As He usually does, God has been showing me--in several various words--that I need to be a doer and not just a hearer. Our pastor shared an illustration that hit the bulls-eye for me. He asked us, "What if I told my daughter to go clean her room, and found out an hour later that she hadn't touched it? When I asked her why she didn't do what I told her, she might say, 'But Dad, I've thought about your words to me, even memorized them, and in a little while some friends are coming over to discuss them with me.' Would that response be okay? Of course not." How then, do we think that God's commands to us are just suggestions to contemplate? Memorizing and discussing Scripture is admirable, but if we chose to listen and not do, we are not his disciples.
I'm doing a Beth Moore Bible study on James right now. If your familiar with the book at all, you know that James doesn't sugar coat his message or take it easy on us. He's the big brother that keeps you accountable and doesn't leave room for excuses. Read James 1
As Isaiah 58 reminds us, we are to loosen the oppression of others, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and provide shelter for those that need it.
And then Francis Chan's words penetrated deeper still, "Jesus is saying that we show tangible love for God in how we care for the poor and those who are suffering. Maybe you have already made sacrifices. You have witnessed the benefits of giving and are blessed because of it. But it gets harder too. The temptation to level off increases with each passing year. Pride tells you that you've sacrificed more than others. Fear tells you it's time to worry about the future. Friends say you've given enough, and that it is someone else's turn.
"A friend was faithfully giving 20 percent of his income to God, and suddenly his income dropped drastically. He knew he had to decide whether he should continue to give in a way that proved he trusted God. It wouldn't have been wrong to lower his giving to 10 percent. But my friend chose instead to increase his giving to 30 percent."
"If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." Isaiah 58:10-
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." I John 3:16-18
And then I read this out of Crazy Love, "Do you want to see God more than you desire security?" and felt a tangible pang. I've rested in mediocrity because I've valued my comfort more than my commitment to Him. I've been more concerned with securing my future, my health, my finances, my protective layer than I have in spreading God's good news, sharing with others in need, giving of my time.
"Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter." ~Tim Kizziar
In this world it is not what we take up but what we give up that makes us rich. Henry Ward Beecher
This coming year, I want my life to be a more true reflection of sacrifice.
In order for it to be fully purposeful, I need to make sure that my reservoir is full. You can't give out of a depleted spirit without soon drying up yourself--believe me, I know (from years of experience). I want my sacrifice to come from an overflowing heart of love, which He is creating in me. I want people not only to see my time, my hands, my resources, and my gifts (actually, I don't really want people to see that at all), but I want them to see His heart.
So, God, I ask for your strength to do what you are calling me to do. Give me your heart so that my hands and feet work to the tune of your music.
"And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming." I John 2:28