Monthly Archives: March 2017

Jesus is worth it

worth it

I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.  Philippians 3:8

In Matthew 13 there are the two short parables “The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up.  Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding on a pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it,” verses 44-46.

Paul somehow was able to grasp this.  He didn’t go out to look for the treasure, the treasure found him on the road to Damascus.  Maybe because he had such a dramatic vision, call and turn around he was able to see the stark contrast between his old life and his new one.  Also, if you recall, he got several special visitations from Jesus, causing him to value Him above all else.

What would it take for us to grasp the immense worth of knowing Christ Jesus so that we would be willing to lose everything, to leave the old life behind and to run after Jesus?  My husband and I just watched the documentary video put out by Nik Ripken called, “The Insanity of God.”  He also has a book with that title, along with the book, “The Insanity of Obedience.”

In his documentary he tells of his family’s work on the mission field in Africa.  One of their sons died suddenly in Somalia of an asthma attack, causing them to come home for awhile.  From there the Lord directed them to travel all over the world to interview Christians from the most persecuted places in the world.  They asked the persecuted church a simple question, “Is Jesus worth it?”  It was really a question that Nik needed the answer to, in light of the loss of their son.

One of the men that Nik interviewed told his story of coming to Jesus somewhere in the Middle East after killing hundreds of men.  Nik called him the toughest man he had ever met.  This man reached a point where he could only see blood on his hands, blood that wasn’t there.  He had a dream with a scarred man who told this tough man that he was Jesus.  He knew from the dream that if he could find Jesus he could get the blood off.  It took him over a year to find a copy of the Bible, and to find out how to get Jesus in his life.

Eventually he did and the blood no longer haunted him.  He only had a copy of the Scriptures to figure out what his new life would look like.  He began smuggling Bibles and Christian materials throughout his region.  He faced much danger because the word was out that he left Islam.  He had been beaten, jailed, starved and left for dead but he was still alive and living for Jesus.  He was willing to die, but the thing he now feared the most was that his wife and children would have to die for Jesus.

Nik asked the tough man the question that he himself needed an answer to, and this man gave it.  Nik asked him, “If Jesus worth it?  Is He worth your life?  Is He worth the lives of your wife and your children?”  This tough man wrapped his arms around Nik and wept.  After several minutes he lifted his head, looked Nik in the eyes, nodded and declared, “Jesus is worth it.  He is worth my life, my wife’s life, and He is worth the lives of my children! (p 286, The Insanity of God).

It has been said that everyone needs something worth living for and dying for.  We might not face the persecution of Christians in other countries, but we need to come to the same resolution the tough man declared: “Jesus is worth giving my life wholly and unreservedly to.  He is worth more than all of the stuff I have accumulated, or things that I place above Him in my life.  He is worth hard times, He is worth denying ourselves and being misunderstood.”  Jesus is worth it!

 


Do Nothing and Do Everything

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Philippians 2:3-4 

Do everything without grumbling or questioning.  Philippians 2:14

selfishness

Paul gives us two contrasting commands in Philippians 2.  They are linked with what it looks like to live a life worthy of the gospel, from Philippians 1:27.

1.  Do Nothing.  In verses 3-4 Paul tells us what a lifestyle of humility looks like, doing nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but counting others more significant than ourselves.  That means we shouldn’t think that we could do things so much better than someone else, or that we know so much more.  That would give us a mindset of conceit or arrogance.  Nor should we  do things out of competition with someone else, trying to make us look better than others.  Have you ever just showed off because you could?

News flash:  We don’t have to be the center of attention.  We can let others talk way more than what we do.  We can give up our agenda for someone else’s.  We can let others get the credit for things.  We don’t have to be first or to have the best seat.

Later on in chapter 2, Paul said he was hoping to send Timothy to them to see how they were doing.  In verses 20-21 Paul said, “I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.  For they all seek their interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”  That’s who we should be like–Timothy.  We should be genuinely concerned for the welfare of others, leaving margin in our lives so we have time and energy to actually do something.  We should be seeking the interests of Jesus Christ ahead of our own agendas and interests.

2. Do everything.  In Phil. 2:14 Paul instructs us to do everything without grumbling or questioning, or as the NIV puts it–without complaining.    It would be interesting to count how many times we complain in a day.  And when we don’t complain or grumble, then people will sit up and notice that we are different because Jesus lives in us.  You could add criticizing to the list.  Isn’t criticizing saying “I could do it so much better.”?

