Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dying to Live

I don't know about you, but for me, one of the hardest things about being a Christian and following Christ is getting me out of the way so Christ can have His way. I am SO human. (I imagine you are too!) I am selfish and self-centered. I put me first and God second. I listen to my emotions and ignore His words of wisdom. I fear, fail and fret. And yet, for some odd, unexplainable reason, I have a hard time letting go and letting God.

In Romans 12:1, Paul urges us to be a living sacrifice. What comes to your mind when you hear the word sacrifice? Do you think of giving up something? Do you think of doing without in one area of your life so you can have more in another area? Does death come to mind? I think all of these thoughts are rolled into the true meaning of the word sacrifice. defines sacrifice as the surrender of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim. I have a feeling this is what Paul had in mind.

The surrender of something prized or desirable....(the surrender of ME!) for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.(Jesus!...after all, who has a higher or more pressing claim on me than Christ? I have been bought and redeemed with His precious blood!)

In order to become a living sacrifice we have to be willing to surrender self. Everything we do, everything we say, everything we are, must be surrendered to God. He must be given full control and full reign in our life. When this happens; when we finally come to the place where we can honestly say "Lord, not my will, but yours be done", we become a living sacrifice. It is in this place of surrender that we truly worship God.

But how? The pull of the flesh in my life is so strong. The "I" in me likes being in control and calling all the shots. The "I' in me feels pressure to fit in and be accepted by others. The "I" in me gets caught up in living life in this crazy world. It's not easy to surrender. It's not easy to let go . I can think of all kinds of reasons I.....Aaaaaaaaahhh! Did you read what I just wrote? I can THINK ....... Truly the battle of surrender starts in our mind.

Listen as Paul continues in Romans 12:2 - Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

God is able to transform us into a new person when you and I allow His Spirit to change the way we think! In other words, you and I need to become spiritually minded. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to have His way in our life.

As we draw closer to God, through the study of His Word and through times of communion in prayer, we begin to hear His voice above the noise of this world. As we choose to listen to His still small voice and surrender to His leading, His will becomes our will. Our wills become one....united. It is in this process of surrender, that we truly begin to know that which is good and pleasing and perfect.

I don't know about you, but utlimately, this is what the "I" in me longs for....that which is good and pleasing and perfect. The key to living in the will of God and truly worshipping Him is in becoming a living sacrifice. The key to becoming a living sacrifice is surrender. I must surrender "me" for the sake of Christ. I must surrender my thoughts to the thoughts of Jesus. I must surrender my will to the will of my Saviour.

OH! I get it now! Of course. It makes perfect sense. Hey, could it be I am starting to think more like my Heavenly Father?! I sure hope so.

(Note: This post was adapted from a recent Graceful Sisters Post)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fully Satisfied

As I was paying the cashier for the gas I had just pumped into my car, I was approached by a young man in his early twenties.

"Excuse me, Ma'am. Is that your little green Honda?" he asked.

Not sure who he was or why he was interested in my little green Honda, I apprehensively answered, "Yes."

"Did you just fill up at that pump?" he asked next.

"Yes, I used that pump, although I didn't fill up. I only purchased about eight gallons. Why do you ask?"

"Well, I used that very same pump right before you and I DID fill up. It cost me over $50.00! But, when I drove away, nothing registered on my gas gauge. It doesn't show that I purchased any gas at all. I think something is wrong with that pump. While I talk to the cashier, would you mind checking your gas gauge to see if you got the gas you just paid for?"

It seemed like an odd request, but I nodded my head "yes" and headed outside to my car. I put the key in the ignition and anxiously watched my gas gauge. Slowly but surely, the needle moved away from the "E" as it made it's way closer and closer to the "F". Unlike the gauge in this young man's truck, my gauge showed I had gotten exactly what I had paid for, about half a tank of gas.

Looking up from the gauge, I saw the young man walking toward my car.

"So, did your gauge move or is it still sitting at the same spot as when you drove in?"

"The pump seems to be working fine," I answered. "My gauge is showing I have about half a tank, and that's the amount I put in. Maybe something is wrong with the gas gauge in your truck."

"Maybe." He replied. "Although, I don't see how the problem could be on my end. I just bought this truck! It's practically brand new. I'm pretty sure the problem is with this pump." And with that, disgruntled and upset, he turned and walked away.

Satisfied with my purchase, I pulled out of the station and went on my way.

Later that evening, as I was reflecting upon the events of the day, I thought about the incident at the gas station. Both the young man and I had went to the station for the same reason. We had parked in the same place, used the same equipment, talked to the same attendant. Yet, only one of us left there satisfied.

