Mundane Monday: The Calling of Christmas

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The same God Who came in the flesh is calling us to participate in the Christmas story, too.

Scriptures of the Day:

2 Peter 1:10

“Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.”

2 Timothy 1:9-10

“He is the one who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not based on our works but on his own purpose and grace, granted to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but now made visible through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus. He has broken the power of death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel!”

We are doing a series at our church during this Christmas season on the calling of God on His people. The same God Who intervened in time and came in the flesh is calling us to participate in the Christmas story, too. Will we be like those who gathered around to adore Him, like those who proclaimed His birth, or will we miss this opportunity altogether?

As a mom, I can get focused on all of the details of buying gifts for my 5 children and all of the aspects of the holiday celebration that I begin to lose perspective. As a wife, I am thinking about how to honor my husband in the purchases and bless him, too. As a worship leader, I am focused on provoking my church to worship God passionately during this Holy season. So many things to be done and so many hearts to affect with the Gospel. But we can’t allow the busyness of the season to hinder the vision God wants us to have for His work and His people – at Christmas and for all of time.

As we remember what God did when he demonstrated His radical love by leaving His throne in Heaven to allow mankind to provide care for Him, God stirs our hearts to respond to this amazing show of His affection for us. To make Himself that vulnerable, entrusting Himself to a wicked people – what lengths God went to in order to reach us with His love – how can we share this love with those around us?

For years my children and I would bake cookies for our entire neighborhood, then go and carol while we gave them out. Violins and guitars were sometimes in tow. We were cold, it was a lot of work, but the joy it brought others as well as ourselves was unmatched. The classical children’s choir I directed would go to nursing homes, raise gifts for local orphanages and sing to encourage others. Sweet times, indeed.

New seasons bring new opportunities and new ways to serve. In all our roles that we serve in on this earth, the greatest is as a child of God. How can we be His vessel today? What mission has He given to us?

What lengths can we go to this Christmas to reach people with the love of God? This is our calling. It might be uncomfortable. It might mean laying down our agendas or doing something different than our tradition (ah, the sacred cow). But when we are motivated by the love of God and give selflessly, we get just a glimpse of what God did for us and our joy is complete.

Day 14: Facing and Embracing Reality – The New Normal

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Change is a stepping stone in the path of life that is necessary for our final destination.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 37:9

“Those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.”

Coming to grips with our new normal is no easy task. We are creatures of habit and prefer comfort and stability to change – especially if that change is abrupt and unwelcome.

But while we are waiting for our circumstances to change, looking to the future is not our only solace. Right smack dab in the middle of our new normal we can be not just content, but at peace – knowing we are exactly where God has us to be in that moment.

This truth might also create some misunderstanding between ourselves and God. Why would He allow it? Can’t He see that we are uncomfortable?

In a land not their own, the Israelites wondered if they would ever reach the promise land. Many of them didn’t. They did not like God’s provision, doubted His goodness and His promises. It did not make sense that they should stay so long hanging out in a seemingly purposeless trip in the desert, yet they determined the length of their stay by their actions.

If our chief goal is to glorify God with our lives, then we don’t just accept our new normal, but embrace it as being in God’s will for a purpose much higher than our own.

Hanging onto yesterday will leave us discontent and ineffective for the Kingdom of God. But being Kingdom-minded will help us to have a perspective that thrives when things around us are unsettling and uncertain.

Did we somehow forget that our stay here is a temporary one? This is not our home. Having a mentality of flexibility helps us to process change and view it as a stepping stone in the path of life that is necessary for our final destination.

Each presumed off-course path that we take is instead a fulfillment of our calling. Will we accept our mission? Having our hope in the character of God enables us to overcome a lack of faith when it seems we have been forgotten in the new place He has brought us too. We hold firmly to God’s hope because of the character behind His promise. He cannot be unfaithful. It is impossible for Him to do so.

