Not just knickknacks

Before the Israelites entered the Promised Land Moses had a few things to say to them. He reminded them of what life was like in Egypt and how they lived while in the wilderness. He wanted them to remember the past before they went into the future.

Moses wanted them to think about all that had happened that they witnessed or had been told about. He wanted them to remember all God had done. It was important that they remember, and acknowledge, all the miracles that had occurred, how God protected them and provided for them. They needed to be reminded that even when they wandered away from God, He never left them. 

Moses also reminded the people of the commandments, decrees, and laws of God.  Ignorance would be no excuse.  They were told and knew what was expected of them.

This very day God, your God, commands you to follow these rules and regulations, to live them out with everything you have in you.

Deuteronomy 26:16 msg

The people listened to Moses and they agreed to do as the Lord commanded.

You’ve renewed your vows today that God is your God, that you’ll live the way He shows you; do what He tells you in the rules, regulations, and commandments, and listen obediently to Him.

Deuteronomy 26:17 msg

In making this declaration, renewing their vows, the Israelites promised God that they would listen to His voice and do as He commands, and they would be obedient. Like the Israelites preparing to enter the Promised Land we make promises and declarations when we become followers of Christ. We promise that we will walk in His ways and listen obediently to Him. And like the Israelites we are given the commandments, decrees, and laws. We have His Holy Word and His Spirit to remind us. Perhaps because of this we have even less excuse for our wayward ways.

And today God has reaffirmed that you are dearly held treasure as He promised, a people entrusted with keeping His commandments, a people set high above all other nations that He’s made, high in praise, fame, and honor: you’re a people holy to God, your God. That’s what He promised.

Deuteronomy 26:18-19 msg

And like the Israelites we are His treasured possession; but we can know this more assuredly because we have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. We are a holy people of God, our God. What God promised has been delivered!

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Is it not a wonder that we are not just some silly knick-knack in God’s house, we are a treasured possession.

I wonder if when the Lord looks at me if He thinks I am taking good care of His treasure?

I wonder, where is my dust cloth and polish? I know for certain there are dust bunnies and cobwebs…

Just wondering…

What and how am I to give?

When you think about giving what comes to mind?  When you are asked to give your fair share what do you think is being asked of you?

Most think of money, the amount payable on the check they write.  And, of course, money is needed. The church and charities need money to provide services to the saints in need and the community’s poor, and to pay salaries, rent, utilities, all the basic expenses incurred.

Then there is the question of how much we are expected to give.  If everyone gave a tithe of ten percent of what we have then we would all be giving basically the same.  We would be giving the same percentage of what is in our pockets.

We may, also, think of things we can give.  Food to a food bank; blankets, clothes, and toiletries to a homeless shelter; clothes, diapers, formula, toys and books to a women and children crisis center; pet supplies and food to an animal shelter.  Many, if not most, of us have more than we need or will ever really use and giving to the less fortunate is not a great sacrifice.

There is, I believe, another way we are to give.  When we receive the Holy Spirit we are given His gifts.  We are all blessed with these gifts but not all are given the same portion of each gift.  Some could be strongly gifted in one area such as teaching or mercy and less in discernment or hospitality, others may be largely gifted in healing or service and less in leadership.  We are all blessed the same and yet, differently.

If we are to give to others part of what we are blessed with then is it not reasonable that we are to give a portion of our spiritual gifts to others?

The Lord thinks so:

…giving a freewill offering in proportion the blessings the Lord your God has given you.

Deuteronomy 16:10 niv

The church in Macedonia understood, it is a privilege to give of what we have be it money or things or spiritual gifts.

….they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.

2 Corinthians 8:4 niv

How we give of what we have is as important as the sharing of our blessings.  We are to give not just because we are commanded to do this but that we have decided in our heart to do so, willingly, without guilt or outside pressure, and not reluctantly, but cheerfully.

…make up your own mind what you will give.  That will protect you against sob stories and arm twisting.  God loves it when the giver delights in giving.

2 Corinthians 9:7 niv

This is what pleases God.

I wonder if I have ever “urgently pleaded” to share what I have?

I wonder what gifts, in particular spiritual gifts, I have been stingy with?

Just wondering…

Understanding Truth…

Some of what God has to say in His Word is hard to grasp.  In this world some of what is taught and believed by the majority is contrary to the Truth. That does not make Truth false or a lie; it is still God’s Word, Truth.

With God the majority does not, has not, and never will, rule.  He alone is Sovereign.  For many what they do not understand they refuse to accept as real.  They can accept television, cell phones, computers, and myriads of other complicated, highly technical, and sometimes outrageous things without understanding how and why they work;  because they can see things they know they are real.

It is different with God.  When we look around we can see the evidence of Him but we cannot actually see or touch Him.  Even when looking around us we need to look with eyes of faith.  Otherwise, what we see we may believe to be just random particles a big bang accidentally threw together that amazingly is beautiful, complex, and life-sustaining.