Spiritually, the same is often true of us. Trucking through the day to day journey of life, we look at our "heart gauge" and suddenly realize our hearts are on "E". Knowing we are in desperate need of a fill up, we head to church, or read our Bible, or spend time in prayer. Some walk away from this "fill up with God" full and satisfied, others are left feeling empty. Why?

Like the young man at the station, we often fall victim to a faulty gauge. Stop and think about it for a minute. What do you use to gauge Christ's presence in your own life? Is it your emotions? As humans who are emotionally wired, this is often the instrument we rely on. Yet, probably nothing is more unreliable or fickle than our feelings!

When I entered the gas station that day, I had no reason to believe I would leave there still on "E". Why then, should I believe, when I enter into the presence of the living God, the Creator of the Universe and the Lover of my Soul, I will walk away with anything less than what my heart needs and desires the most?

God promises those who hunger and thirst for righteousness WILL be filled. Regardless of what my emotions may be telling me, I must believe God has filled me to overflowing with His love, forgiveness, wisdom and grace. I must believe I have been strengthened in my inner man to once again run the race set before me. I must believe God is at work in me and through me. I must believe I have received what I came for!

God is more than able and more than willing to dispense His goodness and His blessings into our empty hearts. We simply need to approach His throne of grace, open our heart before Him, and allow Him to fill us up. Are you In need of a fill up? Why not head straight to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Believe God will be faithful to meet your needs, then head back onto the highway of life, happy and fully satisfied in Him!

(Note: This post first appeared on my blog on April 6, 2009)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dishes and So Much More

(To read more devotions on thankfulness and the blessing of gratitude visit RACHEL OLSEN and enjoy her devotional carnival!)

Tonight, as I headed to the kitchen to do dishes, I popped one of my favorite Out of the Grey CDs into the stereo. As I dipped my hands in the warm dish water and felt the effervescence of the tiny bubbles, I savored this moment. Here, in this simple, every day moment, I felt perfectly content and amazingly happy. I have to admit, I was surprised by this.

As the music played, I began nodding my head and before I knew it, I was singing right along with the Dente's.

So we never got to Paris
And found the cafe of our dreams
But our table holds a whole world of memories
No, we never went to Venice
And strolled the streets alone
But we built our worlds together and we got the best of both

As I sang the lyrics to this, my favorite song on the CD, I thought about my own life. Just like the young lovers in this song, I too have dreams....big dreams, lofty dreams, far away, almost seemingly out of reach dreams. I, too, would love to go to Paris and stroll the streets of Venice, and yet, standing in my kitchen, with a soapy dishcloth in hand, I realized I,too, am surrounded by a whole world of memories.

Just look at my refrigerator. It showcases all the moments I treasure in my heart. Like the photo of my sister and me at her college graduation. I was so proud to be a part of that moment, to be my sister's sister, to see her reaching this milestone in her life. Our eyes are squinty....hers from trying to see through the rain, mine from trying to see through the tears of pride and joy.

Then there's the newspaper clipping that has yellowed over the years. The person showcased is my husband; the reason for the notoriety is summed up in the caption. "My wife made me do it!" My husband, being an avid sports fan, had won the weekly "pick the winner of this weeks games" contest. I had told him he should send in his picks, and well, the rest is history. We still celebrate the one-line caption. Not because my husband won, but because, according to him, this is the same reason he said, "I do!"

As I reached into a drawer to get a dish towel, I saw my mom's love....crocheted in the potholders sharing this tiny space with the towels. They are a constant reminder of all the love, guidance and instruction she sewed into my life. There is no denying a part of her will always be living out through me. I am her daughter. She is my mother. It's a bond that knows no limit or separation.

This bond is also one that is shared by sisters, but in a way only sisters can understand. As I returned to the sink, I noticed a picture hanging proudly on our living room wall. With thread in hand, my sister lovingly created a visual reminder of the vows my husband and I exchanged almost ten years ago. Our names and the date of our union are there to testify to our commitment to each other. The gift one more reminder of her constant commitment to me, her little sister.

As my dish water turned lukewarm and I rinsed the last pan and placed it to dry, I danced! Right there in my kitchen, I danced! and I sang! and I cried! and I laughed! I pulled the stopper and as the water emptied out of the sink, I thanked God for the unexpected blessing of doing dishes. Most of all, I thanked Him for my life...a life that is and always will be overflowing with a whole world of memories!