Give > Get

“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.” — Philippians 4:12

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In the past week, my inbox has been bombarded with more than a hundred emails on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, extended sales and more. Everywhere I go, I see the ads — on the bus, in the coffee shop, at the bookstore, at the gym. On my way off work on Friday, strangers greeted me with, “Happy shopping this weekend!”

I thought, ‘Wow. The events this weekend seem like a holiday on its own!’

How are we not to buy in to all this?

What are our true needs? 
Will any of our purchases satisfy them?

This morning, I attended two friends’ Profession of Faith. Their pastor shared on how being in the family of God changes WHO we ARE, how we THINK, and how we WALK:
“Our faith changes our attitude from one of gain to one of generosity – generosity not only with our money, but also with our words, our actions, our time.” This is true.

First, we must realize that our hearts will not be fully satisfied in anything outside of Jesus.

In BSF a few weeks ago, we went through the story of Jesus walking on water, coming at precisely the moment when the disciples became exhausted from having rowed all night in the storm. It was a reminder that Jesus is aware of our needs. At precisely the right time, when the disciples had no strength after battling the storm all night, He came to them.


The truth revealed is this:
“Without His consent and His good purpose, no trial ever befalls any believer… God gives three firm promises:
1) Trials and temptations are common to all people, including Christians.
2) God is faithful.
3) In every trial God provides a way out for believers so our faith can endure it.

Sometimes we fail to recognize God’s way out because it does not come at the time or in the way we expect. 

Second, we must learn not to hold on to our possessions in this world as though they are ours forever.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” — Matthew 6:19-21

We also talked about the story of feeding the 5000 (+) with five loaves of bread and the two fish, offered by the young boy. This is the lesson:

“What you have becomes enough when you place it in Jesus’ hands…. God looks at what we have… not the greatness of our gift. The little boy gave his entire lunch. How far does your giving go?

Sacrificial giving is the only way to experience the great joy of watching God multiply what you have.
What will you risk in faith so you may know by experience?

 

Look at your wealth and possessions. Do you own them or do they own you?
How can you be more generous to those in need with your wealth, your words, your actions, and your time this week?

Tentmakers.

This is not the world we are to be together in. God’s people are the salt of the earth, dispersed and scattered; yet it is good to see one another sometimes, if it be but to see one another, that we may confirm mutual love, may the better keep up our spiritual communion with one another at a distance, and may long the more for that heavenly Jerusalem in which we hope to be together for ever. – M.H.

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But as he left, he promised, “I will come back if it is God’s will.” (Acts 18:21)

 

The Waves.

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.  He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4: 37-40)

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What does it mean to ‘wait expectantly’ for God?

 

 

 

Triumphs & Tragedies

Many things sound like the truth. But ‘almost true’ is not true.
Fear and uncertainty can blind us. But remember Who holds our world in His hands (Isaiah 40:12). Commit this evening into His hands — He already knows tomorrow. And He will guide us.

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3 

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“Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” John 14:27

“I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.  He freed me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4 

 

“You and I have so much for which to be hopeful and thankful. In Christ our sins are forgiven and our adoption secure. His return is imminent, and the consummation of our salvation and the glory, joy, and wholeness of eternal heaven await us. In the meantime, no one and nothing can prevail against God’s good and gracious purposes for those who know and love Him. He and His truth are on our side, and even amid hardships and the assaults of the world, His power is unleashed in and through us during times of frailty and weakness. We have nothing to dread, nothing to fear.” – J.M.

Some reading or listening while we wait (Who is God’s candidate).

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” W. Carey

What is faith?
What is to pray, believe, and expect?

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Carey, a missionary with a heart for India, spoke those words at at time when “many English Baptists considered the work God had given to them to do at home to be sufficiently challenging, going to another continent to minister among peoples of different languages, worldviews, and religions was too great a challenge.” [1]

And is that mindset not among us today?

Question: I’ve heard people say to pray and then to wait expectantly
The last word stumps me. What does it mean? Does my ‘expecting’ put me at risk of limiting God for what He will do?

Answer: The answer has been through Bible verses…

“In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” (Psalm 5:3 — David prays to God for deliverance, for God to lead him in righteousness despite the wicked who surround him.)

“I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope.” (Psalm 130:5 — out of the depths, the psalmist cries out to God.)

The answer points back to our hearts before God:
Is your heart right with God? When you pray, do you ask God to reveal to you the part that He has purposed for you to do for His Kingdom? Or has your eyes settled on a mound of sand on which you can build your house?
(What are you building on, what are you building with?)

The Bible tells of many whose faith in God produced amazing results. Hebrews tells of those “who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong” (Hebrews 11:33-34).

The list of heroes of the faith has grown through the ages, and we can be a part of that list. Because of God’s power and faithfulness, we can attempt great things for God and expect great things from God. (Our Daily Bread, March 2013)

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied… Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.” | Matthew 5:6, 8

I can’t offer clear directions on what it means to expect in the different contexts and specific situations for which we pray. Only that God is able — to fulfill, to deliver, and more. Yet we ought to examine ourselves when we pray and ask. One thing I am learning is to examine the heart when I pray:

Is it pure (are there sins not addressed that prevents me from praying and hearing God)?

Does it hunger and thirst for righteousness (are its yearnings in tune with that of my Heavenly Father’s? Is it based on God’s truth or is it driven by my moods and feelings)?

 

When I read the Bible, do the reminders and encouragement only go so far as to serve me, and my family and friends? When I pray, are these prayers only directed for the good of myself and my loved ones?
Keep praying, keep asking, and may the God of truth and grace continue to reveal to us what we need to keep going.

 

And when I still don’t understand, to pray for faith to trust Him for who He is.
(Friends, we are surrounded by evidence.)

References:

[1] D. Sills — http://reachingandteaching.org/2015/01/10-reasons-to-expect-great-things-and-attempt-great-things.html