I Was Such a Taker Yesterday

I felt like I was on the receiving end all day long.  I went to bed last night with a full heart and an overwhelming love and gratitude for God and His family.  Here’s a sample of what I got:

  • A sermon that served as a reminder of God’s merciful grace and His presence in my life.  It seemed tailor-made for me.
  • Lots of warm hugs
  • Some sisters specifically asked how I was doing with my boys leaving home.  They hugged me and told me they were thinking about me.
  • A couple of friends know of a confidential situation that is weighing on me.  They took the time to listen and assured me of their prayers.
  • A new Christian led a public prayer for the first time.  It was heart-felt and beautiful.  I was reminded of God’s power to transform lives.  I was filled with joy and grinned all the way through the prayer.
  • A couple of men responded to the invitation yesterday morning.  Others went up to sit with them on the front row to offer support.  I love that.  It makes me feel good.
  • Last night a godly, faithful widow responded to the invitation.  She mentioned a specific sin she struggled with and asked for forgiveness and help to overcome it.  I was so touched by her humility and courage.  My love and respect for her grew even more.  She went forward to ask for help but I wonder if she knows how much she helped me?
  • The fellowship seemed to linger longer yesterday.  We stood in the parking lot “forever” chatting.  No one seemed in a hurry to head home.  We talked about nothing overly significant…just flowers, school, our kids.  On the way home I told Neal how dear it is to just share LIFE with so many fellow Christians.

The tone of this post is completely self-focused.  And really, I left some things out that I was able to take away from yesterday.  The focus of our coming together to worship shouldn’t be “what can I get out of this?”  “Does it meet my needs?”  We are to gather together to GIVE.  We’re to bring our hearts to God (Matt. 15:8,9).  We’re to bring our sacrificial offering (2 Cor. 9:7).   We’re to encourage and exhort one another (Heb. 10:24,25).  We’re to offer up praise (Acts 2:41-47).  And yet, I couldn’t help but notice all that I GOT.

Yesterday wasn’t an isolated case.  I always “get” when I gather with fellow Christians to worship and learn and grow.  Even though my purpose and focus should be on bringing, giving, and offering, it’s amazing how I can leave with a heart so full of everything I have taken in.  It reminds me of the saying, “You can’t out-give God” (Luke 6:38).

“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace” (John 1:16).

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Revive Me #37- Fight for Relationships

Revive Me, Week 37– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Fight for Relationships

Perhaps you’ve seen some status posts or memes that convey a “that’s their problem” mentality.  They’ll say things like:

Sometimes you have to move on without certain people.  If they’re meant to be in your life, they’ll catch up.

I’m tired of fighting.  For once I want to be fought for.

Life is short.  Only surround yourself with people who get you.

Relationships are worth fighting for but not if only one is fighting.

These comments are sad, aren’t they?  They reveal a short-sightedness that comes from thinking like the world.  Relationships are worth fighting for.  They’re important to God and should be to us as well.  I’m not talking about relationships that are unwholesome (1 Cor. 15:33).  I’m talking about:

  • Being willing to swallow our pride to work through hurt feelings with a sister in Christ
  • Drumming up the courage to form friendships with our neighbors
  • Continuing to be kind to those who have been thoughtless or mean
  • Honoring our parents even if they’ve let us down
  • Putting our spouse’s needs before our own, every day
  • Giving ourselves, offering our time, opening our hearts to our church family without burning out or getting huffy if we don’t feel our efforts are being reciprocated

God wants us to fight for good relationships.  He wants US to make the first move to show others we care.  Read Romans 12:9-21.

