The Pursuit of Pleasure

chocolate-devotional

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Pleasure’s benefits are brief and never as sweet as the lasting pleasure seeking God brings.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 1:1-2

“How blessed is the one who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand in the pathway with sinners, or sit in the assembly of scoffers! Instead he finds pleasure in obeying the Lord’s commands; he meditates on his commands day and night.”

Mmmm. The silky smooth milk chocolate glides through my mouth as I bask in the enjoyment of all its flavor. Unless, of course, it is cheap, generic chocolate, wrapped prettily but lacking in substance.

Ah, yes, I am a connoisseur of all things chocolate. Ok. * Sigh *  I am a recovering chocoholic.

But what drove me to this fascination with chocolate? The taste buds that God gave me, and the pursuit of the pleasure I feel when indulging in the sweet bliss of all things chocolate. This pleasure, however, is somewhat fleeting, as the scale reminds me the next day of the cost of that pleasure.

So why did God create tastes buds in the first place? Maybe if we did not have them, we would not delight in food. It seems the senses, in general, can get us into trouble.

Funny things is, God wants us to delight – He wants us to enjoy and experience – even pursue pleasure. The object of our delight often falls so very far of what He has for us, though. Everything around us was not meant to satisfy our deepest need, only our Creator could do that.

We hunger for this satisfaction of the soul and try to fulfill it with the outward senses, but when the temporary fix wears off, we are left wondering why it did not last and what will please us next. Like the Israelites, we hunger for the wrong thing and sometimes blame God when we don’t get what we want.

Then there’s this battle with gratitude. God gives us just what we need and blesses us so abundantly, but we tend to not know our limits. We like His blessing so much we want more and more and sometimes are not content with His provision and can complain when it is removed, as if we deserved it.

I am preaching to the choir here, people. Me, too. I confess that chocolate and I are close – perhaps a little too close, sometimes. But when I realize how I have allowed the creation to become my delight rather than the Creator, it brings me to a place of humble worship.

He alone is my soul’s delight. I have an inner thrill when I consider His incredible care and sovereignty. Wow. Instead of finding delight in things, we can ask God to help us delight in obeying Him and meditating on His Word. It is in this pursuit that we find lasting pleasure that the world can never take away.

Lord, You are our treasure, the delight of our souls. May we never search for satisfaction for our souls from an unspiritual world, but only find our complete joy in God.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 15 – Provision

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Sometimes it is not until we are lacking that we can see God’s provision.

Scriptures of the Day:

Ecclesiastes 7:14

“In times of prosperity be joyful, but in times of adversity consider this: God has made one as well as the other, so that no one can discover what the future holds.”

Philippians 4:19

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Matthew 6:26

“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

Simply thanking God for provision would be hardly sufficient for all He provides for us. He gives us life and grace to live this life. He provides for our basic needs and even delights to lavishly express His love and care for us.

Psalm 34:10

“The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.”

I vividly recall seasons in my life when my husband had lost his job due to the economy and the Federal Government cutting back on defense spending budgets. Trying to find a job when whole offices were let go was challenging, to say the least, but this time became precious to me as I noticed the many ways God provided for us.

Sometimes it is not until we are lacking that we can see God’s provision.

I remember telling my children that we would have to do without things we were accustomed to. Things that we thought were necessary were now understood as amazing blessings. During this season of “lack”, our garden flourished (boomed!) and we were able to give to others.

Unspoken requests and desires in my heart were met by my God Who sees all and Who sometimes goes to great lengths to demonstrate His care. I missed coconut oil, feta cheese, fruit, veggies, cheese and popcorn. I thanked the LORD for the times when we could afford those things and repented for when I had not been more grateful. Barely were these thoughts formed, when, within days, two people randomly said they felt led to give me coconut oil, feta cheese and popcorn. Wow. I had not told anyone. Friends brought fruits and veggies that were not growing in our garden and I realized how blessed we were to have a God Who lived in these precious friends who considered it a joy to help us in our time of need.

