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All of me

‭‭Mark‬ ‭12:30‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”
We were challenged this weekend to love God with all that we are. Easy concept, right? Umm, no. Not so much. Not when you really take a good hard look at yourself. And that, my friend, is no fun. 

The challenge began with “Who is #1 in your life?” Well, I’m at church, on a Sunday night. The Sunday school answer is “God”, right? But when the question was asked again at the end of the challenge…the answer wasn’t God, if I was being honest with myself. And that is tough stuff right there. 

Love God with all my heart. What does that mean? As I have thought about it, I see it as loving God with all my emotion. Our heart is the center of our emotional state. When I love God with all my emotion, I make everything about Him. I choose to see His hand at work in my life. I allow Him to change and mold my attitude. Now, does that mean that I go around gushing and acting all cheesy? No. I believe that you can love God with all your heart by acknowledging Him every opportunity you get. You are deferring your emotion to Him. You are choosing to allow Him to guard and guide how you feel and respond. Loving God with all my heart.

Love God with all my soul. I think about this in this way – loving God with my eternity. My soul is something I can’t see; I can’t touch; but it is something I can give. I can give my soul back to it’s Creator by choosing Jesus as my Savior. I can allow God to have control over my eternity. Loving God with all my soul.

Love God with all my mind. Some days, I do okay with this and others days, it’s just plain ugly. In my way of thinking, this is loving God with thoughts. This is allowing God to control my thoughts. This is choosing to see things in the scope of eternity. “What would Jesus do?” It’s not wearing your heart on your shirt sleeve but rather seeing all things in the light of the love of Christ. Letting Jesus control my thoughts. Loving God with all my mind.

Love God with all my strength. To me, this is my actions. These are the things that I do or don’t do on a daily basis. This is reading my Bible. This is going to church when the doors are open. This is preparing for VBS. This is the physical action of the group. This is loving God with all my strength.

There are times when I get parts of this challenge spot on and there are times when I fail miserably. But you know what, God wants me to try my hardest. He wants me to make the choices to do things right and to seek Him daily. He knows when I am doing the best I can and when I am doing just enough to get by. This is where grace and mercy come into play. This is where I really need grace and mercy. And praise God, they never run out.

So this week, ask yourself “Who is #1 in my life?” And don’t just give the Sunday school answer. Really look hard at yourself. Ponder where your priorities really are. Happy Tuesday. 

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On the field

Mark‬ ‭5:19‬,20 ‭KJV – “Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.”‭‭

Last night, my son made a presentation to our church regarding his recent trip to Haiti. He showed pictures, told stories and spoke about how this trip impacted his life. 

He challenged us all to be more satisfied and content with our life. We have so much and there are people around the world that have so little. But their lack of “stuff” doesn’t bother them. They are content. They are satisfied with the little that they have and are grateful for the extras that they receive. It really is all about perspective. 

And then our pastor challenged us in a different way. 

The mission field in Haiti is important, don’t get me wrong. But what about the mission field just outside our door? What about the mission field around us each and every day? What are we doing about that? 

A friend of mine once referred to my job as my mission field. I smiled and nodded at the time but the words crept into my heart and took root. What if you saw your job as your mission field? What if the people around you became your ones to shepherd in your eyes? How would that change things? Would you do things differently?

I know in my life when I decide to see the people I come in contact with as those on my mission field, my perspective changes. I’m no longer shy about sharing Christ with them. I find ways to work Jesus into the conversation. I make a point to share God working in my life with them. I’m not overly concerned with how they see me. I’m just taking the opportunities provided to me. 

It’s a paradigm shift. You change from seeing these people as ones who help you get your work done or ones that you have to treat to people who need Jesus and you’re the one bringing Him to them. 

So this week, I want to encourage you to 1) be content – be satisfied with what God has blessed you with and 2) change your perspective – see your job as a mission field. Let God show you how to serve Him on your mission field and how to be satisfied in the life He has given you.

My story

Mark 5:19,20 -“Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.”

Yesterday in Sunday school, we were discussing sharing your story or telling your testimony. For many, this is the key to bringing them to Christ. They are able to see what He has done in your life when you share it with them. And that is great…

But it made me think, what about me? I grew up in church. I have been going since before I exited my mother’s womb. I have known nothing but getting up and going to church every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. I was taught how to study The Word. I was encouraged at home to pray and discuss my life with my Savior. 

