Tag Archive | passion

The Reality of Sacrifice

© DepositPhotos/ elenathewise

© DepositPhotos/ elenathewise

“About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there. He called them together, along with the workers in related trades, and said: ‘You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business.'” Acts 19:23-25 (NIV)

Sacrifice in the name of Jesus Christ is a choice.

In the United States, most people live a comfortable and convenient life. We see sacrifice as giving up television or Facebook for a period of time. Maybe we do without cable or satellite and only have 15 disappointing channels to choose from.

Maybe we see sacrifice as contentment in the not having. “I can’t afford something so I am willing to sacrifice my desire or longing for the thing I want.” Our willingness to accept what is for what isn’t can be a sacrifice of our own will for God’s. But in order for this to be true, we have to believe that God has a will that is worth sacrificing for.

What? Of course God’s will is worth sacrificing for you say.

But I ask, how do you know? How do we know it to be true? How do we see it lived out by Christians in this world?

I hear about boycotts all the time against companies who contribute to organizations that go against Christian values, at least according to some Christians. Maybe the company has a religious foundation other than that of Christ and the funds they receive go to further their message. Can we really be expected to give up products based on the beliefs and values of others? Can we really be expected to be the moral police of the world?

A while back I found out that Susan G. Komen contributed money to Planned Parenthood. I could no longer in good conscience contribute to the organization. I am not against breast cancer research or awareness. I do not wish or hope for people to get breast cancer and I am not insensitive to the suffering that those with breast cancer endure. I do contribute to other organizations working on cancer treatments and I do pray for organizations to use their resources wisely in their ongoing efforts to effectively and quickly treat cancer.

But finding a cure to cancer should not come on the backs of innocent children who have no voice, no choice and whose lives are ended too soon by the choice of another. This is one area where I stand firmly in my convictions. As I learn of other organizations who also contribution to abortion clinics, I hope to stand just as firm.

You see, not contributing to SGK is not really a sacrifice. I lose nothing because of that choice.

Am I willing to give up my favorite food, soft drink, coffee or activity because at the root of it lies funding for the murder of unborn babies? Even this is shallow in context. But…

Am I willing to give up the cure for my disease so others may live? Am I willing to give up my livelihood for what I believe Jesus Christ stands for and what He holds me accountable for in my lifetime? Am I willing to live without what everyone else has by choice so that my conscience can be clear before Christ on the day of judgement? Does it matter? Or am I content to say Jesus will forgive me anyway?

It sounds so cheap. Cheap grace. Contentment in sin. Contentment in complacency.

© DepositPhotos/ michaeljung

© DepositPhotos/ michaeljung

I’ve recently seen a number of articles addressing the use of child slaves in the making of chocolate. Is it true? How far-reaching is it? Does every piece of chocolate make its start on the back of a slave? And if it does, am I willing to give up chocolate? Do I have to give up every food that has chocolate as an ingredient as well? Is it just too difficult? Are there just too many uncertainties? Is it just too inconvenient? Would too many others put up a fuss?

When Paul was in Ephesus, the people were so convicted by the Spirit that they were willing to sacrifice. They sacrificed so greatly that it was felt by those whose businesses profited from the ungodly practices. Demetrius was not only concerned about his own business but that the god he worshiped would be discredited.

What god would be discredited if the abortion business was completely wiped out?

What god would be discredited if child slavery was no longer a profitable business?

What would you need to sacrifice in order to discredit the gods of this world? Or is that not your concern? Is that beyond your willingness to sacrifice for the will of God?

What grieves your heart because it grieves God’s? What would it take for that grievance to be made right in this world? What would you need to sacrifice in order to contribute to God’s will becoming reality?

Something to consider…

Sacrifice is not just about giving up your personal desires or contentment. Sacrifice serves others.

Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself to serve you. His love for us could only be made known through His willingness to sacrifice His own human will for that of God’s. What is God calling you to sacrifice, truly sacrifice, so that His love can be made known and so that His will would be done on earth as it is in heaven?

 

Prepare Your Heart for Christ: The Christmas Reason available now!

