Harness the Emotions

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.  You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.  Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’?  But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you…

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’” James 4:1-10,13-15

So many emotions come in to play every day, enriching life but also wreaking havoc with mental fortitude and disciplines. They are given to add color to love, and zeal, but they need harnessing and tenacious superintendance. God made and has given passion, attraction, anger and jealousy for righteous purposes, but when we let them assume control they preempt the best of us, sully relationships, and cause us to sin.

Any emotion can be steered for good or destruction. Warring passions and affection for the world should signal danger, but zest for living and selfless love and can beautifully enrich our days. Yielding to the Lord at day’s beginning does much for smooth bridling of passions and tongues through the hours. The moment we sense a flare of greed, rise of sultry attraction, or boiling selfish reaction to circumstance, let the Spirit check halt and redirect us toward godly sorrow, a rending of heart, and drawing near to God. Surely He harnesses and purifies desire as we submit to His loving, merciful control.

How aware of and sensitive are we to our motives and impulses? How will we utilize emotion for ruthless putting away of sin and tenacious pursuit of righteousness? Would we deliberately trust God’s grace to channel our affections toward Him, His holiness and righteousness? What self-drive and wayward emotion need we surrender to humble ourselves and trust His lead?

Lord, take control of and cleanse my deepest passions, that my every emotion be employed for others’ good and Your glory.

Rays of Day

“You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.”

“If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,’
even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.” Psalm 65:8b; 139:9-12

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb  through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.  They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.  And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” Revelation 22:5

Darkness diffuses almost imperceptibly as the golden orb approaches. Shadowed trees give way to shaded outlines in the predawn mist. What was all dark is now revealed as layers with dimension. Then the rays… piercing through like arrows of glory, defining edges, revealing the Maker’s creative handiwork. Day after day He speaks through His turning of hours, Hope in Me, trust My glory. (Psalm 19:1-3)

Always the rays come, sure as the seasons and every promise of God. Morning by morning they pierce the shadows of layered darkness, confusion, and uncertainty. At the right time, at the end of waiting, they outline what is certain and true, what stands rooted and strong. (Genesis 1:16-19; Isaiah 31:33-36; 33:25-26)

In long darkness of soul, seemingly endless unanswered questions, unfulfilled yearnings, pain so deep breath can’t be caught, the rays come. No shadow is too thick, no distance too great, no grief too vast that His light cannot pierce and penetrate. In God’s eternal economy it is endless day, even when life is turned upside down and we cannot see light.

Where have we misplaced hope? In what fleeting individuals, plans, dreams, pedigrees do we trust? Will we resist and wrestle with the darkness, or trust God to work His glory in and through it as we look for His appearing? (Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 12:9)

“Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
there is no shadow of turning with thee.
Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;
as thou hast been, thou forever wilt be.

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
join with all nature in manifold witness
to thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Great is thy faithfulness!
Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed thy hand hath provided.
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!” ~Thomas O. Chisolm (1923)

Lord, in every darkness, help me hope in You and trust the rays of Your glory.

In Light of the End…

“Since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,  so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God… 

“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.  Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.  Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:  whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

“Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” 1 Peter 4:1-2,7-14

The mention of ‘time’s up’ can for many cause panic and irresponsibility, but for the Christian, it is a call to continuing, steady faithfulness as we anticipate glory. It is a goad to love, and persevere in trial. In view of the rest of the time in the flesh, we’re to be watchful, hospitable, and vital in serving. (John 9:4-5)

How rigorously are we doing good with the hours of each day? Would we ask Christ to change passion for wants to passion for His will? Do we fritter away or invest time? Use people, or use our gifts for people? Spend on self, or spend ourselves for Christ’s glory? Faint in suffering, or suffer with the fainting to bring gladness?

“What gift of grace is Jesus my redeemer
There is no more for heaven now to give
He is my joy, my righteousness, and freedom
My steadfast love, my deep and boundless peace

To this I hold, my hope is only Jesus
For my life is wholly bound to his
Oh how strange and divine, I can sing: all is mine!
Yet not I, but through Christ in me

The night is dark but I am not forsaken
For by my side, the Saviour He will stay
I labour on in weakness and rejoicing
For in my need, His power is displayed

To this I hold, my Shepherd will defend me
Through the deepest valley He will lead
Oh the night has been won, and I shall overcome!
Yet not I, but through Christ in me

With every breath I long to follow Jesus
For He has said that He will bring me home
And day by day I know He will renew me
Until I stand with joy before the throne

To this I hold, my hope is only Jesus
All the glory evermore to Him
When the race is complete, still my lips shall repeat:
Yet not I, but through Christ in me!” ~Jonny Robinson, Michael Farren, Rich Thompson (CityAlight, 2018)

Lord, may I live in Your will and for Your glory until the end.

