Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Not the owner

Note: All quotations are from "Shaken Not Shattered" by Matthew Hagee, published by Charisma House, 2009.

When I was in Kansas City for a conference I found myself searching TV early on Sunday morning for a glimpse of worship. Our daily session had a starting time of 8:00 sharp, so visiting a church for Sunday morning worship was not an option. As a possible alternative, I stood with remote in hand cruising the options for worship with doubts of success. Fortunately, I landed on a sermon by Matthew Hagee. The message was clear and energized me for the day.

The topic was "Shaken Not Shattered" with a clear message that no matter what trials and tribulations we experience, God is still God. He is Unshakable. He is Almighty.

Just recently I purchase his book that expounds that sermon. Although I am not finished with it, I already see areas that need my repentance, forgiveness, and humility.

One point is that priorities need to be kept straight. God is in control and when I try to do things my way, taking charge of all areas of my life, I shift Him out of the picture and put myself in the driver seat. "In truth, the more we try to take over our lives, the more totally out of control we become on every level... However, no matter how much power and influence you possess, you will always serve in the capacity of management and not in ownership... "

Indeed, "God is not here to fit into our busy lives and exist only when and where it is convenient for us. Remember the first commandment? 'Thou shall have no other gods before Me.' That means that in order for the King of kings to rule in our lives, our personal desires have to be dethroned.... You and I are here to function on His schedule for His glory and to pursue His purpose."

As I scramble this semester with many hours of prep, grading papers, and responding to students too often I have left out studying His word, praying, or singing songs with rejoicing. He had been sent to the back burner as my efforts focused on just keeping up with the daily requirements.

Had I asked for His help and blessing on my time? Had I set aside that one more check to my online classes to spend some time in His Word or say a prayer or listen for His voice?

Put Him in control.... I'm not the owner, He is. All that I have is His...

Oh Lord, help me to be humble, recognizing you as Maker, Unshakable, Almighty. As I try to take control and be strong in ways that take my focus off of You, help me to see my selfishness. Help me to remember that I am not the owner, but simply the manager that needs directives through prayer to carry out Your plan.

Work humility, gentleness, kindness, and self-sacrifice into my daily walk with you. Forgive me for finding other things more important in my time to the point of leaving you out of regular study and devotion. Help me to serve You and put no other gods above you...

Thank you for messengers along the way to remind me of Your ways. Thank you for brothers and sisters in Christ to help guide and encourage. Help me give all that I have back to You -- time, talents, skills, love, money, spaces... all oh, Lord.

In Jesus' name... Amen....

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Is 100% enough?

Several weeks ago I preached at two neighboring churches to enable to the pastor to have some time off from the pulpit. In preparation I typically explore many different avenues for God's possible message, exploring the assigned lectionary scriptures for details or new meaning, searching for reminders of His work or path for us.

My second week as worship leader brought me to studying and searching with limited time. The harder I tried to go beyond my original inkling of a message resulted in new meetings, conflicts and challenges added within the calendar. Although I prepared the service and lead with confidence, my heart was heavy driving from one church to the next. I had not taken opportunity to dive into the Word and explore nuance of meaning. Instead, I had merely pulled together the service and message that I felt appropriate -- and then called it good. But that 30 minute drive between churches made me doubt what I really had given to the Lord.

Would the congregation members hear a message from their God and Savior? Would the people hear a message directly to the individual and pressing them toward life in Christ? Would my words be enough?

The question kept looming over me... Would my words be enough? And then a voice whispered in my ear.

A voice spoke clearly that the work that I offer is not my own. The work that I do is God's work. He uses my voice. He uses my hands. He uses my feet. The work is God's work -- He is the One that speaks to the heart of those listening. He is the One that draws others to Him. He is God. It is not my words that make a flick of a difference to any that are there. It is God's speaking and breathing life into those words.


I am reminded of several scriptures:
Phil 2:13 ... for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
God is working with us -- we are but clay for Him to mold and shape after His will. He can use what I offer, but it is not MY working -- but HIS working.

Heb. 13:20 Now the God of peace who brought up from the dead for the great Shepherd of the sheep though the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
God is the one who does the work -- using me as a vessel for His service. He is working... for His glory.

My questions as I drove kept coming back to giving 100%. I felt that with the resources that I have, I had given Him 100%. I had given Him all the possible time that I had to give. I had given all the possible studying and all possible devotion. Why did I feel that one should give more time, more devotion, more studying, more of myself for Him?

And then it hit. I wanted to give Him more. I wanted to study more. I wanted to search more. But time just simply did not allow.

I had given Him 100%. Was it enough???

In the still voice, I heard, "100% is enough." It is not what Rebecca does, anyway. It is what God does with those small offerings of words, prayers, etc, that makes the difference to any one person.

The widow gave what she could, and her story is recorded for us all to learn a lesson. (Mark 12:41-44) Give what you can and the Lord blesses it for His use.

Allow God that opportunity to use what we offer. With His grace, stand confident that what is offered He can use.

He can take my 100% and make it work something valuable -- if I allow that. Offer what I have to Him, and ask Him within His mercy to use it as He wills.