What new thing is  God calling you to do out of worship for Him? How is God growing you in your relationship with Him? Is God asking you to sacrifice to serve Him and others in a greater way? Do you celebrate the fullness of all God has done when you come to Him in worship? Christmas is the beginning of God’s plan coming to fruition. It may not be realized until Jesus dies on the cross and is raised to new life, but today we have the gift of a baby. God has come to dwell with and save His people.

PCH Front Cover

 

 

 

 

 

Visit www.marikeisling.com to check out other studies available.

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Why Do I…

W“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Sometimes, I imagine conversations with others. I’m not sure if it’s a writer thing, an introvert thing or just a strange habit, but it happens.

I’ve been struggling with the “why” of what I do. Everyone has reasons for what they do. Reasons that to them, make what they do worth doing.

There are a lot of really good things that I can be doing, but each day I need to choose certain good things over others. It helps when I see the end result of my work or receive feedback and appreciation for what I’ve done. There are also times I just need to do the good thing because it’s the right thing in the moment.

So I imagined someone specific asking me why I blog. This is what I said:

I believe God has laid it on my heart to share with others what He’s sharing with me. He teaches me about Himself every day. He shows me things about myself as well. Ultimately it’s all about my relationship with Him. And He has given me an opportunity and desire to share those things with others.

God knows us and loves us and He wants us know and love Him as well. He has really good things for us.

For example, there was this time when my dog was just a few years old. He was a bit temperamental and we were working with Him to help Him learn to trust us. One day, I just stopped and said to Him, “Why don’t you just listen to me? I give you everything you need. You have food to eat and a warm place to sleep. I play with you and take you for walks. I am happy to just be with you. I don’t want to have to put you in your kennel because you’re not doing what I tell you to do. Don’t you know I just want to love you?”

And I stopped and heard God ask me, “Don’t you know I just want to love you?”

He has provided everything I need. He enjoys me simply because I am me. There is joy in our time together. He doesn’t look to give me consequences, but sometimes He has to. He just wants to love me. And that love requires a response.

And that’s why I write:  God loves me. And in order to experience His love, I need to be in a relationship with Him. That’s how we each experience His love – in relationship with Him. Which means we need to acknowledge Him, look to Him and trust Him.

I hope what I write encourages others to do that, to turn to Him and trust Him. I hope others don’t just know they are loved but experience His love in real ways every day.

I didn’t really consider His response in my imaginary conversation, but I realized it was again, a message worth sharing.

God loves you and wants you to know Him.

Something to Consider…

How has God shown His love for you?

Today, how will you respond to His love for you?

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1a

Why Go to Church?

IMG_1781“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.” Luke 4:16a

“Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them.” Mark 10:1

I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with Christians about why we go to church. Or better yet, why people don’t want to go to church. Conversations that honestly surprise me. I don’t expect people who don’t know Jesus to want to go to church. But when they decide to seek Jesus, when they decide they want to at least get some information about knowing Jesus, people often decide to go to church. So if those who don’t know Jesus go to church to find Him, why don’t those who know Him go there to experience His presence as well? Why don’t those who know Him go there to help others find Him?

Going to church is not a salvation issue. Let me repeat, not going to church will not send you to hell if you know Jesus and have faith in His saving grace.

You are not a bad person for not going to church. However, you are a sinner. And I’m a sinner. And in Christ we are washed cleaned clothed in His righteousness and are adopted into the family of God as His child.

So if you are a Christian and you battle with why you should go to church, let me offer this one perspective and hopefully you will find it to be an encouragement to begin or continue going to church.

We have an opportunity to know God and experience His presence. Jesus promises that when two or more gather together, there He is as well. (Matthew 18) So when we come together at church, as the church, we join in unity with others to love and worship God and experience His presence. Yes, we can meet other places but understand that the gathering of God’s people is His church so you may already be doing the very thing you think you don’t want to do. And when we gather and God is present, there is joy and blessing found in His presence. Do you need a little joy in your life? Go to church with the expectation of experiencing God’s presence and joy.

