Monthly Archives: August 2017
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ “Acts 20:35
Are we prepared to give?
Paul quotes Jesus as saying “it is better to give than to receive.” This directive is one of the rare instances when Jesus is quoted and the quote is not found in the Gospels. Paul was giving a farewell speech at the time and encouraging the people of Ephesus to help each other especially those in need. Paul had just spent a long time in Ephesus – preaching, teaching and working with these new Christians. He had instructed them in the ways of Jesus. He had explained the power of the Holy Spirit. These people were filled!!!!
Paul was leaving them – not to flounder but to flourish. God, through Paul and the Holy Spirit, had filled these people’s spiritual tanks. Like a cargo ship, the Ephesians had been in dock with Paul filling their cargo tanks and reserve tanks. Paul was leaving so that their ships could set sail to deliver what they had received to the people who God had directed them to deliver to. They were ready to be God’s hands and feet in their community.
As Christians many of us have grown up knowing that it is more blessed to give than to receive. We help others and we take care of ourselves. So, we rarely, if ever, accept help from others. We pride ourselves on being self-sufficient. On the surface, it would appear that we are following the directive of Jesus.
The question for us is, “Are we ready to give?” Are our spiritual tanks full? Have we taken the time to listen and study the words of our Savior, worship our God and follow the Holy Spirit’s direction?
“Giving” presumes that we have something to give. Jesus said that it is more blessed to give than to receive because the Blessing comes from taking the gifts we have already received and sharing them as God directs! The more we receive, the more we are able to give.
How do we know if we need to return to port? The answer: When we are floundering; When we lack peace; When we are grumpy and grouchy; When we react to a No. 2 problem with a No 10 response; When we are isolated; When we are overly anxious; When we are confused; When we are in a state of deep sadness.
If your tank is empty, then dock your boat and take steps to fill your spiritual tank. RECEIVE what God has for you. If you have been asking for God’s help, then don’t refuse His answer – RECEIVE IT.
Once our spiritual tank is full, we can then set sail and deliver to others as God directs. But we must return to port periodically to replenish our spiritual cargo or we will start tapping into our reserves; and if the reserves are depleted, we have nothing left in our tanks to give but hot air. That is always disastrous!
My prayer for us this week is that we refocus our eyes on Jesus, return to port to fill our spiritual tanks and remember that receiving is part of giving.
I lift my eyes unto the hills-
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
The Maker of heaven and earth.
How can we walk the journey of grief and find solace for our souls?
If you have ever lost a good friend, you know the struggle that rages in the innermost recesses of your soul – the pain of losing their companionship, the frustration of the loss to the world of their energy and spunk, the grief for their family and loved ones and most of all the realization that you must move on with only the memory of their love.
And yet …. What if your friend was a person of faith in Jesus Christ? What if they knew they were headed into His arms and were going to a great banquet feast with Jesus and all their loved ones who have gone before them? What if their death was actually the beginning of the next step of their journey in eternity?
If these precepts are true, then our sadness and grief is for ourselves and those left behind but certainly not for the person who has traveled on. There is comfort in focusing our eyes on Jesus, knowing that He is celebrating with our departed friend. It does not stop the tears but it provides solace for the soul and brings us a bit closer to being prepared to make that journey ourselves.
Let us make sure we take time to walk with Christ. Let us make sure we are helping those He has placed in our lives to walk the journey towards and with Christ. Pray in earnest for those who are struggling in their walk and above all, let us keep our eyes focused on Jesus because “we can do all things through Him who gives us strength.”
The Wedding at Cana
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and His disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to Him, “They have no more wine.”
“Woman, why does this concern us?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.”
Now six stone water jars had been set there for the Jewish rites of purification. Each could hold from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim.
“Now draw some out,” He said, “and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not know where it was from, but the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone serves the fine wine first, and then the cheap wine after the guests are drunk. But you have saved the fine wine until now!”
Jesus performed this first sign at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.
