3 Ways to Bring Your God-Given Gifts and Abilites to the Next Level

3 Ways to Bring Your God-Given Gifts and Abilites to the Next Level

Below you’re going to find some inspiration about three God-given gifts and abilities you could be hiding today. But first… a story!

A land owner, a kind and rich business man, comes to three of his employees with a proposal
“I will be going away for a few weeks, but when I return we will be having a large celebration. I need you all to help me prepare it.”

He knew the first woman was especially good with preparing food in a variety of ways and knew she could make an unforgettable feast. He brought her to a large kitchen, and provided her with all the ingredients she would need. She marveled at it all, jand got straight to work.

The second woman was particulary good with any art and painting. So he commissioned three pieces of art in honour of the celebration. He gave her canvases, paint and brushes and showed her a beautiful atelier where she could paint to her heart’s content.

Since the owner loved music, he requested the third woman compose a song in honour of the feast. He took her to a beautiful piano in his personal music room, and told her to write something he would love. “This piano belongs to you now, use it well!” he said to her.

Over those few weeks the first woman planned and prepared. She found more unique ingredients from the area and created new recipes. Then she thought of two other talented people who would be suitable in helping her in create this feast fit for a king and trained them.

The second woman created not three pieces of artwork, but five! Each piece represented a season in one of the the owners’ local farms and a fifth piece portraying a scene of the owner and his employees in their daily life together.

The third woman was totally terrified with the thought of playing a song in front of the owner.
“What if he hated it?” “What if people laughed at her?” She thought. “Oh, he doesn’t really care anyway.”
She barely touched the piano she was so afraid. She decided she’d clean it for him instead, and then watched a movie to forget about her discomfort. “Maybe, he’ll appreciate that it’s clean and untouched?” she wondered.

He returned the day of the feast to see how the women were faring. After looking around at everything prepared by the first woman his eyes sparkled. “You have created a fantastic feast, and have invested into the future of my business by training more people! From now on, this entire kitchen belongs to you. You shall be promoted to my vice-president and help me run my entire business.

The second woman revealed the five paintings one by one. The owner marvelled at each of her unique representations of the seasons of one of his local farms. After the unveiling of the fifth, he was overjoyed, “I did not expect this!” he exclaimed, “you’ve captured our lives together with such mastery.” You have done well, from now on the atelier belongs to you, and I will provide whatever tools that you require to keep painting such beautiful pieces. You and these five pieces will travel the world with me on an art tour that depicts our area and work. It will be the experience of a lifetime.

Timidly, the third woman came to him. Full of expectation, he walked with her into his music room. “Sir,” she said, “I know that you have high expectations, so I was afraid and I have nothing to show you but that your piano is still here and clean.”
Shaking his head in great displeasure, he was sad when he spoke to the woman.
“I gave you this task because I knew that you could do it. You have every talent and resource needed. All you had to do to please me was to use those things I gave to you. From now on this piano, which was yours, will be given to the first woman for I know she will make good use of it.”
He ended with this, “Look, if I give someone resources and talents, I want them to use it and manage those things well. If they waste it or hide it in fear, I will take them away and give more to those who are already using what I’ve given.”

If you haven’t guessed it already, this is my rendition of Matthew 25:14-30

The Parable of the Talents. I’ve always found this to be both an intriguing and convicting parable. Here God is portrayed as a sort of wealthy business man, with high expectations of his employees.

In a few moments we are going to look at three things you may not be using, but before that I have a couple of questions for you:

How do you feel when you hear this story? Which woman do you most identify with?

I think Jesus used this story to wake people up.


In fact, right before Jesus tells this parable, he catches our attention with the Parable of the Ten Virgins. There are five foolish virgins who didn’t have enough oil for their lamps and five wise virgins who were all ready to go. When the bridegroom arrives in the middle of the night, the five foolish virgins are out shopping and the ones who are good to go are waiting in anticipation and get to go the wedding party. Jesus uses this story to remind us to stay awake, be ready, and prepare for his return. It’s interesting how Jesus uses stories as reminders that we should be prepared for his arrival, they evoke so much emotion and self reflection in such a gentle but powerful way.
I think he uses oil as an illustration of us being ready with everything we have: our talents, money, resources, and giftings etc so that we can be a light and glorify the king.

