Two-Hundred & Fifty Bucks
This month my husband and I had an extra two-hundred and fifty bucks. Sweet! More we can put in savings! After making said transfer to savings, I really felt like Jesus wanted us to be generous with it instead. I told my husband about this feeling and asked if he would pray with me about who should be the recipient. A friend? A co-worker? Our neighbors? No one in particular was coming to mind yet, so we kept it in savings and continued praying for direction.
This morning I was reading in John 2 and was thinking about how I could be more intentionally grateful to God. My mind wheels starting turning and I began to think about times I felt generous. Typically it has happened after someone else has been generous first. Not because I’m a completely selfish person, but because their generosity reminds me of mine. Of course there are the times that Jesus just fills your heart with complete selfless openhandedness. Usually when that happens to me it is because I’m recalling what Jesus did for me in the first place.
Today was one of those days I felt full of generosity. As I ended my quiet time I prayed specifically for Jesus to give me a sign of who we should bless with the extra money He provided. As I ended my prayer and opened my looking-balls, I saw my neighbors house. I asked Jesus to make my neighbor walk in front of my house if that is who He wanted us to give the money to. Of course, that did not happen so I decided I would just write about generosity instead.
As I searched my Bible for verses on generosity Jesus took me to this one.
“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
JESUS! Ok, I will stop asking you for visions to compel me, but I will simply act on what you placed in my heart. I went over to my neighbor’s house, two-hundred and fifty dollars in hand and rang the bell. My heart has never beaten so fast, nor my pits been so sweaty. As the door opened, I suddenly felt confident and calm. I explained to my neighbor Angie and her son that I felt God tell me to give them this money and I wasn’t exactly sure why I was supposed to. She thanked me, closed the door and I was on my way. The end.
When I was about back to my house, Angie threw her door open and shouted “He must have heard me! God must have heard me!” I turned and almost uncontrollably starting sprinting towards her. She told me about how her youngest son’s birthday was yesterday and they hadn’t had enough money this month to get him anything and were about short on their electric bill as well. She also said someone at the hotel she works at had left her a $6 tip and a note with Acts 2:38 on it.
“Peter relied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
She asked me what it meant. I explained that Jesus died specifically for her and every sin she’s ever committed or would commit. If she believes in her heart that that is true, repents of her sins then she is forgiven and would have the gift of the Holy Spirit. I then asked her if she’d ever been saved. She said no, she didn’t know how.
I took her hands and asked if I could pray for her. She nodded and Jesus took over. He used me to lead her to Him. I can’t promise Jesus will use you for something this miraculous every time He calls you to do something, but I can promise you that obeying Him is worth the sweaty pits.
I started today with two-hundred and fifty dollars and I ended it with a new sister in Christ.
Thank you Jesus for loving Angie enough to use me to pursue her and for loving me enough to reveal yourself more clearly than ever.
Wider, Longer, Higher & Deeper
When you are measuring something, you typically measure its height, depth, width and length. When getting so personal with said measurable object, you eventually come to understand everything about it, including its capabilities and limits. Not too long ago I built my first, and possibly last, piece of furniture. I measured the wall I wanted it to live on and I measured the length, height and width of the wood I was using to built it. I even measured the brackets, screws and nails I’d be using to piece it together.
I knew everything about this piece of furniture. I understood what its purpose would become and exactly where it would fit.
Ephesians 3:18 says “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”
If we are being completely honest, I don’t think any of us will ever completely grasp just how wide, long, high and deep Jesus’ love for us is. But, if we don’t attempt to measure it we will never understand its purpose and exactly where it fits.
Jesus loves each and every one of us because He is love. “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). If you are something, you will inevitably produce it. A designer produces designs…a painter produces paintings…a dancer produces dance…a lover produces love.
So God has this immeasurable love for us because He is love and we are His creations, but where does it fit? My furniture fit where I wanted it to go. It was a custom piece for an exact spot.
God’s love for you will fit where you let it. God gives His love freely, but there isn’t always a wall for it to live on. Want His love for you to shine in your finances? Give Him control. Would you like to see His love in your marriage? Put Him first. Dying to have His love through your hardships? Let go and trust Him.
While it’s beneficial to understand the purpose of God’s love and where it belongs in your life, you will never have to measure God’s love because it is wider, longer, higher and deeper than you will ever need.
Strangers. People you don’t know. They can either be intimidating or approachable. For example…there is that sweet looking old lady waddling out of the grocery store who is struggling to open her trunk and juggle her shopping bags. You don’t know her at all, but because of her gentle and warm appearance and demeanor you willing, without hesitation, offer her a hand…stranger type number one. Stranger type number two is that dirty weird guy begging you for spare change or a ride that you quickly brush past and do everything in your power to avoid helping. Both in need of assistance, both placed in front of you.
Now imagine the old lady is actually the weird dirty guy in disguise and the weird dirty guy is actually the old lady in disguise. Inception, right? Would you help the grimy outsider if you knew he was really the sweet pie-baking granny?
A synonym for stranger is guest. The definition of guest is person accommodated, given hospitality.
Hebrews 13:2 says “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”
Strangers are people we don’t know. Or…strangers are people we are meant to know. The choice is yours, but you never know who you might be entertaining…
19 September, 2012
Whenever I read a book I always skip the prologue, epilogue, postscript, afterword, acknowledgement and/or “About the Author” sections. I honestly don’t see the point in introducing a story just to introduce a story and I’m not buying a book to learn about the author. I’m looking for an intriguing story with captivating plot twists and an ending worth reading for. Needless to say, I’m ready to get right to the meat in the middle! (That’s what she said.)
