Category Archives: Abundance/Greatness of God

Psalm 35, Part II — God Delights in Our Well-Being!

Ruthless witnesses come forward;

they question me on things I know nothing about.

They repay me evil for good

and leave me like one bereaved.

Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth

and humbled myself with fasting.

When my prayers returned to me unanswered,

I went about mourning

as though for my friend or brother.

I bowed my head in grief

as though weeping for my mother. (v. 11-14)

I am very convicted by David’s heart for others.  When they were sick, he fasted for them, and mourned and wept for them.  Am I practicing this type of love?  My friend lost her job.  Am I fasting and grieving with her?

This passage in Ps. 35 is a good one to encourage all of us to love sacrificially.

  • Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”  I John 3:18
  • “I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. Phil 2:20

Psalms 35 goes on —

Rescue me from their ravages,

my precious life from these lions.

I will give you thanks in the great assembly;

among the throngs I will praise you.

It was very important to David that when God answered his prayers, he would thank and praise God publicly.   David said in II Samuel 22:49-50 that he would not only praise God in front of his fellow Jewish believers, but he would praise God in the hearing of the pagan nations.

You exalted me above my foes;

from a violent man you rescued me.

Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;

I will sing the praises of your name

David knew that he needed to praise, so that people would see God through him.

Today, we still need to help people see the glory of God through praise and thanks for how he is personally working in our lives.  In fact, it is our purpose.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  I Peter 2:0

“I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.”  Isa 43:20b-21

As we go about our days, let’s tell others the latest story of how God has answered our prayers.  Let’s glorify God more!

Ps. 35 ends with this passage:

May those who delight in my vindication

shout for joy and gladness;

may they always say, “The Lord be exalted,

who delights in the well-being of his servant.”

My tongue will proclaim your righteousness,

your praises all day long.

I love where David says that God delights in the well-being of his servant.  Here are some other translations of that verse:

  • who delights in giving peace to his servant.”
  • he wants his servant to be secure.
  • Who delights in the prosperity of His servant.
  • who delights in the welfare of his servant!

What an amazing God we serve!  His heart’s desire, his great pleasure, is in taking care of us and helping us to do well.  He wants us to be secure, and at peace.  This is a theme throughout the Bible.

  • I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them,  Jer. 32:40
  • If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!  Matt 7:11

May this encourage us.  God loves to work for our good.  When he does, let us praise him publicly.  And let this motivate us to actively work for the good of others, as David did.

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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, Psalms

Holding Onto the Grace

Last week I watched my grandkids, and this week I’m still getting caught up.  I have some great thoughts on Malachi 3:12 that I am working on, and I hope to blog about this soon.  But in the meantime, here are some awesome things I have found in Hebrews 12!

Starting with verse 14:

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

This is so convicting for us today.  Are we making EVERY EFFORT to be at peace with people?  It will take being humble, living out verses like:

  • He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth (Isa 53:7)
  • he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant (Phil 2:7)
  • But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.  (Matt 5:39)
  • I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.  (Isa 50:6-7)

Going on to verse 15: See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

This verse deals with the sin of idolatry.  Look at this Old Testament reference: “Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the LORD our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison. Deut 29:18

Why do we fall into the sin of putting something ahead of God?  We feel like God is not enough.  We lose confidence that he will take care of us.  We don’t see that we HAVE the grace of God.

This is illustrated by what comes next in the passage:

See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.  Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.

What went wrong with Esau?  He did not appreciate his birthright.  He had an awesome inheritance that would include both physical and spiritual blessings.  But he did not see what an awesome thing he had.  The moment he got hungry, all he cared about was meeting his needs.

Do we see what an awesome birthright we have?  The writer of Hebrews goes on to show us exactly what we have:

You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

This is flat out amazing.  When we contemplate what we have, it really can keep us from being bitter, from turning away from God, and from sinning.

Because it is a very serious thing that we should appreciate what we have, and let this motivate us to make every effort to be holy.

See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

In doing a Greek word study of this last verse about worshiping with reverence and awe, I was surprised to see that the word for “awe” really means “fear.”  So many times in the Bible, we are told that the word “fear” means “reverence” more than it means “being afraid.”  But in this case the word really does mean “being afraid.”

And it makes sense in this context.  God is telling us very strongly that it will not go well for those who don’t treat the gift he has given them as utterly precious.  As it says it Hebrews 2:2, “how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?

We are going to be shaken.  Judgement Day IS coming.

