I don’t know about you, but for me, it is so easy to fall into the world’s line of thinking.
I got mine, you get yours.
It’s all about me.
What’s in it for me?
Problem is, for a Christian, this way of thinking is completely contrary to what Jesus taught. It is also contrary to what I had modeled for me growing up. Although I never fully realized the scope of what my parents did for others until they were gone, I knew they were generous toward those who were in need…both in the body of Christ and outside of it.
At my Daddy’s funeral, my Mother, Sister, and I greeted hundreds who came to pay their respects. Over and over people told us how my Daddy had helped them.
He paid my house payment when I was about to lose my home.
He came to my appliance store, bought a refrigerator, and told me where to deliver it. But he said that I was not to tell the recipients who provided it.
When my electricity was about to be cut off, he paid my bill.
He bailed me out of jail when I made a poor choice.
Then, when my Mother died, many shared similar stories of her love and generosity.
These testimonies, and so many more, were evidence of Romans 12:13 in the life of my parents.
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
I love the reminder offered by John MacArthur in his commentary on the book of Romans.
The flow of the supernatural life is outward, not inward.
It is true. The life modeled after Jesus is not a life of selfish ambition, but one of self-less sacrifice and offering.
Billy Graham said:
The smallest package I ever saw was a man wrapped up wholly in himself.
As I think about the life that Jesus lived, I see a life of service and hospitality to others:
He restored life
He ate with the outcast
He never heaped shame on those who sought Him out
He took my place on the cross and paid the fine for my sin
So, really, how can I justify being selfish and self-serving? Everything I have…my body, my money, my talents, my time, my home, everything…..is on loan to me from God. None of it is really mine, so if the Jesus-life tells me to be generous in giving and hospitable to others, how can I do otherwise?
The question then becomes whether the flow of my life is outward or inward. It is the question for your life, as well.
Outward or Inward?
One of the ways I seek to help women develop that outward flowing life is to encourage them to walk more intimately with Christ. September 15-17, 2017 the Come Away retreat for women will offer ladies an opportunity to lean into Jesus in a beautiful, relaxed setting. In our world of constant stimulation and social media, one must be intentional in their pursuit of Christ. Come Away with Jesus for a weekend! Click HERE to learn more.
I am preempting my normally scheduled Monday Revelation and Wednesday Authentic posts to share something very personal with you. In doing so, I hope to encourage you to consider taking a similar journey to mine in order to look more like Jesus.
To say I didn’t know it was coming would be a full-on lie. I did. The Holy Spirit had been at work for a while gently convicting me over my less-than loving use of my words to eviscerate another person. But I, like King David, thought I could just push it back and not deal with it.
Lo, what is that I hear? God’s tsk-tsk from heaven at my stubbornness and flat-out disobedience.
I sat at lunch chatting with two ladies from my Tuesday morning Bible study. One of them asked about some changes that had taken place in an organization to which I had belonged for several years. I had been in the organization long enough, and had been close enough to the person in charge to know the cause for the changes. I was also very close to several people who had been hurt by the situation. My heart had been one of those that had been hurt.
As I answered my friend’s question, I laid the blame squarely on one particular person. I told my friends some of the things this person had done, and how so many people had been hurt and left the organization. While I did not realize until later how deeply hurt and angry I was over the whole mess, my friends told me later that they recognized it immediately.
We finished lunch and I got in my car to go home. Y’all I felt like a Mack Truck of conviction from the Holy Spirit had hit me head-on. The realization that I had sinned horribly by allowing my hurt and anger to drive my words was overwhelming. I wish I could say this was a one-time event, but it was not. I had spoken in the same angry, hurt tone to other people on several occasions. I’m sure everyone who was unfortunate enough to enter into that particular topic of conversation with me felt like they had been vomited on. I was heart-broken at how I had compromised my testimony and caused others to look down on Jesus. Heart-broken at the pain I had caused others with my poison words!
I texted my two friends and confessed what I had done. I asked for their forgiveness and they lovingly granted it. I thought that would be the end of it. How wrong I was! The Holy Spirit made it crystal clear that it was time to deal with this sin of negative words. I had no idea how often I spoke them about all kinds of subjects in my daily life, but I was about to find out.