We also have the opportunity to love others who love Jesus. Just like you go to visit your family at their homes for various reasons at various times because you love them, we can gather together and spend time with our spiritual family. Each person who knows Jesus is your brother or sister in Christ. Do brothers and sisters sometimes hurt each other? Of course they do. People who go to church are no different. Sometimes there are pains and hurts, but in Christ, the goal is restoration and reconciliation. The hope is that those difficulties can be overcome because God is our perfect Father who works out our relationships. He helps us understand what it means to love our families the way He loves us. Do you need some hope for your family and relationships? Go to church with an expectation of help to love and hope that it will be better.

And we have the opportunity to love those who are wanting to know Jesus and looking for a family of their own. You can be the one to introduce them to Jesus. Do you need to be at church to do this? No. Hopefully, you are introducing people to Jesus all the time because you display Him through your words and actions. They know the truth about Him because of who He is in you. Do you let Him show? Do you want others to know Him? Do you want to be encouraged by the hearts of those seeking Jesus so that you can remember why it matters? Go to church with a heart set on Christ so you can see others through His eyes.

There is one issue of salvation: Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ?

Then there are issues of the heart. Is church an issue of your heart? Ask Jesus to be the ultimate authority on whether or not you go.

“Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.” Matthew 4:25

We have the opportunity to gather together to hear the teachings of Jesus from someone anointed with the Holy Spirit to preach and teach His Word. People came from all over traveling great distances on foot so they could be in the presence of Jesus. You can give whatever reasons you want not to go, but Jesus went, so I go, too. He is the one whose example I want to follow.

Created for a Purpose

Family“In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will,” Ephesians 1:11

When my husband and I rededicated our lives to Christ, it was the first time I really believed God had a purpose just for me. I had always felt I was here for a reason, but didn’t really know what it was, what I should do about it, or that I could actually know that purpose with certainty.

One night, as I was lying in bed ready to fall asleep, I let my mind go to this place of purpose. This was often the time I spent asking God various questions over the years: at night, in the dark, quite and feeling alone with Him. My mind immediately went to the thought of a dangerous mission trip. “Don’t go there! Don’t give God permission to send you there!” (As if God needs my permission to decide what His purpose is for me…) Rather than think of all the things that could be my purpose, I finally settled on simply asking Him the question and allowed myself to fall asleep.

As I began to wake up, while I was still in that foggy place of coming to, I sensed God sharing His vision for me.

“Love your husband and support him in his work. He works hard to provide for your family.

“Love, care for and teach your children. You do not know what they may grow to do, what I have planned for them.

“Manage your home. Do not let it be a burden to your husband. He has enough to deal with. This is your responsibility. Remove that weight from his shoulders.”

Three simple tasks. Was that really all there was to my purpose? Did I just make that up? Was I taking the easy way out of a mission trip? What purpose would this serve?

Loving God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength is my first call. This is my second.

When I lose sight of this purpose, my world begins to fall apart. I am not weak; I am just not living in my sweet spot. I am not living in alignment with God’s will for my life.

My life. Not yours or someone else’s, but mine. And yours will be different or may be similar.

I love my husband’s heart for his work. Craig has an honest desire to work hard and help his company be successful. He also has a desire to see the client’s best interest served and that they would prosper as well. I know God has a purpose for him where he is so I need to honor God by honoring my husband.

I admit, many women I have known over the years would not have agreed with this purpose and would not have encouraged me. But God did not put a yoke of oppression or burden on me. He said to me, “You are able and capable of doing this. It is not too much for you nor too little. I will help.”

And then there are my children. I have often wanted to say, “Do what you want! I give up. It’s your choice.” But as the thought crosses my mind I realize I cannot give them that permission. I cannot relinquish my authority or influence in their lives. I cannot nor should I squelch the Spirit in their lives; while at the same time, I need to teach them the difference between the Spirit and the flesh.

They now, at their young ages, have a stronger, firmer foundation of faith than anything I had at that same age. My husband is moving toward God in all areas of his life. Did these three simple tasks change the entire trajectory of my family? Did simply loving my family the way God called me to show them His love for them?

My purpose serves His purpose not only in my life, but in the lives of others around me. I am grateful to God for how He has worked in me and through me to make a difference in the lives of my husband and my children for Him. It was a bigger, greater purpose than I could imagine.

