Thoughtful Thursday: True Prosperity

True Propserity

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Reconciliation with the Almighty God of this universe is the greatest wealth we can have.

Scripture:

Job 22:21-28

21 “Reconcile yourself with God, and be at peace with him; in this way your prosperity will be good. 22 Accept instruction from his mouth and store up his words in your heart. 23 If you return to the Almighty, you will be built up; if you remove wicked behavior far from your tent, 24 and throw your gold in the dust–your gold of Ophir among the rocks in the ravines– 25 then the Almighty himself will be your gold, and the choicest silver for you. 26 Surely then you will delight yourself in the Almighty, and will lift up your face toward God. 27 You will pray to him and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows to him. 28 Whatever you decide on a matter, it will be established for you, and light will shine on your ways.” 

I’ve heard of people longing to win the lottery – even going to great lengths on strategies to hopefully help them land the winning number – and end their woes.  Thing is, the people who do win often end up destroying their lives.  What happened?  Wasn’t prosperity the solution to all of their troubles?

Some preachers have taught that world wealth is a given for those who are in Christ. People who are poor by the world’s standards must just not have enough faith to obtain the wealth God planned for them.  I don’t buy it and I have never played the lottery, either.

Like Paul, I have known what it is to be in need and to have an abundance.  In both times, I praised God.  I did not want to forget God when He blessed us, nor did I want to blame Him when we were unemployed and sued into financial woe.  God was faithful through it all. Both circumstances were not easy.

In times of prosperity, materialism, comfort and apathy threatened to woo us into a backslidden, religious state.  In times of financial hardship, we had to adapt and go without. We cried out to God and gained things of value that wealth could never give us.  A deeper walk with Him, a deeper trust in Him as He provided in creative ways, and learning contentment – precious treasure earned in challenging financial ordeals.

My children and I look fondly on the times when we craved food that we could not purchase due to a limited budget, then the LORD impressed on other people’s hearts to bring us that very food.  It was very specific and amazing to see God’s faithfulness in even the smallest of things.

The greatest riches we can ever achieve were given freely to us and can never be lost. Eternal treasures purchased for us by the blood of Christ, the cost for our reconciliation to God.  Nothing compares to this prosperity.

Lord, thank You for giving us Yourself, the most precious gift ever.  Please help us to be a grateful people and to share what You have given to us with the world.

Holy Week: The Wealthy King Who Became Poor

life-of-jesus-and-poor-in-spirit

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

“He became poor to show us what true wealth really was.”

Scripture of the Day:

2 Corinthians 8:9

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that although he was rich, he became poor for your sakes, so that you by his poverty could become rich.”

Matthew 8:20

“Jesus said to him, “Foxes have dens, and the birds in the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.””

Luke 18:22

“When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.””

It is easy to get lost in the mentality of this world system – money and belongings are necessary to make it in this world.  Modern day rulers and politicians try to solve the problem of poverty by many means.  Distributing wealth from the privileged to those less fortunate, welfare, etc.  These approaches are flawed in many ways; the wealthy did not choose to share, the poor do not necessarily appreciate it, and providing merely for physical needs does not change the condition of our hearts before a Holy God.

We flee financial problems like the plague.  It is not comfortable to be in want nor to be so dependent on anyone else for basic human needs.  Being poor is not a coveted position, yet our God Who owned it all chose to surrender His position of prominence to give all He had to those who receive it.

Sometimes when we have all we need, we do not see that we have nothing apart from Christ.  He did not have any trappings to hold Him back from His mission and gave all He had to accomplish the purpose to which God the Father had given Him.  How humbling to consider that all he gave us we will be accountable to Him for how we spent it – all for His glory.  Like Schindler, the German business owner who wept at the end of WWII over how many more precious lives he could have saved with the belongings he owned, may God help us to examine the wealth He has given us now and help us spend it for eternal purposes.  More than that, may we be open and ready to see the spiritual poverty all around us and feed God’s people with His Word.

