I am doing the Experiencing God bible study for the second time around and I am amazed at what I didn’t “hear” the first time around! I love Henry Blackaby’s teachings-he is a man of God who is full of compassion and love for God’s people.
Last night he talked about how Paul THOUGHT he was serving God when he really wasn’t. ( Before his conversion) God knocked him over and showed him a new way to serve. Sometimes we all need that knocking over. I’ve been knocked over a few times myself and I am learning how to get back up with grace. It’s not easy- but when God convicts us of being wrong it produces freedom and healing like you’ve never experienced! I have received this grace a lot in the past several years. I have experienced God’s hand moving and changing me in my thoughts, actions, desires and purpose. Just like Paul, I was getting a little legalistic and unbearable. When I look back and think of some of the things I said and did, I cringe. I lost a good friend for a little while. We didn’t speak for over a year. I missed many things in her life and she in mine. I was being judgmental and righteous. It took an international mission trip for me to see the error of my ways and what is really and truly important. I couldn’t be the judge and jury-that isn’t my job. Only God does that. I remember my friend telling me that ” this isn’t the Donna I know!” Wow! When I hear those words in my ears now I know she was right. The bad thing about our words is that we can never take them back. However, we serve a God who is a healer and a relationship re -builder. I’ve felt God change my judging heart and mold it into something that belongs to Him. I cannot convict people to change-only God can do that. I can plant a seed, and add water and nurture it , but it is our Creator God who makes it grow. It’s not about me or what I do- it’s about Him and what He does.
Psalm 103:13 MESSAGE
“God makes everything come out right; he puts victims back on their feet. He showed Moses how he went about his work, opened up his plans to all Israel. God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him. And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins. As parents feel for their children, God feels for those who fear him. He knows us inside and out, keeps in mind that we’re made of mud. Men and women don’t live very long; like wildflowers they spring up and blossom, But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly, leaving nothing to show they were here. God’s love, though, is ever and always, eternally present to all who fear him, Making everything right for them and their children as they follow his Covenant ways and remember to do whatever he said.”
Blackaby says we should ask ourselves if we are being GOD CENTERED or SELF CENTERED.
Will this harm the Kingdom of God?
Ephesians 4: 29
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Words. They can do a lot. They can kill a relationship. Sometimes it is quickly, sometimes it is slow and painful. I know my words have sometimes harmed those I love and I also know that God has given me wisdom in how to correct those mistakes. I couldn’t do it without realizing my mistake first. Then I had to wrestle with God over it and ask for forgiveness because I had grieved God. For me- grieving God is almost unbearable to even think of. But I do it daily. It took several people to teach me about grieving God and to get me where I am today in that understanding. If those teachers had given up on me, or called me names, etc., where would I be today? Actually I did have an Algebra teacher who used to yell at me in front of the class. She was plain mean. It wasn’t just me, but others also. She would say, ” SUTTERBY-YOU WILL NEVER PASS THIS CLASS BECAUSE YOU ARE SO STUPID.” She would throw chalk and erasers at us if we weren’t paying attention. She crumpled our papers and humiliated us in front of our classmates. I disliked her very much. Instead of lifting me up with encouragement she tore me down with humiliation and negativity. It didn’t do much for my self esteem that’s for sure. Negativity never does. It comes from satan. It is evil and it always tears people down. The bible tells to build each other UP with encouragement. Are you reading your bible? It is our dictionary for life. It explains how we are to live-in detail.
1 Thess. 5:10-11
. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
I am seeing a pattern when I do God’s work. There is ALWAYS opposition-no matter what the job is-it is always there. I have two choices. I can listen to the opposition OR I can focus on what GOD wants. I think this is part of what Blackaby means when he says we are to ask ourselves if it will harm the Kingdom of God. You see, last night in his lesson he said that when we delay God’s timing- we are also delaying getting people into God’s kindgom. That is BIG. I can let opposition delay God’s work through me OR I can continue to move forward on God’s promise and strength. God has made it distinctly clear to me this week that His work isn’t about me, it isn’t about you, it isn’t about anything but HIM, and when I am SURE that what I am doing is for the Kingdom of God-nothing is going to stop me from doing it no matter what anyone says. When I think about how my inaction could possibly delay another soul entering heaven-it makes me cringe. Our responsibility, as Christians, is to bring people into a relationship with God-then God will do the rest.
We have a big responsibility on our shoulders. It’s time we took it seriously and grab every single opportunity we can to share God’s Word with people, young, old, babies, disabled, homebound, youth, teens, our family, neighbors and the list goes on. If we don’t get up and get moving and share God’s encouraging Word with others- we will be held responsible for what we DIDN’T do.
At the end of Blackaby’s video here is what was said:
We don’t do a work FOR GOD-
We do a work FROM GOD.
What has God given you to do today? Whatever it is-I encourage you with my whole heart, to do it with zest, zeal and encouragement. This is how GOD wins people into a relationship with Him. That excitement is what draws people to want to know more about Him. The more excitement and joy we have the more people will come to know Christ.
As for me and my friend-God has brought us full circle and today we have an even better, fuller, richer relationship with one another BECAUSE of GOD. I am not who I was BECAUSE of GOD’S GRACE covering my heart. It’s GOD’s REDEEMING GRACE that people are excited about-it is a grace that when experienced is hard to contain. It’s all about HIM and nothing else. Just like Paul-he could not contain his experience so he wrote and preached and then he did it all over again.
REDEEMED: to buy back, to win back, to free from distress, harm or captivity. To release, change or reform. To convert into something of value.
YOU have been REDEEMED. You have worth. You are valued.
Now act like it.
Today, I have been redeemed from what could harm me and I have worth and value and my purpose is to share that redeeming grace with everyone I meet. Thank you Lord for this encouragement and for your words of wisdom. May you strengthen my hands for the work that comes from you and may the words of my mouth be pleasing and encouraging to everyone I meet. You live in me, your breath is my breath, you placed every hair upon my head and I am your child. Today, you have planned for me to live, act, breath and love like your child and to never, ever, take my eyes off of you. I know I can do all these things through the strength you give me. Thank you Lord…thank you….( sigh. )