Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, podcast, politics, Uncategorized

Abundance

When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down.  Numbers 11:9

There’s a lot of chaos in the world these days creating havoc in so many lives.  But if we were to breakdown the situation into two basic schools of thought we’d probably arrive at the concepts of scarcity and abundance.  On one side you have people who believe everything in the world is limited.  Limited natural resources, limited finances, limited opportunities, limited food, limited education, and on and on.  On the other you have the concept of abundance.  That we are limited only by our will to seek, create, build, gather, harvest, and more.

God created a world teeming with abundance.  He has always provided and will always provide.  That’s not to say we don’t need to share in that abundance but rather we should live in the mindset of what we are given is 1) from God and 2) enough.

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life  does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Luke 1:14

When we think of the gift of abundance from God, we can be swayed by the world into attributing it to “stuff.”  How much stuff, money, food, etc we have.  We will see that unfold today with Black Friday stories of fighting and grasping for more of that “stuff.” But in God’s world abundance is to be shared.  Whether we are blessed by money, talents, love, possessions, and more God is always asking us to give freely and abundantly just like Him.  

The concept of scarcity entered the biblical story when Pharaoh was worried about the drought and famine.  He greedily began gathering up all the grains and animals for himself.  He worried he wouldn’t have enough.  And throughout the Bible we read stories of people, like the prince who approached Jesus to become one of his disciples, who cannot open their treasure stores because of their fears of scarcity.

These conflicting world views are sometimes used to say Jesus is a socialist.  But that twists the message of the Bible.  A government which forcibly takes from one people (who they deem having too much abundance) and gives it to others (who they deem are not able to live abundantly) is acting out of that scarcity mindset.  Jesus always wants our heart.  He is powerful enough to demand it but wants it freely. 

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Matthew 6:25

When I see young people on the streets screaming for the rich to “pay their fair share” it really saddens me. What is a “fair share?”  Who has determined what someone is “owed?”  Who has determined what is “enough?”  All that comes from a belief there isn’t enough.  But God has created a world of amazing abundance.  There will always be those that have more and those who have less.  The only person we owe anything to is Jesus.  And when we thank Him for His abundant love for us we should be spurred to share in all that He has given us.

Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, podcast, Uncategorized

The God Spark

So God created mankind in his own image in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

Recently, an archeological site in Jordan was determined to be the site of the ancient city of Sodom – destroyed by a meteor of fire.  That fact is now added to the 1000s upon 1000s of texts and archeological finds supporting details found within the Holy Bible.  As author Eric Metaxas explains in his new book,  Is Atheism Dead? , science, rather than moving us farther away from proving God’s existence, is actually moving us closer.

The desire by scientists to prove or disprove God does prove something else – our human desire to be connected to something greater than ourselves.  In fact you could argue there is really no such thing as atheism.  If we haven’t submitted ourselves to the one and only God and savior then we have most likely submitted our lives to something else.  In our yearning for connection some turn their job into their worship.  While for others it is nature, money, self-improvement, the mystical, and all other manner of things the Creator has created.

Where then are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them come if they can save you when you are in trouble! For you, Judah, have as many gods as you have towns. Jeremiah. 2:28

Since the beginning of time we humans have sought not just the answers to the universe but a connection to it.  I’ve heard it called the “God spark.”  Something within us that seeks Him, not always knowing who or what we seek.  It’s the work of the Holy Spirit moving in and out and around us whispering to us to look heavenward.  Far too many turn a deaf ear and instead seek the world for this connection and are never fully satisfied.

I was recently asked why I started going to church.  About 25 years ago my oldest daughter, then around 4 years old, started drawing angels.  And singing about angels and asking about angels.  We didn’t attend any church or even talk about God.  It wasn’t during Christmas season.  Her questions were so innocent and yet deeply yearning for answers.  It sparked me to start asking those same questions.  Mind you, even though I came from an atheist household, I always believed God existed.  I just didn’t know anything about Him.  But with that innocent child’s questions our family began a journey.

I am so thankful that God put some of Himself in each and every one of us so that we would have that yearning to be re-connected with Him one day.  So many of us just need to be directed to the Creator instead of His creations.

30daysofpraise, Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, podcast, Uncategorized

His Next Chapter

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:10

I was asked recently in a Bible study to list all the religious and “good works”  activities I do.  This included serving my family and friends.  After making the list we were then to write who we do those activities for – other people, ourselves, or God.  I have to admit that my list was mostly things I do for myself.  Including said Bible study.

