Jack was a new member of the church and eager to serve the Lord. He and his bride had chosen this particular congregation because it was in their neighborhood. It was also a beautiful sanctuary for worship; one of those that when you walk in, you know it's a holy place.
When Jack approached the pastor about serving, he asked that he not be placed in a situation where he would be speaking to strangers. That made him nervous and he sometimes would stutter when under stress. With the encouragement of the elders he accepted the position of usher for the morning service.
On his first day, Jack was assigned the duty of seating people in a section that held some of the oldest members of the church. "Piece of cake!" he muttered to himself. In this church, everyone sat in the same place each Sunday. Some members had been sitting on the same pew for 50 years, and weren't about to sit anyplace else!
Enjoying his new role, Jack was greeted with encouragement and smiles as he ushered the members to their pews. Just before the service began, a visitor arrived and made her way to one of the pews in Jack's area. She was unaware of the "seating assignment" tradition. The head usher instructed Jack to go to the guest and tell her politely, "Pardon me, madam, but you're occupying the wrong pew. May I show you to another seat?"
Jack didn't want to mess up on his first day, so he practiced his speech several times as he slowly walked toward the lady who was now comfortably settled in the wrong pew. When he got to the place where she was seated, he opened his mouth to softly state his rehearsed speech, but instead he blurted out: "M-M-Mardon me, padam, b-b-but you're occupewing the wrong pie. M-M-May I sew you to another sheet?"
God has a place of ministry and service for every Christian. Like Jack, we may stumble around a bit before we find just the right niche. Don't give up! You have unique gifts which qualify you for serving the Lord. If you haven't found that place of ministry just keep on seeking. Usually, you will find that serving God incorporates the use of talents and skills you've gained throughout your life.
I think we sometimes make "Finding God's will for our lives" more difficult than it really is. God will not call you to do something for which He has not already prepared you.
"It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end. So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today - to love the Lord your God and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul - then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil." (Deuteronomy 11:12-14)
GospeLines Prayer:Father, give me courage beyond what I think I can or cannot do for You. Never allow me to hinder Your work because I was afraid to say yes! Amen and amen!
12-14 “I'm so grateful to Christ Jesus for making me adequate to do this work. He went out on a limb, you know, in trusting me with this ministry. The only credentials I brought to it were invective and witch hunts and arrogance. But I was treated mercifully because I didn't know what I was doing - didn't know Who I was doing it against! Grace mixed with faith and love poured over me and into me. And all because of Jesus.
15-19 Here's a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I'm proof - Public Sinner Number One - of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy. And now he shows me off - evidence of his endless patience - to those who are right on the edge of trusting him forever.
Deep honor and bright glory
to the King of All Time -
One God, Immortal, Invisible,
ever and always. Oh, yes!
I'm passing this work on to you, my son Timothy. The prophetic word that was directed to you prepared us for this. All those prayers are coming together now so you will do this well, fearless in your struggle, keeping a firm grip on your faith and on yourself. After all, this is a fight we're in.” (1st Timothy 1:14-19 - The Message)
I grew up in the Midwest and we'd sometimes have mild winters, but most of the time, there was plenty of snow and ice.In those days we walked to school and there weren't many days off due to the weather!We learned to endure, wrapped up in layers of clothing, boots, gloves, hats, heavy winter coats, whatever necessary to keep warm and dry.And, while it was a hassle getting out of those items once we arrived at school, we learned to endure.When it was time for recess, we had to re-dress in order to go outside to play.We learned to endure.
The best memories of those times were when the weekends arrived.Several of the neighborhood children, my friends, and I would get our sleds out and we'd decide to use the alley behind their houses as our road.Now you have to understand, the alley had a lot of bumps, grooves and things we couldn't always see in those conditions.Mounds of snow, layered with ice, were covering our path as we started our descent from the top of the hill to the bottom.
Sometimes, it was smooth sailing and we'd scream and shout at the exhilarating rush as we went flying down the alley.Other times, we'd run adrift… off our path, running into some tree limb, bush or maybe one of the few parked cars in someone's driveway that adjoined the alley.We'd pick ourselves and our sleds up and start the trek back up the hill.We'd patiently start the ride all over again.We learned to endure.
Several of us would somehow hook our sleds together and have a train, of sorts, coming down the alley.That was really fun.But, again, we may get off course, no matter who was guiding the lead sled.And, no matter how we set our sites and thought we followed the right tracks, we couldn't always see beneath the snow and ice.We learned to endure.
Our lives are just like those sleds going down that alley.We think we're going in the right direction, along the right path and instead, we're going off the path He has set for us.We can't always see ahead or what lies beneath.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, I've been trying not to slip and fall on the ice; trying to avoid the pitfalls; trying to stay on track.But, oh, have I failed!
My ride has been bumpy, but I am thankful for You who believes in me and illumines my path.I thank You for giving me an opportunity to witness Your word.I'm trusting that my road may be bumpy from time-to-time, but is much smoother with You in my life.