We MUST “be thankful and so worship God acceptably.” Literally, being “thankful” here means that we “have grace.”  The passage has come full circle.   We start out by being admonished not to miss the grace of God, and we end by being advised to hold tightly to it, so it overflows into our heart and into our every behavior, and we are thankful.  Then we worship and serve God in a way that is immensely pleasing to him.

In going through years and years of trials as a Christian, one of the hardest things is to hold onto grace and gratitude, and not let bitterness enter our heart.

One couple who exemplifies the way we SHOULD be is Gary and Christy Roberson.   Gary at one time was in the ministry.  He LOVES to serve God.  But at some point he moved to Atlanta so his children could be in a church where there was a great teen ministry.  He ended up working for many many years in a demanding job that required him to travel. Christy had to work full time at a job that probably wasn’t her favorite thing to do.  (If you’re reading this, and I post the wrong information, let me know.)

They went through many other challenges in life.  Gary was appointed as an elder, but had to step down due to health concerns.  I believe they lost a grandbaby.

But through all of this they continued to serve God admirably.  Gary taught the adult Sunday school class.  They both got with many couples and families and counseled them.  They certainly helped Ken and I in an enormous way with raising our family.

Just recently, Gary and Christy reached a point where they were able to semi retire.  They put out the word that they would like to serve in the ministry at a small church, to receive a supplemental income.  And who hired them?  A small church in Hawaii!

They held onto the grace and God has blessed them in a huge way!

Gary and Christy

This picture brings tears to my eyes.  I am so happy for them.

So let’s all hold onto the grace we have and make sure we NEVER get discontent, never want more, never get bitter.

Life may not be what we want it to be.  Our dreams may feel broken.

But as Christians we are blessed with a tremendous birthright, a marvelous salvation.  That is more than enough.

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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, Grace, Gratitude, Hebrews

Pure Offerings

“My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD Almighty.  Mal 1:11

I just love this verse.  It has so much good stuff in it.

It talks about a time when God’s name will be great among the nations.  The “nations” are foreigners, people other than the Israelites.  In other words, they are Gentiles.

God is saying that although at this time only the Jews know him, a time is coming when He will be known more greatly — known in every place on earth.

And He will be revered more greatly than He was by the Jews, revered by the very people who didn’t know him.

He will be revered so much that the peoples of the earth will bring PURE offerings to him, not the second best offerings that the Jews were giving Him.

It reminds me of what Jesus told the Samaritan woman in John 4:21, 23:

Believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem . . . Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”

God’s goal was for there to be a time when people would worship in spirit and in truth.  They would not only serve Him in righteousness, they would do it WHOLEHEARTEDLY!

But how would it get this way?  How could He bring people who didn’t even know him to the point of wholeheartedness, when the Jews had NEVER been able to do this for long?

Look at this prophesy in Isaiah 11:10:

In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.

The people of the world will rally to the Root of Jesse, as they would to a banner lifted on a battle field.  We believe the Root of Jesse is Jesus, who descended from David, Jesse’s son. So this prophesy meant that Jesus would have a strong impact on people.

And this is absolutely what happened.  As Jesus foretold: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”  John 12:32

Nothing could have the impact that Jesus has had on earth.  Think for a moment what the world would be like if he had never come.  Now think of all the amazing things he brought.  He brought such an example of service to one another, of valuing each individual person, of goodness, of self sacrifice.

It is NO WONDER that God said that His name would be great among the nations. Jesus is an immensely POWERFUL picture of who God is, one everyone could see and experience.  His influence has spread far and wide.  It has changed innumerable lives.

I think of a couple of examples I’ve seen lately.  One of my friends is training her baby to sleep through the night.  It is hard to listen to the baby cry.  It is hard to go through the dark hours with little sleep.  But she said she thinks of Jesus and the way he died for us to save us, and that gives her the strength to do the things her daughter needs.

There is a woman I am studying the Bible with who has had a very tough life.  After many years of trials and being mistreated, she encountered an incredible example of a Christian forgiving a group of people who had done egregious wrong.  When she saw that, she was profoundly changed forever.

The story of Jesus is POWERFUL.  And today, WE are the ones who are impacted by it.  We are the ones who will spread the news, so that it will be known to the ends of the earth, and His name will be great among ALL nations.

I am so thankful that God gives me a way to be wholehearted, to worship in spirit and truth.  I revel in the example of Jesus.  There are so many shining facets of his life that shape me daily.

I can only glorify.

…for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
 Isa 11:9

The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his. Gen 49:10

I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles.  Isa 42:6

 

 

 

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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, Having the Right Heart, Malachi, Uncategorized

Miracles I’m Not Taking for Granted

I decided yesterday was one of the high points of my life.

