Friday, July 31, 2009

Beyond Belief

Some of us have been referred to as a “Doubting Thomas” at least once during the course of our lives. No, this isn’t the name of a TV character, like “Curious George,” or an athlete like “Shoeless Joe” but instead, one of Jesus’ greatest friends and followers, or disciple! John 20: 19-29 paints a vivid picture of how belief in Christ not only provides joy but also, peace and responsibility!

It was just a few days after God had proven His love in the way that only He could, through Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection three days later. Jesus’ disciples were hunkered down in a room, fearful of anyone who may connect them with Christ who just sent the world spinning on its axis, changing the course of that present day and the generations to follow! Jesus appeared to them, reminding them that He brings peace (and wasn’t an evil spirit as they may have assumed at first) as well as a mandate to share God’s love with the world! He breathed on them and they received the gift of the Holy Spirit, which would direct them as they went out to fulfill Jesus calling on their lives. Of course, this must have been more than amazing, but Thomas, who must have been getting a Slurpy at the local quickie mart, was absent from this life changing moment. When told of the events of those moments, he refused to believe until he himself saw the scars in Jesus’ hands and sides. Probably rolling His eyes, Jesus obliged Thomas unbelief and came back a week later, directly addressing Thomas and asking him to put his hands in His side and to look at His hands. Jesus then said, “Stop being an unbeliever and believe!” John 20:27. Somehow, I don’t think Jesus just said this quietly and passively, but I believe that Jesus said it with authority and power! It was crucial that Thomas believe, or else, Jesus would not have come back in similar fashion to address the group of followers.

Later on, Jesus reminds us that “those who believe without seeing me will be truly blessed” and that is where we come in! We don’t have the opportunity to get the proof that Thomas demanded. He didn’t take what he heard from his trusted friends at face value. That was a time of such confusion and only when he could see for himself that Jesus was risen as He had said He would be, could Thomas fully embrace the calling to share the Gospel that had now been fulfilled!
Where are you? Do you claim faith in Christ, but just sit still, allowing those who have “true faith” to run with the ball of sharing Christ? Do you find joy in the mystery of believing in something that we cannot see? Do you embrace fully what it means to have faith in what we can only see through study of God’s Word, thus, becoming so intimately connected to God in prayer and life that we have no doubt that the spirit has in fact been breathed into us as well?

Embrace the joy from the belief in a Savior who lived as one of us! Claim the power that comes from the God who sent himself to develop a relationship with His people, knowing that we all yearn to be connected to beauty and positive energy that can only truly be found in the person of Christ and through His spirit. Be joyful in life and even more joyful in where God is leading your life, knowing that as our faith grows, so will God continue to pour out more of his power and His blessing as we serve Him and share the love of Christ with everyone we meet! Don’t be a doubting Thomas, waiting to begin serving after you have proof; serve with full assurance that Jesus has breathed on you the Spirit that only comes from God and has equipped you to share Him with the world!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Server of the Month

Joshua likes to make fun of me when I claim that I once was a server in a local restaurant in my hometown of Maysville. The truth be told, I only worked about 5 weeks, but though I didn’t work a long period of time, I was still required to serve people their food, “marry” ketchup bottles (that’s restaurant lingo for combining ketchup so they can be full bottles), roll silverware and be an overall cheerful greeter to all that came to dine! Was I a 5 star server like those sweet ladies who fill your sweet tea and keep you filled with yummy biscuits and apple butter at Cracker Barrel? Well, not quite! I never quite mastered carrying a huge tray on one hand, I didn’t always remember the little details that people would request, and I felt less than enthused as the customers poured out the numerous peanut shells on the floor that I had just swept 5 minutes before closing! I got the job done and my employers were pleased, but I’m sure if you asked them, they wouldn’t dub me, “Server of the Month!”

