|She was on everything but the floor.|
As I was writing this I heard a big thump. It was my cat opening the cupboard and pulling out a can of tomato paste.
For the past hour she has grabbed my lunch, sat on my notebook, walked across the desk and gotten into as much trouble as she can just so I’d notice her. It wasn’t until I got up and spent some time with her that she finally calmed down. Her behavior actually got me to thinking about myself and how Christ tries to get me to notice He is always there.What kind of things does God do to get our attention? I wonder how many times I have been preoccupied and didn’t notice Him at all. If I didn’t take the time to recognize God is always present, how in the world could I learn from Him?
After this reading I hope we change our approach in how we act on what we have learned. We will learn to listen, ask questions and “be excellent” as we seek the heart of God.
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Listening to the Father
|OK, this isn't us, but it felt like it.|
Learning to do what a parent asks isn’t always easy. As kids we sometimes got distracted by what was going around us and didn’t really focus on the task we had been assigned.
It was when I was in 6th or 7th grade, I’m not sure, that my father chose to teach us girls (my older sister and me) a lesson. My Dad’s timing just happened to be when his sister and her family had come for a visit from New York.
We had finished dinner and part of our daily chores was washing the dishes. No biggie, we got up from the table and started the duty.Being a beautiful summer day, all the kids were hoping to go outside for a while after the dishes were done. Back then we didn’t have a dishwasher … “we” were the dishwasher.
The stack of tableware was finally dwindling and then my father walked into the room. He reached up, opened the cupboard doors and proceeded to take out every dish (including the ones we just washed) placing them on the counter. Without raising his voice Dad made this statement: “You will also wash all the dishes in the cupboard and put them back, because I found a dish that was dirty. Do them over.”You can imagine the fight that we gave, “No, you have to be kidding! We were going outside … we have company! You can’t do this… but Dad!” He didn’t say anything else, but left the kitchen and went back to visit with our guests.
What I didn’t tell you is that our cousin … male teenage cousin, was also visiting. I was so humiliated by what my Dad did and couldn’t find the right words to say. Instead of making a big deal out of it, my cousin picked up a towel and began helping us. He said something to the effect, that with more hands we could get done quicker, and we did.I’m not sure if that punishment is why I can’t stand to do things over, but it taught me to do things right the first time. Staying focused has its benefits.
Even though we may be adults, we are still God’s kids, and He expects us to listen (observe) to do the job correctly. Growing closer to our Heavenly Father on our journey requires a lot of listening in order to get it right the first time. If we don’t get it right, don’t worry, we’ll get a “do over.”
Yesterday was the anniversary of the day my mother met Jesus. Although mom is now living in a different realm, I still learn from her because of the things she set in motion before she left earth.
When my mother was a young woman she had the desire to be a nurse, and was even a candy striper (of sorts). I can remember her entering into my bedroom when I was about 13 years old while I was making my bed (it was part of our responsibilities).How the conversation about hospital bed sheets began I couldn’t tell you, but in a matter of minutes she was demonstrating how to put hospital corners on my bed.
My bed looked so much nicer and crisp, that even my Dad noticed. Of course, he then did a Navy bed check. Oh, you don’t know what that is? Well, he took out a coin from his pocket and said that if the sheets were done correctly they would be tight enough (no wrinkles at all) that a coin would bounce up in the air when it was flipped on them. I barely passed the test.Now my parents didn’t demand I make my bed with hospital corners, but merely satisfied my curiosity. What my mother did like is that I had a desire to make my bed with excellence, and it all started with a couple questions.
Within a few minutes I learned how to make my bed with hospital corners and have done it ever since. I spent a few quality minutes listening to my mom and learned something that is still operating in my life today.
When I asked her why she made her bed this way, or why she did anything for that matter the way she did, her response would be: “No matter what you do, do it all for the glory of God.” I never forgot that. (1 Corinthians 10:31-33 NKJV)Having a willing heart and a desire to learn is what I needed in order for Mom’s lesson to take root in my soul. I was willing and obedient from that time on without any prompting from my mother. This is what God is looking for from His children.
No, I don’t think He cares if your bed has hospital corners or not, but I do think He wants us to be eager to learn so that we carry out what has been taught.
You Didn’t Ask
|God invites us to ask questions.|
Some of my students have come to me concerning asking questions in class. They were embarrassed about the subject so they never said anything. When they came to me in private I encouraged them by saying that no question is a dumb one, and the only dumb thing was not asking it.
How could they follow my instructions if they didn’t understand them? They couldn’t. Jesus said we don’t have because we don’t ask, so ask. (James 4:2)
The Bible tells us that it’s OK with God that we ask Him stuff. James 1:5-6 says that if we lack wisdom in something we need to ask God, so that we get the answers we need and don’t become discouraged or waver in our faith.
