It’s About the People!

I am a giver.  I do not boast in saying this, for God, Who lives in me, is the Giver.  The more I let go of all those natural concerns about not having enough, or what about me, the more I give.  Amazingly, the more I give, the more I have to give.  This is definitely God at work!

Luke 6:38 “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full — pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”  (NLT)

The other day, though, I was faced with something else about me working against that growing nature of a giver.  God created me with a pretty strong administrative gift, which means, among other things, that I live by lists.  Lists help me stay focused more easily, making better use of time.  Besides that, a written list helps my brain stay de-cluttered by not having to remember everything.  In living this way, it follows that I also check off items once completed, which can lead to a get-the-task-done mentality.

As you can imagine, if this is out of balance, the list ends up driving me, rather than being a tool to help me stay focused.  While it is important to do what the Lord has given me to do every day, I must not let completion of the tasks be my only focus.  In God’s eyes, there’s a much more important reason for the tasks than the tasks themselves.  The people with whom I come into contact in the process of doing those tasks, and my character being developed because of interacting with those people are the real purpose.  Our Perfect example, Jesus, was never so involved in a task that He neglected the people – a lesson I needed to remember the other day!

I had gathered a few groceries to take to the local food pantry, which only receives donations during the same hours it serves the people.  Earlier in the day, I had made a mental note, nestled between other tasks on my written list, to deliver the groceries late in the afternoon.  As I parked, I saw several people standing outside, waiting their turns to be helped.  I also spotted a couple of women putting people’s names on a list.  Being focused on delivering my bag of help, I zeroed in on one of the women whom I recognized from a local business.  She ushered me inside the bustling food pantry, full of people helping and receiving help.  I quickly handed them my donation and returned home.

No sooner did I walk into my living room, than I was struck with the fact that I hadn’t acknowledged the very people to whom I had taken my groceries.   I was so focused on the task of delivering that I had missed the purpose of the delivery – to give to the people.  My heart wasn’t wrong in the giving.  I simply forgot the whole point of it – the people.  Perhaps all it would have taken was looking into their eyes with the love of God.  Maybe a smile would have conveyed that they still have worth and value to the wonderful God Who created them.  Just recognizing their presence in a very humbling time for them might have opened a door to share the good news of Jesus – the very reason I am able to give!

I share this with you not to give myself a way of cleansing my conscience, for Jesus Christ already paid the price with His blood, glory to His name.  No, I share it in hopes you will remember my story when you find yourselves so caught up in the tasks that you are forgetting the very reason for the tasks.  No matter what the task, it’s all about the people!

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  (NIV)

The End . . . or the Beginning?

You are probably familiar with the dilemma of a glass being half-full or half-empty.  It’s obvious the glass has only one amount of liquid, but it’s a person’s perception of it that colors their outlook.  Someone who considers it half-empty probably sees that there is only so much left before it is all gone – and “then what will we do?”  On the other hand, those who see it as half-full probably think, “Wow!  I still have half the glass left to drink!”  I couldn’t help but see myself in this principle during a time of change in my life.

While I recognized the hand of the Lord in the changes, I was focused on the ending of things, resulting in a sadness permeating everything I did or thought.  As I prayed before bed one night, however, knowing the next morning would be the first day following the “end”, the Lord spoke to my heart that it was really the first day of the beginning I was facing.  I was actually stepping into something brand new, not just leaving something behind.  It is an understatement to say this simple sentence changed my whole outlook!  Though I still didn’t know what I was beginning, and things really were ending, I now saw it from God’s perspective.  I now saw my glass as half-full, rather than half-empty.  Further, I could see He was beginning the process of filling it up again – with new and different experiences to add to those He had given me before.

Philippians 3:13-1413. . .Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

Had I continued to dwell on the endings – with a half-empty glass mentality – I’m sure I would have missed much of what the Lord had for me in the changes.  I couldn’t have pressed forward with my all because I’d have been looking backwards – and that makes progress difficult, if not impossible.  God’s Word changed my perspective so I could see the glass as half-full, awaiting His refilling, no longer half-empty and running out.  Sadness was replaced with excitement and anticipation about the new things Daddy had for me in this adventure of life in Christ, because it’s not the end, but the beginning!

Proverbs 3:5-6 “5 Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.  6 In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.”  AMP

In Jesus’ Own Words

“If I am not doing the works [performing the deeds] of My Father, then do not believe Me [do not adhere to Me and trust Me and rely on Me].  But if I do them, even though you do not believe Me or have faith in Me, [at least] believe the works and have faith in what I do, in order that you may know and understand [clearly] that the Father is in Me, and I am in the Father [One with Him].”  John 10:37-38

Jesus spoke these words with the confidence of a man totally yielded to the Holy Spirit of God in and through His life, not with arrogance or self-assurance because He was God.  He did the Father’s works and reflected His nature so others could know the Father and He are One.

At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, Jesus spoke in a way designed to cause His accusers to consider not only His motives, but theirs.  Anything He did was to show the Father in Him and through Him.  It was more than just the miracles that upset them.  Was it also His observance of the Sabbaths?  His following of the Law of Moses and the law of the land?  Maybe they were upset by the extended times of prayer He observed – out of their view.  The problem with Jesus doing all these things was not that He was following religion’s requirements, but that change was happening in people with whom He came in contact.  Unfortunately, the religious leaders weren’t interested in being changed themselves, or helping others change for the better, so they failed to examine their hearts to discover what was lacking.

The contents of Jesus’ heart reflected the Father through the works of every area of life.  It was a life of God’s love – inside – that made the difference outside; improving hearts and lives in those who would receive, and increasing rejection and persecution by those who would not.  He truly loved His neighbor, wherever He was and whoever it might be.  He truly loved even his detractors, with the desire to shine forth God’s love for them even when He confronted in boldness and authority.  He required love to govern even His thoughts toward all people – the good and not-so-good – which overflowed in His words and actions.  (Matt. 12:34)

Jesus is my example – not of how God lived on this earth, but how a completely humble Man could live on this earth in total reliance on His heavenly Father’s Spirit to walk in love.  Since that is the case, my aim is to be able to say, with the same humility and boldness, that you can believe the works and have faith in what I do, for I am revealing in all actions and words that I and the Father are One, through Christ.  I want to be there – so dead to myself and so yielded to Holy Spirit that I know, without doubt, I’m doing exactly what He wants in His way and timing and with His amazing heart of love.  Since Jesus prayed that very thing for me, you, and all who will believe and follow Him, I know His Word is at work in me right now to bring this to pass.  His Word never fails!

John 17:21 “That they all may be one, [just] as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe and be convinced that You have sent Me.”