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Music. I love it. It is one of the greatest gifts God gave us. And the people who make the music, they are gifts too.
I’ve always desired to be musical. I joined band in elementary school. Probably the worst flutist ever to pick up the flute. I begged for a keyboard and piano lessons. I got the keyboard, but that whole two hands doing two separate things at the same time thing. Yeah. I cannot do that. I was in elementary school choir. I was in junior high choir too. In eighth grade, I was directed to sing so softly that I couldn’t be heard at a concert.
I realized then that maybe music wasn’t in the cards for me. Didn’t stop me from singing, I sing all the time. I also dance (AKA flailing) and paint (AKA creative therapy). But those are stories for another day.
What’s the my point? There is only one Kim Walker Smith. There is only one Martina McBride. There’s only one Natalie Grant. There’s only one Loretta Lynn. There’s only one Aretha Franklin. There is only one Doris Day. And there’s only one Jill Nicholson.
Jill Nicholson? Who’s that?
That’s me. I am Jill. I have gifts and talents chosen by God and entrusted to me to cultivate and grow. But for years I felt that because I couldn’t sing like I wanted, that I wasn’t talented at all. That is a lie straight from the enemy. Unfortunately, I believed it for too long and wasted years I could have been tending to the natural abilities I WAS entrusted with.
I believed the lie. So I took my ball and went home.
The parable of the talents comes to mind here because I did bury what I had inside and hide the talents I did have. I didn’t take photography classes because I was afraid I’d be told I wasn’t good at it. Then I couldn’t take photos anymore. I didn’t want a repeat of the choir concert incident. I only wrote for class assignments. Research papers and essays essentially. When I did write other things, I didn’t let anyone read them. I still struggle with letting people read my creative stuff.
“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.” John 12:24-25 MSG
I know the context of this verse is Jesus speaking about His upcoming death, burial, and resurrection. But this is what Jesus woke me up at 3:30 am to show me…If we take the gifts and talents that we have been entrusted with by God, both spiritual and natural, and we keep them to ourselves they are wasted. But if we take the time to develop them, and sow them into His kingdom, those gifts are multiplied beyond what we could ever imagine.
Nothing given to Jesus is ever wasted. It’s always multiplied in some way. I’m still chewing on this, because I know there’s more here, but this is initial revelation.
Point to ponder while you wander…Appreciate the gifts and talents in those around you, not be envious or jealous of them. Be grateful for the abilities YOU WERE given and be good stewards of them.
PS: Parable of the Talents is found in Matthew 25.
What do You want from me God? Who am I supposed to be? What am I supposed to do? What’s my calling? What’s my purpose?
I’ve asked God (and sometimes screamed accusingly) these and many more questions. I just want to do what He made me to do. The simple general answer is found here: “What can we bring to the Lord? Should we bring him burnt offerings? Should we bow before God Most High with offerings of yearling calves? Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins? No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:6-8
Okay, so He wants us to do right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly WITH Him. What exactly does that mean? How do we do that? Let’s so some etymology with verse 8. I love me some etymology.
Good: (H2896 towb) This word can be translated into good, kind, upright, beautiful, fair, cheerful, bountiful, joyful, pleasant, precious, sweet, wealth, and favor.
Requires: (H1875 darash) This word is interesting…the root is to tread down with the feet, or to trample. What do you do when you tread down? You walk over something again and again and again. It is also used as the verb to study. Which also means you do something again and again until it is learned. It can also mean to seek out God in prayer.
Right: (H4941 mishpat) The root word for this is to judge. It is usually translated judge or justice, lawful or something along those lines. KJV translates it justice.
Love: (H157 ‘ahab) Love. To have affection for.
Mercy: (H2617 checed) Kindness, faithfulness, benevolence, and mercy.
Walk: (H1980 halak) To go, walk, traverse, to move, manner of life, and live.
Humbly: (H6800 tsana) To show humility, be modest, act submissively.
The first thing that stands out to me in this whole group of words is the definition for require. It’s not a hey…this one time I need you to do this. It’s an all day, everyday, repeat performance. Consistency comes to mind here.
Consistency. Yeah. I’m not the best at that.
The second thing that stands out to me is love mercy. To have affection for here sounds like to get enjoyment out of or to be thrilled. TO LOOOOOOVE! So to have affection for being kind. To enjoy being faithful. To be thrilled about granting mercy or seeing mercy being granted.
Yeah. I need some work here too.
Humbly walk with God… to live a life consistently submitted to God. Sounds like obedience with a good heart attitude. I’m pretty sure there’s a verse or two that equates loving God as being obedient to His word. Yep. That makes me 3 for 3! Wooohoo! Work all around!
So you may be thinking “Hey…this is in the Old Testament…what does Jesus have to say about this?” Well…ask and you shall receive…This is Mark 12:28-34 NLT
“One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.”
Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him,“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.“
Point to ponder while you wander…Life is a journey, folks. It doesn’t happen in one day. It happens daily and daily over the course of time. And in my experience, life with God boils down to this. Are you doing life WITH GOD? Have you allowed Him to love you and show you what His love is like? Pretty much everything starts there with that. Choosing to do life with God and choosing to let Him love you. Once that happens, you cannot help but to love other people.
Don’t beat yourself up with where you are or aren’t. Verses like these are the goal to work towards. In the meantime, let God love you and keep walking with Him. Being with Him and in His Word is what changes you. You just have to choose to show up consistently. Me, myself, I’m in the I’ve got God’s love now how in the world do I affect the world with it? phase right now.
The letting God love me part took 40 years. At this rate I will need the 120 years Moses had to really be effective. Haha. But seriously. Yeah. I really actually need those 120 years. And I need those 120 years to include divine health.
PS: Wondering about God’s will….Here you go.
I was waiting in line the other day, when I noticed the woman being waited on was vintage. Late 1920’s or early 1930’s vintage. After she finished, she gathered her things, and moved to the table directly across from me to reorganize her bag.
When I saw her face I though, “Wow, I bet she was stunning when she was young.”
And I heard the Lord say, “Look again.”
So I did.
I saw that while she was thin, she wasn’t frail. I saw her face, wrinkled and crinkled with smile and laugh lines. I saw her well-loved tan sweater over a lovely, feminine button up shirt. I started to see she was one who lived her life intentionally, she wasn’t just floating through.
I was admiring her wide-brimmed straw gardening hat when she looked up.
I saw light and wisdom radiating from her eyes. I instantly wanted to have tea with her, and listen to her story.
I smiled at her. She smiled back.
I realized in that moment she wasn’t only a beauty then, she IS a stunning beauty now.
This got me thinking….Outside of the true narcissistic few, most of us dismiss our own beauty. We see our flaws, and areas of our body we want to shrink, grow, or change. But we don’t see our own beauty.
I know I don’t. I see the beauty in sunsets and nature but not in myself.
Truth is not all of us will be super models or grace the covers of magazines, but all of us are beautiful. That’s how God made us and how Jesus sees us.
This is from Song of Songs chapter 1 in the Passion Translation:
The Shulamite Woman: “In this twilight darkness, I know I am so unworthy–so in need.”
The Shepherd King: “Yet you are so lovely.”
The Shulamite Woman: “I feel as dark and dry as the desert tents of the wandering nomads.”
The Shepherd King: “Yet you are so lovely–like the fine linen tapestry hanging in the Holy Place.”
Jesus is our Shepherd King and He calls us lovely.
In Genesis 16 Hagar was a runaway maid, pregnant by her boss’s husband. She was in the desert, alone. Desperate.
“She answered God by name, praying to the God who spoke to her, You’re the God who sees me! Yes! He saw me and I saw Him!” Genesis 16:13 MSG
The one who spoke to her was no mere angel, it was Jesus, Himself. And He saw her.
Something to ponder while you wander…Just like He told me to look again at the vintage beauty, take another look at yourself. See you how Jesus sees you. Because Jesus sees you clearly, and He calls you lovely.
PS Give a fellow human a genuine compliment today. They need to be reminded of their beauty too. ❤
A Monday reminder of how Jesus sees you:
“Oh my beloved, you are striking–lovely even in weakness. When I see your beauty, I see a radiant city, where we will dwell as one. More pleasing than any pleasure, more delightful than any delight, you have ravished my heart. Even hosts of angels stand in awe of you.” Song of Songs 6:4 TPT
Point to ponder while you wander…Jesus sees your beauty and calls you lovely even in your weakness.
Today’s Musical Monday is Good Good Father by Housefires. This has been one of my go to songs for quite a while now.
It’s a great song about identity and how we see ourselves and Papa God. He’s a Good Good Father it’s who He is. And we are loved by Him, that’s who we are!
If you prefer seeing the lyrics, here’s Bethel’s version with the lyrics.
Something to ponder (and declare outloud) while you wander…The Great I AM is Love and I am His beloved.
“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Romans 12:3 NLT
God loves you. He made you on purpose for a purpose and gave you the measure of faith you will need. Don’t compare yourself or your purpose to anyone else.
Comparison is a thief that will steal your joy, and therefore depletes your strength, as much of our strength comes from joy. In addition will do one of two things: puff you with feelings of superiority or deflate you with feelings of worthlessness.
If you see yourself as less than, you may not bother doing your best. You may not even try. You may think it brilliant to be a carbon copy of someone else. Your love for others may be replaced with envy and jealously or even loathing and hatred.
God wants you to stop trying to be someone else! You have value. You are loved. Your identity is in Him. He made you with care so that He can love you. He needs you to be you because you are vital and important, even if it doesn’t feel that way. The world needs what you have inside you.
