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January 8, 2009

Devotional Journey—Day 4



It's Day 4. Are you starting to notice any themes in these Bible studies? One message I've noticed cropping us it that we are to fix ourselves solely on the Lord and not his work. Being spiritual and holy is all about "to be" instead of "to do." Consider these excerpts:

Day 1: "Our sole focus should be on the compelling beauty of our Lord, and what moves us forward is only our desire for him. So my advice is: don't seek an improved spirituality, or even a better prayer life. Just seek the Lord Jesus Christ, and keep your eyes on him."

Day 2: "I don't know what your default is as a leader, but my guess is we could all use a little more ?encounter' with God and fewer bullet points."

Day 3: "It takes courage, faith, and the power of the Holy Spirit to truly embrace the love of God for ourselves and others" (emphasis added).

Day 4: Romans 12:1 reads: "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship." Amy Simpson writes, "But perhaps spiritual gifts are more about being than doing."

Often when we focus on the character of God and the power of the Holy Spirit instead of religious chores, we naturally end up ministering to others without even trying. We worship constantly, and only sometimes use words, as the saying goes. I was thinking about the Reflect question from today's devotion: When has God nudged you to minister to someone along your path ? in your neighborhood, at work, at the store? How did you respond to God's leading? And I remembered this.

A few years ago, I worked at a coffee shop. As I'd walk through the shop cleaning tables, I noticed it was very common for people to read their Bibles, journal, or pray while they sipped their lattes. Without thinking too much about it, and without ever even making eye contact, I got into the habit of saying a quick prayer for people who were spending time with the Lord in the coffee shop. Sure, they were generic, like "Lord, bless this person as they read about you" or "May this person feel your presence today," but heartfelt and undoubtedly heard by God.

So how about you? Will you share with us how your answered this Reflect question from today's devotion? Does God's nudge ever come, like it did for Amy's sister, in the form of saying "no"?

Comments

I am in the midst of a ministry transition. After years of many leadership roles, I have no official role in the church and my job situation is up in the air. I have been deeply hurt by many things, family illness, job loss, rejection and more. I used to pray for people I saw or encountered as I traveled. I used to offer to stop and pray out loud with anyone that expressed a need to me anywhere I was such as grocery store aisles, on the street- anywhere.

Now I realize that I HAVE been ministering according to my faith (Rom. 12:6). (little faith and little ministry) So I need this series to get myself centered on God and to build up my faith. I need to fill myself with His truth, mercy, grace, and love so that I can minister again.

A couple years ago, I walked outside to pick up the newspapers on the driveway. I glanced up the hill and saw that my elderly neighbor who has dementia and lives alone (despite calls to the Senior Hotline) had a pile of palm tree fronds which had blown down in front of her house and across the road blocking access. I thought, "Well this will be interesting when someone tries to drive up or down the street!" I went inside for my quiet time with the Lord, but sensed the Holy Spirit prompting me to do something about the fronds. I responded, "I do plenty for my neighbor; it's not my responsibility and besides my sciatica is acting up. I'm not going to do it and that's final!...You don't really want me to walk up the hill, gather and somehow dispose of the fronds, do You? They're sharp, You know, and I might hurt myself!" In a few minutes, I relented, grabbed work gloves and empty trash cans and dragged them up the hill to my neighbor's." The fronds were huge. I grabbed each one, stomped one foot on it and folded it in half to fit in the trashcan. The little lady came out and when she saw what I was doing, went into her house and came out with rubber dishwashing gloves. She stood watching me awhile and then went back inside. Stomp! Fold! Into the trash! A man across the street came over to watch. I asked if he had any trashcans I could borrow..."No" he said and went back into his house. A man should be doing this I thought! Finally, all the fronds were corralled for the trash truck. My anger had disappated and you know what? All that stomping, folding and stashing had gotten rid of the sciatic pain! Thank You Lord for opportunites to see You work...thank You for Your patience with me...You know what I need.

As you may have noticed from previous posts, I'm a Type-A overachiever (though I like to think of myself in recovery). I'm a list-maker, an organizer, and I would not characterize myself as spontaneous. (Ask any friend who has called at the "last minute" inviting me to do anything.)

