Tag Archive | spirituality

Serving Without Measure

A few days ago, I posted about how God was telling me to leave my worldly measuring stick behind and to just love people the way He does, in whatever capacity I can. Today, I’m expanding on that a little bit, just because I think our God is so amazing when it comes to this.

When we think of ‘giving’, we think of it as a voluntary thing. To be a giver is something desirable. When we think of a ‘servant’, we think of someone who is forced into that lifestyle. We think of people were abducted and forced into slavery or something.  We as Christians are also called to be servants, but our obligation is not due to force; it’s due to love. We are free to choose it or not. Still, having made such a choice, it’s no less obligatory.

Let’s think about that for a second. Think of servants – true slaves. They don’t get to pick and choose what tasks they’ll be doing that day.  They don’t get to pick and choose when they’ll serve. They have to be available every moment and they have to do what they’re told. They don’t get to say “I’m tired today, I’ll take a nap.” Or even “I’m tired today, maybe I’ll do the laundry instead of the yardwork.” No. They work where they’re needed, when they’re needed, and often they’re under-appreciated for all they do.

It doesn’t sound like it’s all that fun. However, that is the choice we make when we choose to follow Jesus. Jesus was GOD. He was GOD. And so often, He’d throw away His Godly power in order to be humble and to literally be a constant servant. He taught, He healed, He preached….He was busy. His followers used to worry about Him being so busy. They’d tell Him to stop and rest; they’d tell Him to stop and eat. He’d refuse. His philosophy? He was doing the work of His Father, and so His Father would sustain Him through it. There are several references to Him being tired. He served anyway.

He was right (of course He was!). His Father sustained Him. He gave without ceasing. He had a choice. He choose to give and give because that’s how much He loved us. When we make that same choice, to serve at our own expense, we in turn are showing just how much we love Him and want to emulate Him and spread His love here on earth. And when we do that, when we follow the path God sets us on, God sustains us. He knows when we’re at our breaking point; He won’t push us past it. He’ll bless us when we need it, and provide for us when we need it. All we need to do is make that choice to serve without measuring how hard we’re working or whether or not we want to.

And really, it’s not that much of a choice. Jesus gave endlessly, exhausting Himself and ultimately undergoing torture and death so that I, Rebekah A, would have eternal salvation. He did the same for you. And we are not given eternal salvation, this choice to follow Jesus and live by His example, so that we can pick and choose when to do so. When we choose God, it’s an eternal choice. It’s a choice to give of ourselves when we can. It’s a choice to pick up the cross. Yes we may make mistakes. We fall. But we don’t get to put the cross down. Jesus had help at one point carrying His cross. We’re allowed help too. We don’t have to go it alone, and we don’t have to martyr ourselves. But we don’t get to put it down.  God can temporarily take it from us to give us rest. But when we choose God, and we choose Jesus and the salvation and love that comes with Him, we also choose His lifestyle and we choose to walk on His path. It’s a path of love and peace, but not always one of convenience. And that’s so important for us to remember, because there are no coincidences under God. Every person who crosses your path, crosses your path for a reason. God can use you in every instance. How many chances are we missing because we’re ‘too tired’ or ‘not in the mood’?

So today readers, I ask you to not only lay down your measuring sticks when it comes to your relationships, but lay it down when it comes to actions. Your only starting point should be when God says ‘go’, and your only finish line should be when God says ‘stop.’ He’ll take care of you; you’ll see. And while He’s at it, He’ll move in amazing ways in your life. After all, He loves you just as much as He loves the people He tells you to serve!!

God bless!

~Rebekah A

 

Advertisements

Leaving My Measuring Stick

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” ~Matthew 7:1-2

This scripture, or really all of Matthew 7, really hits home. In fact, I was talking about it with a friend the other day. I was realizing all at once just how flawed my servanthood is.  See, I try to have the heart of a servant (as we should!) and I suppose I do. But it isn’t a constant heart.  I’ll give – either time, prayer, food, whatever it is I can give to bless a person. And at some point I expect that to be reciprocated in kind. I get frustrated when it isn’t. Then I complain.

The law of common sense says ‘you get what you give.’ It’s human nature to expect it and desire it. But when we expect appreciation and support from people for doing things we’re supposed to do anyway (we are called to be servants, after all), and don’t receive it, it can trigger bitterness in us and can even start to affect that relationship. And really, it makes no sense to apply human nature here; you can’t use worldly standards to measure God’s work and calling. It just won’t add up. Serving someone the way Jesus said to, and by Jesus’ example, and using my human measuring stick to determine that the person I served should now turn around and bless me….well that’s just silly. The concept of having the heart of a servant is all over the place in the Bible. The concept of serving only when it’s reciprocated is nowhere. When Rebekah watered all those camels at the well and spent hours doing so, was she measuring how much she would get in return from this elderly servant? No. She helped without measure, as she was called to.

