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Welcome to my blog. Here I share my thoughts on what matters to me.

Talented

Talented

(The audio and the text do not match exactly, both contain certain elements that the other one does not have, for a more complete experience I recommend both listening and reading)

According to Merriam-Webster, a talent is:

1: a a special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude
   b general intelligence or mental power ability

2the natural endowments of a person

3a person of talent or a group of persons of talent in a field or activity

4: a any of several ancient units of weight
    b a unit of value equal to the value of a talent of gold or silver

5: archaic a characteristic feature, aptitude, or disposition of a person or animal

Got Talent?

Many of you are probably familiar with the TV show America's Got Talent. The show has been so popular it is currently on its 13th season, meaning the show has been around for 13 years! Not only is the show famous in the United States there are many countries and continents that have their own version of the show, a full list can be found here.

Due to the popularity of talent shows our understanding of what a talent is can be tied down to something that can be used in a performance. Sometimes because we don't see ourselves performing in front of an audience we are tempted to believe we do not have a talent.

Parable of the Talents B.jpg

I must admit that I am fascinated by Matthew 24-25. In these two chapters, Jesus gives His followers (us included) great insights into end time events. Not only does Jesus talk about signs He also gives practical advice on how we ought to live in light of His second coming. The parable of the talents is found in this context, the context of how followers of Jesus ought to live while they await His second coming. 

Taking a literal approach to what Jesus said and what his immediate audience would have understood a talent was an amount of money. Historians believe a talent was about 6,000 days’ wages. In order for me to better grasp this, it helps to realize that 6,000 days is over 16 years! If you make $7.25 an hour and work 8 hours a day, and you worked for 6,000 days you would make $348,000. But remember that's 6,000 work days, meaning it would take more than 16 years, unless you worked for 16 years without ever taking a day off, and it would still take a few months over 16 years. I guess you get the idea, this was a lot of money! And that's just ONE talent! 

If we look at the meaning of talents beyond their historical monetary value and understand it to mean the abilities that God gives us we see that they are worth far more than the $348,000 one talent would be worth (at $7.25 per hour and 8hr workdays, without ever gaining a raise). All the possibilities you have to achieve and accomplish given to you by God are priceless, but we are putting some numbers to it for the sake of argument, to help us visualize what God has given us. But this parable is hardly about financial investment only, it is about how to live life.

In the parable of the talents Jesus teaches us that the true object of life is ministry. (347)

When we live to minister to others we are brought into connection with Christ. Our connection to Christ is not just an intellectual or theological understanding, our connection with Christ is directly related to how we live our life. Each one of us has our place in the eternal plan of heaven, each one of us ought to co-operate with Jesus for the salvation of others.

At Pentecost (Acts 2), the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples when they fully surrendered themselves to the work Jesus had left for them to do. The gifts are already ours in Christ, but their actual possession depends upon our reception of the Spirit of God. so many times we know intellectually that God is with us, we believe He has a plan for our lives, but we fail to allow God's will to have the impact it should on our decisions. It is the absence of the Holy Spirit which makes the gospel powerless in our lives. Without the Holy Spirit, no heart can be touched.

There is a danger of looking within ourselves when thinking about talents or spiritual gifts. The danger is that we will hardly ever be encouraged by what we see in ourselves. We don't save ourselves, God saves us. The talents are His He entrusts them to us. Our focus must be on Him, on receiving His Holy Spirit and allowing Him to guide and do for us according to His will.

God chooses who He will use not based on our perfection but rather on our willingness to connect with Him to receive His power. God is looking for those who are willing aim high and do their very best while rejecting all tendencies to sin.

Whenever I think about the parable of the talents, the importance of Christian education comes to mind. There is a quote by Ellen G. White found in the book Christ's Object Lessons that I believe is very profound.

“True education is the preparation of the physical, mental, and moral powers for the performance of every duty; it is the training of the body, mind, and soul for divine service. This is the education that will endure unto eternal life.”
- Christ's Oject Lessons page 330.

An education, however good, that loses sight of eternal realities is ultimately useless because if you miss Jesus you gain nothing. But when we have Jesus, then every aspect of our life is transformed! Our love for God, the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, His power at work in us is the most amazing thing anyone can experience.

It is important to have a faith strong enough to move us to action a faith that looks and sees God's plan and moves in faith to accomplish it! Another quote I really like from Christ's Object Lessons is, 

“Many whom God has qualified to do excellent work accomplish very little, because they attempt little. Thousands pass through life as if they had no definite object for which to live, no standard to reach. Such will obtain a reward proportionate to their works.”
- COL 331

Jesus gives us a clear goal, go and make disciples. That will look different depending on our gifts, abilities, aptitudes, and current situation, but we are all called to make disciples!