First, out of the blue, my old friend Kristen Kopp showed up to worship with us at the North River Church service.  That was such an awesome surprise.  I hadn’t seen her in a long time.

Then, at church, we showed part of a video that I helped put together.

Video

I can’t describe how gratified I was to finally see this video.  Over the past few years I’ve tried at least twice before to put together a promotional video for the church, and it always didn’t quite come together in the end.  Then we started working on this video, and Michael, the brother who filmed it, loaded the footage in his computer and then his computer broke in a car crash.  The video got put on hold.  And then when Michael did get his computer fixed, and had time to edit the video, we used too much copyrighted footage, and YouTube wouldn’t support it.  So I didn’t get to see it.

So this past Friday Michael uploaded the video to Google docs and I saw the video at last.  He did such an awesome job.  I teared up and my throat welled with emotion.  I thought, “This is something awesome that I was a part of, that I used my talents to help create.’  It was immensely gratifying. And it was even more special because for so long I’d felt sad and frustrated because I hadn’t been able to get a video done.  And then it was even more moving, because we were actually able to show at least part of the video to a large group of people.  We achieved our objective!

Another thing that made the day a high point was that we had a baptism that was an unbelievably good surprise for me.  It was Courtland, one of the Tuskegee students who has been studying the Bible.

Courtland baptism courtland

With all the low points our church has been through in the last year, I can’t describe how encouraging it was to have this baptism at the North River service.  It was like a huge confirmation:  God is working!!

After church, our North River friends put on a wonderful lunch for us, and tons of people who have been involved in our ministry were there.  It was over-the-top encouraging.

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And one person who was at the lunch was Ashley Nutt, a sister I LOVE who I helped study the Bible with, and is now at medical school in Philadelphia.

Ashley on the left. (Sorry my camera wasn't set right and it's blurry.)

Ashley on the left. (Sorry my camera wasn’t set right and it’s blurry.)

It was great to see Ashley and hear her talk about how well she is doing.  But my heart soared as she related to me how wonderful our ministry is to her.  She said that no other ministry she’s been in has such a sense of family and dedication.  She was so passionate about the great spirit that defines our group that I felt lifted up and restored, again, because I felt like we’ve been through so much in the past year.

Finally, I went to the wedding shower for my son and his fiancee, Elizabeth.  It was one of the most lovely showers I have ever attended.

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The women went over and above to make it an outstanding event.

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But even more special to me, was to be able to celebrate at this tangible reminder that my son, Max actually is getting married to an awesome young woman.  I’ve talked before about how amazingly God has worked in Max’s life to bring him to this point.  So my heart was already full because of that.  But also, Max and Elizabeth have had some tough trials on the road to getting everything ready to have a marriage together, especially in the last week or so.  It was absolutely refreshing to be with loved ones and rejoice in all the good things they have.  God is good.

So, all in all, it was an incredible day.

But what made it incredible wasn’t just that awesome things happened.  It was that I very much recognized that each one of these things was a miracle.  Each occurrence could have gone a very different way.

And that recognition of miracles, after the struggles and lowliness of heart I’ve experienced, was especially poignant.

So the scripture in Mark for today is:

When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that this will not take place in winter, because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again.

“If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.

“But in those days, following that distress, ‘the sun will be darkened,and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky,and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

“At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.”  Mark 13:14-26

It’s a long passage.  But Jesus was saying that grueling, frightening times were coming, but then at the end, Jesus will come back and, with great fanfare, and gather us and transport us to be with him in heaven.

None of us know how many struggles we’re going to have to go through before the end comes.  But there will be struggles.

That’s what makes the miracles that happen along the way especially awesome.

And my message today, is that we need to see the miracles that are happening, and not take them for granted.

Jeff Hickman preached yesterday that we should exult in the miracle of our salvation.  He quoted Titus 3:3-5a

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. . .

He pointed out that we CANNOT take our salvation for granted.  We would be in such a mess without it.

The same is true for our lives.  God gives us so many things, at just the right time, that are wonderful.

Let’s recognize these things.  The days are dark.  The very fact that so many things have gone right is a miracle!

And if you are at a low point, waiting and wishing for something you desperately need to turn out for the good, keep holding on and remembering what God has already done.  Something good is coming!

Today I am utterly thankful for the ways God has worked.  Life is a series of miracles.  I don’t take them for granted.

 

 

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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, Diary, Faith, Gratitude, Mark, Miracles

Six Practical Ways to Make Jesus Lord

While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, “Why do the teachers of the law say that the Messiah is the son of David?  David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared:   ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”’    David himself calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?”

