Jesus, Take My Weight


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Weight. Who wants extra? Like most of my friends,  the only time in my life when  I wanted the extra weight was during my pregnancies  as  most of us become quite proud of our “baby bump”.   I don’t know about you, but what has echoed through my mind over and over again is  ” I need to lose weight”.

In the past six months, I’ve been on a weight loss journey, in order to battle Type 2  diabetes.  And although I’m somewhat pleased with the results, there are  many more pounds to release. I can honestly say I no longer crave sugar, bread, or pasta.  But I haven’t been able to completely control my cravings for solid chocolate, found in the bottom drawer of our copy machine at work,   corn chips,  or my son’s  trail mix, laced with M and M’s,  that resides in my  pantry.   I’ve learned two important things on this new path. First,  I needed to grasp the truth about my diabetes, and  it’s potential to wreak havoc on my body, when not controlled.  Second, is that my thoughts affect my behavior,  which in turn affects my weight, and ultimately my health.

 

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In the past several months,  the Lord has  gently invited me to follow Him on   a new  path of spiritual weight loss.  In this new journey, my weight is not determined by the bathroom scales, but by His Word.   Bible reading and meditation has shown me the truth:  my extra weight was wreaking havoc on my walk with Him and affecting my closest relationships.   In His Word, I found that I needed  start craving fruit, the Fruit of His Spirit, ” Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control, against such there is no law”. ( Galatians 5: 22-23)   Gentleness was the fruit I had the greatest deficiency in,  and it was causing me to have the extra weight of being irritable and impatient.  That will make you feel bloated…. puffed up with pride!    After confessing this to God, I asked my family for help.  I had an unannounced meeting after dinner one night. ” I need to share something”, I said,  and my youngest son looked seriously at me and said ” Mom, do you have cancer?”.  I laughed, but now looking back, being so low on gentleness, causing me to be irritable,  contributed to a “spiritual” cancer that ate away at the bond of my relationships. By the end of my confession to my family for  avoiding this fruit, we had an action plan: whenever my irritability popped back up,  the code word for me they would say  was “fruit”, so that I could focus on being gentle.  Although there are still times that I pick that weight back up, God has helped me to keep the weight off,  with His help.

 

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Recently, He has shown me another  “fruit” that I was consuming too much of, or was it consuming me?  It was definitely a weight, my Apple, as in  Apple I Phone.    I don’t know about you, but if your son or daughter were to tell you ” mom you spend way too much time on your phone”, like mine told me, it should make you put it down.  But I realized that I had to actually deactivate my Face Book account in order to drop this extra weight.  Go cold turkey, like I did with sugar, pasta, and bread.   The first two days, I missed it, but the 10 days following,  I’ve not missed it and finally  relieved that I’ve dropped it.    The verses that the Lord has used in this new journey of spiritual weight loss is one I’ve had to memorize in order to stay focused.  As in physical weight loss, my thoughts affect my behavior, which also affects my spiritual health.

” Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily besets us, and  let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith;   who, for the joy that was set before Him  endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12: 1-2

 Lay aside- the Greek word apotithimi, means to lay something down and push it far away from oneself, beyond reach.  Lay it down… and push it far!  I’m so glad God’s Word didn’t leave us there, aren’t you?  He gave us such a vivid image of Jesus, “looking unto Jesus”, to focus on Him, to have the desire to lay it down, push it far, and leave it there, never to pick it back up again. What freedom!

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There are many more weights or sins that can weigh us down and prevent us from running in freedom,  in our “race”.  Fear, anxiety, people pleasing,  pride, anger, bitterness, not forgiving others or ourselves, idolatry, lust, addictions, not fully surrendering our lives to Jesus, not trusting Him, living in our past.   I want to challenge you to think about starting your own  spiritual weight loss journey.  Start by asking Jesus, what weights would He have you  to surrender to Him.  When you focus on Jesus, and His Word, you can say with me, “Jesus take my weight, because I want to run with endurance, in the freedom and joy  of knowing you. “

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Sharing My Bread at the Dollar General


Yesterday I wrote here about sharing our ” bread”, our resources, with those who are poor or experiencing a crisis. The idea was based on King Solomon’s advice in Ecclesiastes 11:1-2. I encouraged the reader to share with those they meet during their daily activities here in their communities,  or even far from home.

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This morning before I left for work, I paused and prayed for a few minutes. It was a short, sincere prayer. I prayed that God would use me today for whatever His plans were for me. I would like to tell you that is a regular prayer of mine, but it isn’t.  Before my hand hit the doorknob to leave, I felt a strong sense come over me that I was going to cross paths with a homeless person and God may use me in that capacity. To be clear, I did not hear a voice, just a very strong thought.  I had not shared any “bread” with such a person in almost a year. It was this time last year, when I shared some citrus fruit  at the local grocery store on Main Street. The one that stopped giving out free coffee to its’ customers because the homeless people decided to get in on the deal too, and well, you know, that just doesn’t look good for their business. It may lose the reputation of “where shopping is a  pleasure”, because someone may ask them for spare change as they enter or exit.

