When the Holy Spirit prompted me to write this devotional today, I had one of those cringing moments. My calling is to share my life through stories and look for God in the every day. I try to keep myself (and my own sins!) out of it for the most part (sorry Trey!).
But today, when this verse popped out at me, I knew it was time to air my dirty laundry, er, I mean, dishes.
You see, I hate doing dishes. I mean, I REALLY hate it. When I was single, I would leave the dishes for... well, you don't need that much information. Just suffice it to say that my idea of satisfying work runs more along the lines of working out in the yard than in the house.
Unfortunately for me, my husband's primary respect-language, is a neat, orderly home.
You see where this is going, don't you?
Lately, God's been putting it on my heart (thanks so my husband's loving honesty) that I should have the kitchen neat and cleaned up when my husband comes home to work.
Can I just say, I'm not some Suzie-homemaker, whipped, bare-feet-in-the-kitchen kind of wife. God created me a powerful, strong, brave, outspoken, truth-speaking woman. So don't go down that road that I'm turning into a doormat. Just sayin'.
I'll confess, since it's just you, one reader, that I have a bad attitude about cleaning. A really bad attitude. In my mind, I need a wife of my own.
But lately, as Tom's homecoming creeps closer, I get this compulsion to get that kitchen clean. And it ticks me off, because I hate doing it.
So I've been saying a lot of 'Lord, please forgive my bad attitude, Please help me to put Tom's respect-language need before my own desire to _____ (fill in the blank).'
The other day, I was doing the dishes, saying my prayer, and the following verse popped into my head:
Whatsoever ye do, labour at it heartily, as [doing it] to the Lord, and not to men...Colossians 3:23
And it keeps coming back, those words echoing in my mind each time I begin to feel the grumblings coming on...
And I'm fine now! I can do those dishes with a cheerful heart and a respectful attitude.
Okay, I'm working on it.
What I AM fine about is the truth Jesus is teaching me: that each task I undertake, if I can keep my focus on my purpose, my goal of becoming like Jesus, I can look forward to a reward.
See, the second part of the verse goes like this:"...since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." Colossians 3:24
What's this inheritance he's talking about? I'm no bible scholar (if you are, and have good input on this, heck, chime in!), but my heart tells me that this inheritance is the gift of being like Jesus.
Is there a task in your life that has you gritting your teeth? Today, be encouraged - over time, disciplining yourself to keep your relationship with Jesus at the forefront, any task becomes a catalyst that God can use to help change your attitude, your mindset, your focus - your life.
To help you become more like Jesus.
And isn't THAT ultimate goal, our purpose?
Laughter echoed through the house as Trey ran from room to room, calling out, "Dad! Chase me! Chase me!"
Bed time was advancing closer, and he was showing no indication of being tired, ready for rest. We attempted to interest him in reading a story, taking a bath - but he did his best to ignore us.
The battle began to wear us down. The boy had no inclination to listen, he wanted to play, and the more we attempted to calm him down, the more rowdy he became.
"That's it," I said to Tom, "Nap time is now officially being cut back to one hour."
We began to lower our voices, talk slower and quieter, and put a stop to the running. It took an hour of firm, quiet discussion. There was a very rare temper tantrum, even after Tom had said his prayers and told him a story.
That boy wanted what he wanted, and he would just as soon shout louder than listen.
We finally did get him to bed, but it was under major protest.
I began to think about how many times I am the same with God. Running through my life, my actions yell, "God! Chase me! Chase me!"
Sometimes, my frantic activity reflects disquiet in my heart - as I run from one activity to the next, it is almost impossible to hear the quiet, restful whisper of the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes, when I am struggling with my own questions, I find that I don't really want to hear what God has to say. So I keep my thoughts circling madly, going from one anxiety to another.
Because sometimes, God wants me to rest in the uncomfortable. To accept the pain. To allow myself to truly feel the disappointment, the hurt.
Sometimes, God just needs me to take the time to be quiet and see my soul for what it truly is - sinful.
It is in that quiet moment of self-acceptance (that I am a sinner, no better than the next) that I am able to grasp the need for, and the value of: compassion, mercy and unconditional love.
When I have rested in my own disquiet allowed it to penetrate, I have then opened myself up to God's quiet, God's grace, God's forgiveness.
And when I've been THERE - I can share it with others.
Today's encouragement is this - Be Still. God is on your side. He may ask you to bear patiently some feelings you would just as soon not feel. He may ask you to look clearly in the face some sin, to come to terms with your sinfulness - not to condemn you, but to FREE you. To give you the opportunity to share the grace you have received.
Do not be too hasty in your desire to get out from under - it could be that in your haste, you miss a blessing.
"You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way." James 1:2-4 The Message
"Be Still, My Soul"
by Catharina von Schlegel, 1697-?
Translated by Jane Borthwick, 1813-1897
1. Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
2. Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.
3. Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.
Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay
From His own fulness all He takes away.
4. Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
I can live my life with confidence, knowing that as I focus on God, he promises to calm my fears.
I can live my life choosing to think positively about myself - God himself delights in me, he rejoices over me!
I can live freely, unbound by the 'musts' of religion - FREED by his salvation.
My God lives here. In my life.
Should my choices reflect anything but his best for me?
"For the LORD your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17 NLT
I am so blessed to know Jesus - and to know that I can talk to him and listen to his plans for my life. It helps so much to know that he's going to use every circumstance - good or difficult - for his ultimate goal: bringing glory to God the Father.
As a inspiration writer, my vocation is not to write the best devotionals I can produce. My vocation is to listen to the Holy Spirit, allowing myself to be a conduit for the truth. And when I'm 'just not feeling it' - I have the blessing of being able to write anyway, knowing that this isn't MY website, my devotional or my project. It's God's.
