Abundant Life–Gifts of the Good Shepherd, Day 28

I believe everyone longs to know their calling. The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren was such a phenomenal and inspiring read and was embraced by millions of people. Why? Because deep down we all want to believe that we were born for a reason.

That we will leave this earth having made a difference.

That we will leave a mark on others, which will cause them to remember us.

We long for meaning in our lives and many times we waste a lot of time, money, energy, and relationships trying to find that meaning.

As Christians, we refer to this as the Call of God.

Sounds really formal doesn’t it? But it’s not really.

Think about your mother’s voice calling you in to dinner when you were a child.

Or a call from a dear friend with whom you haven’t spoken in a while.

Or what about the call of your child in the middle of the night, wanting to just be reassured that you are still close by.

These calls are familiar and dear to us, as should be the call of God to our souls.

Sometimes the call of God is a reproof—a call to attention. When Adam and Eve ate the apple, God called to them saying, “Where are you?” God, of course, knew where they were, but they needed to be aware of where they had ended up.

The Lord Himself made clothes for them to cover their shame. This was foreshadowing of the ultimate covering that would come … the covering of the Blood of Jesus. It is because of that covering we can be called and used by God.

Do you realize that no matter what ordinary wrappings you have, God sees you as a chosen one?

You did not choose me, I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—

fruit that will last.

John 15:16

 He chose you for a special appointment, just as he chose Moses for his special appointment.

Will you accept the appointment?

Will you choose your “chosen-ness”?

And then God says, “Go…Go and bear fruit”. Go bear the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.

And only with the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit, will it be healthy fruit that will last. Yes, people can do good things—things that help our society. Humanitarian and social efforts can produce good changes. But true, lasting fruit can only be produced when someone starts to realize and act like a chosen one who has accepted an appointment. With that first step, with that surrender of our own will and feeble efforts, God is pleased. And when God is pleased, great things begin to happen! We step aside, and He steps in. He uses our ordinary status, and brings about His extraordinary work.

What is your calling from God at this particular time in your life? Ask Him. He will gladly show you! And then, you will experience a fuller measure of His abundant life. Praying for you today!


Abundant Life–Gifts of the Good Shepherd, Day 27

To experience all of the abundant life God has for us, we must surrender completely to Him and His will. Isaiah came to that moment of surrender in the year that King Uzziah died.

Isaiah 6:1–In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord…

You see, all our earthly “kings” must die before we see Him clearly in all His majesty. Our earthly “kings” cloud our vision, obstruct our view, deafen His call on our lives. What “kings” have you set up in your heart? What rules? Let those things die so you may see the Lord in all His glory.

Isaiah 6:1-4– In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;

    the whole earth is full of his glory.”

4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

When Isaiah saw this majestic and awesome sight, his reaction was not “Wow!” but it was “Woe!”

Isaiah 6:5–  “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

When we see God, really see Him, we can really see ourselves. And it is not a pretty picture. Even the best and purest among us, apart from the redemptive work of Christ, is as a filthy rag, unable to be used for anything eternally good. Seeing God in all His glory brings us to repentance.

Repentance is a solemn turning around–going in the opposite direction.

It means ceasing all comparison (i.e. Well, at least I am not like her…).

It means ceasing all excuses (i.e. Well, if that person had not done that thing, then I would not have…).

It means surrendering your whole life. (i.e. Lord, I am worse than I even imagined. But if you will have me, I am yours…)

And after repentance comes cleansing.

Isaiah 6:6-8– 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

And after cleansing comes the abundance and privilege of being used of God.

When Isaiah saw God in His glory, he couldn’t help but surrender his whole life, now cleansed and ready to serve.

Isaiah 6: 8–I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

Oswald Chambers had this to say about this passage.

God did not direct His call to Isaiah—Isaiah overheard God saying, “… who will go for Us?” The call of God is not just for a select few but for everyone. Whether I hear God’s call or not depends on the condition of my ears, and exactly what I hear depends upon my spiritual attitude. 

 What is the condition of your ears? We are all called by God. We are called to obey, to go, to speak, to be still and know that He is God. We are all called to sacrifice. We are called to take up our cross and follow Him. That sounds a bit frightening doesn’t it? But remember, as we die to self, as we accept covenantal sacrifice, we can also expect covenant blessings.

In the abundant life offered to us by our Good Shepherd, we are offered the great adventure of “going.” Think of this adventure as traveling with Jesus to unknown places of beauty and awe and wonder. We can go abundantly—equipped for every good work. And through this we receive abundance—rare and beautiful treasures found only in trusting Him and surrendering to Him.

We can go to others, offering the truth of abundant life, energized by the abundance He has provided for us each and every day as we walk closely with our Good Shepherd. We can go with our presence, go by supporting and sending others, or go by sending our resources.  With current technology, we can “go” to the ends of the earth without ever leaving our living room. It is my personal conviction that we must go strategically.

It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, young or old. Joshua was 80 years old when he led the people into the Promise Land. I can tell you that you will receive far more than you could ever give. Ask the Lord where He wants you to go. This adventure is abundant life.  Praying for you today!



