July 29, 2013

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Read Psalm 23:3b-4.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 
path  
As we saw last week, one of the steps on the pathway to abundant living is obedience. Another step is found inRomans 12:1. Read it below.
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. 
As we offer ourselves as living sacrifices, we please God through our worship of Him and experience the extraordinary … His presence in our lives. And this brings great joy! 
Psalm 16:11 says, You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence,with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
I’m not na├»ve enough to think or tell you that offering myself to God is “a walk in the park.” No, this path often feels like”the valley of the shadow of death!” It can be a scary, unknown path; but from personal experience, I can say that it’s worth it!
I am reminded of one such experience that occurred nearly seven years ago. I was leaving to go on a mission trip to La Courneuve, France. Using the story of Esther as a basis each day, my team was going to be witnessing to Muslim women, teaching them how to present themselves in a Western culture. It was September 11, 2006. It was my first trip out of the country, my first trip away from my children and husband for that period of time (eight days) and lastly, the trip was way outside my comfort zone.
That night someone asked me if I was excited about going. The truth of the matter was that I was excited about getting it over with. Deep in my heart I knew God was going to do an amazing thing – I could just sense it! What I didn’t know was what that amazing thing was and what I was going to have to endure to see it through. And that scared me to death!
As I was packing for the trip, this scripture from Isaiah 53:7 came to my mind, He was led like a lamb to the slaughter yet He did not open His mouth. Though I didn’t tell a soul before I went, that was exactly how I felt at that moment. I didn’t have a clue what I or my team was going to have to endure on the trip, but I knew that just as Abraham led Isaac to the altar and bound him and placed him on it, I felt as though I was being led to the altar of sacrifice. 
Deep down in the depths of my heart though, I was calm.Psalm 23:4 came to my mind. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me. I was fearful of what was about to happen, but I knew that God in His sovereignty was in control, and I knew my Shepherd, Jesus, would be with me through it all.
God grew me in some incredible ways on that trip. I saw Him intervene, protect, guide and comfort. I truly experienced extraordinary, abundant living as a result because I was exactly in God’s will. I was offering myself to Him as a living sacrifice, and it was pleasing to Him.
Now there have been other “big” experiences in my life like this where I have “surrendered” in this way, and some when I should have but didn’t. But what I want us to consider too is offering ourselves in our daily living. You know those everyday (good, bad, irritating, mundane) things of life? God wants every part of our life.
We need to be careful, though. Just offering once isn’t enough for us. We are “living sacrifices,” and it’s easy for us to slither right down off the altar and run around it or run away from it! That’s why every morning when we wake up we should climb back up on the altar, stretch out our hands and say something like …
  • How would you like to use me today, Lord?
  • I offer myself to you and I accept what you have for me today, knowing that you, my Shepherd, are with me.
praise 
What kind of pleasure do you think God would receive from that? I believe He longs for us to do that, just as He longs for us to enjoy His pleasure and live the exceedingly abundant life – a life filled with joy in His presence!
Questions to ponder:
  • Have you slithered off the altar today?
  • Are you running around the altar doing for God but not truly offering yourself to Him to be used in any way He chooses?
  • Has God asked you to do some “big” thing that scares you to death?
Remember, your Shepherd, Jesus, will be with you … His rod and staff will comfort you.
Think about this song as you begin your day today and offer yourself to Him!
Songwriters: Louie Giglio, Christopher Tomlin, Traditional
Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice and let me sing
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold
Not a mite would I withhold
Take my intellect and use
Every power as You choose.
Chorus
Here am I, all of me.
Take my life, it’s all for Thee.
Take my will and make it Thine
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart it is Thine own
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord I pour
At Your feet it’s treasure store
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.
Chorus
Here am I, all of me.
Take my life, it’s all for Thee.

   

Jacqueline C. Heider 
Director of Discipleship & Women’s Ministry

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