Part 3: What is that in thine hand? Using what God has given you to your fullest potential

 “And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod.” Exodus 4:2

Two weeks ago in Part 1, we saw five lies that the devil tells us … and that we so gullibly believe … that hinder us from using what God has given to us to our fullest potential. Last week in Part 2, we saw where we must go for our instruction on how to use what God has given us and that is the Word of God. This week we will try to wrap all of this up.

God made each one of us unique. He also made each one of us with certain skills or talents (as the Bible calls them). In Matthew 25:14-30, we read about the parable of the talents. What is a parable? It is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. So, what meaning or what lesson does God want us to learn from this passage in regard to using what we have in our hand?

We see first of all that the lord gave EACH one of his servants at least ONE talent, did he not? What did he then expect his servants to do with that talent? To use it, correct? God has done the same for us. He has given EACH one of us at least ONE talent to USE.

How are we to use the talent or talents that God gives to us? Well, Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” So, clearly we must use it for God FIRST. THEN afterward, He will help take care of the rest of our needs.

How do we do this? Use your talent in God’s house. Church congregations are not as large as they used to be. There are so many churches struggling and closing their doors today and it is so sad. God ordained the church and He sustains the church through the giving of His children. This is done first and foremost through the giving of our tithes and offerings. Then it is also seen through each of us giving our service in some capacity within the church. God did not save us to be a hit-and-miss Christian. Neither did He save us to warm a pew. Use your talent in God’s house, my friend!

Right now, more than ever, people are struggling financially to support their families. I know it is extremely hard and I am not belittling this in any way. But, this is no time to despair, my friend! God already knew before you did what you would be facing today because He “knoweth what things ye have need of, BEFORE ye [even] ask him.” Matthew 6:8. He is not one bit surprised.

How can He be so confident? It is because He already has given you exactly what you need to do this! Yes, you heard me correctly. You right this very minute hold in your hand the very tool needed to provide for your family. The question is, are you using it?

Remember the devil lies. He is going to try to make you believe that it is someone else’s fault that you are where you are. That is a lie. He is going to try to make you believe that nothing can be done with what you currently have available to you. That is a lie. How do I know this? Because I read Matthew 25:14-30.

Nowhere in my Bible did it say that any of the servants exchanged talents because their lord gave them the wrong one. My Bible does say though that each servant who used their talent … what God put in their hand … He MULTIPLIED it! Yes, He MULTIPLIED each and every one of the talents that were USED!! Is not this the greatest news that you ever heard?

USE what is in your hand right now, my friend! Do not worry about tomorrow or the next day or next week or next month. You have in your hand TODAY exactly what you need!!

You may have only received one talent, but be FAITHFUL with that one talent. Use it! God will bless your faithfulness with even the smallest talent that He gave you.

That servant who never used his talent reaped nothing! Do not be like that servant. Do not lose it! For then you will have nothing.

The sower never reaps what he does not sow, but he always reaps more than he sowed.

Part 2: What is That in Thine Hand? Using what God has given You to your Fullest Potential

 “And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod.” Exodus 4:2

Last week in Part 1, we saw five lies that the devil tells us … and that we so gullibly believe … that hinder us from using what God has given to us to our fullest potential.

Life is full of struggles — health, finances, family, relationships, church, etc. I have struggled. You have struggled. Others struggle. Some of us have been so stuck in our struggles that we now sound like a broken record. Our continual whining and complaining and bemoaning and whatever pet name that we have for it has gotten old. We are tired of it and everyone else around us is tired of hearing about it.

I am in no means belittling our struggles because we all have struggles, but it is what we do with our struggles that really counts. So, how do we get past all of these struggles? How do we move through them? How do we conquer them? The answer to all of these questions is this: We do this through Christ.

First and foremost, we have got to get our eyes off of self and the woe-is-me attitude and get our focus back onto God. In our monthly Devotional Study Sheet this month, we are learning so much about how God is our all. In fact, this week we learned that our worth [value] comes from God. We also learned that our instruction must come from God as well.

So, what better place to help us in our life’s struggles than the Word of God.

1.  We must look unto Jesus — Hebrews 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith …” He is the beginning, He is the end, and He is everything in between. Why do we struggle so with unbelief that our Creator will not take care of us? Peter proved to us what happens when we get our eyes on the circumstances around us and off of God (Matthew 14:30-31).