A few days ago I posted about a friend who has had a lot going on, and how no matter how much time and prayer I gave to her, I felt like when I needed prayer, I was brushed aside. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was thinking in terms of ‘she always ____’ or ‘she never ____’. I was generalizing. And it wasn’t fair. After all, how many mistakes have I made in the eyes of the Lord? How many times have I put God second or pushed Him farther back on my to-do list that day? And yet, for all that, is Jesus really holding up a measuring stick to my faith? Is He measuring how small my steps are today compared to what they were yesterday? Or how far to the right or left my focus is, rather than on the straight and narrow path He’s set before me? No. He isn’t. He may temporarily, just to bring it to my awareness what I’m doing. But as soon as I repent and bring my focus back in, He simply applauds me for coming back on track.

And yet, here I am, holding this measuring stick up to the friendship of a person who, like me, is only human. We’re flawed.  And our flaws come with us when we sit at God’s table.  It’s not up to us to decide who ranks better or what somebody ‘should’ be doing or how we ‘should’ be treated. Should Jesus have been crucified and tortured? Of course not – He didn’t deserve it. But He took it. And in spite of what He went through to save me, and in spite of the horribly poor job I do at repaying Him, He loves me. There is no condemnation in Him when I make mistakes, only forgiveness and love. My steps have been guided by Him today, but not measured. Neither should I measure anyone else’s.

So I am trying to break this habit of score-keeping when it comes to giving. My serving and blessing someone should have nothing to do with whether they’re serving and blessing me.  I’ve actually started looking at it as a training ground. If I can’t serve a fellow Christian (someone who will pray with me when I’m dragging and faltering), how can I ever go out and serve others? Jesus, give me Your heart for this world. Help me to keep focused on Your eyes alone, and let the fire I see in them burn up my worldly measuring tools. No tool I have can show me Your work. So God, keep my eyes on You and give me a heart that takes joy in blessing others as you have so abundantly blessed me. I love You, Jesus, and in Your name I pray.

I invite you, readers, to take a second and think about what measuring sticks you’re holding. Go through your relationships – friends, family, acquaintances, and coworkers – and look hard at the dynamic of the relationship. Is there someone you’re not inclined to do favors for because you know they won’t do the same to you? Is there someone you are frequently frustrated with because you give and they seem like a ‘taker’? Anyone in your life you’d classify as a mooch? Take a hard look at these relationships, and submit them with me to the Lord.  Ask Him for His heart for each of these people, and to bless you with a generous spirit for them in spite of how they appear. Drop the measuring sticks once and for all. Lay them at the Lord’s feet and allow Him to take over and dictate how you serve – when, whom, and how often.

Our Savior was the ultimate example of this, and gave the ultimate gift. Compared to Him and what He did for us, neither we or our friends are all that great. Or all that generous. And He isn’t measuring us. So it’s time to stop measuring each other!

I’d love to pray for you in this and anything else God is doing in your life – write to me at being.rebekah.a@gmail.com. God bless!

~Rebekah A

Blessings For My Past, Present, and Future

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.” ~Proverbs 16:3

We all have goals in our lives; maybe you want to work towards a promotion, or to work towards getting out of debt, or to find someone to be in a committed relationship with. The awesome thing about God is, He knows your heart. He knows what you want, and He genuinely wants to bless His children. He really does. He’s a loving Father, and whether the desire be little or huge, He wants to bless us.

I’m not saying He wants to give you everything you want. We don’t always want the right things for ourselves. But He does want to bless us. And He can. Of course He can; He’s God. But in order to be blessed by God, we need to put Him first. It really is that simple.

Take finances. The Bible says to tithe. To tithe is to put God first, and to sow into His plan for your church and your life. Take education. When I was applying to grad school, my grades were good, I had some solid field experience, and I was a great essay writer. I mentioned God and church in my essay, and tied my Christianity into who I was as a person. This is breaking a cardinal rule of essay-writing, and I knew it. I did it anyway. Why? Because I wanted God to be first. I wanted it to be His plan in His time, not mine. I was rejected from the school. The year prior, I had applied to the same school, didn’t mention God in the essay, and was the top waitlisted candidate. The only difference was putting God first. It seemed like a disappointment, but my life would have looked totally different right now had I followed myself instead of my Father. And not for nothing, but I like my life. And with the life I have, my walk with God is stronger than ever. That school rejection might have been one of the biggest blessings in disguise I’ve ever received.

