Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Happy Life of a Servant

You and I have been told over and over that the more you serve others the happier you are, and you have probably been as skeptical about that statement as I have. Let's face it as a general rule we are pretty much self serving people. So through the years when I've allowed myself to be guided by the Holy Spirit instead of myself I've found myself in positions where it's been proven to me that it is really true, the life of a servant is a happy life.

Yesterday I went and visited an older lady in our Church named Lucille. She has been struggling physically and hasn't been able to attend the services for quite awhile. She has been through quite a bit in her life and as I was driving to her house I was praying (with my eyes open of course) that I would have the right words to say to encourage her and lift her spirits. Turns out God must have been fairly amused with my self-centered prayer. You might be saying, that doesn't sound like a self-centered prayer, well it was, because that very prayer just assumed that I would be the one doing the encouraging as if I'm the great glorious encourager and she is the poor down-trodden soul who needs my wonderful abilities. I'm exaggerating a bit here because of course that is not what I was thinking but instead of asking God to use this situation for His glory, I assumed that she was the one who needed the blessing.

You probably know the rest of the story, I walked in and while she looked pretty frail, the only thing I noticed was how happy she seemed. She talked to me of how blessed she has been with so many great neighbors, and friends, and family members and church members. She talked of all the opportunities she has had in her life to help and bless others. We talked about her beloved El Camino that she gave to her brother, and her family; we talked about the paintings on her wall, and many other things. She never stopped smiling through the entire visit, and I was reminded again of how when you start out with the idea of serving someone, often you are the one who gets the greatest blessing.

Thank you Lucille for your wonderful outlook and your beautiful spirit and thank you God for reminding me that to serve is to be happy and blessed. We don't serve for that reason of course but it is a result of our service to God and to others.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Are you struggling with faith?

Often people make the statement, "I'm struggling with my faith", and I understand because I've made the same statement myself a time or two. Here's what I've found though when doing some self inspection and when talking to others who are going through the same struggle. Faith in God really isn't the issue, many times. Faith in what God is doing or isn't doing around us is the issue. I believe in God and there is no way (in my mind) that I will ever stop believing in Him, but when I see things going on in the name of Christianity that is absolutely contrary to God my faith starts to waver. Maybe the Church you are attending is not a very bright light for the world, or maybe those around you look really good on Sundays but the rest of the week, you know what's going on, maybe you've been reading or hearing or watching all the horrible tragedies that are happening or maybe you look at your own life and can't see God working at all.

It is so easy to get frustrated with the gossipers of this world, and the mean spirited people, and the ones who try to tear you down to build themselves up, and the list goes on and on.  Unfortunately many of these people wear the name Christian which just makes it that much worse.  What we see around us and what we believe become so far apart that we cannot connect the dots. Add in the fact that you are constantly reminded that you are not doing enough for God, saying the right things, abstaining from the wrong things, reading your Bible enough, praying enough, etc. it is no wonder that your faith begins to dim.

So far this article is pretty discouraging huh? But here is an undeniable truth that we know, hear, quote, but so often don't really believe. "For we walk by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV. If you want to live for Christ you cannot go by what you see. What you see oftentimes is discouraging and disheartening, but what you believe is that God is in everything, and that He will never let you down. "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV

The beautiful thing about all of this is that the more we focus on what we believe and not what we are seeing, the more God will show us visible, tangible, real expressions of Himself. Remember Elijah who wanted to die because of all the horrible things around him? God used His own creation to take care of Elijah, used a violent wind, earthquake, and fire to get his attention, and then spoke to him in a still small voice. Finally God revealed to Elijah all of the others who were still on the right side. Elijah's faith wavered because he was focusing on what he saw which left him unable to see the evidence of God all around him.

So today, right now, wherever you are, you have the opportunity to live out your faith. You believe in God, show it through your life. Others may or may not come on board. Tomorrow there may be another terrible tragedy in the world, but you live out your faith and watch God bless your life, and who knows, maybe you are the one that will bring life to the Church you attend. Not because of anything great you do, but because of your great faith in the Creator of this world. Hebrews 11:1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. NLT

May you see the grace of God today and may you act on it so that someone else will see it as well.