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Our adult Sunday school class is currently finishing up our study of Ephesians. Among the topics we are discussing is the armor of God – the gifts that God gives us to combat evil in the world.  For those of you who don’t remember this passage in Ephesians 6: 13 – 17.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

These are powerful gifts and I have to admit that when I studied this passage in the past, I noted the fierce gifts.  But there was one gift that I overlooked – peace.

How strange that this is what I missed.  Truth without peace can easily be used to beat someone down. Righteousness without peace easily becomes self-righteousness.

God grants us a variety of gifts.  Taken together, they enable us to do his work in a broken world.  Not that it is an easy task but he does give us the tools we need, including peace, faith and salvation.

–SueBE

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RosesAsk a group of Christians how to serve God and someone invariably brings up Gifts of the Spirit.  Gifts of the Spirit are the gifts that God gives us to use in his service – speaking, teaching, hospitality, healing, etc.

Gifts implies that these are things at which we excel.  Because we are good at these things, we have no reason to freak out when invited to use them.

Personally, I wish that was so.  I’m a good teacher but the only time teaching doesn’t freak me out is when I’m teaching a group of writers.  This month I am going to teach a group of middle schoolers about storytelling in nonfiction.  I am also going to start team teaching a class on prayer for my church’s adult Sunday school.

I’m a good teacher, but I’d much rather crawl under a rock than take advantage of either of these opportunities.  I’m a lot like Moses that way.  “God, can’t you find someone else for the job?  Take Aaron.  He’d love to do it.”

But the fact of the matter is this – sometimes you get sent places you do not want to go.  Ask Moses or Noah or Jonah.  They were all asked to do things that weren’t easy or fun or comfortable.

Sometimes we are asked to push ourselves in order to help someone else, but I think just as often God is giving us a growth opportunity as well.  What am I going to get out of teaching these classes?  I’m not sure, but I’m sure there will be something.  I just hope I’m not too freaked out to see it coming.

I’d hate for Him to think He needs to repeat the lesson.

–SueBE

Heavenly Father,
There are so many people at work in the world,
people doing great things.

You have given us all gifts.
Help me to see these gifts in myself and to understand
that they come from You.

Through the work of my hands
and the words of my mouth,
may I bring Your Good News
to the world this day
and every day.

Amen.

Pentecost is a time for us to examine the Holy Spirit at work in our lives today.
I don’t know about you, but I have a really hard time spotting the Spirit in my life. I think that a big part of this is because when I think about people moved by the spirit, I think about people doing big things – Mother Theresa, Bishop Desmond Tutu.

But every now and again, I get my act together enough to remember that the Spirit doesn’t always come as a great wind or tongues of flame. The Spirit can be a gentle persistent breeze moving through and around the people we see on a regular basis.

When I remember to look carefully, I can see people using their Gifts for the Glory of God.

  • Our choir director seeks out inspirational music to lift our hearts and souls closer to God.
  • Our Sunday school teachers who work with both adults and children helping them to understand the Word of God.
  • The elders who sponsored our Confirmation students.
  • The ushers who keep our services running smoothly.
  • The man who comes with his son and maintains our gardens giving us places of quiet contemplation.
  • The woman who prepares coffee fellowship so that people linger and share.
  • The retired engineer who works to feed orphans in Haiti and shared his experiences with our congregation.
  • The physical therapist who talks to our seniors and other members, helping them understand what their doctors have told them.
  • The history buff who gets us together to visit special exhibits at the local history museum.
  • The elder who comes in the evening and replaces lights and makes repairs.
  • The woman preparing the annual quilt to be auctioned as a fund raiser.
  • The choir member who arranged for us to work at a local food pantry.

Look for the people who are Blessing the world with their talents.  Chances are they have been touched by the Spirit.

Then consider what the Spirit is moving you to do for the greater good. It may not be one huge thing, but a series of small actions that add up to make a difference.

–SueBE

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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