The large crowd listened to him with delight.  Mark 12:35-37

Jesus is talking here about the Jews’ expectation of the messiah.  The teaching tradition was that the messiah would be a king who was a decedent of David.  The classic  prophesy of scripture they used involved God promise to David in II Samuel:

When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom.  He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  . . . Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’ ”  II Sam 7:12-16

Jesus amazed them by pointing out scriptures that teach that the messiah would be called Lord, not just a leader.

This was a radical, life changing concept — for the people back then, and for us today.

Because you can admire a great king, you can pledge fealty to him.

But you don’t worship him.  You don’t see him as divinity. You don’t live in complete subservience to him in every area of your life.

It wasn’t the first time this concept had been introduced in the time of Jesus.  What did the angel tell the shepherds?

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”  Luke 2:12

The angel proclaimed it.  Jesus came to be God on earth.

And later Jesus would confirm it:

“All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.”  Matt 28:18

The messiah would not just be a regent to pay homage to.  He would not just be a leader to follow.  He would be the Lord, to whom every knee should bow.

Today, can we treat Jesus as our leader, but not our Lord?  Do we want to follow him, but not bow down to him in every area of our lives?

Here are six practical ways to make him Lord:

  • Get up early enough to spend time with God.  Start your day with putting God first.  I have done this for 25 years, and it is an awesome blessing.   That doesn’t mean it comes easily.  Even after all this time.  I still have to battle for it, especially for a focused prayer time.  But making it happen makes every day go better.
  • Watch your tongue.  This is so difficult for me lately.  I have been feeling negative and critical, and I find myself saying negative things about others.  It feels like I’m teething, and I want to bite something.  I also catch myself loving to tell juicy stories about others that I wouldn’t want to repeat to their face.  I definitely have to guard my mouth.
  • Reach out to someone at least once each day.  Be outward focused and seek to connect with others by texting, calling, emailing, and even better, actually getting with someone.  Don’t just let social media be your interaction!  Don’t let your schedule get more important than people.  Love others as He loves us.
  • Submit to one another.   Married women, let your husband lead, regardless of his competence to do so, and TRUST that this is God’s plan.  I have been married 34 years and I KNOW this is the best way.  If you fight for your own way, you are fighting against God.  Everyone, married or not, submit to one another out of reverence for God.  Honor one another above yourselves.  Don’t have to have your own way.
  • Seek and save the lost.  I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs since I first started seeking God when I was 16, and I can state with certainty, life is always better when I’m making a concerted effort to bring others to Christ.  There is just something about changing someone’s life forever, and getting close to them in the process, that is the most fulfilling thing ever.  But doing this is also the HARDEST THING.  It really takes a conscious effort every day, every instance, to deny self and make Jesus Lord.  If you think it’s difficult for you because it’s not your gift, think again.  It’s hard for all of us.  But it will bring you the greatest blessings.
  • Fight for your heart.  I’m just telling you from experience, you’ve got to get in there and tackle this stuff.  Battle the bad attitudes that rise up every day.  Wrestle with your laziness and lack of motivation.  Don’t let moodiness control you.  All these things will arise, but don’t give into them.  Don’t let them be the status quo.  Fighting for your heart is one of those things that seem hard to do at the time, but believe me, it’s worse if you don’t deal with it.  Remember, “Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” (Heb. 12:15)  A bad attitude GROWS and messes you up, and also hurts others.

Today, people still think that the scriptures teach that God plans to build a physical kingdom through the nation of Israel.  If you’re interested in exploring what the Bible says about this, here is a great article.

But Jesus came to do much more.  He came to establish a spiritual kingdom, where he would be King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.  (Rev. 17:14)

And his rightful place would be on the throne of our lives and hearts.

 

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Honoring The Provider

Jesus then began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place.  At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard.  Mark 12:1-3

Friends, it is super encouraging to see from this parable how God loves to provide for us, how He loves to set us up to win.  Like the man in the parable, God furnishes for us everything that we need for fruitful living!

My living room

My living room

Flowers in my yard.

Flowers in my yard.

And we can infer from this parable that it isn’t a slapdash kind of a gift.   You don’t just throw together a vineyard.  It takes much thought about what would be the best location for the planting, and where everything would be placed.

God really is a creative God.  You think you put a lot of thought into your work, your plans and designs?  God puts a mind blowing blast of divine inspiration into his plans for us!  He considers, and then fashions places for us to live and learn and thrive.

Rain falling on my yard.

Rain falling on my yard.

But even though we know this, we keep drifting back to thinking that what we have comes from us, from our plans, our education, our initiative, our efforts. We get enthralled with our workings.  It feels like it’s all us.

