Looking to you

Who’s looking to you? For answers, guidance, counsel, leadership, provision, etc. We all have someone looking to us at some point, in some context. A child looking for attention or more of something. A friend looking for guidance, for time, for help. A coworker or employee looking for direction, vision, assistance, answers. A family member looking for time, solution, care. Whomever and for whatever it may be, someone is looking to you to receiving something. What if you don’t have what they are looking for or rather have nothing at all to give? Do you feel drained, inadequate, disqualified, discouraged, irritated?

What Jesus offers is enough for your life and enough for those looking to you.

Recently in a season of feeling that I often had nothing left to give anyone after my 8-5 job, I was frustrated and discouraged. 

I came across in Acts 3 a typical scene in Jerusalem taking place. People entering the temple for the 3pm prayer time. A busy flow of people coming and going. Prime place for a beggar to be asking to receive something from those passing through.

Peter and John are approaching a specific entrance to the temple referred to as "the Beautiful gate" where they notice a crippled man begging for money. They could pass by and pay no attention. They could give him what he is asking for. But instead...

"Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!" So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them." (Acts 3:2-5)

Someone looking to and expecting something.

"Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk". Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong." (Acts 3:6-7)

What he wanted they did not have nor give. They offered what they did have, offered what he needed, not what he asked for.

When I feel drained, discouraged, stretched or irritated that someone is looking to me, it’s often because I've been running on my own self-efficiency - looking to my own abilities, strength, and resources. I am limited. Jesus is unlimited. And we get the full measure of Him and His Spirit that we might offer Him to others.

When you feel tugged and pulled in many directions by others looking to you for something, know they need Jesus, not you, you get to be a vessel directing them to the life spring.

There's a freedom in knowing you aren't expected to meet every need of those looking to you. Freed to give because Christ meets us to freely give to others.

1. Be aware of running on your own strength. Recognize when you are irritated and growing wearing of others. How do you respond when being asked of something from you? Our response to others indicates what's going on inside.

2. Practice the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. That takes slowing our hearts down to seek His counsel, guidance, leading and provision. The Lord so longs to do so if we would look to Him as our source, not ourselves. My counsel, guidance, leading and provision is limited. We would also be able to stop and discern the needs of others, not just what they ask of us, but what they truly need.

3. Place your dependency on Him. When you find yourself at your end, know you are being positioned in a place of dependence on the Lord. Ask The Lord to give you wisdom, guidance, provision, because you have come to your end. He loves and longs to meet you there.

I will never read that interaction in Acts 3 the same. That’s why the word is living and active. As my life and seasons change, the Word remains. And in those changes of life, the scripture continues to shed new light on my heart from familiar words. God’s word is life. 

"We gain the most when we give. We learn the most when we teach. We receive the most when we serve." Rick Warren

Rest for your souls

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you fill find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

Years ago these words of Jesus breathed life into me during a season of carrying a self-imposed weight of ‘doing’. Now these words have breathed life, pushing on how I once viewed rest and pursued it.

What brings rest to our souls? To your soul?

Sleep is the rest our physical body needs and often our soul. A little R & R often keeps us sane and able to keep doing the work we have to do here. But what truly, really brings lasting rest to our souls?

“Slow mornings” are an extended time I cherish and protect to spend quality time with the Lord, reading His Words, journaling through them, responding to Him, listening, asking, seeking, knocking. This time does bring rest to my soul.

But maybe another rest for our souls does not come from such “practices” but being a part of the actual commission - making disciples and bringing the hope of Jesus to lost hopeless people. 

Our ultimate, complete, and whole rest is in the finished work of Jesus on the cross, Him rising again defeating death, bringing restoration to a broken world. 

What brings rest to our weary souls while trying to live an alternate life in this world - aligning our hearts to God’s heart, to His purposes for us in these days here, giving of ourselves endlessly and tirelessly to the work of His Kingdom here and now.

When I selfishly pursue self, my desires, comfort, ways, my soul is lacking rest and peace. I grow weary of others. I do not want to give but want to receive.  My interest, my days, my time becomes priority over others’. The center focus we thought that would give us success, fulfillment, power, strength - this focus on self is an empty deliverer and deceiver.

As I consider an opportunity to help with a tangible need in Uganda, Africa, I’m reminded of and considering what true rest for the soul looks like. It may feel uncomfortable, uneasy, risky, hard, when we give of ourselves but I can think of no greater joy than bringing the hope and life and truth in Christ alone. We may often be called out of our “comforts” to love others by giving of ourselves. And we are also called to be Jesus right where we are. In our homes. In our work. In our relationships.

