Happy Thanksgiving from Seeing Deep!

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Proverbs 11:25

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.”

Hebrews 13:16

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for stopping by today!  For those of you who were joining in on the season of thankfulness and counting the days until Thanksgiving, some of you might be asking . . . why did she stop on day 18?  Admittedly, I got busy.

My church culminated a 40-day prayer challenge with a 24-hour fast and prayer event that I helped to organize. It was beyond what we could have imagined and God moved in powerful ways.  Each day I have been bursting to share the revelations God has shown me during this season, and today I want to share something special God did this week which has left me humbled and grateful, overwhelmed at His goodness.

Shopping for groceries to prepare the Thanksgiving meal to bring to family in another state, I was in a flurry walking through Wal-Mart, thoughts swimming through my mind of how I could fit in time to make the meal, work and finish planning worship services.

Suddenly a manager interrupted my thought process and motioned for me to stand in another line.  He insisted that he wanted me in that line, that he was the manager and had the authority to do so.

Less wait for me, so I was grateful.  The woman in front of me was ringing out and then frantically realized she did not have enough money for her order.  Somewhere in the store she had dropped a $20 bill.  I’ve been there before – walking up to the register with sweaty palms and anxiety flowing through my body, wondering if my debit card will be rejected or not and the ensuing shame felt as people watch to see if I will have enough to pay.

Suddenly the Lord put on my heart to ask how much she needed and then prompted me to offer to pay the difference.  “You don’t know me”, she said.  Before I could think, the words came out of my mouth, “But Jesus does”.    She began to weep.  In that moment, it really was not about me helping her, but about a God who sees and puts people where he wants them to send a message of His love.

She had just told God that she could not do it anymore – her faith was low, she felt like Job.  God saw her and sent encouragement when she needed it most.  Awesome God.

The amazing thing about being willing to be used by God is that when you are blessing others, you are blessed, as well.  There is something in the sacrifice of giving that brings an inner joy to both the giver and the recipient.  Indeed, it is a miracle, God in the midst, working through people for His glory and their benefit.

In celebration of Thanksgiving, may the gratitude we feel from God’s bounty in our direction become an action of expressing blessing for others from the overflow of God to us.  What a beautiful celebration, indeed.

On this amazing day, when we consider and celebrate a holiday to pause and reflect on individual and corporate blessings, I am most thankful for Jesus, that God saves us and allows us to know Him and then is willing to use us as part of His plan to share His love with the world.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thank you, God, for knowing the number of hairs on our head, for counting every tear, for noticing our pain and for never leaving us or forsaking us.  I love you, Lord!

~Devoted to the precious sister in Christ whom God had our paths cross.  Keep the faith.  He is enough.

A SEASON OF THANKFULNESS: DAY 18 – OUR HUMBLE KING

Humility

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Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Philippians 2:5-8 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross

There is perhaps nothing more ironic than a King becoming a servant, saving the very ones who were His servants in the first place.

In Christ we find the perfect example of humility.  He alone could boast of all the good works He accomplished or of how great He is, yet He chose a crude birth and a lifestyle among commoners.

Materialism and comfort might have appealed to his flesh in that he was 100% man and 100% God, but He did not want those things.  They were distractions from the calling His Father had for Him.  Instead, He was single-minded in His humble approach, prizing the cost of a soul as superior by far to being praised by man.

Sober-minded and dependent upon God, Christ modeled the wisdom of humility.  He captivated the hearts of His enemies not by ruling over them, but by loving and serving them.

There will come a day when Christ returns in righteous judgment, but He first exhibited godly leadership that sacrificed and made Himself subject to the very ones He sought to save.

By laying down His own life, He made a way for the prideful, lost ones truly in a humble position to know their majestic King.

Lord, thank You for demonstrating what it means to not live for self, but to live for the glory of God, instead.  Thank you for choosing a humble life that we might know You!

A Season of Thankfulness: Day 5 – Nothing is Wasted

Ecclesiastes 1:8-10

8 All this monotony is tiresome; no one can bear to describe it: The eye is never satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear ever content with hearing. 9 What exists now is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing truly new on earth. 10 Is there anything about which someone can say, “Look at this! It is new!”? It was already done long ago, before our time.

If this world is all we have to live for, perhaps Solomon’s insight would ring true, but not so for the believer.

To a parent changing diapers and attending to screaming kids with snotty noses, seemingly mundane chores become a holy work, changing our character and molding us into His image.  Selfishness is washed away as we are absorbed in the well being of others.

To a farmer striving to yield a bountiful harvest yet confronted with the brutal realities of drought or a flood, reliance on self dissipates and a dependence on the God over all becomes paramount.

To the family head, struggling to make ends meet, waiting for the next paycheck or provision to come and overcome by bill collectors, faith begins to blossom in the midst of hardship.  Insight is formed, revealing that provision was not to be chased after in the first place.  God is our Provider.

