You Were Created to Gift It! – Session 3

Choosing to Prepare

We are so glad you returned! It’s a blessing for us to share what we learn from our walk of faith. We hope you are gathering with others to share what you learn, too.

The trouble around us leads to a call from God. How will you choose to answer? It’s up to you. Let’s process what we heard and experienced in our week of study: You Have a Choice.

Take a long deep breath.
Center your heart on God.
Take another breath and as you exhale let go of what’s on your mind. Put it aside while we focus on Him.
Let’s pray.

Lord, how thankful we are for time to seek You and Your way for our lives. Remind us the only reason we exist is to come to know You and walk by faith using our gifts so others can know You too. Bless us with clarity today, Lord. Amen.

Following Gideon’s Lead: Lamenting the trouble you find yourself in.

Photo by Francesco Gallarotti on Unsplash

In the homework’s opening prayer exercise, we encouraged you to vent to God about the trouble you find yourself in. While some may think of this as complaining, we call it venting vertically. After all, if God already knows our thoughts, there is no hiding the way we think or feel about our troubles. Plus, there is plenty of Scriptural precedence for venting vertically to God. 

If you spend much time in Psalms, you are surely familiar with the sound of the psalmists’ complaints. You may have even found yourself shocked by what some of them said to God in prayer! But the truth is, it’s always better to vent to God than to your neighbor or even yourself. 

The Bible calls horizontal venting — complaining to those around you to make yourself feel better — grumbling. And that’s part of what kept the Israelites walking in circles for forty years in the desert.

  • What was your experience with writing down your feelings and thoughts about the trouble you face?
  • Did you find yourself resisting this exercise? Why?
  • Do you find it important to be authentic with God about your feelings and thoughts? Why or why not?

Let’s return to Gideon’s initial conversation with the angel of the Lord as he stood in the winepress.

Read Judges 6:12-14

The angel addressed Gideon as “O mighty man of valor.” Yet, Gideon didn’t seem to hear it. Instead, he immediately turned to questioning the messenger about the trouble they were in. He wanted to know where God was in all this trouble. Gideon was focused on the trouble and his limited perception of what was going on. His authentic response to the messenger cleared the “spiritual air” so to speak. 

God is not the one who needs to hear what’s going on in our thoughts and hearts. He already knows. However, we are a different story. Being authentic with our deepest feelings and thoughts with God builds intimate relationship with Him. When we learn to trust God with those “I don’t want to be here” thoughts, we find God faithful. He listens and gives us all the time we need to remember who He is and who we are in Him. 

Photo by Anuja Mary Tilj on Unsplash

Gideon’s venting didn’t turn God away. It actually prepared Gideon to listen and hear who God was calling Him and what He was preparing Him to do.

Go in this might of yours. Save Israel.

The world’s trouble has the power to steal our true identity. Satan stole mankind’s identity when he deceived us with his lies in Eden. The ones called to have dominion over the world are now dominated by trouble in the form of sin and death.

Not only does God want to redeem, restore, and resurrect the world, He wants to restore the true identity of His people. He wants to restore their original call.

Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it.
Genesis 2:28

Jesus came to redeem us from the bad deal we made with Satan and call us to come alongside Him to replenish the world with real life and subdue the world for His Father’s Kingdom.

All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20

  • Do you hear echoes of Gideon’s call in the commission Jesus gave His disciples? What are they?

Jesus calls His disciples to Go just as the angel of the Lord called Gideon to go. He gave a promise to be with His disciples just as God promised to be with Gideon. As God gave Gideon authority to take back the Promised Land from the Midianites, Jesus calls us to take back the world for God in His authority.

Gideon’s story — and all Old Testament stories — are a foreshadowing of God’s greatest mission. The Metastory in which we are called in Christ to play a significant role. 

Photo by Monica Valls on Unsplash

After all the venting, Gideon may have thought: Is this true? God’s calling me mighty? the one to go and save Israel in His name? He is with us? with me?

What about you? Is it true? Is God calling you in the midst of all the trouble? What is your true identity? the one stolen from you in the Beginning by the enemy?

