Saturday, November 5, 2011

The gift of A Servant's Heart~

Do you have someone in your life that you would consider having a servant's heart? Do have the privilege of knowing someone who just likes doing things for others out of the kindness of their heart, over and over again?

Everyone usually takes time out of their lives to help friends in need, or a family member who is asking for their assistance, but having a servants heart is a totally different thing. It's one of the many spiritual gifts that God bestows upon His people. Having a servant's heart means is when someone is able to reach out and meet the needs of others with compassion and understanding, even when the person they are helping cannot see or understand that they need assistance or even ask for the help.

It's an uncanny ability to be so in tuned with others in your life, that you know and sense what they need even though they may not even know it themselves or have the presence of mind to ask for help. I've known only a few people like that in my lifetime, but one of them I've admired for years is my sister-in-law Linda.

She's been on my heart lately, because she lost her Dad this past week, after a long struggle with Alzheimer's and only about 6 months ago or so, she suddenly lost her Mom. This gracious lady has lost both of her parents in a very short time. Linda was close with both her parents, but kinda like me, she lived apart from them for quite a few years and wasn't able to be part of their daily lives as much as I'm sure she wanted to, I'm sure. My heart aches for her and I am praying for her as she and my brother go to lay her Dad to rest.

                                                         My brother Mike and his sweet, sweet wife, Linda

Linda has been occupying many of my thoughts this week as I've been reflecting and admiring the gracious way she lives her life. Linda, without a doubt, has a servant's heart. She is always doing things for other people that she loves. I'm not talking about a few little things, (although she does all those too) I'm talking about the daily things that are desperately needed to help a family live their lives in comfort.

I have been so very blessed to have all of my family living so close by my folks, and both of my brothers and their families have been very attentive to my parents needs over the years. It's been so comforting for me to know that all of them are near each other, especially as my parents have transitioned into this final era of their lives. Mom and Dad have been so fortunate and their lives have been greatly enriched by having their sons, daughter-in-law's and many of their grandchildren and great grandchildren near by.

                                        The Beagle Family at my birthday dinner 10/4/ 09 in TN. (Linda is on the far left.)

But Linda is in a league of her own. She has had and continues to have amazing devotion to my parents. She has gone above and beyond the call of duty, so many times, in so many ways, for so many years, I can't even count them. She's paid bills, done taxes, made meals, cleaned their house, mopped their floors, done their laundry, sewed buttons and snaps on my Dad's shirts and all of the other million little things that they needed done. She has made beautifully handmade elaborate window treatments and matching pillows and bedspreads for my folks bedrooms. She handled much of all the medicare and medicaid issues for both of my parents. She's hosted many, many family celebrations throughout the years with style. The bottom line is that Linda has treated my parents like they were her own parents. What a blessing that has been for them and for all of us, too.

When it was time to sell Mom and Dad's house and necessarily have both of them move into the nursing home, thankfully my sister-in-law Debra is in the real estate business,so she handled the sale. That was a total God-thing, but taking care of cleaning out the house and it's contents, cleaning it, having it totally redone and ready to sell again, having garage sales and being responsible for everything connected with all of that mostly belonged to my brother Mike and again, to sweet Linda. She is the detail lady. And she doesn't miss anything, believe me. She just dove right in and got the job done. That's how she is, she's a do-er. She never complains, she just does, and does, and does. She's one of those totally competent, totally organized people that I am so jealous of!

I wanted to write all this down because as I've thought about all the things she's done for our entire family  over the years, I'm overwhelmed when I think about the hours and hours that this unbelievably strong woman has devoted to the welfare of others. She is probably the most selfless person I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Of course, she spends countless hours taking care of her husband and children and grandchildren with the same astonishing attentiveness. I hope they appreciate every thing she does for them, cause she does a lot! Sometimes we become so accustomed to things, we just expect them to always be that way. But my prayer is that they remember what a gift she has given them and continues to give them each day and tell her what a true treasure she is.

Linda just always seems to know what you need, sometimes, even before you know it yourself. That's why I think she is blessed with a servant's heart. She's a rather quiet lady and doesn't wear her faith on her sleeve,  but rather, she shows the love of Jesus in everything she does to help others get through their own lives with dignity and grace.

So, thank you Linda for everything you do for all of us, every day. We don't say it enough. You are our special family angel, sent from the Lord on High, doing His work for His Kingdom.

May the Lord comfort you during this difficult time right now. We're there with you in prayer and please don't forget how very much we love you and appreciate all your many, many kindnesses. It's your turn to lean on us for a change. God Bless you, Sis. Here's a great verse for the way you live each day:

My verse for today is from 1 Peter 5:2

"Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve"

My prayer for today:

Dear Lord God:

Thank you for our dear sweet Linda. Thank you for all the many kindnesses she has shown to our family. Please be with her today Lord, as she lays her Dad to rest. Surround her with your loving arms of comfort. Help her and her sisters and family to feel the love and prayers that envelope them.

