Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pouring Out or Overflowing - Part 4

We have spent several weeks together searching out ways to draw close to the Lord and to accept His filling to the point of overflowing.  When we pour out, we risk emptying ourselves, but when we are filled with HIM to the point of overflowing, we have unlimited resources from which to draw.   

In my last posts, I covered accepting His filling through worship and time in His Word.  Today I will discuss receiving His filling through prayer, which is a topic near and dear to my heart.   

I spent many years participating in and/or leading prayer groups for Moms In Touch International.  This organization consists of moms gathering weekly to pray for children and their schools.  While I focused mainly on public schools in my tenure, groups also exist for private and home schools and college / career aged children.  I’ll say without hesitation that this is where I leaned to apply the word of God directly to my life and where I truly learned to lean upon and trust the Lord.  We followed a simple, 4-step approach to prayer consisting of praise, thanksgiving, silent confession, and intercession. 

Often, when my kids share particulars about their lives, I can look back and remember praying for that specific thing.  Even years later, the Lord is still answering the prayers that I put before Him in my beloved MIT groups!  I know that the Lord hears prayers.  I know without a doubt that He answers them in ways that He deems appropriate, and I have come to trust with all my heart that His way is best.  Prayers are never wasted, and every single prayer is answered (although not always as we hope or expect). 

What I have learned most recently about prayer, however, is that I find Him there.  Prayer is more than my wish list presented to the God who controls all things.  It is fellowship with the Lord of Lords and is a great opportunity watch Him work, and receive more of Him in my life. 

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.”  In some versions "Be still" is translated “cease striving." In our stillness, in stopping all of our work and effort we find God.  In the quietness of our prayers, we enter His presence.  Prayer, for me, has become as much about being still before Him as it is about listing my needs and the needs of others.  When I allow my mind to focus on His Word, on His character, and on His truth, I accept His filling – to the point of overflowing.  He is real, and He is with me.  When I pray, it is as if I hear Him knocking.  I open the door of my heart and He comes in and dines with me.  (Rev 3:20.) 

I pray that you will allow Him to meet you where you are when you silence yourself before Him.  The time can seem uncomfortable at first, but I encourage you to press on until it becomes second nature to you.  May it become an essential in your life, and may you never wish to spend a day without it.

Blessings to you, my friend, as you receive His filling in your life.  May you overflow with His love, strength and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pouring Out or Overflowing - Part 3

Today we continue our discussion about receiving (aka “accepting”) the Lord’s filling to the point of overflowing.  I encourage you to review my lasts two posts to gain insight to the context of this teaching.  In the meantime, let’s take a look together at a 2nd means of entering the Lord’s presence to be filled by Him – time in His Word.

When we approach the Word of God, our primary focus should be on discovering more about our Lord and Savior and drawing near to Him.   Reading for the sole purpose of learning facts robs us of a richness that stems from the simplicity of faith.  We do not need to know and understand everything about His Word to find Him there.  Beauty comes in believing and accepting His Word as truth.    

I had the rare blessing Monday of sipping coffee (iced, because it was nearly 100 degrees in the Denver area) with my daughter.  She mentioned the historical accuracy of the Bible and it reminded me of the first time I fell in love with the Word.  I realized that the stories were not about imaginary people and fictitious events.  The Word contains testimonies of real people who lived real lives, struggling with real emotions, and experiencing real victories.  Their stories are true (yes, even Jonah) and recorded so that we may know and believe that He is God. 

So how do we meet God in His Word?  As you begin to open the cover of your Bible, stop and pray – every time.  I cannot over emphasize the importance of this.  Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Himself to you and give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. I can sense a clear difference in my reading when I have first stopped to pray.

My dear friend, Doreen, advises that we read “only until the Lord stops us.”  Practically speaking, here is what this can look like:  prayerfully opening His Word and reading in whatever passage is most inviting to you.  As you begin to read, often a particular verse(s) may seem to jump off the page and touch your heart in a way that you did not expect.  Stop and meditate on that verse alone and carry the Words in your heart throughout the day.   (There will be days when you read for a long time and realize nothing has spoken to your heart.  Please do not be discouraged and repeat the process tomorrow with the expectancy that He will speak to you through His Word.) 

Daily time in His Word is a soul-satisfying exercise.  I believe that you when opening your day with Him in praise, in His Word, and in prayer, your day will be more peaceful, you will have a calmer heart, and a joy-filled spirit!  Give it a try!