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Break down Rom. 12:9-21 phrase by phrase.  List a practical way to demonstrate each command.
  2.  Is there a strained relationship in your life?  Have you done your part to work through it?  Pray about it and reach out again.
  3.  Check your heart.  Is pride keeping you from making things right with someone?  Have you been lazy in your efforts to show love?
  4.  Begin to form a new relationship this week.  Choose a neighbor, an elderly person or nursing home resident, a new Christian, etc.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Revive Me #31– Get the Message

Revive Me, Week 31– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Get the Message

About 6 weeks ago, I bought a little bracelet and I’ve been wearing it nearly every day since.  Just yesterday morning in Bible class, I discovered that it has something written on the underside.  It says, “Never forget how much you are loved.”  I was so surprised and couldn’t believe I never saw it before then.  All this time that bracelet has been right there on my wrist yet I had no idea that sweet message was waiting for me.  Now I like the bracelet even more!

I wonder how many other things I’ve missed out on because I wasn’t paying attention?

  • Bible study.  I always have a Bible nearby.  I try to read it daily.  But am I paying attention?  Am I examining it closely and focusing on the details?  Am I seeing God’s message?
  • Relationships.  I have family and friends all around me.  But am I paying attention to them?  Do I see their cues, hear their hints?  Have I been so distracted by my own schedule or constantly checking messages that I’ve been missing the needs of those most dear to me?  Have I missed out on some friendships because I’ve been blind to efforts to reach out to me?
  • Blessings.  They’re everywhere, everyday.  But have I taken them for granted?  Have I even seen the blessings, big and small, that God sends me so that I will get His message, “Never forget how much you are loved”?

“Oh taste and se that the Lord is good” (Psa. 34:8).

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Study the Bible intentionally.  Look closely.  Examine each word.  See how sweet and dear God’s message is for you!
  2.  Notice every thoughtful gesture by the people around you.  Acknowledge them.  Recognize it as yet another proof of God’s love and care for you.
  3. See the blessings, physical and spiritual.  Help others see them.  Ask God to help you keep your eyes open to them.
  4. Put your phone, laptop, iPad, whatever away.  Instead of looking down at your device, look around and SEE people.  Smile, connect, and see their messages.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Revive Me #25- Cherish the People in Your Life

Revive Me, Week 25–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Cherish the People God Put in Your Life

Tomorrow morning our very dear friends, Bob and Sheryl Turner, are moving to Louisiana (pause for weep-fest here).  We’ve been working with them and enjoying their friendship for the past eight years.  As soon as I found out Sheryl was moving, I realized how much she has impacted my life.  I have learned so much from her:

  • How to be hospitable
  • How to lovingly and graciously take care of an aging parent
  • How to serve
  • How to work hard
  • How to give
  • How to be compassionate
  • How to see the needs of others
  • How to do crafts without breaking out in hives

I began trying to cram in as much as possible…lunch together, meaningful conversations, questions, expressions of appreciation.  Now we’re at the end.  I keep thinking of all the things I meant to do and wonder if I’ve said enough about how much I love and appreciate this precious friend.

Why do we wait until it’s time to say goodbye to express love and appreciation?  God has put special individuals in our lives so we can learn from them and be encouraged.  I want to be more invested in the people around me–my family, my Christian brothers and sisters, my neighbors.  Regret comes from neglecting golden opportunities to show love, to live in the moment, and to simply enjoy the unique traits and gifts of the people around us.

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

Rom. 12:10-12

Look around at the people God has put in your life.  Are you making time with them a priority?  Are you learning from them?  Are you encouraging them?  Are you serving together with them?

I thank God for Sheryl Turner.  I will continue to follow (stalk) her as she and Bob begin the next chapter of their life.  And I know I will continue learning from her.  May I find someone to encourage as she has encouraged me.  May I daily make the most of time with special people God has put in my life.

Suggestions for the week:

  1.  Think about some individuals you’re thankful for but haven’t expressed that thanks.  Tell them to their face how much you love and appreciate them.
  2.  Pick someone to teach this week.  Do you have a skill you can share with a daughter-in-law, a new member, a neighbor?
  3.  Pick someone to serve this week.  Can you think of anyone who could use a cheery visit?  Can you offer to help someone paint their house or work in their yard?
  4.  Cherish the relationships in your life, even the ones that cause a certain amount of stress.  Growth, patience, and compassion can come from appreciating the time and work it takes to build bonds.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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