Staying Hydrated

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Water… we all need it. Some of us hate that fact and some of us are okay with it, but all of us know that we must have water to quench our thirst.

Over the course of my life my feelings have changed regarding water. When I was little, I would drink it, but I really preferred other things. When I was a little older, because I could get my own drink, water was seldom on the menu. After a few years, water became a necessary evil. I knew I had to drink it, but, “yuck”, I really didn’t like it. I simply thought I was a person who would never care for water. Today, I GUZZLE water. I love it. I can’t imagine not wanting water! My relationship with water has definitely changed.

Even though I now love water, there are still days when I go too long without a drink. When that happens, I must sip water for a while or it’s too much for my system. If I were to guzzle water at that point, it would do more harm than good. It would cause my body to release even more hydration and I would keep getting weaker. Of course, we know this would cause dehydration.

We’ve seen athletes get dehydrated over the years. We’ve even seen some athletes become so dehydrated they collapse. Their medical staff doesn’t run over and pour water down their throat. No, they gently see to their needs and give them sips of hydration. Sometimes an I.V. is required, and once again the needed liquid has a slow release into the body. This is the only way the athlete can get better. A slow release is much better at that point than a waterfall. A gentle drink is better than guzzling. Their body is craving hydration, but it must be taken in slowly.

Sometimes, this is what our Great Physician must do with us. We are so spiritually dehydrated that we collapse. He lays us back in His arms, as we see medical staff do with dehydrated athletes, and He allows us to sip at His wellspring of life drop by drop and sip by sip. The spiritual athlete in us is craving hydration, but we have been too long without replenishment. Guzzling is out. Sipping is in. This way, when the time is right and when we are rehydrated with His wellspring of life, we are able to keep running our race that He has set before us. At times, we’ve had to stop and lay on the side of the road because we have forgotten that we need to run in His strength, with His hydration and not our own.

Oftentimes, when I am in a dehydrated place I want to hurry and get the nourishment I need and keep running. I just want a quick fix, but this is where the trust comes in. God knows that I need more than a quick fix. He knows if I begin running again too soon, the collapse, the spiritual dehydration, will happen once again. I need to trust and lie back in the arms of my Savior. I need to be open to His nourishment in the time He knows my system can handle it.  In His arms is the most hydrating place on the planet and this is where I should have been all along. I should have been running the race with His Living Water running through my veins.

Think about a child who has been sick all night. When dehydration sets in, we are told to place an ice chip in the side of their mouth. We wait a little while to make sure their system can tolerate the moisture and then place another, but only if their little body is able to absorb it.

That’s our God. He places a truth in our mouth and waits for us to absorb it. He gives us a gentle sip that our system can handle. The well of God is too deep for us in the moment. We can’t guzzle it yet. We are too dehydrated and are now finally willing to sit and sip. He places truths in us slowly to absorb like ice chips. Truths like…

“I’m here.”

“I’m always good.”

“I see you.”

“Forgive.”

“I am your strength.”

“I love them even more than you do.”

“I love you.”

“I am your Healer.”

“Talk to Me.”

“You are NEVER alone.”

“Trust Me. I’ve got you.”

“I am for you.”

“I AM…”

Whatever truth we need, He places it gently into the side of our mouth and helps us to absorb it into the core of our being. We are so thirsty and we want to guzzle the truths of His Word, but He knows a truth absorbed deep into the heart is worth a thousand truths resting unused in the mind.

At times like these, I sometimes look around and see so many others guzzling truth after truth and I want to quote verses to Him like Psalm 81:10, “…Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.” God’s response to me is, “Not this time. Be still and learn. Rest in Me. Sip. Absorb. Sip a little more. Rest in My arms.”

Some truths must be sipped. God uses these times of spiritual emptiness to place His truth into our very bones. Some lessons can only be taught when all other voices are gone, when you are so dependent on His next drop of moisture that your senses are only alert to Him, to His voice and to His rain.

Dehydration is never good, but God uses this place as He uses all things for the greater good (Romans 8:28). He takes these times of need and places us in His arms to take the burdens that we would otherwise never give up. He looks at us drenched in sweat and dehydrated to the core and says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me…you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light,” Matthew 11:28-30.

