"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

God's Greatest Gifts

I was asked to give the devotion at our opening faculty meeting for the School of Education and Professional Studies at Samford University, where I teach, today. I've delivered invocations, pre-race devotions, spoken in front of thousands of people, and taught for more than 30 years. Nevertheless, today I was nervous and I'm not sure why. So, I'd like to share that devotional with all of you. I think that God gave me the words to say and just maybe it will hit home with you as well.
When my daughter, Ashley, (who is now 24) was about 6-years-old I called her a "character." One day she asked me, "What's a character?" I explained to her that me calling her a "character" was kind of like calling her a "mess" or "funny." But, I went on to teach a Dad lesson. I also told her that "character" was God's heartbeat in you that helps you do the right thing even when no one else will ever know and that I believed that good "character" was a gift from God.
We find the following words in God's word -- I Peter 4: 10 - 11
10 God's gifts of grace come in many forms. Each of you has received a gift in order to serve others. You should use it faithfully. 11 If you speak, you should do it like one speaking God's very words. If you serve, you should do it with the strength God provides. Then in ALL things God will be praised through Jesus Christ.
I believe that God has given us gifts that we don’t know we have because we haven’t listened to His ever present voice through the words of others, through studying His word, or through prayer. So, over the past few years I’ve tried to listen more attentively and God has taught me so much. He has taught me to have a little more patience, to be more humble, to have respect for others even when I don’t understand them. And, maybe above all, He has taught me to never minimize, discount, or dismiss another’s feelings because when I do, I minimize, discount, or dismiss Him!
My devotion OR challenge for all of us as we begin this new school year is to allow everything that we do in our daily walk – in the classroom – in meetings – in the stillness of a moment be TOTALLY-COMPLETELY Christ centered. If we do this, then we have accomplished much toward showing the grace that God exemplified for us through sending Christ as our Redeemer.
A few days ago I posted this quote on my Facebook page as my status update. It's received a lot of feedback and I think it is appropriate at this time ...
"A simple conversation, smile, kind deed, or helping hand may have an eternal impact on someone's life. Never minimize the seeds that may be planted by an act of kindness. God can take a seed that lands on a fertile heart and grow it into an amazing landscape of hope."

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