My pastor talked about this at church today. He essentially said to look at where we want blessings, and put God first in those areas (it should be every area!!). But it’s a simple thing to do. If you want God to bless your finances, sow into God’s financial plan. If you want God to bless your career, put Him first in your career. If you want God to bless your relationships, put Him first in your relationships.  We heard a testimony of a newlywed couple who were $100,000 in debt, but decided to tithe anyway. They were debt-free two years later. They gave their trouble to God, sowed into His plan, trusted and believed Him for it, and He blessed them in kind. I know of another girl who went to Harvard and was so busy, but decided to dedicate two hours of her day to God anyway. In turn, He started multiplying her time so that not only did she complete her tasks and studying every day, but she actually had some time left over for herself. When we put God first, even if it’s a short-term hardship, His blessings can be amazing.

Putting God first reconciles your past – it shows you’ve learned from your mistakes and are no longer willing to do things your own stubborn way anymore. It also shows God that you’re putting Him first for today, your present. And it shows God that you have faith in His plan for your future. When you put Him first by your actions, He is first in your heart. Which is right where He should be, because that’s where He can work the most and direct your life the most effectively. And yes, pour out blessings upon you too.

God bless!

~Rebekah A

A Matter of Perspective

I just want to take a minute today to thank God and praise Him for the change in heart He’s given me recently. I had a tough time adjusting to life in NYC; I missed and still miss my friends, and haven’t really found my niche here yet. Still, God has been telling me to be patient, and in the meantime He’s been slowly but surely working in my heart.

First of all, I found the endless to-do lists a little bit overwhelming when I first got here. God has been showing me that these ‘chores’ are not simply tasks. In fact, if I use that time to pray over everyone who might be touched by what I’m doing (mostly my roommate, but anyone who comes to the hosue really), the chores become blessings – not just by the task itself but because I’m covering the people in my prayer. I haven’t been doing this as consistently as I think God would like me to, but I’ve been working on it; I love the idea of constant prayer as simply a matter of routine.

Second, God’s been telling me to trust Him when it comes to employment, and not jump into something out of necessity that will take me out of His intended path for me. As interest from my student loans has increased and my bank account has dwindled, it’s been harder and harder to hold onto this promise. BUT, right when I was starting to get really desperate, God worked it out so I found some temporary employment – exactly what I needed to tide over my bank account while I continue to look for what He wants me to do.

Jesus, I thank you that every detail is in your hands, and that you know exactly how to speak to our hearts so that even the burdens you call us to bear, the things that would normally worry us, are lightened and taken care of by You. Thank You for giving me Your full attention, and never forsaking a single aspect of my life. I love You, Jesus.

~Rebekah A

Wanting It More

You know how sometimes things come up that you love to hate? Maybe we had a bad day and are talking about it, and get into ‘poor me’ mode. After awhile, we start to thrive on how bad we have it. Nothing can cheer us up, and often we don’t even WANT to be cheered up because we’re thriving on the attention and sympathy. On some level, we’d rather have a problem to complain about than a solution. Or maybe it has to do with people – in choosing who to make plans with or who to date, there are often multiple options. God can easily guide our steps here, but how often do we fail to ask Him, preferring to agonize about it and analyze it ourselves. We prefer the attention and the fantasy to the reality that these problems have solutions and you can get wisdom on them in seconds if you just ask God. It can be surprising how many areas we have like this, and how quickly we can slip into playing the martyr rather than ask God for guidance in that moment.

However, God brings unconditional love, and He brings peace. There’s no drama in His presence. We bring the drama we get from the world, we give it to Him and He takes care of it. He empties it from us, and fills the void with Himself. We have an easy time submitting bad things. But for some reason, we harbor these ‘martyr’ situations. We harbor the dilemmas that bring us extra attention. It doesnt even always cross our minds to submit those things. But to he used fully by Him, we have to give it ALL. We can’t be concerned about the attention our daily problems give us, or the credit we get when everybody knows how difficult it was to accomplish something. Our identity is in God, and we don’t have to fight for His attention. He sees everything anyway.

We have talked about fasting, and how when fasting gets tough we ask ourselves do we want this food, or do we want God more? We choose God, Nd fasting becomes bearable. We want Him more than anything else, and in that mindset, we will do anything to seek Him.