So, when God nudges, my instant response is likely to be resistance. I find myself making excuses that usually have to do with my own to-do list.

Even so, awhile ago I began to ask God to use me. It's been a learning experience - this obedient response to His nudge.

One time in particular comes to mind. Asking for His leading, and not getting any immediate response, I ran a mental check-list of people I might bless.

With a name in mind, I slung my purse over my shoulder and headed out. Driving in the direction of that person's home, out of the corner of my eye, I saw an elderly woman hobbling down the sidewalk - obviously having problems walking.

As I drove past, the Holy Spirit shoved, I mean nudged, and I realized I knew that person, though I didn't think she'd know me.

Making a fast left, I pulled into a parking lot to give myself a moment to think. The Spirit whispered, "You can go on with your plans if you like, but this is the person I want you to bless."

I listened that day and as it turned out, the elderly woman didn't know me. Identifying myself by the church we both attended, I gained her trust.

As she climbed into my car, I shared my prayer to be a blessing. Wouldn't you know -she'd been praying the Lord would send someone to help.

I wish I could say I've been obedient to His nudges ever since. All I can say is I know I miss a blessing when I fail to respond to the Spirit's prompts.

In my case, I'm a full-time college student (at 49) who cleans houses as a part-time job. For years, I didn't much like the job, but kept it because I had it and needed the money. But lately, at the urging of good friends, I've seen it as a way of ministering to my clients, several of whom are elderly, and all of whom are busy. I pray for them while I make their houses look good and feel comfortable. Someday, I will have a job that doesn't involve cleaning bathrooms and taking out the trash, but till then, I'll keep working on this little ministry that I didn't even know I had for so long.

I enjoyed this reading, and the comments on being available for the Lord’s service in any way He chooses. I think the Lord nudges me to look after the ministry of everyday–the laundry, food, cleaning, visiting, calling–just touching the lives of others. Why does it often seem that these things are insignificant? I think it's because we value attention (we wouldn't LOVE reality tv if that wasn't the case). But isn’t it those “unnoticed” things we cherish most? Those things that remind us of how intimately involved the Lord of Hosts is with…you and me? I want to be like him in tending to details and not brushing them off as “insignificant.”

@ DarcyJo - Thank you for posting and for your beautiful ministry. What a blessing you must be to those oldies! I can just imagine.

When we first moved to SA from the UK, I felt that God was wanting me to be available and aproachable. My response to todays Reflect was a determination for more of the same.

I have had several small chances to minister to co-workers and distant friends as God moved through my life this past year. Simple as when a someone asks my opinion. Instead of giving an answer they were expecting I'd pause and think of my Lord and what Jesus would recommend. I passed that onto them. When I first started everyone was shocked at work. But the distant friend really needed it and came back from more until she found what she was needing.
I too must confess that I have had my share of letting God down on this one, even when I know it is Him calling me to do something. I felt so bad at telling God no. I let that type A personality win...how sad!He had called me to purchase some food for one of the many roaming homeless that frequent our local Walmart.
Ever since when I see one, I will not pass him by. I have purchased one a very inexpensive gift card to a resturant near the stop sign. The other was quit unique. I was looking for my husband some sandwhich meats to spice up his packed lunches. I bought three of them, as one was free with the coupon that was on the container, but it had to be mailed in. I did not pay attention to which container it was at the time. I always take the coupons off the containers when I put them in my buggy or I'll forget about them.
I pull up to the line waiting to leave Wal-mart, there is another homeless man. I grabbed one of those packs of meat as that was the only thing I could think of that he could eat without having to cook it first. He took it, but looked at it for a few minutes as I pulled away. He might have been a fake, but only God is to judge him.
After getting home I read that I needed to UPC from the meat. God had not only allowed me a free pack of sandwhich meat for this person, but He made sure I gave away the one I did not need the UPC from.

I also have a personnal group I want to minister and that is my family. I am the only one that has realized we must reflect Christ to others, and not just believe in who Jesus is and what He did. My husband is the hardest to convience, but has been the best inspiration to me as when I make mistakes, he is quicker now to point them out.

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