To church leaders dealing with complaining sheep, their work becomes a holy endeavor as God changes their heart and perspective toward the people God calls them to minister to.  They discover that this calling is for God’s glory and not their own, not about them at all.  Offenses are dismissed and concern is raised for the offended one, instead.

To the sick who wonder if God cares at all, He shows the need for spiritual healing and uses the affliction to draw us nearer. He becomes our comfort in the midst of pain and humbles us to depend on Him.

To the wounded, broken heart, shattered by another’s sin – God sees you.  Even this is not wasted in His hands.  Instead of death, if we hope and wait on Him, He will turn our greatest sorrow into a thing of beauty.  Suddenly our eyes are opened to realize that a human being was never supposed to be our joy or our life.  Hoping in fallible humans is idolatry and temporary, but hoping in our living, loving God is eternal.

Everything is vanity apart from God, but everything done in Him has a purpose.  All of the wearisome repetitiveness and burdens of this life are working something great for those who will see more deeply. Thank God that we serve a God where nothing is meaningless and nothing is wasted.  He uses it all.

Solomon was the wisest man and yet he chose women who ultimately turned his heart from God and cursed the next generation.  Big consequences for someone who had allowed his blessings to become his snare.  Boredom replaced gratitude and awe over all that God had provided.

Mundanity has its purpose, after all.  Satisfaction was never meant to be fulfilled completely apart from Christ.  In the endless pursuit of meaning and happiness in a world that could never deliver that quest, we finally end up at His feet, where we were always meant to be.

Lord, all of the tasks, burdens, joys and sorrows are ultimately serving Your purpose in our lives and in this world.  Give us Your eyes and understanding and the wisdom to walk and chase after You, not the things of this world that always disappoint us.  Thank You for being our sovereign God who wastes nothing.

Mundane Monday: The Measure of Our Strength

1 Thessalonians 3:2-5

2 “We sent Timothy, our brother and fellow worker for God in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen you and encourage you about your faith, 3 so that no one would be shaken by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 4 For in fact when we were with you, we were telling you in advance that we would suffer affliction, and so it has happened, as you well know.  5 So when I could bear it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter somehow tempted you and our toil had proven useless.”

Acts 14:21 22

“They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.”

Psalms 34:19

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.”

2 Corinthians 4:8-11

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.  For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

“You do not determine a man’s greatness by his talent or wealth, as the world does, but rather by what it takes to discourage him.”  Jerry Falwell

The early leaders of the church were not wooing new believers to their meetings with promises of donuts and coffee, nor making their time of worship more appealing with seeker sensitive or culturally relevant ideologies.  In fact, they promised affliction and hardships for those who recognized their need for a Savior and chose to place their faith in Jesus Christ.

Wow.  Hardly seems like a way to share the Gospel to us today.  Our society longs to make things easier – in fact, we worship at the altar of comfort and ease.  Now, I am not saying we cannot offer pleasantries to make the Gospel attractive to unbelievers, but the power of the Gospel is enough and the Word of God is living, active and powerful.

I confess that I have worried about new believers doubting their new faith when troubles enter in.  I want to protect them, but realize that God is better suited for that role than I am.  And when new believers see other believers who have weathered difficult storms and glorified God in the midst, that witness speaks volumes more than any program ever could.

Jesus promised that we would have troubles and demonstrated how to walk through them in victory.  Genuine faith does not mean we will not have times of fear or of great sorrow, but it does mean we have One Who walks with us through life’s tragedies and triumphs, breathing grace into our souls.

If our faith is so fragile that we doubt the very goodness of God when life hurts,  we have been deceived and been lulled into a superficial faith based on the idolatry of pleasure.  But if from that place of fragility we look upward and ask God to strengthen us, we become overcomers in Christ.

Authentic faith is not easily shaken when the storms blow, nor crushed by sorrows.  It is a quiet confidence that stands up to fear and bears burdens firmly trusting in God’s promises, even when it hurts. God mercifully died for us, chose us for salvation and will not leave us when the wind blows.  He loves us and we can trust Him.  Perhaps our view of suffering might be altered in the midst of God’s enablement through it.

Affliction surprisingly offers a promise.  That we will be more like Christ, that we will be comforted by God Himself.  That we will know and understand Him more.  That, when we have been tested we will come forth as gold.

Lord, give us Your perspective and understanding.  Our lives are Yours.  Every blessing and every hardship we pour out at Your beautiful feet.  Blessed be Your perfect, awesome Name.

Truthful Tuesday: Blessed to Bless

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Sam 5:12

“David realized that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and that he had elevated his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.”