God prescribed a three-pronged method for doing away with poison words. I would use prayer, Scripture memory, and oh dear Gussie, accountability.
Prayer would be the easy part of this. Confession, both private and public, was the beginning, but also would be necessary several times over the next 30 days. Each time I allowed poison words to spew forth, I prayed and asked forgiveness. The Lord was faithful to forgive me and encourage my heart to get back in the game and turn over control of my heart and tongue to the Holy Spirit. Slowly my need for confession decreased because my spewing of negative words decreased.
For the Scripture memorization, the Lord led me to the book of James and used a neon highlighter to show me 4 verses that I was to memorize over the course of the next month.
James 3:8 ~ No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
James 3:9 ~ With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.
James 3:10 ~ From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
James 5:9 ~ Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged.
Y’all, I knew those verses…had read them many times, but whew, the Word suddenly came alive in my heart! The more I repeated James 3:8, the more grieved I became over my negative words. My tongue truly was a restless evil, full of deadly poison. Me! A woman in ministry, for heaven’s sake. I had a tongue that eviscerated other people, even loved ones. And up till now I had not even felt one bit bad about it…well, maybe a little bit bad. Suddenly I understood what the apostle Paul meant when he lamented that he was the chief of sinners.
If you are someone who has been hurt by words that spilled from my mouth in the past, I may or may not even realize that I hurt you. I’m so very sorry and I hope you will accept my apology. I would welcome to opportunity to speak with you about the hurt I have caused. Please reach out to me.
What about you? Are you able to control your words or do they spew out like deadly poison on a regular basis? Don’t be too quick to answer. Really think about it. Are your words a blessing or a curse to other people?
On Wednesday I will share with you how the Lord led me to enter into accountability relationships in order to do away with negative-speak in my life. I’ll see you back here on Wednesday. Go HERE to read the Wednesday post and HERE to watch the Friday video post and download your FREE gift.
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I did a Bible study years ago that convicted me hugely about the words I speak to MYSELF. All too often we say things to and about ourselves that we would never, in a million years, say to another person. We demean ourselves, we shame ourselves and it is not pleasing to God. I hope you will check out this link to Me, Myself, & Lies by Jennifer Rothschild.
DISCLAIMER: Electronic media makes it difficult to convey emotion. Please, please know that there is not one smidgen of anger contained in this post. As you read it, I hope you will hear my heart of love for the body of Christ. I believe this is an important conversation to have, and I invite you to enter in.
Would you pardon me while I climb atop my soapbox for a moment?
Stop it with all the denominational fighting! Just stop!
I grew up in the Southern Baptist denomination, and I am grateful for (most of) that upbringing. I learned about missions and Jesus and amazing old hymns and the beauty of an organ and piano and the order of service and the Doxology and Girls in Action and Acteens and Summer Vacation Bible School and ‘raise your hand if you read your Sunday School lesson this week’.
I also learned that women are not to be pastors and speaking in tongues is not actually an accepted thing and, dear Gussie, exclusivity. I think my Grandma might have had to be revived with St. Peter’s smelling salts when she stepped through the gates of heaven and discovered that there were Methodists, Church of God, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and many other people who affiliated with non-Southern Baptist denominations, or no denomination at all, right there in heaven.
I am not here to bash the Southern Baptist denomination. I really am not. My ‘letter’ is housed at the Southern Baptist church where I grew up, and I love that church and pray for that church. Southern Baptist just happens to be the well from which I draw my experience. No denomination is perfect, and many of you might have a similar perspective about your denomination. But, our time in Romans 12 today prompts me to step back with you so we can take a 50,000-foot view of the body of Christ and the scene that will one day be around God’s throne in heaven.
Let’s read these two verses…..
4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
You have a body….head to toe, inside and outside…it is a body that houses all sorts of organs, cells, membranes, ligaments, and muscles. Bones are connected by ligaments, tons of miles of blood vessels run all over your body, your brain is the control central, and your muscles allow you to walk and run. Your body is not just your brain. If you were only one big brain, you could not move or eat or kiss your sweetheart. If you were made up of only a pinky finger, you could not stand up.