In times of need, our flesh can be prone to doubt God’s goodness. But it is in the times of scarcity that we can draw nearer to our God and accept blessings and burdens from His hand. For the burdens of this life cause us to depend on our Maker and remind us that we were not made to live solitary lives apart from God. We were made to know and worship Him.

God truly gives us every single thing we have. Friends, family, home, food, health, work, talents, favor, joy, hope, strength . . . EVERYTHING! His gifts are never taken back, but given at just the right time. Most of all, I am grateful that God provided Himself as a sacrifice for us because of His great love for us. Saved. Forever.

We cannot boast in any belonging, any gift of God in our lives. We can only humbly bow to our Jehovah Jireh, our magnificent Provider, who faithfully gives His children what they need.

Oh, God! I worship You, our Provider! Thank You for all You graciously give to us! Help us to cultivate gratitude in our lives as we recognize Your abundant provision moment by moment!

Truthful Tuesday: Purpose in Provision

Be-careful-what-you-sow

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

By sowing what we have been given, we demonstrate that we trust that God will give again.

Scripture of the Day:

2 Corinthians 9:6

“My point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each one of you should give just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace overflow to you so that because you have enough of everything in every way at all times, you will overflow in every good work. 9 Just as it is written, “He has scattered widely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness remains forever.” 10  Now God who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your supply of seed and will cause the harvest of your righteousness to grow. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you may be generous on every occasion, which is producing through us thanksgiving to God,” 12 because the service of this ministry is not only providing for the needs of the saints but is also overflowing with many thanks to God. 13 Through the evidence of this service they will glorify God because of your obedience to your confession in the gospel of Christ and the generosity of your sharing with them and with everyone.”

Everything we have is given so we may be generous to others, but our giving also is for us. Sowing what is not ours in the first place bears fruit for eternity, and causes us to grow to be more like Christ.

By sowing what we have been given, we demonstrate that we trust that God will give again.

When others look into our lives and see God’s blessing and our obedience to share that blessing, it serves to point them to God and brings Him glory.

All too often, though, we can look at what we don’t have or focus on all of the abundant needs there are around us instead of seeing how much God has truly blessed us with. The fact is, there will always be needs, but those needs point us to the One Who gives us the greatest riches of all – Himself.

When we have Christ, we can sow more than just physical needs – but also seeds of the Gospel into the hearts of others, giving them true wealth. He gives us all we need for this life. He is the vine and living water Who quenches the thirst of all who come to Him.

Just like we should not withhold material blessings when we can give them, the gift of salvation is one we should share liberally, as well.

Lord, may You be glorified in all that You give us and may we be faithful to bless others with the gifts You have given, including our salvation.

 

 

Mundane Monday: Isolation’s Surprise

isolation

Photo Credit Flickr Creative Commons and loufi.

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is in the unlikely places that God reaches His people with His love and grace.

Scriptures of the Day:

Matthew 14:15

When evening arrived, his disciples came to him saying, “This is an isolated place and the hour is already late. Send the crowds away so that they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 15 But he replied, “They don’t need to go. You give them something to eat.”

Matthew 15:33

The disciples said to him, “Where can we get enough bread in this desolate place to satisfy so great a crowd?” 34 Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They replied, “Seven–and a few small fish.”

It is sometimes not until we are in a place of want that we understand how blessed we are. Not knowing how the bills will be paid, hoping the debit card works at the register at the grocery store, not being able to afford prescription medication, or even being unable to fix our car – all things I have walked through – taught me lessons I could never have learned when provision was more abundant.

The assumption the disciples made and we often can, too, is that in those desolate places, when we are alone and it seems there is no help, it is not what we have that matters. It is Who we have that makes all the difference.

The disciples did not see how they could help the masses of people. They looked at what they had, they looked at the resources around them and it looked bleak. This makes sense in our practical world. We don’t plan on what might be, we plan according to what is in our hands. While this is a sensible approach when it comes to living on a budget, God’s math does not add up when His children are hurting or in need. In the place of isolation there is a test. A test to see what our response will be. A test of trust.