Pondering on Passing on

“Then drew near the daughters of Zelophehad… They stood before Moses.., ‘Our father died in the wilderness… and he had no sons… Give to us a possession among our father’s brothers.’

“Moses brought their case before the Lord.  And the Lord said to Moses, ‘The daughters of Zelophehad are right. You shall give them possession… and transfer the inheritance of their father to them.  And you shall speak to the people of Israel, saying, “If a man dies and has no son, then you shall transfer his inheritance to his daughter…”’

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go up into this mountain of Abarim and see the land that I have given to the people of Israel.  When you have seen it, you also shall be gathered to your people…’ Moses spoke to the Lord, ‘Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation  who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be as sheep that have no shepherd.’  So the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take Joshua, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him.  Make him stand before Eleazar the priest and all the congregation, and commission him in their sight.  You shall invest him with some of your authority, that all the congregation of the people of Israel may obey… At his word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he and all the people of Israel with him, the whole congregation.’  And Moses… laid his hands on [Joshua] and commissioned him as the Lord directed.” Numbers 27:1-8,12-13,15-21,23

As the Lord established Israel, He ordained the inheritance of land and succession of leaders to preserve and provide for His chosen people. In wisdom He cared and counseled for individuals and the whole, intending their continuum under His lordship. He answered their requests and upheld His larger plan as a faithful Shepherd.

There come times of reckoning for us all, moments of decision making, stepping away from a work or service and passing the baton, or closing our eyes for the final time before waking in glory. While there is a uniqueness in each of us that cannot be imparted, some things of which we have been stewards will be passed on. How we handle them in the preparation and the passing is important to the Lord and vital in the carrying out of His will.

Do I value the gifts and heritage of God enough to take full possession, to seek His direction and help in timing and methods for both implementation and impartation? What resources and responsibilities has God entrusted to us? What aspects of our spiritual inheritance do we daily employ? Do we take them gratefully and seriously for the Lord’s sake, and not for granted? How well do we manage them for maximum effectiveness and multiplication, and plan for their release? Is my handling of these positions and possessions redolent of greed and control, or faithfulness for the season? (Psalm 16:6; 61:5; Romans 8:16-17; Ephesians 1:3,13-14,18-19; 1 Peter 5:2-3)

Lord, may I value all You’ve entrusted to me, including the treasures of those who’ve gone before, and generously pass on the riches of Your grace, truth, and love that Your glory be praised.

O my Strength, Meet Me!

“Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
    protect me from those who rise up against me;
deliver me from those who work evil,
    and save me from bloodthirsty men.

For behold, they lie in wait for my life;
    fierce men stir up strife against me.
For no transgression or sin of mine, O Lord,
    for no fault of mine, they run and make ready.
Awake, come to meet me, and see!
    You, Lord God of hosts, are God…

But you, O Lord, laugh at them;
    you hold all the nations in derision.
O my Strength, I will watch for you,
    for you, O God, are my fortress.
My God in his steadfast love will meet me;
    God will let me look in triumph on my enemies…
    O Lord, our shield!
For the sin of their mouths, the words of their lips,
    let them be trapped in their pride.
For the cursing and lies that they utter,
    consume them in wrath;
    consume them till they are no more,
that they may know that God rules…
    to the ends of the earth. 

Each evening they come back,
    howling like dogs
    and prowling about the city.
They wander about for food
    and growl if they do not get their fill.

But I will sing of your strength;
    I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.
For you have been to me a fortress
    and a refuge in the day of my distress.
O my Strength, I will sing praises to you,
    for you, O God, are my fortress,
    the God who shows me steadfast love.”* Psalm 59:1-5a,8-17

*A miktam of David, when Saul sent men to watch his house in order to kill him.