Every part of your body is necessary to your physical well-being. Just let one part of the body malfunction and the entire body suffers in some way. Don’t believe me? Have you ever broken your pinky toe? Yeah! I rest my case. That pinky toe is important, people!
The same is true of the body of Christ…..regardless of the denomination in which you choose to worship…..if you name the name of Jesus Christ over your soul, you are a necessary and important part of the Body. Now, you may not like the way your toes look, but they are your toes and you must accept that and care for them because they are part of your body. So, let’s pretend the Baptists are the toes, the Methodists are the fingers, the Presbyterians are the blood vessels, the Church of God folks are the muscles, and our non-denominational brothers and sisters are the eyes.
Y’all, I am dying at all the exclusivity and condescension in the body of Christ. We are THE BODY OF CHRIST, knitted together in Him. We need those muscles and eyes and blood vessels, and even those toes and fingers. We need everyone who professes Jesus as Lord and stands firmly on the gospel in order to be a strong and functional body. We may disagree with Church of God folks about speaking in tongues, or the Methodists about sprinkling, but that does not give us the right to look down our noses at our brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus said that the world would know that we are Christians by our L-O-V-E for one another in the body of Christ.
Even when I attended a denominational church, I did not label myself according to that denomination. If you ask me which denomination I belong to, I will tell you that I am a Christian because that is the label that I want others to associate with my life. My ministry is a non-denominational ministry. I have spoken at churches from many denominations. I seek to write from a Jesus perspective rather than a denominational perspective because I believe it encourages unity in the body of Christ.
So, friends, let’s use grape juice and wine. Let’s use the KJV and the NIV. Let’s use musical instruments and sing a capella. If we are going to choose a hill on which to die, for the love of Pete, let’s let that hill be the gospel of Jesus Christ, not whether to sprinkle or dunk. Let’s show love to our brothers and sisters in Christ and unity of Spirit to the world, so that the world will see Jesus.
I’m off my soapbox now! I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post. Leave a comment or email me at email@example.com.
Looking for a Valentine’s Day gift for your sweetie?
The year was 2007 and God had just confirmed the call to ministry that He had placed on my heart. With a mixture of excitement and trepidation, I shared that confirmation experience with those closest to me. I received great encouragement from everyone…..except one. One person looked me straight in the eyes and said, “You will just make it all about you.”
Whoosh! I felt like a 50-gallon barrel of iced water had been poured on my spirit. I was crushed and I might have shed a few tears. What in the world was I supposed to do with that bomb?
I had to journey quite a few miles down the ministry road to realize that those words would serve as warning flags to my heart. You see, I can be very prideful and all about Leah. In fact, it is my nature to be prideful and self-serving.
What? You, too?
When my ears heard those words from my loved one, my heart immediately recoiled from the thought of making ministry all about me. With everything in me, I wanted ministry to be about Jesus. In and of myself, I have nothing worthwhile to offer. BUT, because of Jesus and the transforming work He has done in my heart and life, He can minister through me to touch heart and lives, if I will put Leah aside and let Him shine.
Today as we continue our examination of a true believer in Jesus, we come to Romans 12:3 and it is a doozy of a verse. Here it is:
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. (ESV)
Here is my very loose paraphrase of verse 3: Do not get on your high-horse! Remember Whose you are and Who has called you. You did not get these gifts…you do not offer yourself….you do not have the mind of Christ…because of anything you have done. It is all Jesus. Don’t get too big for your britches!
Y’all, pride should be conspicuously absent from the life of a Christian. We should never lose sight of who we were before Jesus saved us. We should never forget that without Him we would be in the ditch of horrendous sin in two minutes flat. We must never underestimate the depravity of which we are capable if we do not keep our eyes focused on Jesus. I must never….!
