Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Week Forty-Eight - Evening Sowing

I almost gave up. That’s right. I considered chucking it all in and shutting myself away. To be honest, I’ve been tempted to do that many times in my life. Guess that’s my hillbilly tendencies! But each time, the Lord reaches in and gently pulls me back to reality.
   This time, I lost motivation and direction because of tiredness and lack of concentration. Oh, I have dreams and visions, but they all seem too big, too much effort, too much risk. Then, as I wandered through another of those old books I love, I came across two stories.
   The first told of a couple who had been dedicated workers in their church. They taught Sunday school for years, served on leadership teams, and retired moving away to a new location after a great send-off. As they settled into their new home, the local pastor greeted them excited to have such fine folks starting to attend his church.  He needed the help they could provide. But as he offered the opportunity for service, they declined saying they had done all that and were no longer willing to serve.  They decided their sowing time was over.
   The second story was of an older gentleman who had spent many years serving his community as the local doctor. Time had come to leave his practice, but instead of going away from his community, he threw himself into opportunities through his church to continue giving. When asked why he continued, he said he was doing his Evening Sowing.
   That took me to Ecclesiastes 11:6, “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.” Evening Sowing. Do you see it?
   In the morning – in your youth – sow thy seed. Yes, grow. Raise a family. Get a career. Enjoy the time of strength with exuberance and steady commitment. Serve the Lord with gladness and faithfulness.
   In the evening – in your mature years – continue sowing. Don’t stop. Remain steadfast.
Why?  Because you don’t know where the real prosperity lies. You might have seen success in your youth. There is no reason to believe you will not see the same as you age. Besides, if all the older adults stop serving and sowing, the burden on the youth becomes greater.
   I’m concerned when reading about Millennials telling Baby Boomers to move over and give them the reins. That doesn’t seem to be the teaching of Scripture. Matter of fact, I read that the older are to teach the younger. Society is getting things out of sync here.
   So, what was the Lord saying that helped me not to give up, to keep going? He said, “Gail, I am in control of these things. I need you to continue with the vision I have given. I need you to do your evening sowing and leave the outcome to me!”
  Dear younger reader. Serve heartily. Do what you know God wants you to do with all your might. Enjoy life.  It is a gift of God. And look for a mentor with some character and age, someone whose wisdom leads you to confidence and helps you stay on the path.
   And if you are an older reader, don’t give up. Keep sowing seed of kindness, faith, and hope in the lives of those around you. Keep your eyes on the goal God has given you and work toward it. Don’t sit, waiting around for it to come. Pursue it. You never know what blessings God has prepared for you or whose life you will touch for eternal value. Get out there and do your evening sowing!

So, speaking of Evening Sowing.  I’m asking you to remember me in prayer as I continue blogging and writing.  My children’s stories, Reba and Katherine, are only a part of what I hope to continue.  I have several more stories about the girls I’d love to publish, and a couple other children’s things up my sleeve.  If you haven’t looked at these stories, here’s a link:

   I am also working on the Bible word devotionals I blogged back in 2013.  I’m calling it 50 Bible Words. My plan is to have it on Amazon in paperback and eBook in 2020.  I’ll keep you posted when it's ready!
   And, I am learning how to podcast.  This is a big step for me because I’m not that tech-savvy, but they all say it’s not hard.  We’ll see!  Meanwhile, thank you for reading, sharing, and dropping comments and encouragement. 
   You keep sowing, too!

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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Week Forty Seven - Multifaceted

