Monday, September 21, 2009

Two thought-provoking posts from Margaret Mitchell

Week of September 20, 2009

“Give ear and come to Me; hear Me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, My faithful love promised to David.” Isaiah 55:3

Good news brings life. And God longs for us to receive His good news. There is so much that He wants to give us. But are we willing to listen? Do we hearken when He speaks to our hearts to sit with Him and partake of the life He offers?

Relationship demands intimacy and priority. If we are not spending the time with God that He longs to have with us, we are robbing the Kingdom and robbing those He has called us to serve because we cannot give out that which we do not have. We will end up giving and receiving our meager portion, not God’s greater serving.

In my years of working as a flight attendant, I learned how to function safely in a cabin decompression. I was taught to first don an oxygen mask and then assist others, just like in the airplane safety videos. The reason for helping myself first is because, in a serious decompression at high altitudes, I may only have seconds to function before loosing consciousness. If I did not breathe in the oxygen supplied from the source above my head, I would not have the ability to help anyone else because life would begin to drain out of me.

This life-sustaining priority is often the opposite of how we think in the world or how we think as women in caring for others. Too often, we serve everyone else and accept the little bit of time and energy that remains. Sometimes, we even give God the leftovers. We think we’re being unselfish by putting the needs of others before our own, but the truth is that we’re putting people and daily responsibilities before God. We end up running on empty because we’re not taking the time to sit and sup with the Lord.

Interestingly enough, in an aircraft decompression, the time between a person’s full ability to function and their inability to function is called the “time of useful consciousness.” This raises the question, “How useful are we?” Are we filled up with the richness of His presence, or are we depleted? It may help to be reminded that our lives were bought with a price. Therefore, this resource of time God gave us is not our own. It may also help to remember that Christ did only what The Father called Him to do. What things are we doing that God didn’t call us to do? What tasks are draining life out of us?

Isaiah 55:2 asks, “Why spend money [resources] on what is not bread [life], and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.”

God’s first and greatest commandment is to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mk. 12:30). “All” does not mean a meager portion. And His second greatest commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mk. 12:31).

Are we honoring God’s priorities by partaking of the bread of life (Him) first so that we can give a rich love to others? Or do we need to spend more time at His table?

The key is a shift in priorities. God is waiting to help. May we spend some of the time He graciously gives us to examine our hearts so that we can give life to others.

Week of September 20

"He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face, O God of Jacob." ~ Psalm 24:4-6

Have you ever experienced injustice in the workplace? Perhaps politics played a role. Maybe you were betrayed in some way, condemned even by those with whom you shared confidences. Did others gossip about you. What did you do?

Did you keep walking in upright obedience to God? Or did you fall for the bait and react in carnal ways? Perhaps you've done both intermittently. None of us perfectly process circumstances all the time.

Although we may feel like we're stumbling through daily circumstances, groping at God to relieve the pain, there is hope. If we choose honest repentance, there will come a time when God will set things right. When we have been tested sufficiently, fired for purity's sake, and God has allowed the flames to have their complete work in us, He will move on our behalf. Isaiah 49:8 says, "In the time of My favor I will answer you . . ."

Repentance leads to redemption. And although we may feel we've been wronged and it's the other gal's fault, it's important to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us what part, if any, we had in the issue.

I know of a married couple who discipline their children by having them sit on a "repentance bench" until they repent for their part in disputes. As they sit side by side, they are not allowed to blame each other. When they repent, they are relieved to resume their day.

How often do we assume the victim role and blame others? Even if we did not instigate the event, God may be using unpleasant circumstances or behavior of others as a vice-like instrument to force issues within us to come to the surface for the purpose of inviting us to overcome the limitation. He may be readying us for promotion by preparing us. When things don't bother us anymore, they can't bind us, and we are free to move on.

No circumstance or person is too relentless for God's intervention. If people do not hearken to God's directives, He has been known to release His judgment upon them. But we must be in right standing. Our freewill choice will determine a lot.

In God's time, He will deliver us from gossip to greatness, from misery to majesty, from devour to divine, from persecution to peace, from invasion to intimacy, from division to revision, from feuding to favor, from condemnation to compassion, from crushed to comforted, from fear to faith, from holes to wholeness, from blockage to boldness, from hatred to harmony, from sin to sweetness, from false accusations to freedom, from strongholds to life, from strangleholds to new opportunities and adventures. The chains come off, and we are restored and vindicated.

Our decision to humble ourselves and honestly repent of our part in the journey will break the division and strangleholds in our work lives and beyond. Though we cannot control another person, God will fight our battle on our behalf, and we will come through victorious. We will be vindicated. We will be honored, even publicly. What has been out of priority will be put into place. Our garden of safety and security will be restored. And we will finish the race well.

Are you ready to be vindicated? Spend some intimate time with the Lord and honestly repent each time He reveals your part in a situation. In the time of God's favor, you will see the fruit of blessing in your life. And you will walk in the freedom of victory again.

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