There’s such an incredible rawness and radical dependence on the Lord when we step out to do uncomfortable, exhausting things for His Kingdom, to reconcile people to Himself. 

Why do we need a Comforter if we are comfortable?” - Francis Chan

There may be still unrest, chaos, uncertainties, and suffering around you and in your life. But the rest of a soul, the quiet and gentle spirit comes from a soul, heart, and mind aligned with God’s heart and will. A soul at rest with the Lord, no longer fights for its way, its rights, but lays down its own agenda, takes initiative for the good of others and can’t do anything but be the gospel in motion and words.

In Matthew 11, Jesus offers a "yoke" that is different than the law seeking righteous teachings of the pharisees at that time. Jesus offered a yoke free of dead deceitful doing, a yoke of grace, freedom, reconciliation, wholeness, completeness, unending joy! From this He lived a life poured out for others. He walked with the Father allowing Him to fill Him, guide Him, instruct Him, and from what the Lord gave Him to do, He lived out for the sake of others. 

Those in Christ are new creations. Our old nature has been put to death at the cross and we are given new life, a new nature, rising with Christ. We are meant and empowered to live differently. To be about a different agenda and not our own anymore. Yet we often do choose ourselves and our soul is at unrest when it’s not living out what it’s been given new life to do: To know God and make Him known. Maybe the rest our soul often needs is more “doing”, not the empty self-promoting doing of trying to win the favor of God or man, but living out the way the gospel compels us to boast in Jesus and sacrificially give of ourselves to make Him known and for others to come to know Him.

if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:10-11

I know I may not do this well or perfectly and that’s the beauty in it. The more I gaze at Jesus the more His heart becomes mine and I get to journey through the laying down of self more and more each day with Him, in His grace.

May I kneel before Him with tired achy knees, dirty sweat, blistered hands, wrinkly tired skin from pouring out my life and enjoy full rest when I see Him face to face in glory to be with Him for all eternity.

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:22

“…even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

"I want to be challenged endlessly; I want to be learning and growing every minute. I want to be taught by those I teach. I want to share God's love with people who otherwise might not know it. I want to work so hard that I end everyday filthy and too tired to move. I want to be used by the Lord. I want to make a difference and I want to follow the calling God has planted deep in my heart. I want to give me life away, to serve the Lord with each breath, each second. " Katie Davis 

"Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure…Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight…Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. …Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? THEN shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.” Isaiah 58:3-12

Carry Your Name” – Passion – Christy Nockels

Your Great Name

Hanging on our wall are these seemingly silent letters. They call me to stop and listen to Jesus. Choose the good portion (Luke 10:41-42). Stop and listen. Trust who I am. Wait on Me. Be satisfied in Me. Step in my leading.

My heart is filled, steady, and unwavering when I dwell on Who God is; when I choose to dwell there. When I choose to dwell elsewhere I see the distracting waves pulling me down.

His steadfast character engraved on my heart and etched into this wood. To make Him known.
"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we TRUST IN THE NAME OF THE LORD OUR GOD...Your name, O Lord, endures forever, your renown, O Lord, through all generations." Psalm 20:7; 135:13

These are some of the Lords names and characteristics most significant to me. As I pressed these letters into the pine wood, they were being pressed and inscribed deeper into my heart.

We are the indwelling of His name to make Him known.

In the book of Deuteronomy over and over again God tells the people of Israel...when you get into the promise land, do not set up an altar or any other worship place except "to the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make His name there"...over and over  (Deut. 12:4-5,11,13-14,26; 14:23; 15:20; 16:2,11; 18:6; 26:2) yet 10 of the 12 tribes are led astray by Jeroboam to set up alternate worship places, to do their own thing. When we leave the land intended for us we leave the Lord's intended provisions, protection, and purpose. When we pursue our own agenda we loose sight of what matters, of what is lasting and fulfilling.

I want to make His name known, not my own. As His image-bearers - what are you reflecting? What are you making known about Him?

Who is Jesus to you? What draws you to Him? Do you dwell on those things? Tell others about Him? Make Him known!

"cannot fully fathom the unchangeable, unconquerable, immoveable, irremovable, unwavering, untiring, unflinching love of God"

"Your Great Name" by Natalie Grant