2.  We must rest in confidence that God sees and knows — Matthew 6:8 “Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” BEFORE we can even ask, He knows!

3.  We must face these struggles in God’s strength — Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” We believe ourselves to be so tough; yet, what strength we forfeit by not letting Him be our strength. He is the omnipotent One! He is the all-powerful One!

4.  We must allow God to provide for us — Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” So many times I have slipped into the mode of self-preservation, which is completely opposite of what God wants for me and for you.

5.  We must use what God has given us — Exodus 4:2 And the Lord said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod.” How many times have you and I struggled through life looking for answers, when God had already put the rod in our hand? All we had to do was peel the blinders back to see what God had already provided and then use it!

Peel the blinders back, my friend, and join us here next week to see what God will reveal to us through His Word!

Part 1: What is that in Thine hand? Using what God has given you to your fullest potential

 “And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod.” Exodus 4:2

This topic has been on my heart and mind for some time now. I pray that God will give me mental clarity and my lips His words for I feel that too many of us need to hear what God wants us to hear about this.

We hurry and we scurry and fill our days to the fullest, but do we truly use what God has given us to our fullest potential?

It is so easy to get stuck into a certain mindset … into a rut, if you will. Do not start pointing fingers yet because you may be there right now and did not even have a clue. I know that I have been here. Sadly, it is not just confined to a certain race or a certain profession, and it is just as widespread in the church as it is out of the church.

What hinders us from living our lives to their fullest potential? Sometimes it is important to stop the merry-go-round of life and step off long enough to get a clear picture of what is really happening around us. To see where we really are headed in life.

Satan is the master hinderer. He is also a master at deceiving us into believing his lies. So, let us look at some lies that he uses to hinder us:

1.  By being busy, I accomplish more — This is so clearly portrayed in the contrast between Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42. Martha was so “cumbered about [with] much serving,” yet, Christ said that, “Mary hath chosen the good part.” Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet was the one who was blessed the most. Yes, we must serve, but we cannot fail to forget the “good part” either!

2.  Believing that all things are created equal; consequently, not setting priorities — The Bible clearly tells us in Matthew 6:33 that we are to, “seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Setting and living by priorities in our lives are so important and at the top of that list must be God. If we fail to do just this one simple thing, it can mess up everything else in our lives in a hurry.

3.  Feeling that we are not good enough — This feeling most often comes when we compare ourselves to others. II Corinthians 10:12 informs us that this is a very unwise practice. God “fearfully and wonderfully made” each one of us (Psalm 139:14). He did not make us to sit off to the side. No, my friend! He made us to use us. We are special to him and that is what counts!

4.  It looks too much like work — Sometimes we ignore what we are carrying in our hand because we do not want to use it. It may look too much like work to us! But, II Thessalonians 3:10 tells us that, “if any would not work, neither should he eat.” If we want sustenance physically for ourselves and for our families, we must work to provide for that.

5.  It does not matter how I do the job as long as it gets done — Umm … no! That is not what God says. God says in  II Corinthians 10:12 that “whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” We must do it with care and purpose. We must do it from the heart!

Come back next week as we continue with Part 2 … finding out how we can use what God has put in our hands!

Thirty Years and Counting: Cultivating a Lasting Relationship

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Genesis 1:27

What is involved in this cultivating? It is defined as preparing, fostering the growth of, encouraging, and developing. The word cultivating sounds too much like work to me. Is that what it sounds like to you? In truth, cultivating does involve work.

Yet, life has proven that things left untended or uncultivated quickly die. They seem to constantly struggle to the point where they finally give up. Not only is their life shortened, but they are cheated out of their full potential. This is where in marriage you hear, “I do not love them anymore.”

“I do not love them anymore.”

This past week, my husband and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. It is amazing how fast time flies. In one respect, it seems like yesterday, yet on the other hand, it seems like it has always been. Reaching this milestone in my life and in our marriage has caused me to ponder what has been, what could have been, and what could be in our relationship.

I will be the first one to admit that I have not always been the best wife, nor the one that is the easiest to get along with. Actually, looking back, there are many things that I regret or times that I wished that I had acted or spoken differently.

