Monday, May 31, 2010

His Compassion

It's been a full weekend! I had an interview Friday afternoon and got stuck in traffic forever... good time of worship! Saturday, we headed up into the mountains for the day to be with our church for the church camping trip. We played horse shoes, baseball with the kids, ultimate frisbee, etc. We also had a great time of worship... singing of Christ with one another and mixing that in with sharing what we want God to do in our heart. It was a wonderful time of fellowship. Sunday, we visited a friend's church because we had to be out by the beach for my cousin's graduation. It was fun to be part of a completely different church service. I find that we can get so stuck into the pattern of going to church and doing what we normally do that we lose sight of the One we do it for. It's always a refreshment to get away from the "normal church service" for a Sunday and remember that it is all about Him... and the specifics [most of the time] really don't matter that much. Having said this, I love my church and what we do, but it is good to remember that worship comes from the heart. We celebrated with my cousin for his college graduation and got home Sunday evening. Today, I applied for several more jobs, studied for the interview tomorrow, played volleyball with the family, enjoyed devotions with the family, etc. It has been a full weekend, but a good one.

I was reading this evening in Matthew 9 and verses 35-38 jumped out at me.
Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. "Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest."

So often we think about how we ought to be telling people about Christ but we just aren't. Perhaps we feel like the harvest is not plentiful... or fear rejection. God has been working in my heart to see people more how He sees them. I am not gifted in the area of evangelism... mom most definitely is. However, this does not free me from the responsibility of loving and having compassion on people. Look at the example of Christ! First of all, He saw these people... how often do we not even think about the people we "see". Once He saw them... He saw that they had no direction... no one to lead them... they were lost and desperate for help. When He saw them in need, He felt compassion for them.

I am reminded of those cars that I see every once in a while driving down the street about three or four times (going opposite ways each time)... and finally I walk outside figuring they are lost and will probably ask for help if I make myself available. How much more should I care about their eternal destiny? Am I so caught up in my life and what I am doing that I don't notice those that have no direction in life? In the least, I need to pray that God would be gracious to these people and send someone to do His work... to be His hands and feet to these individuals. While I feel that most of my personal ministry is in the area of ministering to Christians, I am still called to proclaim the gospel. I am called to have compassion on the lost. I believe that we must have compassion on the "lost"--saved or unsaved! For those of you wondering, I won't beat around the bush, I believe in eternal security. Having said that, there are some Christians out there that are very very lost! They lack godly people in their lives that are willing to go out of their way to have an impact on their life. I don't want to live my life and have no impact. God, give me eyes that are aware of the lost around me, give me a heart of compassion for them, give me a spirit of boldness to lead them as Christ would have me lead, and help me to point them to the ultimate Shepherd that leads them beside still waters and restores the soul.

Monday, May 24, 2010

What I Have, I Give You!

These last several days have been difficult ones. I am not one that likes to make huge decisions, but I know they are not to be avoided either. I was looking at the possibility of moving a long way from home and everything I am comfortable with. After many nights of prayer, God graciously worked in my heart to the point where I was willing to go if He made it clear that it was His will. I haven't sensed a strong leading in that direction although that may come. I eventually got to the point where it was occupying my life. I decided to take a day off of thinking about it and just focus on Him. There is nothing like the peace He offers in the midst of huge decisions. It was a process of once again releasing every aspect of life to Him. He is so faithful and patient with me.

I was reading this evening in Matthew 19, specifically verses 16-26.
And someone came to Him and said, "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?" And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." Then he said to Him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself." The young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?" Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. "Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, "Then who can be saved?" And looking at them Jesus said to them, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

As I was considering the events of the last couple weeks and my need to depend on Him for those big decisions, I was reminded of how much I have here. God has blessed me far beyond what I can even imagine. I often wonder why it is a continual process of releasing thing to Him. The easy conclusion is that I am not only tempted to grab hold of things that don't belong to me... I am actually doing it. I could identify with this young ruler... going away sadly. Jesus was referring to eternal life here, but sometimes we are called to "follow Him" where He leads... and that may mean leaving everything. Why was it a struggle for me? Because I am rich. God has blessed me... and rather than praising Him for those blessings, I grew close to them. I held on tightly. He needed to gently peel my fingers off the people and things that I had grown close to in order to be able to say with all my heart, what I have, I give You... where You lead, I will follow... no matter where that may be.