Do people want to hear about that? Does that really make that big of an impact on people? Isn’t it way more interesting and awe-inspiring to hear how God changed an addict to one of His saints? 

I discussed this with my husband. When I look at my life, I see God’s faithfulness. I see His hand at work in every area I have ever invited Him to be in and some that I didn’t. I see His guidance and compassion. I see His love during trials and His kindness when I very stubbornly learn a lesson. 

But there is no major change in my life. And I’m okay with that, don’t get me wrong. I just let the devil make me think that my story isn’t important. No one wants to hear about year after year of Sunday school lessons. No one wants to hear about my so-called problems that really don’t amount to a hill of beans. Right?

Wrong. This is the story that God is writing that is called My Life. My Life is different that Your Life, even if we grew up with the exact same principles. We all have a story to tell. Some stories may seem less dramatic than others but they are just as important and can make just as big of an impact. God is still writing my life. That, in and of itself, is amazing. He still cares enough about me to write His story on my heart each and every day. He wants me to live each chapter with gusto and to share the entirety of it with anyone that will listen. 

So this week, don’t let anyone tell you that your story isn’t good enough or interesting enough. Your story is your own. Your story is unique and special. Your story is something that someone needs to hear to be encouraged or maybe it is something that someone needs to hear to bring them to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Tell your story.

Acting like an animal

Mark 4:37-41 – “And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

We had a missionary come and speak to us last night. He is heading to the Solomon Islands, hopefully, in August. He brought a message in regards to obeying to God’s voice. 

Read this Scripture one more time. Pay close attention to the end. 

The message last night reminded us that all of creation obeys God’s voice. Why can’t we?

Just think for a minute, the wind ceased when Jesus said to do so. The waves ceased when Jesus said to do so. Not a gentle, progressive calming – they ceased or stopped. 

The speaker also reminded us of the great fish that swallowed Jonah. How did it know to do that? And what about the animals getting on the ark – how did they know where to go and what to do? They all heard God’s voice and obeyed. They didn’t question it. They didn’t fight against Him. God said move; they moved.

So we have all these examples in the Bible of things that have no soul and no upper level thinking capabilities- creatures and things we consider inferior- obeying God. And then in walks a human and boom! All sorts of questions and fussing and whining about a simple command. 

Just think for a moment what God is asking us to do on a most basic level – read and study His word, go to a local New Testament church and worship Him, talk to those around you about Him and His work in your life, obey Him. These are not difficult commands, yet we act like a two year old when asked to do any of them. Why is it so difficult to obey His voice? 

So, my challenge to you (and to myself) this week is to obey His voice, period. Obey His voice in the simple things. Trust me, if the animals can do it, so can you. 

Impossible

Note: This verse that I have chosen for today is first and foremost about salvation. There is no way that we can do anything to earn our salvation. Salvation is truly impossible for a person to accomplish. Jesus, however, graciously provided THE way for us to accept His salvation freely. But in addition to this very important meaning, one can also apply a more general scope. 

Mark 10:27 – “And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.”

Yesterday, as I was spending some of my time driving, I heard this on the radio – “Impossible is really ‘I’m possible'”. I love that! So many times we hear “impossible”. We think that there is no way that we could do something. We allow Satan to convince us that we are not good enough. But God does not see it that way. He sees it as possible. Where others see a deficit, He sees an opportunity. 

Impossible is not a word in our Savior’s vocabulary. He laughs at impossible. Think about it, He created all that we see from nothing. If that isn’t overcoming impossible, I don’t know what is!

So why do we let impossible into our life? Why do we give it any authority at all? 

Pride. Pride that we can do it ourself. We think that by our own power and wisdom and ability that we can accomplish anything. We want to be able to tell others that we did this or that or that we got to go here or there. Pride is an ugly beast that creeps into our life seemingly uninvited and takes up residency in our heart and is very difficult to get to leave. It usually leaves only after it has been knocked off its pedestal. And sometimes that’s exactly what it takes. You have to be knocked in the mud before you realize that maybe, just maybe you need some help with this thing called life. 

