Limited in what you can do?

Psalm 42 was written by a Korahite, a temple singer, who in exile was kept from his duties among God’s people. He longs for the day when he can again participate in temple worship, perhaps even leading the procession to the holy place. He agonizes and questions his present suffering, but the great refrain of the psalm (vv. 5, 11) is to wait for God, to hope in him and give him thanks, for he is Savior.

It is noteworthy that the author does what he did best: he wrote a song and sang it. It wasn’t in the temple, but he used his talents to do what he could under the restrictions he was subjected to.

The psalm can have a good application to us who are used to serving the Lord in specific ways and with well-defined gifts. We may not be able to do that today, because of the social distancing. But we can still use the talents God gives us within our limitations. We may agonize and question, as the psalmist did, but he encourages us to wait for God and, in the meantime, do what is within our possibility.

#Psalms #limitations #gifts #restrictions #coronavirus

Serve one another, 1 Peter 4.10

“Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of the varied grace of God.”

1 Peter 4.10

Every single Christian receives gifts to be put to use in the body of Christ. To be a good steward, one must use them to serve the saints.

God is a giver. From his varied grace, he gives me a gift of some sort to serve. What is that gift? How can it be used? What needs are there in the body that it can meet?

#votd #1-Peter #gifts

What Lies Behind the Materialism of Christmas?

Christmas is a time of peace on earth and good will toward men. Or so we are told.

Rather, in our modern day, it is a time of insane commercialism and insatiable greed. We spend all of our money for gifts and fight on, tossing future earnings, plus interest, into the melee. All of this to buy gifts for our loved ones, no matter the cost or physical harm that may come to our bodies.

I wonder why we never pause, reflect and ask why. Why do we damage our health and finances to find the perfect toys or electronics? What lies behind our behavior?

Continue reading

#christmas, #fleshly, #gifts, #materialism, #spiritual

"now in a mirror, dimly, then face to face" – A different thought

The verse is 1 Cor 13:12 “For now I see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I am known.” If you consult most, they will reply that this verse is contrasting the condition of human kind now and after in eternity; on earth and in heaven. But I offer a different thought as to its meaning. There is no doubt there is a contrast. It is the same contrast that runs through the context: the temporary with the abiding, the “in part” with the “complete” (or “perfect” in KJV), the childish with the mature, the partial knowledge with the fuller knowledge. If the “in part” is partial revelation that came through the HS’s gifting, the “complete” is the complete revelation from God when the gifts “failed”, “ceased” and “vanished away”. In view of this, an earthly verses heavenly contrast in v12a is out of place. However, a closer look at this comparison reveals that Paul is alluding to an OT passage in which this same figure had been used. In Numbers 12, Miriam and Aaron had complained about Moses. God rebuked them and told them that a prophet, which they were, received God’s revelation dimly, “not in dark sayings” (v 8 NKJV). In the LXX the word chosen is the same from which we get “enigmas” in English and translated “riddles” (ESV, NIV). In contrast Moses is said to receive revelation “face to face”. This cannot be literal considering Ex 33:20-23 and Jn 1:18. Rather it is a figure that declares Moses received revelation much clearer than Aaron or Miriam. In 1 Cor 13:12 this same Greek word is used by Paul and is translated “dimly”. So then, when “in a mirror dimly” is seen as an allusion to Num 12:8 and the contrast there between partial revelation and fuller revelation, the contrast fits with the rest of the context and the “face to face” has nothing to do with seeing God face to face in heaven but means when revelation is completely revealed and the gifts cease, Christians on earth, here and now, will be able to see more clearly than when it was “in part.”

#face-to-face, #gifts, #perfect

Daily Nudge: talents wanted

If God were to give you another talent or ability, what would you want it to be? Did you ever feel the need or desire to have a gift that you lacked? Have you ever asked the Lord for a talent you didn’t have, or tried to develop this ability in yourself?

Obviously, the Spirit gives gifts to whom he will, “distributing as he decides to each person, who produces all these things” (1 Cor. 12:11 NET). And we confess that “each has his own gift from God, one this way, another that” (1 Cor. 7: 7). And Paul says that “the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29).

