10.28.2018

Let's USE our gifts!

This morning's sermon was wonderful! The entire series (Total Grace) has been a blessing, and today's portion, "Serving Grace" was no exception. As always, my notes are a mixture of the actual words preached by our pastor and my thoughts/responses to those words. I hope you find them as encouraging as I did!

Our text:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:1-8

Grace is not just amazing - it is ABUNDANT!
- For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16
- And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. II Corinthians 9:8


➣ The Argument
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Before you can serve the body OF Christ - you must surrender yourself TO Christ.

The believer should be a living sacrifice engaged in relentless service.

Why do we sacrifice everything for Christ? Because of His mercy!
We deserve nothing, yet He gives us eternal life through His Son. Therefore, He deserves our ALL.
And better still, His mercies are NEW - EVERY morning - for His faithfulness is great!

It is reasonable/logical to give yourself to the One who gave Himself for you.
Surrender to God is the only thing that makes sense based on what God has done for us.

The Assessment
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Soberly judge your abilities and strengths so you know how to serve others.
It is not wrong/sinful to admit the strengths God has given you as long as ALL glory goes to HIM.
It is not wrong to know your gifting!
But it is wrong to overestimate or underestimate your giftedness. (pride and false humility)

The question is not, "How gifted are you?" The question is, "HOW are you gifted?"

Embrace how God has made YOU - including your weaknesses and lack of abilities - and use your strengths to bless others and bring glory to God!

Caution: Admire the beautiful strengths and gifts in others, but do not make them idols!
You are you - they are they. Be content with who God made you - how He made you - and how He chooses to use you. As the bumper sticker reads, "Be Yourself. Everyone else is taken!"

The Assignment
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Unity - believers are many members of one body
Diversity - the body is made up of many members with different purposes and gifts
Mutuality - we belong to one another and are dependent on one another because each of us possesses gifts that benefit the others

EVERY believer has gifts given to them by God, and they were given to be EMPLOYED for the benefit of the body.
Christianity is not a spectator sport!!! No one sits on the bench. Everyone plays!!!
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:
I Peter 4:10

Thank You, Lord, for the truth of this message! And thank You for creating the beautiful body of Christ, for we all need each other and we ALL have something to offer! Not one part is indispensable!

10.27.2018

Just what I needed.

This week I had the privilege of attending our homeschool group's Mom's Night. The hours leading up to the event were filled with frustration, disappointment, and a fight with the flesh to let go of anger, so after pulling up to the host house twenty-five minutes early, I kept myself in the car, blared Crowder worship songs, and refused to get out until my heart, mind, and attitude were appropriate to expose to a room full of women. I even sent an SOS text to three people asking them to pray for me. The battle had to be won. And because God is faithful when we call upon Him, He released me from my sinful anger and allowed me to walk into the house with a sincere smile and a happy heart. And I was grateful for this gift because it was a wonderfully encouraging and challenging evening of fellowship.

One of my closest friends was the speaker, and her message was thoughtful, on point, and personal. It would be ridiculous for me to recap her words using my voice because while we are similar in 729 ways <grin>, she has a voice that is unique to her, and I would not do it justice.

I do, however, want to share the three questions she asked us because they are fitting and good. Not just for homeschool moms, but for all moms/women who claim Christ as Savior and Lord.

Her three points:
~Faithfulness
~Humility
~Consistency

For each topic, she quoted Scripture, challenged us, shared snippets of her own personal journey, and then asked us to break into groups of two or three to discuss a specific question related to the topic.
1. Whose "Well Done" are you seeking? The world's, your own, or the Lord's?
2. Where (in homeschooling, parenting, marriage, life) do you need to grow in humility?
3. In what areas (homeschooling, parenting, marriage, walk with the Lord) do you need to be more consistent?

Boy, oh BOY, did these questions prove to be a catalyst for fantastic conversations with my sisters as we sat huddled in a circle talking without pause until she called us back to attention! It was a delight! And even better, we ended the event in prayer. 25+ women bowing their heads in prayer in small circles all around the room, talking and surrendering to a very big God who understands our every struggle and cares about our every need.

How thankful I am that the enemy did not win the battle raging in my heart thirty minutes before the meeting, but was defeated by the One who wanted me there. At that meeting. In that house. On that specific night. To hear that message. And to minister to another mom who needed to hear, "I get it." He always knows our needs before we do, and He is so incredibly faithful to meet us where we are - exactly when we need Him most!

