I wasn’t going to post this and rather just save it for the book but I really felt like I was supposed to share it for some reason… So, here is the rough draft final chapter from my next book -What to do after doing time…
Chapter 25- The World Needs Your Gift
The two most important days in a man’s life are the day he was born and the day he figures out why he was born! – Pastor Chris Hodges (Church of the Highlands)
Throughout this book I have continually reflected back on a common theme of healing, restoration and fulfillment of purpose encompassing who you are and the destiny that God has placed in you, with the absolute intent of ending the book with this chapter! It has all been written and structured specifically so that at this point you would have a definitive understanding about who you are and why you are here in belief that you can walk fulfilled, knowing that God placed you here on purpose and FOR PURPOSE even if you don’t know exactly what that purpose is…Yet…!
I heard a pastor say something while preaching at my church here in Nashville that I have reflected upon many times since, as it pertained to this subject of who we are and why we are here, The two most important days in a man’s life are the day he was born and the day he figures out WHY he was born!
Each chapter in this book was written to compliment the previous chapters starting with the most foundational aspects of what Christ accomplished in our salvation and authority in this earth through his death, burial and resurrection. Then, we elaborated upon who we are to God and how He feels about us. And finally, who God created us to be IN Christ… all of which are absolutely necessary to understand aspects of our identity if we are going to walk in the destiny that God created us to walk in!
As a result, deliberately you have seen scriptures emphasizing the depth of Gods love for you, the authority He has given you and His purposeful intentionality in putting you here, on this earth, at this time to accomplish what He created for you to accomplish and live out in your lifetime! Because, where the rubber meets the road, the world needs your gift!
Amplified Bible (AMP)
11For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.
12Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you.
13Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
Each of you have been given a specific combination of gifts and talents! No one has exactly the same gift set or calling! Some of you have an amazing ability to pick up a pencil and sketch out an elaborate picture that you simply dreamed up with your imagination. Where, I on the other hand have difficulty sketching a stick man with straight legs! Others of you are gifted with the ability to express yourself through beautiful music on an instrument or vocally, when I would be fortunate to figure out a basic chord progression or stay on key while singing! Some of you have the ability to speak in front of crowds, dance, understand intricate numbers, care for the elderly, write computer code, remember history and dates, make people laugh, perform surgery, raise children, cultivate relationships, care for the environment, make executive decisions, protect people…etc. And all of those are God given and God ordained giftings that are unique to you!
The point is, there are over 6 billion different gifting and talent combinations in operation in this world because, like a fingerprint, no two people are exactly the same and no two people have the exact same God ordained election in life. Even though it is a given that your spheres of influence may overlap with other peoples at times, you have a specific imprint ability that no one else in this world has! God placed you here on purpose for such a time as this!
New King James Version (NKJV)
14 For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
I love that scripture! Here Esther was presented with a challenge! She is confronted with the opportunity to speak up and step into her calling so that God could use her to save her people! But I love the way it is presented to her, …If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place but you and your family will perish… Esther’s destiny and legacy rested upon her willingness to take her God ordained place in history and use that influence to bring about the change that God wanted for His people! Esther had a choice to either step forward in faith or cower in fear but if she chose the latter, God would have to use someone else to do what He had called her to do! And that choice would affect more than just her…
Each of us has been placed in positions to both lead and follow. There will always be things that we can learn from one another and things that we can teach each other! There are perspectives that you have been specifically wired to understand and you have been commissioned to share your gift with others and fulfill the purpose that God placed you here for!
Amplified Bible (AMP)
4Then the word of the Lord came to me [Jeremiah], saying,
5Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you [as My chosen instrument], and before you were born I separated and set you apart, consecrating you; [and] I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.
6Then said I, Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am only a youth.
7But the Lord said to me, Say not, I am only a youth; for you shall go to all to whom I shall send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
8Be not afraid of them [their faces], for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.
9Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.
The worst thing you can do is attempt to compare yourself and your gift with someone else! In the scripture above, the prophet Jeremiah was arguing with God about his prophetic calling! Here, the man who was called to be one of the leading voices to Gods people in his day told God that he felt like a child and didn’t expect that people would even listen to him.
How many times have we ourselves done or said the same thing in times where we have felt inadequate? How many times have you told God that you just weren’t able to do what He asked you to do? How many times have you explained your position of insecurity to the God who created with a thought, the entire universe and (according to Wikipedia) its 80 billion galaxies and estimated 30 sextillion to possibly a septillion stars, each with their own system of planets and moons? How many times have you expressed to THAT God that you just didn’t feel like He knew what He was doing when He created you and called you to your purpose…?