He loves to demonstrate His care and use us to do so, as well. Jesus looked at their hearts and longed to provide in a way that brought glory to God. No one could take credit for such a lavish feast. People still scratch their heads today wondering how such a miracle could occur, but that is what is so awesome about God’s provision – it always surprises us because it does not seem possible.

Perhaps one of the most overlooked means of God’s provision is us. He blesses us and watches to see how we will be sensitive to see the needs of others. Will we be His hands and feet? God is asking us today, “What do you have?” Phew. humbling. But one of the greatest joys is giving and seeing God at work in the life of the recipient.  Much like earthly parents love to surprise their children with blessings, our God waits to see if we will call on Him and also be used by Him so He can answer in amazing ways.

But perhaps the need and provision are not the most significant aspects of these biblical stories. God is using that need to open their eyes to seek Him, that we might know Him more.

Lord, thank You that You are never far off when we cry out to You. Please help us to be attentive to the needs around us, ready to help, as well.

Mundane Monday: Unruly Rulers

Steward What You Do Have - unruly ruler

Inspirational Thought of the day:

God has given us everything from provisions to positions, yet still owns and rules it all.  

Scriptures:

Genesis 1:26-27

“Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness, so they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move on the earth.’ 27 God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.”

Genesis 2:18

“The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion for him who corresponds to him.'”

No one likes to be told they have to follow someone else’s rules. Ugh. Our flesh in this culture cries out, “no one can be the boss of me”. That’s our nature. God made us to rule, after all. But in what manner?

Man and woman were both made to rule over God’s creation according to His boundaries, but the tendency of mankind is to add or subtract rules to define our own boundaries to suit our desires.

We were to be stewards of all He had given, and within that work was a blessing – our enjoyment. But we can easily forget that it all belongs to Him. The One Who gives us the right to rule is still the owner of it all.

Something innate within us wants to own things, but in God’s economy, He shares it all with us freely.  While He was demonstrating love and generosity to Adam and Eve, they were pursuing their own glory and wants instead of His.  Their rulership became all about them and was no longer blessed.

He knew all that they needed, provided food and even provided for their need for fellowship – woman was made as a companion for man.  With such blessings, why would they ever want for more?

Both of them were present when they chose to violate God’s law.  Both confused the purpose of the role of dominion and what they ruled over was therefore cursed.  Even their fellowship would never be the same.  A sad ending, if that were the end of the story.

In Christ, we can see the impact of the curse in our own lives and resist evil, but it is a battle we will have to fight our entire lives.  Our flesh gets wearied by this continual internal and external conflict, but it is a battle worth fighting.  Even though the curse is evident all around us, God uses even curses for good in our lives.

When things are not perfect, the curses in our lives can be a catalyst for seeking God and seeing our need of Him.  The initial punishment meted out by a Holy, righteous, perfect Judge ends up as a blessing to those who die to self and seek God’s glory and not their own.  What an amazing God.

It is ironic that the pursuit of wisdom would lead to their demise.  A pursuit of wisdom for our own glory bears cursed fruit, but loving wisdom in order to glorify God bears eternal fruit.  If we can see our rule over what God has given us as a position of servitude instead of a position of power, we begin to see the wisdom in God’s plan and reverse the curse.

Lord, thank You for Your kind provision.  You have blessed us beyond measure and we still always want for more.  Help us to be faithful stewards and to care for everything You have placed in our hands.  May we be content and grateful, never forgetting that everything we have is Yours and for Your glory. 

Twelve Days of Christmas: Merry Christmas from Seeing Deep!

Jesus is the gift

2 Corinthians 9:15 (KJV)

“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”

On this Christmas Day after an extremely busy week, I wanted to take a few minutes to wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Last night culminated the end of a very hectic week, one that crowded out the finishing of the Twelve Days of Christmas countdown.  Nonetheless, as I reflected on this amazing gift of Christ, thinking upon twelve of the things I have been most grateful for that He has given to us has blessed me this Christmas season, and I pray it has you, too.

