It’s the Little Things

Do you sometimes wonder if you make a difference for God in your daily life? Do you question where or what is your ministry/service? I believe that sometimes we have the wrong idea about making a difference. We might see someone who is obviously sharing Christ in a way that many people notice. But often, the greatest ministry is simply one on one. When I retired from full-time work I struggled in my mind a bit about this. I knew that God had placed me in my workplace to make a difference. But, when I was mostly at home, and an empty nester, who could I influence for Christ? I have come to realize that God will provide opportunities in places we least expect. A friend once prayed that we should allow God to interrupt our lives and plans. Easy to say; not so easy to do.

When the Covid “thing” all started, everyone (or almost everyone) was wearing masks. We could not see each other’s faces or expressions. I found that most people I passed in parking lots, grocery stores, etc. would not even make eye contact. I decided to make a point to speak to those I passed, even if they didn’t look at me. A few would respond and some even looked startled or surprised that I spoke. Many, however, ignored me (or maybe they just didn’t hear me?). That only reinforced my determination to speak and smile to those I encountered. 

Hebrews 3:13 “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

Probably, like you, I often meet people and think something complimentary about them. Maybe they are doing their job with excellence. Maybe they exhibit a good attitude, even when interacting with a public that are not so kind. Maybe they have a beautiful smile. You get the point. Well, several months ago, I decided that rather than just thinking those things, I would share them with the person. Now, I am careful not to speak things to a person who may take it as flirting. But, as you have heard, “if you see something, say something”. I kind of use that as my thought. If I think something positive, I should say it.

Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

I also speak to people with words other than “Hi, how are you?” It seems like when we say that we all simply give an expected reply without really being truthful or expressing that we “see” or “recognize” the person. So, I began changing my verbiage. Instead of saying, “Hi, how are you?” I might say something like, “Are you having a good day?” or “Did you have a nice Christmas/weekend, etc.?” This has often brought about great conversations and expressions of surprise and thankfulness that someone had “seen” and “recognized” THEM, not just expected pleasantries. It has blessed me as I have simply really listened to people. I have prayed for some, and they are now on my prayer list. I have been able to help some with a need. It’s been incredible and I realized that everywhere I go, I take God with me and am on mission with Him. It has been life changing.

Colossians 4:5-6 “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

I hope my experiences will encourage you if you feel like you aren’t making much of a difference. Sometimes a smile makes a huge impact on people. Add a word of greeting to that and you’ll be amazed. You will get some who ignore but the ones who respond far outweigh those who don’t. May God bless you as you go forth representing Him.

When GOD speaks – LISTEN!

Do you remember the old E. f. Hutton commercial (“When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen”)? I was thinking about that commercial and thought the truth is, E. F. Hutton might have good advice but, what we really need to know is, “When GOD speaks – LISTEN”!

God doesn’t put people or things before us by accident. God speaks to us in a variety of ways. He speaks through His Word, a song, devotional writing, during prayer, when God answers our prayers, another person, circumstances, etc. god speaks in circumstancesThe question we must ask ourselves is this: Are we listening for/to Him? And when we hear His Voice, how do we respond?

I am studying “A God Centered Church” written by Henry and Melvin Blackaby. We have been talking about how God uses all of us within a local body of believers to work together for the good of all and to reach those far from God with His precious gift of salvation.

The other day I was reading 1 Chronicles 22. In this chapter David is organizing the building of the temple. He knows that his son, Solomon will be the one to build it, but he is planning and organizing for him. He has gathered those who God has gifted with special talents so that it can all be accomplished for God’s glory.

god speaks in stillnessAfter reading and sitting quietly before God… these two things came together for me. God gave me an idea to help each of us in our class to recognize our own gifts or talents and to acknowledge those of others and encourage them. I don’t know where this will lead us but just maybe (hint: God has a plan, remember?) God has something in store.

God gifts each according to His Will, not ours.

I love music. I love to sing. I would love to be able to play an instrument well. Neither of those things have been gifted to me. Why? It’s the desire of my heart and God tells us in His Word that He will give us the desires of our hearts. (Psalm 37:4). BUT, and there is a big but… it’s when our desires become whatever His desires are. That’s the kicker.

God puts us all together in a body of believers for His purposes. We don’t all have a beautiful singing voice or musical talent. We don’t all have the gift of teaching and engaging children. We don’t all have the gift of administration or preaching or a good financial mind. That’s the point. God created us all to work together using our individual gifts for the common good.

The questions is this – Do we recognize the gifts God has given to both us and others? Has it prompted us to ask God what He has in mind for us to do – together? Have we asked God (or been quiet enough to hear His still small voice) what it is He is trying to accomplish in and through our lives right now, right here? God’s timing is not our timing. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. We must get out of the way to let God speak to us. Sometimes what we think God has in mind is scary.  Sometimes it’s intimidating. Sometimes we think it’s us and not God who has this idea. But I have learned over the years that procrastinating, even if for “my good reason” that it might be me and not God or that I am not able, all I have done is miss an opportunity with good intentions and no follow-through. I have had many good intentions over the years that ended up missed opportunities.god is speaking I am trying to remedy that by moving forward and stepping out of the water when God calls me to walk with Him. The criteria I tend to use now is this: If it is a good thing and not bad, if it will not hurt anyone, then no harm done if it is me, not God. God will correct and re-direct me. But, IF IT IS GOD speaking to me, I better immediately obey! Who knows what blessing is ahead – it might just be an answer to one of my prayers.