“With Talent On Loan from God…” — A Thanksgiving Celebration

[audio https://www.buzzsprout.com/3192/224334-with-talent-on-loan-from-god-a-thanksgiving-celebration.mp3]

On this Thanksgiving, I thank God for the talents and gifts that He has bestowed upon my family and me and that is no doubt the reason why I love to see people do what they are truly talented and gifted by God to do. It is a blessing to see singers, musicians, actors, actresses, athletes in all sports, writers, speakers, business people, doctors, cooks, auto mechanics, lawyers, and leaders of all types seemingly without effort and almost flawlessly doing what they were given by God the talents and the gifts to do.

Their talents (or gifts) come from God, and He has blessed the world with an abundance of and an array of talents. Every time we see these talents on display, we ought to be thankful to God for them and for the way in which many people use them to benefit and bless society. Many years ago, I heard a popular secular radio talk show host begin his radio broadcasts with the phrase ‘with talent on loan from God…’ Even though I have not listened to him in years, that phrase stuck with me. It was good for him to know that whatever talents and gifts he has they came from God, and it is good for all of us to know that, and we all should give God thanks.

God is the source of each of the gifts and talents that people have received. First Peter 4:10-11 says, “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever.” These verses tell us that every person has received talents from God and that it is their responsibility to use those talents for the good of others. Every time someone uses the talents God has given them, they bring glory to their Creator, and we should offer thanksgiving to God for the talents that He gives to us to use for His glory, praise, and honor.

Many people do not hesitate to honor God as the source of their great talent, and they seek to honor and glorify God by the use of their talents. Many have also spoken of their faith in God and in Jesus Christ as the foundation of their success in life. Listen to these words from some people whom you might recognize.

Oscar-award winning actor, Matthew McConaughey, said, “First off I want to thank God, because that’s who I look up to. He’s graced my life with opportunities that I know are not of my hand or any other human hand. He has shown me that it’s a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates. In the words of the late (British actor) Charlie Laughton, who said, ‘When you got God you got a friend…’”

Super-bowl winning quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, Russell Wilson, “First of all, God is so good. He brought me here a mighty long way. My dad used to always tell me, ‘Russ, why not you?’ And what that meant was believe in yourself, believe in the talent God has given you even though you are 5 foot 11, and you can go a long way.”

NBA star, Kevin Durant, said, “When I’m talking in front of people or when people tell me I’m great, I remind myself that I can always be better. I’ve just got to be thankful to the Lord for the gifts He’s given me. My gift back to Him is to always be humble and to work as hard as I can.”

Peyton Manning, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, said, “At age 13, I committed my life to Christ, and that faith has been most important to me ever since… My faith doesn’t make me perfect, it makes me forgiven, and provides me the assurance I once looked for. I’ve been blessed [to] have so little go wrong in my life, and [have been] given so much.”

Political analyst and columnist, Kirsten Powers, said, “I don’t really feel like I had any courage when I became a Christian, I just gave in. I wasn’t courageous; I didn’t have any choice. I kept trying to not believe but I just couldn’t avoid [accepting Christ]. If I could have avoided it, I would have. There is nothing convenient about it in my life or in the world I live in. It’s not like living in the South where everybody is a Christian. I live in a world where nobody is a believer. But God pursued me.”

Olympic gold medalist, Allyson Felix, said, “My faith is the reason I run – it calms my heart and makes everything feel like a lift. My speed is definitely a gift from [God], and I run for His glory. ”

Truett Cathy, the late, great businessman and founder of Chick-fil-A, said, the main purpose of his business is “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us; and, to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”

Odell Beckham, Jr., of the New York Giants, who recently made what many are calling the greatest catch in NFL history, is also a believer. On the night of the now famous catch, he gave God the glory by saying, “God gave me this talent.” The day after making his amazing catch, he said, “I wanna thank God for everything he’s doing in my life.” He also said, “God is good. That’s an understatement. He’s always on time, maybe not when you want him to be but always when the time is right! God puts people and obstacles in our lives not for us to fail, but to bless us in mysterious ways that our own understanding can’t imagine… If you don’t know God, my advice? Get to know him! And If you do know God, get closer to Him!”

Madison Bumgarner, the pitcher for the World Series-winning San Francisco Giants, said, “If it weren’t for my faith, there is no way I would be where I am at today. My faith is a really big part of my career and my life… The biggest thing I want people to know about me is that I am a believer, I’m a Christian, not just that I’m a baseball player or any of the other stuff I like to do… Jesus Christ means everything to me. He is my Saviour and I live for Him. I don’t want to live for myself; I want to live for Him.”