So, there are a few more gifts to unwrap in this Twelve Days of Christmas wrap up . . . I left off with Day 7 . . .

Day 8 – the Holy Spirit

 

John 4:16

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.”

Often neglected in our places of worship is the Holy Spirit, indwelling all who have called on the Name of God and been saved.

There can be a lot of confusion about the gifts of the Holy Spirit and whether some have ceased and some continue, but in the fray of our confusion we miss the simplicity of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

What a gift to have God come and fill us to overflowing!  He is our friend, our confidant, our Helper in time of need.  Holy and convicting us of sin and righteousness in our lives, He offers us a place of refuge within ourselves.

Lord, thank You for the deposit of Your Holy Spirit in our lives.  Thank You for never leaving us and for continuing to speak to us through Your Word and Your precious Holy Spirit.

Day 9 – Provision

Philippians 4:12, 19

” I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”  19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

It hurts to be in a place of need.  So often we try to cover over that hurt or fill that longing with something that will “provide” temporary fulfillment, but El Roi, the God Who sees all, knows what we need before we even ask Him.

There is a sweet contentment that is learned when we recognize that the provision we are seeking might not be what we need, after all.  Fear is replaced with a simple trust in our God Who provides sovereignly what we need when we need it.

The times of hurt, of not being able to go to the doctor or fix a car or maybe even buy groceries – might make us feel like we are fogotten, but not so with God.  These times are instead gifts that cause us to look to our LORD to meet our every need through Jesus Christ.

At Christmas, we anticipate receiving and giving gifts.  Sometimes we can be disappointed, when we had hoped for something different.  Then God opens our eyes and instead of complaining over what we have not been given, we find a joy in Christ when we love and thank Him when we don’t get what we want.

Lord, You are sovereign – all knowing!  Thank You for every gift You have given us, that we often take for granted.  Thank You, too, for the gifts that You have not given to us, showing us our need of You.

Day 10 – Justice

Isaiah 30:18

“Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.”

Job 16:19-20

“Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high.  My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God.”

Being falsely accused and having to defend myself in court will remain one of the most horrific moments of my life, but even in those moments, when it seemed justice was no where to be found, I had an advocate in Heaven.  He saw me and every tear He counted.

Whether we win or not down here, we ultimately win if we are in Christ.  He is our ever-present help in time of need and for all eternity we will not receive the justice we deserved – the condemnation of our guilty souls.

Sweet liberty is ours in Jesus.  What a gift His justice is for those Who recognize the gift of salvation and receive it.

Lord, thank You for Your mercy, triumphing over our transgressions and making us Your own.  You are good and just all the time.

Day 11 – God’s promises – unopened gifts

 

2 Corinthians 1:19-20

“For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us–by me and Silvanus and Timothy–was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.”

When in times of trouble, these gifts from God – His precious promises – are all we need.  Promises from God are always kept, always remembered, always given to those who wait on Him.

Like unopened gifts waiting to be opened by His children, God’s promises stand firm and are ready to deliver at the right time.

Lord, thank You for the anchor in my soul that every one of Your precious promises has been.  Thank you that You did not leave us without hope; a hope that does not disappoint like the world’s empty substitutes.

Day 12 – Himself

John 4:10

“Jesus answered her, “If you had known the gift of God and who it is who said to you, ‘Give me some water to drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.””

The greatest, most lavish gift ever given was God himself, in the flesh.  We could not behold His face for He is holy and we are not, so He came in our form so we could understand.

We could not have fellowship with him for our sin separated us.  So He laid down His life and took up our iniquities Himself.

We could not spend all of eternity with Him, so He paid our sin debt and covered over all of our sins so we could dwell with Him forever.

Oh God, forgive us when we get so busy we miss this gift of You every day in our lives.  You are our treasure, available at all times to us, not just at Christmas or on Sundays.  Help us to not neglect You, our greatest gift.

Mundane Monday: Plain Beautiful

Psalm 73:7

“Their prosperity causes them to do wrong; their thoughts are sinful.”

