Giving Our Best

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord”

Colossians 3:23

“He’s got a piece of my heart,” we say. “Do you want a piece of me?” we ask the confronter. Throughout the day, our schedules are divided into pieces: a half an hour block here, fifteen minutes there. For many of us, it sometimes feels like life is in pieces.

As John Stonestreet once said: “we do not have lives, but life.” One life. One heart, one mouth, one schedule that we can live out at once.

How, when we divide our lives into pieces in our minds and hearts, can we at the same time work with all our hearts for God? Or love Him with our whole heart, whole mind, and whole soul? We don’t often seem to recognize the whole of any of these.

Without that recognition, how can we give God our best? How do we even know what our best is?

All of the Scriptural statements about giving the best, flawless lambs (and other awe-worthy sacrifices) always frustrate me. I’ve never seen a flawless thing in my life. But my eyes are corrupt. My understanding is, too. Surely there was some standard in those Old Testament days. And there is now. Under the law of freedom in Christ as redeemed, adopted people…

The best we have to give is that which God has given us.

He has called His gifts to us good and He is the standard of good! What better to give Him than what He has declared good?

That sounds a little more feasible, doesn’t it? He never asks the impossible of us. The charge to do all to the glory of God is not there to show us how we fail, but how He succeeds in working with us, on us, and through us.

Invite God into every part and piece of your heart and your day. Ask Him into the moments you struggle and the moments of joy and praise. Offer Him the work before you so that it can be His- it will be better than what you could do on your own.

Share with Him all those pieces that He says will be made whole, and they can be wholly His and for His glory.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory

 

Valentine’s and Trash?

On our first Valentine’s Day together, my now-husband gave me a box of trash. I’m not kidding. He walked around our college campus and picked up recycled items, newspaper clippings, old discarded pen caps, those cardboard slips you put around coffee cups, etc. He crammed it all in a box he found by a trash can.

Romantic, right?

He wasn’t commenting on what he thought of me, but on what I thought of Valentine’s Day. I thought the holiday was rubbish. In my opinion, Valentine’s Day was just an excuse for people to spend money and manufacture sentimental feelings or moments.

The box of trash proved me wrong. (Or was it the guy I later married?)

When I opened that box there was no ounce of manufactured anything in my laughter or the fun we had rummaging through it and making jokes. I didn’t have to worry about him spending a dime on me since money was tight.

All that silly box cost him was effort.

Inside, he had also tucked a note. Or rather, a digital treasure hunt guide. It went something like “Google such and such. Write down the third word in the fourth result that pops up.” The words spelled out the sweet and simple message. “I love you- in HIM.”

The other message that stuck?

He knows my worth in Christ, and that makes me worth so much to Him. In spite of all the muck and yuck of sin and love and challenges and money and holidays and expectations, he thinks I’m worth the effort. Even when I don’t want to be.

Let me tell you, that’s a gift that we’re not all so willing to give.

“Dear friends, let us love one another,

for love comes from God.”

1 John 4:7

What love comes from God? A love that says “you’re worth the effort” in the big and the small. In the cross and the sitting down to explain –again- that parable, because they weren’t really listening.

I’m not saying that’s all that love is, but effort proves value. And I’d like to encourage you today to make the effort to love others, even if all you have to give seems like garbage.

Give the time, give the laugh, and give the message clearly: you’re worthwhile to Christ, so you’re worthwhile to me.

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

23. BEHOLD: The Abundance

How many lights have you seen in the past few weeks? How many cookies have you eaten? Are there people in your life that you’ve seen, cared for, and appreciated lately? What a blessing. What a gift.

Is Christ in your life? Does the Lord ever provide for you? Are there moments when the Lord’s Word or Works make you smile? What a blessing. What a gift.

We are blessed with abundance.

It’s easy at Christmas to count every bit of abundance as a curse –so much money (spent), so many plans (so busy!), so much to do (to get ready). When those plans don’t work out or the gifts aren’t what we expected, it is also easy to count our abundance as insufficient.

But He:

“is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,

according to his power that is at work within us,”

Ephesians 3:20

Further, the Lord is:

“a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”

Psalm 86:15

All that the Lord has for us is sufficient. And what He has for us is abundance. It isn’t always in the time, memories, plans, or finances that we want.

He offers in abundance opportunities to come to Him, to pray, and to enter His wisdom. We are offered hope and joy beyond measure. The beauty of the world He has adorned for us is overwhelming. The ability to love and connect with others that He puts in our lives exceeds all that we can fathom.

We celebrate Christmas because of the abundant gift of life given to us through Christ. More than just coming, just saving, just being human like us, being completely passionate…or anything else…Christ is more. He is always more than we expect, believe, or dream.

His abundance is such that we always have cause to be in awe in of His goodness. That, itself, is a greater gift than all we can imagine.

Behold, the abundance of the Lord.

Behold, all that He gives filling us full with plenty flowing over.

Behold, the Lord whom we always have every reason to praise!

14. BEHOLD: The One Worthy

You better be good, for goodness’ sake. You’ll get coal in your stocking if you aren’t nice this year. You’d better make this Christmas one to remember, or you could ruin it for everyone. Be worthy: it’s what Christmas is all about.

Except…at Christmas we remember Christ coming. The only one of whom we can say:

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

 –Revelation 4:11

He was born in a barn and laid first in a stable. His years of conquering this world involved peaceably healing others while proclaiming God’s truth. He was persecuted for that. The righteous king of all things, He rode into the holy city on a donkey colt’s back. He died on a cross.

Does He sound worthy? Does it sound as though He got what He deserved?

Worth before the Lord is so unlike the value system we have in this world. Not bound up in circumstance, stature, or receiving, worth in the Lord’s kingdom is all about the giving.

The one who is worthy of all praise is the giver of life. He is the giver of eternity and of all good gifts.  Through Christ, He is the giver of perfect love and security. There are no quantities to measure when determining worth with the Lord. No gain is earned, but any “gain” is given by the Lord in complete grace.

What a different sort of Christmas it is to live and act as if that which is most worthwhile is giving to the Lord the praise that He is worthy of.

“Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.”

Psalm 145:3

Behold, the gift that gives and through us gives and to us gives that through us He might give.

Behold, the one who has nothing to gain and who gladly gives everything.

Behold, the only one who is truly worthy of all praise!

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, and 
#Intentionally Pursuing