Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Simple, Pure, Devotion

I watch her. Brush, pat, talk to and even attempt to listen to the horse she will ride. She, to the best of her 10 year old ability, saddles her horse and waits for her teacher to give her a leg up. She soaks up every word of her instructor and wants to be just like her when she's older. I smile because my child is happy and confident. Eager to learn the next thing and even more eager to apply it. She is in love with that hour each week and longs for it to come. It's during that hour that she thrives doing something she loves.

She sits this way for what seems like forever. Sword at her side, deep breathing, quiet, focused and you better believe serious. Then, she moves. She goes over each of the twelve forms three times each. Her mind is focused on perfecting each step of the form. When she is focused, there is no distracting her. Her eyes and heart are fixed on the task at hand, but September is on her mind. September is when she will test for her black belt in her sword class. She is devoted to martial arts. It's her gifting, her calling and she is happiest when she is in "karate world".

Two different girls with two very different callings. One important thing in common. Devotion.

Devotion to what they love and what God has called them to.

Devoted to studying this thing they are so passionate about.

Devoted to applying what their teachers show them.

Devoted to finishing well.

Their example challenges me to be completely devoted and diligent to the things God has called me to. As our ladies group finishes our study on busyness, I've been challenged to do two things as we prepare for another school year.

1. Seek the Lord. Does He really want me "doing" everything I've been doing. Does anything need to stop for a season.

2. Be diligent and devoted in the areas He has called me to. (and as He spoke so tenderly to this heart last confident when you are told to say no. It really is an okay answer.)

And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever." 1 Chronicles 28:9 NIV

Check out how the Message words this verse...

"And you, Solomon my son, get to know well your father's God; serve him with a whole heart and eager mind, for God examines every heart and sees through every motive. If you seek him, he'll make sure you find him, but if you abandon him, he'll leave you for good. Look sharp now! God has chosen you to build his holy house. Be brave, determined! And do it!" 1 Chronicles 28:9 The Message

Lord, help me to be brave, determined and devoted to the things you have called me to do. I want to hear you say well done.

Friday, July 15, 2011

I Peter 5:6 - SSMT #14

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” I Peter 5:6

These 16 words wrecked me. I had been trying so hard to make something happen. Something really good, something positive. It was a holy desire, an idea or dream that only God Himself could plant in this heart. How do I know this? Because this insecure, scaredy cat would NEVER have put herself in this position. NEVER EVER would I have come up with this one.

Things were not progressing like I thought they would or should. I felt like my life was a giant 5,000 piece puzzle. While I had an idea of what the puzzle was supposed to look like, I didn't have a detailed picture to show me the end product. My heart's desire was to do what God had called me to do, but I was frustrated. That frustration led to many questions. My journal became a list of questions and I sounded like a spoiled brat. Pages full of me, me, me, I, I, plan, my desire, my ability....get the picture? Selfish, self-centered, self-promoting bologna.

I'm so thankful that I can look back and say that during that time God was gracious, merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love. (Psalm 103:8) He was tender and gentle, placing godly Bible teachers in my daily life that encouraged me to not walk away from that calling, but to stop trying to work the puzzle. To do exactly what this verse in I Peter says to do.

1. Humble yourself. Yes, we all have gifts/abilities. I was challenged to evaluate my motives to make sure they were to glorify God, not me. What is the root of my "want to". God promotion or Stephanie promotion.

2. Under God's mighty hand. Properly positioned. Safe under the protective hand of Almighty God. THE giver of the ability. He gave it for a reason, but until He says "it's time", the best place to be is under His hand. This is where He continues to shape us and prepare us for the task He has planned.

3. That He may lift you up. I can't speak for you, but I would much rather God do the heavy lifting. Mercy, I'm heavy! Speaking from past experience, any attempt on my part to lift myself up just ends up with a nasty fall.

4. In due time. What else can be said. God's time isn't always my time, but God's time? God's time is best. Rushing to be "lifted up" is so dangerous. In the rush we miss lessons that are vital to accomplishing what God has called us to do. His timing is perfect.

I have to say, the way The Message words this verse made the sting a little stronger.

So be content with who you are, and don't put on airs. God's strong hand is on you; he'll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.

I'm so thankful that He is careful with us. As hard as this lesson can be, God is faithful. He doesn't just leave us out there to figure it all out on our own. No. I believe that He delights in seeing us through this process. I believe He smiles as He places each puzzle piece of our life into place. He already sees the finished product, He was the designer. And our God...He has some incredible designs.

Lord, help me to be content and to stay under your strong and mighty hand until you are ready to move me.