Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blessed is the giver

“And without question, the person who has the power to give a blessing is greater than the one who is blessed.” Heb. 7:7

Have you ever felt like your efforts to guide, counsel and love someone who needs help have gone unnoticed and unappreciated? There are times in our lives when we feel led to pour all our heart and wisdom into someone who is in a difficult circumstance – either spiritually, mentally or physically. We pray, we give, we love. We get involved because we care enough to want to see that person whole. The cost to us is not taken into account, but sometimes that cost is higher in the end than we anticipated.

But there is someone who notices our sacrifices and offerings of support. Jesus calls us to be like Him, and any time we reach out in love and concern, we are showing Jesus to the world – even if it’s just our own little sphere of influence. It still brings Him honor and glory to extend grace, mercy and love, even when we aren’t rewarded with so much as a “thank you”.

God is the One we hope to please. He understands that giving the blessing is more important than getting one. He is our supreme example. Don’t be afraid to move forward with what you have to offer others. God will see and say “well done.”

Lord, humble me to serve you better. Let me not be hindered by pride or jealousy.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Yes Lord

     In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings an before the people of Israel.”  Acts 9:10-15

     I can just see Ananias shaking in his sandals! The Lord has just asked him to rescue the zealous enemy of the early Christian church, and Ananias was clearly apprehensive to say the least. I greatly admire this man. He was just an ordinary guy, minding his own business when out of nowhere God speaks this rather large request. He may have hesitated, but he did go.
     I wonder if Ananias realized just how important a job he was about to do. Isn’t it just like humanity to argue with God when approached with this kind of proposition? But this was a formidable foe, this Saul. I think I would have tried much harder to get out of the deal! But Ananias was obedient and did as he was told – not even knowing what this all meant to the advancement of the church. 
     Are our hearts primed to hear God’s voice? It takes spiritual awareness and practice to know that voice speaking in your spirit. And how many of us would go where He asked us to go, even though it means possible danger? Are we ready to take on the burden of doing the tough job if we are asked? If we were as in tune with God as Ananias, and we were as obedient, we could change the world.
     I would like to think I’m among the many Christians with a heart to serve God whenever and wherever. I know that I’m still learning to hear his voice and be obedient. If the work of God is to be done, we must answer “yes Lord.” He will prepare the way and stay with us through it all. Draw courage from the experience you have that tells you God is faithful. Ananias did, and see how incredibly he was used!

Lord, I want to say yes to you. Teach me how to recognize when you are calling me. Thank you for using even the meek and lowly for your glory.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Just Say No

“And He said to them, ‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.”
Mark 6:31

It’s difficult to escape the “yes syndrome” in this age of busy lives and abundance of opportunities for everyone in the family. Most of us find it hard to say no, especially when it’s presented as a need that only you can fill. But it’s a discipline that must be learned in order to preserve the best of you for the things God would have you do.

Even Jesus escaped the crowds from time to time. They brought to him their pleas and requests for help. He couldn’t reach them all, and at times had to put distance between himself and the agendas of others. He said no to some good things in order to say yes to the right things. Not all good things are right for you to do. Rest is an essential element to our effectiveness.

It’s understandable to want to avoid guilt and keep up appearances to your friends and church family. But saying yes to everything that comes along may take you away from the real calling God has for your life. The devil would like nothing better than for you to be so distracted by your obligations and commitments that you forget the purpose God has for your time and energy.
Take time to evaluate your priorities and ask God to help you know where He wants your energy to go. He can make peace and sense of the merry-go-round of our lives and bring about more fruit for blessings.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Pile of Sticks

Ever play a game of Pick Up Sticks where each player has his own pile and the other player advises him on which stick to pick up so as not to disturb the rest of the pile. You could advise them according to what pattern works for you, but that may not work for the other person's pile. Their configuration of sticks may be designed a bit differently. It would be best to tell them to to use their own plan - especially if it is led by God. 

Most of us offer advise based on own own experiences and life configuration. The patterns of our lives may not be the same as another. God orders different paths for different individuals. Of course, some of His principles are universally applied, but some are designed with a purpose only you and God can discover.

To assume that the way you manage your pile of sticks will work for another is assuming you are as all knowing as God. The steps one takes may not be the steps ordered by the Lord for another.

Would you want to be responsible for someone else's pile to crumble? Spiritual pride can cause us to do just that. We don't see things the way God does, and we should allow grace for others to work their pile.

"The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Heart of Honor

“Love each other like brothers and sisters; Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves.” Romans 12:10

Here’s a tough one. It’s not hard to do, just hard to remember to do it. Giving others more honor than we give ourselves. Just as Jesus gave honor to the Father, we are to esteem others higher than ourselves.