To those who followed him, He announced he had no home.  To those who were hungry, He fed.  To those who were poor in spirit, He made the richest of all.  We typically want to hide our need.  The shame of exposure of being or owning less than we had hoped is seemingly unbearable, but recognizing our spiritual poverty opens our eyes to see our need of a Savior Who is rich in grace and mercy.

Lord, You own everything.  Thank You for leaving it all to ransom our souls so we could be with You forever.  Forgive us for being so focused on temporal provisions and concerns and not trusting Your provision and seeing our greatest need of all – You.

 

Thoughtful Thursday: Influential Influence

Influence 2

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Our battle is not fleshly, but spiritual.

Scriptures of the Day:

1 Corinthians 15:33

Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

Romans 12:12

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

2 Timothy 3:1-6

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God–5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires,

Ephesians 2:1-2

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.”

One verse my children know well as it was a mantra repeated continuously in their childhood was 1 Corinthians 15:33.  It was challenging to strike a balance between warning them about being influenced by ungodly people around them and not judging them, either.

Much like the Israelites had to be reminded to write God’s word down and keep it before them, we need reminders to be aware of the influences all around us.

Most of us do not pause to perceive why we are feeling a certain way about another person or circumstance.  We casually give in to the emotions, unchecked unless we ask God for discernment to see the spiritual influence all around us.

The prince of the spirit of the air is busy.  So are our minds, with over 2100-3000 thoughts per hour going through them.  Keeping track and being accountable for all of those thoughts is overwhelming.

But when we study God’s Word and surround ourselves with godly influences, the sorting of wicked and godly influences becomes easier.  God has made a way out and He will show us what is pleasing to Him and what is not.  The choice is ours.  There is no middle ground. Life or death. Righteousness or wickedness.

Apathy is not the answer, self-righteousness is not the answer.  There are absolute standards that God has set.  We are accountable.

Choosing to abstain from bad influences is not enough, though.  Keeping oneself unsoiled is not the same as becoming a source of godly influences for those around us.  We are a light not because we have anything inherently good in us, but because we have the light of the world within us and He is good and able to use us for righteousness.

Lord, help us to be an influence on those around us that draws people nearer to You.  Help us to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world and to live for Your glory.

Thoughtful Thursday: Seize the Day!

Seize the Day blog picture

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Seize the moments God gives and use them for eternity, for they vanish like the wind.

Scripture:

Job 14:1-2, 5

“Man, born of woman, lives but a few days, and they are full of trouble. 2 He grows up like a flower and then withers away; he flees like a shadow, and does not remain. 5 Since man’s days are determined, the number of his months is under your control; you have set his limit and he cannot pass it.”

Job paints a rather sober view of our existence, one colored by the turmoil he was encountering at the time.  I appreciate his honesty.  It is also helpful to know that our expectations should not be for a perfectly rosy life.  Such an expectation can lead to assured disillusionment.

This passage is just a snapshot, though, into the process God was guiding Job through. Job learned to appreciate his position before an Omnipotent God, but he had not yet learned that he was unworthy of any kindness from His Creator.

A lot of grappling with how a good God could allow suffering had to take place before Job would realize in the presence of God that He was unworthy.  Complaining about the deficient conditions he was in would not produce the righteous life God desired, but walking through trouble would change him into a grateful man of God who no longer took for granted the blessings God gave.

Although Job’s suffering is hard to hear, the lessons “caught” are precious.  Since we have a short life, we ought to live it well.  Climbing ladders for our own selfish gain or expecting a perfect trouble-free life will not be investing in eternity.  God help us to not waste the moments we have been given.

Although we live in a fallen world, the expectation of blessing is ours in Christ, but it is often veiled and hidden from our eyes.  We see blessings where God might see the blessings as stumbling blocks.  We see burdens where God sees a thing of beauty in the making.

Lord, You are all-knowing and know what is best.  Help us to live our lives down here in holy fear, grateful for every blessing and not straying from the mission you have given us – to know You and make You known.

