A Response to God’s Generosity

First, I need to apologize to my pastor for appropriating his sermon title from yesterday. This title reflected what he had to say well as it does for what I have to say today. So, again, apologies.

God’s generosity. When you think of the word generosity, the first thing that comes to mind is money, right? Come on, you can admit it. That’s why we have so many people in the Christian world claiming that if you just follow this list or this formula, God will be generous and bless you with a great deal of money. This is so far from the truth it’s almost funny.

Don’t get me wrong. Money is important in this day and age. We need to make sure we are giving enough money to support our churches, their staffs, and the work we are trying to do to make sure the gospel is shared in our communities and around the world.

But, money is not the point of this post today. God has blessed us, not only with money, but with everything in our lives. I’ve talked before about the gifts He has given each of us. He doesn’t mean for us to keep these gifts hidden. He means for us to share them for the benefit of His Kingdom.

Matthew 5:14 – 16 says, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

God wants us to shine and to glorify Him, and we can’t do that if we are keeping ourselves hidden. He wants us to pour out the blessings we receive from Him onto others so all can come to know His Glory. This is not something we have to do for salvation, but something we should want to do so others can know about Jesus’ love and how much He loves us. This love is not meant to be bottled up, but to be poured out on others, poured out. I’ve not been the best at doing that, but I want to be better. I want others to see Jesus when they look at me and not have my selfish self in the way. May we all have that same desire!

God’s blessings on you today!

Being Comfortable Has No Place in Christianity

Two weeks ago, I wrote that my Monday morning blog topic this year would be related in some way to either what I heard or what I experienced in church the day before. As this is only the third Monday of the year, I don’t want to congratulate myself just yet, but I think I’ve made a good beginning in being consistent with posting in this blog.

My pastor’s sermon yesterday was the second part of what he spoke on two weeks ago. It was mainly about the qualities of leadership, and how, in the church, the word leadership should always be accompanied by the word servant.

In my first blog entry of 2016 which referenced the first part of this sermon, I touched on the issue of control, and how we, as believers, should be giving up control to our Lord and Savior and what He wants for our lives.

I want to go a little bit further than that today and talk about how being comfortable has no place in Christianity. In this day and age, especially in the Western world, we are all about being comfortable and having things be convenient for us. This trend, unfortunately, has slipped into churches where people won’t even consider serving in some capacity because they’ve never done it before or think they don’t have time for it. We sit in our seats expecting to be blessed and not ever thinking about the ways we can bless others. Now, of course, this is not the case all the time. I know many people who are Christians whose lives are a blessing to others. They think about others before they think about themselves and are generally the first people you see taking up the mantle in our churches and getting the work done that needs to be done.

But, that’s not the case for many of our church members, and I think the main reason for this is because we, in the West, have become too comfortable. Jesus didn’t mean for us to be comfortable. He expected those who believed in Him to be about His work. There are innumerable examples of this in Scripture. I will only post a few.

Jesus says this in Matthew 7:11. “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

In Romans 12:6, Paul says this. “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

And, finally, in 1 Peter 4: 10. “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

I think the last verse says it all. We’re to be using our gifts in service to others and not just receiving blessings. God has given us these gifts and the capability and courage to use them. These gifts are not a condition to our salvation (That would be grace versus works, and grace wins every time.) They are an outgrowth of our salvation and should be something we want to do as we seek to live for our Lord and Savior. I’m going to be taking a big leap this year in using my gifts for His glory. There is always a chance I’ll fail, but the cost of not trying is too big, and the cost of remaining comfortable is not something I’m willing to endure anymore.

May we all use our gifts for His Glory!

God’s blessings on you all today!

How God Uses People Who Speak into Your Life to Answer Prayers

Yesterday, when I was going to church, I had a conversation with God like I usually do. I prayed a particular prayer, nothing too major, mind you, but something that was important to me. God chose to answer that prayer with two people who had willing hearts, and it turned into a bigger thing for me because it showed God’s love for me in an amazing way.

This goes back to the post I made almost two weeks ago about walking into church alone. It is a hard thing for me to walk into a crowded room and ask if I can sit with someone especially if I am by myself. Sometimes, I’m just unable to do it. Yesterday, I found myself in this exact position since I was greeting people at one of the doors and got finished right at the beginning of the service. I entered the auditorium and almost started to hyperventilate as I considered what I was going to do. The place was packed since we were having a baby dedication service. I didn’t want to give up the chance to worship, but I didn’t know where I was going to go. In this span of thoughts that only took seconds, someone came up to me who knew I was having this issue and offered me a place to sit. I said yes and started to calm down.

God threw some cherries on top of my blessing. A precious friend who has been like a mom to me came up, hugged me, and handed me a gift bag. She said she had just gotten me a little something. I was very touched, but I was even more touched that she stayed and put her arm around me during the opening prayer. I could almost audibly hear the words God was speaking to me. “See, Alisa, you might not have the traditional people speaking into your life to bless you, but I’ve provided them all the same.” Happy tears rolled down my face as I praised and thanked my Lord and Savior for all of the people He has placed in my life who speak into my life. It was the beginning of a special time of worship where I was very aware of how much God had blessed my life and the lives of those in my family by choice.

God’s blessings on all of you today!

