Monday, March 18, 2019

God's Gift Bag

King David was a soldier, a mighty warrior.  In Psalm 18 we read that God had uniquely gifted him for his calling with great strength and physical abilities.  Like David, you too have been painstakingly created in Christ for the good works God had prepared beforehand for you to accomplish.  Let’s take a few minutes to consider how you and I have been forged physically, intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally for God’s glory.

Psalm 18:32-34
It is God who arms me with strength
    and keeps my way secure.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
    He causes me to stand on the heights.
He trains my hands for battle;
    my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

Things to think about:
·      In David’s case, let’s take a quick look at his make up:
o   Physically – a strong, powerful man
o   Intellectually – an excellent military strategist and tactician
o   Spiritually – a man after God’s own heart
o   Emotionally – both hot headed and soft hearted
·      God used these different qualities to win wars, write psalms, and serve as a biblical model of a godly man. 
·      How is God using you to accomplish His work?
o   Does it sound weird to you to think that God made you just as He did so you could accomplish His agenda?
·      How would you describe yourself on each of these aspects?  Before you answer, remember God says you are His handiwork!
o   Physically
o   Intellectually
o   Spiritually
o   Emotionally
·      How can you see them coming together to achieve a Kingdom purpose?
o   Sometimes, when discouragement gets the better of us, we can feel like we got the leftovers from the gifts bag.  Have you ever / do you ever feel that way?
·      If you don’t know your purpose yet, does reflecting on these help you see the puzzle pieces painting a picture for you?

My prayer is that each of us would embrace the high calling God has placed on us to do the good works He planned in advance for us.  And when we are done, that God would get the praise and glory. Amen!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Give, Serve, Love

For a while now, I have been thinking about a motto or a statement or something like that which encapsulates how I want to live that is pleasing to God.  I didn’t want it to be forced or clever, just something simple that is grounded in biblical truth and principles.  What finally came to me and has stuck for the past few months is Give, Serve, Love.  (I have since googled it and quickly realized I was neither clever nor original J).  As I have been thinking about what these words represent, I believe they hold the antidote to the self-centered disease we all suffer from, as found in 1 John 2:16.

1 John 2:16
For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 

Things to think about:
·      The Disease and The Cure - Lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, the pride of life
o   Lust of the eyes -I want what you have  
§  Give = I want you to have what I have been given
o   Lust of the flesh – I want you to serve me physically 
§  Serve = I want to serve you spiritually
o   Pride of life - It’s all about me
§  Love = It’s all about others

·      Give - For God so loved the world that He gave.  His very nature is to give. Three of the well-known resources we have to give are:
o   Money
o   Time
o   Talents

·      Why do we not give more?
o   Fear of not having our needs being met
o   Selfishness - Our greeds supersede others needs
·      What are some promises if we do give more?
o   Malachi 3:10, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 
o   Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

·      Serve Jesus came to serve, not to be served
o  Matthew 20:25-28, “Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
o   Galatians 6:2, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
o  What unmet needs do others have that we can meet?
§  Sometimes, I find that I’m not even looking.  Worse, sometimes I intentionally look away because I’m more interested in my greeds than others needs.
o   In Isaiah 58 7-12, God has a word for us that includes both the command and the promise, “Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
o   What are little (or big) ways you can serve others in your sphere of influence?
o   How is serving others a reflection of Jesus?
·      Love – Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends
o   Jesus sacrificed His life so we might have life, both now and for eternity
o   While it is likely we may never be called to lay down our physical life for another, there are many ways we can sacrifice for the benefit of others beyond giving and serving.
§  Forgiveness, patience, kindness, gentleness, listening, counseling, thoughtfulness, encouragement, not criticizing or gossiping
o   What other ways can you think of?  
·      Who do you know (or know of) whose legacy is giving, serving, loving?
·      How can you, with the Spirit’s guidance and power, flip the script from greed, lust and pride to one that brings greater glory to God?