Saturday, November 17, 2007

Holy heart burn!

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: I Corinthians 8, 9, 10

I Corinthians 12b-14; 16-17 (NIV)

12b On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the Gospel should receive their living from the Gospel

16 Yet, when I preach the Gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach! Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel! If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward, if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me.

Good morning!

I almost didn’t send this message today, because I don’t think it is really meant for anyone other than me. But if these thoughts happen to speak to your heart, please write to me and let me know. Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the gift of preaching. I’ve been blessed to observe and learn from many fine pastors and teachers through the years, who preach and teach His Word faithfully every day. I’ve seen what the Father can do through a humble and willing heart; someone who is open to the leading of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. I’ve watched in awe as the Holy Spirit prompts members from my Faith family to rise up and leave the comfort of their own pews behind, to preach His Word in other churches, other faith communities, and even in other nations. As a certified lay speaker, I’ve enjoyed participating in many seminars and classes that encourage and support all who feel compelled by Christ to move forward in faith. They teach how to effectively communicate the Gospel message with the spiritual gifting you have been given. These classes are invaluable and worthwhile experiences, and I would encourage every Christian to sign up and take a lay speaking class soon.

For several years now, I have heard the Spirit whisper to my soul in prayer, “Go to the millions.” I don’t pretend to understand completely what that means, but I do know, without a doubt, that Christ calls me to seek Him out every day, and to purposefully choose to honor and glorify Him with my life. Jesus commands me to express His love through all that I say and do, especially with the people He has placed in my home, in school, at work, and in my church. It has become a profoundly joyful journey, as I yearn for more of the Lord and less of me. This one thing has become my daily focus and life’s prayer.

So when I read Paul’s words this morning, my heart began to burn, like it always does when the Father takes His holy Word and hits me squarely between the eyes. Sometimes God has to do that just to get my attention. He picks up that heavy Bible I carry around and hits me with His Word! Does God ever get in your face with His Word? Have you ever experienced a really nasty heart burn, and you know exactly where it is coming from? It wasn’t the spicy food you ate last night for dinner, barking back at you today. Holy moments are unmistakable, and when we experience God’s Word speaking directly to us, we just know it is Him. It’s kind of like John Wesley’s strange heart warming he experienced that night on Aldersgate Street. He definitely had the taste of God’s holy heart burn!

I am soft spoken by nature. My voice doesn’t carry into a crowd. My husband has to use hearing aids just to hear my voice! How, Lord, can I possibly go the millions? How will they ever hear me? I get tongue tied and red faced a lot when I speak. My husband overcame an annoying studder he struggles with whenever he preaches. Most people do not even realize he fights this problem daily. Jeff learned in oral speaking to tap his foot on the floor, keeping a rhythm while he speaks. It slows him down enough so that the words do not come out all jumbled up. When the Lord calls me to preach His Word, He has to slow my mind down so that I can speak with clarity and conviction of heart. There is no way I can rely upon my own effort when it comes to speaking His Word to the millions. My words will surely fall away, but His Word lasts forever. My own efforts will fail time and time again. When we allow the Lord to do the work through us, He speaks! When I allow myself to comfortably sit in the pew like a bump on a log and refuse to open my mouth when He tells me to, I know that He will make the rocks cry out! If God gives sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and a voice to the dumb, then He can certainly use someone like me to go to the millions. And I know, without a doubt, He can and will use you too! It is only a matter of time – His time, that is.

I hope that you will pray with me, as I offer this prayer to my Lord this morning:

With a grateful heart for all that you’ve done, all that you are, and in the fulfillment of all your promises to come, I give you thanks and praise Lord Jesus! I offer my life back to you now. It is with a humble heart and willing spirit that I promise, with your help, to go and preach your message of salvation and hope to the millions. I will learn how to become a living sermon. I will speak your Word whenever you want, wherever you choose, and in whatever way you wish. I will follow you wherever you lead. All praise and glory and honor be unto you dear Father, Son and Holy Spirit! You are my glory hallelujah! Amen!

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO

Pray for: His Word to speak through you! A little holy heart burn can be a good thing. Do not hesitate to answer when He calls you to go preach.


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