Psalm 73:28

“But as for me, God’s presence is all I need.  I have made the sovereign LORD my shelter, as I declare all the things you have done.”

Expenses in life can be so very challenging sometimes.  I confess there are moments when I wonder if it would be possible for some of those pesky challenges to just stop.  Drifting down this line of thinking I ponder what it would be like to have no financial troubles.  It reminds me of the main character, Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof”, when he said, “IF MONEY IS A CURSE THEN SMITE ME WITH IT”.

Our vehicles are all over 200,000 miles and have each exhibited signs of that wear that keep our local auto center in business.  We want to refrain from going to the doctor because insurance does not really pay anything, anyway.  Each month I hope the cost of the prescription for a skin condition has somehow decreased, but alas, itch I must.  Opportunities that I wanted for my kids that we cannot afford.  Food costs drive you to always choose from the value menu if you go out at all.  Vacations?  Usually combined with larger family gatherings because affording a vacation place would mean fasting for the trip.  Exaggeration for effect here, but you get my point.

I am not looking for sympathy, really I am not.  Because even though in one moment I could wish it was a little easier, in the next breath, I am so very thankful that I have not had everything I have wanted.  Sure troubles can be frustrating, but there is a deep contentment within that fills me with peace when I am tempted to wonder why things are not easier.  I trust my God and He is sovereign and perfect in His provision.

Where it hurts the most is when I would want to do more for my children or other people but cannot. In this, too, I can rest in God’s wisdom and plan.  He is their Provider, and mine, too.  He is the One Who meets our every need.  If He does not use me to provide for someone else’s need, He has someone else appointed.  What I have felt as lack perhaps is not lack at all and can also cause me to get creative and contemplate what I can do with what God has given.

So, without sounding hyper-spiritual, where is the blessing in not having all that I want?  Not having enough of what I thought I needed causes me to ask my Heavenly Father for help.  The hunger for more is replaced with a longing for God and I am always satisfied in His presence far more than the temporary satisfaction of comfort or materialistic goods.

This flies in the face of prosperity theology, which would proclaim that we always have an abundance.  Defining that abundance, though, is difficult to do.  When is enough, enough?  Perhaps what we have is an abundance, already.  Let that sink in.  A home, vehicles, clothing, food, electricity, a garden – sounds more blessed than I deserve.

That is what happens when I enter into His presence.  My perspective is changed and what I perceived as plain and not sufficient becomes more than I could ever thank God enough for.  Perhaps having less than all I want is more beautiful, after all.

Lord, help us to be content when others around us appear to be without troubles and humble enough to help those around us who look at us in the same way. 

Worshipful Wednesday: Provision of Promises

Photo Credits wau.org

Photo Credits
wau.org

Psalm 37:30-40

“30 The godly speak wise words and promote justice. 31 The law of their God controls their thinking; their feet do not slip. 32 Evil men set an ambush for the godly and try to kill them. 33 But the Lord does not surrender the godlyor allow them to be condemned in a court of law. 34 Rely on the Lord! Obey his commands!  Then he will permit you to possess the landyou will see the demise of evil men35 I have seen ruthless evil men growing in influence, like a green tree grows in its native soil. 36 But then one passes by, and suddenly they have disappeared!  I looked for them, but they could not be found.  37 Take note of the one who has integrity! Observe the godly!  For the one who promotes peace has a future. 38 Sinful rebels are totally destroyed; evil men have no future. 39 But the Lord delivers the godly; he protects them in times of trouble. 40 The Lord helps them and rescues them; he rescues them from evil men and delivers them, for they seek his protection.”

We cannot fully appreciate the grace of God until we understand salvation and what we were saved from.  Nor can we really apprehend God’s promises until they are all we are holding onto.  Until we have walked in the steps of suffering, we do not need to hang onto the precious promises contained in this chapter of Psalms and they will be a concept we learn and trust in by faith.