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So, on my forty minute drive in to work,  I pondered about where I might see a homeless person. I decided to go to the same store down on Main Street, because I had to get my lunch, and I might  see one there, because there were a few who sat outside the store, on the sidewalk. But as I entered and exited, I did not see such person, so I went on to work.  I’d like to tell you that I went searching for the homeless during lunch,  but not once did such  person enter my mind for the rest of the day.

As I left work, the thought came to go visit the local Dollar General to purchase Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box items.  After making the purchase, I went out the door and saw a man with a back pack standing near the building by his bicycle. He said to me “do you have any spare change?” I replied back, “sorry I do not have any”. So he said to me, “ok, God bless you”.  I walked about 20 feet to my car and it hit me like a ton of bricks, the thought came so clearly:  “turn around, there is the homeless person, that you thought about earlier this morning after you prayed to me”.  I headed back into the store and found a store gift card. I went back out and said to the guy, “I have something better than change, I’m giving you a gift card. But first, I have to tell you a story.”

I started to tell him about what I had prayed before I left home this morning, and about going to the store on Main Street, and not finding anyone in need. By the time I finished I had chill bumps on my arms and I was crying!  Those who know me, would agree that I am not Emotional Emma as I rarely cry in public. He gave me a hug and told me that when he was in the military he made a decision to be a God follower. He had been in Desert Storm during the war. When he came back to get settled in, he couldn’t find a church he felt comfortable in because they were either like a “social club”, or they had “classes of people he didn’t fit into”.  He then told me he prayed but wasn’t reading his Bible regularly but that he knew he was supposed to love God and love others.  I suggested a local church for him to visit, and he said others had also recommended him go to this church.   I shared with him that I had never experienced anything like this before where I asked God to use me, he directed my thoughts to folks like him, and then I met him the same day. He seemed very touched by the experience as well. Again, I’d like to tell you that I asked if I could pray for him before I left, but I didn’t.

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I’m sharing this here because I prayed a simple, sincere prayer today, and I had my plans of finding the person on Main Street. When I didn’t, I no longer thought God had a plan to place that person in my path, I had completely forgotten about the prayer!  And when He did plant the person  in my path, I almost missed a blessing and would have jumped in my Honda and left, had I not had the thought to turn around and go back.

I’m now waiting eagerly for the next opportunity, which may be a totally different way to serve up bread.  This God-sized  experience has stirred me today. We have a Sovereign God who has the time to break into my life and allow me to be His hands today to minister to a military veteran, who put his life on the line for our country. I promise you I will not miss my bread.  The man simply asked for spare change, and I’m the one who walked  away changed.  Feel free to leave a comment of how you have shared your bread. 14CBpray-with-homeless-sox-man-sm

I’m Sharing My Bread This Christmas


As the Christmas Season is fast approaching,  I’m adding a new item on my Gift List: Bread. The idea came to me as I was reading the words of the richest and wisest man of his time, King Solomon.  “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on the earth.” Ecclesiastes 11:1-2

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After I read the verse, a childhood memory came flashing back . It’s one of my favorite places, my grandmother’s house on Skinner’s Lake. My grandmother had loaves of day old bread she purchased at the bread store for “her fish”.  She would say to me, “go feed the fish’.  I went to her refrigerator, reached my hand in the bread bag and pulled out a couple of slices. I headed out the door, and down her long dock.  Next, I started breaking the slices into smaller pieces, and tossed them into the water. Within seconds, the bread would start to move, then disappear as the hungry fish devoured the bread!  This small act of feeding the fish brought  joy and excitement to me.

Looking back to Solomon’s advice, his intention was not for us to ” go feed the fish.”  This verse can be interpreted several ways, with one being sharing our possessions with the poor.  Solomon also wrote in Proverbs 19:17, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.    We all like to give and receive at Christmas.  When we share our “bread” or possessions with  the poor, we are giving it to the Lord, and He gives the best gifts back in return!  We will “find our bread after many days”, as Ecclesiastes 11:1 states. We will have kindness shown back to us through other ways.