If you are feeling superior because of your gifts, abilities, or position you are in danger of being puffed up with vanity and pride. Being puffed up steals your love for others and separates you from people. You may begin to speak condescendingly. You may feel entitled. You may begin to treat people poorly.
God wants you to know that He loves you and values you. He made you with care so He could love you. He entrusted you with these gifts to be a blessing, not to lord yourself over people. You need what is in others just as much as they need you.
Let God love you. Receive it so you can love God in return. The next step is to learn who you are in Him, therefore learning to love yourself properly and in balance. Then you are able to love others as you love yourself as Jesus commanded in Matthew 22:37-40
There’s a reason I Corinthians 13 (AKA the love chapter) is sandwiched between two chapters on gifts and abilities. Comparison is the thief of joy and the opposite of love.
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” I Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT
I will leave you with this…
Jesus never once compared Himself to anyone, nor did He say to any disciple, “Why can’t you be more like so and so?” God values us individually but created us to be a unified family. Comparison is a destroyer of unity in the family, as much as it is the thief of joy.
“Beloved, if our heart does nor condemn us we have confidence toward God.” I John 3:21 NKJV
God loves me, this I know. We say it & sing about it. But we don’t always believe it & can’t always receive it. Why? Our own heart tells us we’re unworthy. We hide out like a hermit & beat ourselves up. We wallow around in guilt and shame like pigs in the mud. We dislike ourselves immensely. We indulge in self-destructive behaviors.
That’s the opposite of what God desires! God wants us to come to Him freely & boldly without reservation or doubt. To be confident in the fact that we cannot be separated from His love.
So stop dwelling on your mistakes and behavior, whether they happened 5 minutes ago or 5 years ago. Instead direct your thoughts & focus your energy on how much you are loved. Embrace what God says about you! You are forgiven, redeemed, a new creation, accepted, beloved, beautiful and His.
“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my Savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.” 2 Samuel 22:3
This makes me think of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. It’s where he went to connect with Jor-El, his father, to learn about his homeland and about His identity.
But this verse doesn’t say we have a fortress to learn about our Father and our identity it says God, our Father, is our fortress. In Him we find our identity. In Him we are safe. Something to think on.
PS 2 Samuel 22 relates to Psalm 18.
I overheard a conversation between a parent and a child that went like this:
“That’s enough now. You need to be good or Santa won’t bring you any presents.”
“I’ll be good.”
Not anything earth shattering. Not anything new. I’ve heard this said many times. I’ve been told this many times. I’ve even said this many times myself. But this time when I heard it, it smacked me. It actually made my stomach knot up and I didn’t know why. It was commonly spoken and commonly believed, why did it suddenly upset me?
It took me a while to figure it out, but eventually I figured out that that way of thinking prevented me from receiving from God most of my life. I thought God was like Santa. He would only give me things if I were good. He only loved me when I was perfectly well behaved. I didn’t think that God loved me, because I wasn’t perfect. Is this way of thinking preventing you from receiving from God too?
Honestly, there are a lot of people out there who think God is the same way. They believe that God only loves us when we “be good.” He only approves of us when our behavior is within the little box of rules and regulations. We need to be flawless to be loved. We are only given the things we want and need when we are “behaving” and being “good.” But it’s a lie. The truth is that God loves us all the time, unconditionally. The whole Bible illustrates that He loves us and that He gives good gifts to all people. Period.
Here’s some truth about God’s gifts:
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows.” James 1:17 (NIV)
“For God’s gifts and His call can never be withdrawn.” Romans 11:29 (NLT)
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son to condemn the world but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-17 (NIV)
“Therefore as by the offence of one (Adam) judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one (Jesus) the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” Romans 5:18 (KJV)
What was His best gift? I think it was Grace. The grace that came in the form of a small baby born in Bethlehem approximately 2013 years ago. His name was Jesus. You wanna know why?
“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:6-8(NLT)
God gave Jesus (the person of grace) to everyone who will ever be born, no matter who they are or what they’ve done. No matter what family you were born into or what country you were born in. No matter your past, present or future behavior. Whether you are wealthy or poor, brilliant or slow-witted, Jesus was given to you so you could be reconciled to God.
“And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, He will certainly save us from God’s wrath. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” Romans 5:9-11(NLT)
God is not trying to control your behavior, like your parents did with the “no gifts from Santa” hogwash. He wants you to know Him and have a relationship with Him. From that you learn how much He loves you! You also discover who He made you to be and are set free from the lies people have spoken over you. The change in behavior comes as a side-effect from knowing who you are and how much you are loved. You are righteous and holy because Jesus is righteous holy, not because of what you do or don’t do. This is the reason He sent Jesus. This is the reason for the celebration of Christmas.
No Virginia, God is not like Santa Claus.