Actress and author, Candace Cameron Bure, said, “God has changed me in ways that words can’t describe. He has transformed the way I think and live my life. Things that were once important to me are no longer. I can’t help but share the Good News with everyone! I know there is nothing more important. I know that without Christ, the eternal consequences are devastating. I urge you to surrender your whole life to Jesus, turn from your sin and trust in Him with all your heart.”

Denzel Washington said, “I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I’ve been filled with the Holy Spirit. I know it’s real… I’ve always understood why I’ve been blessed to be put in this situation [acting and directing]. And I’m more than happy to take advantage of it and to preach, if you will, about what God has done in my life.”

American musician, Sheila E., said, “[After a period of difficulty in my life] I decided, ‘You know what, Lord? If you just give me another chance, I’ll do whatever you want me to do.’ I got the Bible and I started reading and I kept it on my chest. I slept with it and never took it out of my hand for weeks.”

Bobby Bowden, the second-winningest coach in college football, said, “If you love [God] and serve Him and try to be loyal to Him and obedient to Him, He’s not going to let you fail. That’s the thing that has happened to me.”

Albert Pujols (Pu-holz) of the St. Louis Cardinals said, “My life’s goal is to bring glory to Jesus. My life is not mostly dedicated to the Lord, it is 100% committed to Jesus Christ and His will. God has given me the ability to succeed in the game of baseball. But baseball is not the end; baseball is the means by which my wife and I glorify God. Baseball is simply my platform to elevate Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.”

Country singing star, Carrie Underwood said, “I grew up going to church camp and reading my Bible and having different faith books and movies in my life…My songs are sometimes focused on God, Jesus and faith, and that is a part of my “Bible Beltness,” where such themes are popular. I was not the first, nor will I be the last, to sing about God.”

Tim Howard, the U.S. soccer goalkeeper, who also has Tourette’s syndrome said, “Living with Tourette’s is not easy. But God has blessed me with the gift of athleticism as well. He has done some powerful things in my life through the combination of these two gifts. He also has shown me ways to use my position as a professional athlete to encourage others with Tourette’s syndrome. Today, I am blessed to be living a dream. And yet, if it all went away tomorrow, I know I would still have peace. That probably sounds crazy to most people, but that’s the kind of peace Christ gives. It is rooted in His love, and it surpasses all understanding. You can experience this same sense of love and peace, too. All you have to do is ask for it.”

Award-winning actor and director, Blair Underwood, said, “I am a Christian. I believe God has a plan. I believe he is not going to leave us hanging. As a man, in our society, I don’t have all the answers. Being able to turn matters over to a higher power works for me.”

Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy said, “You are never going to get anywhere in sports or in life until you become convinced of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You may become a professional athlete or have fame and nice cars and nice houses and a lot of money, but what you’ll find is that all of that stuff goes away pretty quickly. You have to understand that Christ died for our sins, and that He died not just to be our Savior but so that He could be the center of our lives.”

Michelle Williams, one third of the popular group, Destiny’s Child, said, “[Despite some criticism that I have received for doing both secular and Gospel music,] I believe that I am doing my part to be a witness for Jesus Christ. Some people will do gospel when their career fails, but I chose to do it at the height of the popularity of Destiny’s Child. And I didn’t want to do it because it was a fad. I wanted to do it because it’s in me. It’s in my heart. God places people in different parts (areas) for different reasons. We know Jesus is coming back soon and I am doing my part to make sure that people know about him as well.”

Famed neurosurgeon, Ben Carson, said, “If your priority is to look good in front of people, your life will take a different direction than if your priority is to use the talents that God has given you to make a positive difference in the world. I believe God has a specific purpose for me – and for every other person to whom he gives the gift of life. If there is a God and you believe in him, you know the best is yet to come. I always pray before any operation. I think God helps me know what to do….We’ll always be safe in Jesus Christ if we place our faith in the Lord.

Oprah Winfrey said, “I am a Christian. That is my faith. I’m not asking you to be a Christian. If you want to be one I can show you how. But it is not required. I have respect for all faiths… My favorite Bible verse, because I am a Christian, is Acts 17:28. It says, ‘In God I live, and move, and have my being.’ And you want to know why I’m so successful? Because I knew that at four-years-old, I wouldn’t be who I am today without that.”

I could go on with the testimonies of many other people who have become successful through the use of their God-given gifts and talents. But, as we close this celebration of the talents that God has given, I want to let you know that you, too, have talents from God, and you can be a success through the talents that He has given you.

Pastor Rick Warren said, “Whether you are a musician or an accountant, a teacher or a cook, God gave you those abilities to serve others. You are a manager of the gifts God has given to you. They may be great or small in your eyes, but they matter to God. When God made you, He made an investment in you, and He expects a return on that investment.”