When we do what God wants us to do, as our will co-operates with the will of God, our will becomes omnipotent. Whatever needs to be done at the command of God may be accomplished in His strength. All that God asks of us He also enables us to do.

Intellectual

Putting your talents to work for God is not just about doing special music or leading song service. Every young person ought to develop his or her mental faculties, do not wait for opportunities, make opportunities. Do not allow your life to pass you by while you avoid learning and challenging yourself intellectually. Push yourself to learn and grow. The more you develop what God has given you, the more God can accomplish through you.

As you hunger for knowledge in order to bless those around you, you will receive blessings from God.

Do you want to be smarter? Wiser? Try to learn things to help others, ask God to help you learn that you may bless others, and just watch what happens next.

It is also important to realize that everyone who wants to work for God must develop self-discipline. An average mind that is well disciplined will accomplish much more than the most highly educated mind and the greatest talents without any self-control.

Social

Those who teach and preach need to develop their voice and learn to speak in love, especially when reproof is needed. Some of us feel called to rebuke everyone we see doing something we believe to go against the will of God. We need to be really careful, if you want to teach others, you must learn how to do it in love. Reproof is about redemption not about punishment.

All of us influence those around us. None of us lives completely independent from those around us. We can each do something to make the lives of those around us better or worse, we can make our friends happier or angrier, we can give them hope or depress them. All of us are constantly influencing those around us. When we find ourselves in the company of those who indulge in "foolish talk" we ought to try to change the subject, we can make a special effort to make our conversations profitable. As followers of Jesus, let us speak peacefully and respectfully.

But witnessing is not just what we say, our silent witness can be more powerful than our most elaborate speeches. God sends His angels to help us remain strong for Him, we need to remember we are not alone and God is always willing to give us the power and wisdom we need to succeed for His honor and glory. Even giving us the right words to use in certain circumstances.

Time

Our time is also a gift from God and one of a value beyond what we can calculate. Life is too short to be wasted away. We don’t have time to be messing around with sin. How often we get stuck in a cycle of care and anxiety, over things that really don’t matter a whole lot in light of eternity. Each one of us, myself included, can benefit from more carefully organizing our day so as to not waste precious time with useless things.

Physical

Whatever we do that weakens our body and mind makes us more susceptible to sin and failure. Wrong habits, late hours, excessive appetite, and lack of exercise, all contribute to a miserable life of defeat and pain. Not only that, when we are careless with our health, those around us suffer as well, because we are less capable of blessing them with the strength and wisdom God is willing to give us.

A Wholistic Existence

Religion and work or school are not mutually exclusive. Your relationship with God should be a reality regardless of where you are and what you are doing. Also our money needs to be used wisely and not wasted carelessly.

"Success is not the result of chance or of destiny; it is the outworking of God's own providence, the reward of faith and discretion, of virtue and persevering effort."
COL 353

The more we listen and obey as God’s Spirit prompts our heart, the more we receive of His power to do more and better work. Through faith in the power of God the weak may become strong, her efforts can become more focused and the results will go much beyond what anyone anticipated.

Start with what you have and diligently and carefully develop it, invest it, according to God’s will, for the blessing of others, and watch God multiply your effort and resources and bless you and others through your work.

One clear lesson we take away from the parable of the talents is that the more we use our knowledge and exercise our powers (talents), the more knowledge, and powers (talents) we will have.

Every effort made for Christ will lead to blessings upon ourselves and those around us.

The importance of little things is often underrated because they are small; but they supply much of the actual discipline of life. Honoring God in the smallest duties is what prepares us for doing great things for God.

Jesus’ example of faithful conscientious attention to the little things is the secret of success in every line of Christian effort and influence. Jesus even folded his grave clothes after his resurrection. (John 20:7)

Habits of negligence must be routinely overcome. Practical religion must be carried out in every area of life, even the simple duties. Any honest work is a blessing, and faithfulness in it may prove training for higher trusts. As Christians we ought to present Christ in all our work. After all, it is the little efforts, the small details, that add up to make the biggest difference. It is the sum of the small details that make us who we are.

Sanctification takes place in the cheerful performance of our daily duties in perfect obedience to the will of God. The work done reveals the character of the worker. God does not require more than what He has given us the ability to do. But he also does not require any less.

We just need to give ourselves and our work completely to God, He makes Himself responsible for the accomplishments. When we co-operate with God we should never think of failure for He knows no failure.

(The audio and the text do not match exactly, both contain certain elements that the other one does not have, for a more complete experience I recommend both listening and reading)

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