I am reminded that serving the Lord (which comes down to truly serving others over ourselves) should be quite different from my waitressing experience. I should work a bit harder to master some of the tricks of the trade, even when they are a bit challenging and require some practice and some extra time. Sharing the Gospel may not come easy, but with each day spent studying God’s Word, praying and living a Christ-centered life, next should come confidence to verbally share the Good News of Christ! I should be a person that is big on the details that make a difference! When people talk, I should listen and not just hear the words that leave their mouth. Only then will people see that I truly care about them and help reveal to them what may be blocking them from seeing Christ. I should see the messes that people make, both literally and figuratively, as opportunities to serve as Christ served, humbly taking the form of a slave and washing the feet of those that need to see that no matter how dirty they may be, I love them because God loves and made them and He has done the same for me, cleaning me up with each new day! This is true service; service without apologies, service without complaining, service without question and most importantly, service with joy!

"But servants who don't know what their master wants them to do will not be beaten so hard for doing wrong. If God has been generous with you, he will expect you to serve him well. But if he has been more than generous, he will expect you to serve him even better. Luke 12:48 (Contemporary English Version)

Do you serve as it is your joy or because you want to be the Server of the Month? Do you serve because you are expected to or do you serve because you find a source of pleasure in fulfilling what God has called you to do as His child in sharing and spreading Christ’s story with everyone!? When you serve, serve as though you know how God has served you! He sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for you, taking on the humble and lowly form of a man in order to reach a world that is lost! Live as though you not only serve, but you desire to find ways to serve even better, striving to glorify God in all that you do!

Monday, July 13, 2009

"Momma, I'm not gonna even let a boy step to me unless I know he loves Jesus with all his heart!"

-Jovey's thoughts in the van as we were listening to Toby Mac~! Thanks for truth in fun songs that both mommy and daddy and Jovey and Laney can enjoy! And Jovey, I pray that that will always be your mantra as you start looking toward the future!

Friday, July 03, 2009

How Do You Choose To Suffer?

My hubby has asked me to write the devos that will go along with his upcoming sermon series from Phillipians: Joy in Suffering, Joy in Serving, Joy in believing and Joy in the Lord. May we always find Joy in our relationship with Christ as we seek to draw nearer to Him and walk with Him daily!

How do you choose to suffer?

What does it mean to “suffer?” It is all a matter of who you ask. To the soldier in a foreign country, it may mean being without his family, a hot shower and a bed in which to sleep. To the wealthy, spoiled young actress, it may mean having a broken nail and having to wait two days before her routine manicure and spa pedicure! To the five year old child, it may mean having to eat oatmeal instead of a donut for breakfast. Suffering is all a matter of perception. People perceive anything that is out of the ordinary and that presents a bit of a challenge to move through suffering in their lives! Of course, the soldier is suffering much greater trials than the five year old who badly wanted a Krispy Kreme, but what we suffer isn’t the issue, it is how we suffer that sets us apart from the world and it’s trappings.

Paul was accustomed to suffering. First, he inflicted it upon the early Christians, by making spectacles of them and killing them. After he came to know Christ, or rather, Christ introduced himself to him on the road to Damascus, blinding him and changing the course of his life forever, he suffered ridicule, snake bites, imprisonment and ultimately death, all in the name of the man for which he used to kill! He tells us many times in his letters that we are to take hold of what Christ gives us, even the bad things that cause us to hurt and to suffer, as suffering allows us to have but a taste of how Christ endured the weight of the world for us! We are to exercise the hope we have in Christ Jesus because it is through suffering that we are made more like Him and only then, able to give Him glory and honor that He doesn’t require from us, but that he does desire from us! We are to view our lives, every part, the good, the bad and the ugly, as offerings to God. Wallowing in self pity and refusing to seek God as we trudge through the valleys, knowing the mountain top must be near, isn’t the answer. Instead, we are to keep our eyes ahead, focused on God and pressing hard to draw as near as we possibly can (see Phil. 3:12-14)!

This week, think of some ways you are suffering in your life and no matter how big or small those trials may be, consider what Paul says in Romans 5:3-5. Remember that God provides you with all you need to grow and the opportunity to experience a joy that only comes to those who are seeking to be more like Christ; a joy that is available only because Christ chose to suffer so we wouldn’t ever have to know an eternity apart from our loving Father. Don’t suffer like those who have no hope, but suffer as if there is something worth suffering for! “. . . but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”