When we consider this reality of suffering, gratitude for the challenges of this life consumes us.  We recognize that we would not have the relationship with God if it were not for struggles that cause us to turn our face upward.  Sure, it would be great if we did not have to walk through dark valleys to appreciate God, but our nature is to crave comfort, not trials.  Our relationship with God would be shallow and we would not know the joy of intimacy with God.

These promises are completely free – for those who qualify.  I know, there is always a kicker to gaining promises.  But the thrill of this Good God is that living in the manner prescribed by God is the most blessed life, anyway.  When we are immersed in His word, His Spirit quickens our hearts to do what is right.  What kind of God would save us, provide promises to encourage us to keep pressing on, then remind us through His Holy Spirit and then enable us?  God Almighty.

Those who study His Word are apt to want to keep it.  Some think of it as brainwashing, but meditating on God’s word is life to our soul, not mere religion nor an attempt to just reform our external behavior.  The Word of God has power to change us from the inside out.  What an awesome God who set a standard, instructs us how to walk in that standard, gives us an incentive to follow His precepts, then grants us grace and forgiveness when we fall short.

Especially precious to me is when I read specific examples of God’s action in the lives of His children, like in this scripture passage above, and see times when God honored those very same promises in my life.  I praise God today for the fact that He makes promises to us at all.  We certainly do not deserve it, but He is the Covenant Maker and Keeper who faithfully continues to show us signs of His never-ending kindness and mercy.

Lord, thank You for providing for the righteous demands of Your law and graciously giving us promises to hold onto when life sends us on different roads we never thought we would travel.

The Higher Goal of God’s Deliverance

1 Samuel 1:10

“She was very upset as she prayed to the LORD, and she was weeping uncontrollably.”

1 Samuel 2:1-3, 9

1 Hannah prayed, “My heart rejoices in the Lordmy horn is exalted high because of the Lord.  I loudly denounce my enemiesfor I am happy that you delivered me. 2 No one is holy like the Lord!  There is no one other than you!  There is no rock like our God!  3 Don’t keep speaking so arrogantly, letting proud talk come out of your mouth!  For the Lord is a God who knows; he evaluates what people do. 9 He watches over his holy ones, but the wicked are made speechless in the darknessfor it is not by one’s own strength that one prevails.”

Each day, I am amazed how God speaks to just what I need to hear.  This blog is written directly out of my devotion time, which is from a bible-in-a-year plan.  Yet in God’s sovereignty, He uses right where I am at in His Word to speak to me. What an awesome God.

Hannah’s story has always been special to me.  God sees our longings, but fulfills them in accordance with His will and timing.  Her response is so humble and surrendered to God.  In the face of a rival mocking her for her perceived inferiority because she could not bear children, she cried out to her God.

Don’t we all not measure up somehow, in someone else’s eyes?  Hannah suffered from the onslaught of minimizing, but it was not so much her concern for Penninah’s opinion.  She did not get involved with the small-minded desire to be esteemed by others or to have what others had for vanity’s sake.  No, she longed to be a mom.  The pain and shame of not being able to bear children stemmed from her innate, God-given role as a woman.  God honored this desire.

The sting of a longing unfulfilled can paralyze us if we let it.  But in this beautiful moment of Hannah’s submission to God’s will, she wipes away her tears and trusts in God.  When God granted her request, she praised Him and then gave back this cherished gift to her God.  Our tendency as humans is to want to hold onto God’s provision, but Hannah knew that Samuel, her precious son, was God’s and not hers.  Ultimately, her desire to honor God brought about more blessing for her and five more children.

More than victory over those who would demean her, Hannah had a joy in her relationship with her LORD and had gained something even more precious – character.  Humility gained from other people’s judgment is a reward, too.  It teaches us perspective and guards us from living to please man and reminds us that none of us are without fault.

Overly being concerned with man’s affronts is not righteous.  Jesus modeled this heart of humility when false accusations were hurled at Him and He is the only One in whom there was not a hint of truth in his enemy’s rants.  He was spat upon and murdered and responded by praying on behalf of those who wished Him harm.

