Day #33: Friday, February 5th
It's Time to Use It
Scripture References: Rom. 12:5, Eph. 5:17, Gal. 6:4, 2 Cor. 10:12
“Since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be.” (Rom 12:5 MSG)
God shaped you for a purpose, and He expects you to make the most of what you have been given. Don’t covet what you don’t have. Instead, focus on the talents He has given you to use. Eph. 5:17 says,
“Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to find out and do whatever the Lord wants you to.”
Assess your gifts and abilities.
Take a long look at what you are good at and what you’re not good at. Make a list and ask others for their candid opinion. Spiritual gifts and natural abilities are most always confirmed by others. Ask yourself: Where have I seen fruit in my life that others confirmed? Where have I already been successful?
Many teach, “Discover your gifts. And then you will know what ministry you’re supposed to have.” Instead, why not start serving, experimenting with different ministries, and then you’ll discover your gifts. Until you’re actually involved in serving, you’re not going to know what you’re good at. Try doing something you have never done before. In so doing, you may discover a gift you never saw before.
Consider your heart and personality.
Examine your experiences for lessons.
Review your life and think about how it has shaped you. Paul also warned, “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” (Gal 6:4 NLT). Don’t allow Satan to steal your joy by comparing yourself to others or conforming your ministry to the expectation of others. “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” (2 Cor. 10:12)
Take advantage of every opportunity to serve and sharpen your serving skills by being who God made you to be. It’s time to use it.
Lord, you shaped me for a special purpose.
Help me to embrace what you made me to be good at.
When I don’t know what to do, I will commit to doing something.
Then lead me to my true heart’s desire.
Use the experiences of my life to teach me how to serve you.
I will not compare my gift to others.
It is time for you to use what you put in me.
Shaped Through Experience
Scripture References: 2 Cor. 1:3-7, 2 Cor. 1:8-10
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (2 Cor. 1:4)
Along with being shaped by God, the experiences of our life can also be used by God to shape how and what we minister to others. Whether you appreciate it or not, you have been shaped by your experiences in life, most of which were beyond your control. God allowed them for His purpose of molding you.
We value some of our experiences while others, we hope to forget. The very experiences that you have resented or regretted most in life - the ones you’ve wanted to hide and forget - are the experiences God wants to use to help others. We call them ministry. People are always more encouraged when we share how God’s grace helped us in weakness than when we brag about our strengths. In 2 Cor. 1:8-10 NLT Paul wrote,
You ought to know about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.”
If Paul had kept his experience a secret, we would have never benefited from it. Only shared experiences can help others. Experience happens to all of us. It is important what you do with your experience after the fact that makes the difference. Will you use it to help others or will you waste your pain? Be transparent and allow God to use your experiences to encourage and lift others along the way.
Lord, I do not minimize the experiences that you have sustained me through.
I appreciate every experience that I have gone through.
Use my unique experiences to shape me.
Use the good, bad, and ugly parts of my life to help others.
If you can use my hurts to help others then do it.
Use me to encourage and lift others through my story.
In Jesus’ Name.
Shaped for Success
Scripture References: Psalm 139:13-16, 1 Cor. 12:4-6, 1 Peter 4:10
You shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you … God —you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made!" (Psalm 139:13-14)
God designed each of us so there would be no duplication in the world. That means that no one else on earth will ever be able to play the role God planned for you. If you don’t make your unique contribution to the Body of Christ, it won’t be made. Paul said,
There are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.” (1 Cor 12:4-6).
Apply Your Abilities
“God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.” (Rom. 12:6) You have dozens, probably hundreds, of untapped, unrecognized, and unused abilities that are lying dormant inside of you. Some studies have revealed that the average person possesses from 500 to 700 different skills and abilities - far more than you realize.
What you are able to do, God wants you to do.
You are the only person on earth who can use your abilities. No one else can play your role because they don’t have the unique shape that God has given you. Seriously examine what you are good at doing and what you’re not good at. God will never ask you to dedicate your life to a task you have no talent for. And the abilities you do have are a strong indication of what god wants you to do with your life. “God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings.” (1 Peter 4:10 LB).