In a jealous rage, King Saul ordered that his son-in-law be killed, and the noble, heroic David responded by pouring out his anguish to the Lord. God was his confidante, defender, and friend. God alone was his strength, shield, and fortress. When enemies plotted and preyed in hatred, God upheld in steadfast love. David’s cry was earnest, it was heard, it brought solace. And it can be ours. (1 Samuel 19:1,4-5,9-11)

We may not be confronted by physical armies, but in this life we face many foes. People who would trip up our path of faithfulness, sobriety, righteousness. Pests of anxiety, rights to be bitter, hearts cold to love and forgive. Varmints of crude talk, enticing gossip, sultry affections. Hoards of fear, doubt, shame. These lie in wait for weak moments and seasons of fatigue and frenzy. They rise up to attack when we think we are stable. They are persistent to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10; 1 Peter 5:8)

Yet, we have a faithful God who meets us. He meets us, face to face, fully invested. He hears, He comes. He guards, He strengthens. And He is worthy of trust and praise.

What is my default when encountering strife? Where do I go when under siege from failure, worry, or pain? Do I strike out or call out? Retaliate or rest? Watch in panic, or watch for God in soul peace? How will I redirect angst and moaning to begin voicing my miktam in confidence to my loving Lord? Where will I trust Him to meet me today?

Lord, keep me dependent on You as my strength and fortress against every foe, that I might ever sing You the praises You deserve.

Shiloah or the Raging River?

“The Lord spoke to me again: ‘Because this people has refused the waters of Shiloah that flow gently, and rejoice over Rezin and the son of Remaliah,  therefore, behold, the Lord is bringing up against them the waters of the River, mighty and many, the king of Assyria and all his glory. And it will rise over all its channels and go over all its banks, and it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass on, reaching even to the neck, and its outspread wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel.’

“Be broken, you peoples, and be shattered;
    give ear, all you far countries;
strap on your armor and be shattered;
    strap on your armor and be shattered.
Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing;
    speak a word, but it will not stand,
    for God is with us.

“For the Lord spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people.” Isaiah 8:5-11

“Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,” you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water… Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,  but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’” John 4:10,13-14

“Jesus cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”’” John 7:37-38

“[Jesus] said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.’ So he went and washed and came back seeing.” John 9:7

Water offered, water refused. Deaf to God’s repeated warnings, Israel persistently raged against His word in stubborn rebellion, and He had had enough. If they shunned His gentle mercy, they would meet His jealous wrath.

We, too, turn our backs on God’s gentle flow and by default choose the raucous torrent. Yes, life brings billows of sorrow and the rush of riptide waves, even when we are safe in Christ. Yet rather than turn to His grace for help and refreshing, we too often are unwilling to relinquish our toiling, anger, fretting, and angst, inviting torrents of consequential judgment or correction. We eschew mercy for want of self-sufficiency, and pure devotion for self-love and aggrandizement.

Maybe this is unwitting, but God can give eyes to see and a heart to desire. Are we willing to be made willing to repent? Would we really have God remove our blinders? Can we recognize when we rage against God that often He is giving exactly what we have asked in prideful independence, that we are reaping the whirlwind of the rebel winds we’ve sown? (Hosea 8:7)

The invitations of our Lord are gracious, extended in patience and love. Are we listening? Would we come, be healed, held, and satisfied?

Lord, may I ever yield to Your irresistible affection and abide in Shiloah, daily refreshed to take Your living water to those around me.

“That Must I Speak”

“Balak said to Balaam, ‘Did I not send to you to call you? Why did you not come to me?..’ Balaam said to Balak, ‘Behold, I have come to you! Have I now any power of my own to speak anything? The word that God puts in my mouth, that must I speak…’

“Balak said to Balaam, ‘What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have done nothing but bless them.’ And he answered and said, ‘Must I not take care to speak what the Lord puts in my mouth?..’

“And the Lord met Balaam and put a word in his mouth and said, ‘Return to Balak, and thus shall you speak.’ And he came to him,.. and the princes of Moab with him. And Balak said to him, ‘What has the Lord spoken?’ And Balaam took up his discourse and said,

“‘Rise, Balak, and hear..:
God is not man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
Behold, I received a command to bless:
he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it…’

“‘Did I not tell you, “All that the Lord says, that I must do”?’