If we could see the end goal of where God is bringing us too, we would not try to avoid each station of life. Instead, maybe we would learn to get comfortable with discomfort and joyful when things are doubtful, for it is in the dark places that a new hope is born. 

Adversity in the dirt of life creates a beautiful pearl of substance and a hope that is no longer easily shaken. Staying in one place in a perfect surrounding could never achieve such beauty.

This worship song really sums up well how God can use our momentary problems and turn them around as blessings disguised. Blessings by Laura Story

Prayer:

Lord, thank You for changing our hope into one that never fades. Help us to trust you in the transitions of life that threaten to steal our hope and find ourselves filled with a reinvented hope, instead.

 

Fickle Friday: Endless Pursuit

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Even though our work on earth is temporal, that which is done in the spirit lasts forever.

Scripture of the day:

2 Corinthians 1:17

“Therefore, I was not vacillating when I intended to do this, was I? Or what I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, so that with me there will be yes, yes and no, no at the same time?”

We have a lot of goals that we pursue, but any purpose that is attempted in the flesh will ultimately fail – even if it appears to be successful according to the world’s standards.

Our desires change and fluctuate moment by moment. That’s just our nature. As Solomon questioned all the activity underneath the sun, he wondered what really mattered. Even though our work on earth is temporal, that which is done in the spirit lasts forever.

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting different results, I think we would all qualify.  So many resolutions offered your after year with few ultimately accomplished.

Wow. I really sound like a downer. We certainly never should cease trying to be more like Christ and working toward goals that he puts on our hearts.  It is the vain pursuit of success apart from His leading that is a futile effort, even if we achieve our objective.

Sometimes when God calls us to do something, it will take a lot of effort and tenacity. But when we know that He has placed a vision on our heart, we cannot deviate or vacillate from it.

Our double-minded, fickle nature makes it a challenge to discern between pursuits that don’t matter and ones we were destined for.  But in our weakness he is strong.  He knows we are flesh and His grace is greater.

Lord, help us to know your will for this life and to be faithful to that calling all for your glory.

Denise Pass | Seeing Deep

 

Thoughtful Thursday: The Pity-less Party

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

We are more blessed than we deserve.

Scriptures:

Job 9:1-4 (ESV)

“Truly I know that it is so: But how can a man be in the right before God?  If one wished to contend with him, one could not answer him once in a thousand times.  He is wise in heart and mighty in strength —who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded?”

Proverbs 19:3 (NIV)

“A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD.”

Life is an amazing gift from God. Yet many people never really live the abundant life that Christ meant for us to have.  What keeps us from a full life?  Ourselves.

Life can be exhilarating and a bummer sometimes, if we are honest.  The roller coaster ride of flat tires at inconvenient times, an award for a job well done, terminal illnesses, healing, reckless accidents, miraculous protection, unemployment, a new job, unfaithfulness, loyalty, rebelliousness, obedience . . . and the list goes on and on . . . can be no fun at all for us less adventurous types.

To think that life would be great if we never experienced pain is flawed, however; for the pain is a vivid reminder of how blessed we were to have had moments without suffering in the first place.  When we made a mess of things all by ourselves, the consequences for our sin point us to our need for our Savior, which leads ultimately to that perfect, abundant, eternal life.

So how do we wreck abundant life in Christ if we did not cause our own demise?  Our response.  How we accept, deny, respond in anger or blame others or God – sets the course for whether or not we will walk in the joy that Christ has for those Who are His.

I get it, believe me, I do.  When other people’s sins cause immense pain and horrible consequences.  I have been there, done that, and still feel the effects.  There have been moments of horror, anguish, PTSD, shock, disbelief in my life – but at the end of the day the LORD would bring me to a singular truth that I could not argue with – I am doing better than I deserve.

Every time I try to argue with myself about that truth, when I somehow feel I have been unjustly treated (and it might be the case), I finally relent and realize it is folly to even attempt to play the self pity card when the truly Perfect One didn’t.  He did not deserve to suffer for my sin or anyone else’s, but He WANTED to.  This was not because he enjoyed suffering – no, He cried tears of blood in anxiety over His choice, but He chose it nonetheless, because comfort was not His God and the salvation of our souls was His mission which He did not falter from.