He who began a good work is faithful- not you
Here’s the deal, THAT almighty God who created the universe knew exactly what He was doing when He put you here! He has a plan for your life that is so precisely designed and only you can fulfill it to its fullest potential! This is why it is so important that we come to a place where we understand our authority and who we are in Christ Jesus because I believe that peoples lives and fulfillment hang in the balance!
God is faithful to complete the work that He has begun in everyone, and if you decide to not be who He called you to be, then I am certain that He can find someone else to pick up the slack, but like Esther, that person would not His first choice to accomplish that destiny…YOU ARE!
The body functioning in fullness
I’ve heard so many people attempt to trivialize who God has called them to be with words of inadequacy and feelings of inferiority but there is an important aspect of our connection in this life to consider. God compares all of His children to the human body when He calls us the Body of Christ. We are not all alike but on the contrary are each called to a specific purpose and function in that body! So, let’s address about the parallel between human body and the body of Christ for a minute.
For those of you who have studied anatomy you realize that the more you know about the body and each parts function the more involved and intricate it becomes. Most of us think of a human body in 6 visible sectors. The head, arms, hands, torso, legs, and feet. But as we begin to break those parts down, let’s just think about the head for a minute, visibly consisting of two ears, two eyes, a nose, a mouth, and hair. But if we broke down any single one of those parts, there is a system of smaller parts that make those parts functional. The human eye consists of over 30 definable major parts like the optic nerve, retina, and pupil…and each one of those parts can be broken down into more specific definable minor parts like rods and cones and nerves, probably to the nth degree.
The point of this example is, the human body wouldn’t be complete with out a head, but the head wouldn’t be complete without the eye and the eye wouldn’t be complete without the retina…etc, etc, etc…
Our God is a God of specific design! And the part that you play in His design for the body of Christ today is absolutely essential in order for there to be complete functionality!
When I think of the body of Christ I very often think of two things. One is body parts attempting to function separated from the body and the other is body parts not functioning at all!
What happens when a body part attempts to function a part from the body?
No matter how great or small the part, if I disconnected it from my body, it would not receive signal from my brain, it would not receive necessary blood and oxygen to give it life from the rest of my body and it would quickly rot and die! Each part is specifically designed to operate in cooperation with the rest of the body! It cannot function apart from the connection that it was designed to function in and if it tries…Death is the result…
I believe that this is a significant issue in the body of Christ today! There are so many parts that have attempted to disconnect themselves from the rest of the body because of strong feelings about their own philosophies and doctrines that, when exposed, are in opposition to the true heart of God. This lack of connection and unity has caused there to be a rotting stench of dead disconnected parts in our world, I believe both in the nostrils of people who are not Christians and even to God Himself!
There is nothing wrong with having our own opinions and perspectives on debatable issues of doctrine. But, we cannot allow our opinions on these non-essential issues to be so strong and so absolute that it causes there to be a separation from the rest of the Body of Christ. When we allow this to happen, pieces that God designed to function in unity attempt to function apart from their intended connection and just like a finger separated from the hand, death is the result!
Amplified Bible (AMP)
1AS FOR the man who is a weak believer, welcome him [into your fellowship], but not to criticize his opinions or pass judgment on his scruples or perplex him with discussions.
2One [man’s faith permits him to] believe he may eat anything, while a weaker one [limits his] eating to vegetables.
3Let not him who eats look down on or despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains criticize and pass judgment on him who eats; for God has accepted and welcomed him.
4Who are you to pass judgment on and censure another’s household servant? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he shall stand and be upheld, for the Master (the Lord) is mighty to support him and make him stand.
5One man esteems one day as better than another, while another man esteems all days alike [sacred]. Let everyone be fully convinced (satisfied) in his own mind.
6He who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. He also who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; while he who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.
7None of us lives to himself [but to the Lord], and none of us dies to himself [but to the Lord, for]
8If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or we die, we belong to the Lord.
9For Christ died and lived again for this very purpose, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
10Why do you criticize and pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you look down upon or despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.
11For it is written, As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God [acknowledge Him to His honor and to His praise].
12And so each of us shall give an account of himself [give an answer in reference to judgment] to God.