Worshipful Wednesday: Our Security

Security

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Security is not found in what we think we own or deserve, but in Christ alone.

Sctiptures:

Psalm 16:1-2 (NIV)

1 “A miktam of David. Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. 2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” 

Psalm 16:5 (Net bible)

5 “LORD, you give me stability and prosperity; you make my future secure. 7 I will praise the LORD who guides me; yes, during the night I reflect and learn. 8 I constantly trust in the LORD; because he is at my right hand, I will not be upended. 9 So my heart rejoices and I am happy; My life is safe. 10 You will not abandon me to Sheol; you will not allow your faithful follower to see the Pit. 11 You lead me in the path of life; I experience absolute joy in your presence; you always give me sheer delight.”

Security.  Something everyone wants deep in their soul, yet something not found on this earth.  We live in an insecure world that alters at a frantic pace.  We cannot count on anything or anyone around us fully, for everything is temporal and subject to change.  But in all the confusion of constant metamorphoses around us and a high influx of ever-increasing knowledge, we can be still, know our God and be confident in Him.

It is not until we are in a place of having nearly lost everything that we recognize all that He had given to us.  In that place of sorrow over losing what we thought was ours, we gain a new perspective.  The temporary gifts were not meant to be owned, but to be cherished and shared, praising and thanking God for the time we had them.

Any position, status, relation – all are not something we have a right to.  Humbly, we are the recipients of His grace and gifts for His glory.  We get off track when we are in pursuit of comfort and security or getting back what was ours before, instead of pursuing God.

We are each born with different circumstances we think we own or wish we didn’t.  Yet all, whether born privileged or underprivileged, can have this seemingly evasive security – in Christ.

God has good plans for us – but our hope is not in those good plans, but in Him – our living hope and security.

Oh Lord, You are my fortress, my refuge and place of joy!  I do not want to run to anything or anyone before You!  Thank you for the security You have provided in Your Word and in knowing You.  When the world screams insecurity, You hold us and speak Your promises.  I love you, Lord!

Truthful Tuesday: Prevention or Provision of Blessing

Blessings prevented

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The prevention of blessing in our lives is either caused by God’s sovereign grace or our disobedience.

Scriptures:

Genesis 16:2 ESV

“And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.”

Genesis 17:1-2

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”

Walking in the Spirit means sometimes God prevents or leads in a way that does not make sense.  We want the typical blessings of life and do not understand that God’s timing is best.  So it was with Sarah.  God made a promise and she was going to make sure it happened.  Whenever we have to strive to produce God’s promise, we are probably missing the leading of the LORD.

I do not blame Sarah.  I’ve done the same thing myself.  She did not want something wrong, she just went about it the wrong way.  Compromise is like that.  It happens when we follow our own inclinations instead of waiting on the LORD and trusting His timing.

What did God want Abraham and Sarah to do?  To walk before Him blamelessly.  What is intriguing about this requirement is the word “that” which follows God’s command. Waiting on God is all about relationship.  He makes a covenant with us and WE can prevent God’s blessings in our lives when we simply do not walk with Him in obedience.

We can be like a toddler, wanting what we want and all the while God is saying, “come and fellowship with me.  I want to bless you.”  Those who would seek Him would receive the blessings and the greatest of blessings which is Himself.  Those who would seek the blessings miss out entirely on the purpose of the covenant.

If we break His covenant He is still faithful, but we might not see the promise fulfilled or see it massively delayed.

Remember the Israelites in the desert?  That trip should have taken eleven days, but instead it took forty years.  BUMMER.

Even if the journey becomes difficult, walking in the Spirit and trusting in God’s plan and timing is far better than veering off course.  God might prevent us from something, but He is always leading us to another.

Obtaining blessing apart from God’s perfect will feels empty, but the peace of Christ that comes from abiding in God and walking in His ways is unsurpassed to any blessing we were seeking in the first place.

Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness, trustworthiness and promises.  Help us to wait upon You, knowing Your plans and ways are perfect.