When the truth He is teaching enters our body and has truly been absorbed, our Great Physician will allow us to start running once again. We are rehydrated, but still weak. He will look us in the eye and keep placing replenishing truth deep into our souls, one drop at a time. That’s our God. That’s our sweet Savior. He’s always teaching and always giving us the hydration we need. Just like Psalm 16:11 says, He reveals the path of life to us.

As we make our way on the road once again fully hydrated and fully restored, we have His voice still in our ear, “I am here. I am good. I am your Healer. I am your Great Restorer. I love you…” Whatever lesson we were taught is in the very core of our being maturing and bearing fruit. We were so empty and the truth we needed to learn was too deep to do anything but sip, but sip we did. Restored we are. Running once again with His hydration filling every pore with the full knowledge that our Savior restores, redeems and refreshes all who are willing to lie in His arms and trust.

If it’s your time to sip, rest in the fact that God is faithfully holding you, teaching you and restoring you. He will NEVER leave you or forsake you (Hebrew 13:5), and remember some truths are just too important to gulp. So be still and sip in the arms of your Savior.

Seeking Hearts Ministries            My Story

*image by Mark’s Daily Apple

 

 

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Is it up to God, or Me?

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If you’ve been around me at all recently, you know I’ve been reading a lot of Andrew Murray’s books. The one I’m currently studying is called “Absolute Surrender” and I highly recommend it.

As I was reading along this week, Mr. Murray took us to Galatians 3:1-3. This is what it says, “You foolish Galatians! Who has hypnotized you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed as crucified? I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?”

After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete (KJV says “perfect”) by the flesh?” That really hit me. Did I receive Christ by the Spirit? Yes. But, how am I receiving power for each day? Am I depending on Christ’s Spirit in me, or am I depending on my own self will and determination to live the Christian life? Am I white knuckling the Word, or resting in the completion that Christ has gifted in me?

His Spirit is in me for a purpose and yet I find myself thinking I have to figure out how to get all these “good works” done in my own strength. Christ is in me to fulfill all He has called me to do, not so He can simply whisper where I’m supposed to go and leave me to it, but also to empower me every step of the way. I forget that.

I’ve deceived myself into believing that I’m supposed to work out my completion in Christ. By studying His Word and praying, I’ve thought that I knew what I was supposed to do. So each day, I’ve taken Jesus by the hand and powered on in my own ability. I am discovering though that I will never be able to grow in Christ. Only His Spirit can accomplish that in me. My flesh, my will, my determination is not what makes me a mature Christian. Only my absolute dependence on Christ makes me complete.

Look at all the times we have failed Christ when our intentions were good. Look at all the times we made new commitments, renewed vows, or even woke up thinking “Today, I am going to………., or not …………. like yesterday”, but then lunchtime comes and we look at the day and wonder, “What happened? I was so determined to make it work this time.”

I’ll tell you what happened. We tried to do it in our own strength. Philippians 4:13 says, “I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” We forget that this verse is describing Christ’s strength in us. It’s not describing walking along the path of our Christian life in our own strength and when we need help, Christ giving us a boost. Philippians 4:13 is reminding us that in order to do anything  it’s all about Christ’s strength and not just using Him as our spotter.

Are you familiar with who a spotter is? This isn’t something that’s usually in my scope of everyday life, but my oldest is into weight lifting, so I’m learning. Wikipedia describes it this way, “Spotting in weight or resistance training, is the act of supporting another person during a particular exercise, with an emphasis on allowing the participant to lift or push more than they could normally do safely.”

 I confess, I have treated the Holy Spirit as a spotter when in reality He simply wants me to be the weights in His arms. It’s His job to lift me to heights I never realized were possible. It’s by His strength I am able to join with others in tasks we never imagined. It’s by His power that I can do all things because as a weight in His hand, I am relying on His force, not mine.

That’s when verses like Psalm 112:7 are possible. It says,He will not fear bad news; his heart is confident, trusting in the LORD.”

This is a good example because I’ve actually memorized this verse and tried to will myself into the completion of it in my life. In the past, I start to imagine a bad scenario that may, or may not happen in the near future. I remember this verse and will myself not to fear. That works for a while, but what I’m finding is that I need to go a step further. When I am simply a weight in the arms of God, I rest in His strength. I tell Him I can’t accomplish this verse without His muscle and He lifts me by His strength into the empowerment of this verse. I truly then do not fear bad news because I am living in His strength. He will pack me where I need to go. He will lift me to where I need to be and because I am in absolute surrender to a faithful, trustworthy God His strength becomes my reality. Our flesh cannot accomplish this in us…only our God can make this happen.