Before we get to those three things you may not be using, let’s look at a couple of scriptures.

Ephesians 2:10 and Philippians 4:19 confirm that we are created with a plan and a purpose with ALL the resources and talent that are required to do the good works he’s prepared for us.

Ephesians says:
10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

and in Philippians it says:

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

3 Gifts and Abilities You May Not be Using Today

1. Could it be your money? You’re careful at saving, and spending it wisely, but has God given you this gift so that you walk in the calling of being irrationally generous?

2. Perhaps you have a talent you’re hiding? You’re too embarrassed to create a painting that is sub-par in your opinion, so you don’t do anything. But the King is waiting for you to stop hiding it under a bucket and exemplify his glory using your hands. Start  small and simple. Meditate on your favourite verse, put your brush to the canvas and paint together with the master artist.

3. Maybe it’s writing, your head is filled with poetry and stories but you have managed to get anything out of your head onto paper. In that case, it may be helpful to start the habit of writing something every day (no matter how simple and small) to get you started on developing those words of yours. God created using WORDS, check out the jewelry my friend makes with words. What a precious gift to be able to use them co-create with the ultimate wordsmith.

 

I hope those three things get your creative juices flowing, and help you think about what God-given gifts and abilities you already have!

Next week I’m going to share with you a huge fourth thing that most people ignore.

But right now I have a hard question for you.

What are you wasting?
What has God given to you that you’re hiding under a bucket?

A Change of Perspective about your God-given Gifts and Abilities

But before I finish, I have a story to tell you along with this verse in Matthew 5: 14- 16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Every good thing God has given you is for a reason and a purpose.

He gives gifts for you to give.

This reminds me of an illustration used by some friends of mine as they were teaching about the Holy Spirit, and I think it works well here too.

There is as man who gives a woman a gift to pass on to her neighbor. She is so excited about receiving the gift that she doesn’t actually pass it on. Rather, she stands there looking at it, admiring it, turning it around in her hands, but doesn’t pass it on. She is just totally enamored with having the gift. The man reminds her that the gift is actually for her neighbor, it’s not actually hers. The woman continues to gaze at the gift, and finally it’s taking so long for her to pass it on that it’s getting a bit ridiculous.
Finally, after a bit more pressure from the original giver of the gift, she finally gives it to her neighbor who receives it with joy.

I like this illustration because all too often we think we OWN our time, talents, resources or even spiritual gifts that we actually hoard them. Though the WHOLE reason God has given those things to us is to pass them on to others.

To recap today we talked about two parables, the Parable of the Talents and the Parable of the Virgins. We see that Jesus wants us to be ready and prepared for when he returns. He has entrusted us with resources, time and talents and he has high expectations in how we use them. Next time we will talk about one other thing you are probably ignoring.

So let’s end with this question: is there a gift God has given you that you can you pass on today?

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No, we are not humbugs, nor miserable human beings. In fact, we LOVE Christmas. We just really don’t like the big guy in red (or lying to our children). Check out the above video to find out why we began a rebellion against lying and why we don’t do Santa Claus in our house.

St. Nicholas Day (or Feast of St. Nicholas)

 

Did you know that there is an actual day to celebrate St. Nicholas? December 6th! In  Germany (and many other nations) celebrate the Saint Nicholas of Myra who was an early Christian Bishop.
In Germany, we all put our boots and shoes outside to be filled with oranges, nuts, apples, and chocolates. Which reminds me, this year we are spending Christmas in Canada so I’m going to miss my mother-in-laws amazing “Nikolaus” bag of goodies she gives to us.

What a pity.

Continuing with St. Nicholas…
This man was incredible and known for his generosity. Though very little is actually known about him, his life and remembrance are surrounded by fantastic legends of miracles he did. He is a father of our Christian faith, and even attended the Council of Nicea!

 

Besides the couple of legends I mentioned in the video, he is possibly most well known for his gift of a dowry for three impoverished sisters. Today, we read  Story of the World Vol. 2 book that Nicholas actually threw bags of gold coin down the impoverished family’s chimney. Perhaps that’s where the whole tale of Santa going down the chimney comes from?

 

Do You Do Santa?

 

 Share below whether you “do” Santa. Why or why not?  I’d love to know!

