” strategy to lure us into situations where we never expected to find ourselves. I’ve observed that the strategies of Satan are fairly consistent, merely variations on a theme. His goal, much as it was in the Garden of Eden, is to only slightly blur the lines for us. He doesn’t try and whitewash the entire canvas.

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skills,gifts,spiritual gifts,passions,life's purpose,calling,whay are we here,God's will

By far the most common question I receive from readers is, “How do I know what gifts and passions I have?” Since it is such a recurring theme, I want to take a bit of a different turn with this blog post and try to help you answer that question. In my coaching business, I run programs of six weeks and six months to help people dive into this question, so covering this in 500 words here will not provide a complete solution, but I hope it will give you a framework to get started. It’s important to understand that God has given each of us a unique set of skills, gifts, and passions. You did not get left out; they are within you.

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talents,skills,god's will for your life,why am I here,life purpose,spiritual gifts

Most of us are familiar with the parable of the talents found in Matthew 25:14-30. In the story, the master gives his servants a varying number of talents before he goes away on a long trip. To one he gives five, to another two, and to the other one. When the master returns, he calls in his servants to see what they have done with what he gave them to use. The first two servants doubled what they received, but the other one simply offered back exactly what he had been given. The servants who multiplied what they had were praised, while the one who had done nothing received harsh judgment from his master; he was stripped of what he had and thrown out of his master’s presence.

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global leadership summit,gls 2012,bill hybels

Bill Hybels recently concluded a leadership event with a challenge to those in attendance. He read a prayer he encouraged us all to pray for the next 30 days. You can download the prayer by clicking here. Essentially the message is to commit yourself each day to fulfilling your purpose in God’s plan. You’ve probably prayed similar prayers at various stages of your life. It has almost become rote to commit our lives and our hearts to Christ each day. However, some of the other specifics of this particular prayer challenged me to consider how I live my life with a new perspective. Three of the commitments that have changed the way I approach my day are pledging to use my talents, energy, and creativity to fulfill my role in building His church.

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