Tuesday, January 01, 2008

My 'claim' for 2008.

Last year I chose to not make resolutions, but instead I focused on the phrase 'living my life as a sacrifice' and I studied in it terms of how God wants me to live my life each day. I really dug into the definition of sacrifice and I intentionally looked for ways I could 'offer myself' to my family, to neighbors, to people I've connected with online and to people who just happened to cross paths with me in my day-to-day life.
I found that most often when I 'chose to sacrifice myself' that blessings seemed to come back to me in abundance out of that sacrifice. Whether it was time or money or responding to a comment or email, more often than not I ended up feeling as though I hadn't really sacrificed anything, because the blessing more than made up for what I had given. It didn't happen just once...but several times. From feeling over-committed to projects and programs to my family and the demands that young children and a husband can place on me, I really feel like I constantly 'got more than I gave'. It doesn't make sense, but I am beginning to see that that is how Christ works- that is what He has called His followers to do. He promised to bless those who seek Him and give themselves up for Him, and yet I too often have held back and 'spared myself' hassles only to now realize I missed out on blessings that come from giving myself away. When Jesus came to earth, He came humbly and to serve and save 'the lost'. He came to give of Himself and to heal so that others might have a restored relationship with God. He didn't come to prove who He was- He didn't have to- He is God. In seeing His servant heart and the way He consistently put others before Himself- the way He often went out of His way to lend a hand, to touch the oppressed, to lift up the broken-hearted- this model of living is really challenging me in my own life.
Ever since I was a little girl I have wanted to 'give myself- my whole self' to God and to be who HE wants me to be. It has been a struggle in my heart and life- to do what He wants me to do, and yet to not give in to the demands and desires of the world. I know I fall short. I know I fail every single day. But still, I love that God grants us love and forgiveness and that His mercies are new every morning. I use to feel overwhelmed with the 'demands of following Christ'. I knew I would never be perfect or good enough. Now I am learning that God doesn't want perfection. He wants me to be obedient and humble and to be reminded that His way is best- even when it seems more than I can bear.

This year I am going to seek Him with all my heart, as I have in years' past. I hope to grow and build on the things I have learned and be encouraged with new insights and challenges. I have chosen to claim the verses penned by David in Psalms 27. David was a man after God's own heart. He had a passion and a desire to 'know God' intimately. Yet he was far from perfect. He failed time and again...and yet God used him and his words just seem relevant for me and where I'm at in my spiritual journey in my own life today.
Below are the verses- (I've added my own thoughts and paraphrases in italics) so full of confidence and hope and promise. I don't know what you need in life or where you are in your spiritual journey, but I hope in my sharing this some of you may be challenged and encouraged that God is with you. God is Real and He wants to do amazing things in your life too. I know that my heart and life need examining and refining often- not just at the start of a new year. I thank God that He gives us all new beginnings; fresh starts; clean slates and the ability to make lasting change in our lives.
Happy New Year. I hope that 2008 is a year in which you grow and experience blessings from within- from your heart- because that is where God touches us most...and we in turn can touch others from the overflow of our hearts.
Psalm 27
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh,

when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army (or cancer, or financial burdens or grief or broken relationships or any number of things that life hurls at us!) besiege me,

my heart will not fear; though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.
4 One thing I ask of the LORD (it's okay to ask God for blessings and goodness and mercy), this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in his dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me;

at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy (even in my trials and times of suffering, I can find joy and in doing so, that sacrifice becomes an offering of my heart to God); I will sing and make music to the LORD.
7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, "Seek his face!" Your face, LORD, I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger;

you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.
(Even if my closest loved ones let me down, God will be with me.)
11 Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence.
13 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. (Even if I have to wait until I get to Heaven...God will give blessing and fulfill His promises to me!)
14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
(Oh, how I need this reminder...every single day. He is worth waiting for and enduring ALL things.)


Ms. W said...

Well written and right on!

My husband and I (and our children) have been blessed tremendously. We know that it is because of our willingness to bless others and the be obedient to Him. God has poured out his blessings upon us and we do not take that for granted.

Diane Dolan said...

Thank you, Jody. You are a blessing to all you touch.

Christa said...

Wow what an awesome post. I wish I could become as close with lord as you have but it seems if it wasn't for bad luck we wouldn't have any luck in our life. But your post really inspired me and made me think. You are truly amazing.

Sharmaine said...

Happy New Year Jody!!
I know God will bless you in your journey through 2008 and I pray that more people come and read your blog so they too can be touched and see God's blessings in a real way.
Hugs for 2008 :)

Lisa said...

I love, love, LOVE this!

Blessing to you and your lovely family this year!

Jamie said...

What a lovely post (as usual!) Blessings to you in 2008!

Cyndi Hoehn said...

In 2008 , I want to simplify my life. I plan to do this by realizing what is important in my life. Even though my family and I attend mass regularly, my faith has been in the background at times and I believe this is why I struggle. I am reading the bible cover to cover and have added "our daily bread" to my favorites list.

Please continue to help those who need it by writing this blog in such an inspiring way!

Much Ado said...

Wow, thanks for sharing this, this is just wonderful. I love the way you have taken the chapter and worked your way through it. Happy New Year!

Pretty Brown Girl said...

Wow! What an awesome Word from the Lord! I sit here reading that and chills just flow through my body.
God always confirms His Word. Just last night, at my Church's yearly prayer vigil, the minister talked about intercessory and Warfare prayer. Job through all he had been through and everything he lost, prayed for his friends and God blessed him with twice the blessings. When we forget ourselves and our issues, problems, hurts...and concentrate on others (those who can't pray, those who don't know how to pray) and lift them up before the Lord. HE will honor our efforts and bless us. His word says that the least are the greatest, and that is how we have to live our lives...committed to making life and eternity better for those who are without.
Once again, you have blessed my spirit.

God, bless Jody for being committed to your will and blessing others with the words she speaks. Thank You for the medium of the Internet, otherwise, we may have never known this here Your servant. Bless her family and keep her strong. Wrap them in Your loving arms of protection. In Christ Jesus' name, Amen!