As you read past verse 14, you’ll find that Paul notes that when we live like that, we are shining as lights in a dark world, actually a crooked and twisted generation.  It may not be easy in ourselves to not grumble, question, complain or criticize, but the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-24 lists joy, goodness, and self control.  That means that as the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives, He keeps those negative tendencies in check.  God gives us a thankful heart that looks for the good in others.

Now that is radical!


Living a Life Worthy of the Gospel

live worthyOnly let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.  Philippians 1:27

What does living a life worthy of the gospel look like?  In 2 Corinthians 4:4 Paul writes that Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers, “to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”  The glory of Jesus is our gospel, for in Him we find the good news that God sent Jesus to come to die for our sins.  In coming to Him, we find forgiveness, purpose and eternal life.

As recipients of this marvelous grace, our lives must look different.  Paul tells us to live a life worthy of the gospel, one that puts the spotlight on the glory of Jesus, not our own glory or agenda.  There are at least three ways to do this contained in Philippians 1:27-28:

  1. Standing firm in one spirit.  In Ephesians 6:10-18 we saw that  to stand firm and not be dashed about by the troubles of this life, we must be dressed in the armor of God.  But here Paul adds, “in one spirit.”  That means that we stand with others who are fellow believers, finding common ground in Jesus, and battling alongside of them during the tough times.  And rejoicing with them in the good times.
  2. Striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.  Our standing together isn’t just to cheer each other on during the tough times, it is to spread the gospel.  It is so easy to be self absorbed and preoccupied with the things of this world, rather than to be about our Father’s business.  We are to be kingdom minded, understanding that we are in service of the King.  We must not be so busy sitting in bleachers at kid’s games or vacationing, or just working to pay the bills that we miss the grander purpose that God has for our lives.  And if you’re not in church, you won’t be able to do this!
  3. Not frightened in anything by your opponents.  Jesus said it over and over that because the world hates Him, they will hate us.  He warned  of persecution for His name’s sake and of how things will get worse and worse (check out 2 Timothy 3:1-5).  In the middle of this opposition, His word is “do not fear.”  Don’t let the haters wear you down.  It is tempting to want to become a “bubble boy” and withdraw because of the threats to our well being.   But the call here is to not retreat, but to advance the gospel.

To live a life worthy of the gospel we are to stand together, strive together, and to sing songs of faith and courage to one another.  When we sing hymns and worship songs, we aren’t just singing to God, but we are affirming what we believe and will die for to each other.  We are singing to our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, the church words like “I’ll never, no never, no never forsake” from the hymn “How Firm a Foundation.”

So stand, strive and sing to live a life worthy of the gospel.

 


Are you ever going to grow up?


He Will Finish.jpgI am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.  Philippians 1:6

According to Paul, the answer is yes.  And he is sure of it.  It’s a promise.  God started our whole faith journey, and He will continue to work to bring us to a good finish.  That doesn’t mean that we sit back and do nothing.  In Philippians 1:9-10 Paul prayed that their love would grow and that they would live out what is excellent so that they would be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.  It is our job to obey and to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” as Philippians 2:12.

There is this give and take between what we do to grow complete in our faith and between what God does.  God initiated it, according John 6:44: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.”  And it is God who will bring our faith to the end, according to Jude 24: “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy.”

God will bring our faith to its completion at the day of Jesus Christ, which is the day of His return to this earth to set up His millennial kingdom.  1 John 3:2 tells us, “we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.”  If we don’t progress in our Christian growth through our obedience, Christian disciplines and the fulfillment of what part we play in God’s kingdom, we will answer for it on that day.

What we do with what God has given to us is up to us, and we will be held accountable for it and given rewards. But it is God who gets us to the finish line.  Listen to 1 Corinthians 1:7-9, “as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ,” and 1 Thessalonians 5:24, “He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.”

You are a work in progress.  You can rejoice when you see God working His love, patience, faith and encouragement through you, because that is a sign that you are indeed one of His.  John 15:5 echoes, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.”  You can’t produce genuine change and fruit apart from a real relationship with Jesus, based on faith.  When you see it, give God the glory because He did it in and through you–don’t beat your own chest.

If you see Jesus at work in and through you, rejoice that you are one of His and that you’re growing up.  And know that He will bring you across the finish line for that great day of Jesus’ returning!

 


Go Wield Your Sword

shield and sword

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Ephesians 6:16-17

Paul’s picture is one of a Roman soldier, and the armor that he would wear.  We’ve already looked at the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness and the shoes of peace.  Today we’ll look at the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit to be battle ready.