“O, foolish Galatians…”

“O, foolish Christians…”

“O, foolish Melissa…”

Our Lord never intended for us to complete our lives on this earth in the power of the flesh. Our God has given us everything we need to live out our Christian faith and it’s not willpower, it’s Him. Simply and totally Him.

Isaiah 40:28-31 says, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding. He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless. Youths may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.”

That’s His desire for you. Rest in His arms today and let Him lift you higher than you ever thought possible.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

** Image by Fitness Health

God’s got the Details

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(I originally wrote this before going to Cuba last year, but I NEEDED to be reminded…again.)

I Thessalonians 5:24 says, “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”

I really need this reminder today.

My guy is a visionary. He gets an idea, knows a certain path and that’s it…he’s ready to take the plunge.

I, on the other hand, am a detail girl.

I love the big ideas, but my mind automatically goes to the how.

If we are my moving, I remember every detail that needs to happen to get us there.

If we are remodeling a space, even though I am not a construction person, I seem to be the one to remember to buy the nails.

If we are going on a mission trip, I think of every little detail…over and over again.

That’s what kept me from sleeping some last night…a mission trip we are going on this summer. Details, details, details. Even though details are good, they can also drive me insane.

During my mental list making last night, the Holy Spirit reminded me of I Thessalonians 5:24. He reminded me that I am called to go and He will accomplish what is supposed to be accomplished. Yes, I need to remember to bring my toothpaste, but He will take care of the details of loving on the people, teaching what needs to be taught, the team’s health and so much more because “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”

Rest in that this week. Write your lists and use the gift of details that God has given you, but then set the pen aside and trust Him to accomplish the call on your life. Depend on Him for every detail knowing that He is always faithful.

*image by Europeon Vacation Travel Blog

Seeking Hearts Ministries

My Story

 

Staying Broken

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In Watchman Nee’s book “The Breaking of the Outer Man and the Release of the Spirit”, he expresses that in order for Christ to flow freely out of us and into the world around us, we must be broken vessels. He gives example after example of life being released only once a vessel has been broken.

One example Nee uses is a seed. In John 12:24, Jesus says, “Unless the grain of wheat falls in to the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” He explains that it’s not a matter of whether the grain has life, but whether the outer shell is broken. How does this happen? Through temperature, rain, and the earth itself. All come together to break the shell of the seed, so the life of the grain can be exposed and grow.

Another example Nee uses is the alabaster flask in John 12. Unless the flask had been broken, the pure oil would not have been released. Without the breaking, the precious ointment would have still been inside. The value wouldn’t have been released without the breaking of the outer shell.

As I was contemplating this first chapter, trying to absorb new truths, I remembered that Nee asked, “What if the broken places in our lives, the very wounds that we try to keep covered, what if those are the very places Christ can shine through?

Wait a minute. You mean all those injuries, all those hurts, all those cracks in this hard shell are supposed to stay open? You mean I don’t have to “pick myself up and dust myself off”? You mean as I lay broken in complete surrender at the foot of the Cross, that’s when people see God in me? It’s not about “having it all together”, but really about falling apart?

Wow. Just wow.

I’ve always thought that putting my broken pieces back together made me a “good Christian”, a stronger Christian, when in reality that was defeating the purpose. When I cement the pieces that God has broken away from me back with self-recrimination, doubts, discouragement, self-judgment, or whatever adhesive I’m using that day, all I’m doing is removing the places that the light of God can shine through. Then, He has to get His chisel out once again.

When I realize all the wounds, the hurts, the disappointments that have become broken places in my life are for God to shine through, then it’s all worth it. Why would I try to put pieces back together that have always been meant to be exposed? How can I be the light of the world if I’m not willing to let Him shine through my broken places?

