What Does the Lord Require?

A few weeks ago, my husband had a day off work.  So, as a treat for me, he drove my older girls to school and picked them up when it was done.   When he arrived home at the end of their day, he asked me, “Do you realize you spend 1-1/2 hours of your day driving to school, waiting in line, driving home and then doing it all over again?”

Do I realize?  Oh yeah, do I ever!

There are parts of my every day that seem unimportant and yet time-intensive, of little value and yet essential for life, easily overlooked and yet totally overwhelming if left undone.

Like  doing dishes.  I washed every dish this morning and stood back to admire my empty sink and clean counters.  Then, I fed my children breakfast and lunch and baked some goodies for Bible Study.  I had happy children, hopefully happy ladies at Bible Study, and full sinks.

Sigh.

Last night I washed every piece of clothing, towel and bedding that exists in my home and placed them all neatly washed, dried and folded into everyone’s drawers.  But today, because we are not nudists, we put on new clothes that will need to be washed—-again.

Sigh.

I’m a task-oriented, to-do list making, productivity kind of person.  If I realize I’m not accomplishing enough of the items on my to-do list, I just add in the things I’ve done that weren’t on the list.  So what if I didn’t get around to scheduling that appointment.  I did do laundry, make lunches, exercise and answer emails.  Check, check, check, and check.  It makes all these little things seem more important somehow when they appear on my official list with a check mark next to them.

All of these daily tasks are totally essential to life.  They are acts of service for my family, who I love, and the opportunity for me to pour myself out to them every day, hopefully reflecting Christ in my humility and selflessness.

Or they are a reason to whine and complain and feel pretty unimportant in this world.MIaca

It just depends on my focus and my attitude.  Even the daily can become worship if I’m doing it for God.

Sometimes I watch my favorite Christian teachers speak to arenas full of women and read the bestselling books of my favorite authors and feel like my everyday acts of service seem unimpressive.  So, I washed dishes.  These ladies ministered to 10,000 people at one sitting.  I drove my kids to school.  That person spent 6 months in Asia helping orphans.

In Micah 6:6-8, the prophet writes:

With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

God doesn’t overlook our everyday.  He sees us at work when we do our best, not for earthly glory, but because we want to please Him.  He sees us at home as we make meals, place Band-Aids on scratches, and help with homework.  He sees us when we visit the nursing home even though it isn’t an “official” ministry in the church.  All of these are ways to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

And that is what He is asking us to do.  He isn’t look for elaborate offerings of fame and worldly success.  He is looking for cheerful obedience to serve where He has called us to serve at this moment in our lives.

The Bible is filled with the stories of prophets, kings, apostles, and angels, but in one brief moment in the Bible, we get a glimpse of a simple woman serving Christ in practical and essential ways.   Luke 8:1-3 says:

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out;  Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means (NIV).

If you blinked while you read that, you might have missed her–Susanna, one of the women who helped support Jesus and his followers as they traveled all over preaching the gospel.  Was her ministry high profile?  Not at all.  Was she personally impacting the massive crowds that gathered around Jesus?  It’s unlikely they knew she existed.

Yet, she kept on ministering to those practical, oh-so-essential needs of her Savior.  It must have been hard work and often overlooked.  She may at times have struggled with being the one washing dishes while the disciples prayed with people in the crowd.  But she didn’t give up.  She just kept on serving.  It was an act of worship, this daily ministry of life and it is the same for us in our homes, in our churches, in our communities and at our jobs.

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

The Lord is My Portion

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Psalm 73:26 (NIV)

This morning, I was a woman with a plan.  I envisioned reaching new heights of productivity and speed, accomplishing my work goals for the day, getting in a quiet time, cleaning, exercising, checking off all of the phone calls and appointments on my to-do list—all with joy and energy.

And then.

Then, I used the last slices of bread for toast and lunches.  I used one of the last diapers to change my baby girl.   I pulled out the ingredients for my crockpot dinner and realized it’s pretty hard to make salsa chicken with tortillas when you actually don’t have any tortillas or cheese.

Change of plans.  I rushed around the house throwing into the diaper bag the supplies needed for a grocery store trip with children—goldfish crackers, notebook and crayons, books, juice.

Normally, I like to plan out my shopping trips the night before, pulling out all the coupons I think I’ll use and discarding ones that are 3 months out-of-date.  Then, I like to prepare my list while going about my day, making sure I’m not forgetting anything.

Not this time.  I grabbed my unorganized coupons, my car keys, my children, my bag of things to entertain them and off we went.  Shopping.  In the rain.  With sleepy children.  Without a list.