It is time to get into that mindset with our hearts. It’s time to ask ourselves, “Do I want God and God’s plan, do I want to thrive on my savior, or do I want to thrive on this problem that doesn’t even need to be here?” God vs problem…it’s a no-brainer. We’d choose God every time.

I’ve heard it said that living with Jesus is expensive, and that love will cost you. I think that’s a heart issue and we should count the cost here – it’s way more expensive to thrive on drama than on peace. It’s more expensive to hold on to our flesh than to let our Savior show us how to live. So spend time with Him today, and ask Him to show you your ‘martyr’ areas – things that are bogging you down when they don’t really need to be, or things that you haven’t given God full control over yet. Go through the problems and questions in your life and ask yourself “Do I want this dilemma or do I want God’s plan?” If you reach the no-brainer answer, as I did, it’s time to finally say “God, take this from me and guide my steps”. He will, and you will wonder what you were ever holding on so tightly for.

And as always, if you want extra prayer or support, or just to chat, i want to hear from you! So write to me at being.rebekah.a@gmail.com. God bless!

~Rebekah A

“A Faith That Breathes”

Yes, I am writing my very first blog book review! A Faith That Breathes, by Michael and Tiffany Ross, is a book that was lent to me by a friend, when I was having a rough time this fall. It’s part devotional, part journal, and for me it was perfect. It’s written by women (though compiled by a woman and her husband), for women, and every day is a new topic to think about. I read it with a journal on hand, and definitely recommend you do the same. Each day has a written entry, followed by a related interview from well-known Christian women. It’s instant solidarity and instant encouragement, and for me, I couldn’t have received it at a better time.

Before I moved to NYC, I was surrounded by Christian friends. Any time I wanted to chat or pray or worship, I had someone to do that with. It was great. I had friends I’d meet with for dinner, and hours later we’d still be talking about how God is moving. Rebekah M has posted about the power of sisterhood; for me, it’s been a vital part of my spiritual growth. I wouldn’t be the same Christian without it.

Since moving to NYC, I’ve been more on my own. I can pray with my friends over the phone or skype, but it’s just not the same. I miss my home, I miss my friends, I miss these talks, I miss these prayers….basically I just miss my girl time. I depended on it before, and while I am growing here, I really feel the loss of those connections I had.

Enter A Faith That Breathes. This book, by  has all the girl time you could ever want, in paperback form – let’s face it, our friends aren’t portable. But these ladies are, and they are a close second! Every entry is thought-provoking; they write about their journeys to certain realizations, periods of growth, things God’s revealed to them. Each one has Bible verses that relate to it, and there is a section in each that gives a broader view of what this particular topic looks like when it’s walked out. There’s even a chance to reflect on what they wrote about and how it relates specifically to you. I started reading it when I was feeling some distance from God, and could feel myself reading the Bible less, praying for shorter amounts of time. That’s a slippery slope, to say the least. This book singlehandedly gave me the jumpstart I needed to get grounded in God again, and get my focus back. It was like having an instant group of friends who knew me and related to me – without ever meeting me.

So if you need to kickstart your faith or if you’ve been in a spiritual rut, definitely check out this book. Hopefully it will speak to your heart as strongly as it has been to mine! And if you just need some girl time, don’t worry – they’ve got you covered there too.

And for you men…sorry. Find your own book.

God bless!

~Rebekah A

When God Doesn’t Answer

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts; neither are your ways my ways, declared the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” ~ Isaiah 55:8-9

In the wake of Rebekah M’s great post about bringing new life to this world, I have some sadder news to report. Earlier this week, a friend of mine sent out a prayer request – his brother’s 17-yr-old girlfriend was pregnant. To make matters worse, her father was going to press charges against him for statutory rape. The only way he wouldn’t press charges was if she got an abortion. To make matters worse still, this was not the first time he faced this predicament. I don’t have all the details and I’m not sure if he was threatened with criminal charges in the past, but I do think he had an ex-girlfriend who got an abortion.

Clearly, this situation needed all kinds of prayer. In a word, I think Scooby Doo said it best when he said, “ruh-roh” (yes I work with kids). So, I prayed all day. I prayed hard. I prayed and I asked everybody else I knew to pray with me. We prayed for the brother, the girlfriend, her father, the unborn child. We prayed for hearts to be softened, repentence to occur, mercy to be given, the baby to just be saved no matter what it took, and so on. We prayed for revelations of God’s true and pure love, real love, that they would stop confusing it with this false version that got them into so much trouble. We prayed for all kinds of other things too. The couple wanted to keep the baby, and if they didn’t keep it, my friend (the one requesting the prayer) was offering to adopt. It was a win-win – she was 17 and pregnant by mistake, they weren’t ready to raise a child, while he already has several children, he and his wife were talking about making their family bigger anyway, the baby would stay with someone biologically related – no-brainer. So we prayed into that as well, and if it wasn’t God’s will, then for Him to send an adoptive home their way.

