Open the gift!

There was one Christmas when I was young and lived in Tennessee that was the most awesome. I came into the living room on Christmas morning to discover I had received so many great gifts from Santa. But one was a full sized GI Joe. He could hang on to a zip line and travel across the room. There were many other gifts but I remember that one most.

You know, there are some gifts that seem intangible…not right in front of you and obvious. Some gifts are actually with you. Sometimes we don’t even know it.

We all have been gifted by the Holy Spirit. However, sometimes, we fail to open and use the gift we’ve received. As a follower of Jesus Christ, we are called to use our giftedness for his glory and story and not keep our gift wrapped.

Paul says to the church in Corinth, “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts…a spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” (1 Corinthians 12:4, 7). Paul goes on to list some of those gifts which include teaching, leading, helping others, healing, speaking different languages. These gifts are for building up the church and those around us according to Ephesians 4.

So, do a self inventory. What are you passionate about? How could that give glory to God? In what ways would your gift or passion help those around you? It’s time to be brave and courageous. It’s time to sit down, unwrap the gift, and start using it in your life and the lives of others. Don’t hold back. Jesus will give you the courage and ability to use what he’s given you.

Paul says in Ephesians 4:16, “Jesus makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” May God continue to bless you on your journey. Grace and peace.

Oh the Single Life!

It’s been decades since I was a single man. I look around and cringe at the dating scene today in our culture. I feel like I would resign myself to be a bachelor. It seems a little scary.

I also know the church and our families don’t make if easy to be single. Most of our ministries in our churches focus on families or couples. We don’t plan well to include single members of Christ’s body. Even with our parents and grands, we get a lot of pressure to find Mr. or Mrs. Right and tie the knot. After all, the Bible is clear early on (Genesis 3) that the two will become one.

But, have we (the church) missed one of the gifts of the Spirit in singleness? When one reads Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7:7, he reminds the reader he is single, not married. The very next sentence talks about the gifts of the Spirit and we should use them to God’s glory. So if being single is a gift, the church and our families should treat it like a gift. Here are a few ideas I take away from 1 Corinthians 7 as I read about following Jesus whether married or single.

Pursue Jesus. Whatever you do, however you’ve chosen life at this stage, pursue Jesus. Maybe you are married. Together, live for Jesus. Perhaps you find yourself in a single state right now. Maybe that singleness is because you’ve chosen that path; maybe you’re dating; maybe you’ve gone through a divorce; maybe you have lost your mate to death. Paul says, pursue Jesus the Christ with everything you have. Heart and soul, love Jesus.

Paul reminds those who are single to stay sexually pure. Strive to set the example in purity for those around you. Run from sexual temptation. The world is pushing you to experiment sexually outside the covenant of marriage. Paul reminds us to stay disciplined…keep your eyes on Jesus. Don’t conform to the world and it’s thinking but be transformed by a disciplined mind.

Finally, pray for patience. Pray that God will give you wisdom and discernment in your relationships to better know what His will is for you. Pray that you’ll patiently follow Jesus and live in such a way as to be a light on the hill for your friends, family, work place and neighborhood.

Paul says when you’re single, you can focus totally on Jesus and building up his kingdom here on earth. So, for those of us that are married, encourage those who are single. Ask them to lunch and dinner. Invite them into ministry with you. Challenge them to live for Jesus. Be a person they can depend on and look to for guidance and wisdom. Everyone is welcomed at God’s table. Let’s actively engage everyone in kingdom family work. Blessings on your journey.