Seek Wisdom from God

Many times recently, as I have listened to the news, I have wondered what has happened to the sanity, reason, and wisdom of those who lead our nation.  Many of our elected leaders, particularly those that identify as socialist or progressive, are espousing ideas that seem designed to destroy the fabric of our nation.  How can a nation continue to exist if it advocates for the murder of babies who were ‘accidently’ born alive after a botched abortion?  How can we protect our citizens if we refuse to protect our borders?  How can we encourage diligence, innovation, and a strong work ethic if we hand out money to anyone who chooses not to work?

Every day politicians are getting behind these radical and dangerous ideas.  It can be discouraging and downright frightening.  And I would be truly terrified, if I put my faith in our government and politicians. Thankfully, I don’t.

My faith is firmly established in Jesus Christ.  Jesus has overcome this world, sin, and death.  He has already won the victory over Satan and evil.  And He promises victory to us as we put our faith and trust in Him.  “Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”  1 John 5: 4, 5

The problems we are facing in America today have their root in our failure to follow the Lord’s commands and honor Him.  Many people have rejected God and fail to worship Him.  Instead of following Biblical principals, they do whatever they think is right.  Without a Biblical foundation, however, there is no standard of what is right and what is wrong.  We are in a time of ‘political correctness’ where right and wrong change almost daily, based on the whims of those who are most vocal.

In the first chapter of Romans, Paul tells us that creation reveals God to us. When we reject God and His truths, we become foolish.  In verses 21 – 22, we read “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.”

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I encourage each of you to pray daily for our elected leaders to seek God and ask Him for true wisdom to lead this nation according to God’s ordinances.  He promises to give wisdom to those who ask Him.  “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5

In Deuteronomy 4:6-7, God told Israel to carefully observe His statutes, “for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’  What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?”

That is my desire for our nation!

 

Blessings from Generosity

God has always instructed His people to be generous to the poor, and He has promised to bless those who obey this instruction.  When God freed  the Israelites after 400 years of captivity in Egypt, He set down rules that they were to follow in order to maintain a right relationship with Him.  Included in those instructions was the command to open their hands to their poor brothers and to willingly lend to those in need, in order to meet their needs.  In return, God promised to bless all the works of their hands.

“If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother,  but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs….You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’ ”         Deuteronomy 15: 7 – 11

 

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God continues to bless His people today, as we show generosity and care for the poor in our communities.  Those who open their hearts and their pocketbooks receive many blessings in return.

Chief among these blessings is happiness.  In “The Paradox of Generosity,” authors Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson report that generosity is associated with increased personal happiness, a sense of purpose, and overall better health.  This should not be surprising to Christians, as God promised happiness to those who are generous: “He who despises his neighbor sins; But he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he.” Proverbs 14:21

God promises many other blessings to the generous.  These blessings include: 

  • Abundance   “The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.” Proverbs 11:25
  • Financial Repayment “He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord,
    And He will pay back what he has given.” Proverbs 19:17 and “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”Luke 6:38
  • Bountiful Harvests.  “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” 2 Corinthians 9: 6
  • Needs will be Met  “He who gives to the poor will not lack, But he who hides his eyes will have many curses.” Proverbs 28:27
  • Blessings “He who has a generous eye will be blessed, For he gives of his bread to the poor.”  Proverbs 22:9

My desire is to honor God in the way that I live my life.   In Proverbs 14:31, God makes it clear that we honor Him when we obey His command to be kind to those in need. “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Make, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”  Proverbs 14:31

I encourage you to make it your desire to honor God, and to reap the blessings promised from Him, by being generous to those in need.

Happy with Joy

As I drove to work this morning, WPER played a tape of a little girl telling her parents that Jesus had healed her and she was “Happy with joy.” She repeated several times, “I’m happy with joy; I’m happy with joy.”

It brought me great joy to see this little girl’s thankfulness and passionate praise of God for healing something that was hurting in her mouth.  She prayed and God healed her. She was ecstatic. And there was no doubt that it was God who healed her.

God blesses us in many ways each day.  Yet, we are often too distracted to recognize and acknowledge His blessings in our life.  And, even when we do, we rarely give Him praise with the enthusiasm of this little girl.

King David was a man who knew how to praise the Lord. When I think of exuberant praise, I picture David dancing and praising God as the Ark of the Covenant was returned to Jerusalem.  2 Samuel 6:14 tells us that “David danced before the Lord with all his might.”

Psalm 150 paints a beautiful picture of the ways in which the Lord desires us to praise Him.

Psalm 150

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!

Praise Him for His mighty acts;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!

Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet;
Praise Him with the lute and harp!

Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!

Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with clashing cymbals!

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!

 

I encourage you to pause for a few moments each day to reflect on the blessings God has bestowed on your and your family.  Thank Him with your whole heart for all He has done.  And I believe that you, too, with be “Happy with joy.”

Biblical Command to be Generous

The last parable of Jesus’s ministry recorded in the book of Matthew emphasizes the importance of Christ’s followers to be generous towards those who are in need. In this illustration, the Son of Man welcomes into eternity those who cared for the needy and equates such care as caring for Christ personally. Furthermore, those who did not care for the needy are sentenced to eternal damnation.

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.  All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.  And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;  I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:  for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;  I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

“Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’  Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 4And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Matthew 25: 31 – 46

 


help-othersThroughout both the Old and New Testament, God commands His people to be generous and care for the poor. Furthermore, the Bible also teaches that generosity should come from the heart and be guided by the Holy Spirit. Nowhere does the Bible teach that caring for the poor is the responsibility of the government. It is the responsibility of God’s people to take care of their poor neighbors as prompted by the Holy Spirit.

