Category Archives: Self

Do You Have a Blessing Room?

“Above all, love each other deeply…. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” – 1 Peter 4:8-10
 

Have you ever had your heart set on something and faced giving it up for the sake of someone else? It’s not easy, that’s for sure. Even if you choose to show love to another person by sacrificing what you desire, you can still struggle with self-pity and grumble in your heart. You might feel pulled in different directions—joy in giving and sadness in giving up—a feeling hard to shake.

Hard to Give It Up

I dealt with this feeling recently. Our son was leaving home for graduate school and his bedroom would soon be empty. What would we do with it? Without giving it much thought, I just named it and claimed it—it was going to be MY writing space. My refuge—my quiet place to read, study, and write.

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But I forgot God often has other plans. And so He did with this room.

Our sweet daughter asked if she could move back home until her wedding in May.  And, of course, we said yes. Just as we have enjoyed our son being home for a year after college, we will enjoy our daughter being with us these last months before she marries and settles in a home with her new husband.

And while excited to spend more time with her, my heart struggled to let go of MY writing space. Lord, this was supposed to be my quiet place, I whined. But God didn’t let me get away with grumbling and self-pity.

He showed me His plan. He gently whispered, “This isn’t meant to be YOUR room. This is meant to be a blessing room. Right now and always.”

A Blessing Room!

I never saw it that way before. And no wonder! My heart was so filled with a room for myself I couldn’t see a room for blessing anyone else.

When our hearts see only from the desire of our eyes, we cannot see God’s perspective and are blind to His blessings.

The Blessing Room

Asking the Lord’s forgiveness, I started to see this room with His eyes, and the excitement inside me grew. As I recognized the beauty of its purpose, all those negative feelings melted away and turned to pure joy.

A blessing room is a place of love, generosity, and hospitality. A place to bless all who enter.

This room will be a blessing…

                …for our daughter to live in until she marries.

                …for us to spend more time with her now.

                …as a guest room for visitors later on.

                …as a quiet place for study and writing when empty.

Who knows all the ways God will use it in the future.

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But here is the key. It is God’s room. It is to be used for His purposes. And He desires to bless everyone through it.

It’s the same with our hearts. They belong to God and He has created us to bless others with all the blessings He has given us.

When you make room in your heart for others, your heart itself becomes a blessing room. Always open, always giving, always full of love and grace.

And that’s the heart of God, isn’t it?

Bless All Who Enter

How to Let Go and Fully Give

So when we’re faced with those unwanted feelings that wreak of self, let’s take them captive and confess them before the Lord. He will whisper just what we need to hear to see our situation from His perspective and guide us to a new understanding. And as we surrender, our hearts will be filled with joy and peace and open to pour out God’s abundant blessings.

Do you have a blessing room?

Dearest Father, how we need to see Your perspective on every part of our lives. Reveal to us where our hearts are closed to loving others. Help us to open our hearts to You fully so we may shower Your love and grace on all those around us and be the blessing You created us to be. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Blessings to you,
Sabra
 
 
All Scripture from New International Version, 1984.
Images by Sabra Penley.
 
Linking up with my friends today on these wonderful blogs…
 
 

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Filed under Attitude, Blessing, Change, Deny Self, Doing Good, Giving, God's Purpose, Grace, Joy, Love, Sacrifice, Self

Five Minute Friday – {fill}

“Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.” – Psalm 81:10

 

I need you, Lord. Show me my wayward self.

O God, fill my heart…

…with Your love

…with Your truth

…with Your peace

…with Your direction

…with Your amazing grace

…with humility

…with obedience

…with hope.

Lord, You are speaking. Fill my ears to hear Your voice.

Lord, You are here. Fill my eyes with Your perspective.

Lord, fill me with You and empty me of me.

All for Your glory.

In the holy name of Jesus, Amen.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” — Psalm 139:23-24

 

Praying the Lord will speak to Your heart today and fill you with all His goodness.

Blessings,
Sabra
 
Joining Five Minute Friday today with Kate Motaung and friends at
the link below. We write for five minutes--raw and real--no 
editing. The word for this week: fill.

 

All Scripture from The Holy Bible, New International Version, 1984.

12 Comments

Filed under Five Minute Friday, God's Presence, Grace, Healing, Humility, Love, Prayer, Self

Bearing in Love

Ephesians 4:2 – Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

I used to have a picture of a teddy bear that said “Love bears all things.” As I read the verse above, I immediately thought about that little framed picture.

Teddy bears still, to this day, make me think of comfort.

Teddy Bear

And that’s the word that came to mind when I read this verse—comfort.

Who isn’t comforted by someone’s humility and gentleness and loving patience?

Loving patience…bearing with one another in love.

