Word Alive! © 2021 Winter Series
You Can Begin Again!
Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton
Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 11 May, 2021
Max Lucado, “Begin Again” Lesson 14, (Chap. 14, Part 2)
Devotional Time: “Begin Again” (pp. 111-118)
In Spite of Everything, Share! – Sharing the gifts God has given us with others is not a matter of the timing on our part. We are to respond when God summons us to our specific task or mission. The scriptures reveal that people who were used by God to make a difference, responding to His summons, albeit for some was with hesitation and even retreat. There seldom is an ideal time to do our part in God’s kingdom, but when we respond with humility and integrity, it is the “right time.” A clergy friend of mine was nominated by a former President, and confirmed by the United States Senate to serve as ambassador to a promising African nation. Days before he arrived, the U.S. Embassy where he was to reside and work was bombed. In speaking with the ambassador about his assignment, he told me he had no second thoughts about taking the assignment. He would fulfill his appointment regardless of the circumstances. In spite of everything we encounter, we should never lose sight of our commitment to the faith we have embraced, and the Christ who has embraced us. As a prelude to the Apostle’s affirmation of spiritual gifts, and his cautionary admonition about using all gifts appropriately, he speaks of the indispensable place of God’s love. It is the possession of God’s love, that motivates us to endure in our work (cf. I Corinthians 13:7, NLT). We should give ourselves freely to be a part of God’s plan to see that persons benefit from what we can offer, especially those who have been marginalized by life’s circumstances (Ephesians 4:28b, NLT). Jesus assures us that there is no gift (and He’s speaking about more than money) we could ever share, where there is not a blessing. Our blessings flow from the “act” of giving and beneficence themselves (cf. Luke 6:38, NLT). James says it is our faith also that motivates us to share our gifts. For James, faith and action work in tandem with each other (cf. James 2:14-17, NLT). Even in the Twenty-First century, we live in an age where the value of helping is always quantified. It’s the sincerity that counts! The blessing of putting to use what God has given us, is that we learn, “It is because we give, that we have.” And not, “because we have enough, that we give.” We are to share our gifts from what we have. One of the greatest teachings of Jesus is that as we would want others to do for us, we should do for them (cf. Luke 6:31, NLT). Each of us can share something!
Share God’s Gifts – God loves us so much, that He has given each of us a special gift, and each gift reelects His glory (cf. I Corinthians 7a, Message Bible). The Apostle Paul emphasizes, that every gift is unique and each gift is used only for certain things (cf. Romans 12:3-6a, NLT). Because the Christian’s gifts are so essential for the nurturing maturity, and unity of the Church, Paul was very passionate about admonishing the Christians in Rome about their conduct and character. He explicitly states that the use of our gifts and sharing is not for self-promotion. He invokes his apostolic authority, and urges the Church not to use gifts as a rank or status, but in an orderly and cooperative manner. When we share our gifts, we become the ambassadors of the Gospel. The Good News is that God loves us, even in our most vulnerable conditions. In his devotional, Begin Again, Max Lucado comments on the return of the son who left home and fell upon hard times. The son had, perhaps unwittingly, declared his independence from his father and family. In ancient times, any gesture of this kind, would have stricken the son’s name from the family roll. But when the son returned home, the father welcomed him and gave gifts. Lucado says: “Before the boy had a chance to wash his hands, he has a ring to put on his finger.” The gifts told the son, “We still believe in you.” Sharing gifts have benefits! Consider how Abigail’s gifts to David and his men saved her people from destruction (cf. 1 Samuel 25:18-19a, NLT; and 1 Samuel 25:18-19a, NLT). The gesture of kindness also gave Abigail a new life. What we share with others should be motivated by God’s love working with our faith. Regardless of what we have, little becomes much in the hands of God! When gift are shared, others and we should know, as Max Lucado says: “It appears he [God] still believes in you. He hasn’t given up on you. He hasn’t turned away. He hasn’t walked out. He could have. Others would have. But He hasn’t. God believes in you…” Lucado further challenges us “to take some of the belief that [God] has in you and share it with someone else? Could you believe in someone? In Luke’s parable, after all of the son’s failures the father believed in him! When the elder son defended his refusal to share in celebration for his younger brother’s return, the father said, “We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life. He was lost, but now he is found (cf. Luke 15:32, NLT).”God believes in us!
What We Believe
God has given each of us something to share!
1. God’s love, helps us all endure through hard times!
2. Our gifts must be shared with others!
I Corinthians 13:7, NLT “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful,and endures through every circumstance.”
Ephesians 4:28b, NLT
“Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.”
Luke 6:38, NLT
“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full – pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”
James 2:14-17, NLT
“What good is it dear brothers and sisters if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone! Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well – but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds,it is dead and useless.”
Luke 6:31, NLT
“Do to others, as you would like them to do to you.”
I Cor. 12:7a, Message
“Each person is given some-thing to do that shows who God is…”
Romans 12:3-6a, NLT
“Because of the privilege and authority God has given me,I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring your-selves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function,so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body and we all belong to each other. In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well…”
I Samuel 25:18-19a, NLT
“Abigail wasted no time. She quickly gathered 200 loaves of bread, two wineskins full of wine, five sheep that had been slaughtered, nearly a bushel of roasted grain, 100clusters of raisins and 200fig cakes. She packed them on donkeys and said to her servants, “Go on ahead. I will follow you shortly…”
I Samuel 25:32-35a, NLT
“David replied to Abigail,“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you to meet me today. Thank God for your good sense! Bless you for keeping me from murder and from carrying out vengeance with my own hands. For I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel who has kept me from hurting you, that if you had not hurried out to meet me, not one of Nabal’s men would still be alive tomorrow morning.