Sunday, February 10, 2013

Fuel the Change...

Last week, our Pastor started a series called "Fuel the Change" that focuses on the Beatitudes and personal change. We are 2 weeks in and boy, oh boy, the convictions just keep on comin'. Here's the thing I love about our Pastor: he doesn't sugarcoat...and he preaches the Word - straight up!

His focus today was on the 4th and 5th beatitudes. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." So let's look at the first for a second..."hunger and thirst for righteousness." What does that mean or even look like? It means that in the same way we would hunger and thirst for food or water, we are to hunger and thirst after God and His righteousness. Righteousness can be described as "approval of God; deemed right by God after His examination; or God's right way of living." How many of us can say that we seek God's approval for EVERYTHING we do....or run everything through the God filter before partaking in certain events or allowing ourselves to be entertained by certain media? And let me be clear...I'm asking myself these same questions. I've done (and still do) many things in my life without first running it through the "God-filter" (watching certain movies, listening to certain songs, hanging out with certain people, saying certain things, the list goes on).

One of the things he said this morning was this: "If we desired God as much as we desire some of our worldly things, how much more would we bear the fruits of the Spirit?" Well, how's that for a one-two punch? That is my prayer, though...that I would desire God and His righteousness above all else; that I would desire less of what I have and MORE of what He has for me. Oh, Jesus, let it be so.

The second one he focused on was "blessed are the merciful." Just as we have been shown mercy by our Heavenly Father, we are to show mercy to others. He described mercy as "Compassion in Action." Mercy is not passive; it is active. How do we show mercy? Well, that can look many different ways. He gave us three general ways that we can show mercy: through physical acts, through our attitudes, and spiritually. Physical acts of mercy can be done through meeting needs. Yesterday we came face to face with compassion and mercy. We stopped by Subway for lunch on our way home from running errands and as we were leaving the parking lot we saw an older black gentleman standing with a sign that said, "Lost everything." We don't give to everyone with a sign but something about this man struck us. I reached in my pocket and pulled out the few bills I got as change and gave them to him. We began to drive off when I think Jason said, "Do you think he's hungry?" Since Subway was running a special on footlongs, I bought 2 footlongs so we would have lunch today too. At first we thought about giving him half but then we felt like that was not enough. After all, we had another whole footlong we could share. We turned around and drove by him again. He looked a bit surprised to see the same faces but when I held out the footlong sub to him and asked if he was hungry, he lit up a bit. Then he said the words we will never forget - "Oh, somebody loves me."

That experience broke my hubby's heart. I don't think I'd ever seen him moved over something like that but he experienced the compassion of God. Oh, that we would see everyone in the same way! That's our prayer...that we would be able to see all people through the compassionate and merciful eyes of the Lord. As we talked after the service today, we discussed what that righteousness and mercy would look like for us. We decided that we would really like to start a food pantry in our own garage. We've talked about it before but we know we can do it. We have an amazing church family that would back us 100% and would most likely donate a ton of food. Our garage is large enough to separate into one section of storage for us, a work station for him, a laundry station for me, and a food pantry for others. I've already been out there looking at our space and how we could make it all work. I want to do this! I'm beyond wanting to even sell the stuff out there. Let's just give it away & make room! We'd also like to start keeping nonperishable meal items in our car so when we drive by someone in need, we always have something to give. The one regret we have from yesterday is not getting out and talking with that man about the One who loves him most. We want to be able to get out and talk with these people and get to know them and what their immediate needs are. We want to tell them about the awesome saving love of a Savior that just wants to give them eternal life.

Pray with us, will you? Pray that our hearts would be continually moved to mercy and compassion and that we would hunger & thirst for righteousness more than the fleeting materialistic items this world has to offer. After all, prayer is the fuel for change...