Finding Our Place In the Story: Identifying the Pattern

When we consider the Metastory God is writing in the world, we begin to approach Scripture in a way that enables us to see patterns emerge. Looking for these patterns is like digging for treasure. When we find them, they help us look at the way God is working in our lives too. 

  • What did you notice as you looked at the pattern of the call God gave Moses? Esther?
  • Was there any part of the pattern you didn’t find in either of their stories?
  • Does it surprise you to find patterns connected with the way God relates to His people?

Let’s look at the pattern as a circular movement.

  • Do you see this pattern in your own life? 
  • How does this impact your relationship with God?

Stacy says:

A little over a year ago, trouble I never expected entered our lives. As fire consumed our home, God led others to give in ways I never imagined. Within two hours we found ourselves in an unusual place. 

Saying everything was unusual is NO exaggeration. I daily asked my sister-in-law which clothes belonged to which person as I pulled them out of the dryer. Yet, the generosity of my community was overwhelming and passion began to ignite in me. Like the faith heroes I read about, I poured out my deepest thoughts to God. I made excuses about how what he was calling me to do wouldn’t work. 

Yet, the wrestling fueled a passion in me to give to those in need that will not be tamped down. Which has actually brought me more trouble. Recognizing this pattern in Scripture and relating it to my own life brings me hope and confidence God is using what the enemy meant for harm for my good and the good of all those He sends my way.

Faith Responds

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Though we see similar patterns to God’s call in the lives of Gideon, Moses, and Esther, their responses differed. 

  • Moses responded by coming under the authority God placed in his life. He asked his father-in-law for permission to go back to Egypt to check on his brothers. (Exodus 4:18)
  • Esther called for her community to join her in prayer and fasting when she realized what God was calling her to do. (Esther 4:15-16)
  • Gideon took steps to discern the truth of what the angel of the Lord said by asking Him to wait while he prepared a gift for Him. (Judges 6:17-18)

What do these steps have in common? They are all ways to seek confirmation of a call from God.

  • How do you feel about seeking confirmation on a call from God? Is it necessary? Does it feel disrespectful?

Read 1John 4:1

  • What are Believers called to do? Why?

Believers are called to test the “spirits” because there are many false prophets in the world. 

When we test the spirit of a call we believe we’ve heard, it’s a way of testing the truth or source of the voice we heard calling us. Moses heard his call from a burning bush, Esther’s call came through her uncle, and Gideon talked to someone identifying Himself as the Lord, but could any of them be sure of the spirit behind the voice?

Photo by Carolyn Morgan on Unsplash

God is Spirit and invisible to us. We most often hear His Spirit speak to our hearts, it’s not audible, so we need to test the origin of the voice we hear calling us. These three faithful followers of God illustrate three ways:

Coming under the authority God has already placed in your life.
Praying and fasting.
Taking steps of discernment.

  • Can you think of other ways to seek confirmation after believing you’ve heard a call from God?

Seeking confirmation in God’s Word, asking Him for Scripture speaking to the call we’ve heard is a way to test the origin of the voice. If the heart of the call doesn’t line up with the heart of God’s plan and purpose found in the Bible, then we need to question its validity.

Trusted members of our faith community, those we fellowship with, can also help us test the authenticity of a call. God gives us the Holy Spirit to connect all Believers to one another and to Him. We can seek confirmation of a call by asking them to pray for us and through their understanding of the Spirit’s work in our lives they may be able to affirm or negate what we believe we heard.

  • Which of the three responses — coming under authority, prayer and fasting, steps of discernment — have you noticed in your own spiritual life?
  • Which one causes resistance? Which one speaks to your spirit?

As Carol and I have grown in our relationship with God, these three responses have become a part of our usual way when it comes to seeking confirmation when we hear a call from God. When we come under authority, fast and pray, take steps of discernment, God is faithful to show us the way.

Prepare It

Gideon’s response to hearing God’s call was to run home and prepare the gift of a meal. Let’s return to this Scripture.

Read Judges 6:19

Gideon’s preparation of the gift was a step of discernment. He asked the Lord to wait until he returned. If the messenger was still there when he got back, then Gideon would take that as a sign this experience with God was real. When we consider Gideon’s gift three aspects of preparation are revealed. The first is practice. 