After a day of prayer and my heart just breaking for this unborn baby and for the position this 17-yr-old girl was in, I started to feel strongly that the key to this was the couple. That they needed to be the ones to pray. They needed to repent and submit and pray together, or this wouldn’t work. So I went on the computer to send that message to my friend, and I got word that it was done. The abortion had happened. This got me thinking, what went wrong? If I had acted sooner at all, could I have saved this baby?

I had my guesses, but I looked into it a little more to be sure. I was expecting, and I was right, to read a lot about how God won’t answer prayers that don’t correspond with His will, or if we don’t truly believe in His ability. Yes, God tells us He will answer our prayers if we believe that He can (“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” ~ Matthew 21:22). I have seen Him transform a woman’s heart regarding abortion before; I have no doubt that this problem is not too big for Him. So, I believed Him for it – everyone who prayed did. And clearly, abortion is not in God’s will ever. Repentance, love, and wisdom are always in His will, so that wasn’t the issue either.

Then I read about if we have unconfessed sin, it can come between us and God. This is a tricky one, but I’m aware of it. Before I get into really intense prayer sessions, I do typically spend some time with God, so that if there is something I’m harboring that’s keeping me from God, I can get rid of it and get on with my prayer. I did that this time too. Unless God was holding back information from me, that wasn’t the issue. If you’re not in the habit of doing that, start. I highly recommend it.

However, that doesn’t mean that the 17-yr-old and my friend’s brother didn’t have unconfessed sin in their hearts. And wouldn’t you know, the very next thing I read was a paragraph about how it had to be the right people praying. That confirmed my hunch. We can pray for people, and often our prayers do get answered. However, we can’t pray their prayers for them. We can’t submit their problems to God on their behalf, so that God can take them over and fix the situations. There comes a point when they need to do that for themselves, and this abortion was a painful reminder of that.

God gave us all free will, and our free will is the one limitation God placed on Himself. He cannot move in us against our will. When I prayed for this couple and this father, when we all prayed for them, all He could do was knock on the doors to their hearts. If they’d opened the door the slightest bit, given Him the slightest crack to move through, He could have moved mightily. They didn’t. They probably wanted to, but were probably consumed with the problems at hand – bearing down on all of the horrible what-ifs and contemplating what they could do about it – rather than giving those problems to God to see what He could do about it. It’s a natural instinct, I suppose. When we feel our world slipping away, we don’t want to throw our hands up and let it go, especially if we don’t fully know God – we hold on even tighter.

I guess this is a reminder to check in with yourself and check in with God when these situations come up, to see if you’re meant to be used in a counseling role. In my case, I didn’t actually know the couple, so all I could do is pray hard and pass on messages to the people I did know, as God dictated. I could have acted faster, but I asked God about it, and even repented it. He said it wasn’t my fault, but it’s something to definitely keep in mind for the future.

That said, there is still a lot to be prayed for. A baby, a wanted baby, has been aborted. My friend’s brother and his girlfriend are grieving, upset, questioning God, and the enemy has them exactly where he wants them to say “look, God didn’t answer you, what’s the point of believing?” There is guilt being felt by all parties, there is anger, there is regret….there is a whole gamut of things. So, even though our previous prayers didn’t work, I humbly ask that you keep these three people in prayer, and pray that their hearts would soften and that they would see a revelation of who God really is – so they’d know who they’ve been blocking out and would finally let Him in. Pray that they would find love, peace, and mercy in His pure beautiful light, and that they would finally know what those things really are. Pray as God leads you. In advance, I thank you for joining me here. If three people come to truly know the Lord because of this, that baby will not have died in vain.

Jesus, this is a storm. This is tragic, and it’s a baby I prayed so hard to save. I really believed You would, since I saw You do it before. I lost sight of HOW you answer prayers, and I’m sorry for that. I trust You God, that Your ways are so much greater than our ways, and I know that You can use this situation, however tragic, to reveal Yourself and ultimately work for the good of all three of these people. I submit my disappointment in You God, and I repent it. Instead, now I rejoice, because I know that this ISN’T beyond You God, and You DO have it all in Your hands. I trust You to move God, I trust You to take care of these three people, and I thank You for everything You’re going to do. Jesus, I love You with all of my heart.

Thank you all, and God bless!

~Rebekah A