October 31, 2011

Day 31: Wholly His, More Yourself Than Ever!

This week, Colin and I (with the help of some friends) were able to give Elizabeth something special - going on the church hayride despite our unavailability to take her.  How delighted we were to provide something her little heart desired; how delighted she was to receive!  I was so thrilled to give her the news that she would be able to go with her friend Mei and her parents, because I knew exactly the joyful response she would have.

If you are a parent, doesn't it just tickle you to do something special for your child that you know he or she will love?

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Jesus said something similar to this about our heavenly Father:
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. 
   9 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.  
Matthew 7:7-12

Do you have some longing or dream?  Have you shared it honestly with the Lord?  He is the giver of good gifts!

This month, around the themes of abandoning the clamour of self-will and becoming more ourselves that ever, we have:
  • journeyed through the process of salvation by faith through grace,
  • lingered amidst some of our many sins and sought to apply the Gospel to those places;
  • considered how God works through our circumstances to mold and shape us, and
  • dwelt on the Holy Spirit, what Scripture says about Him and how we interact with Him.
I want to finish up the month by challenging you to take some time to think about what God might have you do next.  Are there things you'd like to ask Him for that you've never officially verbalized to Him?  Are there things you'd like to pursue for the Lord, but you've never had the courage to?  What's your heart's desire these days?

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalm 37:4

Your desires may seem out of reach, but if there's an inkling there, chances are Someone planted it there.  God is not a tease; He's the good-gift giver!

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A couple of years ago, I started prayerfully pursuing a dream.  I wasn't praying about it all the time, but I had become aware of the need to use my gifts in the church and also cognizant of some specific gifts and personality traits that God had given me.  So I began to work more intentionally at my writing, got bold enough to share my dream with others, attended a training conference, and kept read, read, reading.

What has ensued has astounded me.  While I was doing things to prepare for the future, God had the idea of delighting me with a little dream-fulfillment in the present.  Out of the blue, late last winter, I get an email from a woman at our church in Cambridge asking me to consider being their women's retreat speaker in the spring.  Wow!  (And the one who suggested she ask me did not know that part of my dream was a desire to speak someday for those dear ladies on their retreat.)  Then God took it another step further and allowed me to share what I had prepared two more times, for the women at our church here in Pittsburgh and at a retreat at a friend's church in Washington, D.C.

All I can say is Thanks, God!  with the same kind of enthusiasm Elizabeth had when she learned she would be going on the church hayride.

So I leave you with this final encouragement and challenge as we bid farewell to October and usher in a new month:  PRAY and PURSUE.

PRAY that God would open your eyes to gifts He's given you and ways He's equipped you.  PRAY and ask God for both the desires of your heart and how He'd have you use all He's given to you.  PRAY and give thanks for the many ways He's already worked in your life.

PURSUE means and opportunities to strengthen and exercise your gifts.  PURSUE growth in the fruit of the Spirit by reading the Word, praying, participating in the sacraments, and being with fellow believers.  PURSUE the God who pursued you, becoming wholly His, because by belonging to Him you'll become more yourself than ever.

May God bless you richly in the journey!

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And, oh yeah, the book winners are ...

Respectable Sins 1st (first) edition Text Only
The Discipline of Grace: God's Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness [Book]

Congratulations, ladies!!

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Special thanks:  This month has given me the opportunity to synthesize many things I've learned over the past  decade.  I'd like to thank a few people and resources who've been influential.

Kit - for the 31-Days idea (and for being my friend!) 
Biblegateway.com - for making it easy to post chunks of Scripture and to find Scriptures for which I don't know the reference 
Authors - Jerry Bridges, Sally Clarkson, Os Guiness, C.S. Lewis, (to name a few) 
Pastors Rick Downs and Matt Koerber - for faithfully preaching the Gospel on Sunday mornings 
Tom - for reading a lot and always passing along great book 
Friends and family - who have supported and encouraged me in life from the beginning until now through prayer and so may other means
God - for creating, redeeming, transforming, and giving hope to all His people

If you're just joining in, this is Part 31 of a month-long series you can learn more about by starting with Day 1 here.  There are many others doing super cool series this month as well, perhaps you'd like to see the list?

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