The shield of faith is there to extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one, Satan.  I did an Awana council time on this from the theme night “Bean Bag Barrage.”  I had a bigger metal garbage can lid, and I had given about 50 bean bags to kids and adults in the audience.  On cue they pelted them at me, while I fended them off with my trusty lid.  You could hear the “zings” but not one hit me.   That was a pretty good picture of what Paul was talking about.

There are plenty of  faith verses we can call out when under attack, like “I will never leave you or forsake you,” Hebrews 13:5; “God is my refuge and strength in trouble, a very present help in trouble, therefore we will not fear,” Psalm 46:1-2; “The name of the Lord is a strong tower.  The righteous run into it and are saved,” Proverbs 18:10.  Know them by heart, call them out and stand with the strength that God provides.

The helmet of salvation is to guard our heads and our minds.  We can relate to that, as we are a helmet society (not like when I was a kid).  In Proverbs it talks about guarding our hearts, but we also need to guard our minds.  Don’t subject yourself to garbage on TV and the computer, or even Facebook.  Shut it off.  Our thoughts need to be kept in line with the holy life that God wants for us, so even being around certain people might have to be on the “no” list.  Immerse yourself in the Word so that you won’t be deceived and tossed around by every wind of doctrine.

Next we have the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  It is the only offensive weapon that we have, outside of prayer.  Hebrews 4:12 says that “the Word is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword…”  We use it by quoting it to ourselves, out loud to Satan (“Resist the devil and he will flee from you, James 4:7), and filling our prayers and talk with Scripture.  Corrie Ten Boom was talking to an evangelist in India who said he wasn’t seeing many people come to the Lord.  She asked him if he was wielding his sword, meaning ‘was he using Scripture in his messages.’  He thought and said that he really wasn’t.  About a year later she saw him again and he quickly told her how he went back to using more Scripture and how people were coming to the faith.  My husband calls that out to me every time I leave to go do jail ministry, “Go wield your sword.”

I pray through the armor when I feel the battle closing in.  I also call out loud, “Satan I resist you in the name of Jesus.  Leave me alone.”  We have a defense, the armor of God.  Now use it!


Pray at all times in the Spirit

prayPraying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.  To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.  Ephesians 6:18

I would call prayer the walkie talkie that goes with the armor of God.  It is not an intercom, a one-way communication tool, but a walkie talkie for two way communication.  That’s why Paul writes to pray in the Spirit at all times.  What does praying in the Spirit mean?

In Romans 8:26-27 we find that “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”  Here are some of the things the Holy Spirit does to help us in prayer:

  • The Holy Spirit searches the deep things of God.  He knows the mind of Christ and the will of God.  Then he He takes the things of Christ and reveals them to us.  
  • The Holy Spirit teaches us how to pray and what to pray for.   When I enter into praying ‘in the Spirit,’ I am asking the Holy Spirit to tell me how to pray and what to pray for so that I am praying for people against Satan’s strongholds, devices, and schemes and am effective in my prayers–not just babbling words or phrases learned from someplace.
  • The Spirit in my spirit prays with groanings that cannot be expressed in words, working in us to will and to do the will and good pleasure of our Father.  “Put on my heart what it is You want me to pray for and to yearn for.  Stir my spirit with Your Holy Spirit to intercede and to speak according to Your will.”

The prayer of the Spirit is the inner meaning of prayer.  It is more than just sitting down and asking God for a list of things–it is communion, fellowship, cooperation and identification with God and Jesus by the Holy Spirit.

Samuel Chadwick, a preacher in the 1800’s from England said, “The most important part of prayer is not what we say to God, but what God says to us.  It is no place to hurry (the place of fellowship with God).  The soul must be still and wait before the Lord.” (From the Collection and Works of Samuel Chadwick, Beacon Hill, 1943).

Ephesians 6:18 commands us to pray at all times, with all prayer and supplication.  Pray when you don’t feel like it, pray until you feel like it.  Pray for little deals and pray for big deals.  Pray for yourself and pray for others.  Prayer is a weapon.

Finally,  our power verse with tells us to be alert and to persevere.  Don’t be content with seasons of prayerlessness.  Break through whatever wall it is that keeps you from communing with God on a deep enough level to know that your spirit is communicating with the Holy Spirit.