I’ll admit, this is completely foreign territory for me. I’m really into “having it all together”. Believe me. But, I’m more into what God wants me to be, and this feels right. This concept of staying broken before Him makes sense. It’s about absolute surrender. It’s about being the branch and depending on our Vine. It’s about being the light in a dark world. If I have a hard shell, that doesn’t happen. If my alabaster flask stays closed, His life-giving ointment cannot flow onto others. I’m not talking about staying a victim. That’s unhealthy. What I am talking about is allowing God’s hand to remove the dry, crusty shell of a girl who has places in her life that are hard as a rock. Nee says that we can’t speed up the process, but we can extend it. I have definitely seen this in my own life.

So, my prayer has changed quite a bit over the last few weeks. Instead of praying for ways to “get it together”, I’m praying for the places that need to be broken to be removed in His time and in His way. I’m praying for the continued willingness to let the pieces fall where He wants them to fall, and allow them to stay that way in order for His presence to shine through me.

Let’s be broken together so that all people see is His light shining through.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

*image by prayers4america

 

Can You See Me?

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Scripture has so many mandates for us to live by. For example, “Be ye holy, for I am holy,” I Peter 1:16; “…overcome evil with good,” Romans 12:21; “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love,” Romans 12:10a. We have MANY more, not the least of which is the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. An example in the Beatitudes is found in Luke 6:27, “…do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Scripture is full of expectations for the Christian life. We are not to touch certain things, look at certain things, or even dwell upon certain things. AAAGH!! Is anyone else feeling overwhelmed? I mean seriously, “do good to those who hate you”?

We also have MANY Scriptures that assure us that the Lord’s yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew11:30). That everything He calls us to do, He is faithful to complete in us (I Thessalonians 5:24). So, what’s the deal? Are we required to fulfill all the regulations and rules that overwhelm us, or is His burden light? The two seem to be polar opposites. After all, being devoted to one another and not our own desires is not easy. Overcoming evil with good is a full time job as well. What is easy and light about those things?

When I was feeling overwhelmed about all the seemingly impossible expectations that God had place on me several years back, God led me to remember some Scripture that I would have rather not remembered. Isaiah 64:6 says that my righteousness is as filthy rags. Romans 7 reminded me that I constantly have this war within me between God’s Spirit and my flesh and must come to the conclusion that, “…nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh;”.

So, if God is faithful to accomplish what He asks, how does all of this rectify? How am I to be holy when nothing good dwells in me? How is He completing His good work in me when I am so full of struggle?

Isaiah 61:10, says, “I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with jewels.”

This verse tells me that God clothes me with His robe of righteousness. Only His righteousness is clean, mine is filthy. Only His righteousness is holy, not mine. My works are nothing, His are pure and perfect.

Think of Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak. Yes, Harry Potter. If you have seen any of the movies, you will recall that when Harry placed the cloak around himself, no one could see him. He roamed around the school and no one knew that it was him. They didn’t see Harry as long as he was wearing the cloak. Harry chose to wear the cloak, or robe if you will, and it changed how others viewed him.  

So it is with the robe of righteousness that is given to us. It is our choice whether we wear it, or not. Just as the verse in Isaiah describes a bride adorning her own self with jewels, it is the bride’s choice whether she places them around her neck, or hair, or leaves them off entirely. She made the choice to wear the jewels and we make the choice whether to wear the robe of righteousness that is freely given.

Isaiah 45:24 says, “…Only in the LORD are righteousness and strength.” Jeremiah assures us in chapter 33 that the LORD is our righteousness. II Corinthians 5 reminds us that just as Harry disappeared under that cloak of invisibility and he was completely changed, so our old man dies and our new creature in Christ now reigns in us. Verse 18 of this chapter says, “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled Himself to us through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” Even our “new man” and the things that our “new man” accomplishes are given to us by God. Nothing in us is good. It is ALL Him.

Now, when I see a Scripture that seems to have a commandment that is overwhelming, I use it as a checkpoint. I ask myself, “Do I remember that nothing good is in me except the Holy Spirit?”

“Have I been taking credit for anything that only God can do through me?”

“Have I submitted myself and bowed before Him in order that He can place His robe of righteousness over me today?”

“Am I feeling overwhelmed, or do I know that God has got this?”

When I am out from under His robe, I think it is all about me. When I am under His cloak, His influence, I remember that it is all about Him. When I am covered in His righteousness, His burden is light because it is all up to Him. Whatever He wants accomplished through me that day, it happens. Other things being on hold are okay because I am under HIS cloak, HIS righteousness. When I poke my foot out, there are problems, but when I am totally under His robe, I am exactly where He wants me to be.