“And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe. And the Spirit of God came upon him, and he took up his discourse and said,

“’The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor,
    the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,
the oracle of him who hears the words of God,
    who sees the vision of the Almighty…’

“And Balaam said to Balak, ‘Did I not tell your messengers whom you sent to me,  “If Balak should give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go beyond the word of the Lord, to do either good or bad of my own will. What the Lord speaks, that will I speak”‘?” Numbers 22:37-38; 23:11-12,16-20,26; 24:2-4,12-13

Though worldly enticement dangled before Balaam’s divided heart, God’s power overruled and His word went forth. What is true and irrefutable may be twisted or manipulated, but it cannot be undone or squelched. God’s man was shamed and humiliated. All He says He will do.

In what situations am I timid to introduce myself as one of God’s children or to speak His truth into spiritual darkness? Where have I squelched a message that God has clearly given out of fear or insecurity? God’s word is viable, powerful, and unstoppable. Will I take the opportunities He gives to boldly proclaim it? (Isaiah 55:10-11; Jeremiah 5:14; 20:9; 23:29; Hebrews 4:12)

What would it sound like, and look like, if God’s word were uncontained in me? How and where could it spill over in love-filled truth-telling, gracious correcting, or admonition that upbuilds? What might it add of grace, loftiness, and beauty to conversations and relationships? How can God’s word through me console, elevate, enlighten, encourage the many with whom I come in contact? (1 Corinthians 14:3; Ephesians 4:15; Colossians 3:16-17; 1 Peter 2:9)

Lord my Redeemer, may the words of my mouth be pleasing in Your sight and proclaim Your excellencies all the day. (Psalm 19:14)

When Work Commingles

“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,  equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men... You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24

In the beginning, God made Adam to work the garden in Eden that He had pronounced very good. Work was meaningful and a pleasure, as was every aspect of the Lord’s perfect creation, including the woman formed to help him. God intended for His man to work according to His pleasure, yet in love-given free will, Adam chose his own temporal pleasure, inviting upon himself and mankind the curse of difficult, thorny toil. Still work was ordained, yet now would require sweat and trouble. (Genesis 1:31; 2:5-8,15,18,21-23; Genesis 3:17-19; 2 Thessalonians 3:10)

And so we toil as fellow laborers in our places here below. Until we reach glory, we shall be about the mysterious and wonderful work of Christ commingled with Him, alongside Him, inspired and empowered by Him. He does not leave us alone, but has prepared our work in advance and works His strength in us as we put hand to task. How well do we cooperate in His operation? (1 Corinthians 3:9; Philippians 4:13)

Whose agenda do I daily serve? Do I work alone, or willingly engage others who could use the encouragement, training, or help? What can I shift in mindset or habit to ensure I am investing in the works God has saved and prepared me to do?

“Lord, speak to me that I may speak
In living echoes of your tone.
As you have sought, so let me seek
Your erring children, lost and lone.

Oh, lead me, Lord, that I may lead
The wand’ring and the wav’ring feet.
Oh, feed me, Lord, that I may feed
Your hungry ones with manna sweet.

Oh, teach me, Lord, that I may teach
The precious truths which you impart.
And wing my words that they may reach
The hidden depths of many a heart.

Oh, fill me with your fullness, Lord,
Until my very hearts o’erflows
In kindling thought and glowing word,
Your love to tell, your praise to show.

Oh, use me, Lord, use even me,
Just as you will, and when, and where
Until your blessed face I see,
Your rest, your joy, your glory share.” ~Frances Havergal (1872)

Infuse me with your strength, O Lord
Make keen my mind and brave my heart
To recognize and serve the needs
Your people suffer and impart.

All for Your ends and glory, Amen.

Heaps of Sorrow, and a Song

“The people of Israel, the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin… And Miriam died there and was buried there.

“Now there was no water for the congregation. They assembled themselves together against Moses and Aaron [and] quarreled with Moses and said, ‘Would that we had perished… before the Lord! Why have you brought the assembly into this wilderness, that we should die here..?’ Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. And the glory of the Lord appeared to them, and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Take the staff, and assemble the congregation,.. and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water.’

