Serving in Sorrow

Jesus WordleThere are some things about the culture of the world that are the same across boundaries; across ethnic differences; across color lines –  and selfishness is one of those things.  99.9% of us think of ourselves first especially when we are in difficulty – we want people to see us and care for us and we want a break from giving ourselves away.  Unfortunately, that is not the way the call of God works.

Those who we are discipling need teaching and direction.  Those who are hurting need love and compassion.  Those who are lost need the path to our Lord, Christ. Those who are in despair need to be given a picture of hope.  And wouldn’t you know it! – the children of God; those redeemed by Jesus Christ; we are responsible always for giving our lives, hearts, love, compassion, truth, hope, peace, joy – to the world.  Even when we ourselves are in need!

In the last year I’ve lost both my nephew and his mother, my oldest sister.  I’ve also had some health challenges that have been both an enigma and an inconvenience.  People who love me are constantly telling me to rest; to take some time away; to take a break – and I am giving my mind and heart times of rest, but not neglecting my calling. As I read God’s Word and look at the beheading of John, I know that Jesus was retreating from danger and opposition; but in light of my recent losses, it appears to me that my Savior is also grieving the loss of His cousin and ministry forerunner.  However, even in this time of struggle and bereavement He continues in His ministry, allowing His compassion for the world to reign!

I want to be like Him! So … I too will keep going; keep pressing; keep loving; keep listening.  I do have to readjust some things – I have to travel to Africa for shorter periods; I cannot drive; I have to keep my stress down – but it doesn’t mean that I cannot show love and be a missionary right where I am.  Inviting my neighbors into my home; speaking words of grace to the cashier; showing love in ways that speak to my mother and my sister in our family’s great grief.

I cannot allow the troubles of this world or the pain that is piercing my heart to keep me from carrying out my calling.  It is my privilege and duty to be God’s love in a lost world!  I need His compassion and peace in my heart – so I’ve got to be ready to give His compassion and peace away!  Blessed in order that I might Bless others.

God Himself will strengthen me and He will also be The One those in need see!  I’m His chosen one even in my own times of trouble.  My duty is to Him – ALWAYS!

His disciples came and took away the body and buried it; and they went and reported to Jesus.  Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick. Matthew 14: 12- 14

Discipleship is Teaching the TRUTH of the gospel

learn_the_truthA person who does not believe the truth of the gospel – will necessarily rail against it.

As believers, our motive should always be that people come to know and understand the truth of the gospel.  Not only that they can be saved from Hell – but that their lives can be redeemed for the sake of the Kingdom of God; the Kingdom that will never end.

When people call themselves believers but they rise up against the truths that are in the Bible because it does not suit them, I am forced to ask myself if they are true believers.

Paul mentions his former ways and clearly tells us that he did these things out of ignorance – because he did not know that the gospel was truth.  But once he knew – his life and his behavior was transformed.  His life became about exposing people to their redeemer, Christ, and teaching them how to live for Him so that their lives would matter in eternity.  Are we doing that?  Leading people to Christ AND helping them to live for Him?

Father,  May it never be enough for my heart to see a person come to salvation, but may I always desire that they know you personally as Father and are able to give their lives to you so that they will be made fruitful.  Thank you for using me as a vessel of honor.  I bless your name! Amen

1 Timothy 1:12 – 14

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus”

Pay Attention!

pay attentionRecently I was faced with a bit of a challenge.   I thought I had handled the situation well until I found out that I caused someone that I love dearly much angst in the process.  I wrestled with it – disturbed in my inner man.   I knew that what I was perceiving from the Lord was right – it had been confirmed on many fronts.  But I missed something in dealing with it.  What did I miss?  How did I commit such a grievous act against someone dear to my heart?  Many of you reading have already jumped ahead of me and know what I’m about to say — I fell for the enemy’s trick and let my heart guide my actions!  My own deceitfully wicked heart!!!

Understand me well, it was the Lord who was giving me insight and discernment into the problem but because the issue was something that was a personal one — my words took on the tenor of that trickster, our accuser, satan.  Even without knowing it, I was sprinkling every conversation with words that pained the heart of someone I love.  I wasn’t paying attention!  The danger here was that in missing the signals,  – I may have impeded the ability of someone to hear what the Lord was saying to them.  You see – it was never about me!  But I made it ALL about me!   (Think Abraham and Sarah; God said baby – but he didn’t say ANYTHING about the maid servant!)

I learned a valuable lesson:  Just as my discernments are not based on the perfunctory impressions of this world – neither must my actions be.  I have a strong gift of discernment, and it is strengthened by my deliberate authentic intimacy and close relationship with God.  You see:  this matter was close to my heart and though I had been praying to see clearly — I neglected to pray that He would guide my actions in bringing resolve to this.  1 Thess 5:17 comes to mind!  Pay Attention!

Having the gift of discernment means nothing at all if my actions or words ruin the message.  My prayer today is that I will grow in grace so that not only my mind can perceive but so that my words and actions will always be seasoned with grace.  I pray that I will learn AGAIN to wait on the Holy Spirit’s promptings in all things and at all times so that I can have the privilege of watching Him work in miraculous ways in me, through me, all around me, and especially apart from me!  May I never again be deceived into following this wicked and deceitful heart of mine (Jeremiah 17:9) – but lean in and listen to what He says even beyond what he reveals to me as His will.  Praying that I will pay attention and take care with my words.

I apologized to my loved one a million times and in a million ways – and I do hope the relationship was not damaged beyond repair. My prayer for each of you is that you will never become a gospel vigilante — as the Lord reveals His will to you; remember to wait and only speak what He would have you to speak – and only do what He would have you to do.  Avoid the sin of thinking more highly of yourself than you ought (Romans 12).  Pay Attention!

“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.  And He will delight in the fear of the Lord, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear” Isaiah 11:2-3