Such a beautiful thing. But how often do I find myself instead getting irritated or annoyed with someone, just because they aren’t moving fast enough or doing things the way I would do them or maybe they messed up again?

That is not such a beautiful thing. In fact, it’s downright ugly. Ugly self.

Self…that inward focus that says I am most important and my desires supersede all others.

But what is it that Jesus said? “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

Deny self. Put others first. Isn’t that what Christ did on the cross?

I am to follow His example.

Put off self. Put on humility, gentleness, and loving patience.

Loving patience…bearing with one another in love.

This kind of patience is wrapped in gentleness and clothed in humility.

Jesus was gentle.

Jesus humbled Himself, even to death on a cross.

love bears all things

Jesus bore the weight of all our sins, endured the cross, in love…for us.

Us!

We who turn away from Him over and over…we who often don’t follow His ways…we who mess up time and again.

He, who was perfect, bore it all in love…loving patience…for us.

What comfort this brings!

How much more, then, should we (our imperfect, sinful selves) be lovingly patient with those around us? How much more should we treat others with gentleness and humble ourselves before them?

The next time I think someone is going too slow, let me remember how Jesus endured the cross…and lovingly wait.

The next time someone is doing something other than my way, let me remember how I am supposed to follow God’s way…and humbly and simply smile.

And the next time someone messes up, again, let me remember how very many times I have messed up myself and graciously help them clean up the mess.

Next time, I want to be like Christ Jesus and bring comfort to those around me through loving patience.

For “love bears all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7).

Gracious Lord, thank You for being so patient with me. Thank You for loving me and leading me by Your example how I am to live. O Lord, help me to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow You each day. Every time I start to get irritated or annoyed or impatient, help me remember all that You have given to me and how many times I have failed You. In humility and gentleness, Lord, help me to lovingly show patience to everyone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Today I'm joining a link-up on Woman-to-Woman Wednesday at 
www.4hisgloryblog.com. Today's topic is patience. If you have 
time, we'd love for you to hop on over and read what more 
women have to say about this much-needed quality.

All Scripture is from New International Version of the Bible, 1984.

Wooden Christian Cross by Ian Britton via flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0.
Teddy bear photo by Sabra Penley.

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Filed under Comfort, Deny Self, Gentleness, Humility, Jesus, Love, Patience, Sacrifice, Self

When Your Buttons Get Pushed…

Proverbs 14:17 – A quick-tempered man does foolish things.

Has anyone ever pushed your buttons? You know, those proverbial internal controls that can set you off on a course that you never intended to take?

This happened to me just this morning…

I was enjoying the peaceful early hours to write. Quiet. Still. Lovely.

Then I heard it–that sound that pierces the peace and shatters the rest in my soul… Whining!

Jerry, our very vocal Border Collie, was up. And I wasn’t ready. I should have had another 15 minutes at least. But his ever-increasing insistence to bring him some food was invading my train of thought. Determined to finish what I was working on, I snapped at him to go lay down and wait… But his whines just became more insistent, louder, and mixed with not-so-happy growling.

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“Oh, FINE!”

I tossed my laptop aside a little too forcefully and stormed into the kitchen. Throwing some food into his bowl, I plopped it down on the floor and waited impatiently the whole 30 seconds it took for him to scarf it down.  “Come here!” I barked at him, and harshly hooked his leash to his collar before I yanked him out the door. It was, to say the least, not a pleasant walk.

The morning that began so peacefully had suddenly turned pathetic.

Oh, how quickly these moments can come!

We all have these internal buttons that can trigger ungodly responses. And, almost daily, these buttons get pushed.

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Unfortunately, too often the result is lashing out at those around us.

A quick temper is ugly. It ruins a nice morning. It ruins everything.

As Proverbs 14:17 says, a quick temper causes us to do foolish things.

When my quiet, peaceful morning was abruptly interrupted, the desire to have my way and finish what I was doing consumed me.  And when it became evident that wouldn’t happen, stress and resentment filled my soul. I started my day in a bad way, and that is NEVER a good thing.

What SHOULD I have done?

I should have gently put down the computer, taken care of the dog, enjoyed the outdoors and some quiet moments with the Lord, and finished writing when I returned.

How WOULD my morning have been different?

I would have lovingly taken care of my dog, maintained the peace, treated everyone and everything around me with gentleness and kindness, and eventually finished my writing with a calm spirit instead of giving in to a quick-temper and acting foolishly.

So what CAN we do when we feel our buttons getting pushed?

Stop.Breathe.Pray.2

STOP… BREATHE… PRAY… and then RESPOND in love and kindness.

This takes letting go of our own desires and choosing to control ourselves.

For in all truth, we are the guardians of the buttons on our control panel, and no one can push our buttons unless we let go of the controls.

Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. The key to self-control is to make sure the Holy Spirit is the only one pushing our buttons! Then He will fill our days with peace, love, and joy.

A day ruined by irritation, unkindess, and stress OR a day blessed with peace, love, and joy. The choice is ours.

So…who’s in control of your buttons?

All Scripture from New International Version of the Bible, 1984.

Pushing Buttons photo by Michael Monello via flickr,CC BY-NC-SA 2.0, 
cropped, black/white filter added.

Other photos by Sabra Penley.

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Filed under Anger, Holy Spirit, Joy, Love, Peace, Prayer, Self, Self-control

Where Was Love?

“…Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:39

I just stood there.

I overheard the conversation. She had given him money for gas to get to work, yet he still needed money for food. He hadn’t eaten and wouldn’t be paid until tomorrow.

And I just stood there!

Didn’t I have money in my purse?  Yes.

Didn’t I hear…see…the need? Yes.

Then, what stopped me?

My cold heart…full of Me.

My cold heart stopped me from being compassionate…kind…giving…from sharing what God had given me…from loving my neighbor.

Did he go hungry last night?

Did I care?

My actions declared it. Shouted it! Screamed it! — NO! I DIDN’T CARE!

How could I be so callous…so selfish?

I saw him…noticed him…heard him.  It was obvious he was living a life of hardship. His gaunt frame declared his lack of food.

Where was my compassion…my kindness…my heart of love?

Gone. It was obviously gone.

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My heart of love had become a heart of stone. A big old ugly stone.

My heart was not devoted to the Lord. My heart was devoted to Me…to Self.

What would I have really given up to share some money for a meal? A few dollars?

What stopped me from doing good to this young man?

The Lord’s conviction to my soul revealed a few things:

Ugly Judgment!

Somehow I had judged him as unworthy. (Unworthy of my help?!)

I should have turned my finger back on myself—for being so hard-hearted.

HE NEEDED TO EAT.

Ugly Greed!

Wow. Did money—that tiny amount of money—mean more to me than filling the empty stomach of a hungry young man?

HE NEEDED TO EAT.

Ugly Pride!

Pride. Thinking of myself more highly than I ought. Once again—putting myself before someone else.

HE. NEEDED. TO. EAT.

Guilt and shame are pouring down upon my sorry soul.

“…love is kind…it is not proud…it is not self-seeking…Love never fails.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

HeartBible

I was unkind. I was too full of pride. I was self-seeking. I failed.

(Silence.)

Where is he now, Lord?

Will he have to face working today weakened from a stomach left empty all night?

Because I was too callous to care?

How do I make this right, Lord? CAN I make this right, Lord?

I don’t have his phone number. I don’t know where he lives. I don’t know where he works.

The opportunity to help him last night has come and gone.

And with all this ugly, I failed.

Failed to love.

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Oh my precious Father, please forgive me. One. More. Time. I have sinned against You with a callous, selfish, and prideful heart. I have hurt this man. I let him go hungry when I could have filled his stomach. I’m ashamed, Lord. I cannot undo what I have done. The hurt remains. But I can move forward, even today, to show love…to remember not to judge, to be generous with the blessings you have given me, and to be humble before You and others. Soften this stony heart of mine and remove all the ugly, O Lord! Please help me! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

All Scripture from New International Version of the Bible, 1984.

Stone Heart photo by Janet Ramsden via flickr, license: CC BY 2.0

Other photos by Sabra Penley

4 Comments

Filed under Compassion, Doing Good, Humility, Love, Pride, Self

Lord, am I willing?

Lord, am I willing?

Willing to follow You wherever you lead? Willing to do those things that I REALLY don’t want to do? Willing to say yes, no matter what?

This is the message You have been sending me these past months. This willingness to let go of SELF and live in beautiful freedom of following YOU!

But it has been a struggle, Lord. You know it has. You have watched as I have chosen to indulge myself on my desires and my “wisdom.” You have heard my internal dialogue go back and forth between what I know in my heart I should do and what my heart would rather do—give in to its deceitful desires.

Deceitful. Oh, yes. My heart is deceitful.

I know this. I have even put to memory Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” And yet I forget.

I can justify an action so quickly it’s frightening. Those conversations that play out in my mind—the debates about what to do—happen with lightning speed.

I need a warning siren…an internal noisy blast that says, “STOP! You are about to enter a danger zone!” Something so piercingly obnoxious that I cannot ignore. Like a signal from heaven that I am heading in the wrong direction.

Of course, Lord, Your Holy Spirit is my warning siren. But somehow I have turned down the volume until, at times, He is almost muted to my heart.

Forgive me, Lord! I want to be willing to follow Your every step for my life. Help me remove my hand from the controls and allow me to hear Your Holy Spirit’s voice and warnings and heed Your desires for my life.