Verse 3 above says, Let not… I believe that it is our responsibility to guard our unity with other believers. So many of us take the divorce approach when disagreement happens. As if we exist in all or nothing relationships with other people and demand that they think and do exactly as we do in order for them to be accepted by us… it is this line of thinking that has not only separated the body of Christ from each other, but also from those who God would have come in to a relationship with Him.
Amplified Bible (AMP)
23Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.
Because of such a staunch, unyielding stand on issues of opinion, many in the church have completely excommunicated themselves from any influence outside of those under their roof… and sadly, many who take that absolute position even destroy their family relationships because of a lack of balance in the love department ruining the little influence that they may have had…
We don’t have to be clones or all subscribe to the exact way of thinking or responding as everyone else, but a common connection to the rest of the body is absolutely essential! God is big enough that He can have each part functioning in an individual role where the foot doesn’t have to be just like the hand or do exactly what the mouth is doing, but essentially, there must be a unified purpose and connection to what is central in the entire body!
I believe that which should connect us all is Jesus Christ and if there was a single, life giving source (or blood) that all of the body should be expected to operate in, in order to function properly and stay alive in that unity, I believe that blood would be LOVE.
As we have stated before in this book, God defines Himself in His Word by the single word, Love. If we are connected to His body and His blood is flowing through our parts, then Love should be a significant aspect of what identifies us as a part of His body both to those who are and are not yet connected.
Amplified Bible (AMP)
16You will fully recognize them by their fruits…
New King James Version (NKJV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness
I’m convinced that the more time we spend communicating with God and in His presence, we will see His fruits manifested in our lives! I’m also convinced that a primary reason that many do not display the fruits of Gods Spirit and subsequently are not easily identifiable as being connected to Him is because of an absolute rebellion against His desires and His thoughts for us because of our own agendas and opinions which we have ultimately and rebelliously exalted above His. When this happens, we are simply choosing to not function as a connected part of the Body of Christ.
What happens when body parts don’t function at all?
When body parts don’t function at all in the body of Christ, it is only because they have chosen not to or do not realize how to! There is a term for bodies that are attempting to work without the function of an essential part: Crippled…
I believe that the Body of Christ has been called to such greatness and authority in this world but it has been, overall, functioning in a crippled capacity because people are simply choosing to not be the essential piece that God has called them to be!
Like the human body, the Body of Christ has the ability to compensate for the lack or crippling in an area where someone has chosen to not function in the fullness of their purpose, but this is simply not what God intended! He intended for us to function in wholeness!
He is still faithful, but when people choose to not walk in His love and toward the destiny that He created them to walk in, God has to remove deadness and, redirect what would have been our calling to someone else instead of using the one He initially purposed … YOU!
Amplified Bible (AMP)
1I AM the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser.
2Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit.
3You are cleansed and pruned already, because of the word which I have given you [the teachings I have discussed with you].
4Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me.
5I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.
6If a person does not dwell in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken-off] branch, and withers; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and they are burned.
7If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.
8When you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine.
9I have loved you, [just] as the Father has loved Me; abide in My love [[a]continue in His love with Me].
10If you keep My commandments [if you continue to obey My instructions], you will abide in My love and live on in it, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commandments and live on in His love.
11I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing.
12This is My commandment: that you love one another [just] as I have loved you.
13No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends.
14You are My friends if you keep on doing the things which I command you to do.
15I do not call you servants (slaves) any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing (working out). But I have called you My friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from My Father. [I have revealed to you everything that I have learned from Him.]
The Word says that pieces that are not connected to the vine or producing fruit will be cut off. I do believe that God has the absolute ability to grow new parts in the place where the old was removed, but that is apart from the primary point, I’m convinced that there are so many who are functioning beneath where God has positioned them or called them to function and overall, the Body of Christ is functioning far beneath it’s intended place of authority in this earth!
It’s as if a virus has attacked so many of our body parts that the other parts are compensating and overworking in an overtaxing attempt to keep the body alive while so much of the Body is just sick and feeble!
It shouldn’t be this way, but anyone who knows what the Word of God says about our authority and who God has positioned us to be in this earth, would be in absolute denial if they said anything otherwise! The numbers don’t lie, and the Body of Christ is dwindling in impact world-wide as Christianity has been on the demise!
