But I will thank the Lord
for his righteousness;
I will sing praises
to the name of the Lord Most High. (Psalm 7:17, Common English Bible)
If you would prefer video, see below…
I sat in my office listening to him talk. He spoke at length about being, “a good for nothing.” He didn’t have any talent. God didn’t give him any gifts. The one thing God had given him, God had “taken away,” his wife.
His wife had passed away from cancer three years before. It was before I was the pastor of that church so I had never met her but I had spent a great deal of time with him over the 18 months I had been his pastor.
“Phil, God didn’t take Jeanette, cancer did. God healed Jeanette with ultimate healing. The cancer gives her no more pain, no more illness, weakness, tiredness. She is healed. She, as one of God’s gifts is fully restored.”
That conversation happened more than 20 years ago and I don’t remember where it went from there. What I do remember was, a few weeks later driving out near Phil’s farm. I decided to make a visit. He was in a large pin with several cows in it. Anytime I would go in a pin like that the cows would run away. That was never the case with Phil. Over the time I was his pastor Phil would work with just about any animal that came his way. he was a master. After watching for a few minutes I said, “That looks like a gift to me.”
Two weeks later was a covered dish dinner at church. Phil brought a huge brisket and set it on the serving table. Phil was outstanding on the grill and almost everyone in the county knew it. Once again, I pointed at his gift.
Over the next year or so I saw several of his gifts at work. I tried to remember and point to them each time. Phil also had the ability to grow plants like crazy. In that congregation they gave a plant to all their visitors. The were plants potted by Phil and most grew like crazy. After another gifts reminder Phil asked me, “None are that important. It isn’t like I can preach, or teach, or sing in the choir. They don’t do much. “Well pastor, that is fine and all, but they don’t seem to do anything for God.”
“Phil, you bring those plants up here that you have worked with to get it ready. We take those plants and give them away to our guests. That is you using a gift to spread the name of Jesus Christ.” Phil spent the rest of the time I was his pastor thinking about the things he could do to use all his gifts for the Glory of God. We prayed and I went on my way.
We are just about to the time of year we will start hearing first college and then professional football players, in after-game interviews, following the first question a reporter ask some will seemingly ignore the question (many times it is something like, “Did you ever dream you would catch 20 touchdown passes in a single game, and yes, I know that number is over the top unrealistic) and say something like “First I want to thank the Lord Jesus Christ. I wouldn’t be here if not for him. He gave me the talent and gifts to help my team win.”).
Before I seem to knock people thanking God for gifts, I am not. Still, I always laugh a bit when I hear an athlete say those things because playing a kids game, while needing some God-given talent, I just don’t think it is their greatest talent and absolutely not their greatest gift. Perhaps what is their greatest gift is the ability to stand in front of a crowd, a crowd of reporters, and/or a television camera broadcasting all over the world, proclaiming the name Jesus Christ to people all over the world. If that is the case, then their ability to play the game is really a tool to give them a voice and make them heard.
I have heard people ask, “So why does god give them those talents and not me? I would play that game for 5 million a year. I would play for $500,000 per year.” It is a legitimate question that I can’t help but think shows at least a little jealousy.
But, just like that athlete and just like Phil, God has given us gifts to bring Jesus Christ to all the world. That is our charge as people of faith.
God gives all of us gifts. God gives us gifts, I would argue that God gives us more than one. It is up to us to think of ways to use those gifts and talents God gives us for the Glory of God the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. And this day, Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S. we need to stop and thank God for the gifts and talents we have and remember another gift from God, God is with us and where God is, there is always reason to hope.
Now, for those who would prefer the video…
Seeking the Genuine,
Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved