Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Packing, Packing, and More Packing

I have been packing and organizing for several days now. Preparation for international travel is a bit different than domestic travel. But I have some very informed teachers and they are sharing their experiences to help me with the process.

There are now five short days until I leave with my friends for SE Asia. The preparation is nearly complete. Our hearts and minds are being equipped for the work God has prepared in advance for us to accomplish. It will soon be time to see what God’s plan has been all along.

I read the passage of Jesus sending out the seventy-two in Luke 10 again recently. As I read this passage I was stunned that I didn’t see a phrase before. “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.” (Luke 10:1 – NIV) Did you catch it?

Jesus sent these disciples to prepare the towns and villages for His arrival. They went before Jesus to share a message of hope with the lost and hurting of their world. They were sharing that these towns and villages could anticipate a wonderful experience when Jesus arrived. That was what the seventy-two were sent ahead to do.

But Jesus didn’t send these men into the world without a message or without instruction. Jesus continued for fifteen more verses with these instructions. Let’s see what Jesus told them.

Jesus began His instruction with a verse you’ll recognize. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Luke 10:2 – NIV) Jesus’ first instruction was to pray that God would send willing hearts to work.

Jesus’ next instructions were for them not take anything with them or speak to people along the road. “Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.” (Luke 10:4 – NIV) I believe Jesus wanted these disciples to understand God’s provision. That when they were doing God’s work, He would provide all they needed (I have learned this lesson in mighty ways).

Jesus also wanted this group of disciples to understand the urgency of the message. Stopping along the way would only hinder the message delivery.

The passage continues with instructions like remaining in one household (Luke 10:5-7); how to treat a town that accepts them (Luke 10:8); and how to treat a town that doesn’t accept them (Luke 10-12).

Jesus also told them what to do in each town and what their message was to be. “Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’” (Luke 10:9 – NIV)

What a mission! What a message! What a task!

But Jesus gave these seventy-two men all authority to speak and be His spokesmen. His final words to them were, “He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” (Luke 10:16 – NIV)

Amazing things were accomplished on this journey. The men returned with joy and told Jesus stories of what had happened. Why even the demons submitted to them when Jesus’ name was spoken. What a wonderful experience!

Jesus was also full of joy. The task had been accomplished. The message had been spoken. The towns and villages were prepared for His entrance. Now the spiritual future of the world was in His hands.

Jesus didn’t need seventy-two men to prepare the way. Jesus doesn’t need me to tell His message. Jesus wants me to be His spokeswoman. He wants me to know how important it is to depend upon God for all that I need. He wants me to know the excitement of sharing the Gospel with a lost or hurting soul. He wants me see the marvelous things He will accomplish through me because I said “yes” to His call. He desires that I be filled with joy because of His salvation.

I can do all the packing and organizing I want, but He is the One preparing my heart.

I don’t know what lessons you might take away from this post, but I know what I’ve learned. That I’m being sent ahead of Jesus for a purpose. To bathe SE Asia in prayer. And through that prayer, this area will be prepared for Jesus’ entrance.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Work of Your Hands

It is now 19 days until our team leaves for SE Asia. There is still so much to do. Gathering of items to take. Details of the trip to finalize. Preparation of our hearts and bodies for the journey.

During our last training session, the prayer partner coordinator for our upcoming service trip to SE Asia presented a verse of Scripture to us for our devotions.

Psalm 90:17 (NIV) says, “May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.”

As I look at this verse, yes, I believe this is what our trip should be based upon. But I also think we need to build our day-to-day lives on this concept. When I allow God to use my hands for His glory, all that I do with my hands will be blessed by Him.

How do I use my hands to bring glory to God?

For me, writing is one way that I use my hands for God’s purpose and glory. I believe He established this love and gift within me to use for Him. When my heart is focused on Him, words flow through my hands at an easy pace. He establishes the work of my hands.

I can be handy, but I am handiest when I use my skills and talents for God’s glory. I am a good cook, but I am the best when I prepare meals for His purpose. When I use my hands for God, whatever it is I’m doing will be better because He has established that work.

The word favor could also be translated “beauty.” Allowing God’s beauty to rest upon us will allow His beauty to flow through us. This phrase is also seen in Psalm 27:4 (NIV). “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”

When we gaze upon God’s beauty, we will begin to reflect His beauty in our lives. The work of our hands will be established in His beauty and beautiful results will occur.

As we continue to prepare for our service trip, my prayer for our team would be that God’s beauty would be reflected through us. That the people we meet will see how God’s beauty establishes the works of our hands.

So, how is God using your hands for His glory? What are you doing to reflect His beauty into this world? I pray that He is working within you to establish the work of your hands. He certainly is working within me.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,