Open Buffet

Open Buffet

I John 3:18-20 (NLT) Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.

Life is a buffet. Full of opportunities requiring choices. When faced with many options, sometimes it becomes overwhelming. When our children were little living on a tight budget, it was a treat to head out to the all-you-can-eat restaurant. By passing the fixed menu, they wanted the buffet so they could pick and choose their food. We would walk with them and guide their choices or they would all end up with ice cream bowls loaded with toppings. My problem with such dining establishments is that my eyes are bigger than my stomach. It is not uncommon for me to overload my plate. When I get halfway through, suddenly my stomach is bloated and I am groaning with discomfort. If I choose the foods that don’t agree with me, I am digging through my purse for antacid. If I were to be completely honest, I would admit that this has been a trend in my life. Taking on too much at one time. Lofty aspirations that are humanly impossible to achieve as a person. The Holy Spirit leaning over my shoulder trying to help me choose but assuring Him that I have it under control. My plate is full today. I am not sure I will finish everything on it. Am I supposed to? Lord, how will I do it?

In case you cannot tell, this really isn’t so much about food. Gluttony by definition is practicing excess and though in most regards it refers directly to eating and drinking, I believe it defines most lives. Life exists on excess. It has become clear in packing in preparation to move that our family has accumulated too many things. Yet if you ask anyone of us there is still more that we desire. We cram and pack too many duties, tasks and responsibilities in every hour of every day and still miss the important stuff because we are busy. Our pursuit of God should be the excess of our life because He is the one who establishes order and balance out of our chaotic choices. Truth be told, He really doesn’t get the time or attention that He deserves as our Lord because we are often too busy trying to impress Him with our independence or influence Him with all that we can “do”.

For a moment, the buffet is closed. The lights turned off. In the silence of morning, surrounded by clutter, in the quiet chaos of transition, the Lord is whispering for me to hand Him my plate. Yes, He can see it is overloaded with choices good and bad. He is more than willing to take responsibility for it and “feed” me only those things that are good and beneficial. Will I surrender control? Will I let go and let God today? Of course, I will in a supernatural sense. Trusting Him with my words. Believing Him in my heart. But will I? Can I possibly? Literally? Hand everything over to Him and just love others like I am supposed to? Can I do that today? I really don’t know. I am a glutton for life. Control. Responsibility. Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) It sounds really good, but can I really give Him all those burdens?

I John 3:19-20 tells us that “our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.” If we long to love each other as the Lord has instructed us to do, it begins with our love for Him first. Love is a commitment. The commitment is to be patient and kind. To commit to avoid jealousy, boastfulness and pride at all costs. It means to keep no record of wrong including guilt and regret within our own heart. It strives to not be irritable or rejoice in injustice but celebrate truth and righteousness in the course of every single day – good or bad. Love is the commitment to never give up. It is the decision to never give up on faith. It remains hopeful in the midst of desperation. Above all love is a commitment to remain true to our first love even when the conditions of our life are not as expected and less than desirable. The commitment to love begins with the Lord and should reflect back on me. I must love myself. I must commit to loving myself enough to trust the Lord in all things in spite of me. My feelings get in the way. So many things rise up in me as my flesh tries to take over every day. No one makes the right choice every time, but the Lord invites us to do it again. It is called grace. Grace scrapes today’s overloaded plate, grabs a clean one and invites us to try again.

It is human nature to believe for others and not accept God’s Love, Grace and Goodness for ourselves. Why? I know me. I know every fault and failure in vivid detail. I can see the loveliness in others before accepting it for myself. I believe others more deserving than I am for God’s Blessings. Today – the buffet is before us. The Lord is calling us to commune with Him and join Him at His Table. What is our response? Will we meet with the Master? Or will we continue to scrounge for crumbs under His Ample Table? Jesus is reminding me that His Grace is sufficient for me. It is certainly enough for others, but if I do not accept and understand His Grace is for me than I cannot give to others genuinely what I have not received. Lord, here is my plate with all of my choices. Lord, I give it all to You today.

I Corinthians 10:29-31 (NLT) It might not be a matter of conscience for you, but it is for the other person.) For why should my freedom be limited by what someone else thinks? If I can thank God for the food and enjoy it, why should I be condemned for eating it? So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

God has granted us freedom by accepting the Sacrifice of His Son, Jesus for our sin debt. The Blood of Jesus has paid the price for every sin that we have committed or are yet to commit. Grace is applied to the life of those who accept Jesus as their Savior. Those who make Him their Lord will endure to the end and be saved. In this passage, Paul was addressing a problem of religion in the early church. The church had become caught up in the details of doctrine instead the robe of righteousness. Who the Son sets free is free indeed! Our freedom is a gift which allows us to choose how to live once again. God will not force you into freedom. He will not require that you walk in it or shove you into it. If He did, that would violate the definition so it would no longer mean that we are free to choose. There is no such thing as forced love it is offered and accepted freely. I can choose to love you but you don’t have to love me back. We are free.