You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Ps 16:11 (NIV)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pouring Out or Overflowing - Part 2

In my last post, I mentioned that a Pastor recently prayed for our church staff to be filled to overflowing.  Instead of pouring ourselves out to those we serve, He asked that we be given enough of Him to serve out of the overflow so that we never run empty. 

Through my next few posts, I plan to look at the “how to’s” of becoming filled with the Lord to the point of overflowing.  This is not a magic formula, but rather advice gleaned from Scripture and found to be effective in my own life.  I don’t look at it as a way to achieve the filling, but a way to accept it.  After all, as believers we are already filled by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 3:16-17).  Our task then, becomes receiving that blessing to the point that our cups run over. 

Our first “step” is praise and worship, which comes through quiet meditation or by outwardly writing, speaking, or singing about Who we recognize the Lord to be in His Word.  There are many ways that we can daily express our adoration for the Lord and praise Him for Who He is.  If you don’t know where to begin, turn to Genesis 1:1, which states “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”  (NASB)   What character traits do we see in this simple sentence?  First, God was there in the beginning.  Next, He is the Creator of heaven and earth.  Those two aspects alone can keep us praising Him for a lifetime!   

The Psalms are a wonderful place to visit when praising the Lord.  Regardless of where in the Psalms you land, you are sure to see His goodness and power expressed.  It glorifies the Lord when we simply read His Word back to Him, so I encourage you to borrow the words of the psalmists and lift up our Savior!

If you enjoy praising through song, do it!  Choose songs that declare His greatness and majesty and focus solely on Him.  Do not get wrapped up in a performance or a particular artist, but set the compass of your heart toward the Lord and worship Him with all you have.  

You may ask how worship can help us accept the Lord's filling.  Psalm 22:3 tells us that the Lord inhabits the praise of His people.  Through praise to the King, we can enter His gates and courts (Psalm 100:4).  Many believe worship to be a response to something great that the Lord does in our lives, but it is really quite the opposite.  God responds to us and begins to move freely within us when we lift Him up in worship.  It helps us turn our focus from ourselves and place it squarely on Him, to the point that we are humbled and He is magnified.  I can think of no better way to accept His filling.  

This week, take time to praise the Lord, even outside of Sunday church service.  Pour out your heart in gratitude and rejoice in His presence!  I would love to hear how this simple, yet powerful act affects your life.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Pouring Out or Overflowing?

Have you ever thought to yourself, I just can’t take it anymore!  Or, I have nothing left to give that person?  How about the thoughts of, I’m too drained to stop and offer to help, or if my kids ask me to do one more thing, I’m going to drop!

As women, we often pour ourselves into those around us:  our, husbands, children, families, friends, bosses, and even strangers.  We serve fervently to the point where we run out of spiritual fuel.   Then, if even the smallest of crises hits, we have no energy left to deal with it in a reasonable manner.  While we trust the Lord, our emotions get the best of us and push us to what feels like the edge of a cliff.  Suddenly, instead of being able to serve those we love, we react with drama, or more as victims of our own circumstances.  We feel paralyzed from effectively supplying the support that others need, let alone keeping ourselves afloat.  

What if the cycle could be broken?  What if, when we gave all we had to others, we could somehow keep a “full tank?”  Imagine – if that were the case, we would never run dry.  We would constantly be full, even as we give of ourselves and serve others.  Imagine not running on empty but staying adequately supplied to do all that we need to do.

Recently one of our Pastors prayed for our church staff and asked the Lord to fill us to overflowing.   Instead of pouring ourselves out to those we serve, He asked that we be given enough of Him to serve from the abundance – out of the overflow – so that we, ourselves, never run empty.   Something clicked in my heart and his prayer continues to resonate deep within my spirit.

How would our lives look if we allowed the love of Christ to overflow through us?  What if we were so filled with the Spirit, with God’s love, with HIM, that it just naturally spilled out of us and into the lives of others?  I believe miraculous things could happen, but how do we reach that point? 

Over the next few weeks, I will show you how I believe it can be done and, perhaps, we can begin to walk the path together!   Until then, I encourage you to pray this for yourselves (from Colossians 1:9-12).  Will you please also pray it for me?  I’ll return the favor!

“Lord, please fill me with the knowledge of your will all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that I may walk in a manner worthy of You.  Help me to please You, to bear fruit in every good work and to increase my knowledge of You.  Strengthen me with all power according to Your glorious might, and fill me with steadfastness and patience.  I joyously give thanks to You, my Father.  In the power of the name of Jesus, I pray.”