More than all Burnt Offerings and Sacrifices

Mark 12:33-34
“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

While we no longer literally offer burnt offerings and sacrifices we still do it in type. Many times I might rather love my neighbor, whoever that might be, from a distance rather than up close and personal. Just allow me donate some money for their cause, or pray for them, anything, but don’t make me become personally involved in their lives. Most of us like our own space and some of us like to be around friends and family, but even that has its limitations. How much time do I have for my neighbor, those people that I encounter in my daily life, business or work? Many times we might think to ourselves, “You know, I have enough problems of my own, I don’t need to get involved with someone else’s.” If we love ourselves enough to care about our problems, our needs, our wants, desires and goals in life, then aren’t we mandated to care about the similar needs of others as well?
Most of us would agree that in a world where every time you turn around someone wants to sell you something or ask you to contribute something we begin to become rather cold and callused. We build these walls to try and keep these people out. It is true, we can’t be everything to everybody and we do only have so many resources, still, are we loving our neighbor as ourselves? All of the things that I do for me, am I willing to do them for someone else? Personally, I am not a real people person and the majority of the time I am quite content and comfortable to be by myself, doing my own thing, but can I really love my neighbor as myself from that position. Loving others is always stretching us. It causes us to move out of our comfort zone. It causes us to come out of the place of just making the token efforts of the burnt offerings and sacrifices and requires me to get involved. Jesus was involved with those around him and not just with the upper crust, the easy to get along with, the likeable or the ones that could benefit Him. He was relating to humanity at all levels, classes, sexes and races. He would relate with children and adults alike, to the whole and the broken, rich and the poor and to the sinner and the righteous. Jesus was not a respecter of persons and He was sensitive to the heart cry of people. There are a lot of people out there that just want to take advantage and use others. This tends to make us wary and cynical, but the Lord wants us to tune into the heart cry of others. Listen, by the Spirit to the real need in people. It often isn’t what we see being portrayed on the outside or in their actions. We need a spirit of sensitivity, not to be duped by everyone that comes along, but to see into the heart need of others.
As the ambassadors and representatives of Christ in this earth we are the channels of God’s blessing, healing, restoration and reconciliation. If we don’t take the time and make the time for the needs of others, then who will. If I want someone to love me, be sensitive to my needs and to just care then that is the love I need to be extending to others in whatever capacity I have to give it. It isn’t the religious gestures that I make and the token giving that the Lord is looking for. He is looking for my heart to be one with His heart in me. He desires me to love Him through the way I love others, through a heart that is really caring and concerned for the needs of others. So often we are like the Scribe, the Pharisee, “the Christian”, who walks to the other side of the road when we see our neighbor in need. We don’t want the inconvenience and the investment of our time and resources to get involved. If my neighbor is important to the Lord, then they have to become my priority also. We have to remember that our mission in the earth is not about us, it is about Him through the way that we serve others. Loving God and loving our neighbor are all part of the same pie.
“Lord, give us sensitive hearts and eyes to see into the real needs of others and to make ourselves available and willing to minister to those needs in what ever way we can. Give us your heart to really love others as we would love ourselves, not from a distance, but up close and personal. Help us to truly be the extension of your compassion, love and grace. May the world truly know us by our love and not just by our name and religion. Allow us to be willing to pay the price of the personal sacrifice required in the giving of ourselves and that which cost us personally to love You with all of our hearts; to love our neighbors as ourselves, no matter who they may be.”

Blessings,
#kent

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A Time for every Purpose under Heaven

Ecclesiastes 3:1
To every [thing there is] a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

Our lives are made up of many seasons and one thing about life is that it never stays the same and time never stands still. Life is a dynamic that is always in motion, interacting with the lives around it. The one constant that we have is God’s Word and it doesn’t change, but it does contain wisdom and direction for our lives in whatever season and time we find ourselves in. There are times we feel like we have control over some of the things in our lives and others when we seem to have no control at all. But again, the one constant that we have is the Lord in our lives, who never leaves us or forsakes and is with us in good times and in the bad. He is the One through and with whom we travel every season of our life and desire to find His purpose. It is not always easy to know what God’s purpose is at times in our lives. We don’t always understand His hand, why He does or doesn’t do things the way we have prayed or hoped. We can only trust His heart, because we know that all of His ways are right and just and that His nature is love.
It is important that, just as God is with us in every season and purpose of our lives, we are there for one another, sharing each other’s life experiences and encouraging one another through the process. Sometimes we are the salt God has prepared to place in the wound of ones that are hurting. Sometimes we are there to share in the excitement and joy of a precious moment or happening. What God is working in each of us is that we are a people for all seasons, equipped and furnished unto every good work. Our preparation is through our own life experiences and learning to walk with the Lord through each one. Galatians 6:9-10 tells us, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all [men], especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” A lot of things come in there own good time which often isn’t as soon as we think it ought to be. The Lord exhorts us to just keep on in well doing towards others and especially our brethren and eventually we will see that we will reap what we sow.
As we move through the changing times and seasons of our lives learn to rest in the Lord in whatever place you are in, don’t get anxious or upset, but look to the Lord to teach you in that place. Ask Him what He wants to work in you. Trust Him and be faithful in both the hard and the easy places, in the good times and the bad. Don’t grow discouraged, defeated or weary in your well doing for the Lord is our portion and our blessing and as the Word says, “in due season we will reap, if we faint not.” Let us be there for one another encouraging and helping one another, sharing our life experiences together. For there is a time and a season for every purpose under heaven and the Lord is a part of them all. Let us trust and walk with Him through each one.

Blessings,
#kent

Is it all about Me?

October 31, 2012

Philippians 2:1-4
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Is it all about Me?

One of the things that most of us deal with and have the most problems with is our ego and our self. Even when we don’t see it in ourselves there is often that inner selfish voice screaming, “what about me, what about me”. It is truly a paradigm shift for many of us to turn our focus from ourselves and now use that same concern on the behalf of others. It becomes the shift from selfish to selfless. God’s love has this characteristic in that it sees the needs of another before it sees its own. In this world it is all about taking care of number one if you are going to be successful, but, as with most things, in God’s economy and kingdom we esteem one another as better and more important than ourselves. This can’t be born out of a false humility, but out of genuine love and concern for those around us. We are there to assure their success and well being and if they are functioning in the same principles they will be there to assure our success.
It is often hard for us when we see someone promoted before us. Someone we perceive as certainly not being anymore qualified and deserving than we are. If our heart and mind are truly set upon promoting others before ourselves, then we will take joy and accomplishment in that we fulfilled our goal of promoting and esteeming others as better than ourselves. The other side of that coin is that we develop this martyr complex where we want to be seen as laying it all down for Jesus and it can still be a backdoor to our ego in that it draws attention to itself by all that it sacrifices and gives. God’s balance and order is that no one person gives it or does it all, but we all work together, esteeming each other above our own interests where there becomes a balance of a body of believers or even in a marriage of serving one another. If we all had as our purpose the happiness and well being of those around us, would any of us lack? This is being one in spirit and in purpose. I know this is what God wants to grow us up into in our walk and relationship with Him. When this happens the divorce rate will go way down, because it ceases to be about egos and selfishness and it will become about what we can do to bless and care for the needs our spouse. How can I build them up and how can I be sensitive to their needs. This often flies in the face of our current selfish ambitions and agendas, what we often fail to realize is that in that other person’s happiness and fulfillment lies our own.

Blessings,
kent

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