“It might not be a matter of conscience for you.” Our freedom is not limited by what another person thinks or does. We are free in Jesus Christ. How are we using our freedom? Do we use it to get wrapped up in bondage again? Our feelings most certainly can restrict our freedom. We are born into the world. Conditioned from an early age to be like the world, when Jesus comes to live in us – everything we know and understand up to that point is now challenged by faith. It is human nature to exchange one set of chains for another. We live in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave but are we really free? What are we doing with are freedom? Arguing with one another about what we believe. Killing one another to prove we matter. Chasing the American Dream that changes every night. Living in debt financially, physically with illness, mentally in depression and depravity or spiritually due to religion. Churches are multiplying and dividing more quickly than the cells in a newly conceived baby. People are carrying heavy chains yoked to life as we know it rather than looking up to where our help comes from. You are free. Free to live connected to Jesus Christ. He will be Our Portion if we choose to trust and depend on Him rather than our own strength and point of view. But will we do it?

Psalm 121 (NLT) I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.

The Lord has given me an amazing husband. He has granted me equally amazing and precious children who fill my life with joy. God has given me a wonderful church and surrounded me with terrific friends. I have a good job that I enjoy and coworkers who have become my friends as well. I are blessed truly. Yet there are still times when my feelings overwhelm me into thinking that I am all alone. Overloaded with tasks and responsibilities, I cannot see the forest for the trees. My plate these days is overflowing with more than usual. I know it is only for a season but right now I need grace to see it through. God have given me a purpose and plan containing a future and hope that is always more than I could think or ask so I should not be surprised that sometimes my “eyes are bigger than my stomach” and I want it all now. Gluttony for life must be exchanged for a deep desire and pursuit of Jesus in excess instead.

My help comes from the Lord – who made heaven and earth! His Kingdom is the one that I am after. His Glory is what I want more than anything. It doesn’t matter how I feel or what I want but when I surrender my life to Christ and submit to His Lordship that I discover all that I am called to be and begin to make better choices with my time, talent and even my treasures. Look what it says in Psalm 121 – Jesus will not let me stumble. He watches over me when I sleep. He never sleeps or slumbers but is always working on my behalf filling out the details with His Goodness. He watches over me. He stands right beside me. Nothing can harm me. The Lord is keeping watch over me.

I am free to live life as I choose. Have I chosen to put all my faith, hope, trust and dependence on Jesus? My life plate is a pretty good indicator of what I live for, love for and desire most. Could it use a good scraping and cleaning? Maybe I just need to rearrange it a little to make room for what is important – more time with Jesus. Life is a buffet abundant in choices. Each day there are decisions to be made. The Lord has given me a Helper whose name is the Holy Spirit. I am equipped with the Mind of Christ to choose well. Greater is He who is in me than He that is in the world. Today, I choose to live like it.

Do you feel worthy of God’s Love today? Mitigating circumstances buried me last night and so I text my husband with the details trying to find my way out. He wanted to know, “Why?” My answer was joking but convicted me instantly. “God hates me…lol” God doesn’t hate me. I just don’t always love myself enough to let go. I try to dictate the details and predict every outcome. Why would this move by anything less than driven by the Hand of God since we are moving because His Spirit led us to? Today I must evaluate the choices I am making for relevance. Will I compare them to God’s Promises or human expectation? I am free to choose how to live. I must choose Jesus. He is my example in all things pertaining to life and godliness.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  If I am distracted or off course today, I promise it is me and not my Lord. If I am overwhelmed, exhausted, and desperate – it is probably because I am trying to do God’s Job. I cannot make God’s Plan come to pass in my life or orchestrate the details. I cannot “do” things that will gain His Approval. Through Jesus Christ alone, I am approved and sealed for the Day of Redemption. What do I do to change perception? Well, Jeremiah 29:13 tells us the solution – “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” What is your heart set on today? If it is Jesus everything is going as planned. If not, I invite you today to feast at the Lord’s Table and commune with Him and you will see. Choose only those things that He has for you and get rid of worthless things.

Psalm 34:8-10 (NLT) Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

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