Something to Consider…

As my children grow to adulthood, my authority and influence in their lives will change. I’ve made it clear I will use whatever authority and influence I have, but do understand it will be different. I know that as my life changes, God will have new opportunities for me to serve a purpose for Him.

Do you know your purpose? Have you asked God what He has planned for you? Are you willing to move forward should He give you His vision for your life?

Have you been living in His purpose for you? Are you at a crossroads in your life with a decision to make about how you proceed? Is there a dream in your heart that is beyond your imagination?

No matter how big or small your purpose may seem, God will be served. He will bring good things from it not only for you, but for those around you as well.

The Straight Path

Path“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6(ESV)

What are you passionate about? Have you always had the same passions? Are you doing the work and living the life you have always expected you would?

We are to trust in the Lord with our whole heart, our whole being. Life so often feels like it twists and turns and we are rarely on a straight path. Sometimes that’s our own doing. Sometimes it’s because we don’t see what God is doing.

Personally, I had to accept that God’s purpose and plan for me and my family included a 2,000 mile move to California (which, by the way, is one place I said I would never move) and then back again in order to move us only 20 miles from where we started. Why? We had something to learn and gain in the move and different paths to cross. We would not be where we are or who we are if not for that move.

When we don’t trust God during the twists and turns, we end up relying on our own understanding. Because we are not leaning on God’s understanding, we don’t see how in order to fulfill God’s will, His purpose for us, sometimes we need to change jobs, move across the country, pursue a different career, leave a group of friends, or step out of our comfort zone into an unknown territory. We can get fixated on our existing passion and desires rather than following God’s will for us to grow in His passion and purpose for us. We settle into what feels like a safe, easy and comfortable life. We think, “This is good, it must be God’s will for me.”

But then something changes. Sometimes the desires and passions God gives us fulfill a specific purpose for a specific time. As we seek God’s will in our lives, we begin to realize that sometimes we need to give up a certain dream or desire and step into a new calling.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 (ESV)

As we acknowledge the Lord, delighting in His truth and right ways, we let go of our ways. His desire becomes our desire. As we lean into His understanding, we trust His path will really get us where He wants us and somehow our hearts desire will still be fulfilled.

Something to Consider…

Does your life feel like it’s in the middle of a twist or has just taken an unexpected turn? Are you trying to figure out your next step? Consider the twists and turns your life has already taken. What relationships or situations would not have happened without an unexpected turn? Be willing to trust that God is bringing you to the next thing He has for you even though you can’t see it.

Is the old passion and desire safe, easy or comfortable? Does this new thing God is calling you into feel like a dangerous place where you have to trust Him with your whole heart, whole being because it’s way out of your comfort zone? As you look at your life today, decide to delight in the Lord first. Acknowledge Him and that He knows best. Give Him the desires of your heart, your passions and step out in faith following His straight path.

Jars of Clay

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7

Do you ever use items for a purpose other than their original intention? Maybe you use a pretty pitcher to hold flowers in a decorative display. It looks nice, you get compliments but it’s just sitting there. It’s not serving its true purpose.

A pitcher is made to be filled and pour out. Imagine the scene, it holds – contains. There is pressure on the walls. But it doesn’t just sit there; motion is a necessary step for the purpose to be fulfilled. Almost like a dance, it tips, pours out, comes back up and moves on to the next glass. A party must be the best time to be a pitcher!

Or is it… Consider the thirsty worker who comes looking for something to drink? The pitcher waits for the opportunity to work, to serve. It holds the liquid that restores the body. It pours out comfort and refreshment to a dry soul.

Now imagine that same pitcher sitting on a shelf or on a table looking pretty. What purpose does it serve? What need is it not meeting or joy not fulfilling?

We are jars of clay, mere shells made to hold God’s power. We can sit and look pretty, do something outside the purpose for which we were made; but on what will we miss out? Unlike the pitcher, we can choose on our own to be used. We don’t need to wait for someone else to decide it’s time. We can offer ourselves up to God now in our current state. He already knows the purpose He made us to fulfill. We have the opportunity to be used for our purpose, His good purpose, today.