The “Bread of Life”,  who came to earth the first Christmas, instructs His followers with the following command:

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This Christmas, as I celebrate the birth of My Savior,  I want to be more intentional with giving my bread to the poor. Really, it’s not my bread. It is God’s bread.  Every blessing I have comes from His hand alone. Today, there are many people, near and far, who are drowning in the troubled waters on life’s sea. We see their faces in our neighborhoods, marketplaces, schools, work, church, and even across the ocean.  We have the “bread”  in our hand to toss out to them. The question is, are we going to hold on tightly to the bread God has blessed us with,  and ignore Christ’s instruction to us, or are we going to have an open, gracious handful of bread to share?   I encourage you to add Bread to your Christmas List this year, and share with someone who cannot give you anything in return. And while you are doing it, introduce them to the Bread of Life.whocanilove

Treasure Sharers


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Amongst my cherished childhood memories, is my pink, plastic “piggy” bank. My father would reach down into his pocket
as I would extend my open hand, palm-up, waiting in delight for his coins. Immediately, I would run to my room and reach up to my “piggy” bank and drop the coins, one by one, and listen for the “clink, clink”. Then, I would pick up my bank and shake it in excitement. Oh, the simple pleasures of our childhood! My “piggy” bank was my first unrecorded savings. My treasure chest. I remember the day, my pig would no longer hold my coins, and my mom helped me open it up and shake the coins out onto my bed. She counted them for me and soon we were off to the store. I was going to search for things that would make me happy in exchange for my treasure. Something special just for me.

As an adult, I’m reminded of a far greater treasure my Heavenly Father has given me. Paul speaks of a treasure we, as God’s children, have received. “But we have this treasure in clay jars, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7.

Paul compares our bodies to clay pots, pots made of dirt and water, but skillfully shaped by the hand of the Potter, at His wheel. The first man, Adam, was designed by His Creator when He stretched down to the lowest place of His Creation and picked up the dirt, handful by handful. He molded Adam, layer by layer, limb by limb, into His image. And then He gazed in satisfaction at the first man. as Adam lay there, in a comatose like state. There was an important detail the Designer had yet to complete. Bending down, and drawing nearer to Adam, face-to-face, He gave Adam something that was of great value. Something from His very own being, from within. His breath, the very breath of God! I can imagine, as God touched Adam and breathed into Him the breath of life, that body of dirt, came to life! The lifeless body now moved, rose up, from the ground as it inhaled and exhaled. For the first time God’s creation looked into His face and spoke to Him. Oh to behold the face of God, in the stillness of the moment. And I wonder if the thought entered the Creator’s mind that one day Adam would choose to forfeit that intimate relationship and hide from him in the Garden of Eden because of sin.

Fast forward 4,000 years later to the Cross on Golgotha, a place of cruel death. In the darkness, a cry was heard. “It is finished”! God’s son, Jesus, bearing the sins of the world, since Adam’s first sin, breathed His last breath as His father turned away. But in breathing that final, shallow breath, in excruciating, unbearable pain, Jesus redeemed that face-to-face relationship of sinful man with His Creator. New Life was offered to those who were dead in their sins. All who believed in His death, burial and Resurrection are given New Life. This is the Treasure. The Gospel. A treasure within Paul that he carried and shared. The treasure that was carried with a great price. Sharing the treasure brought him ship wreck, stoning, beatings, and imprisonment. Paul, the Treasure Sharer. History tells us Paul was beheaded. As that clay pot was destroyed by the hands of men, the treasure within was not destroyed. It journeyed with him into the very presence of God, face-to-face.

And those of us who experience Salvation have been given the priceless treasure deposited freely into our jars of clay. At that moment, we were all given the treasure of grace, faith, and forgiveness by our Heavenly Father, the Potter. A treasure, eternal life, unearned by us, and paid for by the blood of His only son. It’s the treasure we receive with open, empty hands as “little children”. And oh the joy the gift brings into our lives! It is with us forever. Nothing we could do could merit the deposit. “For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2: 8-9).

Designed by the Potter to be as common clay pots for His use. But yet containing the treasure, the Gospel, and gift of salvation. The Holy Spirit dwells in our clay pots. he is invisible to man, but yet full of power. Only through the Holy Spirit’s power availed to us, do we testify of Him, and to minister to others. We are His workmanship, marked by His image and we are called to share Him to a world that can only see the Hand of the Potter through his jars of clay.

The Potter’s plan was to share the treasure within us with the world. It is not to be hoarded or used for our glory, but His. “You are the Light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shin before others, so that they may see your good works, and glorify your father, which is in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16) The Treasure Giver, God, is watching each of us, his Pots, his treasure chests. His desire is that we go about depositing His treasure, into the lives of others, so that they may also experience the joy of the Treasure Giver.

Dear Father, thank you for the Gospel treasure you have entrusted to us your children. Thank you for the price you paid for us to have that face-to-face relationship with you, with forgiveness of sins, through your precious Son’s blood. We lift up our clay pots to you. Take us into your hands. Shake the treasure within us, and renew us by your Holy Spirit’s power. Let your treasure spill out into the lives of others, to add more Treasure Shares, for your glory alone. In Jesus Name, Amen.