Don’t get me wrong.  There are tremendous burdens that seem completely unbearable, that make us lean into God hard.  When we see others hurting, we have an opportunity to be the hands and feet of God – not just to dismiss their suffering.  But in that comfort, it is in vain if we do not point them to the Healer Who is able to help us handle every let down.  But perhaps our expectations, when placed in reality, help us to take notice and be grateful when things go well.  Why is it that I did not get sick?  Why is it that I can see this amazing gift from God at all?  What an amazing grace is ours.  Such understanding this is that we can turn away from our behaviors that hurt the heart of God and thank Him instead.

Lord, forgive us when we get mad or disappointed when things don’t go our way.  Your ways really are the best.  Give us eyes to see and ears to hear.

Mundane Monday: Living Between a Vision and Its Fulfillment

Waiting for the Vision

Genesis 12:1-2

“Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go out from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household to the land that I will show you. 2 Then I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, so that you will exemplify divine blessing.'”

The chasm between the calling God has placed on our lives and the ultimate fulfilling of that vision can be rife with challenges and doubts.  To our limited understanding, it would seem that the all-powerful God would call us, then fulfill what He had spoken without a lot of delay or consequences.

But in His omniscient wisdom,

the process is often more important

than the receiving of the promise itself.

God is surely capable to crush everything that stands in the way of accomplishing what He has called us to, but in this fallen world the enemy is busy trying to undo what God has already finished.  We are stuck in this space called time that God is already outside of, fully knowing how everything will turn out.  Mind blowing.

Often I question whether God has really given me a vision or if it is myself trying to achieve a calling on my own.  I get confused and feel I cannot pray for success because I do not want it to be for my own glory.  It is then that I realize that a vision that is of God and for God will be tested and that testing process will refine the character needed to accomplish the task placed on my heart.

I don’t have to be perfect to be used by God.  I just have to yield to Him in the process and continue to press on in the work He has called me to.  Back to Abram.

God told him to go – he went.  It does not say that he labored over it.  He just obeyed.  He then promised incredible blessings, which, although Abram would be blessed, the goal was not just for Abram – it was for all people and ultimately “to exemplify divine blessing”.  Abram’s response?  To worship – even though He had not yet received the blessing.

When people look in our lives and see God’s blessings, it is not so we will be comfortable, but so people can see what being in a relationship with God is like.  When we are in between a promise and a blessing and face trials of all kinds, our worship in the midst can inspire many to do the same.

Abram was not spared hardship – he faced famine right after He worshiped God for His promise.  How we respond during the famine will often determine how long we stay there.  When Abram doubted God’s ability to protect he and his wife, God was faithful and protected them, anyway.  The world will see us fail, but the righteous man will rise again and again and continue to walk until God’s purposes are fulfilled in him.

When God places a vision in our hearts, we do not know how we will get there and many obstacles will stand in our way.  Abram faced famine, quarelling, war, family problems – but through it all he worshiped the God of the promise.  In the end, Abram became Abraham; his name and his life changed forever because of the faithfulness of God to keep His promise.

In His faithfulness, God will remind us of His calling and His promises.  He did not promise us a pain-free life, but He did promise to carry us through the challenges we face and that all of it has meaning for those Who would trust in Him.  In the process, on the other side of our calling – our nature is changed, too, for we can never be the same when we encounter the living God.

Lord, help us to trust You when the road seems long and burdensome.  You are faithful and You will complete the work You have begun in us.  Praise Your Name!