 

 

 

Are you ready to have a more intentional and quiet Advent?

 

Sign up for the FREE simple email challenge. Every Sunday during Advent you’ll receive an email from moi. This challenge is designed for you to remember and prepare yourself for the King!

 

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Why is Advent Important?

What is Advent and why is it important? Before we dive in, I want you to imagine yourself as the president (or prime minister or head of state) of your country. Ready?

What do Presidents and Advent have to do with one another?

Imagine you, Mrs. President, are visiting a foreign country, flying in with a host of dignitaries and attendants. The plane lands on the airstrip, the stairway is attached, and as the door opens, you step out, hand half raised to wave and greet the waiting crowd,

and you see – no one.

Did they really forgot this important visit? It’s inconceivable! But imagine how much more embarrassing it must be for the country you are visiting. No frantic scramble can make up for the fact that they utterly failed to receive you with due honor. Whatever they manage to quickly put together as a formal reception will be piecemeal, hastily assembled, and lacking the careful composition and foresight that would normally be expanded for guests of honor.

Now, I have never heard of a case where a country’s political leadership forgot about the visit of a foreign dignitary. Probably because they all have a very important tool – a calendar. In a way, Advent is like that.

 

A Brief History – The Origins of the word “Advent”

 

Maybe you found it challenging to imagine yourself as President or Chancellor, and you were wondering what that might have to do with Advent. It might surprise you – as it did me – that originally this time was named “epiphaneia”, and this word means the arrival, presence, or visit of a dignitary, particularly of a king or emperor. (January 6 is still celebrated as Epiphany for that reason.)

 

When Latin took over in the Western church, the name for the weeks leading up to Christmas was called tempus adventus Domini – the time of the arrival of the Lord. Hence we got the name Advent for this season.

Maybe you are interested in Advent trivia such as the fact that until 1917, Advent was a time of fasting in the Roman Catholic Church, comparable to Lent. And that this period once used to range from November 11 until January 6 (so no stuffing yourself with sugar cookies all through December).

 

What is Advent and Why is it Important?

Whether such facts intrigue you or not, one question remains: why have such a time at all? Couldn’t we just celebrate Christmas and be happy about it?

It seems to me that the Christians in the first centuries were at least as wise as we, if not wiser. Maybe they saw the danger of Christmas just sneaking up on us and catching us unprepared. Or maybe they thought along the lines of preparing for an important dignitary, making sure that everything – inwardly and outwardly – was ready for his arrival. How embarrassing it would be having to scramble on the last day, and how shameful for the honoured guest to be treated with such a lack of anticipation!

 

Different Historical Advent Traditions

To be sure, the emphasis varied initially. Some highlighted the miracle of the incarnation, underscoring the unfathomable mystery that God entered humanity. Others placed the focus more on the fact that, just as Jesus came once as a baby, he will come again as king of the universe and bring justice and peace forever

Both are important, and both are much too weighty to ponder on single day, sandwiched in between meal preparations and family gatherings.

A Time to Long and a Time to Celebrate

Which is why we have Advent – a season to let the astounding truths of Jesus’ first and second coming soak into our very souls, to incite in us longing and gratefulness and praise. And a time to prepare ourselves for the joyful celebration. The celebration where we remember Him entering our world and becoming like us. And where we celebrate His impending return in glory.

Thank you to my fantastic husband, Simon Goeppert for this guest post!

If you like his thoughts and writing, be sure to check out our new Advent Devotional!

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7 Advent Facts You Probably Don’t Know

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Symbolic Themes of the Advent Candles

You might notice that in the video I didn’t go into detail about just what each candle can represent. Since there were at least five different variations I decided it would be better to list them here. These candles are traditionally on an Advent wreath but in recent years there has been a rise of more non-traditional forms of containing lighting the candles.

Variation 1:

  • The Prophets’ Candle, symbolizing hope; the Bethlehem Candle, symbolizing faith; the Shepherds’ Candle, symbolizing joy; the Angel’s Candle, symbolizing peace

Variation 2:

  • Hope–Peace–Joy–Love

Variation 3:

  • Faithfulness–Hope–Joy–Love

Variation 4:

  • Prophets–Angels–Shepherds–Magi

Variation 5:

  • Faith–Prepare–Joy–Love

 

As you can see, that’s a lot of love!