I think of this in context of my toddler. When Trey is frustrated or angry, I use the situation to love him no matter what, to show him the value of saying 'Jesus help me' - allowing Jesus to help get himself under control. I allow him his voice - expressing how it feels - but I'm always bringing him back to our goal: a young man who learns to lean on Jesus, take responsibility for his reactions and actions, and who chooses to move past his feelings into concrete truths.
Have you consecrated your gift, your calling, to God? When you do, you'll find a freedom to create in the midst of chaos, encourage in the midst of frustration, and be inspired by the creativity provided by the Holy Spirit.
"Mere humans don't have what it takes; when they die, their projects die with them.
Instead, get help from God of Jacob, put your hope in God and know real blessing!" (Psalm 146:4-5 MSG)
PS ~ Enjoy some God-groove this morning, this new song will get your feet dancing!
A few days ago, I commented about taking some time out to relax on the couch. A fellow mom asked "What's that?" to which I laughingly replied: "You know! It's that thing in the living room where I pile my laundry. The clothes get to rest on the cushions for a week before they're folded and put away."
It seems that no matter how much I try, there is a pile of laundry somewhere in my house. I noticed the other day that while we have lots of laundry, we all seem to wear pretty much the same outfits all the time!
Pretty soon here, I'm going to be going through the piles and sharing the items that we simply aren't using.
But it got me to thinking - if I looked at my faith life through the 'laundry lens', what does it look like? Which faith-clothes do I wear consistently? Which ones sit in a pile in the corner? Are there faith-clothes that never seem to get pulled out of the closet?
"So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you:
Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive and offense.
Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all purpose garment. Never be without it." Colossians 3:12-14
When we read about reorganizing our closet and only keeping the 'essentials', we think basics. I believe the same goes with our faith life as well.
There are many, many styles, fabrics, fits and fads in the faith industry. So many books, teachings, approaches that can take the place of all the basics.
This year, I challenge you to take stock of your faith-closet and focus on the basics, as listed above. In addition, how about putting down the latest book and reading The Book instead?
How about setting time aside each week to spend time with Jesus, listening to the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit?
Now time to get back to the basics and focus on practising the basics of faith.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have some laundry to fold!
Along the lines of yesterday's devotional, I wanted to share a quote from one of my favorite Christian writers, Eugene Peterson.
"The aim of people of faith isn't to be as comfortable as possible but to live as fully as possible. You will be in Babylon (out in the world) for a long time. You had better make the best of it. Don't just survive, thrive. The only place you have to be human is where you are right now.
The only opportunity you have to live by faith is in the circumstances you're experiencing this very day - in this house you live in, in this family you find yourself in, and in this job you've been given to do."
God's encouragement for today:
'I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out - plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen.' Jeremiah 29:11-12 MSG
Have a blessed day!
God is all about the everyday. Not everyone will be a missionary, a pastor, a church-worker or a worship leader. The majority of us will live the everyday life as bankers, real estate agents, farmers, teachers, mill workers, truck drivers, childcare workers, mechanics, cooks...
We are ALL important in our everyday life to God's plan for the salvation of the world.
God wants to encourage you today that your job matters. He does not want you to see Sundays as the only day that means something to his plans.
Even if you never utter the name of Jesus in your workplace, your attitude, spirit and the joy and peace of Jesus will speak his name.
As you move into Monday, and a new work week, I encourage you to be asking God to use you in the midst of your everyday.
A few verses to meditate on:
1 Thessalonians 2:9-12 - Paul describing how he and Silas and Timothy preached by also worked regular 'day jobs' as well.
Philippians 2:12-16 - Living cheerfully, as an example of what life in Jesus looks like.
Romans 12: 1-2 - Your everyday life is an offering to God.
Last night, Trey learned the lesson that it's not always about him (gasp!). At three, it's a lesson that will take some time to sink in.
Sometimes, I feel like a three year old, still learning the lesson that it's not all about me. There are others with hurts, joys, pain and celebrations. One of the most significant blessings I believe we can share (and therefore receive) is the gift of caring for another. Making their life the center of our attention for a period of time.
It's the best way to think past our own selves, our own egos, our own circumstances. Is there someone in your sphere that you can connect with? Can you enlarge your sphere to include someone who has a need?
"If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor:
Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends.
Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top.
Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead.
Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage.
Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand." Philippians 2:1-4 MSG
Having trouble sleeping? Wrestling with some difficult life circumstances? Besides giving you bags under your eyes, that insomnia is pointing you to a very important truth: Do you really trust God?
Take a look at Psalm 4 today. I love the way The Message phrases some very simple, yet deep, truths.
The author of the Psalm makes the connection between our discontent, wanting something other than that God is providing, and our lack of joy, our lack of rest.
"Why is everyone hungry for more? 'More, more,' they say. 'More, more...'
I have God's more-than-enough, more joy in one ordinary day than they get in all their shopping sprees." vs 6-7
Did sleep elude you last night? Could you spend your day today thanking God for his 'more-than-enough'? Focus on the joy in this 'ordinary' day? You might sleep better tonight:
"At day's end I'm ready for sound sleep, for you, God, have put my life back together."vs 8
Forgiveness frees our hearts to care, to breathe, to relax and to make mistakes.
Jesus tells us to forgive those who hurt us - this includes ourselves. Will you give yourself the gift of forgiveness? You may need to start with yourself, then move on to your spouse, your parents, your children and your church.
The very choice to forgive (and you may have to make it numerous times pe...r day) brings with it the heart-sensation of standing on a mountain top, feeling a fresh breeze on your face, and realizing you can see for forever...
"Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you." Eph 4:31-32
"We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well."
(1 Corinthians 10:24b MSG)