His love is greater

Exercise Builds Up

Have you ever felt so physically exhausted that you can hardly put one foot in front of the other, yet simultaneously your spirit soars and you are filled with a joy that is inexpressible? If you have ever experienced this, you are undoubtedly functioning in the area of your giftedness!

Just as we build up our bodies with physical exercise, God has called us to build up our spirit by exercising our spiritual gifts.

God graciously gives us spiritual gifts for the purpose of building up and growing His Kingdom, and for blessing others! The best part is, since we have such a gracious and generous God, WE end up getting blessed even more! Your spiritual gift is not just something you enjoy doing. It isn’t a hobby or an interest. It is so much more. Your spiritual gift is a God-given talent and ability that you possess, because God wants to work through His people: people like you.  

Do you love to open up your home and have others in it?  When they leave and go home and “the party is over,” are you energized, or exhausted?  If you are energized, even if you still are tired, you more than likely have the gift of hospitality. So exercise it! Open your home and have a group of ladies over for Bible study. 

 If you see someone in need and immediately reach out to help him or her, and don’t turn the other way, you may have the gift of helps or mercy. Carry health bars and water bottles in your car, and be ready to roll your window down and give them when the opportunity is there.

 If you like organizing things and insuring that events run smoothly, and you feel great after they do, you may have the gift of administration.  So step up and help that event to excel and sparkle!

I Corinthians 12:5-6 says,

“…so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We each have different gifts, according to the grace given us.”

Unlike a natural ability or talent, where you can become physically worn out and exasperated, a spiritual gift will lift you up and leave you feeling exhilarated.

mrs. swaney room pic

Jim and I experienced this this week, as we both exercised our gifts and felt our spirits soar.  Amidst the study guides, teacher’s manuals, handbooks on policies and procedures, miles high of HR paperwork, cleaning out an old classroom and setting up a new classroom, preparing desks, cubbies, and lesson plans for twenty-five students…I felt an inner strength and joy in using the gift of teaching God has given me with my new 4th grade class! And then, the moment those kids walked through the door and I began teaching them, I went home excited and exhilarated each night after school! 

 Jim studied, researched, wrote and re-wrote a sermon, prepared a PowerPoint outline, utilized a movie clip and preached two sermons in a row on Sunday morning. He felt more energized walking out of church on Sunday afternoon, than he felt walking in!

  Teaching those kids is for their benefit, and preaching the Word builds up a local church: our gifts are best used when they benefit others and build them up! Our gifts are intended to be a two way street: we travel down it and we are built up; and we intersect with those who are impacted by our gift, and they in turn are built up!

Truth Bomb

exercise truth bomb pic

Do you want your spirit to soar? Then find your spiritual gift, and exercise it!

What about you?  Have you figured out yet just how God has gifted you?  Read Romans 12:1-8 and I Corinthians 12:1-31 and you’ll see examples of various spiritual gifts. One of the best ways to discover your gift, is to find a need out there, and step up and serve! As you are serving, you will get confirmation that this is, or isn’t, the area where God has for you to serve Him and others. Just as physical exercise builds up your body, spiritual exercise builds up your soul!
Speak Truth Love

New Beginnings

new beginnings pic

Do you remember that feeling you had on the first day of school?  Exhilarating excitement mixed with nervous anticipation, that could cause your stomach to churn so tumultuously that even Captain Crunch couldn’t draw you to the breakfast table. The excitement of putting on that new pair of shoes, carrying that brand new lunch box (it was a pink Barbie one for me), and strapping on that new back pack that held freshly sharpened pencils and a brand new pink eraser, would never have been fulfilled were it not for me taking steps through the nervousness, walking through that classroom door, and sitting in that desk with my name tag on it.  

Fast forward 40+ years, and I find myself with those very same feelings.  Instead of the new backpack and the lunch pail, I’m hanging up bulletin boards and preparing charts with classroom rules and procedures.  Instead of carrying sharpened pencils in my pencil box, I am sharpening the pencils for the students who will come into my classroom. The only comparison that still is intact is, I will still be wearing a new pair of shoes.  Yes, I still love those shoes! But, instead of my mom holding my hand and encouraging me through my nervousness, it is my God and His voice that urges me on and gives me the strength to follow His leading to this new chapter and opportunity.  To “move on and don’t look back.”    

Exodus 15:2 says,

The LORD is my strength.” 

 The Lord is my strength when I’m too scared to move forward and want to stay stuck. The Lord is my strength when I don’t want to turn and face the unknown and I’d rather stay comfortable where I am. The Lord is my strength when I move forward to meet new people, when my tendency would be to stay with those I already know.  And ultimately, the Lord is my strength to move blindly into the next chapter of His story for my life, rather than remain where I am, and leave it unwritten. 

You may have heard the baseball phrase; “You can’t steal second with your foot on first.”

Unless we are willing to take our feet out of the place we now stand, and turn in the direction of our next opportunity, that opportunity will never come. You can’t score at home plate, if you don’t leave first and round all the bases. Ultimately, “home” represents our eternal life with our Heavenly Father. That is our ultimate goal. You can get to first base by faith in Jesus, and yes, you are “on the team”.  But you can’t score unless you run through all the bases. You’ll still go to Heaven, yes, but you won’t score for your team. You might get paralyzed and never move on to second or third base because you’re stuck in your comfort zone, and fearful that leaving first base might result in you getting out.

 Fear cannot be your ruler. God has a great race for you and me to run!  It is His pathway around the bases, and He will show you when it is time to take your foot off first base and start running fast. It requires faith and trust on your part, that if you take off and sprint toward second, and then third, He will meet you, empower you and guide you to those bases along His path until you make it home.

Don’t hold on to what you have, just because it is comfortable.  First base is a good start, but remember, it is just that: a start. There is more ahead!

Jeremiah 33:3 says,

 “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

So, don’t let the nervousness of moving on to something new and unknown stop you from moving forward. God calls us to trust Him and move forward in the direction He is calling us to.

Truth Bomb

truth bomb road pic

Never let the fear of crossing into the unknown keep you from going where you know God is calling!

Taking that first step is always the most frightening part. But just as I was affirmed when I was a little girl, that going to the next grade and a new classroom meant being received by my teacher and meeting new friends, I have already seen God blessing this present step of faith in my life. I have an incredible co teacher on my 4th grade team!  She embraced me on my first day there, and has continued to walk me through the necessary steps to make this year successful. I already have a new friend and teammate that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t take that step of faith. The unknown is frightening, simply because we haven’t experienced it yet. But imagine: if you continued eating vanilla ice cream all your life, because that is what your mom started you off with when you were a child, and you never allowed yourself to experience decadent chocolate, or ooey gooey peanut butter, smooth and creamy caramel, and all of the other delicious flavors?  God is a good, good Father, and He wants you to experience every flavor available to you in this wonderful life He has given to you!

I appreciate your prayers for me as I continue to take my foot off what I have known and step into the “new” that God has for me. What about you? Where is God calling you to step? Where is your second base? I will pray that God will show you where that is, and give you the strength to step off first and start running!  We are in this race together!

Speak Truth Love

The Power of Nostalgia

Espresso Yourself