buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “pleasing God”

Tokens or Devotion?

There have been a few times when something has lain heavily upon my chest. For the last few months, I have had trouble writing. The words come in starts and spurts. And a dark cloud seemed to stay between me and the Lord. I would get a word but before I could sit down with my thoughts, it was gone. I still may not be able to articulate it properly, but something is marinating in my head and in my heart.

It seems the world is spinning out of control and upside down. We know these times are spoken of in the Bible. It’s considered one of the “end of times” signs. You might say, people have talked about the end of times for generations. But nothing has pointed to the end events as we are experiencing today. You might decide to quit reading about now. But this stirring of my heart isn’t really about the end of times. It’s about the people of the early church, what they experienced with Jesus and my desire to see it again in my lifetime.

I must confess a couple of things to you. One thing is I am a bit jealous of those who walked with Jesus. They saw miraculous things. They heard Jesus speak with such authority that it caused quite a stir with the religious folks. But the true kicker that made everything come alive for them was the resurrection of Jesus. Everything changed for the disciples with that event.

I know. We have it so much better today because we have the Spirit of Jesus living in us if we are truly saved. The ancient ones would be jealous of us if they had known the Spirit of the Living God could dwell in them like we have it today. They would want to experience these things first hand. Some had the Spirit for such a time, but it was not like what we have today.

However, the Spirit of Jesus seemed to do more in the early church than what is experienced today. Why is that? If it’s the same Spirit (and it is), shouldn’t the Spirit still be working through the Church today? I would say yes. But I fail to see Him work these days like He once did in biblical times. I read about the wonders that happened with the early church through Peter and Paul and the other disciples. People came to know Jesus by the thousands by the words of the Spirit spoken by these disciples.

One thing that has come up for me is the word devoted. The early church was devoted to meeting together, reading God’s word and taking the Lord’s communion. They were devoted to prayer and fasting. The work of the Spirit was powerful in that day because of the devotion of the early church.

My second confession is this: maybe the reason I see nothing happening with the Spirit is because I am not devoted to the things that pleases God. I think the second thing that is brewing in my heart is the need for fervent prayer. We should all be devoted to prayer – not these light weight prayers but ones that shake the heavens because of the mighty forces we stir in Jesus’ name.

In Francis Chan’s new book Letters to the Church, he wrote about his daughter’s birthday. He asked his daughter if they threw a party and just offered cake would anyone show up to celebrate her birthday. She said a couple would. Francis asked if he provided unlimited tokens, food and prizes at a local kids place; how many would show up? She said the whole school would be there.

Church in this day and age is more on the “unlimited tokens and cake” page than the “devotion to things that please God” page. How many would show up if our gatherings were like the early church, just reading the word of God and prayer? Prayer has become more of an opener or a closer to the worship experience instead of a fervency to bring heaven to earth.

If we want to experience change in our culture, in our communities and in our families; it’s going to take fervent prayer. Another confession, it’s been a real long time since I’ve prayed fervently. I haven’t experienced a Holy Spirit filled moment in church or in my quiet time in years. I have drifted away from the devoted things in this last season of my life. It’s been a tough season. Maybe it’s because of my lack of devotion to the things that please God. Maybe it’s time to change my focus again. Maybe it’s time to learn how to pray effectively with fervency once again.

If we are truly at the end of times, then we don’t have time to lose. If there are prayers that need to move heaven and earth, it has to come from us – the church body. There is no one else that can do it and we can’t do it alone. We need each other to be united in focus – to the things that please God. No more tokens for me. I want the real deal. I want the Holy Spirit to move like never before. How about you?

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

Finding My MoJo

Time seems to have sped up. Do you feel it? Things are just moving at breakneck speed. I just had another birthday this past weekend, and it’s made me realize how fast time really is fleeing. We all have this great commodity called time. We get to choose how we spend it. We all have the same amount in a day. We just don’t know how many days we have. As a general rule, I don’t like to waste my time. But I do feel like I waste it at times when I just don’t feel productive. The enemy wants to steal our time. He distracts us from being productive.

One of my favorite things to do is play golf. Some would say that is just a waste of time with nothing gained by it. But I do believe it’s a great way to please God through the relationships that we foster as we play. Through the years, my Dad has been my playing partner. We used to play quite often. It was a great way to bond with my Dad. Nowadays, it’s only three or four times a year. Dad quit playing about three or four years ago; it just got to be too hard on him (he is turning 90 this year!). It makes me a little sad that I can no longer play with my Dad. We can’t go back to the way things were; we have to accept the way things are now and enjoy the time we have together.