“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:15

As God fills us with His Spirit, His all-surpassing power can flow through us into others. As He fills the cup of others through our work, we celebrate what God is doing in their lives as well as our own. Our purpose is not to go about in this world surviving or just looking pretty. As we pour out, God’s grace reaches more and more people and thanksgiving overflows. Our joy is complete.

Something to Consider…

Regardless of your age or current condition, you can be used as a vessel for God’s glory. Are you tired and dry, in need of refreshing? Allow God to pour His Spirit into you filling you with His power. Are you feeling like you are missing out on something, like there is more to life than you are currently experiencing? Allow God’s power to overflow through you to others.

Not sure how to do that? You can start by simply finding a place to volunteer – a school, church, hospital or wherever your passion takes you. As you serve, you will begin to find your purpose. As you share your heart with others; God’s power, heart and love for you and those you serve shines through.

This Thanksgiving, how will you allow your appreciation for God and all He has done to overflow with joy to others?

What’s Your Purpose?

    “My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:3-4 (NIV)

This past spring I wrote a Bible Study titled Living On Purpose: The Proverbs 31 Woman. There was some question as to the title and it being grammatically correct or not. Something you should know about me is that my dad was an English teacher and his correction of my grammar was an easy and somewhat safe way for me to rebel. In other words, I didn’t retain what I was learning in regards to the proper use of the English language. You may notice quirks in my writings still…I am a work in progress!

When questions are posed to me about my work, my first reaction is to go into a self-protection mode and either not respond to questions or stop writing all together – neither of which are helpful or in line with God’s will. We are to be open to correction. (Proverbs 15:5) What I have come to learn is that in addressing questions such as these, it really makes me think about why I do what I do, choose what I choose and why I’m passionate about those things I’m passionate about. I give a reason. If I can’t give a reason, I may need to rethink what I’m doing.

One reason for the title is that Living On Purpose is about living your life with intention. While I am not an only child, I am far removed in age from my older siblings and to the best of my recollection, never had the “stop touching me” moments. I can, however, imagine how it goes. You’re bickering back and forth, your sibling snips, flicks or touches you when you’re not looking and you ask, “Did you do that on purpose?” Of course the answer acknowledged is “no” when in truth a “yes.” And that is the normal situation where the question is posed…Did you do that on purpose?

What if, instead of our intention being a mean-spirited action to push a button and keep someone down, our purposeful moments were inspiring and encouraging, lifting someone up? A wise woman (I know many) once said, “My husband has the position of authority; I have the position of influence.” Arlene Skaff. Literally, in that moment my intention changed. Jesus showed up that day and ministered to me in a way I had never experienced. What we choose to do, not do, support, or keep silent about has the ability to affect and influence our families, earthly and spiritually. It is up to us to be intentional with our influence for the benefit of our family.

The second reason for the title is that we live, move and breathe in God’s purpose for us. He chose us and purposed us for specific work. When we seek God’s purpose in what we are doing, we are energized and passionate whether it’s in our work, service, leisure or rest. It isn’t always easy but there is a desire and drive to see it through. His purpose sustains us.

    “We look at this Son (Jesus) and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in Him and finds its purpose in Him.” Colossians 1:15-16 (MSG)

We do sometimes need to step in and fill a gap when it’s not our passion. That’s just part of having a servant’s heart and we should be intentional about that as well. When each of us in the body of Christ works together and serves the purpose God created us for, the body as a whole meets the needs at the time. One person can’t do it all, and all people are not called to do the same things.

Something to Consider…

Do you find yourself living your life with the intention of benefitting or blessing others, especially those in your family or church? So often we take out our frustrations on those closest to us. In the situations you most often do this, what steps could you take to be intentional with a positive and encouraging attitude? God has created you for a purpose. Do you know that purpose? Sometimes, we just need to do something to gain a better understanding of what we are passionate about and what we are not. If God has a purpose for you, and He does, He will also give you the passion you need to accomplish that purpose. As you seek Him, you draw closer to Him and your understanding of what He desires for you and from you becomes clearer.