We ought not wish to be rid of one gift and desire another, for the sake of recognition or to impress, as did the Corinthians (see 1 Cor. 12-14). But surely we’ve had moments when we desired a different gift in order to be useful in the kingdom?

#abilities, #body-of-christ, #gifts, #nudge, #talents

Gifts for the Church

One of the fun things of the holiday season is the giving and receiving of gifts.

One of my friends received a “Mustang” coffee mug from me. He fancies cowboy hats, buckles and Western things, so when I saw the mug, it seemed perfect for him.

What gifts can we give the church? Don’t we plan on giving the church anything besides contributions this year?

In two sermons, I discussed four gifts we can give the church. We can pray for the church to grow and for its members to increase their faith. We can give the church our cooperation in the work that it has to do and with the goals the elders have decided to pursue. We can give the gift of enthusiasm. If a person grows faith, won’t their enthusiasm increase? And, we can give the church our love, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.

What other gifts can we give the church this year? What do you think?

#gifts, #giving, #new-year

Weekend Nudge: gift-giving — and news

Share a thought about giving gifts, any thought, some slice of wisdom, a helping of insight, a pedestrian point, even. Surely, the day’s activities gendered some thought on the subject.

We’ll let this nudge stand for today and tomorrow.


#gifts, #giving-gifts, #nudge

The greatest gift daddy ever gave mother.

‘Tis the season to be jolly and a beautiful season it is. It is the season of gift-giving. My thoughts go back through the years to the gift that Daddy gave mother unknowingly.

I was the youngest of three children. Being seven years younger than my youngest brother gave me time at home as if I were an only child. My daddy had a problem with drinking and wasn’t interested in spiritual things, or at least as far as I could tell. But mother kept the home fires burning and taught us the Bible way.

Mother didn’t drive. She promised me when I turned sixteen and got my driver’s license she would buy us a car and I could drive us to church, as she called it. We looked forward to that time. I passed the test the first time and got my license. Mother kept her promise and bought us a 1956 Chevrolet that was turquoise and white. Mother and I started going to worship. Mother was re-baptized to make sure of her baptism. At the age of eleven she had given in to a group of friends who begged her to come on and be baptized with them. Daddy wasn’t interested in going to church with us, but then Daddy got sick.

Daddy was hospitalized for several days and I had an idea. I made an appointment to talk with his doctor. After being seated in front of Dr. Cooper’s desk, I told him who I was and that my Daddy was his patient in the hospital. He nodded his head. I said, “Dr. Cooper, I wouldn’t ask you to lie for anything in the world. My daddy has drunk all my life, and if you could tell him something that would scare him into quitting his drinking, you would make our house a home.” I don’t recall Dr. Cooper doing any more than listening, but I left there with a hopeful heart.

Later in the week daddy was dismissed from the hospital. Before I left for work one morning he commented that he had wanted to talk to “that little preacher” but never got to. Raymond Elliott, preacher at the local church, had visited Daddy regularly in the hospital. Raymond called me at work that morning to see how daddy was doing. He came to visit him that afternoon. As the three of us sat in the living room visiting, I was afraid to mention what Daddy had said that morning, but I did it anyway. I asked daddy if he didn’t say he wanted to talk to the preacher. He said that he did. My heart was in my throat. I knew better than to make my daddy mad. Raymond ushered me out of the room immediately and closed the door so they could talk privately.

The next Sunday was a beautiful day. Douglas was visiting me from Alabama Christian College and Daddy asked if he could go to church with us. He and mother sat toward the back in the middle section of the building. Doug and I sat nearer the front. My heart was overflowing with joy and I know mother’s was also. During the invitation song I noticed movement to my left. I can still see my daddy walking down the aisle toward brother Elliott. He confessed having lived in sin for 30 years. I had lived 20 of those years with him.