I've learned to endure…
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, December 16, 2009
“Who Started Christmas?” (author unknown)
This morning I heard a story on the radio of a woman who was out Christmas shopping with her two children; after many hours of looking at row after row of toys and everything else imaginable, and after hours of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on those many shelves, she finally made it to the elevator with her two kids.
She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season time of the year - overwhelming pressure to go to every party, every housewarming, taste all the holiday food and treats, get that perfect gift for every single person on our shopping list, make sure we don't forget anyone on our card list, and the pressure of making sure we respond to everyone who sent us a card.
Finally the elevator doors opened and there was already a crowd in the car.She pushed her way into the car and dragged her two kids in with her and all the bags of stuff. When the doors closed she couldn't take it anymore and stated, “Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up and shot."
From the back of the car everyone heard a quiet, calm voice respond, "Don't worry. We already crucified him."
For the rest of the trip down the elevator it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop. Don't forget this year to keep the One who started this whole Christmas thing in your every thought, deed, purchase, and word. If we all did it, just think of how different this whole world would be.
≈ Devotional for Thursday, December 17, 2009
"I don't need your perfection"
Our walk with Jesus is a frustratingly futile effort to get it right.But walking straight with God is not a perfect path; we will stumble, take two steps forward and three backward, embarrass ourselves and sometimes even act like the devil in our weakest moments.
In his book Authority in Prayer, Dutch Sheets found encouragement from the Lord when he learned that a godly life may not always be a life of perfection.
"This time, I was not only praying but also speaking in a conference. Before my session, I again heard the Spirit speak: 'I want you to change the atmosphere for Me, over this city and nation. Command it to shift!' I was somewhat stunned. I remember the intimidation I felt standing to the side, waiting to be introduced. Finally, in my insecurity, I said to the Lord, 'I sure hope I don't mess this up.' As clearly as I have ever heard God speak, I heard Him that day. 'You would have to try real hard to mess this up. Unless you totally rebel against My leadership and refuse to do what I've instructed you, I'm going to do this! You don't have to say or do things perfectly. Just do what I've asked you to and I'll do the rest. I need your voice, not your perfection.' Those were some of the most comforting words I've ever heard. I knew God had full authority to do this, and I knew He was authorizing me to be His instrument."
What a fantastic word: God doesn't expect (or need) perfection! What a relief this can be if we can only understand this simple message.
Paul tells us that "…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)Later, he adds, "I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing." (Romans 7:17-19)
Jesus even said that if we try to follow all the points of the law (If we try to be perfect), we'll be "loaded down with burdens we can hardly carry…" (Luke 11:46)
All who rely on observing every point of the law (and getting everything right) are under a curse: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law" because whoever tries to keeps the whole law but stumbles only one point is guilty of breaking all of it. (James 2:10)
We don't stand justified or righteous before God because we keep every point of the law or because we do everything right.We live by faith!Faith that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. (Galatians 3:13)
We all stumble in many ways.If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check... but no man can tame the tongue.It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. (James 3:2, 8)So, no man can be perfect.However, do not fear.As Dutch Sheets said, if you listen to God's leadership and instructions and accept His grace, you'd have to try real hard to mess up God's plans for you.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore, boast all the more gladly about your weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on you. That is why, for Christ's sake, you can delight in your weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when you are imperfect, He is perfect. (2nd Corinthians 12:9-10)
GospeLines Prayer:Lord, thank you for graciously looking beyond my weakness and frailty; thank you for forgiving my mistakes and for using me in spite of my faults and shortcomings.Lord, we praise You for removing us from the curse of the law and placing us under the blood of Your precious Son.It is in His name we offer You this praise and thanks.Amen!
“…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father,but byMe.”
“Rejoicing Comes in the Morning” "Sing to the Lord, you saints of his; praise His holy name... weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." Psalm 30:4, 5b
The problems you face will either defeat you or develop you - depending on how you respond to them. Unfortunately most people fail to see how God wants to use problems for good in their lives. They react foolishly and resent their problems rather than pausing to consider what benefit they might bring. Here are five ways God wants to use the problems in your life:
God uses problems to DIRECT you.Sometimes God must light a fire under you to get you moving. Problems often point us in a new direction and motivate us to change. Is God trying to get your attention?
God uses problems to INSPECT you.People are like tea bags… if you want to know what's inside them, just drop them into hot water! Has God ever tested your faith with a problem? What do problems reveal about you?
God uses problems to CORRECT you.Some lessons we learn only through pain and failure. It's likely that as a child your parents told you not to touch a hot stove. But you probably learned by being burned. Sometimes we only learn the value of something... health, money, a relationship… by losing it.
God uses problems to PROTECT you.A problem can be a blessing in disguise if it prevents you from being harmed by something more serious. Last year a friend was fired for refusing to do something unethical that his boss had asked him to do. His unemployment was a problem - but it saved him from being convicted and sent to prison a year later when management's actions were eventually discovered.
God uses problems to PERFECT you.Problems, when responded to correctly, are character builders. God is far more interested in your character than your comfort. Your relationship to God and your character are the only two things you're going to take with you into eternity.
Here's the point: God is at work in your life - even when you do not recognize it or understand it. But it's much easier and profitable when you do.