The worst part of this whole story is that I was just at the store yesterday.  I ran in just to get a gift and the milk that would help “tide me over” until my real shopping in two or three days.   And now I had to go back again the very next day.  I quietly prayed that none of the cashiers recognized me from yesterday as the crazy woman who can’t stay out of the Wal-Mart.

It’s one of my life dreams to shop just one time a week and that’s it.  Clearly, I’m not there yet.

But this impromptu shopping trip reminded me that time with God should never just be a once-a-week affair where we stock the shelves of our heart and live off the supplies for a while.

Instead, in the Lord’s Prayer, we ask Him to “give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11, NIV).

Today.  Not tomorrow or the next week.  Just for today, Lord, provide what I need.  In this moment, fill me up and sustain me.  Give me the encouragement and provision I need for the here and now in my life.

This daily dependence is something the Israelites had to learn in the wilderness between Egypt and The Promised Land.   In Numbers 11:5, they complained to Moses, “We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic, but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes.”

In Egypt, it was no big deal to swing by the farmer’s market for some fresh veggies and then pick up some fresh fish from the docks.

In the wilderness, however, they ate manna.  Lots and lots of manna.  It was bread from heaven, sweet, and miraculous.  God sent it every night, not so they could store it for the future, but so they could eat just enough for that day.  Exodus 16:21 says, ” Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away” (NIV).

At first, not all the Israelites obeyed God’s commands.  They tried to store some of the manna so they wouldn’t have to gather it every day.  Their goal was to make one shopping trip for the week, not daily excursions to the Wal-Mart.  But, the food they stored overnight rotted and was infested with worms.

Daily dependence on God.   It’s the overarching message of Scripture.

David wrote in Psalm 73:26:  “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (NIV).

Jeremiah wrote in Lamentations 3:24: “I say to myself,  ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him'” (NIV)

God is our portion.  He is more than enough for us in every situation, but we need to depend on Him for His presence, His encouragement, His strength, His provision, and His guidance daily, and even more than that–second by second.

Sometimes I think that my planning or my productivity can be enough, that in my own strength and ability I can make it.  But, that’s just when I have a day like today, when all of my well-laid plans and my confidence in my self are destroyed.

All I can do is place my to-do list, my perfect plans, my work schedule, my bank account and bills, my kids all at His feet and ask Him to “be enough.  Lord, I am not enough for any of this, but You are my portion and the strength of my heart.  So, I depend on You today and You alone.”

Then tomorrow, I’ll go to Him again . . . and the next day  . . . and the day after that.  Because this Christian walk of ours is a daily journey of dependence on God.

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

Everyday, Ordinary Life

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life–your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life–and place it before God as an offering” (Romans 12:1, MSG).

I love that verse in Romans and I came across it again today in my reading. The thing is, there are so many parts of my “everyday, ordinary life” that don’t seem really offering worthy.  I don’t mean because they are mundane.  I mean because they’re ugly and messy and well, failures really.

Like when your daughter decides to take the ballet shoes that you placed next to the front door, hide them and then forget where they are 5 minutes before you have to leave for ballet class and you lose it.

Maybe that kind of stuff only happens to me, but believe me, my reaction to this “irritation” wasn’t really an offering worthy of God.

To be honest, how I react to the big crises in life is much more holy and Christian.  I lean in to God and I grow in my faith in the process because I have no other choice really.  I know fully well that I’m not able to handle any of the big stuff on my own.

It’s the daily annoyances, interruptions, and irritants that bring out the worst in me, partly because I forget to look to God for any help or input at all.

So, how—-how do I turn my everyday, ordinary life into an acceptable sacrifice and a way to give God glory?

I’m reading this fantastic book by Eugene Peterson called A Long Obedience in the Same Direction and he drew my attention to something I had ignored before in this verse.  Three little words: “God helping you.” In the NIV translation, the verse reads:  “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”

With God’s help and in view of God’s mercy, I can make my life–my whole life, not just the “important” parts—an offering to God.

In Romans 9:16, Paul writes, “It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.”  I don’t know about you, but I’m so thankful to know that my salvation, my joy, my future don’t depend on anything other than God’s great mercy.

That means when I mess it up and lose it over hidden ballet shoes that actually don’t reappear until 3 days later (hidden behind the chair in my room), I can have a fresh start.  As it says in Lamentations 3:21-24:

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning;  great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.

We fail, but His compassion doesn’t fail.  He gives us new grace every morning.  He is our portion.  He is all we need in every difficult, annoying, frustrating moment of our everyday lives, just like He’s faithfully with us in every crisis.  It is only with His help that my reactions to the daily can be placed before Him as an offering.

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King