But when we approach things in the light of God’s love, we realize right off the bat that there is no way that we can do anything at all without the help of God. We know that He makes all things possible. He reminds us that us+Him=possible. You see how closely together that I wrote that equation. I did that for a reason. There cannot be any room for pride when you choose to live this equation. Keeping pride out reminds us that the only thing between us and possible is God holding it all together. 

So today as you face your many challenges and problems, let me encourage you to choose possible. Choose to live out that equation and stay so close to God that pride has no room to worm its way into things. 

The Alabaster Box

Mark 14:3 – “And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.”

Luke 7:37,38 – “And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.”

John 12:2,3 – “There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.”

Ok, now let me explain why I have printed one account in three different places. 1. “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” (2 Corinthians 13:1b) 2. I wanted you to see who the woman was. 3. I wanted you to see how much her Savior meant to her. 

Mary, Martha and Lazarus were some of Jesus’ closest friends while here on earth. When Lazarus died, Jesus cried. He cared so much for these three. And the feelings were reciprocated. They thought a lot of Jesus as well. So it wasn’t unusual for them to have the desire to do something special for Jesus after Lazarus’s ressurection. They prepared a meal. It was at someone else’s home, but nonetheless, they hosted it. 

And then Mary comes in with her alabaster box. Now, I want to share something with you about that box. The ointment inside that box cost about a year’s worth of wages. Think about that for a minute – would you take one year of your salary and buy something? This was probably part of her dowry or something like a life’s savings item. This was costly and this was precious to Mary. Yet, here we see her opening the box and pouring its contents on her Savior and then washing His feet with her tears and her hair – a very tender and precious moment to say the least. 

The point I want to make here is that Mary gave up something very precious to her. She surrendered something very close to her for the sake of her Savior. Jesus did not ask her to do this. Jesus did not require her to do this. Mary did this because she loved Jesus. She wanted to show her gratitude and appreciation for all that He had done for her and all He would do for her. 

We all have things in our life that are precious to us – our family, our home, our dreams, our jobs, our church –  I could go on forever. But what is Jesus laying upon your heart to turn over to Him? What is in your life that you consider more precious than Him? Now, don’t be fooled, we all have things that we set up before Christ.  We shouldn’t, but we do. Jesus isn’t going to require you to give up this thing. He isn’t going to scold or guilt you into surrendering it. But He does ask that you put Him first in all you do, in all you think and in all you care for.

Sometimes  surrendering this alabaster box is the hardest thing you will ever do. It is saying that you will give the box to Him to do with it what He chooses. You give up control of the box. This box that you have worked so hard for. This box that you have sacrificed so much for. This is the box He wants you to entrust to Him. This is the action that shows that you truly trust Him to take care of it all. 

So, friend, what’s in your box? 

Bloom where you are planted

Mark 4:26-29 – “And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.”

The other day I was walking into work and I noticed something – a flower growing in the gutter of the building. It always makes me smile when I see something like that. A tiny, beautiful little flower growing way up high in a place where flowers really aren’t supposed to grow.

It made me think about what God expects of us. Here we are in this yucky old world where society is ever trying to sweep us away. And we are supposed to be just like this little flower. We are supposed to grow no matter what. Despite the circumstances, despite where we are at, we are supposed to grow. And we are supposed to produce fruit. We are supposed to bring hope to those around us by showing the beauty He has created within us.

I know that no one person purposefully climbed up on a ladder and planted that seed up in the gutter. But I believe that God put that seed up in that gutter for a very specific reason – He wanted me to see it and He wanted me to remember that it is so very important that we grow where we are planted. You may be planted in a fertile field where people are coming to Jesus every day. Or you may be planted in the desert where birds of prey are waiting to pick your bones dry. Either way, we are instructed to grow. If cactus can grow in the desert, then so can you. You just have to get creative. Cactus produce fruit as well. They provide water for animals and flowers to grow other cactus.

The endpoint is this – Christ’s return is coming soon. Harvest time is almost here. How much fruit are you producing? Is it bountiful? Or are you just scraping by? We can’t grow without the Living Water supplying all that we need. We can’t produce without the Master Gardener pruning and encouraging growth. So get with it, sister! Get that soil fertilized and get those weeds pulled. Times a wastin’!