Funny Friday: Faith Sometimes Looks Silly

Radical faith

Isaiah 20:2

“At that time the LORD announced through Isaiah son of Amoz: “Go, remove the sackcloth from your waist and take your sandals off your feet.” He did as instructed and walked around in undergarments and barefoot. 3 Later the LORD explained, “In the same way that my servant Isaiah has walked around in undergarments and barefoot for the past three years, as an object lesson and omen pertaining to Egypt and Cush, 4 so the king of Assyria will lead away the captives of Egypt and the exiles of Cush, both young and old. They will be in undergarments and barefoot, with the buttocks exposed; the Egyptians will be publicly humiliated.”

I don’t know about you, but walking around barefoot in underwear has not typically been what comes to mind when I think about what it means to be a prophet of the LORD.

But God goes through great lengths

to reach His people

and He often calls His followers to do the same.

But why?

Sometimes God calls us to do strange things or allows us to go through difficult times so we will have a passion and an understanding to live fully for Him and to communicate His heart and message to His people.

Noah had to build a boat amidst mockers in a dry land. Joshua had to march around a city and blow a trumpet.  Abraham was told to sacrifice his one heir, his precious son.  Moses was told to go back and demand from the king of the greatest land that their slaves be let go. Jeremiah bought a linen belt God told him to buy, hid it in a crevice then dug it up when it was ruined.   A prophet named Agabus came down from Judea and took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands to prophesy about what Paul would suffer. 

Sometimes we need object lessons to be warned or to wake us up to walk uprightly before God.  While it might seem futile for Jeremiah to bury a belt, the ruined article of clothing demonstrated how the people of God would be ruined if they did not repent and seek God.

While building a boat with no water or rain in sight was possibly embarrassing, it meant the salvation of Noah’s family and ultimately the continuation of the existence of mankind and all of the creatures God created.

Sometimes man can also come up with crazy radical ideologies that have nothing to do with God, but they claim it does, anyway.  The fruit of our behavior identifies where the calling originated from.  Does it bring life or death?

The words of the famous missionary, Jim Elliot, which were echoed by Twila Paris many years later, have been precious to me since I first came to know the LORD in 1988.  “He is no fool if he should choose to give the thing he cannot keep to gain what he can never lose. To see a treasure in one soul that far outshines the brightest gold; he is no fool.”

If God calls us to do something that is not popular or seems foolish to man, perhaps that makes it all the more reason to do it.  To live for Jesus, really live – is to seek to do His will in everything we do.  Sometimes it just won’t make sense.  But that’s ok.  He who chose to come and be born as a baby; King, Creator over all, humbling Himself to be at our level, conquered every heart with the most radical action of all.

Lord, help us to trust You when things don’t make sense.  Every trial we go through has a purpose – we can comfort others when we come out on the other side and bring You glory. May we be sensitive to Your calling and never doubt Your goodness.  Love You, Lord!

Thoughtful Thursday: Whose Fault Is It?

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Proverbs 11:5-6

“The righteousness of the blameless will make straight their way, but the wicked person will fall by his own wickedness.  The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the faithless will be captured by their own desires.”

Proverbs 12:12, 21

“The wicked person desires a stronghold, but the righteous root endures.  21 The righteous do not encounter any harm, but the wicked are filled with calamity.”

Genesis 4:7

“Is it not true that if you do what is right, you will be fine? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. It desires to dominate you, but you must subdue it.”

Romans 6:12-13

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires, and do not present your members to sin as instruments to be used for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead and your members to God as instruments to be used for righteousness.”

James 1:15

“Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death.”

Jeremiah 19:5

“They have built places here for worship of the god Baal so that they could sacrifice their children as burnt offerings to him in the fire. Such sacrifices are something I never commanded them to make! They are something I never told them to do! Indeed, such a thing never even entered my mind!”

Proverbs 19:3

“A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD.”


Daily we bear the sins of one another as well as our own.  In vanity we scramble to attempt to cover our shortcomings, but underneath is the same intent and heart.  In all the stress of our messy lives, a sinless Lamb covered all of the sins of the world and yet our hearts somehow still can blame Him.

Every day sin captivates mankind and every day the consequences of those sins are born and the blame is cast.  Sin ravages our souls and is often permitted to do so by the very ones whose lives it wreaks havoc upon.