True Servanthood

One of the issues I’ve had with this blog is finding topics to write about. Over the last year, my ideas have come in waves, and then, I haven’t been able to think of anything for weeks. Since I’ve made a commitment to writing more consistently in 2016, this is something I need to change. I’ve come up with an idea to write about on Mondays which should always gain me material because I am usually in church the day before. What is that idea, you ask? It’s a reaction piece to what I hear preached on Sundays. I’m sure my pastor will enjoy that. Ha! In all seriousness though, when I hear what God has given him to say, I have thoughts and feelings about it, and I can tell that God is using his words to teach me. So, why shouldn’t I write about it since writing is the way I make sense of the world around me?

With that, let’s go on to today’s topic. From the title, you have probably already guessed that the topic is servant hood. Serving others is discussed a lot in the Bible. There are many passages that could be used for a sermon on this topic. The one he used was John 13:1-17. I’m going to quote it here so I will have it to reference.

“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.”11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

 

I don’t know if you have ever been part of a foot washing ceremony. I have, and it’s a humbling thing to have your feet washed by someone else. It is giving up a level of control that we are all used to having in our lives. But, I think that is the point Jesus is trying to make here. All of us who say we believe in Him should not want that control of our lives. We should be giving that control over to our Lord and Savior and doing what He wants us to do. And we shouldn’t be doing it to get glory for ourselves either. Ouch! How many of us have thought about how nice it would be to be recognized for what we do? I know I have, and it’s not a pleasant thought for me when I think about how totally opposite that thought is to what Jesus wants for us. Humbling, isn’t it? Just like it’s humbling to have our feet washed.

When I think about true servant hood, I think about a precious friend and sister in Christ and what she is doing for her family. Her grandmother has cancer and needs a lot of help right now. My friend is spending her Sundays with her grandmother so her mother can get a break from her care. Some people might ask why my friend and her family aren’t in church. (Don’t get me wrong. Church is a good thing, and God does tell us we need to worship in community. ) But, I think my friend gets this passage from John in a way that a lot of us don’t. She is being a servant to her grandmother and helping with what her grandmother needs. I know she is not doing it for recognition and will probably feel awkward if she reads this. She is an example to me though of this passage and was the first person I thought of when my pastor was preaching yesterday.

So, when I think of the basin and the towel that Jesus used and when I think of what we are trying to accomplish at my church, I will think of my friend, and I will think of what Jesus would want me to do as I begin each day of yielding my life to Him once more.

God’s blessings on all of you today!

Prayer, A New Beginning for 2016, and a Recommitment

When I began this week of posts, I had two purposes for it. One was to think out loud about my faith and why I felt out-of-place and out-of sync with it. I had been struggling with my value and my worth and thinking that I wouldn’t be missed if I was gone while my husband would be missed. Part of the reason for this is that my husband runs the media team at our church, and I haven’t felt like I’ve had a niche there myself. It’s difficult for me to think that just being myself and not doing anything is important, that it’s important to God.

The other purpose for the week was that I wanted to see what kind of writing content I could put out and see if I could keep any consistency with it. This year has not been a year where I’ve been consistent for a number of reasons, and I want to do better, be better with my writing. Even though I’ve written in my journal and will continue to write in my journal, it’s not enough for me. I have words that need to come out, that I need to share with other people, but I have let fear overwhelm me.  That is one of the things in 2016 I plan to change, a New Year’s resolution so to speak.

So, how do I get from all of this to what the title of this post is? Well, prayer is how I talk to God, how I get my courage to keep going, and I’ve realized I don’t do enough of it, in public or in private. This is one big thing that is going to change with my faith. A re-committing of my life in 2016 to what I say is the most important thing to me. I don’t want anyone to ever think I am ashamed that Jesus is my Lord and Savior! I will pray; I will give thanks to God; I will worship Him; and it doesn’t matter to me who sees!

Romans 12:12 seems to be the most pertinent example to me of what I’m trying to say. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.”

There is also a song I have come to love that demonstrates this to me as well. It is the song  “Here’s My Heart” by Crowder. Take a look at the lyrics, and you’ll see what I mean.

“Here’s my heart, Lord [x3]
Speak what is true
I am found, I am Yours
I am loved, I’m made pure
I have life, I can breathe
I am healed, I am free
Here’s my heart, Lord [x3]
Speak what is true
I am found, I am Yours

I am loved, I’m made pure
I have life, I can breathe
I am healed, I am free

You are strong, You are sure
You are life, You endure
You are good, always true
You are light breaking through

Here’s my heart, Lord [x3]
Speak what is true

Here’s my life, Lord [x3]
Speak what is true [x3]

I am found, I am Yours
I am loved, I’m made pure
I have life, I can breathe
I am healed, I am free

You are strong, You are sure
You are life, You endure
You are good, always true
You are light breaking through

You are more than enough
You are here, You are love
You are hope, You are grace
You’re all I have, You’re everything

Here’s my heart, Lord [x3]
Speak what is true

Here’s my life, Lord [x3]
Speak what is true [x3]”

My prayer for 2016 is that all of us who believe will let these words permeate to the very souls of our beings. “Here’s my heart, Lord. Speak what is true. Here’s my life, Lord. Speak what is true.”
Happy New Year!
God’s blessings on all of you today!