She does so much for so many Lord. Help her to take this time to mourn and remember the life of her Dad with her family. Give her the strength she needs in the coming days and months. Help her to rest in your Arms.

I ask this in your precious Name,

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Battlefield of the Mind

Have you heard the term "Spiritual Warfare?" Do you believe there are spiritual forces at war against each other in this world and in the universe? If you aren't familiar with the term, think of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader from the Star Wars saga. Love or hate, good or evil, truth or falsehood. Well, I believe that they are alive and well and are fighting for our souls and every thought we have every hour of every day.

There are many verses and chapters in the Word of God that deal with the subject. Probably the most famous ones are known as the "Armor of God," and are the verses from the book of Ephesians 6:10-20. The Apostle Paul talks about the devil and his schemes and asks us to be on the alert:

                                                     Put on the full Armor of God so you can withstand the devils schemes

10 "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should."

Your children may have learned these verses in Sunday school and acted out a situation where they are faced with making the right decision and choosing good, or making the wrong decision and letting the devil win the battle. I was a Sunday School teacher myself for a few years and I remember teaching the kids about the doing the right thing, verses doing what is often the easiest thing.

There is another verse that about spiritual warfare from 1 Peter 5:8 "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."

Satan is a schemer. He is conniving and crafty. He can disguise himself in your thought process and make you think that what you are doing is right and good and pure. Don't buy into his lies. Remember the familiar saying from a few years ago that was put on bracelets for everyone to wear: "What Would Jesus do? It stops me dead in my tracks every time. 

If you are about to do something you know is wrong, your conscience kicks in and says I know this isn't the right thing to do, but I want to do it anyway. Your conscience is something that the Lord gave you. Your moral compass as it's called. We all know the difference between right and wrong. That's something we learn from our parents, grandparents and other family members. It's something that's instilled in us in church and school and boy scouts, girl scouts, sports, and many other character building events that happen in our lives.

But, then there's the human flesh telling you that it's ok to do something which you know isn't right, You're thinking -  nobody will know, it's not gonna hurt anybody? You can talk yourself into almost anything, and you think the only person you are hurting is just yourself, but sometimes your behavior can lead you down the road to destruction. You can spiral out of control and destroy much more than your life. You can also destroy the lives of those who love you the most. Sin is sin and it can destroy lives. 

                                                          Good or evil. Who will win in your life?                                       
As a follower of Jesus Christ, I strive with every breath that comes out of my body to do what would be pleasing to him. That is not easy at all, because my human nature comes shining through more often than I care to mention. I try to live my life by the 10 commandments, that's the gold standard, right? God gave those laws to Moses and mankind has lived by them ever since. Therefore, for me, I try to stop before I speak, write, whisper or even think something and ask myself if my words or actions are something that God Almighty would approve of, or frown upon. He is the Sovereign of the Universe and I aim to please him in everything I do. Not always easy, but that's my goal.

                                                             Moses with the Ten Commandments

The Bible warns us about throwing off our human nature because it will get us into trouble. Galatians 5:19-21 says:

"Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." 

But God's Word tells us instead to seek the Fruits of the Spirit which are outlined in Galatians 5:22-23:

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
We can choose to live by God's law and have the fruits of the spirit in abundance, or we can choose to live according to what the world says is ok, and NOT inherit the kingdom of Heaven. It says so right in the Bible. That's what free will is all about. God does NOT tell us what to do. It is our choice to make. Black and white, good or evil.

It sounds easy, but it's not as simple as that. Nothing is easy, right?

Jesus was tempted. Shortly after he was baptized, he was led into the desert and tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1 says "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil." Even Jesus Christ knew temptation. He endured it at the hands of Satan, so he can relate to our problems.

But God does not leave us out there alone without offering us help. 1 Corinthians 10:13 tell us "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." 

So, when you are tempted to do something you know is wrong, STOP. Stop and pray, stop and look for a sign from the Lord. Read your Bible. Your out could be as simple as a phone call from a friend to distract you from your temptation, but if you pay attention, you will see that He has provided a way out for you-- if you will just seize it.

The pull of this world and all the world has to offer is very,very enticing. It's not easy to live an upright and righteous life but it is something that we can all strive to do everyday. We can strive to not let the dark side take over our lives, instead seeking to fill our life with things that would be pleasing to the Lord. We can win the Battlefield of the Mind each day if we Walk with the Lord, and we will be Victorious in Him!

                                        To win the Battlefield of the Mind, it's helps to walk with Jesus, everyday

My verses for today are in red.

My prayer for today:

Dear Heavenly Father:

I want to live a life pleasing to you. Help me Lord to win out against the devil and his schemes. Help me to recognize what is from you and what is not and make the right choice. Thank you Lord that you help me each day by giving me strength to resist Satan. Help me to spot the signs you give me when I am tempted to do something I know is wrong. Help me to live for you each day Lord.

In Jesus Name I pray,