I believe though that there are some things in life that have to be lived and learned. By focusing my reflections on these things, I will be able to do more cultivating in the future in my marriage.

Today I would like to share some things that God has shown me, during my time of reflection, in how to truly cultivate a lasting relationship. Not only with my spouse, but, surprisingly these are the exact same principles that will also cultivate a more lasting and beneficial relationship with God.

¨ We must be united as one — Matthew 19:6
¨ We must draw together — James 4:8
¨ We must love unconditionally — I Corinthians 13
¨ We must stick closer than a brother — Proverbs 18:24
¨ We must be fruitful in all areas — Genesis 1:28
¨ We must be a helpmeet — Genesis 2:18
¨ We must communicate in every area — Philippians 4:6
¨ We must surrender our authority to God’s chain of authority — Ephesians 5:22-24
¨ We must not be weary — Galatians 6:9
¨ We must sow if we want to reap — II Corinthians 9:6

This, by far, is not an all-inclusive list, but it surely is a good starting place, is it not? There are so many other key factors that could be added here, such as, communication, forgiveness, selflessness, etc. I am sure that you could very quickly even name a few to add to the list.

I believe that they all boil down to one main key and that is found in II Corinthians 9:6 where we find the law of sowing and reaping. You will get out of any relationship what you put into it. So, sow and cultivate wisely, my friend, for you will reap the benefits for many years to come, and some at an even greater degree.

You will get out of any relationship what you put into it.

Sunday Savourings: Flattening the Curve

 “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” James 4:8

Much talk today is surrounded by “flattening the curve” … the Coronavirus curve that is. Not only much talk, but much work has been involved in learning not only 1) what it is but 2) what the cause is, 3) how it is spread, 4) how to eliminate it, and 5) how to keep from getting it in the future … to flatten the curve.

Is there such a thing in the spiritual realm … as flattening the curve?

Today, I would like us to open our spiritual eyes and see what this term means for you and me as Christians. Is there even such a thing in the spiritual realm … as flattening the curve? I truly believe so! Let us look at just that:

1) What is it? In the spiritual realm, it is called SIN. Unlike the Coronavirus though, ALL of us have it as Romans 3:23 tells us … “For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” It is that sin that inflates the curve. It is that very sin that separates us from a righteous and holy God … Isaiah 59:2 “But your iniquities [sins] have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”

2) What is the cause of that sin? The Bible is very clear that it was by ONE man’s sin … “Wherefore, as by ONE man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon ALL men, for that ALL have sinned.” (Romans 5:12) It was the first man, Adam. It was his sin that day in the Garden. Now, every man after him is born in sin. The Coronavirus started with just ONE and now look at how many it has affected.

3) How is sin spread? Before we can understand how sin is spread, we must first realize where it resides. It resides in the heart of man. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” But James 1 goes on to tell us that “when lust [temptation] hath conceived [is acted upon], it bringeth forth sin … [then] when [sin] is finished, [it] bringeth forth death.” A death far worse than any victim of the Coronavirus has ever experienced. For it is a death, for all of those who have chosen to live a life of sin, that is followed by everlasting punishment in hell (Matthew 25:46).

4) How do we eliminate sin? Washing! So simple, yet so often overlooked, is it not? I have never washed my hands so thoroughly my entire life as I have these past weeks with the Coronavirus. Why? Because I wanted to flatten the curve. I wanted to do my part. We need that washing that comes from God’s Word as well (Ephesians 5:26). When we apply God’s Word and confess our sins (I John 1:9), HE (God alone) is able to cleanse us. What a magnificent cleansing that is too! 

Exposing yourself to God and His Word flattens the curve of sin.

5) How do we keep from getting it in the future? Immunity. For Christians, it is not exposure to sin and the world that brings immunity. No, my friend! It is the exposure to God and His Word! It is building a wall or layer of protection around our whole entire being. In the scripture, it is known as the Christian’s armor. Ephesians 6:11-12 tells us that we are to “Put on the WHOLE armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against … against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Sin inflates. Drawing nigh to God flattens the curve.

Sin inflates. So, in order for you and I, my friend, to flatten the curve in our lives we must simply “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.” Draw closer to Him … flatten the curve!

A printable version of this devotion is available.