While I don't think He is going to lead me away soon, I am thankful for His work in my heart over these last weeks. He is so gracious and kind. He reminded me of the many blessings He has poured out continually on me. I pray that I will never take those for granted or grab hold of them with a death grip, but rather cling fully to Him thanking Him for those blessings but completely ready to let them go if He chooses to take them from me. His will be done.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I Trust in You

Preaching was a good experience. It was challenging. There were several times as I was preparing that I asked myself, "How do pastors do this every week?" There were many times where I was absolutely exhausted... times where things weren't coming together as I expected them to... times where I struggled to remember what chapter I was able to look up... times where I was absolutely not excited about the most exciting thing in the Bible--redemption... etc. But, God is so faithful! When He calls you to do something, He always provides the strength to do it. He graciously allowed me to see my physical weakness in preparing to preach the Word. I will say that I spent a lot of time pouring over the Word and thinking through things; however, it was His strength sustaining and His hand guiding. I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to preach the Word--it was good for me, good for my heart, good for my dependence on Him, etc. It gave me a whole new perspective on what a pastors job actually looks like. It gave me new insights into how I can be praying for my pastor during the week as he studies the Word. Thank you for praying for me.

As I am back to the "normal" things of life this week, I am continually reminded of that phrase in "How Deep the Father's Love for Us"--His faithfulness, my standing place. I am dependent on Him, yes. What I don't often realize is that I am much more dependent on Him than I seem to think. The moment I seem to think I don't need to depend on Him, He is faithful to show me just how quickly I can stand no longer. His faithfulness is my standing place--truly. I am reminded of Psalm 143:8.
Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; for I trust in You; teach me the way in which I should walk; for to You I lift up my soul.

I am in a place where I really need His guidance... in a more specific sense. I am so thankful for His guidance through the Word and through the godly counsel of others, but I really could use some specific guidance. God, Your compassions never fail, your mercies are new every morning. I trust You! Your faithfulness is my standing place. I trust You! Show me where You want me to go. I trust You! I know without a shadow of a doubt that You do what is best and that You never fail. I trust You! But, I don't trust you like I should. I believe! Help my unbelief! Give me a tender heart for Your ways, a heart of full submission and obedience, a heart that needs only the slightest nudge to run in the direction You guide me without looking back, a heart that trusts You.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Preaching the Word

Over the last several days, I've been spending much time studying in Isaiah in preparation for preaching for the first time on Sunday. I didn't really imagine the time it takes to really study and understand the Word to a point where you feel "prepared". God must be the one speaking. That means lots of time and hard work trying to see what God is trying to say... why He inspired that part of scripture... and why did He put it where He did? I'm sad to say that I have never poured myself over scripture like I have in these weeks preparing to preach. It gives a whole new light to "being ready in season and out of season". It's hard work. I often found myself exhausted, but amazed by His sovereignty in that. I was at a point where I read the wrong chapter like three times... each time, the Lord had guided me to that passage that I accidentally read in order to be more clear on other parts of the message. I am so thankful for His lead.

I'm excited--thrilled really, to have the opportunity to teach the Word in church, but it's a sobering responsibility. Teaching His Word my way is not an option... it must be His Word speaking through me. I find myself even more thankful that He is the ultimate teacher and that He will speak through His Word regardless of "how well I do". I am simply an instrument to communicate His message. I still have much work to do in making it "flow", but I need to be careful to not make it flow so much that I miss what He wants me to say. Dependence on Him is a must! His ways are higher than mine and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. I'd appreciate your prayer as I continue to work hard at communicating His message of Redemption in Isaiah.