“And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank…  And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them…’

“[Edom] said, ‘You shall not pass through.’ And Edom came out against them with a large army and with a strong force…

“And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron.., ‘Let Aaron be gathered to his people, for he shall not enter the land… And Aaron died there on the top of the mountain. Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain.” Numbers 20:1,2-4,6-8a,11-12,20,23-24,28

Blow after blow, sorrow upon sorrow. And following these, the Canaanites attacked and took some captives, the Lord sent fiery serpents to quell more complaining, and the Amorites refused them passage and advanced against them. How much could Moses handle? Was there no end to the heartache and grief of loss, the disappointment at being banished from the promised land, the opposition within and without? Yet somewhere along the wilderness way, in the midst and weight of ruin, the Lord provided water, and a song. (Numbers 21:1,5-6,16-17,21-23; 1 Peter 5:10)

When we think we can bear no more, and there could not even be more pain to bear, God’s abiding presence brings supernatural refreshment. “Spring up, O well!—Sing to it!” What circumstances weigh heavy at present? Is there overwhelming sorrow, choking waves of disbelief, pain, or loss? No accounting of troubles can exceed the strength nor escape the love of our Lord. Our shoulders may be bending, our eyes too dim to hope, but nothing will change the steadfast love and mercy of our Lord Jesus. Would we look for His provision, and taste it, and be rejuvenated by it? His balm is exquisitely designed just for us, and should give rise to singing. (Psalm 103:8,11; Lamentations 3:22-23; Romans 8:31-39)

Maybe the way is personally clear and calm now, but not for a loved one. How can we tenderly introduce a melody of hope and light to them in their darkness? How can we come alongside and help share the weight of their burdens, emotionally, practically, and spiritually by earnest intercession? Where can we point out the beauty the Redeemer is crafting in their brokenness and ashes? (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Lord, awaken Your song in the midst of heartache and in me so Your love is magnified.

God’s Good Gifts

“The Lord said to Aaron, ‘With you bring your brothers… that they may join you and minister to you while you and your sons are before the tent of the testimony.  They shall keep guard over you and over the whole tent… They shall join you and keep guard over the tent of meeting for all the service of the tent…  And you shall keep guard over the sanctuary and over the altar…  And behold, I have taken your brothers the Levites from among the people of Israel. They are a gift to you, given to the Lord, to do the service of the tent of meeting… I give your priesthood as a gift.”

“‘All the holy contributions that the people of Israel present to the Lord I give to you, and to your sons and daughters with you, as a perpetual due. It is a covenant of salt forever before the Lord for you and for your offspring with you…” 

“‘Out of all the gifts to you, you shall present every contribution due to the Lord; from each its best part is to be dedicated.'” Numbers 18:1a,2-3a,4-5a,6-7a,19,29

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,
    the world and those who dwell therein” Psalm 24:1

“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.” James 1:17

All things are from God, created by and for Him. He owns everything. Therefore everything we enjoy is a given by Him, indelibly imprinted with His glory and purposes. In His mastery He appoints and arranges gifts of people, Spirit, and resource with divine design that we are equipped to carry out His call, by use or by donation. (Psalm 50:10; Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-7; Ephesians 4:7,11-13; Colossians 1:16)

As with any gift, what God assigns is His doing, not anything we earn or necessarily choose, and proceeds from His generosity and bounty. In His economy nothing is intended for waste, but only fruitfulness and eternal good. Spiritual gifts are given to build up His church, people to guard, undergird, and further His work, resources to provide for needs.

Have I gratefully accepted God’s good gifts to me, even those I would not choose, the talents and people He has conveyed? Can I see troubles, sorrows, challenges as sanctifying gifts from His loving hands rather than a curse, and not waste them? Do I squander the time and treasure He’s entrusted, or employ them according to His will? How would my view of life circumstances change if I received every aspect- health, position, responsibilities, opportunities- as gifts from my loving Master?

To whom am I a gift, perhaps even an answer to prayer, and how well am I fulfilling my purpose as a helpmate, support, teacher, friend? Am I committed to being all God intends me to be for others? His church? Where and how am I exercising my specific gifts to spread His light, sustain ministries, and upbuild others?

Lord, may I never cease to thank You for the gifts You bestow, including a great salvation and the abiding presence of Your Spirit. Help me utilize every one entrusted to me for the blessing of Your people and the praise of Your glory.