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Giving Leftovers



Matthew 25:40 (NLT)
And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters you were doing it to me!’

I had what I call an ‘ah-ha’ moment yesterday.  You may have seen the light bulb blinking over my head.  As I closed my vegetable garden this week, I harvested a bunch of kale for the food cupboard.  My kale production this year was plentiful and I’m frankly tired of finding ways to use it or give it away.  I was relieved to be rid of a huge bag I didn’t have to wash and cook.

That is all wrong – completely backwards!

I should have been stripping my garden every other week for the food cupboard instead of giving them the leftovers.  Within 3 or 4 days my garden would have produced more and I may have actually enjoyed a few days without kale (and zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes…).  My giving was convenient, not generous.

Interestingly, others jump to rationalize my actions:  “You’re feeding a family.”  “You don’t want to run out.”  Why are we touched by self-sacrificing acts of kindness we hear about on the internet but hesitant to encourage such radical gestures?  Why, when a friend feels called to give sacrificially, do we point out the logic against it?  I’m talking about vegetables, not a kidney.

Jesus calls us to a generosity that doesn’t make sense in this world economy.  I gave Jesus leftovers.

Those Annoying People!

Matthew 6:27-28
Love your enemies, do
good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who
mistreat you.
Confession:  I am quick to judge. I have a visceral
response to people I don’t like.  It’s a
character trait I struggle with.  My
roommates used to say they knew within seconds from my body language whether or
not I liked someone.
We all
encounter people we don’t particularly care for.  Who comes to mind?  Are they annoying, critical or
opinionated?  Self-centered, lazy or
needy?  What is it about them that bothers
you? 
How
about the person who has hurt us or offended one of our children?  We may not call them an enemy, but we
certainly wouldn’t invite them to dinner. 
They succeeded where we failed or spoke hurtful words.  We keep a close eye on them and watch our
backs.
Jesus
calls us to love these particular people. 
Not just in theory but in action. 
We are to serve them.  It’s easy to be kind to people we like.  Christians are called to be overtly loving to
the rest.  That’s what we mean when we sing ‘they’ll know
we are Christians by our love’ (go ahead, hum the song). Our love doesn’t make
sense to non-Christians.  Our love stands
out. Our love identifies us.
I like
to think I have improved over the years at controlling my body language.  But that’s probably not true.  God has changed my heart to see His people
differently.
John 13:34-35
“A new command I give
you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one
another.  By this everyone will know that
you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

You Are Worth It

Matthew 26:27-28 (paraphrased from the NLT)

He took the cup and gave it to them saying, “Each of
you drink from it, for this is my blood which confirms that you are God’s
beloved.”
The Women of Faith conference this weekend was
amazing.  There were inspiring speakers,
plenty of laughter, music and praise and a beautiful message:

Believe that God treasures you.  Be filled with His love.  Believe Christ died because you are worth it.

No matter what your past looks like.  No matter what your life right now looks
like.  God longs to have a relationship
with you.  He wants to fill your heart
with His love.  He created you, His
precious child, and He wants to hold you in His arms.

In communion we remember that Jesus shed His blood so
our sins are forgiven.  This Truth is
universal but also extremely personal. 
Jesus died for you.  He would have
lived, suffered and died even if He only rescued you.  It is True. 
As you accept the bread and cup, hear Jesus whisper to your soul “This
is my blood, shed for you.  You are worth
it!”

Believe God Can Do Anything

Philippians 4:13 (NIV)  
I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.

I’m excited to be heading to Hartford for the Women of Faith conference Believe God Can Do Anything.  I am just beginning to experience the truth of this and know I will be stretched by the speakers.  I announced in September that God had called me to an impossible Fall schedule.  My motto and goal was ‘Trust God’.  I gave you all the freedom to remind me to trust when I started to get frantic.  I’m half way to Christmas and God has provided generously.  Phew!  There is no way I could have maintained my sanity not to mention calm through it all.  Not everything has gone perfectly, and there is much yet to accomplish, but the 27 women going with me this weekend have a bed, food and tickets!  God is good.

I pray that hearts are touched and women are inspired to dream big dreams knowing He uses our inability to show His strength.

Reality Check

Isaiah 33:6 (NLT) In
that day He will be your sure foundation, providing a rich store of salvation,
wisdom, and knowledge.  The fear of the
Lord will be your treasure.

Bible study author, Priscilla Shirer, recommends this
exercise as part of Discerning the Voice of God:  Rank the following activities from 1 to 8
with 1 being the activity to which you devote the most time and 8 being the
activity on which you spend the least time. 
Order the list before you continue reading.

  • Watching television
  • Reading novels
  • Reading Scripture
  • Reading magazines
  • Surfing the internet
  • Working / Parenting
  • Talking on the telephone
  • Pursuing other hobbies

What
does your ranking reveal about your priorities?

If God’s
Word ranks low on your list, how can He speak to you through Scripture?  Our goal should be to saturate ourselves in
His Word.  The more Scripture you have
hidden in your heart, the more likely He will be to bring it to mind and use it
to direct you. 

                                         

Does
saturating yourself sound really overwhelming and tedious?  Start small. 
You’re already reading Scripture in this devotion!

Each
week select one or two that are meaningful to you.  Post them in a place you visit frequently
(car dashboard, bathroom mirror, kitchen sink). 
Every time you pass by, read and think about what the Scripture means
and how it could apply to your life.  Later,
you may not remember the verse word for word, but the meaning will have shaped
your conscience.