How often do we go to church to “fill ourselves up?”  When we join a small group or Bible study is it in service to God or to help us learn more about ourselves?  Or worse still, out of some obligation?  When we clean our floors is it to please our spouses?  When we volunteer to help in the church childcare, usher, fill bags for the needy, is it to elevate ourselves or check off our boxes?

I recently had a bit of a perspective shift about why I should devote myself to my Bible studies.  In the past, I’ve taken the point of view that they help me either “fix myself” or learn more about God.  But what if instead we view our study time as just the first, necessary step to then fulfilling our obligations to God?  To be prepared for Him to use us in ways He has planned?  The last step isn’t to die daily to sin.  Our last step is to be His implements, His well trained workers. Like students at medical school. They take classes to become medical doctors. Students don’t stop at just the classes. They have a goal — to cure people.

Today I praise God for His expectations of us.  He expects us to learn how to lean on Him and trust Him.  He expects us to clean up our hearts and minds for Him.  But all that is in anticipation of Him sending us out to fulfill His plans.  

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?  James 2:14

I’ve met Christians who, though they love the Lord and have worked on cleaning up their own house, have stopped at their own doorstep.  They are satisfied with not stepping forward and saying, “You’ve worked a good work in me and I’m ready for what you need of me.” 

It’s not enough for us to stop being prideful.  To stop seeking revenge.  To stop worrying.  To stop loving money.  We need to ask God, “What do you want me to do with this great thing you have done?”

And now that I’m thinking differently about God’s expectations, I’m looking at my time with God in a new light.  When I go to church, I want to learn more about Him and worship Him.  I want to actively thank God for allowing me to serve my family and friends in His name.  And I’m asking, ”what in this text or in this Bible study question can prepare me to serve Him?”  I don’t want to stop being a part of God’s plan at the end of the book.  I want to help Him write the next chapter of something new.


bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, Faith, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

The True Story of God With Us

Therefore the Lord himself 
will give you a sign: 
The virgin will conceive 
and give birth to a son, 
and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14

At the time that Isaiah spoke this prophecy the nation of Judah was under a large threat from Assyria.  Alliances were being pressured and formed.  King Ahaz of Judah refused to align himself with the northern tribes because he had secretly made a pact with the Assyrians.  He didn’t grab hold of God’s past deliverances and trust God to save him and his people.  

Isaiah made his prophesy about the coming savior to the entire House of David as a warning to trust God and no one else.  God is with us (“Immanuel”) in so far as we are willing to trust and believe Him.

God is with me.  I hold on tightly to the knowledge that His Holy Spirit dwells in my heart, mind and soul.  It’s a promise completely fulfilled with Jesus.  And yet, I still occasionally fall into the trap of looking for a savior outside that promise.  A chance to make more money, a politician who scatters promises like birdseed, a new diet to get me “back on track” or a vaccine that will make the world “normal” again.

Promise made and promises broken

My BSGs just finished a section in our study of Everyday Theology.  It focused on scripture – its validity, relevance, purpose and origins.  We discussed how our modern times reflect Biblical times in so many ways.  Warring political factions, the lack of faith, and how the promises of God still stand true for today.  

Our world needs to grab on to the truths of scripture.  The Bible isn’t just some book some random guys put together.  It is what the study author calls, “God-breathed.”  There is no other book on the planet that has as much historical evidence to support what it says.  I asked the group why did the author choose to start a book about theology with the topic of scripture rather than say, God?  

One member responded quite rightly, “Because the Bible gives us the character of God so we can better understand who He is.”  

I gave the visual of using an encyclopedia book – yes, the actual book.  In the ole timey days we would hear about something and turn to the encyclopedia to learn more about it.  We knew what was written in that book was true.  No doubts.  After reading all about say, Marie Curie, we could be assured we knew just about everything we needed to know.

That’s how we should view the Bible – the true and relevant encyclopedia about God.  And know that it’s all true.  So, when Isaiah prophesizes the birth of Jesus hundreds of years prior to his birth, we can see it as confirmation of the whole story being true.

All Scripture is God-breathed 
and is useful for teaching, 
rebuking, correcting and training 
in righteousness, so that the 
servant of God may be thoroughly 
equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

And knowing it is true – that Jesus came to be our savior and the Holy Spirit would dwell in us for all time – should cause us to look toward Him and hold on to Him as our only savior.