Paul tells us that it is absolutely imperative that we judge ourselves soberly and rightly, not thinking more highly of ourselves than we should. Seems to me that Paul is using a metaphor that suggests one must be careful not to be intoxicated on themselves. Let’s not become egoholics, friends!
May I close today with a quote from John Calvin that I believe is an astute reminder to seek humility for our hearts?
For so blindly do we all rush in the direction of self-love that everyone thinks he has a good reason for exalting himself and despising all others in comparison….There is no other remedy than to pluck up by the roots those most obnoxious pests, self-love and love of victory….This the doctrine of Scripture does. For it teaches us to remember that the endowments which God has bestowed upon us are not our own, but His free gifts, and those who plume themselves upon them betray their ingratitude. (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2:10)
(I had to look up the word ‘plume’…it is a verb that means pride or congratulate.)
Every day my prayers include a plea for God to show me any pride in my heart. Let me tell you, friend, that is a prayer that God will answer, AND the answer may not always be jolly and glad. He has shown me some big uglies that have resided in my heart over the years, but He has always given me what I need to get rid of them. I am NOT saying it has always been fun, however. Satan wants us to stay mired down in pride. But, it has always been for my good. I want to challenge you to begin praying that same prayer. I promise if you do it will transform your Christian walk. Pinky swear!
Tell me what you are thinking? What have these Authentic posts planted in your heart thus far? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I scribed the entire book of Romans in my Journible a few years ago. It was a wonderfully enriching experience to write the ancient words on a page in your own handwriting. I encourage you to get your own Journible and try it.
Have you ever heard God speak a word of instruction to you that was downright frightening?
Me, too! In fact, that is why I am writing to you today.
About a year ago, God spoke a word into my heart…a word that would become my OneWord for 2016. At the time I knew it would be a word that required much from me. What I did not realize was how very much it would require in the area of obedience….AND how very rebellious I would be about the whole thing.
That word was REST…something the Lord and I knew that I do not do well.
God was serious about that word. I was forced into physical rest by a back injury early in the year, and by a diagnosis of severe hypoglycemia more recently. Still, I feel weary, spent, confused, and fearful.
For the entirety of 2016 I have sensed that God wanted me to pull back from writing on my blog and my newsletter. That scared the patootie out of me! In 10 years of blogging, I’ve never taken an extended blogging break. I argued mightily with God.
What if I am not hearing you correctly, Lord?
I cannot take a break. I have a new Bible study out that I need to promote.
What if I lose all of my readers?
I’m in the middle of a blog series on the book of The Revelation. I cannot stop writing.
The sins of fear and pride and control kept me bound up in the ‘what ifs’ and prevented me from being fully obedient to what the Lord was speaking into my heart. The whole thing is ugly and prideful and embarrassing to admit, but I sinned. I rebelled against what the Lord was CLEARLY telling me to do.
God opened my eyes on Sunday using some verses from Isaiah 40….familiar verses that suddenly took on very new and personal meaning for me as if a heavenly light was shining on them for the first time.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28-29, 31 (ESV) emphasis, mine
The Holy Spirit opened my eyes to the truth that my strength comes only from God, but in order for Him to renew my strength, I must wait on Him. And it my case, that waiting might just look like resting in obedience to what He instructed me to do, lo, 10 months ago!
I feel very much like King David in Psalm 51 when he acknowledged that his bones were wasting away as a result of his sin. I am the only one who can change that.
So, friend, I confess my sins of pride and rebellion to Him and to you. Repentance means a changing of direction, and beginning today, I will do that. I will bend my knee to His instruction to rest and wait on Him in regard to writing and blogging. There are several ways this might impact you.
If you receive my weekly newsletter, this will likely be the last one you will receive until the beginning of the year. I’m sorry if that disappoints you, but I must do what God is calling me to do. Please feel free to unsubscribe. I will not be offended.
If you receive my thrice weekly blog posts, you will receive a few over the course of the next couple of months. There are several that I have already written and scheduled. But, by and large, my blog will be silent, except for guest posts in the Sharing Life series that are already scheduled.
If you are part of The Loft Link-Up, I will likely be taking a break until the first of the year. You will still be able to link to The Loft via Jerralea’s and Chris’s blogs.