“The prayer of a righteous person has great power.”  James 5:17

 


Having Done All, to Stand Firm

Beltoftruth

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  Ephesians 6:13-15

God has given us His resources to stand against the principalities and evil forces that want to eat us for lunch.  It’s call the whole armor of God.  Somehow the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness and shoes of peace, to start with, are parts of what will enable us to withstand the day of evil and to stand.  It is invisible to us, but perhaps it is fully visible in the spiritual realm.

Let’s start with the belt of truth.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that Scripture is inspired by God and is what thoroughly equips us for every good work.  In John 17:17 we find, “Your Word is truth.”  Don’t leave home without it.  We put on our belt of truth by studying the Bible, applying it, obeying it and speaking it.  We don’t speak lies, we don’t manipulate, but as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:2, “by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God,”  or, “by plainly setting forth the truth.” NASB If we live according to the truth and speak the truth of the Word into situations, it is our weapon.  It must be an important one, because that’s the first one Paul mentions.

Next we put on the breastplate of righteousness, of Jesus’ righteousness, to stand clean before God.  It is not our own righteousness that we put on.  If that were so, it would be a Swiss cheese breastplate.  We can never stand clean before God, because as Isaiah 64:6 announces, “all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.”  When Satan accuses us, our defense is Jesus’ righteousness and Jesus is our defense attorney.  But still we must confess our sins and renounce sin habits so that Satan does not have legal ground to mess with us.  1 John 1:9 is true: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Just as you take a shower regularly to get clean, take a spiritual shower each day by confessing known sins.  Then rest in Jesus’ righteousness.

Lastly, we put on the shoes of readiness that is given by the gospel of peace.  Romans 10:15 calls someone’s feet who goes to tell the good news of Jesus “beautiful feet.”  If we seek to come to people with peace, reconciliation and with grace, it goes miles further than if we are confrontational, have unresolved conflicts that mark our lives, and a contentious spirit.  When you go into a situation that could be a fight, consciously put on Jesus’ shoes of peace.

Romans 8:37 proclaims, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”  We are on the winning side, and we have the winning weaponry.  Those weapons are not of this world, but are divinely powerful in this spiritual battle we are in.


Our Clear and Present Danger

battle

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Ephesians 6:10-12

There is a battle going on for our hearts and souls.   Sometimes we feel it and know what’s going on as it plays out.  Other times we don’t realize that we are fighting a real war until after we’ve just been defeated in some way.  The fight is in the heavenly realms, a place we can’t see.   Heaven, Hell, God, angels and demons reside in this spiritual world.  Our spirit        interacts somehow with this spiritual world, like when we pray and quote Scripture and speak the name of Jesus.

Know this: Satan is after us.  In Luke 22:31-32  Jesus told Peter, “Satan demands to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.”  Satan wants to pulverize our faith, but Jesus fights for us.  Satan uses people, but our battle isn’t against people, though at face value that’s what it seems like.  There are spiritual forces of evil that are at work in this world and are at work against us.  They demand to have us.

In Revelation 12:10 it says that Satan accuses us before God day and night.  He looks for our weaknesses and pounces on them.  He is a roaring lion wanting to devour us, as 1 Peter 5:8 warns.  We can either underestimate our opponent, Satan, or we can overestimate his powers and abilities.

Let’s start with what happens when we underestimate Satan’s power and influence.  Peter the disciple brashly declared, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death,” in Luke 22:33.  And then, not much later, he denied Jesus three times.  Perhaps he overestimated his own moxy, or he underestimated what Jesus said about Satan wanting to sift him like wheat.  At any rate, he denied Jesus and learned that he wasn’t as strong as he thought he was and that Satan was stronger than he thought he was.

Self confidence is good to have, but it’s not enough to withstand sifting from evil forces.  The good news for Peter and for us is that even when we fall, is that Jesus intercedes for us, He fights for us, and it is He who keeps us from falling eternally, according to Jude 24.

We can’t overestimate Satan and underestimate God.  Some people give the devil more power than he has, allowing him to control them by fear, much like a bully does.  1 John 4:4 triumphantly states, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than He who is in the world.”   Colossians 2:15 announces that Jesus “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them at the cross.”  Jesus is stronger and He is on our side!

Stand in Jesus and what He has done for us, and for the protection and strength that comes from Him.  Our flesh and self confidence may fail us, but Jesus never fails.  He gives us spiritual weapons and spiritual armor.  Make it your goal to learn how to use them.