Relationships bond over great difficulties, and on a golf course there are many. Most players dread the “water holes” where we all have to make it across a water obstacle. Usually, I have no trouble getting over water. I pick a club that will get me to the other side. This past Saturday, I lost a ball to the dreaded water hazard. I had been playing with that ball for a couple of rounds so I was a little sad that I lost it (and it cost me a penalty stroke, which is not good!). The brand stamped on it was MoJo (by Nike). It’s a fun name, isn’t it? My thought when the ball hit the water was “I want my MoJo back!” A funny thing happened on the next hole; I found another ball with MoJo stamped on it. I did get my MoJo back!

Golf may seem to be a waste of time to some, but to me this is how I enjoy my life. God gave me golfing skills and an enjoyment for the game. I believe He’s enjoying me as I play. I think it pleases Him when we use what He’s given us. Just like my Dad who watched me play over the years and bragged to his friends about my abilities (he taught me how to play), I think God gets a kick out of us doing the things we enjoy. And I get a kick out of seeing miracles on the golf course! God does stay right alongside us!

I had a hole in one a few years back. That day was a beautiful with a slight breeze behind my back. When I hit that ball, I knew it was something special. It felt different from all the other times. That was a miracle that can only be attributed to God. The week before I had done something that God had asked of me, and I believe God blessed me with this special moment because of my obedience. God impressed upon me to go visit a friend who was on her death-bed. I didn’t know why I needed to go, but I did what I believed God wanted me to do. It was scary because I had never done anything like that before. How do you say goodbye to a friend like that? See you soon?

About a year later, I had another occasion to say goodbye to someone else. This time it was my Mom. This time, it was much more difficult. It has taken me years to get to a better place. Celebrating my birthday without my Mom still hurts a little. Since my Mom’s death, my life hasn’t been the same. I lost something with her death. I think I lost my MoJo. MoJo is described as a magic charm. I think of it as our vital force, something within us that motivates us to do better things. We all have to find a new normal after someone’s death. Time moves on and so do we.

Our passed loved ones would not want us living in the past with the way things were. They would want us to have a wonderful life doing the things we love and enjoying every minute we are given. Time is precious and we should be using it wisely. We will never know when God will call us home. This is our time to get ready, to be fruitful and enjoy what God has given us to enjoy. It’s time to find our MoJo and do better things. This is better than finding a golf ball. This is finding our stride on God’s path. He has promised to give us an abundant life. It’s time we all find our MoJo and live life to the full!

A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. John 10:10 (MSG)

Usefulness

I like to play golf. When I was a child, my Dad taught me how to play. When I played with my Dad and his buddies, he would brag on me, and I would beam from ear to ear. My Dad no longer plays, but he still enjoys hearing about my round when I see him. It reminds me how God as our Father loves to see us use our talents. I think it honors Him to use what we are given. I believe He also has a sense of humor when we do something funny, and we can laugh at ourselves. I think He smiles when we have good shots and give Him praise when the ball does a miraculous curl into the cup. God is a good Father and loves His children. He wants to do great things through us with all our talents and gifts.

If you’re like me, it’s hard to believe that God could really use me. I don’t have anything that seems to be useful as I see it. Sure, I write. I serve in my church family. But what is the work that God has designed me to do in this time? I struggle with that concept. I know one of my gifts is helping. I have been a great helper throughout my life. I was my Dad’s helper during those early years. When I was in college, I was the women’s basketball coach’s right hand. I have had many jobs throughout my career where I was the boss’ go to person to get the job done. I have been in training for God’s great task all my life – if it’s a help related kind of thing. But that doesn’t seem like much. It doesn’t take much effort on my part to do something that comes so natural to me – like golf. It’s second nature. Shouldn’t this great task be harder than my own effort?

Maybe it’s not the task itself that will be the greatest challenge, but the effort to be obedient to it when the time comes. It will probably be out of my comfort zone, and I may have to be in a hard place to do what I’m called to do. It will be a willingness to do what God asks me to do. It will cost me something. I will have to make some sort of sacrifice on my part. It will challenge my abilities to stay focused during those hard times. And it will take a humble attitude to do it in a manner worthy of God’s glory. But in the end, it will all be worth it. I want to be useful for God. I have said many times, the answer is yes even before I know the question. But when the time comes, will my answer truly be yes?

The gifting the Holy Spirit gives us is not for our own benefit. Our gifting is to be used for others – for the brothers and sisters in Christ as well as those outside the family of God. God kept giving me the same message over the last couple of days – get busy. God wants His people ready for service. God has given us this hour to live for His glory. It’s all going to come together; the time, the place, and the people coming together to be the hands and feet of Jesus. He has chosen us for His team. We may not get any reward here on earth for what God calls us to. It’s only when we get home to heaven that the rewards will be given. We have to be patient in our works for Jesus.