If you have questions concerning the next step you are to take, talk to the Lord about it in prayer. While you are waiting for His answer, study the Word of God on that particular subject using a Bible concordance or Bible dictionary. Talk to a pastor, Christian counselor or Bible teacher about the area that needs addressing. Be patient and have an open ear and heart when it comes to listening for instruction.
Action Plan: Doing What is Right
|"When are you going to pick that up?"|
Where to begin? Why not here?
I’m pretty sure somewhere along your journey you had an adult tell you to “pick that up.” That command is pretty much set for our entire life. If you see something on the floor, don’t walk past it, pick it up and put it where it belongs.
When you are in a store and see something on the floor, put it back on the shelf or hanger even though you aren’t the one who knocked it on the floor. Why do it? Because it’s right. In helping someone else, it opens up opportunities for others to help or bless you.
|Do it even when no one is looking.|
Last week I sat in the car while my husband returned the grocery cart to its stall. I noticed that a man was watching him in the car in front of us as he rolled 5 stray carts into the location. Someone saw what he did, but more importantly, God saw it.As Christians we are never to forget that we are always being watched, and it’s not just by unbelievers. People are looking to see if you are true to your faith not only by your words, but by your actions. They want to see excellence so it gives them a reason to believe. Something has to be different in our behavior if we are to make a difference.
|"Take that off, and that, and that ..."|
The cashier was so kind and asked her what she wanted to do.
“I have the money in my account, but don’t bank in this town.” She decided that they would start removing items from the cart until it reached the amount she had in cash. When my husband noticed what she was doing he finally said out loud, “Stop. Don’t put anything else back, I’ll make up the difference.”As he was about to give her the funds, the store manager spotted what my husband was doing, and reached into his own pocket pulling out a large bill and gave it to the checker.
Someone else stepped up when they saw my husband doing the right thing. He didn’t do it to be recognized, but does this on a regular basis because it is the Godly thing to do. If we are to be blessed, we are to take action in looking for ways to bless others in order to build an excellent character that God can use.
Serve with Excellence
One time we have a lady minister come speak at our church. When she was leaving she expressed that she was impressed how everything was done with excellence, and that it wasn’t part of her experience in many other churches where she preached.Pastor Sandy noticed that we had signs throughout the church building encouraging people, and that one said we were to “Be Excellent (not strive to be) in our service for the Lord.” Having signs like that in the sanctuary, halls and bathrooms were for the benefit of the congregation and stemmed from lessons our pastor taught. Our church was on its own journey.
Our outreach church was learning to be Disciples of Christ and needed continual reminding. That meant keeping what we learned before our eyes in church as well as in our homes. All of us practiced the lessons as the pastor led us according to scripture each week. No one realized that those signs were having an effect on visitors until that minister said something.What we were doing in private was made public. I’m just glad it wasn’t the first week of the teaching. The report would have been quite different.
What, When and WhereWanting to live a life of excellence before the Lord isn’t something we are to take lightly. These few things I’ve mentioned may sound silly or too easy, but how many of us do them “religiously”, that is, all the time without guilt, question or resentfulness?
A man recently talked to my husband about serving in the church by volunteering in the parking lot ministry. He wanted to do more, but there was a discipleship class at the same time.
The problem was that being a new believer he didn’t actually know how to greet people or direct visitors to the correct places that fit their needs. Before he could serve with excellence he had to learn and become stronger in Bible knowledge, yes, even in serving in the parking lot. He realized that and wasn't upset by the pastor's suggestion.Whatever God asks us to do He has given us the strength to obey to the point that we excel at it physically and spiritually. (Philippians 4:13)
When we press forward in becoming more Christ-like, God has something He can work with and bless.
Our Inward Journey continues this week as we:First listen to God and those who instruct in the Word “to observe” correctly to the point of action. Thank God for giving you wisdom to act on what you’ve learned.
“For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense, but the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it.” (Ecclesiastes 7:12 NKJV)Second, if you don’t understand ask questions. God doesn’t want us floundering around not knowing what to do next. Ask him to shed light on a matter so that you gain understanding on what to do, when to do it and where.
“I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you. (to guide you on this life journey - emphasis mine)” (Daniel 5:14 NKJV)
Third, do the right thing as you move toward an excellent Spirit.“Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm.” (Daniel 6:3 NKJV)
This week’s challenge:
I’m not challenging you to put hospital corners on your bed or take every dish out of the cupboard if one happens to be dirty. However, I am asking that in everything you do, no matter how big or small, with a change of heart do it with excellence and all to glorify God.Something I really need to get under control is my research mail.
So my action toward excellence this week is to get through some piles (yes, I said piles).
My husband said he is going to work on cleaning out the trunk of his car. We all have to start somewhere.
As you progress in the things you are trying to improve, let me know what you are doing on my Facebook page or in the comments. Your suggestions may help someone else, so let’s share things we will work on this week.
Listen, Ask, Be Excellent
Change This Heart - Sidewalk Prophets
Until next time, let excellence work to your favor.
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Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provide by Gateway Bible
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