I tell people all the time, God did not put you here to do nothing. God wants you to use the talents and gifts He has given you for His glory and for the benefit of others. And when He uses you, you ought to give God thanks.

The main way you can begin to give God a return on His investment in you is to give your heart and life to Him today. You see, not only, did God invest in you by giving you unique talents and abilities, but He made a major investment in You when He sacrificed His only Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross so that you would not have to suffer eternal punishment for your sins. Allow me to explain: No matter how talented and gifted you are, and no matter how much you may have accomplished in life, you are still a sinner just like everyone else, and if you do not accept God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, then you will spend eternity in hell.

Allow me to show you how you can accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour today.

1. Accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 7:20: “For there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth not.” Romans 3:23 reads: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” In fact, I am the chief of sinners, so don’t think that you’re alone.

2. Accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

3. Accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” The Bible says in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

4. Accept the fact that you cannot do anything to save yourself! The Bible states in Ephesians 2: 8, 9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

5. Accept the fact that God loves you more than you love yourself, and that He wants to save you from hell. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

6. With these facts in mind, please repent of your sins, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and pray and ask Him to come into your heart and save you this very moment. The Bible states in the book of Romans 10:9, 13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Dear friend, if you are willing to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, please pray with me this simple prayer: Heavenly Father, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door“. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

God loves you! We love you! May God bless you! And Happy Thanksgiving!

GLMX #207: Heaven is Real and Hell is Real Too

hell4

Heaven seems to be a pretty popular place nowadays. Books that tell the stories of those who have died, gone to Heaven, and come back to tell about it, fly off the shelves. The Heaven is For Real movie, based on the New York Times bestselling book of the same name, opened at number one at the box office when it was released. And, according to a Religion News Service article, 74% of Americans believe there is such a place as Heaven, and in another, recent survey, 62% of Americans say they are going there.

But what about Hell? Well, 59% of Americans believe Hell is for real and 1.5% of Americans say they are going to that place of torment after they die. Vassula Ryder, author of the best-selling book Heaven is Real but So is Hell, said, “The devil’s most powerful tool is convincing us that he — and hell — do not exist. He works subtly and silently, feeding our doubts and inadequacies, sowing dissension and creating chaos and confusion in our lives. Evil is real, and we have to know how to respond to it.”

Although we much prefer the pleasures and goodness of Heaven, we must accept that Hell, too, is for real. In fact, some authors have claimed that they have experienced Hell. In one book, A Day in Hell, the author writes, “Darkness enveloped me as if thick, black ink had been poured over my eyes… Reaching to my left and my right, up and down proved the black endlessness of my confines. Cold permeated my bones — an icy, water-type cold, in that it surrounded all of me, inside and out.”

In another book, 23 Minutes In Hell, the author said he was imprisoned in a tiny cell where demons viciously tore at his flesh. He said he experienced insatiable thirst while hearing “screams of an untold multitude of people crying out in torment.”

Perhaps because we do not like to be reminded of negative experiences, these books do not become as popular as books about Heaven. But that does not mean that Hell is any less real.

Another book, however — in fact, the bestselling book of all time — speaks extensively about Hell. Yes, the Bible tells us that Hell is a real place of eternal fire, eternal darkness, and eternal torment. In fact, it has often been observed that Jesus Christ, the loving, miracle-working Son of God, spoke more about Hell than any other Biblical figure. Listen to these words by Dr. Tim Keller: “Jesus speaks of ‘eternal fire and punishment’ as the final abode of the angels and human beings who have rejected God. He says that those who give into sin will be in danger of ‘hell fire’. The word Jesus uses for ‘hell’ is Gehenna, [which refers to] a valley in which piles of garbage were burned daily as well as the corpses of those without families who could bury them. In Mark 9:43, Jesus speaks of a person going to Hell where ‘their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ Jesus is referring to the maggots that live in the corpses on the garbage heap. When all the flesh is consumed, the maggots die. Jesus is saying, however, that the spiritual decomposition of Hell never ends, and that is why ‘their worm does not die.’ If Jesus, the Lord of Love and Author of Grace spoke about Hell more often, and in a more vivid, blood-curdling manner than anyone else, it must be a crucial truth.”

In light of this “crucial truth” — that Hell is for real — what will you do? Perhaps, you are one of those who has never taken discussion of Heaven or Hell very seriously. Well, now is the time to get serious. Now is the time for you to do what it takes to be certain that you are going to Heaven when you die.

