Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The gift of giving in the age of entitlement?

I have been thinking of the spiritual gift of giving.  Romans 12:5-8 says, "So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness." (Listening) I find it interesting that this is a plea for us to use our gifts.... "Having gifts let us USE them... if you have the gift of prophecy... they speak! If you are gifted to teach, teach! 

Wow, that may seem simplistic, but I believe that satan works hard to make us afraid of the very thing we were created to be so what a release from the LORD.  "Hey you, yeah, you... I know it's scary to teach, because you have had bad experiences but I built into you a gift of teaching.  Let it out child and lean on Me for the words and the message.  Teach for God sake!!!

I'm not just picking on the teaching gift.  I'm really kind of confused about the gift of sharing or giving.  Our world has come to expect rescue.  I cringe at the things said after hurricane Katrina.  People angry because they weren't rescued fast enough.  Say again? No one had the obligation, rescue was a gift, wasn't it?  How can you give with liberality when people expect you to give even more than you have?  It's twisty! (listening) Hmmm, the sense I have is a restating of how important it is to be listening and guided by the LORD in what we do.

Spiritual gifts are POWERFUL!!!!  If we wield them by our own power someone is going to get hurt! Giving to some is no gift at all and yet the right gift at the right time will send people to their knees in awe of the LORD.  Listening and obedience is the key.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

"Let these words sink down into your ears" Luke 9:44

Wow, how do you do that?  "Let these words sink down into your ears". Mark 4:9 says, "“He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Is He talking to me?  Am I not listening? Is He talking to someone else who has hold of my ears?  Dear God help me to let all your words sink down into my ears.  I think I need to spend the next few weeks reading the red words... The ones that are spoken by Jesus himself.  Dear Father, Let these words sink down into my ears so that I am really hearing!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Stepping away from God's protection

For years I questioned the integrity of God.  "How can you be good when" "How can you be good when my child was murdered?" "How can you be good when I am dying of cancer?" How can you be good when the world is falling apart?" My biggest hurdle was the question, "Where were you" in connection to my own encounters with evil.  "Where were you God, when I cried out for rescue?" Where were you when he beat me?"  "Where were you when the unthinkable happened?" "Where were you when my baby died?" I believe that He has answered me and His answer revealed a covering, a protection over my life.  Now instead of the constant question of why, where were you, there is a deep inner peace and knowledge that though I am not always protected from pain, I am protected from something far more debilitating... evil.

The Young's literal translation of the Bible translates the last part of the Lord's prayer in Matthew 6:13 this way "And mayest Thou not lead us to temptation, but deliver us from the evil, because Thine is the reign, and the power, and the glory -- to the ages. Amen." That's huge to me.  Yes, Lord yes! Deliver me from THE EVIL!  The evil is horrible!  Everything else reverberates from there.  Pain is not our enemy in fact it is our friend.  It tells us something is wrong but evil is very much our enemy and it inflicts a much deeper wound than pain.

Protection from evil is not always protection from death.  Isaiah 57:1 says,

"The righteous perishes,
And no man takes it to heart;
Merciful men are taken away,
While no one considers
That the righteous is taken away from evil."

But while questioning God's integrity I was looking at how I didn't feel protected.  How the world seems just "out there" receiving whatever blows our way.  What if we are protected.  What if we have a choice to be protected or not?  What if we can choose to seek God's protection or reject it? How did this earth become the perfect place for life as we know it?  We have so many rings of protection around our world it is amazing!  For instance the ionosphere that protects us from the harmful radiation of the sun.  It has there long before we knew about it and without it we would be hard pressed to survive.  How much of God's protect are we missing?  Satan (the true bringing of evil) calls God's integrity into question pointing out the many catastrophes humanity is facing, yet he is not the one we cry to saying, "enough!"

I wonder all that as I wonder if we are stepping out from under God's protection as a nation... Is it that God is so cruel or is it that without Him evil will come.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Forgiving and avenging...

(listening) Hmmm I am reading Psalm 99 in the New American Standard.  Verses 6 through 9 says, "Moses and Aaron were among His priests, And Samuel was among those who called on His name; They called upon the LORD and He answered them.  He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud; They kept His testimonies, and the statute that He gave them. O LORD our God, Thou didst answer them; Thou wast a forgiving God to them, and yet an avenger to their evil deeds.  Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at His holy hill; for holy is the LORD our God." This passage feels full of balance.  Wow, what a statement, "Thou wast a forgiving God to them, and yet an avenger of their evil deeds." That statement gives me peace when thinking about people in my life who have been both kind and cruel to me.  I want God to reach past atrocities because we are all capable of terrible things... but I also want justice because without it kindness and forgiveness would mean nothing. And because if there was only forgiveness, there would be no end to the evil.  There must be consequence.  Without it evil will overwhelm every good. Justice brings as much or more life to my soul as does mercy.

Listen to this line, "They called upon the LORD and He answer them. Wow. I believe God listens and answers, not only these priests of the past but you... and me.   I also believe that He corrects and guides.  I'm thinking of that song by Garth Brooks called Unanswered Prayers.  In it Garth suggests that sometimes God's good gift is choosing not to give us what we have asked for.  I personally wouldn't call them unanswered prayers but prayers that were answered, "no" or "wait".

Sometimes, no matter how hard I want to do good, sometimes my behavior is harmful to others.  When I sin, others are sinned on and those that are sinned on need to know that God is their defender.  Even if He defends against me.  That also gives me peace.  It means that I can trust Him with the damage I am bound to cause. If I am living in reckless abandon in my walk with Him. I have to trust Him to avenge those I have hurt.  If I am ever going to trust Him to avenge those who have hurt me.  I want consequences because I want to become more than I am.  More gracious, more kind and understanding, more humble and pure.