A very clear distinction is made, however, between those who less fortunate and those who are idle or wasteful. Specific instructions are provided as to those who qualify as truly needed care and those who have come to poverty by their unwillingness to work or by wasting their money on worldly pleasure.

This is the first in a series of posts which will examine Biblical teachings on generosity and caring for the poor. These teachings include:

  1. God commands us to be generous to the poor.
    Deuteronomy 15:11 “For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’”
  2. God blesses those who are generous.
    Proverbs 22:9 “He who has a generous eye will be blessed.”
  3. Generosity is a response to God’s saving grace. James 1:27 “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
  4. Generosity should be done with right motive.
    Exodus 35: 4, 5 “This is the thing which the Lord commanded, saying: ‘Take from among you an offering to the Lord. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the Lord.'”
  5. We should take advantage of opportunities to be generous.
    Mark 14:7 “For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good.”
  6. God hears the prayers of the generous.
    Daniel 4: 7 Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.”

 

Jesus taught that we will always have poor people in our communities. It is no shame to be poor. In Samuel 2:7, we are told the “The Lord makes the poor and makes the rich.” We will always have widows and orphans in our midst who need our help We will also have people who are physically unable to support themselves.

Help should first come from family members, if the person in need has a family. Families are commanded to care for those in need within their own families. “But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God.” 1 Timothy 4:5

Furthermore, those who will not care for needy family members are being disobedient to God’s commands. “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 4:8

When families care for those in need in their own families, the resources of the church are then available to help those who do not have anyone else to help them. “If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows.” 1 Timothy 5:16

Paul ends this letter with a command to be generous. “Command them [those who are rich] to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” 1 Timothy 6:18 (NIV)

Putting Faith Into Action: Ask God to reveal to you people in your family, church, neighborhood, and community who are in need of financial assistance. Pray about how God would have you help those in need.

 

Give Thanks for All Who Are in Authority

In 1 Timothy 2: 1- 4, Paul wrote, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

As Christian we often use this passage to encourage one another to pray for our President and elected officials. And if ever there was a time that our President and elected officials need our prayers, it is now. Supplications and intercessions go pretty much hand-in-hand with prayers. I am quite happy, and usually diligent, to pray, intercede, and supplicate for our leaders.

Today, however, as I read this passage, the fourth command jumped out at me–‘giving of thanks.’ Now, that is a harder pill to swallow. I give thanks regularly for our President and other elected leaders with whom I agree and support. However, I can’t say that I give thanks for those who oppose the President and the important changes he is trying to implement to keep our country safe and prosperous.

When it comes to praying for those politicians that I believe are moving our nation away from God, I do pray for their salvation. I ask God to remove the blinders from their eyes so that they will see the truth and repent. I pray for revival for our nation, and particularly among those in position of authority and influence. But, I don’t give thanks for those with whom I disagree.

Paul tells us in this passage that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for ALL men, for kings and ALL who are in authority.” And the reason for these prayers, supplications, intercessions, and thanks is that we may live in peace in godliness and that people will be saved and come to know the truth.

So, starting today, I will give thanks for all men and women in positions of authority, whether I agree with their politics or not. And, I believe that by giving thanks, and interceding on behalf of all our politicians, that we will enable God to move in the hearts and minds of our politicians to work together so that we as Americans can live in peace in godliness and reverence.

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Will you join me in supplicating, praying, interceding, and giving thanks for all in authority?


My One Word for 2019–Commitment

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3 (NRSV)

My sister-in-law posted this verse on her Facebook page recently, and it spoke to my spirit instantly. I felt that this would be my verse to focus on for the year, and Commitment would be my One Word for 2019.

For this purpose, I am using as the definition of Commit, “to give in trust or charge.” I will ‘give in trust’ all my works to the Lord, and He, in return, will permit those works to come to fruition, so long as my works are in harmony with His word.

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This principle applies regardless of whether the work involves (1) doing my job, (2) improving my health, (3) taking control of my finances, (4) learning new skills, (5) building new relationships, or (6) stepping out into new areas of service and/or ministry.

The One Word concept is that one should focus on one word for the year, rather than making a bunch of resolutions that will be quickly broken. So for this year, I will focus on committing to the Lord whatever work I feel led to pursue. And, I will be certain that He will bless the efforts I commit to Him.

What word will you choose to reflect on in 2019?

That the Works of God Should be Revealed

The entire ninth chapter of John is devoted to the story of Jesus healing a man who had been blind from birth.  As I listened to my pastor preach from this text on Sunday, I was particularly impressed by the first few verses in which the disciples assumed that the man’s blindness was the result of sin, either by the blind man himself or his parents.

Jesus responds to their question in verse 3, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”

What a powerful statement.  This was a grown man who had spent his childhood and some portion of his adult life blind, in order that Jesus could heal him on this particular day and reveal to the world that He had the power to forgive sins and to heal infirmities.

This struck a personal chord with me.  When I was 5, my mother gave birth to my brother John.  In the weeks after his birth, we came to realize that John could neither see nor hear.  The doctors said that John’s birth defects were due to my mother having contracted German measles while pregnant. When John was 3, however, it became clear that he was born as he was in order that God might reveal Himself to our family.

 

My mother casually asked the wife of my father’s commanding officer to pray for John, as he was to undergo surgery in an attempt to provide him with some limited sight.  The woman responding by coming over to our house immediately and sharing Jesus with my mother and encouraging her to read the Gospel of John.  My mother read John that very night and accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior.

Over the next four years, all the members of our immediately family accepted Jesus as their Savior.  Soon after my father’s salvation, God called John home to Heaven.  John did not receive his sight or hearing while on Earth.  He never learned to speak and never shared the Gospel with anyone, yet we know that the salvation of our family and many others is credited to his account in Heaven.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful to God for revealing Himself to our family by sending us John.