And, as I shared with the sweet friend who checked in the next morning after praying for me that night and texting, "GET OUT OF THE CAR and go bless the women inside!" - ministering to another hurting heart ALWAYS beats moping!
Amen?
Aaaaaa-MEN!

Thank You, Lord, for pulling me out of my selfishness and sin so I could focus on the words of encouragement so carefully prepared and shared by my friend. And then, because I was refreshed, I was able to share the hope and joy You poured into me with someone who needed to know she is not alone. Thank You for music that soothes the mind and heart. And thank You for friends who can make us laugh while speaking truth to push us out of our "blech" - and into something beautiful.
You are such an amazingly good God.

10.23.2018

A confession. A grateful heart. And a desire.


The only way you can be saturated with the thoughts of Christ
is to saturate yourself with the book that is all about Him. 
- John MacArthur

But He answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4

Oh, how much I needed to read this quote and this verse today!
I am lazy.
Negligent.
A procrastinator.
Not in every area of life, but in some.

As my girth declares, I do not forego food.
I find time to shop for, prepare, and consume food - every day of the week.
It is not gourmet food or even delicious, nor is it presented with artistic care.
It is sustenance. And it is rarely (if ever) forgotten.

And yet ...
I cannot boast the same about my Bible.
Like everyone else, I have p-l-e-n-t-y of time to read God's Word. Every.single.day.
But do I? Not always.
I think about God's Word. I quote God's Word. I encourage others with the truths of God's Word.
But pick it up, hold it in my hands, find a quiet place, and bury myself within its pages? Not every day.
And I am embarrassed to admit that. As I should be.

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
I have no problem eating bread. I find joy in doing so. But God' command is abundantly clear: Bread is not enough! You need ME!

I KNOW this.
Yet I neglect the very thing I need most.
The only way you can be saturated with the thoughts of Christ
is to saturate yourself with the book that is all about Him.  - John MacArthur
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and nightso that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:8

I know I am not alone in this battle of the flesh. I talk to countless women about their time in the Word and listen to them sorrow over the same neglect I confessed. The reasons/excuses are always the same, as are the consequences of succumbing to the excuses. It is in the midst of this battle that I fully identify with Paul when he proclaims in Romans 7, For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.

Lord? Help!

Isn't that the beauty of every struggle we face as believers? He has already provided the help! He has given us Himself! The Holy Spirit, dwelling within us, purposely given by the Father to convict us, encourage us, guide us into all truth, and increase in holiness. Every day. All day. Each time we need Him, He is present with every available resource to enable us to choose the Savior instead of Self. To choose righteousness instead of sin. To choose wisdom instead of foolery. To choose humility instead of pride. He is THERE!

As if that is not enough reason to rejoice, He also gives us - each other!
If I am unable/unwilling to discipline myself to read the Word of God daily, I can call on my brothers and sisters to stand beside me until my feet are adjusted and my stance is secure.
Accountability.
One of the many beauties of being part of the body of Christ.
Love one another – John 13:34Romans 12:10; 1 Peter 4:8; 1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11, 12
Build up one another – Romans 14:19Ephesians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Serve one another – Galatians 5:13
Be devoted to one another – Romans 12:10
Care for one another – 1 Corinthians 12:25
Encourage one another – 1 Thessalonians 5:11Hebrews 3:13
Pray for one another – James 5:16
Confess your faults to one another – James 5:16
Be truthful with one another – Colossians 3:9
Admonish one another – Romans 15:14Colossians 3:16

The only way you can be saturated with the thoughts of Christ
is to saturate yourself with the book that is all about Him.  - John MacArthur
May this be true of me, Lord! Make me a woman who longs for Your Word in such a way that absolutely nothing else satisfies. And may it fill me to overflowing so that my thoughts, my words, my actions, and my responses reflect nothing of me, but solely - of You.

10.17.2018

A letter to mothers ... because what you do MATTERS!