The works do not save us but give us the opportunity to be like Jesus to someone here on earth. Jesus said He came to serve not to be served. The mentality of the church people has to change. We are not to be consumers of the word without any deeds. James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote in his letter that faith without works is dead (James 2:26). It’s a dead religion. It serves no purpose. God will use us when we have our hearts surrender to His will and His purpose. With the right heart attitude, all the glory goes to God. And it will truly please Him when He sees us doing the work He calls us to. It’s time to get busy for time is growing short, and the day is almost done.

If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face. Romans 12:6-8 (The Message)

Adversity: The Endurance Trainer

There have been a couple of times in the last week where the devotional readings have been in 2 Corinthians 11. This chapter lists all the hardships that Paul has endured for the sake of the Gospel. There were shipwrecks, floggings, beaten with rods, a stoning incident, danger from his countrymen and from bandits; the list continues with all that he has endured (not to mention the prison time). When Paul started his walk with Jesus back on the Damascus road, did he understand what all he was going to have to endure? There is one little statement the Lord told Ananias when Ananias was given the task to open Paul’s eyes. Ananias was trying to point out to the Lord just who this Paul (or Saul at the time) was and the harm that had come to the brotherhood by his hand. The Lord sends Ananias with “Go!” Acts 9:16 the Lord says “I will show him (Saul/Paul) how much he must suffer for my name.” I wonder if we were to see how much we were going to suffer, would we still follow Jesus?

When I was growing up, I never heard that following Jesus was going to be hard. Sure, it was going to be hard to follow the rules. I tried and failed so many times. But I had no clue that when we take the steps of faith, there will be opposition meeting us head on. Adversity is our character builder. Having an easy life doesn’t give us much of a foundation in developing our faith muscles. Faith has to be built with hardships. If Paul did not go through all that he went through, would the letters he sent to the churches be in our Bibles today? If he didn’t spend time in the prisons, would he have written as many letters? Probably not, to both of those questions. He was a gifted man for sure. But his character was built on his hardships. He could impart wisdom like no one else to those he was encouraging along the way (and to us today!). He had been there, done that and lived to tell about it! Psalm 118:17 became his testimony: “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.”

On Paul’s way to Rome, the shipwreck that is recorded in Acts 27 tells of the fear that the men were experiencing in the storm. Fourteen days they endured the wind and the waves and all was hopeless; they feared death was coming. However, Paul gave the men encouragement. An angel had visited him and gave him a word that no one would be lost and Paul believed that word. Paul must get to his destination to stand trial before Caesar. God used Paul mightily to get the message to the world. It wasn’t easy, but Paul was faithful in doing all that God called him to. It started with a simple message to the one who would open Paul’s eyes – “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.”

No matter what we are called to do, our faith will be tested. This is not an easy life. Adversity is the building blocks for our character. Our character is essential to sustain us for our future; the future that God has planned for us. So many times I don’t want to endure the trial – the adversity. I have wanted to run in the other direction. I want out of the situation. But this is God’s way of refining my character. I need the adversity to make me stronger – to have a greater testimony. A couple of years ago, I went on my first mission trip. Before I went, Scripture kept speaking to me about suffering. I thought the trip was going to harder than it was. I didn’t suffer at all. So I forgot the message that suffering was coming. What I now understand is that we all will suffer at some point in our lives. It helps identify with Jesus and the suffering He endured for us (but not to the same extent). But it also draws us to God and develops a deeper relationship with Jesus. As Paul ends his life, he tells Timothy in the second letter (4:7): “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” In the end, this is what we are all called to do. Keep the faith for it pleases God! Isn’t that our greatest accomplishment, to please God?!

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4 (NLT)

Opinionated

My sister called me opinionated. Is that a good thing or bad thing? I was commenting on her reading material during our beach trip. I offer my opinions on healthy lifestyle adjustments too. Yes, maybe I am opinionated and offer them way too much. When people are not ready to hear the truth, then they might take offense to what I am saying. I have come a long way from where I started. Truth be told, a few years ago, my reading material was not the best either. I was filling my mind with junk. I was filling my body with junk too.

God filled me with the Holy Spirit many years ago. But I became more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting a few years ago after I started to pray for a hunger and thirst to know God more. I realized I could not keep doing the things that I used to do and develop a closer walk with God. When I started to pray that specific prayer, I became more aware of the things I was doing that was not honoring Him. I began to realize the junk that I was subjecting my mind and my body to. I was not only harming my physical body with junk food but also my spiritual body with mindless trash. I could not keep doing these things and walk with God at the same time.

If Jesus came back when I was reading the junk or watching the junk at the movies, would I have been embarrassed for Him to catch me? I began to realize I couldn’t continue to do it and feel God being pleased with my choices. I dumped the trash out of my life. I must admit, I still watch some things on TV that I should probably not watch as well. Every day is about choices. I need to remember the choices I make will either please God or not. But I also need to remember that not everybody is where I am, and I need to keep my opinions to myself.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2

Post Navigation