Monday, August 22, 2005

Sharing with Dalmeny Ladies Bible Study

In November of 2003, I had been asked to share my heart at a breakfast with the Dalmeny Community Church Ladies Bible Study group. This was a new step for me. For a while already God had been putting on my heart to begin speaking to women on a different level that I had already been used to. I've led Bible Study groups for 12 years but had not shared in a way like this before. I feel that God is preparing me for sharing my heart more openly in different settings and this was open door number one. I spent quite a bit of time praying and preparing for this and wrote out what I felt God put on my heart to share that morning. Here's what I shared:

When Anne asked me to speak, it was at suppertime on Tuesday November 11. I was preparing supper and thinking about the Brian Doersken concert I was going to that evening. We were talking about other things, said by and hung up. The phone rang a second later and she said “I forgot to ask you something – will you speak at our ladies brunch?” “Okay” I said with no hesitation. I had told God about a year ago that if this was something that he wanted me to start doing, He would have to provide the opportunities and I would do nothing to help them come my way. Well, that’s what He did! I was so busy when she called that I didn’t have time to think about it right away. But at the Brian Doerksen concert God started putting all these words in my heart of things I could share. I got home at 11:00 pm and started writing for an hour. Roger came down and asked me if I was coming to bed so I reluctantly J put my pen down. I knew God wouldn’t take away the words He wanted me to share. Well I got back to it the next day but then not again until a week later and then the rest on Monday. Just as I was finishing up, God gave me more. I can’t wait to get to the end of this speech. My heart was just pumped! He’s so cool! He’s always blessing my socks off! So here goes…..


God has given so many gifts. I’m not talking of spiritual gifts or talents and not necessarily materials gifts either but of the gifts He gives us each day. He loves us so much that He can’t stop giving us gifts. He wants, yearns, to give us our heart’s desire when they fall according to His will. His will, not ours, is a gift. We think we know what we want, what we ‘need’. But truthfully we don’t, only God knows completely what we need. He sees it all, before we were born until after we’re gone, He sees it all. He sees all He has given us and what we have done with those gifts.

God has given me so many gifts – how could I ever pay Him back? I can’t ever, not fully, but I can choose to try and live each day for Him. I can choose each day to look at the good in the day, in my life and to give that as a gift to someone. God gave so much of Himself, what can I give? I can give encouragement, a smile, a hug, a phone call, an I love you, a pat on the back, a thoughtful unexpected card. I can give a ride, a treat, a lunch or just the gift of time. I have so much to give because God gave so much to me.

He gave me this cross that my friend Leslie made for me and gave to each of us ladies in the Bible Study group at my church on Friday mornings. She gave it to us a couple of years ago. I lost it earlier this year. After spending 9 years together in the Bible Study, Leslie passed away at the end of April at 52 years of age. I really wanted to find that cross she gave me but it wasn’t anywhere. The morning after my father-in-law was suddenly taken from us, not being able to sleep anymore in the wee hours of the morning, still dark, I came downstairs and opened my Bible and there was the cross. A gift!! God ever so lovingly reminding me that He is in control. That morning, I read Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” This was another gift God gave me. These verses were read at dad’s funeral a couple of days later – a gift from God.

This Bible Study is a gift. God is so good. A year ago, I stood in this church sharing about how life has come full circle – this was where my journey began over 10 years ago – another gift given to me. It blessed me, challenged me, convicted me and helped me to grow for the 5 years we lived in Dalmeny. I then took what I learnt here and turned around and lead it to another group of ladies in our church. A gift given to me and God had me pass it on to others.

A gift of an old friend God brought back into my life through our husbands and she attends here. A year ago I was invited to come to a ladies night out here at the church. God stirred in my heart to come back to visit and to invite Coreen out as well. So He brought us here together “for such a time as this”. A gift from God – a gift of comfort, of encouragement, of support, of friendship and of seeking God’s word together.

