Step Towards Transformation
God has placed gifts and talents on the inside of each one of us. There is potential in you that you’ve not yet tapped into; it wasn’t designed to come out all at once. You don’t become everything you were created to be overnight. These gifts were put in you on a time release; they are destined to open up at certain points throughout your life. You will come into seasons of new growth, new opportunity, seasons where you discover talent and ability that you didn’t know you had. We weren’t created to reach one level and get stuck: you might have finished your education, but you haven’t finished learning. You might have that position you’ve always dreamed of, you’re satisfied, but that’s not your final step; God is not satisfied. He’s put more in you; he has new talents, new abilities, even new levels.
But too often, we have gifts lying dormant because we’re not taking time to develop them, we’re not being disciplined to study, grow, become better. We have talent that’s being underutilized because we’re comfortable; we don’t want to have to stretch and do something out of our routine. We think, “i’m doing good enough,” but good enough is not your destiny. Sometimes, we’re stuck because we’re intimidated; we let thoughts of fear and doubt talk us out of it. Thoughts like, “you can’t take that management position, write that book, you can’t lead that class, you’re not qualified, you come from the wrong family.” All the what-if thoughts come; what if you try and fail? What if it doesn’t work out? What if you get up there and you’re embarrassed?
Well, what if you get up there and you succeed? What if you go to go to a new level, set a new standard for your family? Don’t let fear keep you from your destiny. That is a time-release gift trying to come out. Don’t miss your season. You look up, and another year is gone. Life is flying by. You don’t have time to waste being unfocused, intimidated, letting opportunities pass you by. We have to draw that line in the sand, and say, “that’s it; i’m going to get focused, be intentional. I’m not going to play it safe my whole life; i’m going to start stretching, taking steps of faith, to release these gifts that God has put in me. Paul said:
Romans 12:6 (TLB) God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well
You have a gift, there’s something you’re good at; find out what it is, and do it well. Maybe you can sing, and you’ve never had a lesson. Or, you can figure out how things work technically, nobody had to teach you. Or, you can stand up in front of people, lead that class, you don’t even think twice about it, it’s just who you are. Those are gifts that God has invested in you. Here’s the key; God is expecting a return on his investment. Do you have gifts that are being underutilized? You’re not taking time to develop them, you’re too busy to put forth the extra effort to stretch, to learn, to become better. Or, perhaps you can feel that stirring on the inside, you can feel that desire in your spirit, you know you should, but you keep talking yourself out of it, letting it intimidate you.
Matthew 25:29 (TLB) for the man who uses well what he is given shall be given more, and he shall have abundance. But from the man who is unfaithful, even what little responsibility he has shall be taken from him
If you don’t use well what you’ve been given, if you’re not taking time to develop your talents, to maximize your potential, then it can be taken away. But when you use well, you’re responsible, focused, passionate; you study, grow, get better. because you’re using well, even more will be given to you. This scripture came from the parable that Jesus told about the talents
Matthew 25:14-25 (ESV)
The parable of the talents
14 “for it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 he who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 so also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 but he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 and he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘master, you delivered to me five talents; here i have made five talents more.’ 21 his master said to him, ‘well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; i will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 and he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘master, you delivered to me two talents; here i have made two talents more.’ 23 his master said to him, ‘well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; i will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 he also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘master, i knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so i was afraid, and i went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’
This owner, who represents God, could’ve said, “i understand, you played it safe, at least you didn’t lose when i gave you,” but instead:
Matthew 25:26-28 (NIV)
26 “his master replied, ‘you wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that i harvest where i have not sown and gather where i have not scattered seed? 27 well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when i returned i would have received it back with interest.28 “‘so take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags.
You would think, since God is so loving, merciful, he would’ve said, “look at this poor guy, he only has one talent, he’s afraid, insecure. Go get a few talents from that man that has 10, and give them to him.” It was just the opposite. God was showing us this principle; if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. If you’re always making excuses, waiting for the perfect time to take a step of faith, “one day i’ll get out of my comfort zone, step up and teach that class, improve my skills,” your one day may never come. Friends, today is your day. Don’t put it off another year. Don’t live life in neutral, not passionate, not intentional, not focused. Stir up what God has given you. Dare to take those steps of faith, develop those talents. God is expecting a return for what he’s invested in you.
