Friday, February 27, 2009

Lent & Sacrifices

I have been reading a few blogs and I feel I must put something on my own blog about Lent & sacrifices. Many religions observe Lent.....the 40+ days before Easter as a time of cleansing and reflection of what Christ accomplished on the cross. Many people ask me what "religion" I am, I tell them I have relationship.....religion is going through the motions, relationship is going through the emotions and really getting to know Jesus first as Savior, then Lord of one's life, then as Friend, and ultimately Bridegroom. But if I had to put a label on myself, it is Full Gospel. I don't observe the Lent season, but I do daily die out as God's word commands. I fast, pray, & spend time in the Secret Place with my Lord. I love to scripture dive, some call it reading God's word, but it is better then dumpster always come out of it with a precious nugget or two and smell a whole lot better then dumpster diving!

I have read a few blogs where folks are stating what they are giving up for Lent, and frankly I am saddened. It appears that man has taken God's command to fast, cleanse & purge oneself to a specific time line and have missed the whole point. God required a sacrifice for the people of the world's sin and He provided the perfect Lamb in His Son Jesus. If you ever watched The Passion of Christ, produced by Mel Gibson, then you get a pretty good idea of the depth of sacrifice Jesus made for you and me. The blogs I have read stated people where "going to go to church 1 day a week" as their Lent sacrifice. Granted they may have small children and at best I would call them going to church with small children an inconvenience at best, but not a sacrifice. We are commanded by God to "not forsake the assembly of believers" which means we should NOT forsake going and gathering with other believers. There is such strength and edification in attending church weekly. There is such love of the brethren that cannot be duplicated by any other activity....besides there is strength in numbers. The corporate anointing when believers gather for the right purpose, worshiping God, is so awesome and powerful it can put flight to ten thousand like God's word says.

According to my buddy Webster, to sacrifice is the forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a higher value or claim; the act of offering something in homage to. A sacrifice costs something....not necessarily monetarily, but it costs something. Going to church is an act of obedience, not a sacrifice by definition. In my opinion and by definition a proper sacrifice in this season of Lent would be "fasting" a favorite food or one meal a day.....fasting negative speech & attitudes (this one is a would be surprised how much negative stuff we say about ourselves, others and life in general).....fasting a TV program we would hate to miss.....heck just shutting off the old TV and spending more time with God in prayer and scripture diving!

Man has taken the very essence of God's word and twisted it to conform to man's lifestyle and agenda. I think it is time for all "Christians" to get back into God's word, back on their knees and get back to the real meaning of what it means to be a Christian....the very word means little Christ! I think it is time for all of us to get out of our selfish selves and get back to the basics of God's word....get back to the business of the Father. Many so called "Christians" are going to go through the motions of this Lent season....give up something they deem a sacrifice...then when Easter is all over they are going to go back to their old ways and habits....they bring out their Christianity a couple times of the year by attending church around Easter & Christmas and put their Christianity back on the shelf and do their own thing.

The true definition of repentance is to #1 acknowledge the sin, #2 confess the sin and ask God for forgiveness #3 to turn completely the opposite way you were walking and start walking the life of Christ.....not to acknowledge, confess, seek forgiveness and then keep doing the same old thing. We are not to be conformed to this world but transformed by the very word of God! To be conformed is an outward thing....but to be transformed is an inward work of become His glorious become His hands and feet to those around us; this in essence is the progression from servant to friend to bride! May you make this Lent season a daily season beloved brother/sister in Christ. May you come to fully understand all that Jesus gave up and sacrificed for are the precious pearl He gave all to have! May you surrender your rights and desires to obtain His character & will. It is a sweet surrender, a perilous journey but an excellent one nonetheless. God Bless!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sacrifice of Service

Still pondering and churning around in my spirit this servant, friend, bride thing. Last night at church all I could do was cry and weep at His awesome feet. Pastor asked if I needed prayer, I told her I had no clue what was going on other then I just couldn't stop crying and I felt somewhat dead inside. During her study on Song of Solomon (yep a deep topic) she eluded to why I am such a "hard hat zone" these days. Back at the first of the year, my beloved Pastor/Shepherdess received the word of the Lord for the year "Be fruitful & multiply within"....meaning we are to be fruitful & multiply into His image first within each person, then our immediate body, then the immediate body of Christ, then into the world. Lot to do in such a short time it would seem. She & I also started discussing the 3 types of people that are at the wedding feast.....the servants, the friends, & the bride. It was then I uttered a prayer.....Lord I want to be Your bride.