In May, for Mother’s Day, I gave Coreen the Travelling Light for Mothers book. When September came, that was the book you chose to study in this Bible Study group. It was the 23rd Psalm that Pastor Gary read at dad’s graveside. I didn’t know why I decided at the last minute to buy an extra book months before and keep it in my closet but God knew. When Mother’s Day came I knew it was for Coreen. It was a gift to a friend, and God used it. That’s how God uses us when we are not even aware of it.

God shows us His gifts of love and grace each day. Do we share that with others? Or do we bury those gifts? Gifts are meant to be shared. When God gives us a gift, He expects us to pass it along. Maybe not the exact gift in that exact form, but a seed, a lesson learned or blessing received as a result of that gift.

How about my children? They are God’s greatest gifts to me. What am I doing with these gifts? Am I guiding and directing them through prayer and God’s values and morals or am I misusing these gifts and allowing our society guide them? I am giving gifts to my kids when I am praying with them, spending valuable time with them, talking about God with them when we sit down, when we are walking or driving with them, eating with them and when we lay ourselves down to sleep as the Bible teaches us to in Deuteronomy. Teaching them God’s morals and values instead of the ways of the world through our culture and TV. These are gifts that we give to our children – are we blessing them or are we harming them? Most of all, the greatest gift we can give to our children is in striving to set a godly example for them, striving to set a model of Christ for them to follow. Do we fail? Most definitely but God forgives and gives a new day every day to start over and try again and again.

Then there’s my family – my siblings, in-laws, parents…my heritage. Those are gifts from God as well. It doesn’t matter if we don’t see eye to eye, if we always get along, or if they think I’m weird or I think they’re queer… God gave them to me as gifts. It doesn’t matter what wrong they have done me or how badly I think my parents have raised me. God gave them to me as a gift. It is up to me how I react to them and how I pray for them. I can choose to focus on the faults or where things went wrong, or I can choose to see them through God’s eyes and see the good gifts God has blessed them with. As our pastor once put it “You are not a mistake! It took the exact genes, eggs and chromosomes from your parents to create you! It doesn’t matter what your upbringing was or wasn’t – God created you through your parents. You were not a mistake, even if your parents think you were or have told you that you were. It doesn’t even matter what their circumstances were. God does not make mistakes!!! He has created you for a purpose!!” Boy did I need to hear that on that Sunday morning. What a gift from God to ever so gently, from a passionate godly man from the pulpit, to tell me that I was not a mistake and that God has a purpose for me! There is purpose in your life – God has a purpose and that is a gift.

Then there are the gifts that come in disguise. How about those times when someone is critical of you and has very untactful ways of sharing that criticism? I have learnt that those are also gifts. Too many times my first reaction is how dare they or who are they to say that and I can get all huffed up and defensive. But you know, down the road of an hour, a day, a week, a month, or a year, God has taken those opportunities to shape me, mold me and develop my character. At those times we need to ask God what He wants us to learn from it. No matter how hurt I am God has something to show me, to show us, to teach us. That is a gift when we are able to learn and grow during those situations.

Is pain a gift? Tough question I know. But what does pain do to us? It makes us question, it can produce anger, it hurts us. Are we allowing God to reveal Himself to us through that pain? Are we taking His gift of comfort and grace and trust? Pain makes us stop, listen and think. Pain can either make us focus on ourselves and turn away from God or we can take that pain, give it to God and receive His everlasting loving arms to see us through and have faith and trust that He will work “all things together for good for those that love the Lord”. It’s during pain that we grow the most, He has the most to teach us and when He can use us the most. God has so many gifts to give us through pain – let us receive them.

