In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Giving ourselves unreservedly to God

Sometimes life is just plain hard. That's how it is.

I guess the real question is - now what? How am I going to respond?

I've been studying for quite awhile now in Philippians. I chose to study there because it's been called the book of Joy and I'm desperate for God's joy to be manifest in my life. I've read through the book a couple of times on my own and am currently doing a small bible study workbook by Sharon A. Steele..

One of the themes that comes out repeatedly is that praise, thanksgiving and rejoicing is a choice. No matter what, I can choose to do these things.

Steele also made the following point that pierced my heart when I read it:

"Had Paul's desires been wrong, he could have easily fallen into despair. However, he trusted Jesus and his aim in life was to always honor and exalt Christ. Because exalting Jesus was his aim, he could rejoice and praise God right where he was. He knew that God was working in his life that that Jesus was being exalted."

In this workbook, as Steel is helping the reader understand the context of the book of Philippians, she has the reader look up other passages that show what the churches were like in Macedonia (the area in which the church the book of Philippians was written to resides). These churches were very giving, even when they had little resources of their own and you can see Paul reference this repeatedly in Philippians. Once particular passage of this type has caught my heart and I keep coming back to it. The verse it talking about how the church, when it was in meager financial shape itself, could give so generously to others. It's in 2 Corinthians 8:5 (MSG):

This was totally spontaneous, entirely their own idea, and caught us completely off guard. What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives. That's what prompted us to ask Titus to bring the relief offering to your attention, so that what was so well begun could be finished up. You do so well in so many things—you trust God, you're articulate, you're insightful, you're passionate, you love us—now, do your best in this, too.

That part about them giving themselves unreservedly to God and the other things they are doing (in this instance giving) simply flowing out of the purposes of God working in their lives; that's a WOW concept!

My pattern has been that when hard times come in my life, I struggle. Sometimes I've been known to whine and complain (you can ask my husbands and sons on that one!) I haven't been a person who automatically responds with joy, thankfulness and praise.

When I read the passage in 2 Corinthians 8:5 I recognized that if I will give myself unreservedly to God, I'll be able to respond in tough circumstances with joy, thankfulness and praise. I'll know that He's working out His purposes in my life through all the things that I find so very trying. It will be His greatness, His glory, His mercy, His grace, His awesome wonderfulness that will be what it is all about; not my experiences or comfort.

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