MUSICAL SELECTION: “Jesus is Lord” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

No New Year Without a New You 2.0

How to Have a New You for the New Year and Have the Best Year of Your Life

Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #147

TEXT: 2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Every time a new year rolls around, people begin to think about things they can change in their lives. Some people say that they are going to lose weight and start eating healthy. Others say that they are going to go back to college or get out of debt. Some say that they are going to write a book or start their own business. And others commit to getting organized or spending more time with family and friends.

The start of a new year is indeed a great occasion to make a change in your life. I believe that God gives us such time markers as a way for us to stop, look back at our lives, and identify things that we can change for the future. However, many people focus on making only outward changes — changes that will improve the way they look, improve their standard of living, or improve how others see them. I believe that the best change you can make is a change from the inside out — a change of heart, spirit, and mind. In other words, a change that brings about a new you for the new year. For there cannot truly be a New Year for you if there is no new you for the New Year.

So, today, I want to share with you from the Word of God how you can become a new you as we head into the new year. In Second Corinthians chapter 5, Paul is writing to the Corinthian believers about the implications of Christ’s death. He emphasizes that Christ died for “all men”, so anyone can have a new life through Jesus Christ. Because of Christ’s death, salvation was not limited to the Jews, but was opened to everyone. This is good news for us today because it lets us know that anyone can have a great change in their life through the power of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many people have found new life in Christ. Some famous people whom you have heard of, such as: singer Carrie Underwood, Super-Bowl winning football coach Tony Dungy, NBA player Kevin Durant, rapper LL Cool J, writer and news commentator Kirsten Powers, actor Blair Underwood, Olympic athlete Brady Ellison, Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross, and PGA golf tour champion Webb Simpson, have all stated that the person who made the biggest difference in their lives is Jesus Christ.

I want you to know that you can join the likes of these and many other people by allowing Jesus Christ to make a new you for the new year and for your life beyond. How can such change come about?

1. First of all, to have a new you for the new year, you must be “in Christ.” Verse 17 begins with, “therefore if any man be in Christ…”

2. To have a new you for the new year, you must realize that you are a “new creature.” Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature…”

3. To have a new you for the new year, you must put away all “old things.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

+ Plus, listen to Andrae Crouch and Marvin Winans as they sing “All Because of Jesus” and Hillsong singing “Amazing Love”.

Kirsten Powers: How a Liberal Democrat and Former Atheist Came to Know Jesus Christ as her Savior (Gospel Light Minute #101)

Kirsten Powers
Kirsten Powers

She is a political analyst, blogger, columnist and commentator. She is a Democrat who regularly contributes to USA Today, Newsweek, The Daily Beast, Fox News and the Wall Street Journal among other publications. She formerly served under the Clinton administration from 1993-1998 and was appointed Deputy Assistant U.S Trade Representative for Public Affairs.

In an interview with Focus on the Family, she shares how she converted from atheism to Christianity. She said: “I was not looking to be a Christian. The last thing in the world I wanted to be was a Christian. I had grown up as an Episcopalian, but not evangelical, born again, or any of those kinds of things. It was very high church, kind of mainline, protestant, episcopalian. I did believe in God, but it wasn’t anywhere near what would come to happen to me later in life.

“When I went away to college, whatever little faith I had, I lost. I ended up graduating from college. I worked in the Clinton administration. All my friends were secular liberals. At this point, I really got even more deeply into an incredibly secular world because now, all my friends were basically atheists, or if they had any kind of spirituality, they were very hostile towards religion, Christianity in particular. So, I really didn’t have any interest in it.

“I started dating someone who went to Tim Keller’s church, Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City. Out of curiosity, I went with him. But I told him upfront that I would never become a Christian; that it’s never going to happen. After about six or seven months, I began to think that the weight of history is more on the side of what [I was hearing at this church] than not. Tim Keller had made such a strong case, that I began to think it’s not even smart to reject this. It just doesn’t seem like a good intellectual decision.

“Really, it was like God sort of invaded my life. It was very unwelcome. I didn’t like it. Obviously, I started having a lot of different experiences where I felt God was doing a lot of things in my life. It’s kind of hard to describe, but I did have this moment where the scales just fell off of my eyes, where I was saying, ‘this is just totally true, I don’t even have any doubt.’ …I don’t really feel like I had any courage when I became a Christian, I just gave in. I wasn’t courageous; I didn’t have any choice. I kept trying to not believe but I just couldn’t avoid [accepting Christ]. If I could have avoided it, I would have. There is nothing convenient about it in my life or in the world I live in. It’s not like living in the South where everybody is a Christian. I live in a world where nobody is a believer. But God pursued me.”

Her name is Kirsten Powers.