Daddy gave God his heart that Sunday morning, confessed his sins and laid his drinking, smoking and cursing down that day. He gave mother the best gift he could have ever given her. Daddy later became a deacon in the church and couldn’t understand why anyone would ever want to drink. Daddy and mother attended the services of the church every time the doors were open and they were physically able to go. He loved dressing in the suits mother bought him, and wore them all day on Sunday. Mother wanted him to change his clothes and not get them dirty. Daddy died a faithful Christian at the age of 78 years. Mother looks forward to seeing him again one day.

The gift daddy gave mother was priceless and is treasured still.

#example, #gifts

Sunday night and useful gift

I see I spelled wrong the name of Tenn., in a previous post. I was in a hurry before going to Taubate. Haste makes waste, or as Brazilians say it, and I like this one better, “Haste is the enemy of perfection.” Loses something in translation, but there it is.

Glad I was able to give Richard a heads-up about the weather farther south.

I enjoyed John’s post on Philippians, with Guy N. Wood’s sermon points. I’ve not commented on much lately, with my rush to put things in order and prepare to travel next week, but I was grateful for each recent post.

My most useful gift received, at least, in recent years, was the latest Bauer’s Greek-English lexicon. I had to ask for it a couple of Christmases before I got it, because it’s not cheap and my wife doesn’t look kindly on book requests from Santa, but it’s a precious and important resource when I want to research and write on biblical subjects. My first year or so after college graduation I bought the second, 1979 edition. A missionary returning to the U.S. sold the first 1957 edition cheap so I bought it to trace the developments of the Bauer line. Now I have all three. And just recently I saw that Dr. Gingrich had come out with his own lexicon. I hinted to The Wife about a future Christmas present, but her frowns and grunts didn’t give me much hope.


Daily Nudge: useful gift

What’s the most useful gift you’ve ever received? Can be something you received for Christmas, your birthday, any special day or none at all. But it must have been a gift to you. Besides that pair of socks.

Gift-giving is an art, to which I’m clueless, but I do understand the principle of getting something for a person that he will appreciate and find useful.

#gifts, #nudge

Daily Nudge: best talent — and news

What's your best talent?

The Lord gives us all talents, or gifts, to be used in his kingdom. Among your many talents, which is your best? probes the Nudge on this cool Wednesday morning.

There are several lists of gifts, both miraculous and not, in the New Testament, among them, 1 Cor 12, Rom 12, Eph 4, 1 Pet 4. Need we make the common disclaimer that the miraculous has ceased today?

Surely more gifts than those listed in Scripture function in the church for its growth and edification. You may have one we’ve not heard of yet.

This is not one of those dumb talent shows on the telly, by the way. I do hope you’re not an addict of one of those.

On the newsy side, is there an interesting baptism in your congregation? (Aren’t they all?) A beloved saint who has passed? An event that brought a special blessing? An outreach that has opened new areas of work? So much to be shared!

#gifts, #talents

What are my gifts?

I suppose to properly consider this question I would need to reflect on the passages of Scripture that refer to gifts (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Peter 4:10-11). In addition to this, we learn that some of the gifts were destined to pass away (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:8-10). It appears that God gives gifts to his people for two reasons: (1) that he would be glorified (Ephesians 3:20-21; 1 Peter 4:11) and (2) for the building up of the body (Ephesians 4:12-16). I personally favor the passage in Romans because with the exception of one gift (i.e. the gift of prophecy), all will admit the others continue to be necessary in the church today.

Paul teaches that we must not think to highly of ourselves, but to think with sober judgment (Romans 12:3), but he also teaches that it is important that we use our gifts (12:6). I believe that teaching and serving are the gifts that God has given to me. I pray that I will use these gifts to glorify him and build up his body. And perhaps as I gain more of his trust, he will graciously give more gifts.

#church, #gifts, #god


Some years ago a good friend and brother said I had the ability of synthesis, or seeing the whole picture, connecting the dots.

I only wish I had the gift, also, helping others to see that the dots are connected.


What are your gifts (talents)?

The Daily Nudge asks the Fellows today what their gifts or talents are. It is an act of humility to recognize what God has given his children for use in the kingdom. Until those those gifts are acknowledged, it would seem, they cannot be properly utilized.

#daily-nudge, #gifts