Thursday, November 17, 2011

Empty Me

As I read my bible this morning, I was posed with the question, “Are you willing to be controlled by God?” My immediate response was yes, absolutely! Upon further evaluation, I began to pick apart every area of my life, to see how it measured up with the answer I so willingly gave. I found many areas that I hadn’t quite fully given control over to God.

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) God tells us that we must set aside our selfishness in order to fully follow Him. This is an inordinate task that we can only carry through to completion by being fully dependent upon Him. By following Him, we are to serve Him and others “…not for what you [we] will get out of it, but because you [we] are eager to serve.” (1 Peter 5:2).

Here is an excerpt of a song by Chris Sligh entitled “Empty Me.” This chorus truly captures the heart of what I want my life to reflect.

“Empty me of the selfishness inside
Every vain ambition and the poison of my pride
And any foolish thing my heart holds to
Lord empty me of me so I can be filled with you.”

I must confess to God that I have sinned against Him by placing “selfishness inside” of me, over His will, and by centering my life on my “vain ambition[s]” and by allowing my self-conceit to believe that I can be independent of Him.

Lord empty me of all selfishness and help me serve you and others with humility. Allow me to regard others as better than myself (Philippians 2:3). Help mark my life as serving you, by surrendering myself and being “filled with you.” Help me be successful and victorious by your own strength, not mine.

I pray that we can renounce our prideful spirits and allow God to guide us, so that we can humbly say we are willing to be controlled by Him.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Humble Retaliation

God has called us to respond to others’ sins by blessing them. This sounds counter intuitive to our fleshly selves; however, the Lord wants us to learn tenderness and humility in our hearts.

“Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do and He will bless you for it.” (I Peter 3:9)

Some moments I think to myself, how did Jesus do it? I am sure there were moments were it may have taken every ounce of His being to keep Him from thinking and repaying others for the terrible wrong they committed against Him.

As difficult as it may be, we too must submit to God’s calling upon our lives. However, we are not called to do this alone, in our own strength. God provides the Holy Spirit to give us the strength and power to humbly retaliate.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Faithful Service

Thank you, Grandpa and all other veterans for faithfully serving our country. You committed yourself to fighting for our freedom. We celebrate and applaud you for your willingness to endure a task that is only chosen for a few.

Jeremiah was much like each of you. The Lord told Jeremiah, "See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant." (Jeremiah 1:10) Jeremiah faithfully served the LORD for 40 years. He was called to prophesy to God's people. Many times his audiences weren't thrilled to hear God's truth. His life was endangered many times and he was severely persecuted, but he depended upon God to give him the endurance to continue faithfully serving.

I am sure many of you may have come to those desperate moments, asking God to faithfully protect and watch over you as you served your country. It was for those desperate moments that you willingly committed your service.

Thank you for all you have done for God and your country. May Jesus continue to bless in all that you do. If you have a family member or friend, take the time to call, email, text or talk to them in person and thank them for their service.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rotting Fish

Have you heard the phrase, “A fish rots from the head down.” It basically means when an organization or state fails, it is the leadership that is the root cause.

Our lives can be exactly that! Christ requires us to have Him first place in everything. Our lives should revolve around Him and all He has called us to do. We must acknowledge Him as the head of our lives, for He is our crown!

We must place Him as the leader of our household, lives, and world. “Christ is the head of the church, which is His body…”(Colossians 1:18). It is when we don’t position Christ as the head, our lives begin to “rot;” for “He existed before everything else began, and He holds all creation together.” (Colossians 1:17) Christ is the one who came first. He is the one who sustains life. In Him everything is held together. He is our protector, provider, and caregiver.

When we trust in Him to lead our lives, we acknowledge His Lordship. We believe that He will give us the strength and endurance we need in this life to flourish and spread His Good News.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Resource Management

In college I made some very poor financial decisions. I accumulated several thousand dollars worth of credit card debt. The "extra" money I had, left over from paying my tuition and books was used to buy unnecessary items. I look back now and think what a waste! I don't have anything to show for it nor am I really sure what I bought with the money, and on top of that I came into our marriage with tons of debt.

Like I always say, BUT GOD!! Even though I came into our marriage with debt, I began tithing before Aaron and I married. Tithing gave me the freedom to not allow my heart to be attached to money. Many times before, I hesitated to give because I was worried about not having enough to pay my bills and meet my own needs or because I wasn't sure that the church would be using "my" money appropriately. However, it later became a non-issue when I gave it to God. I told Him, I am giving this unto you and if it is misappropriated let that man answer to you!

God calls us to give ten percent of our income (Leviticus 27:30), which is our tithe, to Him. He says, "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!" (Malachi 3:10)

Well I have to say, God's faithfulness has prevailed. Over the years, as we have honored God with our tithes and offerings, and as we have been faithful to manage our resources which include our time, money, talents, and gifts, the Lord has poured out many blessings upon us. We have been blessed with life-long friends, people with financial wisdom, others that have helped connect us with resources to further our ministries. He blessed us with a faithful friend that began helping us through the financial ministry at our previous church. Our friend blessed us with his financial expertise to create a realistic spending plan for both short and long term goals. This plan provided us with the guidance and direction we needed to begin a debt free life.

Over the years, we have learned how to manage our resources wisely. We are not perfect by any means, but we continue to strive in our endeavors.
Be being wise with our resources, God has allowed us to be “cheerful givers” (2 Corinthians 9:7). We have given more freely and generously as the years have gone by. We want our time, talents, gifts, and money to be invested in God’s kingdom, not in our own.

“Try it! Put me to the test!” This is one of the only times God challenges you to test Him. He says, “If you give, you will receive” (Luke 6:38) Just know that God’s promises are not always material possessions and we may not completely experience them on earth, but know that He is faithful and always keeps His promises.

God has allowed us to be managers of His resources, not owners. Use what God has given you to bless others that you may invest not only in their earthly needs, but most importantly to their spiritual and eternal needs. Give of yourself, manage your resources wisely, and invest in others. Those around you may need your wisdom in resource management or may need you to invest in them. Maybe it is you that needs investing in? Whatever the case, our Heavenly Father will generously provide for yours and their every need.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dearest Lord,

Thank you for your gift of today. A gift of new adventures, treasures, and beauty that is seen everywhere. Thank you for the crisp, clean fall air, the warm sun shining down amongst the Christmas roses.

I stand in awe and wonder of how you orchestrate our lives, even in the unseen times. I know that you are always behind the scenes moving in ways that are unimaginable. Thank you Father for never giving up on me and always walking with me—for if it hadn’t been for you by my side where would I be? I thank you Lord for the gifts and treasures that lie inside of me that are yet to be discovered, for they will come in your perfect timing.

I thank you for my wonderful and gracious family and friends that are by my side from day to day. As I learn more and more about you O Lord, it is in those precious moments that my eyes and heart begin to see how much you truly love me.

“I give you thanks, O LORD, with all my heart…I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name.” (Psalm 138:1-2)


Your Beloved Daughter

What about you? What are you thankful for? Share your thanks to God and to those who you are thankful for. Maybe it will encourage them and help them to be thankful for their lives as well. If you are in need of a “thanks” today, give one first and see what God does in return for you.