Tag Archives: gifts

Gifts and Talents

I read Joshua 3 and 4 today, where Joshua, under God’s guidance, led the Israelites through the Jordan River. The priests carried the ark of the covenant into the river which was in flood. As soon as their feet touched the edge, water from upstream stopped flowing and piled up in a heap a great distance away.

The priests stopped in the middle, still holding the ark, while all the people crossed over in their tribes. Chosen men, one from each tribe, collected twelve stones from the river bed and carried them on their shoulders until they reached Gilgal.

Imagine the strength required of the priests to hold the ark, which was overlaid with gold, for a number of hours while standing still. Imagine the strength required of the twelve men to carry heavy rocks on a long hike. They were presumably chosen for their strength.

Strength is a gift from God, as is leadership, athletic ability, intelligence, entrepreneurial skill, artistic or musical talent, or any other God-given talent.

Image by Brigitte Werner from Pixabay

Jesus said, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” (John15:5b NIV) The World lauds and rewards human achievement, but none of it is possible without God’s gifting.

My eighty-nine-year-old mother always says, “Use it or lose it,” usually talking about her brain and how she does crossword puzzles to exercise it.

As Jesus illustrated in the parable of the talents, (Matthew 25:14-30,) it is true of all God-given abilities and talents. If a man gifted with unusual strength goes to the gym and exercises regularly, his strength grows. A musician, dancer or actor practices regularly to become better in their field. Those gifted with intelligence study to make the best of their abilities. If they don’t, they are like the servant who buried his talent in the ground and the master took it away from him.

Use it or lose it.

My Prayer

Father God, You are the giver of all gifts and talents and You distribute them as You will. May I neither envy those more talented than myself, nor neglect to exercise or use the gifts You have given me. Amen.

The Good, Good Father

Yesterday my daughter and granddaughter popped into a Bargain Books shop on the way to do something else. Predictably, they spent longer in the store than planned. My granddaughter bought some books with her pocket money but my daughter also bought books – not for herself, but for her three children. She is a good parent and she delights in giving good gifts to her children.

As a grandparent, I love giving gifts to my grandchildren. They are not always something I’ve bought for them, although sometimes they are, but often it will be things that I no longer use and I know one of them will really enjoy. Sometimes it’s the gift of my time and expertise. My oldest granddaughter asked for sewing lessons for one birthday.

God is a good, good Father, as the song by Chris Tomlin tells us. He loves us so much more than we can ever love our children or grandchildren. He delights to give us good gifts. As we take pleasure in giving good gifts to our children and grandchildren, our Father in heaven loves watching us enjoying and benefitting from His gifts.

Image by Pixabay

James 1:17 reads, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change,” (ESV)

Jesus Himself says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him.” (Matthew 7:11 ESV)

God’s gifts to us are on a different scale to the gifts that we give our children. They are often things that the world cannot give, like peace, or a friend. The best gifts my Father has given me include a husband, three wonderful children and six grandchildren, the house we now live in, and all my talents and abilities. I don’t always get everything I ask for, any more than my grandchildren get sweets every time we pass a sweet shop. Some gifts are experiences or even training, in the same way that a loving parent might give their child a trip to a science museum or ballet lessons.

My Father knows me even better than I know myself. Sometimes when somebody asks me what they can pray for me, I don’t know. I can’t think. But God knows. He knows my needs, my personality and my preferences and His gifts to me will satisfy all three.

I feel so blessed, so thankful and even, sometimes, so spoilt.

My Prayer

God, my Father, how can I thank You enough for all the good gifts You have given me. I am loved by the God of the universe and that is just so beyond my comprehension. All I have, my situation in life, even my body and personality are all given to me as You see fit and the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. Without You I can do no good thing. Thank You, thank You, thank You. Amen.

Viva la Difference

We walk our grandchildren to school once a week. They each have their unique approach to this activity. The nine-year-old boy would like to get to the destination as fast as possible and has to be reined in so as not to outwalk his sisters (and grandparents). The eleven-year-old has music playing in her head. I can tell by the way her feet tend to make walking into dancing. The youngest, who is only six, appreciates the journey. She looks around and picks flowers or collects rocks. She will be the first to notice a fallen branch. She finds wonder in everything she sees. She is also the most talkative and chatters all the way to school whereas the older two are deep in their own private worlds. They are all so different.

Because of their different ages and different personalities we will get them different Christmas presents. No one-size-fits-all will apply.

God treats us exactly the same way. He knows our natural inclinations, our personalities, our preferences. After all, He made us unique. It is therefore not appropriate to look at other Christian’s callings, gifts or answers to prayer and wish they were ours. Our Father knows exactly what we need and how we can best serve Him.

Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift… He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church… fully alive in Christ.” (Ephesisans 4: selections from verses 7 – 13. the Message)

Let us rejoice in our uniqueness and celebrate the different gifts we have been given. We are all different pieces of the same jigsaw puzzle, unique in shape even though our colouring may be similar to other pieces. We cannot fit in anybody else’s place and nobody can take our place.

Viva la difference!

Enjoying Life

Two scriptures have grabbed my attention recently.

Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. (1 Timothy 6:17 NLT)

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. (Psalm 36:8 NIV)

These verses speak to me about enjoyment and delight. God is the creator of all good gifts and pleasures. We only need to look at the variety of delicious food He has made available to us. Imagine if we ate grass every day like cattle! Or think of the futuristic scenario where all our nutrition might be reduced to a tablet a day. How much we would miss out on!

When our grandchildren were younger, I used to agonise over buying them presents for birthdays. How disappointed I was when a specially chosen doll was never played with, or a toy was left in the toy box unenjoyed. How much it delighted me when a gift we had given got taken to bed with the three-year-old, or was played with every day by the four-year-old.

I think God is delighted when we enjoy His gifts. He loves watching us having fun, enjoying life to the full. There is such a variety of things to enjoy; art, music, ballet, good wine, great sport-matches, riveting books and all things excellent.

Let us not merely “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die,” but “taste and see that the Lord is good.”

My Prayer.

Lord, even in the midst of this Corona pandemic, please open my eyes to the good gifts You have given me. May I enjoy them and give You thanks and praise. Amen.