Letting go of the idol of currying man’s favor is a beautiful place of peace and freedom.  Hannah was not trying to be glorified by man or be the best at anything.  She was not concerned with other people’s perception of her, and when Penninah’s judgment hurt, she ran to her Father – and He heard.

Man’s opinion is insignificant in the scope of eternity, but our response reveals pride and insecurities or trust and surrender to God.  Hannah chose the latter and glorified God, not herself.  We can, too.  Her “ladder” was leaned against God, not the culture.  Her greatest goal was not being right or triumphing over her enemies, but in glorifying God and being found in Him.

Lord, help us to be in the world and not of it.  May we care more about pleasing you than anything or anyone else.

He is Enough

Exodus 16:12 “I have heard the murmurings of the Israelites.  Tell them, ‘During the evening you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be satisfied with bread, so that you may know that I am the LORD your God.‘  19  “Moses said to them, ‘no one is to keep any of it until morning.’  20 But they did not listen to Moses; some kept part of it until morning, and it was full of worms and began to stink, and Moses was angry with them.” 

Philippians 4:19 “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Enough.  What is enough?  Who determines what is enough?  I can relate to the Israelites here – our tendency is to judge them for not trusting and trying to gather more – kind of gluttonous – but I daresay we all do the same thing.  With a miracle like bread coming from the sky and God promising to give them just what they need, one could rest secure, right?  Yet with similar provision from God that might appear less miraculous, we also can resist dependence on God and place our confidence in our own ability to make enough preparations. 

Don’t get me wrong – preparation is not a bad thing.  Boy Scouts everywhere boast of the necessity of being prepared.  (o:  In fact, lack of preparation is being slack and not a good character quality at all.  But what I am talking about is more a motive of the heart than diligence.  God permitted the Israelites to gather twice the amount before the Sabbath so they could rest – and the worms did not come, nor did the stench reminiscent of gathering too much on previous days.  God had them work to gather food, but He was the source of that food.  He wanted to be their Provider in relationship with His creation. 

Perhaps it is not about trusting whether or not God will provide, but whether or not His provision will line up with what we think we need.  Trusting His goodness, wisdom and sovereignty to see our need and meet it.  When my husband was laid off in 2012, we had no savings.  Poor planning, you might say, but difficult circumstances had acquired any extra income and now we were facing an uncertain time.  Would God provide?  Oh yes!  Just days later, we would receive income sufficient for the time God had placed on my heart – 8 months with no steady income.  Random checks in the mail, a booming garden, and miraculous gifts of food that were exactly what my heart desired, proved to me that God cared about the little details.  Friends could not have known that I missed feta cheese and coconut oil, for I had only told the LORD that – but I received those two items from several friends who felt “led” to give them to me.  We had so much in the garden that I was able to bless people back who had blessed us.

I look back at that time with gratitude and joy.  Uncertain times, but a peace and faith that God granted in the midst.  The Israelites had just experienced God’s amazing deliverance by His parting of the sea.  Now God was testing their hearts – He wanted them to know that He was the Lord their God.  If the trials and testings never came, we would not value the provision that God sends.  We would not be satisfied if we never knew want.  The element of trusting in God and His promises for provision is the core message.  We all do not like to be uncomfortable and our flesh can quickly accuse God when He allows in discomfort, until we recognize it is His loving hand and a heart that desires to have fellowship with us.

One last thing – when someone makes a promise to provide, one usually would want to know for certain that they have the ability to provide.  A borrower wants to be assured that the lender is able to supply his request.  To doubt the capability of the living God to provide – Creator of all and the owner of all on this planet – is lunacy.  He has more than enough and is able to do far beyond what we ever could imagine.  To doubt His goodness to provide is also insanity.  Goodness does not equal giving us everything we want.  We might not be able to go see a movie or go out to eat whenever we want, but that pales in comparison to true needs.  Don’t despise the moments of needing to lean on God more.  Recognizing our need of Him is the greatest gift of all.

Dear Lord, please grant us perspective to see Your purposes and not just the surface we are experiencing.  Thank You that You provided Your Son when we were yet Your enemies.  Thank You for Your steadfast love and care.