Roger and I have often wondered when and how God would bring the pain of death close to home. When God chose to take his dad first, we were shocked and we had great pain. But as the days continued to come and go (because life doesn’t stop) …and that too is a gift. As days continued, God ever so mercifully revealed gift after gift to us. He had it all planned, all worked out to such incredible detail that it astounded me. What an incredible blessed gift to see the good God was using dad for. God promises in His word that again “in ALL things, He will work together for good to those that love the Lord”. He never does anything to harm us – that’s Satan’s job but God’s job is to take whatever Satan throws at us and turn it around and bring good out of it. A couple months ago Roger met a homeless man, his name is Hans. We’ve seen him many times but have never spoken with him. Roger had an interesting conversation with him and learnt that he was a believer who loved God, doing a work that he felt God had called him to do. Roger gave him a ride to his home - a cab of a truck in an industrial area in Saskatoon. Roger couldn’t believe he lived there. He asked him “What about during the cold winter we had?” Hans told him that God woke him up everyday. They talked about God, their families and what life throws at us. The next time that I saw him was a few days after dad had died. I went and sat at his table and introduced myself as Roger’s wife Lisa – he remembered Roger very well. I told him about dad and it brought tears to his eyes. It was everything I could do not to burst into tears myself. But this man has been praying for my husband, for my family and for our mom. We have so much, too much and this man has nothing but the joy of serving His God and depending wholeheartedly on His provision from day to day. What a gift God gave us by sending this man into our lives. He’s remembered us each time we’ve run into him and we have so much to learn from him and God has so much to teach us through him. Thank you God for sending the gift of this simple man who is serving you in a way that only he can.

How about friends? They are a beautiful gift from God when chosen by Him. Not all friends have been ones that God approves us being with too much although there is always something He can teach us through that person. But to have a friend who is One in Spirit with you and your God is a tremendous blessing. I can’t keep track of how many times when I’m going through difficulties when a friend has called, emailed, dropped in or written at just the right time to say “How’re you doing” or “God put you on my heart and I’m calling to say hello”. Or even those times that I run into someone when I’m out and about and they tell me I’ve been on their mind. What a change that brings to my spirit. (One day I came home and by my door was a container of my favorite coffee mix that hasn’t been in the stores for a long time. A friend had come across some and bought an extra one for me and left it by my door. It was such a special treat!) Have you ever wondered how much of a coincidence it really is when you run into someone or someone comes to your mind completely out of the blue? Do you think it is coincidence or as I call it “God-incidence”? What do we do with those thoughts or those run-ins? We can pray, take action or just let it slide. If you let it slide, you’ve just ignored the gift of the Holy Spirit touching your soul. Allow God to bless you with those gifts and bless others in turn.

Gifts of any kind are ways that we can bless others and not expect anything in return. When we bless each other with these gifts, God blesses us much, much more than 500 people could ever bless us. His rewards and gifts are much more eternal than anything here on earth. On this past Sunday we had a young 20 year old man, Curtis Anderson from Dalmeny here, give his first sermon. He spoke on love and did a tremendous job. He used a wonderful analogy of God pouring down much love on us – us sending back love in return and then from us arrows going out and pouring love on others. There were no arrows returning to us. The gift of love is to be sent out to all of those around us with no expectations, limits, or restrictions. He also said that those that we feel are the least deserving of love deserve it more and likely they’re hurting the most as well. Is that how we treat others with gifts? Do we give a gift in proportion to how we feel the recipient deserves or do we give with unconditional love and not expecting anything back? When I think of how much I deserve and how much God continues to bless me, it brings me to my knees with humble thanksgiving and gratitude. I think of the verse in Matt. 7:11 “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him?”

