Thursday, March 21, 2013

Am I "ALL" in?

Proverbs 3:5,6 says "Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight."

As I meditated on this verse today, I was struck square in the face by the word "ALL".  It clearly states that we are expected to trust God with ALL our heart and acknowledge Him in ALL our ways.  Webster defines the word "ALL" as "the full or whole amount of", "entirely, purely, consumed".  So if we substitute one of these definitions in this verse, it reads

"Trust in the Lord with the full or whole amount of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in the full or whole amount of your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight". 

Just like the song by Janis Joplin says we should give God "every little piece of our heart".  But how many of us truly do this?  True surrender is a heart sold out to God- can you say that every piece of your heart belongs to your heavenly Father? 

I'll be honest...  I know there are parts of my heart that do not belong to God.  I long to give it all to Him but I struggle with letting go and fully surrendering it all.  What I do know though is that when I choose to trust Him and not lean on my own understanding that my faith builds and my heart can't help to draw closer to God.

A few Sundays ago, I was at the alter on my knees, begging for God to take away an upcoming trial.  I was honest with Him- I did not want to do it- I needed Him to take it away- I wanted no part of it.  The reality was that I was going to endure the trial- it would have been an act of God for it to be removed.  After praying, I was able to stand up from that alter with a renewed assurance and peace that I could do it- that He would be with me, allowing me to endure the trial.  In the midst of the trial, I have walked this very verse- trusting God to see me through and not allowing my own feelings to dictate my heart.  As I acknowledge God through the trial, He has paved a straight path filled with peace, patience, joy and even love. 

So what about your heart?  How much of it does God occupy?  Are you still holding tight to pieces of your heart- scared to trust and follow God? 

Relax your grip, hold out your hand- God loves you so much that He will take care of "every little piece of your heart".


Monday, March 11, 2013

Honoring through Holiness

As we study the book of Leviticus this week, I am challenging myself to answer some tough questions.  The Leviticus DVD from The Amazing Collection proposed some interesting questions.  Instead of focusing on the "weirdness" of Leviticus, I have been pondering the theme of this interesting book- Holiness.

  • What is holiness & what does it look like?
  • How do I begin to be holy in a "not so holy world"?
  • Am I pursuing holiness or happiness in my daily life?
  • Is it even possible to be set apart to God so that I can be used by God?
Not easy questions but then again, is this a topic that we want easy answers.  Becoming holy or sanctified (which is a Christianese terms for "cleaning up your act") should not be a process that we take lightly.  As we set ourselves apart from the things of the world so that we can honor God, we become more like Christ- this is a lifelong process.

In the world of Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, we are constantly bombarded with information about how people want to be perceived, opinions that have and photos of experiences they graciously share. 

So if God looked at your life by checking out your Pinterest page, what would He see posted on your cork board?
  • Would love, joy, patience, peace be evident?  Would goodness, kindness, gentleness be  apparent in your life?  Would you have banner for self-control and faithfulness?
  • How about the way you use your time?  Would your daily activities reflect God's priorities or yours? 
  • What about your talents and treasure?  Do you use your God-given talents to honor God?  Where are you spending your treasure?
  • How is your tongue?  Do you honor God with your words or are you quick to fall back into old habits and patterns?
My car has three magnet bumper stickers on the back- a runner girl, a cross with the words Faith, and a elementary school logo.  Each one of those stickers represent the priorities in my life but if the bumper stickers weren't there, how would people describe me based on my daily life?

I believe that God ultimately is looking at our heart- that is where holiness needs to start.  Matthew 6:21 says "for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also".  If I partner with God to clean up my heart then my life should naturally reflect holiness. 

This is important because God uses our light to draw others to Him- so we need to be careful on how we live and act because you might be the only Bible that someone ever reads.  2 Corinthians 2:14-16 says "but thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.  For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life."  Not everyone we come in contact with will think we "smell" good- our love for Jesus will turn some people off but for the ones who think we smell sweet- we are offering an eternal opportunity for them to know Christ now and forever.

I challenge you to ask yourself some of these same questions and ask God to show you what needs cleaning up in your life.  God never wants to leave us where He found us- He wants to move us forward to a life that reflects His goodness, joy, patience, peace, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control and most of all.... love.