 

Family Advent Tip:

Last year we did our own mini Advent Candle lighting ceremony. We sang a song, and lit the candle. You can find many traditional Advent songs by doing a quick google search. Or you can check out this handy list of songs suitable for Advent: https://focusoncampus.org/content/10-advent-songs-to-remind-you-its-not-yet-christmas

 

3 Minute Advent Devotions

My awesome hubby and I recently released a new Simple Advent Devotional Ebook which we are very excited about. We focus on different Advent themes including longing, promise, and fulfillment.

 

DIY Advent Traditions

If you want to customize your Advent wreath and change up the symbolism, I’d say, “Go for it!”. As long as the Spirit of Advent is there and that is: Hope and Anticipation!

 

Are you ready to have a more intentional and quiet Advent?

 

Sign up for the FREE simple email challenge. Every Sunday during Advent you’ll receive an email from moi. This challenge is designed for you to remember and prepare yourself for the King!

 

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Why is Advent Important?

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What is Advent and why is it important? Before we dive in, I want you to imagine yourself as the president (or prime minister or head of state) of your country. Ready? What do Presidents and Advent have to do with one another?Imagine you, Mrs. President, are visiting...

7 Advent Facts You Probably Don’t Know

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Advent Devotional for the Scatterbrained Mom

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Simple Advent Devotions for the Scatterbrained Mom Exclusively for scatterbrained Mamas Simple daily devotionsDesigned to prepare the busy heart of the mom for the coming of the King.Set aside time daily to rest and be in the presence of GodCelebrate Christmas with...

Free Christmas Printables

Free Christmas Printables

Free Christmas Printables

 Christmas Art

In two different sizes: Letter and a4 format. Instant download, and print yourself.

Free Printable Christmas Gift Tags

Click to download!

Free Printable Library? Yes Please!

Reading the Grand Story of the Bible in Under 2 Hours

Reading the Grand Story of the Bible in Under 2 Hours

An Evening of Reading through the Greatest story, ever.

So there we were, a small classroom full of missionaries, overcome by an utter sense of awe. My eyes were tearing up, and all I could do was pray in my very feeble words my overwhelming gratitude to God.

This has to be one of the most powerful exercises I’ve encountered.

 

What intrigued me the most about this experience, was that it wasn’t anything “special”.

There was no fire falling down, no miraculous healings, no prophets sharing a word,

just the Bible being read.

But with a very special intention…

To gather a big picture view of God’s story with mankind.

 

 

Reading Through the Greatest Story Ever

We tried this same exercise last year with some of the students we lead. My vision was to have a “Story” evening: where we could taste, hear and see God’s story with us. My goal was that each one of us would leave that evening with a renewed understanding of God’s story and his faithfulness.

So, interwoven between food, we read aloud through the Bible. Each one of us took turns reading through some verses I had picked out.

It was a lovely evening of friendship and the Bible, and the kids even joined us at the beginning. After dinner, we sent them off to bed, and continued to read the bulk of the verses while sharing in some tasty wine.

This is a great exercise for a small group, Bible study, discipleship group, or even a date night.

Simplify With Kids – Make it Your Own!

As of yet, we have not tried a full reading through with our little ones.

I think it’s possible though if you were to go through the verses and make it work for your family.

 

Missing the Big Picture

Do you like reading and dwelling on individual verses, and chapters of the Bible?

So do I.

In fact, this is how I dwell daily in the word.
Bit by bit.

But…

Sometimes we’re so caught up focusing on the intricate details of each puzzle piece, that we forget to stand back and look at the puzzle in all it’s glory.

That’s what reading through these verses is like.

If you read these highlights aloud (even better with friends) it will renew your understand and vision of The Greatest Story Ever – The Bible.

 

Life Changing, Faith Boosting, Bible Reading

After my first experience reading through these verses in the classroom, I felt almost a bit silly.

Why hadn’t I thought of this before?

It was so simple, but so powerful.

I’m very grateful for Dr. Anita Koeshall who introduced this “Grand Picture” thinking and reading and has taught me so much personally.

 

 

 

Please try this out and tell me your experience!

I’d love to hear about how you use it with your family or small group, or discipleship group!

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Why is Advent Important?

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Advent Devotional for the Scatterbrained Mom

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