It is not enough to know about God, we must know Him personally.  Once we begin to know God understanding will come.  Occasionally, it will come in a big exciting powerful way.  Sometimes  through others, preacher’s sermons, teacher’s lectures, reading books, and conversations with friends.  More often, it will come in quiet moments of reflection, meditation, and prayer.

Over the years I have found that I often do not understand something because I am not ready for the insight or revelation.  Because God is faithful He will not give us understanding or insight if the revelation is too much for us.  Sometimes we need  nurturing and time to grow and mature before we are given understanding in an area or on a particular subject.

And we know that the Son of God came so we could recognize and understand the truth of God–what a gift!–and we are living in the Truth itself, in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  This Jesus is both True God and Real Life.  Dear children, be on guard against all clever facsimiles.

1 John 5:21-22 msg

I really do not wonder that I do not understand everything about God and His Ways.

But I do wonder that He does understand everything about me…and loves me anyway.

Just wondering…

My Assignment: Guard Duty

There is a war going on, a spiritual war, between the forces of light and darkness.  They are fighting for our thoughts.

What we think directs who we become. Who we become determines who we belong to. Who we belong to defines who we are. Who we are shows everyone Who we worship.  It all starts with what we think, our thoughts.

The battle is a fight for our will.  It is fought silently.  Sometimes overtly but usually subtly.  On the outside the fight is through our senses; what we see, hear, smell, feel, all influence what we think.  Within our minds thoughts begin to develop.  How they develop depends largely on which of the armies has the designs or characteristics or qualities most attractive to us.

Here is where we decide what is truth and what is lies, what is faithful and what is folly.  This is where we choose to follow wisdom or fools.  In this place we acknowledge and proclaim our God…or gods.

Though we cannot see the battles being fought we can see the results.  Some of the results are seen or felt only within ourselves; calm or quarrels, forgiveness or desire for retaliation, peace or pandemonium.  But much is seen and felt by others; love or hatred, warmth or coldness of heart, service or slavery, kindness and compassion or selfishness and cruelty.

If we do not admit to ourselves that there is a spiritual war taking place, a war with constant fighting and hostility we will be vulnerable.  Our defenses will be weak and not at the ready when the assaults come.  And they will come, this is war!

But remember, this is spiritual warfare being fought by spiritual forces.  We are not the ones actively engaged in fighting the war. Still, we are not to be passive onlookers.  The battles are being fought for the possession of our thoughts.  We are to do what we can to protect our minds, our thoughts, during this warfare.

We must know what the deceptions are and recognize the arguments against the truth.  When we see the lies and foolishness we are not to entertain them!  We must sweep them up and lock them away.  We are to capture and imprison all thoughts and things that raise themselves above God until the time they acknowledge Christ and are obedient to Him…and only to Him.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:5 kjv

My mind may be the battlefield but it is a comfort, to me, that I am  not assigned as one of the soldiers fighting the war.  My assignment, in God’s army, is to be a guard.  Keeping the disobedient thoughts captive until they see the light, bend their knees, and bow down to the Victor, Christ.

I wonder how good a guard I am?  Sometimes one, or more, of those captives do seem to escape on occasion and have to be captured again…and again…

Just wondering…

Building Structures

Everyone knows all structures, buildings or organizations, beliefs or organisms, must have a good foundation out of which to grow.  A foundation that is not honest and true, one without integrity, will be easily shaken and lose its footing.  Sooner or later it will crumble and fall apart.

Just as important as the foundation is the core or center of the structure.  The character of any framework determines how the form develops.  The interior architecture is where the essence or personality is located.

Once the foundation and core are in place the outside, the part that is seen, takes shape.  Then we can see what the architect and builders had planned for the structure.  We can see not only the shape and form but the purpose of it.

Our physical bodies have a foundation of DNA, organs at the core, skeletal framework, and flesh that covers it all.  Our spiritual being has the same four basic components.

As builders we get to choose what our foundation is made of, it is wise to choose carefully.  If we choose something other than our Creator, God, to be our foundation it will crumble and not support us.  Without God as the foundation we will give way to the storms of life and be blown off course.

The heart is our center or the essence of who we are.  In the heart our personality and character develop and build the framework that gives form to our life.  Again it is our choice how we develop our heart and framework.  We choose the materials and tools we use to establish our house.

When the foundation, core, and framework have been put in place how we live is determined.  And how we live is what the world sees.

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh,
but envy makes the bones rot.

Proverbs 14:30 niv

With wise and careful choices we will be peaceful and strong, relaxed and animated, temperate and powerful.  There will be no bitterness or resentment, suspicion or covetousness, to cause decay, corruption or deterioration of our life.

When we follow the blueprints and have the best of components then what the world sees is the Architect of our life, His plans and purposes.

I am in wonder of the intricacies of life and yet how simple it is when we get out of the way and let the Master do His work.

I wonder if I will ever truly understand how much love is poured into this structure?

Just wondering…