Does this step of obedience scare me? You bet it does, but I also know that God never asks us to do anything for which He has not already established a plan and purpose. So, I step out in obedience. I go forward expectantly, seeking a renewal of my strength and focus. I open my clenched fists and hold loosely the writing and blogging portions of my ministry. I trust God’s heart of love for me.
Thank you for your support, understanding, and care.
APRIL GIVEAWAY WINNER: Congratulations to Christine, the winner of my April commenters giveaway. Christine, please email your mailing address to me at email@example.com. ALSO, I never heard back from the February or March winners, so I am drawing two new names. The new February winner is Jerralea, and the new March winner is Carlie. Please send your mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will get all three of the winners’ gifts in the mail to you! CONGRATULATIONS!
Today we end our journey with the seven churches of The Revelation. It is my heartfelt prayer that this study has spoken into your heart in ways that I cannot even imagine. God’s Word always accomplishes the purpose for which He gave it, and I pray His purpose has been accomplished for you and for me.
Oh, and did you want the Seven Churches chart that I am offering? I told you about it last week in THIS POST. It is a concise overview of all seven churches. If you would like to receive it, please send me an email to email@example.com.
Let us consider the words of Christ to the church at Laodicea once again, then we will examine His rebukes and promises to this body of believers. Allow your heart to be moved by His Words.
14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.
15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!
16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.
19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.
22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'”
Verses 15 and 16 were always an enigma to me. I could understand Jesus angst over a lukewarm church, and even a cold church, but a hot church? Seems to me a hot, on fire church would be exactly what He desired? How odd! Let’s dig into the meaning behind His words.
Five miles to the northwest of Laodicea was a town called Hieropolis. Hieropolis was known for a spa that boasted hot mineral baths and medical remedies. It was also known for white formations of mineral deposits on the rocks.
Ten miles to the south of Laodicea was Colossae, which was known for its pure, cold water. Visitors still drink from the springs in Colossae in 2016.
Water from both towns ran through aquaducts into Laodicea, but by the time the cold, pure water of Colossae reached Laodicea it was lukewarm. The same was true with the hot, mineral laden water from Hieropolis. When the two waters mixed in Laodicea all that was produced was a luke-warm, mineral-laden liquid that was not fit to drink. To do so would likely make one ill. Jesus says that he wishes the church at Laodicea was either a hot, healing mineral bath or a cold spring of pure water. They were neither and made Him sick.
This church was rich in worldly wealth, but spiritually bankrupt. They were self-sufficient and said they had need of nothing. In truth they were poor, blind, naked, pitiful, wretched and miserable in the eyes of the Lord. They were a church who had no need of Christ. In fact, they were a religious country club, existing for their own benefit.
Pride and self-sufficiency were the terminal diseases that afflicted this church. Recall from last week that I said Laodicea was known for its wealth, medical school, and a glossy black wool that was produced there? Jesus used each of the things for which the city was known to describe their spiritual state.
They had worldly wealth, yet they were spiritually poor
They had a world class medical school, yet they were spiritually blind
They produced a glossy black wool used for clothing, yet they were spiritually naked
Because He loved this church, Jesus rebuked them and offered them spiritual gold, spiritual clothing, and spiritual sight if only they would repent. Jesus was standing at their door, knocking, wanting to be let in so He could fellowship with them. Yet, their pride stood in the way.
For those who repented of their pride and turned to Him, Jesus promised a position of honor with Him on His throne.
The church at Laodicea has so much to teach the church in 2016. All too often, we, the body of Christ, are a pull-ourselves-up-by-the-bootstraps, I-did-it-my-way bunch. We go to Jesus as a last resort rather than the first option. Humility has been relegated to the back row, while we take pride in our buildings, budget, and bulging pews.
Jesus calls us to a deep love for Him and a humility that causes us to be utterly dependent on Him for ministry. He stands at the door of our church and our heart and knocks, waiting to be let in and loosed to work in and through us.
The video will offer the final wrap-up. Please view the video then come back to engage.