Digging for Treasure

Proverbs 2:1-6 (NLT)

My child, listen to what I say,
    and
treasure my commands.
Tune your ears to
wisdom,
    and
concentrate on understanding.
Cry out for insight,
    and
ask for understanding.
Search for them as you
would for silver;
    seek
them like hidden treasures.
Then you will
understand what it means to fear the Lord,
    and
you will gain knowledge of God.
For the Lord grants wisdom!
    From
his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
                                                                                                                   
Do you dig through your accessory drawer to find just
the right gem (or tie) for the day?  You
have go-to favorites.  One corner has a
particular color.  What suits your mood
or makes you feel beautiful?  Some days
yield a quick pick while other days you linger in thought.  Some days you forget entirely.  Accessorizing has become a habit.  Routine. 
Finding a daily message from God’s book of wisdom might take some
practice too, but  you will learn to tune
your ears.
I like to read a verse several times and let it tumble
around in my head as I go about my morning chores.  Where does the verse take my thoughts and
why?  What does it mean for my life?  Sometimes a word or phrase jumps off the
screen and slaps me in the face offering encouragement, affirmation, a new
perspective, conviction or correction.   Reading
different translations can expand the nuances of a verse because the original
Hebrew and Greek don’t always translate easily to English.  If one verse or devotion doesn’t speak to me,
I read another.  Almost every day, one of
the devotions I read contains a personal message.

Search for God’s message as you would for silver; seek
His wisdom like hidden treasures.

The Movie of Life

1 Peter 1:24-45 (NLT) – As the Scriptures say, “People are like
grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the
flower fades. But the word of the Lord remains forever.” And that word is the
Good News that was preached to you.
  
Author
Francis Chan talks about the movie of life. 
This movie starts when God says “Let there be…” God is Love so He
creates humans with whom He can be in relationship.  The people rebel and turn away.  God floods the earth, but gives Noah and his
descendants a second chance.  As the
movie progresses, God calls Abram, Joseph, Moses, judges, kings and prophets.  In the fullness of time Jesus enters the
scene and teaches us The Way of life. 
Jesus dies and rises to rescue us from sin so we might be part of God’s
spectacular final scene.  Jesus will come
again just before the film’s climax. 
This is
the movie of life and it is all about God. 
Somewhere between Jesus’ resurrection and His return, our lives are a
blip on the screen – a tenth of a second flash. 
So why
do we live our lives as though the movie were all about us?  Our purpose in the movie of life is to advance
the plot.  Our whole existence should
point to God.  We will wither and fade,
but God’s script plays on forever.

It’s Alive!

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper
than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between
joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

Let’s
think about the longevity of the Bible. 
Most of the Old Testament, of course, is the Jewish scripture that was
in use long before Jesus’ birth and continues to be the foundation of the
Jewish faith.  The New Testament was
written and compiled in the first century. 
It’s important to remember that it was written while eye witnesses were
still alive who could have refuted the content, but didn’t.  Though debated and studied, it’s Truth has
held for more than 2000 years.

But the
Bible is not just a historical document. 
It’s alive and relevant!  I find
that a familiar verse or story can reveal different insight as my life (or even
my mood) changes. When I read Scripture as more than information, God can use
it to send me a personal message.  When I
allow Scripture to expose my innermost thoughts and desires, it has the power
to transform me.  Sometimes He brings me
encouragement or comfort.  Sometimes
Scripture helps me identify with a person or situation.  Sometimes it cuts right to the quick and
hurts.

Do you read
Scripture for information?  Or do you
allow it to be relevant and powerful in your life?

Scripture Is Useful

2
Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT)

All
Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make
us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and
teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to
do every good work.
Most
mornings I use Biblegateway.com’s verse of the day for my reflections.  I love that ever since I published this blog,
the daily verses have been about the importance of Scripture.  Truly there are no coincidences.  God is affirming our need to put His Word
into our hearts and lives.
All
Scripture is inspired by God.  We could
probably have a great discussion about the authority of God’s Word.  Yes, it was written by man and a group of men
decided which writings to include in our Bible. 
Folks will always debate which teachings are for all time and which were
specific to the particular time and culture.
However,
after much Bible study, I believe God used these men to communicate His Word.   It is
Truth.  If you stumble on the first
phrase, try reading today’s scripture as ‘All Scripture is useful to teach us
what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives.’  Yup. 
It sure does.  We just don’t always
like the correction part.
God
uses Scripture to prepare and equip us to do every good work.  Let’s get to know God’s Word so we can base
our lives in Truth and be ready for Him to use us.  Are you in?

God’s Masterpiece

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
For
we are God’s masterpiece (handiwork, workmanship).  He has created us
anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us
long ago.

 
I’ve expanded today’s verse with words from
several translations.  English words don’t always match the original
Greek so various translations attempt to capture the original meaning.  One version
can’t even describe your essence in one word.  It states  “For we are
what He has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God
prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” (NRSV)

Here’s what I
think is so beautiful:  the word translated masterpiece, handiwork,
workmanship, or ‘what He made us to be’ comes from the Greek word poiema, where we get the English word poem.

You are God’s poem. 

What
words do you use to describe poetry?  All of those words describe your
essence – who you are in God’s eyes.  No two poems are the same.  Each
has a different personality, voice, rhythm, message, emotion, power….
yet each is crafted by God intentionally and carefully to be our way of life.

You are God’s masterpiece.

Spend a few minutes to plant a quick Seed. Or stay longer and plant a whole garden.

Each post is a brief scriptural thought that will grow as you let it take root in your thoughts.  If you have time, dig into one area of interest and plant a whole garden.
Each post is a brief scriptural thought that will grow as you let it take root in your thoughts. If you have time, dig into one area of interest and plant a whole garden.

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