I don’t know about you, but i don’t want anyone else getting what should’ve been mine. I’m not greedy, i love to give, but i don’t want God to have to say, “you’re not using that talent, gift, you’re not staying passionate, not taking steps to move forward, so i’m going to take what should have been yours and give it to someone that’s being a good steward over what i’ve given them.” No, make this decision with me: you’re going to stretch, grow, pray bold prayers, dream big dreams. You’re not going to live intimidated, letting thoughts of defeat talk you out if it; “you can’t do it, you don’t have what it takes. This is as good as it gets.” No, let that go in one ear and out the other. Keep using what you have, and God will give you more. I want to light a new fire under us today, because we’re not always going to be here. The scripture says:
James 4:14 … what is life? You are a mist that is seen for a moment and then disappears.
When you’re tempted to be indifferent, to not pursue what you know is in you, you have to remind yourself of this principle; “if i don’t use it, i’m going to lose it. If i’m not giving God a return on his investment, if i’m not being a good steward, then he’s going to take what should have been mine and give it to someone else.” This is not so that you will live pressured, but so that you will live passionate, stir up gifts that are being underutilized, take steps of faith to become all you were created to be.
Here’s the key: it’s not important how many talents you have; what’s important is, are you using what you have. I may have 4, she has 9, he has 3; God has given to every person different talents, amounts. He’s not going to judge us by, did you go as far as your neighbour, were you as smart as your co-worker, were you as talented as your cousin? None of that matters to God.
He didn’t say to the man who brought him 2 extra talents, “i’m disappointed in you. Why didn’t you bring me 5 like the first man?” No, he told him, “well done,” just like he told the 1st man. Don’t compare your talents with somebody else. You may have received 3, and they received 6; that’s not up to you to decide. You don’t have to keep up with them, just run your race, be the best you can be with what God’s given you. If you’ll be faithful with the 3, God will increase you. But when we compare our talents to somebody else, we’ll end up competing with them, trying to out-perform them, out-dress them, out-drive them, out-build them, competing in a race we were never designed to be in. When we compare, we end up discouraged, because there’s always somebody more beautiful, talented, successful.
Take the talent that you have, and hone that skill, develop it, grow, learn, study, and God will give you more. You don’t have to have a great gift for God to use you in a great way. If you’ll be faithful with what God has given you, he’ll entrust you with more. Are you using well what you have, or are you comparing what you have? Being discouraged, competing with someone that’s not even in your race? Are you hiding your gifts, burying your talents, too busy to invest in what God’s given you? Developing your gifts is not an option; if you don’t use it you can lose it.
We see this principle in the book of genesis. Isaac said to his son Esau:
Genesis 27:35 (TLB) Isaac: “your brother was here and tricked me and has carried away your blessing.”
That doesn’t seem fair; surely God wouldn’t let someone take his blessing. But there’s a reason: Esau was the firstborn son. His twin brother Jacob was born right after him:
Genesis 25:26 (NIV) after this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob
He was trying to get ahead from the very beginning. Jacob made a lot of mistakes: he didn’t have integrity, he cheated people. But despite all these weaknesses, he had a boldness to become who he was created to be. One time, he even wrestled with an angel he told the angel:
Genesis 32:26-29 (NIV)
26 … Jacob replied, “i will not let you go unless you bless me.” … 29 Jacob said, “please tell me your name.” … then he blessed him there.
He went about it the wrong way, especially at first, but he was passionate about fulfilling his destiny. On the other hand, his brother Esau was just the opposite; Esau knew he had the blessing that came from being the firstborn son. He knew he would get double the inheritance from their father. Back in those days that birthright was extremely valuable. One day:
Genesis 25:29-31 (NIV)
29 once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 he said to Jacob, “quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” … 31 Jacob replied, “first sell me your birthright.”