Friday: It’s Party Time!

Party Time.png

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

There is no more joy that can be found on this earth than in Jesus.

Scriptures:

Isiah 24:14-16

“They raise their voices, they shout for joy; from the west they acclaim the Lord’s majesty. 15 Therefore in the east give glory to the Lordexalt the name of the Lord, the God of Israel, in the islands of the sea.  16 From the ends of the earth we hear singing: “Glory to the Righteous One.”

Isaiah 25:6-8

“On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations;  he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth.  The Lord has spoken.”

The weekend is here … finally!  So many of us live for the weekend, for a break from the tortuous routine of daily living.  Hoping for an escape from boredom, we pursue relief, even partying as a refuge.

Maybe it’s hobbies or parties – drinking, maybe it’s drugs.  Maybe relationships.  But in all the human pursuits of this earth, eternity knocks on the door of all of our hearts and the longing for something more is not quenched by a momentary celebration or diversion. No, we need something – someOne more.

When I read the verses above, I can’t help but smile.  God is not a spoil sport.  He designed everything for our enjoyment and eternity with Him is going to be filled with joy and delight in His perfect presence.  Parties on this earth pale vastly in comparison to what God has in store for those who love Him!

Those promises the world offers?  Counterfeits.  We can let them go and find real, lasting answers in God alone.  He alone satisfies our soul’s deepest need and desire.

No more death, no  more sorrow.  No tears seen there.  Only perfect peace and joy, enveloped in His love.  Think on that this weekend.  You are loved with an everlasting love.  Right now we can seek Him and know Him and be filled with His Holy Spirit to overflowing.

Lord, thank You that we can know You and enjoy You now.  Thank You for the gifts you lavish on us each moment – Your peace, Your unconditional love, Your Joy and faith in troubled times.  Help us to find our joy in You and to spread it to all the world.

Worshipful Wednesday: The God of the Afflicted

The Afflicted.png

Inspirational Thought of the day:

God chose to identify with the lowly and lifts them up.

Scripture:

Psalm 9:19-13

“The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. 10  And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. 11  Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds! 12  For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted. 13  Be gracious to me, O LordSee my affliction from those who hate me, O you who lift me up from the gates of death.”

Psalm 10:14

“But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.”

Psalm 10:17

“You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.”

Have you ever felt like no one notices you?  Or perhaps no one understands or knows the anguish of your soul?  Silently you suffer, wondering if anyone cares?  There is One Who knows – intimately – every worry or care that floods our minds, every burden we try to pretend is not there.  Jesus.

Every slight you feel, pain you endure – none of it is hidden from God’s keen view.  He longs for us to bring it to Him and lay it at His feet, but sometimes we think we can either bear the burden on our own or that he is not able to remove it from us.

it is not until we reflect on this God Who would choose to be counted as one of us – and not as a popular one of us, but as an afflicted one Himself, that we begin to see His ability to help us to do the same.

Joyfully He bore His cross.  How can that be?  Solely by the grace of God and the God Who helps us see past temporary burdens that can serve as stepping stones to be more like Him instead of enduring through some circumstance we regret.  May we be counted worthy to walk through suffering for the glory of God and not our own.

More than the praise or sympathy from any created person, we have the empathy of the Creator Himself, Who has truly been there and is able to completely understand and enable us to walk the same road he did – with victory.

Lord, thank you for showing us how to walk through this lift filled with burdens and cares.  Thank You for choosing to be afflicted, choosing to die for our sins so we could be saved.  May our light and momentary troubles be seen as just they are – temporary afflictions that lead us closer to you.

Truthful Tuesday: Whose Lead Do You Follow?

Whose lead do you follow

Romans 8:5

“For  those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.”

We’d all like to think that we are led by the Spirit and are making decisions that are wise, but often we do not see the spiritual realm all around us, affecting our thoughts and actions.  The impact of flesh versus spirit affects our lives and those around us.