I don’t believe this necessarily means just with words of praise or compliment – words can be loosely said and without meaning. I do believe it’s the attitude of the heart that overflows into honor and respect for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and in the world. And the simple truth is that it’s a commission from God, not an elective service.

I have only a few friends and acquaintances that I can always count on to have a word of praise or encouragement that I know truly comes from a genuine attitude of honor. I am usually pinched with a reminded when I see them- a reminder that I fall short of this gift. All I need to do is to ask the Lord to give me this change of heart and He will do it. The rest is up to me to develop the behavior that goes along with a new attitude.

Troubles and trials may consume us, and if we let them, will draw us back to the preoccupation of self. It is only through commitment to the vision of true love for others that will keep us mindful of our commission. When we sign up with God, we sign up for a lifelong job of caring for those we come in contact with, and the equipment we use for the job is the Holy Spirit in us and the word of God.

Yes, it’s a tough one – only because we make it so.

Dear Lord, forgive me for failing to give honor to those you have placed in my life. Remind me daily to work on changing my heart.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Miracle of the Oil

One day the widow of a member of the group of prophets came to Elisha and cried out, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the LORD. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.”
“What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?”
“Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied.
And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. 4 Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.”
So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. 6 Soon every container was full to the brim!
“Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons.
“There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing.
When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.” 2 Kings 4:1-7

Out pastor shared this story last Sunday. There are so many lessons to be learned from this scripture. God is such a great story teller. He recounted real life to us in the Bible and it has blessed throughout the ages. Here are some key points I received from this account in 2 Kings.

1. Just like the creditor, there are powers out there that want to steal our prize possessions. Our loved ones, our comfort, our joy. We let fear consume us and forget we have defenses against our “creditors”.
2. We all have something in us that God can use to thwart our enemy. It may seem insignificant to us – a small bottle of oil so to speak. But offering it and being willing to obey God on how to use it can alter our circumstance more than we could imagine.
3. God is gracious to teach us lessons of faith. Often, he wants us to share it with someone else. Our personal miracles are great opportunities to give God glory. This widow was instructed to go in with her sons and shut the door. What a wonderful time of discovery it must have been for her sons – to witness the miracle with no one in the room to challenge it. The sons must have needed to see the working of God in their lives.
4. As our Pastor said, the oil will keep flowing as long as there is a vessel to pour into. There is no shortage of “vessels” out there that need the precious oil of the Lord. It is our job to bring them into the flow of it.

Stay in the flow of his anointing today. It may alter your circumstance, or at the most, alter the way you see God working in your life. Then share it with someone else.

Lord, make me a willing vessel and release your anointing to flow in me.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Where Will You Stand?

"For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth." Psalm 33:4

“Truth is timeless. Truth does not differ from on e age to another, from one people to another, from one geographical location to another. Men’s ideas may differ, men’s customs may change, men’s moral codes may vary, but the great all-prevailing Truth stands for time and eternity.”  From Peace With God by Billy Graham

By what standard do we want to measure our lives, behavior and thoughts? As Billy said, man’s standard will change and flex with every passing fancy. How can a secure stable life be built on that kind of standard?

I would rather stand on a mountain during an earthquake than stand on sandy soil. The mountain may rumble, but will stand firm in the turmoil. Sandy ground may be soft and comfortable, but it will swallow us up when the shaking comes. There is a term called liquefaction. It is demonstrated like this:

If you are walking on a beach of damp, firm, hard sand, you feel pretty secure – it feels solid. If you were to crouch down and pat that damp sand with the palm of your hand a few times, that solid sand would soon begin to look like jello. Because of the shaking, the water underneath has risen to the surface to destabilize the solidity of the sand.

Give me the solid rock of truth any day. I can rest on it, trust it, rely on it and not be moved. And even though it might me a rough road at times, God will help me stay true to the standard.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Satisfy Your Soul

My soul yearns for you in the night;
       in the morning my spirit longs for you.
       When your judgments come upon the earth,
       the people of the world learn righteousness.  Isaiah 26:9

Nothing satisfies our soul except fellowship with God. We were created to know Him, worship Him and learn of his character. He makes himself known to us in creation, in spirit and in all that is true.

We can avoid serving God by staying ignorant of his ways—hiding from what is seen all around us. We can refuse to commune with Him and be lacking in the knowledge that will give us life. But we will deny our hunger to the point of starvation. Our inner longing can be neglected but at a price.

Are we willing to pay the price? What will we gain by going the way of the world but losing the life our spirit longs for? We can try to push God to the back of our lives but our inner consciousness will still long for Him.

Seek Him and satisfy the longing in your soul. He waits.