A beautiful picture of this is found in Revelation 19:7-8, “ ‘Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.’ And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints (holy ones).”

Here, we see another bride (us) making ready for her (our) wedding day. She chooses to clothe herself in garments that were GIVEN to her. She didn’t have to work for them. She just had to accept them. The garments are fine linen, but the Scripture goes on to tell us that the fine linen is the righteous acts of the holy ones. Yet again, we see that acts that we think we have accomplished on our own were given to us. We see yet again that there is nothing good in us. It is ALL God. If we have ever accomplished the smallest task for His kingdom, He gave us the idea, the strength to do it, the time and desire to accomplish it. Everything good, pure and clean is from our God. He will give us fine linen, bright and clean just as He has given us His robe of righteousness for today.

Let’s allow Him to cover us fully so that others will only see Him. Let’s choose to disappear into His cloak of righteousness. Let’s willingly submit to what He wants to accomplish through us and see the pleasure on His face when he says to us, “Well done. That’s just what I envisioned you wearing today.”

*image by CNN.com

Seeking Hearts Ministries

God’s Perfect Preservation

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Psalm 32:7 says, “Thou art my hiding place; Thou dost preserve me from trouble; Thou dost surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.”

The Lord will preserve us from trouble. He is our hiding place. He surrounds us with songs of deliverance. You might be thinking, “Really? All I see is trouble. All I know is abandonment and all I hear is madness.”

Look closely, my friend. He is here. He is your hiding place. He was in your past. He will be in your future and He is here now, in your today. Even if your trouble surrounds you, you are winning your battle because He is on your side. In the midst of it, know that He is preserving you.

Remember what it’s like when you are canning vegetables from your garden? Things get hot. This is all in the process of preserving, isn’t it? Through that process, things get hot and uncomfortable (for us and the vegetables). Just like those garden goodies, we would like to stay on the vine, being watered gently daily and basking in the pleasant sunshine. We don’t like the boiling water bath, but that’s the only way true preservation can take place. God’s preserving methods sometimes feel just as uncomfortable as canning must feel to a vegetable (if it had feelings), but rest assured you are being protected, preserved and sheltered for the winter ahead. I Peter 5:10 says, “And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm,  strengthen and establish you.” What better preserving could we ask for?

To take our example a little farther, nothing tastes sweeter than fresh vegetables from your own garden. You can buy things from a local Farmer’s Market, but the absolute best is knowing that through God’s provision and your own hard work, the food you are eating came from your own plot. So it is with God’s spiritual provision for us, we can hear other’s testimonies (and they are encouraging), but there is nothing like experiencing our own tests and coming out victorious. We are then experiencing our own fresh fruit from our own God-given garden. Spiritual preservation can then provide fresh faith for us in the middle of our spiritual winters. We “open up” our jar of faith and remember God has already provided in times past and He can and will provide for our now. We just have to open up what’s already on the shelf. Ephesians 1:3 tells us that we have already been blessed with every spiritual blessing.

It is so  frustrating to buy tomato juice at the grocery store only to discover another stack of homemade, well-preserved juice ready to use. Somehow, I always manage to shove a few jars behind some green beans, or jelly of some sort. They are forgotten for a time. When I finally find those jars, they can still be used, but oh, how great it would have been in that homemade soup last week!?

Just like those forgotten jars of juice, we need to remember that God has provided for us. He has preserved us and established us with exactly what is needed. Sometimes though, His provision gets relegated to the back. Let’s ask Him to help us remember what has already been preserved in us. Let’s open up what He has already established in us! Let’s feast on what He has already provided.

Psalm 32:7 also talks about God surrounding us with songs of deliverance. I really enjoy singing when I’m in the kitchen, don’t you? There’s nothing like humming (or belting out) a little tune while going about our tasks. So, just imagine that while God is in “our kitchens” preserving us for the coming winter’s trials, He is actually singing over us as He works. I love that! He is molding us and preserving us into the men and women that He designed for us to be. God is excited throughout the preserving process knowing that what He is making us into now is exactly what we need to be in our future. The process may be hot at times, but He is lovingly watching the clock, knowing exactly how many minutes we need in the boiling water to produce the desired results, all the while singing precious songs over us. When we allow Him to guide the process, He never allows a jar to crack; He never ruins a batch. He is the Perfect Preserver.