God sent His greatest gift of all time when He sent down His Son Jesus into this world of sin. John 3:17 says “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him”. God loves us and wants to bless us and in turn bless those around us. God did not send me to condemn those around me, but to love them, pray for them and be Jesus to them. Many times I fail, but through God’s gift of grace and forgiveness, He picks me up again and again and I keep on trying to do better. “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be open unto you. For everyone who asks, receives” Matt. 7:7, 8a. God sent His Son for me, for dad, for the homeless, for all of you and everyone else. An uncle told us after dad passed away, you prayed, you asked, then did you believe? Of course it is God’s will that no one should perish and so when we pray, do we believe? We’ve been praying for dad for years and had all sorts of ideas of how God could answer but we never expected our prayers to be answered in this way. God promises, ask and you will receive. Israel asked God for a deliverer, a Messiah – they just never expected it to be His own Son. There are many who still have not received that Son or have accepted that He was their Messiah. When will they believe? What will it take for them to believe? What does it take for me to believe wholeheartedly when I pray? God gives us a wonderful gift of answering prayer even when we don’t know what and how to ask. He is so faithful! Romans 11:29 says “God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable”. God does not change His mind with reference to His call. He knows what’s best and He works our lives in accordance to His will. Thank you God for the gift of knowing it all and seeing the whole picture. That is a great gift. Let’s leave it in God’s hands and share the many gifts He has for us. That was my ending but…..

As I was finishing up the final touches to this talk a devotional came over the email to me. I receive a new one each day – kind of like the daily bread thing but it’s on the computer. But this one came at the end of the day and they never come so late – they always come at the beginning of the day. It was another God thing. It was just perfect! God has such a great way of confirming what we do for Him. This was His way of giving me confirmation that this was what He wanted me to speak on. He is just so cool! He does this all the time to me. It is exactly what I’m talking on:

VERSE: 1 Samuel 12:24 “Be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.”
THOUGHT: God is awesome and mighty. He can do anything he chooses to do. So isn’t it amazing of all the things he could do, he chooses to do one thing especially well: God blesses us! God blesses us with material blessing, he blesses us with spiritual blessings, he blesses us with big things, he blesses us with small things, he blesses us with hope, he blesses us beyond pain, he blesses us now, he blesses us in the future, he blesses us…..
PRAYER: Generous and gracious God, thank you for blessing me in so many ways. Please use my life to be a blessing to others and a glory to you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen

This devotional blew me away. It made me think of when God told Abraham that he was blessed to be a blessing – so are we. We are blessed to be a blessing. Many times before my children leave for school in the morning, I lay my hands on their heads and ask God to bless them so they may be a blessing to others. God blesses us so we in turn can bless others. Let us do that with God’s blessing! May God bless you all!!

Okay, you thought I was done didn’t you? I thought so too. But here’s another God thing coming up! On Monday night Allison called me to ask what I’d be speaking on so I shared some of my thoughts with her and told her what note I was ending on. Before we hung up, she said, “It’ll be interesting if God will give you any more.” Well… HE DID! On Tuesday morning when I turned my computer on, another devotional came and this is what it said. Check this out! :)

VERSE: 2 Cor. 9:11 “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
THOUGHT: As we examine our blessings and give thanks to God for his wonderful grace, let’s ask why God has blessed us so much. Let’s also remember the primary spiritual principle that God made clear in today’s scripture and also in his call to Abraham in Genesis 12:2: God’s people are blessed to be a blessing. Let’s make sure we are not just recipients of God’s blessings. Let’s commit to be conduits of those blessings to others.
PRAYER: Thank you, generous Father, for giving your many lavish gifts to me. Open my eyes to see how I can pass on those blessings to those around me who need them. As I share the blessings you have so richly given me, may others find their greatest blessing of all – your loving grace – and give thanks to you! In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

My hearts justa pumpin ladies! That is so amazing? When God puts words into our mouths it’s just incredible! What a God we serve! He is soooo cool and I love Him so much! I like God’s ending better than mine. So on that note, that’s the end. :) I think…

God really blessed me for sharing that day. I'm learning to follow His nudgings and promptings and when I follow through with what I think He wants me to do, I am so blessed. I just have such an awesome feeling of "YES! I listened!" Other times when I haven't listened to what I felt He's wanted me to do, I've really felt terrible - a horrible feeling of knowing I'd missed out on some incredible blessing that God wanted to give me, a road that He had wanted me to take and I didn't go. There've been a few times that I've felt that, and I never want to experience that again. I pray that God has blessed you through reading this.
May God bless you today!

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