Sacrifice

The other night in growth group one of the ladies asked “How do you even begin to know what Jesus went through?”

I answered with something our Pastor said awhile ago.

“Love is rooted in sacrifice.” – Pastor Tally Wilgis

God sent his Son, Jesus to be the sacrificial lamb. He sent Jesus to die for us so we didn’t have to.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

He sent his Son because he loves us because he wants us to be with him for eternity. We get the free gift of eternal life, but Jesus lived in this world and then voluntarily hung on executioners cross and died for our sins just so all of us can have the gift of eternal life.

Think about that for a moment, Jesus died for you. He voluntarily got up on the cross. He is God in flesh, he could’ve stop it. But he didn’t. He didn’t want to die in Matthew 26:39 Jesus says “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” In another Gospel it says he was so anguished that he was sweating drops of blood. Can you now imagine what he was going through? I still couldn’t.

But I said to them for us to experience even a glimpse of what he went through. Try doing something for someone else when you don’t want to or don’t have the time to. It might be a silly sacrifice but when you had a hard day at work and all you can think about our pjs and your favorite shows and someone you know is hurting or is having a rough day, try switching your plans around to put them first above your own. You’ll get frustrated and you might even get mad because you don’t want to sacrifice the time or energy of your own time.

One of my big things I tell myself is when I don’t want to do something it probably means I should be doing it. Meaning that when I evaluate something by my mere flesh and worldly views my automatic response is I don’t want to. I don’t have time. I don’t have the energy. But when I evaluate through the lens of the spirit I immediately go through it differently. I ask is this purposeful? Does it impact a person? The Kingdom? Is it meaningful? So when I don’t want to do something a lot of times it’s my flesh fighting back because my flesh doesn’t want to put others above me.

One of my pet peeves is when people say they follow Jesus and “live it out” but there is no sacrificing for others and it’s always about them.

God is Love. Love is rooted in sacrifice. And in order for us to show the love of God we have sacrifice time, talent, treasure. We have to be willing to give something even when there is no return.

Meeting you at the point

In Genesis 22, Abraham was to sacrifice his son after God told him to do so. But the beauty is when they go to altar, God showed up. God had Abraham free his son and provided a ram to be sacrificed in his place. God met Abraham in the place after he placed a calling on him and Abraham was following through.

God will meet you where he called you, just not on your timing. I’ve been struggling with faith, I’ve been struggling on whether this life is what God has called me to do, I’ve been struggling with connection with God, I’ve been struggling with a relationship with God. It’s been rough. It’s been battles with the enemy, internal struggles and some very dark days. God promises me he will never leave me nor forsake me. He promises he will always love me and he is working all things for good for those who love him.
But I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want to hear the goodness of God. It was as if I put myself in this box and the enemy decided to trap me in there and tried convinced me that God had forgotten me, and repeatedly told me if he truly called me then I wouldn’t be going through this pain. But all this time, God was out there telling me to hold on because I had to endure this moment to get to where God wanted me but I couldn’t hear him over the words of the enemy. I was right where the enemy wanted me, trapped in my own thoughts.

But I was set free. You see there was this moment I had to pull over and allow tears to just flow down my face and be broken before God. At this very point was the point at which God met me. I yelled. I screamed at God. But a peace had come over me. It was in that moment that I knew I was free and all I had to do was let go. 
God will meet you where he wants you. Today I walked into church with more happiness and joy than any Sunday over the last few months. I got to serve Jesus today and for that I am thankful. 

God’s in Control

 

Let’s be honest for a moment, we all know God is in control. But how many of us would rather say, He’s not because we don’t want to face that fact that we are not perfect, that we fall short, we don’t want to admit that we need Jesus every day of our lives. We all do, even the people you see as “they can do no wrong” they too fall short! We can do nothing in our power, in our own strength, to make us not fall short. The beauty is Jesus came and died for us to build the bridge, so that we no longer fall short. He covers our sins.

You can say, “I know that”, but do you? Do you actually sit there and realize that every time you have a setback, that God is in control? I bet if you get the promotion, “it’s all God, thank  you Jesus.” But in the hard moments do we go and say, “thanks God, I know I fall short, and I know you and me have some work to do, so thank you so much for allowing me to go through this hard moment.” No, we don’t, we say, “Where is God” “I don’t understand” ” What did I do wrong”. We underestimate God in the hard moments, we feel if he was in control, then we wouldn’t be going through the things we go through. But sometimes we have to go through the hard moments, to get us to where He wants us.

Those hard moments are when we have our biggest growth. Why? Because you get on your knees, you get back into your relationship with God, you realize the sins that you have been allowing to dictate your life and you give them over to God, and you start focusing on the voice that should be.

So many of us are called to do great things, but sometimes we get discouraged because we have a major set back happen, or maybe we get depressed. And we let our circumstances dicate our life versus letting the Light dictate it.

I have battled depression for years. But the moment I surrender to it and I let it control me, is the moment I find myself, isolated and alone. I have to battle it, I have to fight it because I wasn’t called to live my life depressed, I was called to serve a God with joy, I was called to love others, I was called to be where I am in this moment. I can either take my depression and hide it away and pretend it’s not there or I can help others going through the same thing.

Yesterday, at church was so powerful, we did an illustration on how we are better together. We were told to lift our hands, to feel the burn of burdens we carry everyday by ourselves. Then we interconnected with each other, showing that that if we keep each other lifted, we can hold together longer, we can help each other when someone begins to fall. It was in that moment Pastor read out all the things we wrote down that were battling. We are better together, we get through things together not alone.