Dear Mother,

What you do MATTERS.
The day-to-day monotony of motherhood may not seem glamorous, or even noteworthy, but every day that you invest in your child - you are doing something that matters.
Every diaper change, every meal made, every tear wiped away, every bad attitude corrected, every homework assignment worked out together, every car ride to practice, every book read, every hug given, every "I love you" whispered ... they make a difference.
A real difference.
You are not perfect. You will make mistakes. Lots and lots of mistakes. But that is okay because perfection is not what is needed, or wanted. Children want YOU. All of you. The beautiful, the quirky, the odd, the different, the silly, and the embarrassing. They cannot love perfectly, so they do not expect it in return. They forgive quickly, and forget willingly, and run into the same arms for comfort and affection that disciplined them the day before.
Your children don't just want you - they need you. And being needed is a beautiful thing, indeed!
The world tells us we are "just moms" as if it is a meaningless, profitless, or undesirable title.
"Don't you want to do something MORE? Something that makes a difference?"
"Don't you want to be successful and make a mark on the world?"
The answer is, "YES! A hundred times, YES!"
I want to love my husband more.
I want to serve my family more.
I want to train and equip my children to be honest, loving, compassionate people who are quick to serve those in need and willing to comfort the endless tide of hurting, broken people.
I want to raise sons who respect women and are the same men of integrity in front of a Board of Directors as they are when sitting alone in front of a computer screen.
I want to raise a daughter who thinks of others before herself and seeks to serve and bless everyone around her because she knows that by loving others she shows them the love of Christ.
And when I take my last breath, with all of my weaknesses and failings, I want my children to be able to say, "She showed me Jesus every day." If the only mark I leave on the world is the gift of six children who love God with their hearts, souls, minds, and strength - and love others with compassion and humility - then it will have been the best, most profitable use of my time, and I will have no regrets. Only JOY.
Dear Mother ... you are not "just a mom."
You are a nurse. A protector. A comforter. A teacher. A counselor. A cook. A chauffeur. A coach. A cheerleader. A mentor. A safe haven. A prayer warrior. A theologian. A comedian. A joy-giver.
You are a child of God, created in His divine image, for a purpose.
And right now, "for such a time as this," your purpose is to train and serve and love your children, every day. Not perfectly, but like the woman who smashed the vial of perfume and poured it over Jesus' head ... "she did what she could."
What can you do today, Dear Mother?
Your children don't need a five-course meal. They need sustenance.
They do not need a perfectly decorated house. They need a place to run and skip and dream and read.
They do not a size "zero" mother with perfectly dyed hair. They need a mother who sees their beauty.
They do not need music lessons and dance lessons and foreign language tutoring. They need to sing and dance and talk and laugh at home.
What can you do today, Dear Mother? Not what "should" you do because others are doing this or that ... what CAN you do?
Bake cookies? Pick flowers from the front yard? March through the house to fun music? Read books? Nap with a little hand clasped tightly in yours? Write a letter of appreciation to your teen?
The world may say motherhood is "not enough." There "has to be more." "You can have it all."
Dear Mother, stand firm!
Motherhood may be one of the most difficult roles you have ever filled, with many thankless and trying days, but it is not wasted.
We are not raising our children to be Olympic athletes, CEO's of companies, or honor's students at universities. We are raising them for eternity!
Do not grow weary in doing good! Your efforts are not in vain!
Our children are not ours. They belong to the Lord, for it is He who created them, and He who has numbered their days and planned a course for their lives. And His plans - they are perfect!
Maria Shriver once declared, "Motherhood: On the Front Lines 24/7. Are you man enough to handle it?"
You ARE on the front lines because no one knows your children better than you do, and it is for them you fight. You fight for their safety, their health, their security, their comfort, their self-worth, their purity, their innocence. Dear Mother, you fight for their very souls! Never give up! Never, ever, never give up!
You are not "just a mom."
You are a precious, valuable, irreplaceable jewel that shines beautifully and brightly.
And every time you love a child, you make a difference. For eternity.

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Proverbs 31:25-30

10.15.2018

Excited and unashamed to SHARE!

We recently had the privilege of sitting under the teaching of Ray Comfort when he filled our pulpit one Sunday when our shepherd was away.
Ray's passion? EVANGELISM.
Nothing drives him more than sharing the truth of God's great love for mankind.
He will speak to anyone, anywhere, if they will allow him to engage in conversation.
He is honest, sincere, intelligent, and compassionate when he speaks the truths of God's Word, and listening to him share his passion stirs up a desire to be equally bold about the lovingkindness of a holy God who desires that none should perish, but that all would come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9, I Timothy 2:3,4)
I thoroughly enjoyed his message and was compelled to do more when it comes to sharing the Gospel.
He said much, but these were the four points that gripped me most.
(I added Scripture/quotes to give even more "umpf" to his fantastic quotes.)