Let’s remember that the Lord provides the basis behind all that we have.

Let’s remember that we are but stewards.

Let’s remember that the vineyard GOD has brought us to is exceedingly good!

. . . we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.  Ps 66:12

He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.  Ps 18:19

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.  Ps 16:6

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And then let’s give back to God.  If there’s one thing that’s clear about this parable, it’s that God expects us to honor Him as the source of all our blessings.

It has always been this way —

In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LordAnd Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor.  Gen 4:3-4

Even from the very beginning, people were expected to honor God with their wealth.

And it mattered how they gave back.  God did not approve of Cain’s offering.

Cain probably thought he was doing God a favor.  After all, he was giving, and he was giving the thing that meant the most to him.  He was sacrificing his own food that wouldn’t go into his belly.  Wouldn’t God appreciate that?

We’re the same way.  We think just ole way of any giving back is good.    I mean, after all, we’re making the commendable effort to get off our selfish behinds and give.  We  feel great about that and pat ourselves on the back.

For instance, Ken and I went door knocking last Saturday to raise money for the HOPE Worldwide Superheroes 4 Orphans campaign.

Superhero 2

We went out late in the afternoon, and I was tired and it had been a busy day.  I went a bit grudgingly, with the sort of thought in the back of the mind that God should be grateful that I was doing for Him this thing I didn’t feel like doing.

But then I recalled that it matters how we give to God.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  II Cor 9:7

And do not grumble, as some of them did–and were killed by the destroying angel.  I Cor 10:10

Rats.  I forget how God hates grumbling, even if it’s just in our hearts.

So let’s acknowledge what a bounty we’ve been given, and joyfully give back.  Let’s have a different heart, and humbly honor God as the source.

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Even the gift of our salvation is a gift at His hands.  We can’t fool ourselves that we had it together, and that’s how we got saved.

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  I Cor 1:26

It’s ALL from God.

We can’t take it for granted.

I got a card in the mail yesterday from my son’s girlfriend, thanking us for taking them out to dinner last weekend.

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That was impressive.  Most people would have thought, “Of course the parents would want to see us and take us to dinner.”  They wouldn’t have been so grateful.

Are we appreciative?

We’ve GOT to quit serving grudgingly!

May our hearts be soft with gratitude.

May our hands be eager to serve.

May we honor Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides.

 

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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, Gratitude, Mark

Faithful in Relationships Part 4 — Utterly Awesome!

. . . if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.  II Tim 2:13

God is faithful.  Nothing we do can change that.

We will ALWAYS be on His heart.

Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he my darling child? For as often as I speak against him, I do remember him still. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him, declares the LORD.
 Jer 31:20

His love is boundless, endless, measureless.  The more we realize it, the deeper it goes.

Every day we can discover new dimensions of God’s love and righteousness, and be in awe.

God is committed to us.  The question is: Will we be fully committed to Him?

For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. II Chron. 16:9

Will we be committed to others?

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

… there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.  Prov 18:24

For this is what our soul craves.  This is what matters.

A God who has our back, who is our everything, who is our delight.

Friends who are partners.

And as we see more and more that we have this, WE ARE faithful, because it is our greatest joy.

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you. . . Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live . . . Ps 63

As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.  Ps 16:3

We SING and CELEBRATE, just as God celebrates us!

Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. Ps 63:7

And when the world seems like dust around us, when chaos rules, when failure is palpable,when we are overwhelmed, the perfection of God that includes faithfulness is a lifeline.

As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. Ps 18:30

He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.  Deut 32:4

Until finally, we are ready to commit to Him in intimacy our very spirit.  Trembling and vulnerable, we bring it out and lay it into His hands.

Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, LORD, my faithful God.  Ps 31:5

As our Savior did, we entrust our lives completely, because He is completely for us.

And when we do, in our Savior, faithfulness is multiplied.

We have the Spirit, an intercessor, forgiveness, freedom from sin, answers to our impossible prayers.  We are thoroughly equipped for every good work.

There is grace upon grace, and every spiritual blessing.

There is faithfulness so deep, so high, so all encompassing, so strong, how can we but walk in peace and fullness of heart?

For as the ultimate act of faithfulness, He gives us His righteousness as our own.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  II Cor 5:21

I will find joy in the LORD. I will delight in my God. He has dressed me in the clothes of salvation. He has wrapped me in the robe of righteousness like a bridegroom with a priest’s turban, like a bride with her jewels.  Isa 61:10

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tia and Karl

 

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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, Beauty of God, Righteousness