A sane mind would not seek to suffer purposely, yet that is exactly what we do when we give in to sin’s deception.  God’s laws still stand whether or not we pay heed to them.  Like gravity, our decisions will affect the course of our life and the weight of sin will be felt, much like the joy experienced from the fruit of obedience.

God hates sin.  He hates what it does to us.  Our flesh hates the rules and boundaries set, thinking we are being deprived. All the while God wants to spare us from the spreading cancer which threatens to steal our joy and imprison us.

Time and time again throughout history God’s people are lured away by sin’s promises deceitfully dressed up in an attractive array.  There is nothing new underneath the sun.  How is it we cannot recognize the same strategies of the enemy and refrain from indulging our flesh?  Especially when we have seen in history the effects of sin on this weary world?

Deception.  Lust of the flesh.  Distrust.  Rebellion.  Self-reliance.  If in the moment of temptation we cry out to God, He will provide the grace and strength we need to overcome.  But all too often we don’t.  He makes a way out and we rationalize that our way seems better.  Or maybe we doubt God’s goodness or His ways and choose to be our own God.

While the prevalence of sin in our culture can be discouraging, there is still hope.  We can stop blaming others or God and put no confidence in our flesh.  We can turn away from sin and ask God to help us recognize it for what it is.  We are left without an excuse, but God forgives us anyway.  What kind of grace would choose to bear our blame?  Selfless, Holy grace – from the Only One Who can grant it.

Lord, help us to recognize sin in our lives and to turn away from it, the enemy of our souls.  Thank You for Your gracious covering and for setting us free!

Thoughtful Thursday: Hidden Treasure – Our Prized Possession

Proverbs 7:1-2

“My child, keep my words and treasure up my commands in your own keeping.  2 Keep my commands so that you may live, and obey my instruction as your most prized possession.”

Proverbs 2:4-5

“If you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”

Luke 12:34

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Colossians 2:2-3

“My goal is that their hearts, having been knit together in love, may be encouraged, and that they may have all the riches that assurance brings in their understanding of the knowledge of the mystery of God, namely, Christ,  3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

We can go our entire lives searching for treasure – what our hearts long for.  Yet all the while it is right in front of us, sitting on a shelf, gathering dust.

Imagine finding a treasure and looking at it and taking just one piece of the treasure out, then leaving it there.  The treasure would not benefit us and would not be shared with anyone else, either.  In this fast-paced world, we can step over the greatest treasure and miss it, if we are not careful.

What are the various gems in this treasure chest?  Understanding.  Why is it that our eyes were opened to be able to comprehend what God has done?  Knowledge.  Adding to our understanding, more and more knowledge of Him and the ability to see our sins and His grace.  Wisdom. Knowledge applied and used for God’s glory.  Peace. Souls at rest no matter what is transpiring around us.  Salvation.  The penalty for our sins removed – our guilt stains washed away! Communion with God. being able to fellowship with Jesus and go to Him anytime.  Forgiveness.  All of our guilt washed away.  Grace.  Strength to live for Jesus.  Healing.  Changed hearts and minds yielded to Him, delivered from the burdens of this world.  Assurance.  The sweetest jewel – assurance that we will be with Him for all eternity lasts longer than any temporary treasure on this earth.

On and on the precious gems to be found.  To some the Bible is a book of rules, void of life.  To those who have recognized it’s worth, it is the greatest gift God has given to us.  Boundaries set to free us, counsel to comfort us, His word a lamp to guide us.

To be able to know the God of this universe and fellowship with Him is the greatest treasure given to mankind, but often we accept what is more tangible as a substitute and miss out on the gold He has for us.  No where else will we be able to find such a treasure, that supplies all our needs to each individual.

Lord, we delight in You!  Thank You for the treasure of Your most precious Son!  Help us to seek You without ceasing and to daily,moment by moment bask in your Word.