It was a ridiculous offer. Today, it’d be like saying, “i’ll give you my house and my car for one meal.” He shouldn’t have even entertained it. But Esau was so indifferent about what he had, so casual, he thought:
Genesis 25:32 (VOICE)
Esau: 32 look! I am about to die of starvation! What good is my birthright to me if i am dead?
He traded something extremely valuable for a pot of stew. God could have stopped him; he controls the uNIVerse, he didn’t have to let Esau’s brother carry away his blessing. Why did it happen? When God sees someone that has the blessing and doesn’t value it, they’re not passionate about what God has given them, they take it for granted, “this birthright, no big deal, these gifts, talents, i’ll develop them later,” if we’re casual, like Esau, not disciplined, not focused, then someone can carry away our blessing. God is saying, “i’d rather have someone like Jacob that makes mistakes, has weaknesses, but at least they’re passionate about serving me, they recognize their gifts, they’ll go wrestle with an angel if they have to to become who i’ve created them to be. I’d rather have someone like that than someone like Esau, that has the blessing and doesn’t value it.” What did Esau do that was so bad? Kill someone, lie, cheat, steal? What made God so displeased was that he had the blessing and didn’t value it; he wasn’t focused, disciplined, passionate. That’s why the apostle Paul told timothy:
2 timothy 1:6 (NLT) this is why i remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when i laid my hands on you.
2 timothy 1:6 (NKJV) therefore i remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
Don’t be an Esau. Don’t let someone carry away your blessing. If you don’t value and use it, it can be taken away. “i’ve missed a lot of opportunities, made a lot of mistakes, i guess it’s too late for me.” No, just the fact that you’re here today, listening, is a sign that you have a heart after God. What’s happened in the past is not important; what’s important is right now. You can do like timothy, and start stirring up your gifts, start using well what God has given you. If you do this, you don’t have to worry; nobody can carry away your blessing. God has a hedge around you and your future that cannot be penetrated without his permission. The only reason Esau lost his blessing is because God pulled back that hedge. He said, “Alright, Esau, you’re not going to use it, so i’m going to give it to somebody that will use well what i’ve given them.”
When the prophet Samuel came to jesse’s house to anoint one of his sons as the next king, jesse didn’t even bring his youngest son, David, into the house. When David eventually came in:
1 Samuel 16:13 (CEV) Samuel poured the oil on David’s head while his brothers watched
You don’t have to live worried, thinking, “i’m falling behind, other people are getting my blessing, i’ll never get the break i need.” No, as long as you keep honouring God, stirring up your gifts, developing your talents, the oil that belongs to you will not flow to anybody else; God will get you to where you’re supposed to be.
When David was out in those shepherd’s fields as a young man, it was lonely; his father didn’t believe in him, he had big dreams, but all he did, day in and day out, was take care of sheep. Instead of sitting around, complaining, he would get his slingshot out and sling rocks. He became an expert. Compared to his dream, it was a small talent, no big deal, but because he developed the small, one day that small talent led him to defeat a big giant; that took him to the throne of Israel. What if he’d been out in the shepherd’s fields saying, “God, it’s boring out here. How come i didn’t get a big gift, God? I don’t want to mess with this slingshot, i want to lead an army.” If he would’ve been indifferent like Esau, not valued what God had given him, that oil could’ve flowed to somebody else. This is where many people miss it; you have to be productive right where you are. Whatever God’s given you, even if it’s small, develop that gift. God invests the most in people who are productive; if you’ll show God increase, God will increase you more.
When the Israelites were in slavery, God said to Moses:
Exodus 3:10 (NIV) so now, go. I am sending you to pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
Exodus 4:10 (VOICE)Moses: 10 please, Lord, i am not a talented speaker. I have never been good with words. I wasn’t when i was younger and i haven’t gotten any better since you revealed yourself to me. I stutter and stammer. My words get all twisted.