No matter if we are in the middle of needing to hide in Him, being preserved by Him for the coming winter, or hearing clearly His songs of deliverance, let’s rest in Him today. Let’s rest in Him knowing that He will never leave us, or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He will not ever stop loving us (I John 3:1) and He will always perfectly preserve us for the coming days (Psalm 41:2).

Seeking Hearts Ministries

My Story

 

** Photo by simplyeclectic.com

 

Pickin’ and Choosin’

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Several months ago I saw a Facebook post come across my feed that said, “Half the world is starving while the other half is trying to lose weight.

It definitely made me think about the physical starvation of people, but it was like a punch in the gut when I thought about the spiritual side of things.

Most of us pick and choose our Christianity like we pick and choose items off of a buffet.

Millions have never even heard the name of Jesus, yet I decide which teacher I like best, which ministry I’ll support and which translation of the Bible I deem as appropriate to study from. I gorge myself and then look around in condescension on those who aren’t choosing the same things off the menu as I am.

Meanwhile, in the real world, others are starving to hear the Word. They are hungry and trying to fill their empty plates with anything that even seems like it might fit.

What am I doing? I’m standing in the line at the buffet.

Desperate people are simply trying to find the door to the restaurant while my back is turned refilling my plate over and over.

Can you tell I’m a little mad at myself? I’m actually sickened. I’m sickened by my excuses and lack of love.

Oswald J. Smith said, “No one has the right to hear the Gospel twice, while there remains someone who has not heard it once.”

Hudson Taylor said, “Perhaps if there were more of that intense distress for souls that leads to tears, we should more frequently see the results we desire. Sometimes it may be that while we are complaining of the hardness of the hearts of those we are seeking to benefit, the hardness of our own hearts and our feeble apprehension of the solemn reality of eternal things may be the true cause of our want of success.”

I find myself getting into lulls with praying for the lost. Sometimes, it’s an intense burden to pray for individuals by name, literally begging God to break through a particular heart so they will receive Him. At other times though, it’s as if I’ve never met a lost person in my life. I’m clueless, and heartless, and a day becomes a week before I mention a lost soul in my prayers once again. Am I not doing Bible study during this lull? Am I not going to church? Am I not memorizing Scripture with my youngest? Am I not writing the blog? The crazy thing is that I AM! Don’t worry… I’m still at the buffet filling my own plate. Apparently, I’m just not willing to share.

I’m finding that Hudson Taylor must be right. It’s my own hardness of heart that stops the growth of Christianity in my generation. Where’s the distress over souls?!What is wrong with me?! Have I become narcissistic in my Christianity? Is there such a thing? How can I be a Christian and obsessed with myself? Isn’t that impossible? If I’m a “little Christ”, aren’t I obsessed with others and dying to self daily?“O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)

The very next verse of Romans 7 says that only Jesus Christ can deliver me and oh, I know that’s true. He’s delivered me over and over again. He’s replaced this hard heart so many times I’ve lost count. I’m so thankful He never gives up on me. I am so thankful that He has convicted me once again and is reminding me of the millions who have yet to know Him. I thank Him that He does not want one soul to perish without Him (2 Peter 3:9). I thank Him that He is the Good Shepherd that continues to find the one little lost lamb (Matthew 18:11-14).

I am thankful for this buffet that He has for me, but I need to remember that I have been given this buffet to lure others in. The tantalizing aromas of grace and love must be all over me so that others want to come and partake as well. I have been able to taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8) so that I can point others to the choicest meat. I’m supposed to share with others who are starving and not simply sit around looking at another person in line at the buffet talking about how good everything is. Yes, I am supposed to feed myself, but only so I can have the strength to feed others. That’s what this buffet is really for…to sustain us all, not just one, or two.

I’m reminded of the time when Jesus fed the massive multitude of over 5,000 people with two fish and five loaves of bread (Matthew 14). He commanded His disciples to share and not hoard it. Can you imagine the rebuke they would have gotten had they just hoarded it away and kept it all for themselves? Such a thing is laughable to us because we know the hungry crowd was right in front of them, but isn’t the hungry crowd in front of us as well?