Our influence in the past 50 years has taken a significant downturn! I heard a statistic recently that stated, all of Europe is now only 1% Christian and the Unites States is one generation from embodying the same statistic. The Word of God declares that we will be known by our fruit, and for the most part, the fruit we are producing as a whole has continued to become more and more scarce. This simply does not have to be!
I believe that a significant reason for this decrease in fruit yield is that increasing numbers of Christians are not staying connected to the Body and as a result, not making the impact in this world that they were created to have! What this does, is leave a select few people carrying a significant load and in essence, having to compensate for others who are refusing to walk in their authority, exercising their influence and fulfilling their calling!
Because God is faithful, He does remove dead branches which allows the ones that are connected to produce bigger fruit, but, I’m convinced that God’s perfect plan doesn’t involve the removing process at all nor does He desire to shift influence from one person to another, but rather to have each person be the part of the body that He created them to be so that they can walk in the influence that they were specifically created to have!
According to His Word, God intended MORE from His body than what is being produced at this point in history, and I believe that a significant reason that we are not seeing more is because people are simply not embracing who they were created to be, living an entire life beneath their calling and dying unnecessarily unfulfilled!
Being the You that God created
Amplified Bible (AMP)
14For it is like a man who was about to take a long journey, and he called his servants together and entrusted them with his property.
15To one he gave five talents [probably about $5,000], to another two, to another one–to each in proportion to his own [a]personal ability. Then he departed and left the country.
16He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he gained five talents more.
17And likewise he who had received the two talents–he also gained two talents more.
18But he who had received the one talent went and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19Now after a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.
20And he who had received the five talents came and brought him five more, saying, Master, you entrusted to me five talents; see, here I have gained five talents more.
21His master said to him, Well done, you upright (honorable, [b]admirable) and faithful servant! You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much. Enter into and share the joy (the delight, the [c]blessedness) which your master enjoys.
22And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, Master, you entrusted two talents to me; here I have gained two talents more.
23His master said to him, Well done, you upright (honorable, [d]admirable) and faithful servant! You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much. Enter into and share the joy (the delight, the [e]blessedness) which your master enjoys.
24He who had received one talent also came forward, saying, Master, I knew you to be a harsh and hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you had not winnowed [the grain].
25So I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is your own.
26But his master answered him, You wicked and lazy and idle servant! Did you indeed know that I reap where I have not sowed and gather [grain] where I have not winnowed?
27Then you should have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received what was my own with interest.
28So take the talent away from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents.
29For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will be [f]furnished richly so that he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have will be taken away.
30And throw the good-for-nothing servant into the outer darkness; there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.
I have heard many teachings about talents from this passage of scripture and for the purposes of what I am addressing I simply want to focus on what I believe Jesus was attempting to positively convey. First of all, in this parable, Jesus was simply using money to make a measurable point. I believe that the talent could have been anything that God has entrusted to us. Influence, children, position, money, giftings…etc. Regardless of the size of the talent, God expected that those who He gave the talent to, did not waste it!
Understanding the depth of who you are to God is beyond your minds ability to fully comprehend. Most of us when looking at the totality of the circumstances would say to God, “Why me…?” when understanding the why is simply not a part of any prerequisite in fulfilling your calling. They why is irrelevant when the fact of the matter is, It is what it is… You are who God says you are and you are gifted with the talents and abilities that you have because He made you that way.
I’ve seen so many compare themselves to others who had, what they perceived to be a similar calling or were doing something that they themselves wished that they were doing. Like a watermelon comparing itself to an apple hanging on a tree, to compare yourself and your calling with another’s would be useless and fruitless. You are who God has made you to be. In your DNA is every ability to be exactly who your world needs! So, your approach in life needs to be one of seeking God’s direction and His approval and then trusting Him to bring you to the place that you are called to be. God’s timing will be perfect and you will step into your place of fulfillment exactly when you need to do so!
Some people are purposed to do what they do and step into their life long destiny at 20 while others (like Jesus) train for 30 years and then have a 3 year ministry that changes the world! The point being, whether you are 20 or 75, if you still have breath in your lungs, God is not done with you yet! You may have been patiently waiting for 20 years and next week be launched into your destiny!
I’ve heard several world impacting ministers say, People ask me how I became such an overnight success…what they didn’t realize is that I spent 20 years sowing seed and becoming who I was so that I could handle what I needed to be able to handled in this season and seemingly overnight exalted to a place of greater influence…but this was a 20 year quest of blood, sweat and tears…not an overnight success…
Don’t be discouraged if you feel like you are not today who you dreamed of being yesterday. God will complete that good work that He began in you, just continue to move forward in Him.