He was saying, “God, i didn’t get a big gift, i just got one talent.” The scripture says:
Exodus 4:14 (NLT) then the Lord became angry with Moses
He wasn’t angry because he stuttered, had flaws, he was angry because he didn’t see his gift as being enough. He was like the man with the one talent, hiding it, afraid, thinking he didn’t have what it takes. God is not displeased with us because we still have weaknesses, shortcomings, he’s displeased when we’re not using what he’s given us, when we’re making excuses, discounting our gifts. God wouldn’t have asked you to do it if he hadn’t already given you exactly what you need. Quit discounting yourself: “if i had his talents, if i had her looks, if i had their gifts, then i could do something great.” No, take the talent that you have, whether it’s 5, 2, or 1, and make the most of that. If you’ll use what God’s given you, he’ll give you more. God said:
Exodus 4:11 (NIV) the Lord said to him, “who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not i, the Lord?
He was saying, “Moses i created the uNIVerse. I flung stars into space. I spoke worlds into existence. I know what i’m doing. You didn’t get shortchanged. You’re not lacking; i’ve given you exactly what you need.”
Exodus 4:13 (NIV) but Moses said, “pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”
Exodus 4:2-3 (NIV) then the Lord said to him, “what is that in your hand?”“a staff,” he replied. the Lord said, “throw it on the ground.”Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake…
Moses, this mighty man of faith, the one who eventually parted the red sea (with a little help from God), delivered the Israelites from slavery, when he saw that snake:
Exodus 4:3 (NIV) … it became a snake, and he ran from it.
Sometimes, we see these heroes of faith in the scripture as being superhuman. It’s good to know that they were just like us; he was talking with God, saw a snake, and took off running. God told him to do something interesting:
Exodus 4:4 (NIV) then the Lord said to him, “reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand.
Sometimes, God will ask us to do things that we’re afraid of. But just because you feel fear, doesn’t mean you’re not supposed to do it. If you have all the confidence, courage, strength, to do it on your own, it doesn’t take any faith. Faith says, “God, i’m afraid, i don’t know if this new business i’m starting is going to make it, but God, i believe you put it in my heart, so i’m going to take a step of faith, knowing that you’re with me every step of the way, and that you will get me to where i’m supposed to be.” You have to get out of your comfort zone, and do it afraid. If you play it safe your whole life, you’ll never reach your full potential. Jesus gave an illustration:
Luke 13:6-9 (NIV)
6 then he told this parable: “a man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 7 so he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘for three years now i’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
8 “‘sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and i’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 if it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”
The owner of the tree represents the justice of God. He was saying, “this tree should be further along for its age; at 3 years old, it should be producing fruit.” Justice says, “cut it down, it’s taking up valuable space. Something could be put there that would make better use of the soil, nutrients, sunshine.” The gardener represents the mercy of God. He said, “sir, give it one more chance. Yes, it’s barren, but i still believe that it can produce fruit. I still see some potential in it. It’s not as far along as it should be, but i know it can catch up. Leave it for one more year.”
If God came to take a look at your fig tree, when he looks at your life, will he see any fruit? Are you producing any figs, developing what he’s given you, or would that tree be barren? “you said, ‘use it or you’ll lose it.’ i can tell you, i’ve lost it, i’ve made mistakes, it’s too late for me.” Justice says, “you’re right, you should be further along; too bad, you’re done.” The good news is, the God of mercy says, “i’m going to give you another chance, work with you another year. I’m going to give you special attention… the grace, favor, wisdom, strength, breakthroughs, to step up to become who you were created to be.”
My challenge is: do your part, and get focused. Be intentional. Don’t waste another moment making excuses. Don’t be like Esau, and not value what God has given you, live indifferent, nonchalant. No, stir up those gifts, be passionate about your dreams, dare to take some steps of faith, getting out of your comfort zone. If you will use well what God has given you, God is about to increase you with more. You’re about to step up to a new level. You’re going to see new gifts, new talents, new opportunities, the fullness of your destiny.