“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.“So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’  He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’“Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground..."

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Who comes to mind when you think of a "talented" person? Maybe you think a painter like Leonardo da Vinci, an athlete like Michael Jordan, or a musician like Paul McCartney. These kinds of talents amaze and inspire us. Our society praises great talent; just look at all the awards shows on TV with all the hype surrounding them. If you have ever been to a sporting event or a concert with cheering fans, you know people get a little excited about seeing talent in action. We even have shows dedicated to finding new talent while viewers religiously tune in to vote for their favorites. Being surrounded by all this talent and the enjoyment of it, you may have never stopped to consider yourself as one of these "talented" people. I know I didn't, until God changed my mind.

The parable of the talents is usually thought of as a finance lesson but I believe it can also teach us about our gifts and abilities. Just like the man in the parable gave alI of his servants talents, I believe God gives all His kids gifts. No one left out, no one empty handed.  The story does tell us that although all the servants had something, only two did anything with it. What did they do? They multiplied and increased it.

There is a worship leader at our church that has an amazing voice. This girl can sing! I would put her in the same category as Adele or Whitney Houston all day long. I love the worship at our church and I love it when she leads it.  I don't know much about this girl with the voice, but I do know she has invested years training and developing her voice to be what it is today. During one Saturday night service, she began to sing one of my favorite worship songs and I was enjoying every second. I just closed my eyes as tears streamed down my face overwhelmed by God's presence. I knew the best part of the song was coming and I was just thinking she is about to blow the roof off this joint!! Boom! She did - every crazy high note hit effortlessly with power. I realized I had a huge smile on my face and began to wonder why I felt so giddy. I thought, this is kind of weird. I asked God, why am I feeling this way? Why am I so excited? Why am I so moved? He said, me too!! I feel the same! I do that with all my kids!! It was as if all of a sudden I could feel Him smiling with me - enjoying the moment with me. It became clear to me that of course God, our creator, the very One who gave us our talents and abilities is delighted when we use them! I love to hear her sing and so does He! He then brought to mind how I feel when I see my two boys try something and excel. There is just something about watching my kids do their thing! It's one of the most amazing parts of being a parent and I love it! I knew at that moment God feels the same way

 

...God is bringing life to things I thought were dead and gone. He is saying yes to dreams I had forgotten I even had.

After that service I realized I had more commonalities with the deadbeat servant than I cared to admit. I've had to start digging. I have started to try to uncover some of the talents God has given me, which have been buried over the years. A few of them are six feet under a pile of disappointment, discouragement, failure and fear. Others I have just hid under the layer of dust in my living room, or lost under piles of laundry on the floor, and others are forgotten at the bottom of my endless to do list. The thing is, God is bringing life to things I thought were dead and gone. He is saying yes to dreams I had forgotten I even had. I have hope to try things I thought I would never do.  I have renewed faith because I have a God who does not fail.

How did God start this whole thing in me? One singer. One talent.  One person who decided to multiply what God had given them and use it for His glory to bless others like myself.  She has inspired me and blessed me with her talent, and she doesn't even know it, nor does she know me. The display of her ability has caused me to seek out mine. God used her gift to show me a part of who He is and how He thinks which I had never known before. That, my friends, is exactly what I want to do to with all God has given me.  Not one thing wasted - nothing buried - nothing hidden. Every part of who He has made me making Him known and bringing Him the praise. What if using my gifts has the same impact on someone else that this worship leader had on me and so on and so on. Multiplication and increase!!

We all have a choice. God gives great gifts but what we do with it is up to us. We can squander them, use them for things they were never intended, waste them or just do nothing at all. The other choice is to use them.  We can choose to do something and see them grow and develop in a way we never thought possible, through the One who makes all things possible. So I want to encourage you today. I want to spark something in you like it was sparked in me. You have talent. You've been given gifts. Don't be afraid to use them. Whether you are using yours to the fullest or you need to get a shovel, you've still got it. Feel your Father's joy and delight. Know His sweet smile. He is cheering you on. He is for you. Go multiply and increase.


Meet Jenny Swearingen

I am so excited to introduce you to Jenny Swearingen. Jenny and her husband, Brad, have two boys and live north of Fort Worth. Jenny is physically teeny tiny but don't let her size fool you. She is a fireball. When she opens her mouth encouragement and an authority from Heaven flow out. Before being married and having a family she worked in the fashion industry in NYC. She has a keen eye for fashion but she spends her days now homeschooling her sons. I am pretty sure she is the most fashionable teacher her kids have ever had. Jenny has a heart for missions and will be going on her first oversees mission trip this Fall to Nepal. You can learn more about her trip here. I am so impressed with her "yes's" to the Lord and the level of obedience she gives Him. Jenny, thank you for saying "yes" to something new and writing this post for Refresh. - Jamie

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