So when we face that next challenge or setback, there is a reason, even if you don’t see it. Don’t run, don’t hide, face it because God can use this moment in your life to help someone else out down the road because you’ve been there. God knows what he is doing even if it doesn’t feel right in the moment. Look around you, there are people there who’ve been through similar things, connect with them, learn from them, we do better when we do life together.

 

 

Laying by the Water 

John 5:1-15… Jesus asked the invalid man if he wanted to healed after laying there for 38 years. And after he was healed Jesus had to tell him to get up! You would think that someone who wanted to healed for so long, would realize that they were healed and that they can get up.
How many of us are that way with our relationship with God? Like we made it to church, but that’s it. That man made it to the waters, but he laid there still sick, he laid there no being able to move. We make it to church but we become just people there. We don’t let scriptures move us, we don’t let the Holy Spirit convict us. We show up because we want to healed from our brokenness and sin, but we remain too comfortable in it. We see healing happening but we still don’t move. We see God doing things and others lives and we wonder “why not me?”…

If you’ve accepted Christ in your life then get up. You brokenness and sin has already been paid for. Everything you are fighting against has already been won. Jesus conquered death on the cross. If death has already been conquered what else do we have to fear?

So get up and open your heart. Start serving in your church. Join a small group. Do something to get you plugged in. Let the healing process actually begin. 

Lasting Impression

Impression.

Today’s word is impression. Many of us try impress others to some extent. Us women, we wear make up; we try to make ourselves more “beautiful”, even go through the pain of heels. Why? Who are we trying to impress?

Besides what do we do on the outside to impress, what about how we act? Do we go out of our way to impress that one “important” person? Do we act more caring and interested when someone you know is getting married, a family friend gets a promotion, a friend tells you they are having a baby? We care but do we really care that much?  We may, but probably not. 

When a first time guests walks out of a church, the goal should be “leaving with a good impression”. Typically, the impression is done in multiple layers. From what they see and how they feel when they first come in, the people (How they are treated, what conversations they had, if any), research suggest the least two important part is the worship and the preaching. What does that mean? It means it starts with YOU.

If you are a servant of the Lord and I pray you are then it starts with your ownself. It’s a key to keeping a guest, it’s a key to building up the Kingdom of God. A popular command from Jesus himself is to “love your neighbor as yourself”. Impressing is not loving, it is going beyond the means of your ownself temporarily to put yourself in favor. 

If we focus on our relationship with Christ, if we focus on the loving of self. We will not have to impress, we just do. Our extent of our self will overflow into our serving. Serving comes from the heart, serving isn’t a requirement, it shouldn’t be seen as one, it should be done in overflow of love. 

I’ve been to  a few churches, some mega churches. Some of them I felt it was forced. I felt like they were just doing; trying to impress so hard that they forgot why they are serving and who they serving. Some of them served their leader before the served their King. 

To be a true servant, you must first be a true Christian: ““Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” -Romans‬ ‭12:9-13‬ ‭

Therefore, impressing is not godly, or biblical. Leaving a lasting impression on someone is. If we show people who we are as the body of Christ, that we are genuine, that we love and serve with our hearts and not for affirmation. We can change people’s lives. 

Stop impressing. Start just being and allow God to use the you behind your flaws you cover up, behind the weakness you try to hide. God can’t bless you if it’s not the real you.  

Personal Invitation

Your Personal Invitation….

I had to have a personal invitation to go to church. I wasn’t going to go just because you mentioned it. I had to have a specific date, a specific time, and you had to be coming with me. I was not going to go to a place foreign to me without some figuratively hand holding. I was scared.

I was scared of rejection, I was scared of feeling alone, I was scared to go anywhere like a “church” by myself. I wasn’t good enough. I was not confident enough. I was 26 at the time, I was all grown up, but yet a child. I was acting like a child when it came to church, I was acting like a child when I had to get my “feet wet” and to try new things. I had to have a personal invitation and an excuse to go.

Let me tell you, God does not require an invitation! Jesus was tortured and died on a cross for our sins, his love for us is so strong, yet we require a personal invitation to spread his love? Serving is the greatest thing you can do in your walk, serving allows others to see Jesus through you. That is what Jesus did, he served others and asked for nothing in return.

Through my faith walk I have struggled with invitations. I was “shoulder-tapped” to be on our welcoming team just a few months after starting the church, another personal invitation that I required. I was new to the faith at this point, I had no bible verses memorized, no bible to call my own,  just an example of others serving and loving others. I wanted that.

I joined. I started serving. Events go by, I ignore them, like every other new church goer. My thoughts: “Why do they need my help? They already have this bond, I don’t want to break it. I am going to be alone. I need to be with someone I know, (I needed my hand held again).” But yet I didn’t.

As my faith grew and my relationship with Jesus was building, I realized that it’s not about me. It’s not about me at ALL. We are to strive to be  Christ-like. It’s states in scripture, multiple times, for instance, 1 John 2:6 – “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”, We must walk to serve God, to serve others, to love on others, to help others, to pray for others, to lift others up when they are down.

Jesus did not require a personal invitation to walk they he walked and to love the way he loved. He did it because he was God in flesh. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. “ John 1:14.  God himself invited you to His kingdom through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.
I may have required an invitation to church, but I do not require an invitation to serve. I do not require a personal email or phone call from someone. It’s not all about you.  You want to be personally invited to something to volunteer your time and/or skill set. Why? You want to be acknowledge by that person who invited you hat you were there. You want someone to praise you for showing up, or doing well. That is not an act of a true Christ follower. Do it because you love others, Do it because you love Jesus. Do it because you WANT to serve the Lord not because you HAVE to.