Many years ago I was arguing with God and feeling very discouraged with where I was seemingly at in my life. I told God, I have so many dreams inside of me… and that was as far as I got in my pity party before God interrupted me and said so clearly, I know Aaron, I put them there.
What I have come to understand as the truth of the matter, at least in my life, is that God plants in us our dreams to give us something to look forward to during the times that we are not quite there yet… Since that time I have had many up and down moments in my life! Many seasons I have questioned what was going on and why… only to receive answers from God like, You had a lot to unlearn, or This is necessary for the next season… Things haven’t always worked out in MY timing but I can say without fail, when I remained postured for God to use me and bless me, He was always faithful!
As we read earlier in this chapter in Matthew 25, God prunes those that He loves…Meaning, sometimes there are things growing on our branches that will draw life and resource away from God’s intended fruit and God will take the time to prune those things so that ultimately, we can be the most fulfilled in Him and produce the most intentional and fulfilling fruit in our lives!
Sometimes the vision that God has given us for the fruit we are to produce is greater than what our branches are equipped to carry at the time. God knows this, and allows us to produce the needed fruit for that season until we are strong enough to carry the weight of the bigger fruit we envisioned…
New Living Translation (NLT)
10 Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…
So many times, your timeframes are not God’s timeframes and when you are moving forward, following His leading, there will be seasons when you will ask yourself, what in the world is God doing…? Those are often the seasons when you have huge dreams and are producing seemingly small fruit and wondering if you are even called to be the one that you dreamed you were to be…
Don’t despise those seasons when things are seemingly small, those are often the seasons where pruning is taking place and God is redirecting resource into your necessary branches so that the larger fruit can be produced later! Just remain faithful in that season and know that God is setting you up for success as long as you stay postured to receive it!
Amplified Bible (AMP)
10He who is faithful in a very little [thing] is faithful also in much, and he who is dishonest and unjust in a very little [thing] is dishonest and unjust also in much.
When you are following Gods leading for your life, He is not going to put you out there to fail! He will allow you to build a strong foundation, and learn the necessary prerequisites in this season in order to be a success in the next! He loves you and has called you to absolute GREATNESS! He wants you to be fulfilled in whatever your calling in this life is and desires for you to seek Him today for guidance so that you can be set up for additional success tomorrow!
Whether you are a business executive, a pastor, a stay at home parent, a teacher, a landscaper, a stylist, an author, a programmer, an athlete, or maybe you don’t even know who you are to be…God has a plan for your life and He, with your cooperation will make you into the most fulfilling YOU that you could ever dream of being! The only prerequisite is that you look to God, seek His guidance and submit to His direction for your life so that everything you dreamed of fulfilling can be your reality!
Amplified Bible (AMP)
33But seek ([a]aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness ([b]His way of doing and being right), and then all these things [c]taken together will be given you besides.
What to do after doing time…
Amplified Bible (AMP) (personal emphasis and bold face by author)
18The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me, because He has anointed Me [the Anointed One, the Messiah] to preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity],
19To proclaim the accepted and acceptable year of the Lord [the day [a]when salvation and the free favors of God profusely abound.
Whether in an actual jail cell, bound by the shackles of a stronghold in our lives or imprisoned by negative thought processes that have tormented our minds…we have ALL done time in some capacity, but the content presented in this book has given you the foundation and ammunition to take back those areas of your life where the devil has attempt to derail your destiny! Jesus came to RELEASE THE CAPTIVES! Those things no longer have the authority to continue to bind you! Christ has restored YOUR authority over the works of the devil!
Amplified Bible (AMP)
19Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you.
You are who God says you are! You are no longer defined by the failures of your yesterday, on the contrary you are defined by the tomorrow that God has for you! He has a dream for your life that only you can complete in the fullness that He intends for it to be accomplished! You are purposed by God to win and lead others into their own victory and to stomp the devils head in the process!
Even though, right now you may not know what that looks like or perhaps even how to get there, God does…It’s time for you to embrace your destiny… Walk where He created for you to walk! Conquer where He created for you to conquer! Be who you were created to be…Complete IN HIM!
You carry the God of the Universe in your very being and He has entrusted you with the unique ability to be who only YOU can be… Do not underestimate what God has placed in you! You are His child, you are here by divine design…and…
…The World Needs Your Gift!