Everyone likes to get gifts, free stuff, huge discounts, or even win the lottery. But the thing we find with most such gifts is that they are short lived. Many gifts get put aside, free stuff is not all that useful, and many big lottery winners have found the money more of a curse than a blessing. The writer of the Book of James tells us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”(James 1:17) We often seek after toys and baubles in life ignoring the One from whom our true treasure comes. It is the Lord who is the source of life. It is He who has given us life in Jesus Christ. God shows us in His Word the path to the best life possible. It is He who loves us with an everlasting love that never changes. Everything else we have in this world can be seen as a gift of God, and received with thankfulness and praise. Sure, getting gifts is nice, but we live daily in the joy of having already received the greatest gift possible, a relationship with Almighty God through faith in Jesus Christ. Everything else flows from this.
In the Book of Esther, the Jewish queen in the pagan capital of Persia found herself in the position of being the only one who could plead for the lives of her people before the king. Read the book again sometime. It is a great account of courage and God’s providence. Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, says to her, “Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” An interesting thought. God knew us before we were born. Did He choose the time, place, and family of our birth for His purpose, and a task that we are to accomplish? We need to be careful with making general rules out of one or two verses, but it does help us to think about our lives. God does have a purpose for each of us. Our first and over all purpose is to bring glory to His name in all we do. But He has given each of us particular abilities, personalities, and desires that fit us for certain tasks. He has given each of us gifts to use in His service. Who knows but that we are called to use those gifts for such a time as this? Keep the eyes of your heart open to the possibilities our Lord lays before you.
We admire men and women who have made it to the top of their profession, especially if they came from a poor background and worked their way up. They are sometimes referred to as self-made individuals, but there really is no such thing. Yes, they had to put forth great effort, endure hardship, and have patience as they moved forward, but where did all that come from? It is God who has made us, and we are His. He has given us personality traits, A, B, C types, or whatever. It is He who has given us gifts and abilities in certain areas. It is He who has open or closed doors of opportunity. Self-made? Not a chance. And this is true for each of us. God has given you gifts just as He has with corporate climbers, and your gifts are no less important. Your accomplishments don’t need to be compared to anyone. We are responsible before God to recognize the gifts God has given, and use them to the fullest to His glory. Whether one is the best industry president, able to preach a great sermon, or skilled in making a solid brick wall, it is our gift from God and use to bring Him honor. (Mark 12:41-44)
How can something that happened to me so long ago, something that I was too young to even remember, have any meaning for my life today? I am speaking about baptism. Most of us were baptized as infants. It is a simple act in church that took maybe ten minutes. Yet in that simple act, when I was totally helpless, has given me a new life, and the indwelling presence of God, the Holy Spirit. In the years since, even when I’ve not been aware of it, even when I’ve not wanted it, God has been working in my life to bring me to Himself. That simple act with some water, and the promise of God’s Word, has made a profound change in my life, as it has done in yours. Even if you are not presently aware of how the Lord is working in your life, the fact of your baptism declares His great love for you. It assures you that He is working for your good beyond anything you presently understand. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,..” (I Peter 1:3)
The internet is a great tool for communicating, and gathering and sharing information, but like anything else, it can be used for wrong purposes. I say this today, because someone got into my WordPress site which receives this Good Morning, adding a solicitation for money. Please know that I will never do, or support any solicitation of funds on my web sites. If you ever receive anything like this please disregard it and let me know. We caught this one quickly and removed it. I do sell two of my book on my main site, but that is all. I sincerely apologize if anyone received this fake message. It does again point to the truth that any good gift can be distorted, and used for very wrong and destructive purposes. This is especially true of God’s gifts. The Scripture is full of examples of people taking a good thing before its proper time, or using something outside of God’s intended context. This is always destructive. This is why God has instructed us by His commandments. Living within them leads to blessing and joy.
Paul writing to his spiritual son, Timothy, tells him to be “diligent in the matters” he has instructed him about, and to “guard what has been entrusted to your care.”(ITim. 4:15&5:20) Timothy was leading a church congregation at the time, but Paul’s words are applicable for all of us. We have all been entrusted with a gift of God’s grace in our life in Jesus Christ. We have all been instructed in the way of life that honors our Lord. We have all been given talents and abilities that are good and useful in the Lord’s service. These are all good gifts from our Lord. Gifts are only useful if they are unwrapped, fully understood, and put to good use. Stewardship is using what we have been given in the service of our Lord in whatever ways He daily opens for us. In this way God is honored with our lives.
Last evening we watched a concert by the Vienna Philharmonic on PBS. It was a piano concerto by Liszt. A very lengthy and complicated piece. Yet the pianist had it completely memorized. I marveled again at the mind that God has given man. This is only one man using his gift in this one area of music. There are equally brilliant minds using gifts in many other areas of endeavor. If this is what God has given, how infinitely greater is the mind that gave them! Further, we share in the beauty of the composer’s gift to write, each of the musicians gifts to play and direct, and all of the gifts working together to bring harmony and beauty to all those who listen. An accident? Merely the culmination of human ability? Not at all, but gifts of a gracious God, and a very small glimpse into the beauty He intends for us in His Kingdom. Even a Vienna concert should bring us to worship our gracious Lord, and a longing for our true home.