  • What comes to mind when you hear the word practice?
Photo by Shelbey Fordyce on Unsplash

Some may cringe thinking about being made to practice something they didn’t enjoy or have any interest in, like piano. Or long grueling practices for a sport where they were drilled in one action over and over again, like running sprints. Others may have fond memories of practicing, getting better and improving skills they desired to have, or to please their parent, teacher, or coach. 

But no matter your past experience or initial reaction to the word practice, at its core is the simple action of doing. It means anything done repeatedly from a daily chore to the intentional pursuit of professionalism and its practice, like a musician or physician. What you do habitually is what you practice.

Whatever gift we are called to give, practice is necessary. Though each of us are born with talents, what we do with those talents makes all the difference. 

Read Matthew 25:14-27

  • Two servants took their talents and practiced using them. What was the result?
  • One servant buried his talent in the ground and refused to practice. What was the master’s response?
  • Why did the servant bury the talent?

God gives each of us talents, and it takes practice to refine those gifts for His use. Sometimes it is something extraordinary and almost supernatural. But most often the gifts we give are ordinary things we do in our daily lives like Gideon’s meal. 

  • What talents/gifts do you practice in your ordinary life?
  • Do you see them as a gift God is calling you to offer Him? Why or why not?

Unlike Gideon, the servant who buried his talent in the ground did so out of fear. He was not willing to risk failure to do more. His ability and potential to give remained buried.

  • What keeps you from practicing your talent or preparing your gift?
  • Are there risks you are not willing to take? Why?

The parable of the talents describes another aspect of preparation as well. The first servant went out and invested the talents given to him. The second took the two he had and made two more. The parable describes the time the master was gone as “long,” and two of the servants used their time to prepare their gifts. The third servant invested very little time. 

But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.
Matthew 25: 19 ESV

Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash

Let’s take a moment to consider the time involved in burying a single coin. The servant decided on a place to bury it, dug a small hole, placed the coin in it, covered it up, perhaps marked the spot, and walked away. It wasn’t a long process.

  • What is your biggest struggle when it comes to the time it takes to prepare your gift?

While it is clear the servant wasn’t willing to risk losing the one talent, or spend the time to invest in a way that would draw interest, maybe he wasn’t willing to sacrifice what it would take to prepare the gift as well. Yet Gideon was. He took what was scarce in the land and prepared it for the Lord. He put aside his worry and fear about what he would eat the next day and prepared a generous amount of bread and meat. Gideon’s preparation was a sacrifice.

  • What sacrifices are required in the preparing of our gifts?
  • How does the cost of preparing your gifts impact your giving?

God led the way of preparation with the giving of Himself for our sake. He limited His glory to live a human life. While Jesus never failed in the practice, He took the time to prepare which was completed in the sacrificial giving of His life for us. And unlike our giving to a perfect and good Father, He gave to the ungodly. The lowest of the low. He gave to bring those who deserve nothing, and it cost Him everything.

This is the definition of grace – giving to those who don’t deserve the gift. God did this for us, and we are called to give grace to others. It will require preparation. It will take practice, time, and sacrifice. We cannot achieve any of it on our own and God doesn’t ask us to. Instead, He gives us the Holy Spirit to work in and through us to prepare what He has given.

Imagine It

Find some change to hold in your hand or imagine holding a number of coins. Set your mind on prayer.

Photo by Amelia Spink on Unsplash

Prayerfully imagine the Master has just handed you the coins in your hand. He’s given them to you for a purpose. He wants you to use this gift to build His kingdom, and He tells you He will be gone for a long time. 

As you look into the grace-filled eyes of the Master, what thoughts begin to surface in your mind? 

As you watch the Master leave you open your hand and gaze at the gift.

How many coins did you take? Why?

What gifts do your coins represent?

What step of preparation is God calling you to take?

Consider the practice, the time, the sacrifice. Count the cost.

Invite the Holy Spirit to help you prepare.

Close your time of prayer with Here I Am Lord.

Prepare for next week…

You are invited to study with us. Here is the link to the homework.

Be blessed.

Stacy and Carol

Feature Image Photo by Simon Wilkes on Unsplash

Leave a Reply