I hope these encourage and challenge you as well!

➤We have an eternity to worship God, but only a short time to reach the lost.

➤If we lift our hands in worship to God, we must reach out our hands to evangelize for God.
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Romans 10:14, 15

➤We don't obey the command to evangelize because it is easier to pray to God about men than it is to talk to men about God.
Prayer will become effective when we stop using it as a substitute for obedience. A. W. Tozer

➤If you are burdened by the fear of man when it comes to evangelism,
do not pray for less fear -
pray for more love.
“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” - Charles Spurgeon

10.09.2018

A VERSATILE woman!

Last night, five of us gathered to continue our Proverbs 31 study.
The first two character qualities we studied:
VIRTUE
VIGOR

This month's character quality - Versatility!

A versatile woman ...

❊ She excels inside AND outside the home
She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. v. 15
She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. v. 16
She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. v. 27She is astute
She possesses a good sense for business
She makes things with her own hands and sells them
She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. v. 24She is an excellent homemaker AND has the ability in the arena of commerce
She has a wide range of gifts, commitments, and relationships
Her domestic side is emphasized (verses 11-15, 21-23, 27)
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2:3-5

A godly woman ...

has great domestic instincts, but that is not the whole of who she is
❊ the home is the center of her life, but her life is not limited to the home
❊ is to be committed to her home, but she is not defined by what she does in her home
❊ has a range of gifts that must be given expression, and those gifts can be expressed outside the home as well as inside the home

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
Proverbs 31: 10-31

10.01.2018

God has glorious purposes for disabilities!

Please - take the time to watch this touching video clip before reading the notes from, or listening to, the sermon.

There is absolutely no way I can do this sermon justice by trying to pack it into a short summary, but there are a few points that absolutely deserve attention!

"Disability Glorifies God."

The text: John 9

In order to understand the theology of disability, we must align our thoughts with God's thoughts.

➛ God has glorious purposes for disability.
- it draws attention to God
- it displays His power and wisdom
- it shifts our perspective from earth to eternity
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:36

➛ Every human being is a divine image bearer, and therefore, INVALUABLE.
For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
Psalm 139:13-16


➛ Man talks ABOUT disabilities ... Jesus talks TO the disabled.
- Compassion, care, and tenderness are displayed through the touch of the Master's hand.
As He went along, He saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of Him who sent Me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
After saying this, He spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes.
“Go,” He told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam”
So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. John 9:1-7

The BEST part of this passage is verse one.
"As He went along, He saw a man blind from birth."
The disciples saw a problem.
Jesus saw a MAN.
And after He saw him, He ministered to him. 

➛ When we see others through the eyes of Christ,
we see His work displayed in greater - and unique - ways.
On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. I Corinthians 12:22-26

➛ Man's greatest disability is spiritual - Unbelief.
Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when He found him, He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
“Who is He, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in Him.”
Jesus said, “You have now seen Him; in fact, He is the one speaking with you.”
Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped Him. John 9:35-38


Jesus PURSUED the man!
He took the initiative to find him.
When he did, the man believed - and became a child of God!
And the first thing he did? He WORSHIPED His Lord!


Father, thank You for the joy of Disability Sunday! Thank You for bringing our brother Paul, a man who has held and wept over and prayed for his own disabled children, to open Your Word and share Your heart for those with disabilities.
Nothing You do is accidental or without purpose, Lord, so even though we do not always understand Your ways, we thank You that You do everything for Your glory and our good. It may take time for us to identify and embrace the good, for it does not always look the way we expect or want it to, but when we are seeking You and trusting You and surrendering everything to You day by day, You quiet our hearts and still our minds so we can hear You speak through the beauty of Scripture. "I AM fearfully and WONDERFULLY made." HE is fearfully and wonderfully made. SHE is fearfully and wonderfully made. The world may not always agree, but the world is not whom we seek to praise or serve. It is You and You alone, Lord. 
Thank You that You can handle us trusting You while we simultaneously question and wrestle and grieve while trying to understand and accept Your will. In our humanness, we collapse under the weight of the unknowns, but in our surrender to a holy and loving God, we find peace.