- My marriage
- My husband's soul
- My children's souls
- Child training- how and what it means
- Wanting to reach out WITH my kids so they see an example and learn to serve others in Jesus' name
- What part God would grant me to participate in the "causes" He cares about
It's always the case that as I hear the Spirit stir my heart towards a certain direction and I begin to take a step towards that direction- even if that step is just praying about it and desiring to move in it- the enemy is always quick to shoot a thought of accusation, condemnation and doubt.
I've seen this before, you'd think I recognize the pattern by now and not get all stalled out with His every LIE, but I do, only this time I'm not gonna get stuck in the paralyzation of analyzation.
You know what that is, don't you? You have this thing, or person, or direction or decision laid on your heart and you're sure it's from the Lord. You begin praying about it, searching the scriptures, thinking about it, and boom, outta nowhere some sentence someone spoke on a radio commercial or a line you read in a blog somewhere gets SHOT your direction in an accusing tone. Suddenly, something you heard or read that didn't mean a thing to you before now sounds like a prosecuting attorney condemning you on the stand before the judge and jury. So you stop. You don't move forward in praying or anything, all you can do is worry and wonder and argue with that voice in your head, trying to work it out and figure out how to get past this accusation.
Well, maybe that doesn't happen to you, maybe I'm the only crazy one, but it does happen to me, A LOT it seems.
Recently my heart has been stirred to not use my husband's spiritual state, or my lack of making money, or ANYTHING as an excuse to not, "...open her hand to the poor and reaches out hands to the needy," (Proverbs 31:20) but just to step out by faith in doing the good that God would allow me to do by His power.
God's already shown me He's at work in my husband's heart and that whether I make money or not is no matter- God is the one who gives me the provision, whether I work for it or my husband does, it's still God who's providing for me. But then it hit me, that accusing thought from the deceptive Prosecution, "You're not really reaching out to anyone, your just donating. That isn't enough! That's not what Jesus wants you to do. You think giving a measly ______ a month is going count as some kind of participation in God's work? Your kids aren't going to learn anything from that...." On and on the accusations come. And I could easily get paralyzed by trying to analyze my Accusers statements, and trying to figure out a good argument back. But the still, quiet and peaceful voice of the Spirit says, "Come now. I've prepared a table before you in the presence of your enemies. Come, sit, eat and talk to me while they have to be quiet and listen. Defy their voices in My presence. Let them sit there and squirm while I, the King of all, listen to you."
Oh my! And so I come and in an instant (which is I guess is the only way you can describe being exposed to the eternal in this time-ruled place) I know that no matter if I stood amongst crowds of widows, homeless, orphans, poor, and oppressed and spoke words of life and healing, witnessed thousands saved, and was able to do it all with my boys as we touched and ministered to their needs my presence, my part, my acts, would amount to nothing more than a few loaves and some fish. Cause if God isn't healing, touching, saving, clothing, feeding, rescuing, delivering, serving, IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT I DO.
So if I never get to do anything with my boys in a BIG, seen, way, and God's assignment to me is to pray, to give up those moments of paralyzation for talking to Him about these people He loves, if His part for me is to write a check, or donate water to a homeless ministry, or stop at the local nursing home to smile and hug some widows and widowers... if I can do these things then I will by His grace. And I'll trust that He's able to take what I offer, which is never enough no matter how big or little I think it is, and make it feed souls!
Oh Lord my God! You know me! Nothing is hidden from You! I hate it that when You look at me I see my wretchedness, but I'm glad cause it makes me realize how gracious and merciful You are. I hate it that in Your holy light I see that I'm still a man-pleaser. I still value things based on how "seen" it is. I still have this thought that being out there touching the poor and lost is me doing more than getting on my knees in my house where no one sees except You and I touch no one...except YOU! I hate my own thoughts Lord! And I love Yours, cause You say, "It doesn't matter what you do Sheila- if you don't touch Me it won't meet the need." Only You Lord can do this overwhelming work. Yet You don't want me to use what I can or can't do as an excuse for doing nothing. You want me to get on my knees and do what is before me, reaching out in Christ's love in the capacity that I can and seek Your face for Your will to be done in me and in my children and in any soul I reach out to. Help us, Your people, to not get stuck in analyzing. Help us to give, even if it's a check, while praying for Your hand to touch the lives that check is intended for. And help us to reach out and touch those who are around us, the widows, the children...the poor in our lives while praying for Your hand to touch them.
I'm laying in bed, sleeping nicely when my black lab Bailey comes to let me know she needs out to potty. I irritatingly push her off the bed and roll over on my back only to feel a sharp pain shoot up my abdomen on the left side. I think, gas, who knows...lay there for a minute expecting it to pass and fall back to sleep. No doin! After a half hour of trying to get a comfortable position and ignore the increasing pain in my side I decide to get up. I let the dog out and then what? I plop on the couch and say, "Ok Father, you've got me up at 2:30 am... with gas?!!!! What's going on!? I'm listening." I sit there for a bit and hear nothing. So I mosey on in to the computer room and log on to my homepage. There I read a great devotional from Jon Courson about how when we pray and things don't happen like we think they should or would to trust that God is not withholding any good thing from us who love Him. If it seems to be witholdin' it's because it aint no good! I thought, "True Lord. If you don't tell me why I'm up right now and what's going on, I'll trust You."
Then I proceeded to read through all the blogs with new posts on my bloglines which i rarely have the time to do in daylight hours. I truly was encouraged and blessed by the souls out there who seek the Lord and write about it. I left some comments, finished the long list of blogs and now here I am...writing about what I'm doing at 3:45 am.