A good book will keep my attention throughout. I may only yawn once or twice and I will usually finish it in less than a week. A good book may inspire me to purchase the second, become a detective, bite a werewolf, change something about myself and/or write my own book. This book’s particular inspiration came straight from one of the parts I always skip–A Final Word:
“No matter who you are or what situation you find yourself in, God wants good things for you. That’s what He wants for all His children. He wants us to experience the life, joy, and peace found in Christ—everything that comes with living an unleashed life. It might not always look the way we want it to look, but because He is both holy and good, we can trust that what He wants for us is always greater than what we want.”
Ecclesiastes 8:15 comes to mind…”So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun.”
No matter what I have done or who I used to be, God wants the best for me simply because I am His daughter. He doesn’t care about my prologue, but wants me to focus on the meat in the middle. (That’s what she said, again.) He desperately wants me to unleash myself from myself so that I can live the life He has given me the way He intended…intriguing with captivating plot twists and an ending worth living for.
Perry Noble’s book “Unleash!” not only broke my pattern of never reading pro or epilogues, but kept my attention throughout. This book inspired me to dream of the second, detect my next steps, take a bite out of disbelief, change to be more like Jesus and write this post.
I finished it in 2 days…now THAT’S a good book. www.unleashbook.com & you can pick it up at Amazon.com
With Faith As Small As A Gummy Bear…
31 August, 2012
Last Saturday night was one of the best nights of my life! No, I wasn’t at a party, winning the lottery, giving birth or accepting an award at the VMA’s. I was in a car for 10 hours with 2 friends, a Justin Bieber CD, a cooler of energy drinks and 3 pounds of gummy bears. I know what you are thinking…that sounds fun and all, but how could that possibly be one of the best nights of your life?? Here’s how: I was obeying God without hesitation, despite the awkwardness and regardless of the distance.
The night before, NewSpring Church was having a Night of Worship for anyone and everyone who wanted to attend. The message was about the healing of a paralytic in Mark 2. “Some men came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’” (Mark 2:3-5) Because of the faith of the four men and their willingness to do whatever it took to bring their friend to Jesus, Jesus healed and saved the paralytic.
At that very moment in our Pastor’s message, Lindsey, Sara and I knew we had to do whatever it took to bring our friend to Jesus. Not in judgement of her or because we think “she needs Jesus the most”, but because we love her and want her healed and saved. People thought we were crazy to drive 10 hours for someone who would most likely say no. Even in our own minds it sounded crazy and we realistically assumed a negative outcome. We hardly know her. But, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8) and He did save that paralytic because of his friends’ faith, so…what the heck! We went.
Every hour on the hour we prayed. Our prayers changed as we got closer and more nervous. We even had our friends and family nationwide praying for our adventure. Gummy bears are delicious, but they couldn’t answer prayers nor could they keep our nervously sweaty pits…or feet…dry. We called our friend 15 minutes before we arrived.
No answer. We texted, called and called some more. We went by her work, not there. We called again.
The lack of response caused a bit of frustration and doubt. Were we doing the right thing? Are we stalkers? Is this really what God wanted us to do? We decided to read the first part of James 1:6 out loud, repeatedly. “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt…But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt…”
We decided we needed to find a place to sit and wait. We asked Jesus to guide our steps and determined Sara was to pick the restaurant we would eat and wait at. Her immediate response? Mexican. We were literally trusting Jesus to guide our car to the closest Mexican restaurant. As we drove down unfamiliar roads, turned into an unfamiliar yet hopeful shopping mall, the only restaurant in the whole place was…a mexican one. Jesus was using tacos and beans to expand our faith in Him and eliminate any doubt Satan wanted to plant.
We ate and called our friend again…and again. We texted again. We called, yet again. No answer.
We had been given the address where our friend was staying and decided it was time to see if she was home. As we drove, we felt we needed more scripture to comfort us and give us the courage we lacked. We immediately went to Matthew 7:7-8. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
As we got closer to her house our pits became wetter and our prayers firmer. With my Bible still open, I decided to flip the page and asked Jesus to guide my eyes. They were attracted to red print. Matthew 8:26…“You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Jesus was speaking right to us! I looked up and back down again. Matthew 9:28…“Do you believe that I am able to do this?” Well now we do! I looked up and back down once more. Matthew 9:29…“According to your faith will it be done to you.”
With our now unbreakable faith, unshakable courage and unchanging Savior, we pulled up to her house.
Surprise! She wasn’t home. We decided to regroup at a gas station we had seen down the street. We felt we needed to position our car facing the road so if she came home, we would see her drive by. I realize we do in fact sound like stalkers, but if you could have been there the presence of Jesus was undeniable.
We waited. We prayed. We saw her car. Immediately we thanked Jesus for placing us exactly where we needed to be. We headed to her house and decided that if that wasn’t really her car or she still wasn’t home for some reason, we were going to knock on the door regardless and try to get some answers.
She was in fact not home, nor was that her car, but Jesus needed to give us something to follow His plan. Were we really going to just leave after driving all day and not at least knock on a door that could be opened to us? Not everyone who is called to obey something God instilled in their heart sees the growth of the seeds planted. We couldn’t leave without planting all of our seeds. So we knocked on the door, spoke with the family and learned she would not be home until tomorrow.
As soon as we were back in the car and headed home, we all felt we accomplished what Jesus sent us for. I can’t tell you exactly what that was but I can say Jesus revealed Himself to three girls who were brave enough to try. To some, our adventure may look like a waste of time…but to us, we believe it was the beginnings of an open roof.
'Simon 1.2' by mikedidthis.