Worshipful Wednesday: Pervasive Worship

Psalm 71:8

“I praise you constantly and speak of your splendor all day long.”

I was blessed to attend the GMA Immerse Conference in Nashville this week with my husband.  That moment when all of the Christian musicians around you are all lifting up the name of Jesus is a taste of Heaven.  But what struck me this week is that we are all worship leaders.

Worship leading is not just referring to responding to God through music.  It is the attitude of our heart throughout all of the capers of life – an opportunity to express worship to God through each moment.  The way we react when the pressures of life surround us affects those around us and can lead them to worship God or doubt Him.

All too often we can isolate worship to a specific segment of our day or week.  Being attentive to God’s activity around us and in us is worship.  Reading His Word, prayer, listening or preaching a sermon is worship.  Caring for our children and our spouses is worship – all that we do is worship when we do it all for God’s glory.

How we respond to life leads others around us to respond in like manner.  Gratitude in the face of disappointment, thankfulness over God’s provision, joy when the circumstances around us are heavy.  All of these responses are supernatural as we are enabled by the God of this universe when we come to Him.

Lord, help us to recognize that every aspect of our lives is to be poured out for You and others.  What a privilege it is to worship You, LORD!  Help us to lead others around us to worship You in every part of the precious life You have given!

Mundane Monday: A Holy Calling

Photo Credits: ilifejourney.wordpress.com

Photo Credits:
ilifejourney.wordpress.com

Psalm 127:2

“It is vain for you to rise early, come home late, and work so hard for your food. Yes, he can provide for those whom he loves even when they sleep.”

Ecclesiastes 2:17

“So I loathed life because what happens on earth seems awful to me; for all the benefits of wisdom are futile–like chasing the wind.”

Mondays are always difficult for me.  The grogginess from the fullness of the weekend coupled with autoimmune diseases plaguing me from too much activity leave me craving coffee by the liter come Monday morning.  I know, coffee is not good for people with autoimmune diseases, but neither is my being laid out flat on the ground.  Slight exaggeration there, nonetheless, it seems fitting to kickoff yet another day of the week to pay tribute to – Mundane Monday.  I hope to be able to bring some cheer or life to fuel our Mondays and glorify God with what seems to be unimportant and dull.

Solomon really has my ear on days like this.  It is all futile, isn’t it?  Or is it possible that God is in the very minute details of our lives, even in the seemingly mundane aspects of life?

I remember when my children were little and I was between nursing one, changing another’s diaper and teaching another to read.  The words, “A holy calling” were sparked in my heart.  Nobler tasks were hassling me in a multitude of different directions, but they did not compare with the privilege of caring for each of my precious children – even when it got messy.

Paying the bills, answering e-mails, working my job, teaching my children, cleaning, making meals – all of these are significant and a part of my calling.  They are not glorious compared to other vocations, perhaps, but the outcome down the road is a worthy reward for submitting to such tedious tasks.

This past weekend I had the joy of watching my second child graduate from high school.  Soaking in the moment, thoughts of raising her flooded my head.  It was worth it.  Oh God, thank You for the privilege – every second, every minute, every hour, every day. Through tears, crises, hardships, joys, achievements and victories, I would not trade one memory, no matter how difficult, because it made her who she is and me, too.

In the difficult arduous tasks something more precious than completing the job at hand is formed – character.  Nearness to God.  Life.  When we are tempted to feel burdened or sorrowful for the hand which we have been dealt and how hard it all seems, our hearts are made light when we consider that all of it becomes Holy in the lives of His saints.

It is in the moments of realizing that our lives have emptiness that we will come and be filled by God.  It is in the busy times that we see our need of Him and times without distraction that we can be still before Him.  Everything we do is for Him and about Him, and none of it, not even the difficult or dull moments, are wasted in the hands of our King.

Lord, fill our lives with You.  When we are tempted to complain or agonize over life’s mundanity, help us to remember that all of it is part of Your plan and an extraordinary, precious gift.  Use our lives for Your glory, LORD!