Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Mine, Mine, Mine

Mine, Mine, Mine... hearing those words would probably lead you to believe that this was a post about my four year old daughter, who happens to be an only child and her inability to share.   While that is true at times.... this post is about us - the big kids.  Though I am talking about us, as adults, I can't help but play the scene from "Finding Nemo" over and over in my mind.
Our small groups at church are currently doing a bible study on the book of Malachi.  I will be honest, this is not a book that I have studied much in the past (honestly, I probably have never really studied it as a whole ever).  So much of the book of Malachi is about God's unchanging love and pursuit of His people, yet his people keep turning their backs on him, time and time again. They were doubting his covenant love for His people and not trusting in his ability to be just.  Malachi (which means messenger) calls on the people to return to following the law that God established.
The specific passage that we were studying was Malachi 3:6-12.

Breaking Covenant by Withholding Tithes

“I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,”says the Lord Almighty.
“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’
“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed,
for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.

God is calling His people to return to Him in verse seven.... but the people ask how are they to return... and God basically says - stop robbing me!  Return to me what is mine.  God asks us for the people to bring to the storehouse their tithe (most interpret that to be 10% of their money, their crops, etc.) and their offerings.  In our study we were asked why do you think God focused on the tithe and offerings?  As I thought about that question, I thought about how we as people love our money... we hold it near and dear to our hearts... our lives revolve around it... it can control us, it is one of the top reasons for marriage problems and divorce.... God was asking them to give something that took great sacrifice.  

So I started thinking about giving up my tithe and my offering, and the more I thought about it and discussed it with our group the more I realized.... it's not about what is mine to give up... because NOTHING I have is mine... I am just returning to God what is His.... that is obedience!  It was never mine to begin with, however as a sinful human I struggle to remember that what I have is not my own.

My money...is God's - therefore I need to give freely to others what God has blessed me with, even when I feel like I have nothing to give, I need to give as the widow did in scripture.

My house... is God's - therefore I need to use it to take in people who need a place to rest. I need to use it to invite in both friends and strangers to share God's love with.

My car ... is God's - therefore I need to be willing to share it with others.  I need to be willing to pick up people for church.  I need to be willing to deliver meals to new moms and shut-ins.

My child.... is God's - she is not mine... she is God's gift on loan to us.  She is God's child with whom we pray He will use to change the world, and share Christ wherever she may go... which means letting go, because she too is not mine.

Mine, Mine, Mine.... needs to change to Yours, Yours, Yours - God let that be my daily prayer and my daily offering to "the storehouse".  May we as a family use everything we have for Your Kingdom and for Your Glory, and not for our own.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A prayer for my sleeping child

There are few things quite as precious as a sleeping child.... whether it has been a great day filled with learning and obedience, or a day that seemed to be the worst of days filled with tears, whining, and what seemed like constant disobedience.  My heart melts over my sleeping child.  Sometimes I just stare at her, looking at her precious peaceful face.  Sometimes I cry tears of joy because of the amazing gift that God so gracious entrusted to me.  And sometimes I honestly look at my sleeping child and celebrate that the day is done... and tomorrow is a new day (if you know what I mean).

Lately I have been convicted of my need to do a better job at praying more specifically for people and for situations.  I am okay at mentioning names before the Lord, but not so good at being detailed in what I pray for.  That conviction has also rolled over into my need to do a better job praying specifically for my child and my husband.

Our evening routine involves a book or two, an evening prayer, and singing.  After the singing is through I usually kiss my sleeping child and quietly exit the room being careful to not wake the sleeping child.... however lately I have found myself lingering, looking and praying.  As I began to think about how to pray for her, I thought of the old hymn... Take My Life and Let It Be and it prompted me to pray like this....

I lay my hand and her HEAD - Lord, give her wisdom.  Help her grow in her knowledge of you. Help her to make wise decisions that would bring you honor.  Fill her mind with godly things and protect her from lies of the world.  Help her to think before she acts, so that she can be a light for you.

EARS - Lord, help her to listen - as the saying says you give us two ears to hear and one mouth to talk let us listen more than we talk.  Help her to be still and listen to that still small voice.  Help her to hear the cries of the people around her who need loved and cared for.  Help her to listen and obey as we seek to teach her your ways.  Give her ears that are fully tuned to your voice.

EYES - Protect my little girl's eyes... help us to teach her what is good to see and what to turn away from.  Give her eyes filled with compassion for those that she sees to be hurting around her.  Help her to be sensitive to those that she sees that look or act differently - help her to see them just as you see her.

MOUTH - You tell us our tongues are sharper than a two edged sword..... help her tongue to be used to build people up and not tear them down.  Help her to speak truth but in a way that is filled with compassion.  Help her words to be kind and caring.  Help her to use her mouth to tell others of your amazing goodness.  Let her be your mouth piece to a hurting world that needs to know of your love.

HANDS - Let these hands be used to serve you.  Let them be used to build for your kingdom and not be used to hurt others or for selfish things.  Use her hands to help bring joy to the brokenhearted and healing for the sick (she told me she wants to be a doctor, so I guess it is never to early to start praying if that is what she does).

I lay my hand on her BACK - this precious little body Lord is a gift from you.... protect her body from harm.  Keep away anyone that would want to hurt her or take advantage of her.  Lord wrap your arms around her as she sleeps so that she can be comforted to know that she is safe in your arms. Thank you for the gift that she is to me and so many others...thank you for her!

LEGS - You tell us that we are to run a race not of speed but of endurance.... give her legs to run that race and run it well.  Lead her on the path that is the straight and narrow.  Give her patience in the journey but help her to follow the leader of the pack, which is you.

FEET - Lord - these tiny feet will walk many miles over her lifetime... may those steps by following in your footsteps.  Let her be your hands and feet and be like You to other people.  Though it would be so hard to let her go far away, Lord if you call her to serve around the world... help me to be willing to let her go.... and help her to be willing to be obedient.

Lord for this little child, my baby, your gift to us... I pray your hand of protection, and pray that you amazing love would radiate from this child.  Thank you for sharing her with us!  AMEN