The choices we make moment by moment are filtered by our mindset which is impacted by many factors in our environment.  Evident in our choices about what we eat (ugh . . . chocoholic confessions here for me), to the clothing we wear, the words we say and the attitudes we have toward other people, we have impressions or feelings that bombard us constantly.  If we are not careful and discerning, we can allow our perception or someone else’s opinion to affect our own behavior.

One main way this flesh is played out is how we treat one another.  Rejection of others who aren’t like us is common in the world, but unfortunately, it also happens at church. People shun others or just plain old don’t like other people who are made in the image of God.  Where does this come from?  If it is not from God, then the answer is obvious, but all too often we do not stop to consider why we don’t like someone.  We might all have different personalities, but we ought to love one another so the world can see that body of Christ is indeed different.

The truth is we are more apt to be carnal than spiritual beings and when we are spiritual, we often get in the flesh and think it is us who are righteous, when Christ alone is our righteousness.

While this is a humbling truth, maybe it can provoke us to be aware of our thoughts and behaviors.  Do they honor God?  Are they of the Spirit or of the flesh?  If we could grab a hold of this reality, Christians would turn this world upside down with godly lives and choices that no longer appear hypocritical, unconditional acceptance and love instead of judgment and forming cliques.

Pleasing self or others and seeking acceptance from God’s creation does not compare with living for the audience of One.  Like Paul, we will have to battle the flesh, but staying in the battle is far better than not recognizing the battle of the flesh versus spirit in the first place.

Lord, may You increase and may we decrease.  Help us to recognize the things that are from You and the things that are not and to walk in the Spirit.

 

Thoughtful Thursday: Loving Discipline

discipline.jpg

Job 5:17-27

17 “Therefore, blessed is the man whom God corrects, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. 18 For he wounds, but he also bandages; he strikes, but his hands also heal. 19 He will deliver you from six calamities; yes, in seven no evil will touch you. 20 In time of famine he will redeem you from death, and in time of war from the power of the sword. 21 You will be protected from malicious gossip, and will not be afraid of the destruction when it comes. 22 You will laugh at destruction and famine and need not be afraid of the beasts of the earth. 23 For you will have a pact with the stones of the field, and the wild animals will be at peace with you. 24 And you will know that your home will be secure, and when you inspect your domains, you will not be missing anything. 25 You will also know that your children will be numerous, and your descendants like the grass of the earth. 26 You will come to your grave in a full age, As stacks of grain are harvested in their season. 27 Look, we have investigated this, so it is true. Hear it, and apply it for your own good.”

Healing.  Deliverance.  Safety.  Provision.  Protection.  Confidence.  Peace.  Fruitful.  Long life.  What an amazing list of promises God has for those who would welcome His correction in their life.  We see this message also in Proverbs 3:11 and Hebrews 12, the living word crying out to us that discipline, while not pleasant to receive, is actually a blessing for those who accept it and yield to the LORD in discipline.

The Word of God is pretty blunt; labeling as stupid those who don’t love discipline.  But when we consider the kindness of someone showing us when we are errant, it would be a fool who would prefer flattery which brings ultimate ruin.

We often think someone going through a hard time is disobedient and being punished, but the opposite is true.  Scripture tells us that we are to accept all hardship as discipline by a Father Who loves us.  Perhaps our view of discipline is wrong.  Instead of seeing troubles as burdens, seeing them as sculpting the inner man while the outer man or the flesh is capitulating to the will of God.

This does not mean we are filled with delight when we suffer, but it means we see that God uses it all for good and that a little sobriety in this life can cause us to live a life that pleases God instead of wasting our lives on futile matters.

When it seems like others are receiving blessings and we reap only trouble, it is in those times that we should not be offended by God, but rejoice that He lovingly has a unique plan for each one of us filled with blessings coming in one form or another; blessing or burden, all of it is useful in the hand of God in the lives of His children.

Lord, thank You for showing us our need of You and where we fall short.  When life seems challenging and we wonder if you see, help us to know that You are a loving Father carefully weaving it all for our good and Your glory.