One of my greatest joys is working with young adults. Through my work at Baptist Bible College, I am introduced to these young ones as they take their first step of faith by enrolling with a desire to either serve the Lord or find God’s plan for their lives. They come in very green. Some lack social skills, some need a dose of humility, while others arrive open to a new adventure and excited to see what God has next. As they look for their path and grow into adulthood, the change is amazing.
     I watch them change from clumsy to capable, from fearful to bold, and from unsure to certain and then, they leave! With them, they take all they have gained through studying God’s word in an organized manner, a new set of lifetime friends, and a development of mind and soul that places them ready for service.
     One of the burning questions they all deal with is, “What is God’s will for my life?”  Most want that question answered with one simple reply. You are to be a missionary. You are to be a pastor. You should be a music minister. But sadly, or might I say wonderfully, God’s plan isn’t singular. He has much more planned for them than just a single definition. Their lives are to be more than the title of a role. God has equipped them with many, many talents, and theirs is a journey to discover all God placed within them to use for His glory.
     We, too, sometimes fail to remember that our lives are not summed up by one word. We are not just a mother or father. We are not just a businessman or a real estate agent. We are much more. It is when we let the world define us by a single description that we get disillusioned with life. We are multifaceted, made in God’s image, and created to be so much more.
   Bob Goff said, “For those who resonate with formulas, here it is: add your whole life, your loves, your passions, and your interests together with what God said He wants us to be about, and that’s your answer. If you want to know the answer to the bigger question—what’s God’s plan for the whole world?—buckle up: it’s us.” (p 143)
     Yep! Us! With all our quirks, misgivings, faults, and failures, God wants to use us. Our assignment is to yield to His will. We will be mothers and fathers, workers, and employers, but those are only avenues in which God works. As a parent, we are teachers, protectors, and models. As a worker or employer, we are living examples of Christ, uplifters, and empowerers, and even lights shining in the darkness. God wants to use every gift, talent, and personality quality He has given us to reach the world. That is His plan.
     Just like those students, who enter green and discombobulated, come out upright and prepared, we, too, must see ourselves as a work in progress. A work inside God’s plan; one He is performing in conjunction with all those around us for His glory.
     So, today, don’t look at your life as small and singular. Open your heart and mind to all God has placed within you and allow Him to develop those skills—every one of them. You might feel clumsy at first, but you will find your feet. Learn to trust what God is doing and look for His hand. Then, you will graduate from life fulfilled and purposeful—a vessel fit for the Master’s use.

Love Does, by Bob Goff

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Week Forty-Six - Radiant

Our Saviour is often portrayed with deep melancholy eyes and a solemn look. Only the artist’s subtle halo hints at His true radiance. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, but He was also a man of unfathomable love radiating to those around Him. He drew people to Himself and they sought His company. They heard His words joyfully. The disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. He loved the little children and they loved Him. Why? Because of the radiance of His personality. His welcoming and loving nature contrasted with the religious leaders around Him. He was free from the law, and His demeanour mirrored liberty.
     Do you doubt it? Just read the gospels and look for yourself. The New Testament opens with a joyous message, a new life, a new hope, and a charge of energy—a radiance unlike the Old Testament.
     This new radiance carried the disciples through beatings, stoning, shipwreck, and prison with the call, “Rejoice in the Lord, and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). Their boldness shone from the radiance of Christ anchored within their hearts. It came through their voices, and eyes, and handshakes as they drew men to Christ, preached the Good News, and hazarded their lives.
     Leslie Weatherhead, in his book, Jesus and Ourselves, says Jesus derived his radiance from three sources. “(1) He had no sense of sin. (2) He was doing God’s will. (3) He was certain of God.” (p 218) These three things bring radiance to our lives as well.
     Do we live with a sense of sin? Guilt? Not secure in our position in Christ as forgiven? “If God has put your sins behind His back you must put them behind yours.” (p 219) Take it to the cross, dear friend, and leave it there. Purity is radiant.
     And what are you doing with your life? Do you understand that your life is sacred? Everything you do is to be done as unto Christ. Your job, schooling, parenting, service, ministry, etc., everything is for Him. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord” (Colossians 3:23).
     We are to be doing His will. He blesses and uses us in even the most mundane and common service dedicated to His glory. We live for Him with the understanding that our life is no longer our own, but His to live through us. Galatians 2:20 “the life which I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). We serve the Lord Christ.           
     Lay self aside, and look for His hand in every dish you wash, every conversation you hold, every sale you make. You’ll be surprised how much radiance this brings to your life.
     And certainty? Are you certain of God? Jesus was. He knew that all things lie within the circle of God’s redeeming activity. If I face pain, God is there. Let me cooperate with Him for His glory.  If I come to disaster, let me remember that God alone has the final word.
     Even through tears I become more certain of God, for tears clear my vision of Him. “Happiness may spring from the heels, but radiance only springs from the heart; a heart quiet and steady, deep and strong, unselfish and disciplined” (p 220). Confidence is radiant.
    Psalm 34:5 “They looked unto him, and were lightened (radiant): and their faces were not ashamed.”
     Dear friend, radiance is there as a testimony of the Light of Life within you. Let your little light shine! Don’t hide it under a bushel or dampen it with ungodly living. Live in purity, willingness of service, and confidence. Then, and only then, can it be said of you, “…they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13).