Abundant Life–Gifts of the Good Shepherd, Day 26

Abundant life yields rescue and redemption. We receive freedom in our own rescue and then we receive joy in being used of God in the rescue of others. Sometimes I hesitate to write about our adoptions. I never want anyone to think we have done something great. We haven’t. God has taken our lives and given us such abundant blessing through these adopted children, as well as our adored birth children. I often hesitate talking about our calling of adoption, because I don’t really like to tell others what to do. I don’t like the responsibility of encouraging others to step out in faith, though I know in my own experience this is the epitome of abundant living.

However, this whole idea of caring for orphans is not our idea—it is God’s. We are not here to put a guilt trip on anyone. But listen what the scripture teaches:

James 1:27– Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Helping orphans does not necessarily mean adoption. But we must all do something. Why? Because we were once orphans, too.

Romans 8:14-16– For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery [a]leading to fear again, but you have received [b]a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you…”

One of the things adoption has taught me is that it is a reflective representation of God’s love.  When you are in the midst of an adoption, especially a foreign  adoption, you love a child who has no idea who you are.  You would gladly sacrifice time, money, and invasion of your life in order to know this child.

That is a picture to me of what God has done for us. He knew me way before I ever knew Him. He gave the ultimate sacrifice, so that now I can be a part of His greater family. And while His family is so much greater than my earthly family, our family is complete because of what He has done in us and through us.

So my friends, I urge you to ask the Lord how He wants you to step out in faith. Whatever that looks like, just do it. And you will find a deeper measure of abundant life. Praying for you today.


Abundant Life–Gifts of the Good Shepherd, Day 25

Abundant life yields rescue and redemption. We receive freedom in our own rescue and then we receive joy in being used of God in the rescue of others. Our adopted children, Sally and Charlie, have had miraculously smooth transitions. And we are very thankful for that. But in some ways it took a while for them to understand that they are not orphans anymore. In some ways they still acted like orphans even after they had been adopted into our family.

Sally would hide food in the roof of her mouth for hours. We had to teach her that it was okay to let that last bite to go on down, there was more where that came from. We would not let her go hungry. She was no longer an orphan.

Charlie still has to be reassured that we are not leaving him. And when we do have to leave for a short amount of time, we have to assure him that we will be back soon. Whenever we walk back in the house, he comes running shouting, “You’re home!” as if it is a great surprise to him. Lately, though, he has started something new, which I believe shows progress. If he goes in the car with one of us, when he returns he runs in the house shouting, “I’m home!” He is learning that he is no longer an orphan.

Sometimes, even long after we are adopted into the family of God, we still act like orphans. We still are not confident that God will supply all of our needs. We still are worried that He will leave us stranded and forsake us. But what we need to know is the truth found in the Bible. God loves us as a Father loves his children.

Philippians 4:19– And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Deuteronomy 31:6– Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

My friends, are you still acting like orphans? If you are a Christian, you are no longer an orphan; you are a beloved child of the King of Kings. He adores you, He rejoices over you with singing, He will meet your every need out of His abundant riches. Indeed, He will give you abundant life. Trust Him today. I am praying for you!


Abundant Life–Gifts of the Good Shepherd, Day 24

A while back, I was following a blog of a woman who was in China picking up her adopted son.  Two days after the Gotcha Day, they traveled to the exact spot where her son was abandoned, on a busy street in front of a convenience store.  I started to cry when I pulled up the picture, because that is similar to my own children’s story.  Discarded, abandoned, left in a random, dangerous place as newborns unable to do anything about it.  But as I continued to read the blog, I noticed that she did not call this spot his “abandonment spot”, she called it his “finding spot”.

I wept long and hard when I read that.  Think about it, that place of being abandoned was really that place of being found.  And we were all orphans before being adopted into the family of God.  I once was lost, but now I am found!  In the same way, our lost spots are really found spots, our sad spots are our spots of comfort, our weak spots are really spots of His strength being revealed.  First Peter 2:9 tells us that we are adopted by God as heirs:  We did not receive a spirit of fear but of Sonship and by that we cry Abba Father—Daddy!  We are chosen not abandoned.  How fitting for there to be an adopted foreigner in the lineage of Jesus!

We, too, had the opportunity to go to our Charlie’s Finding Spot.  It was a very profound moment.  Along a busy highway there was a path of beautiful blooming flowers. I believe it was God’s good providence that his birth parents chose this beautiful spot to relinquish him. For God had a beautiful redemptive plan for this beautiful little boy. And the seeds of faith that are now growing in his heart will grow into a fruitful garden of faith. This I believe with all my heart.

I have written about this before and I am sure I will write about it again, but for now I will give you a picture.  It is a picture of redemption.  It is a picture of reclaiming hope when the world thought you had no hope.  It is a picture of love and calling and joy and answered prayers.  This is our Finding Spot.  Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

Finding Spot

Today, if you are feeling as if your life is filled with spots of trials, abandonments, and crippling heartache, hold fast to the hope and the truth that these are truly the spots where God finds you and rescues you. Praying for you today.