Embrace Your Personality
God loves variety and He created each of us with a unique personality. Some are introverts while others are extroverts. He made people who love routine and others who love variety. Some are thinkers while others are feelers. Some work best alone while others work better with a team. “God works through different people in different ways, but it is the same God who achieves His purpose through them all.” (1 Cor. 12:6) There is no “right” or “wrong” temperament for ministry. We need them all for balance and flavor.
Like stained glass in a church, our different personalities reflect God’s light in many colors and patterns. Appreciate your abilities and your unique personality knowing that it was God who shaped you for success.
Lord, thank you for shaping me, inside and out, in a very unique way.
No other person can do what you made me to do.
Help me to see what you made me good at and not so good at.
I will use my abilities today to bring you glory.
Use my God-given personality to give flavor to this world.
I will be happy with who you made me to be, in Jesus’ Name.
Day #30: Tuesday, February 2nd
Shaped for Serving
Scripture References: Isaiah 43:21, Eph. 2:10, Prov. 27:19
Serving is the opposite of our natural inclination. In our immaturity we may have been more interested in “serve us” rather than “service.” In Isaiah 43:21 NJB, God says,
The people I have shaped for myself will broadcast my praises.”
God formed every creature on this planet with a special area of expertise and the same is true with humans. Each of us was uniquely designed or “shaped,” to do certain things. Before architects design any new building they first ask, “What will be its purpose? How will it be used?”
God has planned exactly how He wanted you to serve Him, and then He shaped you for those tasks. You are the way you are because you were made for a specific ministry.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph 2:10 NIV)
You are not an assembly-line product, mass produced without thought. Instead, you are a custom-designed, one-of-a-kind, original masterpiece. God would not give you abilities, interests, talents, gifts, personality, and life experiences unless He intended to use them for His glory.
Proverbs 27:19 NIV says,
As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.”
Your heart reveals the real you - what you truly are, not what others think you are. Just as we each have unique thumbprints, eye prints, and voice prints, our hearts beat in slightly different patterns. In the same way, God has given each of us a unique emotional “heartbeat” that races when we think about the subjects, activities, or circumstances that interest us. We instinctively care about some things and not about others. These are clues to where you should be serving. What is your passion? What are your interests?
We know we are serving God from the heart when we find ourselves loving what we do. No one needs to motivate us or check up on us when we are enthusiastic about it. Finding yourself in this place is the first key to discovering what you were shaped to do. Figure out what you love to do - what God gave you a heart to do - and then do it for His glory.
Lord, I see that you shaped my life to do something very specific.
Thank you for making me a one-of-a-kind person.
I will listen to my heart as you show me my place.
I will discover the clues that you have placed in my life.
Help me to see what I am passionate about and to do it with all my heart.
In this, I will bring you glory, in Jesus’ Name.
Day #29: Monday, February 1st
Many years ago, there was a popular drama TV show that began each episode with a special crime agent receiving a top secret message on a reel-to-reel tape player. It went like this: “ Jim, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to… This message will self-destruct in 5 seconds. Good luck Jim.” It was the show, Mission Impossible.
In the body of Christ, God has given you an opportunity for a mission that is possible.
In Eph. 2:10 LB Paul says,
It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others.”
You weren’t create just to consume resources and take up space. You were put on the earth to make a contribution. While many books today offer advice on how to “get” the most out of life, that is not the reason God made you. You were created to “add” to life on earth, not just take from it.
Just like God told Jeremiah, He is speaking to you,
Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jer. 1:5)
What an honor to know that there is a special assignment in you, that is unique to you. God paid a great price for you, so use your body to honor Him. We don’t serve God out of guilt or fear or even duty, but out of joy and deep gratitude for what He has done for us.
Why does God leave us in a fallen world after we are saved? He leaves us here to fulfill His purposes. Once you are saved, God intends to use you for His goals. God has a ministry for you to serve Him with and a mission fro you in the world. When you got saved, Jesus got a new pair of eyes to see with, new ears to listen with, new hands to help with, and a new heart to love others with.
God wants to use you to make a difference in His world. It is not the duration of your life that matters as much as your donation of it. Don’t think of how long you have lived; rather, how you lived. The scriptures are a history of God using all sorts of people in service, doing His will in the earth. In all the cases, God used imperfect people to bless others. He will use you, too, if you will only stop making excuses. It is a mission, and it is very possible.
