Friday, July 18, 2014

Morning Thoughts

I woke up this morning with this verse in mind:
"His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.
You have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much. 
Enter into the joy of your master.' "
Matthew 25:23

I can't even remember the last time I read this verse, so I'm not sure why it came to my mind this morning, but it did get me thinking. This verse is found twice in the parable of the talents. This is a parable about a master who was going away for a while, so he entrusted some of his money to a few of his servants. To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one. The servants who were given five and two doubled the money by the time their master returned. The servant given one, buried his in the ground, for fear of losing it. Okay, so here is a parable about money and within this parable we find the verse above not once, but twice as a response to the two who doubled the money they were given to look after. Naturally, we look at this parable and this verse and think Jesus is talking about what we do with our money or treasure.

Only this morning, when this verse came to mind, immediately I thought - "What if this has nothing to do with money at all?" You see, money is OUR treasure. It is something we value and hold up as something of worth. It would have been valuable to the master spoken of in this parable, which is why he was pleased when his servants used it and did well with it. But this is a parable. Jesus used parables to teach about heavenly principles, though many missed the point. I fear we are missing the point. 

I have even heard some teach that it's not necessarily speaking about money, but it could be the talents God has given us, or even children or a myriad of other things that are indeed blessings. But what if it's none of those things at all?

What if Jesus is speaking what He considers valuable? In this parable it is clear that God is the Master represented, so wouldn't the treasure he entrusted to his servants follow with what God considers treasure? 

So what is God's treasure that He rewards those who use it well? Faith. 

Consider the words in the verse "good and faithful servant", "faithful over a little".

He is rewarding those who have faith. What is He rewarding them with? More faith. 

Ok, so maybe that's a little confusing, but hang with me here. When is God most glorified in our lives? When we have faith. 

We can look at this and think, "Well, the times I need to have the most faith are in times of trial and suffering. Does that mean He's going to reward me with more suffering?" Maybe. That's probably not the answer you want to hear, but if God is most glorified in your life in times of suffering, and that is when you exhibit faith most clearly, than yeah it might mean more suffering. Let's be honest, this is probably true for most of us, but that does not discourage me. Why? Because I think of the apostle Paul, and the many other missionaries and believers who have suffered tremendously because of their faith, but through it all, God was glorified.

So what if it does mean suffering? We could have the attitude of Paul and say "For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." - 2 Corinthians 12:10. Or we could allow that to scare us, because, let's face it, we don't like having to suffer.

This morning I woke up with these thoughts on my mind. Again, I hadn't read that passage in God knows how long - seriously, He is the only one who knows how long, but with it these thoughts of Paul and suffering. This may seem somewhat depressing to some, but I was encouraged. I was encouraged because of the truth that when I am faithful, He rewards with more faith. That may include more times of trial, hardship, suffering, etc. to exhibit that faith, but I'm ok with that. Because He is ALWAYS faithful.

Monday, July 7, 2014

What is to Come?

There's been a lot going on in my heart and mind lately. I've been tired and very frustrated. Not because of the size of my family, or that I'm pregnant, or busy, or whatever.

I'm tired of feeling like I'm missing out on the real purpose God has for my life.

I'm frustrated because I'm not quite sure yet what that means exactly.

I look around at all the stuff we have, and while yes, I recognize the blessing, I often feel overwhelmed. I don't NEED more stuff. Heck, I don't even want more stuff. Yet, it feels like that's what we live for, to get to this point where we can achieve more, do more, get more. I'm tired of it.

In my Scripture reading, sermons I've been listening to, books I've been reading and teaching I've sat under recently, it seems like God is just pounding in the same message over and over - "I've got something for you worth far more. Something that is going to require that you be willing to part with the stuff, separate with the familiar, and walk in faith down a new path. Something that will require that you trust me with the safety of your children, with provision for your family, with the very needs of your soul."

This may sound scary to some, but I'm excited for what is to come, so much so that I'm frustrated it's not clear to me yet.

For a long time, I've made excuses for why I didn't do certain things. While missions has always been heavy on my heart, I've made the excuse that it's just not the season of my life for that, because it would be difficult for me to go on a missions trip having to find care for my children while I'm gone and what not. Or while reaching out and getting to know my neighbors better has been on my heart, there's always something that "gets in the way" of me inviting them over. I'm sick of making excuses. I know I'm missing out on what God has for me. I know I'm not giving Him all He wants from me.

I don't want to be held back by fear, busyness, wrong goals, self-centeredness, fatigue or excuses.

I want to live a real Spirit-filled life. A life that allows God to transform how I look at others - everyone, my kids, neighbors, husband, people I don't know, family, etc. A life that changes the way I treat others, because I see them through God's eyes and not my own. A life that is lived solely for the purpose of serving others and modeling Christ to those around me. A life that is focused on God and His kingdom and the real purpose of life here on earth. A life that is missional - seeking the lost, not avoiding them - for the purpose of sharing Christ.

Even now I struggle putting into words exactly what God has laid so heavy on my heart. Maybe because I'm not sure yet what exactly this is going to look like. I just know it means HUGE changes. Some of you who know me, may not see it as huge changes, but the weight of it, the heaviness of it, tells me it's big. And I want to be ready. I want to be willing. I don't want to get in the way any more. Christ lives in me, which means this life is no longer mine. It is for His purpose only. My prayer is that He will make that true of my life. That it will be only for His glory that I live, speak, act.