You know when we tell God or ask Him to do something we must always remember He will! So back to last night, last night in the middle of her talk on SOS (sounds a bit funny huh?) she looks straight at me and tells me that what I am going through should give me such joy in the midst of such pain. I am engaged! Yep engaged to the King of kings & Lord of lords....that thought alone is what is moving me closer to what He desires....a beautiful spotless bride. I am fully engaged to the Lord and He is fully engaged in me, transforming me into His glorious bride. Here I thought I was in Servant stage....but somehow, somewhere I went to the next stage which is Friend. In the Friend stage you keep serving. Somehow I went through this stage to now being groomed as Bride....what a whirlwind adventure.

Some of what He is pulling out of me in the midst of this transformation I have His mercy and grace to not look upon it. Some of it He is showing me with His tender mercy and with His grace I am overcoming it. I find how He does things quite interesting in the midst of this.....His banner of love is over me and He keeps speaking words of encouragement & hope everywhere I turn.

Yesterday's Oswald was "The Delight of Service" 2 Corinthians 12:15 "I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls....." The delight of sacrifce is that I lay down my life for my Friend Jesus Christ (see John 15:13). I don't thow my life away, but I willingly and deliberately lay it down for Him and His interests in other people. All I could say was WOW when I caught my breathe after reading this....for I have prayed Lord let me spend and be spent for You.

Today's Oswald....well hang onto your shorts as granny would say.... "The Destitution of Service" 2 Corinthians 12:15 "...thought the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved." Paul's idea of service was the same as our Lord's. he did not care how high the cost was to himself -- he would gladly pay it. It was Paul's delight to spend his life for God's interests in other people, and he did not care what it cost. is crazy! I had spoken to the Lord when I first came back to Him "my life for You" and have rededicated myself to Him throughout the past 9 years. God has called me Esther many times over the past 9 years.....Esther only had one goal in the midst of her preparation time, to find out what pleased the king and to fulfill that goal. I like Esther have been discovering what pleases my Lord and been quick to give to Him what pleases Him heart, my life, my worship, my meek and meager it may be.

A good friend this morning gave me Philippians 2:13 this morning "for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." So there by the grace of God go I.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Determination to Serve

The first step of serving is the thought of serving and putting feet to that thought, purposing in one's heart to serve. "The Son of Man did not come to be serve, but to serve....." Matthew 20:28. Oswald Chambers put it this way "Once we realize that Jesus Christ has served us even to the depths of our meagerness, our selfishness, and our sin, nothing we encounter from others will be able to exhaust our determination to serve others for HIS sake."

So what does it mean to "serve". According to my friend serve is "to work for, to prepare and offer, to provide goods and services for, to assist, to be of assitance to or promote the interests of, to spend or complete, to fight or undergo military service for, to give homage and obedience to, to act toward another in a specified way, to meet the needs or requirements of, to deliver or present." When we "wait" upon the Lord we really are serving Him, such as a waiter would serve in a restaurant.

What/how do you serve the King of kings and Lord of lords? What do you serve Him.....simply put you serve give Him anything/everything He asks of you. You give Him first and foremost your heart. God's word says "worship the Lord with all your heart, mind & soul." To worship Him in the manner He is most deserving we human beings lack on our own what is required. But HE is ever faithful...whatever He requires He readily provides. We all were created to is within us, if we would only remove ourselves and let our hearts sing the songs of worship they were created & indued with.

When we truly love God....I mean truly....serving Him is as easy as breathing. You won't think about how, when, or will truly be a human "being" and will serve without realizing. Second thing needed to serve...availability. A very dear Pastor & friend told me to just "be". What does that mean? Well it means to just relax in the Lord....don't strive or struggle....just be the best Bert I can be for the moment and to just relax in God's love. When I relax I find I can be more readily HIS hands & feet to those around me without much effort or thought. When I try it in my "own" power it is exhausting. Relax and make yourself readily available and the Lord will do the rest. HE will bring those that need help along your path, you won't have to go or look far! Even in my meagerness, what seems my lack, I can still serve Him by serving others. Sometimes it is a sacrifice financially, but God always makes up the difference in abundance. Sometimes to serve others is just simply being God's arms of comfort with a hug.....sometimes it is just caring and praying for the person.....sometimes it is a sack of groceries given when no one notices.....sometimes it is just a card or note of encouragement when someone is down.....sometimes it is a smile towards a stranger in the grocery store, you never know just that smile might brighten someone's dreary day.

Seek God's wonderful face and HE will show you how to become His hands & feet....the very hands & feet of the most wonderful Servant of all. God Bless!