Help me, Father, to deny myself and be willing—to desire and act on that desire—to follow You, fully and completely. Silence those internal conversations. Let the only words spoken in my heart be, “Yes, Lord.” In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

My dear friends, the above post is an exercise in free writing, in conjunction with Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Fridays. Each week Lisa-Jo presents a word prompt. This week, it is willing. The idea is to write for five minutes (well, maybe mine is a little more for now) about this one word, whatever is on my heart. It’s an exercise in quickly putting thoughts into words. And, oh, how I need this! I don’t know if I’ll post one every Friday, but when I do, you will see the button below:

Five Minute Friday

I’m linking up with other bloggers on LisaJo Baker’s website: http://lisajobaker.com/. And if you’re interested in reading what others have written, please click on the button. You’ll find Lisa Jo’s own post and below it links to many other blogs. Thanks for reading! My regular weekly post will be up tomorrow.

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Filed under Five Minute Friday, Sacrifice, Self

Success!

“…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Cor. 10:31

How do you measure success?

I’ve struggled with this question lately, especially in writing a blog.

Up until a few months ago, I was a technological dinosaur. Email was as far as I ventured in the social media realm. But blogging has me in places I never thought I’d travel—WordPress, Facebook, Twitter. I avoided them like the plague, not wanting to put myself out there for all to see. But God had other plans for me. And so, here I am…a blogger.

Articles will tell you followers and views and likes and shares are how to measure success in the blogosphere. Stats are plastered on each webpage—from blogs to Facebook to Twitter to every other online community. It can be overwhelming. And, sadly, I find I can’t look away from them.

Stats

I peek to see how many people read my blog post and how many likes it receives. I eagerly await emails announcing a new comment and check the share buttons at the bottom of the page to know if people thought it was worthy of sharing with their friends. Frankly, this is embarrassing to admit—this obsession with approval.

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Do you find yourself doing the same thing—seeking approval?

This phenomenon is not just limited to the World Wide Web. It rears its ugly head in everything we do—our work, our home, our family, our friends, our church, our community. We crave attention, don’t we? I know I do.

The sad reality is too often I focus on myself. I wonder how my actions or words will be received. I get swept up comparing my work to others who are considered the best at what they do. A whirlpool of desire for acceptance, applause, and admiration sucks me in. And while spinning around and around in this inescapable vortex of selfish ambition, the joy in life is thrown out. I become trapped in a swirling circle of discouragement, insecurity and fear. Creativity gets sucked under and productivity drowns. And I have nothing to give.

Only then does it hit me—something critical forgotten: God is the reason for this blog!

The world’s definition of success screamed so loudly I bought into it and quickly forgot my purpose. This writing venture is a calling from the Lord. God has given me a story—the story of my life, yes, but much more. He has given me the story of life connected to the God of all creation– a testimony to His existence and His loving work in my heart. How profound the words sound or whether people are wowed should not be a concern. The purpose is bringing glory to the Most High God!

HE should be the focus–always. His truth…His calling…His outcome.

Only when we fix our gaze on God’s purpose in what we do can we bring Him the glory He deserves. Only when we prayerfully depend on Him to transform our meager efforts and humbly present them to Him as a precious offering will His true beauty shine through.

God’s own Word tells us:  “…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

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Not our glory. God’s glory.

Ann Voskamp said in speaking to writers: “We need to be passionately uninterested in the outcome of our words beyond our faithfulness in writing them. Success in writing is faithfulness and obedience to writing what God has called you to.”

“Passionately uninterested in the outcome…”

A far cry from obsessively checking the stats and seeking approval.

We must commit the results to God–to be faithful in following His plan and leave the rest up to Him. He alone has the power to bring His desired outcome from everything we offer Him.

1 Corinthians 3:7 says: So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”

Only God…makes things grow. Only God…brings the outcome.

How, then,  should we measure success?

By living our lives each day in faithful obedience to His call–for His glory.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

Oh, how wonderful if we could fully grasp this truth. It would remove discouragement, dissolve insecurity, eliminate fear, and bring back the joy in serving Him.

The stats and worldly measures of success will always be before us, but we must strive to turn our heart’s eye away from them and focus on the LORD.

Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”

Success is measured not in outcome but in obedience.

The glory is His. The outcome is His. The privilege to serve Him is ours.

Dearest Lord, help us to serve you in faithful obedience in all we do. Help us leave the results of our efforts up to you and seek only Your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

All Scripture is from the New International Version of the Bible, 1984.

Ann Voskamp, “Conversation with Ann Voskamp,” COMPEL Training, November 18, 2014.

Internet photos by Sabra Penley.

Trees photo by Jeannie Fletcher, licensed by CC BY-NC 2.0. Dark frame, overlay and text added.

24 Comments

Filed under Glory, God's Works, Self, Success