We have all had events in our lives in which we celebrate – our own “highs” that we take time to acknowledge and celebrate with others – graduations, promotions at work, marriages, births of children – events that cause us to stop and acknowledge that we have been fortunate enough to reach a milestone that is cause to celebrate.
It is good to celebrate – to laugh and sing, to cry for joy and remember what was and what has now come. Jesus knew of the importance of celebration – so much so that he revealed His glory possibly prematurely in order that someone He knew would be able to celebrate to the fullest extent possible.
Most times our celebrations involve ourselves or our loved ones. We observe others celebrations but unless they are our own or our circle of family or close friends it is usually not something we think about.
And yet . . . maybe we should. I am convinced that if we can focus our eyes on Jesus and celebrate someone else’s achievements and successes, we can eliminate jealousy and competition in our own lives. We are not always part of other’s actual celebrations, but we are within the circle of many people’s lives where their successes are known to us. We hear about the birth of children and grandchildren, of graduations and weddings, of promotions and new jobs, or awards and accomplishments.
When we hear of these things from our friends and colleagues – from our Church family and friends, do we take the time to celebrate with them? Do we sincerely listen and share in their joy? Do we pray Blessings over them and their family? Or do we secretly become jealous or ignore their joy because we have not accomplished that milestone yet? Do we wonder in our minds whether the person “deserved” the promotion or who they “knew” in order to get that award? Do we make negative comments about how someone “cheated” to get where they have gone? Do we comment on the age of the parent of a newborn and put our two cents in about having children too early or late in life?
In other words, do we pretend to celebrate other’s joys while in our hearts and minds, we curse their achievements? It is a nasty and vicious trap that many of us fail into, time and time again. We forget that we are not in “competition” with others. We forget that each of us is made differently by God and our paths although similar in some ways vary more than they are alike. We forget that Jesus celebrates milestones and we should be doing the same.
We are called to celebrate with others as God moves in each of our lives. These milestones happen at different times in different ways – if they happened at the exact same time, there would be no one to celebrate with – we would all be accomplishing things simultaneously!!!
My prayer for us this week is that we consciously take time to celebrate with others and share in their joy; that we set aside our own thoughts, judgments and perceived lack of accomplishments, for the express purpose of simply enjoying God’s blessing on someone else.
Scripture: Psalm 23 The Lord is My Shepherd
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
As we become closer to God through our walk each day, several things happen.
First, our inner being begins to be at peace. As we refocus and rebuild, we begin to be aware that we are not whipped about by the waves of life’s storms because we have confidence that Jesus is walking with us and God is in control. We are confident that God’s plan is good and that we are under the umbrella of His protection.
Second, when we remember that God loves us; God forgives us and His grace is sufficient, we realize how freeing it can be to live focused on loving others free from the guilt and condemnation of sin. The more we refocus on God and rebuild the areas in our lives that are lacking, the more we realize the simplicity of doing what is good and what is right with the only purpose being to bring Glory to God.
Third, when we recognize that our purpose is to bring God glory and God’s purpose for us is to be obedient to Him and to keep our eyes focused on Him. Doing this through the process of life we bring God glory and we can be confident that when it is God’s time to bring us home, He will meet us with the greeting, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
None of this means that we will be free from challenges, heartache and disasters. What it does mean is that God has equipped us to face them by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, His Spirit and His Word to guide us through every moment of life. His Plan for us is in life’s process. Life’s coincidences are God’s perfect timing.
Sometimes we get a peek at His Glory as we walk in His Will and in His Way. Those are the mountaintop experiences we hear others talk about. They bring us hope and cement our faith. But, the majority of our time is spent in the valley where life happens. If we had the mountaintop experiences all the time, I suspect we would retreat into the emotion and wonder of what He has waiting for us instead of living each moment in the light of eternity. It is in the valley, where we face what needs to be overcome, that the light overtakes the darkness and we are one with God.
My prayer for us this week, is that we keep our eyes focused on Jesus; we turn away from that which we know needs to be left behind and we look for the “coincidences” that happen to remind us that God is in control and His timing is perfect.