We have been given so much more than two fish and five loaves. He has commanded us to go and share, but we have become hoarders of God’s provision. I know in my own life… I’m sick of smelling the fish. When I am tight-fisted with God’s buffet, no one benefits, including myself. Blessings are meant to be shared.

When did we get so scared of losing what God has given us to begin with? 

As I stare at my buffet of Bibles, talents, study guides and so much more, I have to ask my Lord what the next step is. Would you be willing to do the same? We all have our own buffet of provision. How does God want you to share yours?

“Half the world is starving while the other half is trying to lose weight.”

It’s a real shame that this statement has become so true when all along the food has been for us all. Thank God for His provision today, but let’s stop pickin’ and choosin’ and get to sharin’ instead.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

My Story with Christ

** Picture from Noka’s Lavish Buffet Spread

 

 

When I take Things into my own Hands

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    Exodus 32:1-5 says, “Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron, and said to him, ‘Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ And Aaron said to them, ‘Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, your daughters, and bring them to me.’ Then all the people tore off the gold rings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And he took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and made it into a molten calf; and they said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.’ Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.’”

Familiarity with this passage can sometimes lead us to pass over nuggets that the Lord has left for us. Over the last few hours, I have literally seen five or six new things in this Scripture that I have never noticed before. I love that about the Word of God. God’s Word never changes, but it is alive and active. It is like a diamond in that when the Holy Spirit shines His light upon it, a new facet is discovered. How can we tire of something so amazing?

In Bertha Smith’s book “How the Spirit Filled My Life”, she says this regarding the passage above, “Not only had the calf been made, but sacrifices had been offered to it. The Israelites, who were daily eating the bread from heaven, gave God’s glory to that calf.”

I confess I had never thought about the fact that the Israelites were STILL receiving manna during this extreme act of idolatry. Was this true? Was God still providing sustenance to the Israelites while sin was running rampant through the camp?

In Exodus 16, we read where God began to provide manna for His people. He states clearly that manna would fall from heaven each morning as dew. The people would gather enough for the day every morning, except on the sixth day. On this day, they would gather twice as much in order to observe the Sabbath. At times, God provided meat, but overall, manna was the constant provision of the LORD God.

In Joshua 5:12, we see where God stops the manna. Was He tired of providing? No, the Israelites had started eating the fruit of The Promised Land so manna was no longer necessary. He was still providing, but in a totally different way. Their time in the desert was over.

Obviously, Exodus 32 is between these Scriptures. So, manna is still on the ground. The people of God are still being provided for during Moses’ absence. I have always thought that there must not have been a word from the Lord during this time, but there clearly was. Every time the manna fell each morning, God was assuring His people that He was faithful. He was assuring them that He was still in control and had their needs met before they woke up each day.  He was assuring them that even without Moses, they still had a relationship with Him. They were His people.

As they came up with their plan to create a new god we have to wonder, “Where did they think the manna had come from that very morning?”

Exodus 32, verse 6 tells us that the people sat down to eat and drink in celebration of their new found god. What did they eat and drink? They were literally drinking and eating what their true God had provided. Mind boggling, isn’t it? They were plainly holding in their hands the provision of God Himself yet, they were worshipping an idol. Not any idol, but an idol they had created themselves. They literally saw it formed before their very eyes, but they still served it.

It’s astounding, truly, until I stop and think about my own life. I confess that I have often done the same. I have prayed for ministry opportunities and when given those opportunities I have, like Aaron, taken God’s provision into my hands and “fashioned it with a graven tool into a molten calf” (verse 4). I have crafted things into my image instead of the image of Christ. I have wanted things to look a certain way, be a certain way, and feel a certain way (and by certain, I mean my way). I have molded and crafted and shaped things into gods in one hand while eating from His provision in the other.

I have created other gods as well. False gods like fear, when all around me the one true God has provided perfect safety.

I have also created the false god of self. Even while acknowledging any talent or skill has been provided by my Father, I obsess over things so much, I realize it’s no longer about worship, but about me.

I have created the god of pride, while quoting Scriptures about how there is nothing good in me.

The list goes on and on… fashioning a golden calf in one hand while gathering manna in the other.

God is ever faithful. He is ever Provider. Even when I choose to use that provision as a god, He is still Sustainer. He still provides sustenance when I am clearly following my own god. He is still the ever present Helper when I get in trouble. He is still the Great I Am. He is still the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is still God alone. Our God is truly amazing. He is faithful to provide even when we use that provision in a way it was never meant to be used.