Things are Different Now

things are different nowNow this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.  Ephesians 4:17

You can replace the word “Gentile” with non Christian.  In other words, once we become Christians we are commanded not to live like we used to.  We are also commanded not to live like the non Christians around us.  It’s not a suggestion, it’s a command.  There is an old Gospel song, called “Things are different now,” by Stanton Gavit, that goes like this:

Things are different now, something happened to me. Since I gave my heart to Jesus Things are different now, I was changed it must be, when I gave my heart to Him…

Paul describes what the mindset of someone who doesn’t know who Jesus is: darkened in their understanding, separated from God, hard hearted, calloused, given over to sensuality, and greedy to practice every kind of impurity.  Non Christians do the things they do because they don’t know Jesus.

But we have been changed by the Spirit and taught to live differently.  If you haven’t been taught before, you are being taught now.  Your life must change.  You can’t keep cheating, lying, sleeping with someone you are not married to, being selfish and treating others badly.  That’s not who we are.  Those are choices you need to make.  You need to be renewed in the spirit of your mind to live out that new life.  The Holy Spirit renews us as we call on Him, plus as we spend time in the Bible our minds are changed from thinking like a non Christian to thinking like a Jesus follower.

Part of the reason Christians don’t act any differently than those who don’t know Jesus is simply because they aren’t spending disciplined time each day in the Bible.  Plus, they may not have surrendered to the right that God has to interfere with your life.  If you call Jesus ‘Lord,’ then that means you are giving Him the license to mess with all of your values and priorities.  He will rearrange them, but only with your permission.

As Ephesians 4 continues, Paul tells what a new life looks like–don’t lie, but speak truth; be angry, but don’t sin; don’t steal, but work; don’t say worthless things, but build others up; don’t grieve the Holy Spirit; finally, don’t be filled with bitterness, but be tenderhearted and forgiving.

Are things different now that you know Jesus?  Are you being renewed in the spirit of your mind because you have given God the right to be your interior redecorator?  Are you spending quality time with Him in the Bible?  If not, what needs to change today?

Even as someone who has been a Christian for a long time, I still need the renewing work of the Holy Spirit and the Bible in my life.  Left to myself I am snarky, selfish and prone to take short cuts.  I know when I have gotten away from the God I love and need to get back to His feet.  Others can probably see it quicker than I can.  Don’t leave home without Him!

*Photo from “The Loyalist Advantage”


You are a piece of work

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  Ephesians 2:10

a piece of workWe are God’s workmanship, His masterpiece, His creation.  ‘Workmanship’ in Greek (the New Testament’s original language) is ‘poiema,’ like the word for  poem or poetry.  We are God’s epic poem.  He made us with a purpose in mind.   That flies in the face of any notion about being evolved from tadpoles or the product of an expansion of something small inside a black hole to a big universe.  People who believe evolution or the Big Bang don’t want to have a Maker to answer to, one that gives a set of rules and tells them what to do.  

According to a Time Magazine article about the Big Bang Theory, by J. Madeline Nash (June 24, 2001):

“How life began is a question that is being asked again and again as news of this remarkable molecule and others like it spreads through the scientific world. Never before have the creations of laboratories come so close to crossing the threshold that separates living from nonliving, the quick from the dead. It is as if the most fundamental questions about who we are and how we got here are being distilled into threadlike entities smaller than specks of dust. In the flurry of research now under way — and the philosophical debate that is certain to follow — scientists find themselves confronting anew one of earth’s most ancient mysteries. What, exactly, is life, and how did it get started?”

But if you’re reading this, chances are that you already know these answers and have submitted yourself to God’s authority. And you love Him because He made you and has shown Himself to you.

The good news is that God made us for a purpose, one that has been prepared in advance for us.  That gets into the concepts that we looked at in Ephesians 1:11.  Not only did God choose us before the world began, but He did it with a specific  purpose in mind for each one of us.  This isn’t just so we can have a great life, but as Ephesians 1:12 puts it, that “we might be to the praise of His glory.”  God made us with a purpose so that we would bring glory to Him.  That’s why we exist.

If you think that you have a boring life with no purpose, or that you have no special abilities and talents to contribute to God or to anyone, think again.  That is a lie so don’t believe it.  This verse is God’s truth to you.  God has given you gifts through the Holy Spirit who lives inside of us.  (See Ephesians 4:9-13; 1 Corinthians 12 and 14; Romans 12:4-8 and 1 Peter 4:9-11)  They are things like giving, hospitality, teaching, mercy, evangelism, leading, administration and organizing.

God also has a plan for you that He’s waiting to unfold if you let Him.  He has prepared it in advance, so that means that God is not making it up on the fly.  You are a piece of work–God’s work.  And it’s good.