2 Sam 7:8, 18-22

“So now, say this to my servant David: ‘This is what the LORD of hosts says: I took you from the pasture and from your work as a shepherd to make you leader of my people Israel.  18 King David went in, sat before the LORD, and said, “Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my family, that you should have brought me to this point?  19 And you didn’t stop there, O LORD God! You have also spoken about the future of your servant’s family. Is this your usual way of dealing with men, O LORD God?   20 What more can David say to you? You have given your servant special recognition, O LORD God!   21 For the sake of your promise and according to your purpose you have done this great thing in order to reveal it to your servant.  22  Therefore you are great, O LORD God, for there is none like you! There is no God besides you! What we have heard is true!”

Overcome by God’s goodness, David poured out his heart in a moment of beautiful abandon.  He recognized God’s blessings and realized that he was not worthy.  His response was so beautiful – worship in action.  He dedicated to God fully what was given to Him, ruled in humility and righteousness, showing favor and honoring even his former enemy’s crippled son, Mephibosheth.  Ultimately, he saw that God’s blessing was not for Him, but for God’s people, Israel.

He was wealthy and in the highest position of the land, but he chose to identify with and respect the lowly.  Sounds a lot like his Heavenly Father.  Demonstrating kindness and mercy, God honored David further, providing protection, favor and victory everywhere he went.

It’s a funny thing about blessing.  When we give away what we are given, we receive even more because we cannot out give God.  Do we perceive all that He has done for us?  Probably impossible to do so, but contemplate for a minute the gift of life and what He has given us.  Once we begin to see a glimpse of what He has bestowed upon us physically and spiritually, the key is not only in recognizing all of the blessings in our lives, but in not expecting them.

David had already learned the lesson that God was Holy and although He loves us, we should not take for granted His favor and become casual with His requirements.  The ark of God was not a trinket to be handled and God’s presence not something to be casual with, either.

What we have was not ours in the first place, but hanging onto those blessings is where idolatry can slip in if we let it. Each blessing, once acknowledged, becomes even more when it is surrendered back to God to be used how He sees fit.  Along with David, we have an opportunity to see that what we are given is not about us at all, but about those who God brings along our path.

David knew all too well what hardship was, which also produced a sincere gratitude for the tremendous blessings God brought about.  When we remember what we were when He called us, that makes us all the more grateful for each blessing He has bestowed; a beautiful offering given back to the One Who gave it to us in the first place.

Mundane Monday: Plain Beautiful

Psalm 73:7

“Their prosperity causes them to do wrong; their thoughts are sinful.”

Psalm 73:28

“But as for me, God’s presence is all I need.  I have made the sovereign LORD my shelter, as I declare all the things you have done.”

Expenses in life can be so very challenging sometimes.  I confess there are moments when I wonder if it would be possible for some of those pesky challenges to just stop.  Drifting down this line of thinking I ponder what it would be like to have no financial troubles.  It reminds me of the main character, Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof”, when he said, “IF MONEY IS A CURSE THEN SMITE ME WITH IT”.

Our vehicles are all over 200,000 miles and have each exhibited signs of that wear that keep our local auto center in business.  We want to refrain from going to the doctor because insurance does not really pay anything, anyway.  Each month I hope the cost of the prescription for a skin condition has somehow decreased, but alas, itch I must.  Opportunities that I wanted for my kids that we cannot afford.  Food costs drive you to always choose from the value menu if you go out at all.  Vacations?  Usually combined with larger family gatherings because affording a vacation place would mean fasting for the trip.  Exaggeration for effect here, but you get my point.

I am not looking for sympathy, really I am not.  Because even though in one moment I could wish it was a little easier, in the next breath, I am so very thankful that I have not had everything I have wanted.  Sure troubles can be frustrating, but there is a deep contentment within that fills me with peace when I am tempted to wonder why things are not easier.  I trust my God and He is sovereign and perfect in His provision.

Where it hurts the most is when I would want to do more for my children or other people but cannot. In this, too, I can rest in God’s wisdom and plan.  He is their Provider, and mine, too.  He is the One Who meets our every need.  If He does not use me to provide for someone else’s need, He has someone else appointed.  What I have felt as lack perhaps is not lack at all and can also cause me to get creative and contemplate what I can do with what God has given.

So, without sounding hyper-spiritual, where is the blessing in not having all that I want?  Not having enough of what I thought I needed causes me to ask my Heavenly Father for help.  The hunger for more is replaced with a longing for God and I am always satisfied in His presence far more than the temporary satisfaction of comfort or materialistic goods.

This flies in the face of prosperity theology, which would proclaim that we always have an abundance.  Defining that abundance, though, is difficult to do.  When is enough, enough?  Perhaps what we have is an abundance, already.  Let that sink in.  A home, vehicles, clothing, food, electricity, a garden – sounds more blessed than I deserve.

That is what happens when I enter into His presence.  My perspective is changed and what I perceived as plain and not sufficient becomes more than I could ever thank God enough for.  Perhaps having less than all I want is more beautiful, after all.

Lord, help us to be content when others around us appear to be without troubles and humble enough to help those around us who look at us in the same way.