As we go about our day, may we be ever mindful of what we are worshiping. As we start to fashion anything that is not of God, may we remember to stop, surrender it all back to Him, and leave our ministries, our families, our talents, our everything in HIS hands alone.

 *Photo by Allen Wallace

Seeking Hearts Ministries

When Things Aren’t as they Seem

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Last week, our oldest celebrated his 22nd birthday. He decided that instead of cake, he wanted fruit. He’s always wanted strawberries, but this was new. The morning of the big day I set the fruit on a large, white platter, but it just wasn’t nearly celebratory enough. So, I went back downstairs to gather my crystal. I set fruit in several crystal bowls, stuck a candle in a massive strawberry, and this momma was finally satisfied that the display was birthday worthy.

After the festivities, my husband and I were washing up all the pretty little dishes. We hit one of them with a fork, and ‘DING’, that perfect sound rang all over the kitchen. Mark said, “That’s a good piece of crystal.” I looked at it and said, “Really? I thought this one was.” We took the other piece and hit it (gently) and it kind of sounded like a ‘Dung’ more than a pretty little ‘Ding’.

It was so interesting. The good quality crystal didn’t look as fancy as the poor quality. It was just sitting there, unassuming, knowing what it had going for it. It didn’t have as fancy as a pattern. It didn’t have the decorative features of the other piece. It just sat there, knowing that what it was made of was right for the occasion.

The not so quality piece of crystal was ornate, decorative, and very showy. It screamed, “I’m here.” When it made a sound though, the truth came out. I realized that all the ornamentation was to distract me from knowing the truth.

These pieces of crystal reminded me that I need to make sure the sounds that I make are in keeping with who I am in Christ. They also reminded me that even when I’m impressed with how someone looks, or sings, or even preaches, the sound they make when they get “hit” proves what’s on the inside. Is it praise, or complaint? Is it a temper, or grace? Is it Christ, or self?

So, what sound should come out?

A good verse to go to is Ephesians 4:29. It  says, “Let no filthy talk come out of your mouths, but only what is good for building up as the need may be. This way you will give grace to those who hear you.”

I confess, I often get caught up in the first part of this verse. I say to myself, “Well, I didn’t actually cuss, so I’m good.” I lose the next part, the part where I am ONLY to say things that build people up.

Sound impossible? If I am just using my best effort to look like a great quality Christian instead of actually being one, it is. Just like the crystal at Wes’ birthday. The sound I make tells on me every time. Just because I’m not cursing doesn’t mean I’m building people up. In fact, if all I’m doing is biting my tongue, the sound I am supposed to make (building people up) never happens.

Watchman Nee, in his book Sit, Walk, Stand – The Process of Christian Maturitysays this: “Too many are caught acting as Christians. The life of too many Christians today is largely a pretense. They live a “spiritual” life, talk a “spiritual” language, adopt “spiritual” attitudes, but they are doing the whole thing themselves. It is the effort involved that should reveal to them that something is wrong. They force themselves from doing this, from saying that – and how hard they find it all! It is just the same as when we Chinese try to talk a language that is not our own. No matter how hard we try, it does not come spontaneously; we have to force ourselves to talk that way. But when it comes to speaking our own language, nothing could be easier. Even when we forget all about what we are doing, we still speak it. It flows. It comes to us perfectly naturally, and its very spontaneity reveals to everyone what we are.”

When I depend on Christ, through the Holy Spirit He has already placed inside of me, the sound I make is Him, not me. Instead of a pretender, He makes me the real thing. Instead of just apperaing to be Christ-like, He makes me like Him through and through. Still sound impossible? It would be without assurances like these:

Ephesians 3:20 – “Now to the one who can do infinitely more than all we can ask or imagine according to the power that is working among us.”

Philippians 2:13 – “For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.” He gives us the “want to” and the power to actually accomplish it.

Let’s stop pretending and let Him do His perfect work in us. Let’s rest in the fact that when we are resting in Him, He cleans us up, cleans us out, and replaces us with Him. Then, when a hit comes our way, the sound we make is something that would bring Him glory, and will come as naturally as speaking our native langauge. Only God can do that in me, and in you. Let’s let Him do it.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

 

 

 

*Photo by iStock