I think about how one of my favorite Bible teachers said in a sermon I listened to once that when we wake up in the night not to assume that it's the pizza or the dog or whatever, but to listen for God's voice. I need to do that right now! So I'm off to say like Samuel, "Here I am Lord."
Confession- I've been listening to my stomach, my dog, my homepage devo, my fellow bloggers...everything but the Lord!
As a member of the Underground Church who has survived and escaped, I have brought you a message, an appeal, a plea from my brethren whom I have left behind.
They have sent me to deliver this message to you. Miraculously I have survived to deliver it.
I have told you of the urgency of bringing Christ to the Communist world and other captive nations. I have told you of the urgency of helping the families of Christian martyrs. I have told you of practical ways you can help the Underground Church fulfill its mission of spreading the gospel.
When I was beaten on the bottom of the feet, my tongue cried. Why did my tongue cry? It was not beaten. It cried because the tongue and feet are both part of the same body. And you as free Christians are part of the same Body of Christ that is now beaten in prisons in restricted nations, that even now gives martyrs for Christ. Can you not feel our pain?
The Early Church in all of its beauty, sacrifice, and dedication has come alive again in these countries.
While our Lord Jesus Christ agonized in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter, James, and John were a mere stone's throw away from the greatest drama of history- but they were dead asleep. How much of your own Christian concern and giving is directed toward the relief of the martyr church? Ask your pastors and church leaders what is being done in your name to help your brothers and sisters in restricted nations around the world.
In these countries, the drama, bravery, and martyrdom of the Early Church are happening all over again- now- and the free Church sleeps.
Our brethren there, alone and without help, are waging the greatest, most courageous battle of the twentieth century, equal to the heroism, courage, and dedication of the Early Church. And the free Church sleeps on, oblivious of their struggle and agony, just as Peter, James and John slept in the moment of their Savior's agony.
Will you also sleep while your brethren in Christ suffer and fight for the gospel?
Will you hear our message: "Remember us, help us"?
"Don't abandon us!"
Now I have delivered the message from the faithful, martyred Church- from your brothers and sisters suffering in the bonds of atheistic communism, and under attack across the world from Indonesia to Africa. Don't abandon them.
Please take a minute right now to pray for the believers in China and other captive nations.
- There are specific causes God specifically talks about that HIS heart cares about.
- The word "cause" really means to execute right judgement, or justice. In other words to do what's right concerning this people group or situation.
- God calls His people to take up the causes He takes up.
- God tells His people to "learn to do what's right." And surely that is because we think this or that is right. But He tells us what's right. He tells us SPECIFICALLY what "right" He wants us to be concerned with as His people.
- God does not want us to wait on our government, or our "rulers" for these causes He's concerned with to be defended. He says they- the rulers- DO NOT DEFEND HIS CAUSES.
- He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. - Deut.10:18
- Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. - Psalm 82:3
- ...learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. -Isaiah 1:17
- Your rulers are rebels, companions of thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow's case does not come before them.- Isaiah 1:23
I found this VERRRRRY interesting. It's stirring me to pray and look at these things specifically. As a Christian I could easily think of a lot of things that I think a good Christian should do. But God says, "These are the good, right things I want you as Christian to be about doing":
- Doing what's right by the fatherless. Do I know any fatherless? Do I know about any fatherless? What can I do to partake in this cause which God defends?
- Doing what's right by the widow. Do I know any widows? What can I do to take up this cause of God's.
- Loving the alien. Oooh. This one just hit me. I live in a "border state" where illegal aliens are rampant. How can I be sure to show them love and not expect the "rulers" to do so? These verses says God provides them food and clothing- shouldn't I?
- Doing what's right by the weak. Who do I know that is "weak"? A little further digging into the verse in Psalms reveals that this is speaking of those who are poor, or low, needy or weaker than me.
- Maintain the rights of the poor and the oppressed. A little digging into those words reveals God is talking about personally doing what's right and standing for what's right for those who are afflicted or wretched (makes me think of those with disease, even shameful diseases like HIV) and for those who are hungry, even impoverishing themselves (I think of those who are hungry because they worship idols and those who are spiritually hungry because they...worship idols).
- If you don't know what to do LEARN! Learn to do what's right- what I do! (God talking there, not me :)
- Encourage the oppressed! Makes me think of writing letters to Christians who are imprisoned for the gospel in foreign places. But there are those all around me who are oppressed. Am I encouraging to them?
- DON'T DEPEND ON THE GOVERNMENT TO DO THESE THINGS! YOU DO THEM!!! It really grabs me that God is talking to His people in all these things that we tend to look for the government to set up programs and systems for. But God says, "No! YOU do it!!"
Wow! That was a swift kick in the britches study! Lord, it encourages me and convicts me. Be my teacher as I seek to LEARN to do what is right.
Today in China many lovers of Jesus are risking imprisonment, torture, loss of home, job, income, reputation, etc. to get together with each other and pray, read God's word, sing to the Lord and enjoy fellowship in the Spirit together.
Whether you've already been to worship with your friends at church this morning or you're on your way, please remember your brothers and sisters in China.
When you close your eyes to sing that song which pierces your heart and causes you to overflow in worship remember that your sister and brother in China are courageously singing unto the Lord knowing that at anytime the governing authorities could break down their doors and begin imposing punishment for their "illegal" activity.
Today is the first day of the Olympics in China. Until the Olympics are over I resolve to post something each day to bring awareness and stir someone (mostly myself) up to prayer concerning China, it's government, and it's people.
I've decided to move over to WordPress at SheilaDougal.WordPress.com See you there!
( photo credit ) Every Sunday when I get to go to church I leave with something from God's word pressing on me. Every time. But I...
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