Lord, I want to spend my life helping others.
Show me today how I can add to the lives around me.
Thank you for choosing me for your special assignment.
My assignment is unique to me and how you shaped me.
Use me to accomplish your goals.
Help me to make a difference in my world, in Jesus’ Name.
Day #28: Sunday, January 31st
Speaking to the Trouble
Scripture References: Luke 8:22-25, Mark 11:23
Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side of the lake." And they launched out. But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!"
In this passage of scripture, God doesn’t want us to simply admire how Jesus exerted power over the storm. Jesus was actually giving us an example of how to live our everyday lives above the storm. When Jesus spoke the words, “Let us go over to the other side,” it speaks to the daily tasks that each of us tackle. With God’s help, He wants you to positively look forward to and accomplish the things that He has placed in our hearts.
As the story unfolds, the wind comes up and begins to fill the boat with water. Despite the presence of Jesus on the boat, the disciples feared for their lives and panicked. Jesus got up and spoke to the wind and waves giving us the example of speaking His written Word over the wind and waves of our lives. When faced with difficult times, trust His Word and speak it over your life. When fear was evident, Jesus said, “Where is your faith?” Personally, take it to say, “What are you trusting in?” And “Why are you not opening your mouth to speak God’s Word?” Don’t speak words like the disciples of, “we are perishing.” Instead, open your mouth and declare the promises of God.
Ask yourself today:
Lord, with your help I can and will do what you want me to do.
I will move forward today with anticipation as we “go to the other side.”
I commit to strengthen weak areas of my life with Your Word.
Instead of speaking negatively, I will speak Your Word to my life.
When I do, the storms will subside and You will give me victory.
In Jesus’ Name.
Day #27: Saturday, January 30th
Rising Through the Trouble
Scripture References: Prov. 12:25, Isaiah 61:1-3, Matt. 14:28-32
Worry weighs a person down; and an encouraging word cheers a person up." (Prov. 12:25)
People in the north country must constantly be aware of the danger of falling into depression because of lack of sunshine and days upon end of seemingly constant cloud cover. Depression means to be flattened vertically or dispirited. The Bible word for depression means “heaviness.”
As Christians, cares and anxieties can bring us down because some of the toughest battles you will ever fight will be those in your own mind. One translation says, “Heaviness in the heart makes it stoop.” A person who is stooping down must make an effort to lift themselves or they will remain in that position.
During the ministry of Jesus, He quoted Isaiah 61:1-3, saying, “Today this is fulfilled in your ears.” The highlights of the passage read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed me.... to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness....”. Simply, Jesus came to exchange our sadness and mourning for joy. And He came to give us an attitude of praise in exchange for a spirit of depression. Naturally speaking, you have to put a clothing garment on your body for it to cover or warm you. Spiritually speaking, you must put on the garment of praise by opening your mouth in thanksgiving and worship to God.
In yesterday’s devotion, we discussed the need to trust the instrument reading of God’s Word versus what you feel. An additional aspect is this: An instrument rated Christian will also rejoice in the midst of trouble. They will allow praise to lift them and cause them to rise above their apparent struggles. An aviation instructor will naturally encourage his students to “keep the nose of the plane up,” knowing that failure to do so could result in tragedy. A plane has a natural tendency to fall if you let it. Your spiritual life has a natural tendency to flatten out if you are not careful. To compensate for this tendency, you must learn to “keep your nose up” and change your outlook on life.
Simon Peter walked on the water to Jesus. Yet, as miraculous as that was, it ended when he took his eyes off of Jesus and focused on the wind and waves instead. Jesus immediately caught Peter and said, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:31). When you begin to look at circumstances instead of the trustworthiness of God’s Word, you too will begin to sink and the nose of your plane will begin to dip. It is at that moment that you must begin to look up in praise, remembering Jesus. It is then that you will rise above the troubles in your life.
Lord, I will guard my life against heaviness and depression.
You came to give me joy instead of sadness.
You came to trade my depression for an outlook of praise.
I will rejoice when trouble comes knowing that you are ever with me.
I will keep my head up.
I will keep my eyes on Jesus and rejoice in the midst of the storm.
Help me to keep my nose up today, in Jesus’ Name.
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