It’s About the People!

I am a giver.  I do not boast in saying this, for God, Who lives in me, is the Giver.  The more I let go of all those natural concerns about not having enough, or what about me, the more I give.  Amazingly, the more I give, the more I have to give.  This is definitely God at work!

Luke 6:38 “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full — pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”  (NLT)

The other day, though, I was faced with something else about me working against that growing nature of a giver.  God created me with a pretty strong administrative gift, which means, among other things, that I live by lists.  Lists help me stay focused more easily, making better use of time.  Besides that, a written list helps my brain stay de-cluttered by not having to remember everything.  In living this way, it follows that I also check off items once completed, which can lead to a get-the-task-done mentality.

As you can imagine, if this is out of balance, the list ends up driving me, rather than being a tool to help me stay focused.  While it is important to do what the Lord has given me to do every day, I must not let completion of the tasks be my only focus.  In God’s eyes, there’s a much more important reason for the tasks than the tasks themselves.  The people with whom I come into contact in the process of doing those tasks, and my character being developed because of interacting with those people are the real purpose.  Our Perfect example, Jesus, was never so involved in a task that He neglected the people – a lesson I needed to remember the other day!

I had gathered a few groceries to take to the local food pantry, which only receives donations during the same hours it serves the people.  Earlier in the day, I had made a mental note, nestled between other tasks on my written list, to deliver the groceries late in the afternoon.  As I parked, I saw several people standing outside, waiting their turns to be helped.  I also spotted a couple of women putting people’s names on a list.  Being focused on delivering my bag of help, I zeroed in on one of the women whom I recognized from a local business.  She ushered me inside the bustling food pantry, full of people helping and receiving help.  I quickly handed them my donation and returned home.

No sooner did I walk into my living room, than I was struck with the fact that I hadn’t acknowledged the very people to whom I had taken my groceries.   I was so focused on the task of delivering that I had missed the purpose of the delivery – to give to the people.  My heart wasn’t wrong in the giving.  I simply forgot the whole point of it – the people.  Perhaps all it would have taken was looking into their eyes with the love of God.  Maybe a smile would have conveyed that they still have worth and value to the wonderful God Who created them.  Just recognizing their presence in a very humbling time for them might have opened a door to share the good news of Jesus – the very reason I am able to give!

I share this with you not to give myself a way of cleansing my conscience, for Jesus Christ already paid the price with His blood, glory to His name.  No, I share it in hopes you will remember my story when you find yourselves so caught up in the tasks that you are forgetting the very reason for the tasks.  No matter what the task, it’s all about the people!

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  (NIV)

Just One Drop

I offer in this post a little twist to typical Thanksgiving messages, though it is written to elicit effusive thanks to our wonderful God.  I hope by now you know me well enough to expect nothing standard from me, no matter the season!

As I prayed with some friends recently, we saw something of Jesus’ actions on the cross that caused us all to respond with shouts of thanksgiving and praise.  I don’t know that it was a brand-new, never-heard-before kind of thing, but somehow it became real to us in prayer as it never had before.

Our prayer was for the body of Christ to know the love of God, to experience it the way He gives it – lavishly.  That word, lavishly, was very important.  When I think of a lavish feast, I think not only of top quality foods prepared by the best chefs, but of heaping platter upon heaping platter on table upon table, with nothing running out – ever.  If a parent lavishes gifts upon their child, there are so many presents that the child cannot possibly take advantage of them all.  Even that, however, doesn’t come close to what God has done for us in sending His Son Jesus.

How could Jesus, the Lamb of God, shed His blood for us, covering all sins for all time, when the lambs sacrificed for sins as a ritual act year after year never could?  It all had to do with what was in His blood.  Because He knew no sin, the quality of His blood was perfect.  With that being the case, only one drop of that perfect, sinless blood was required to pay for all sin for all time.  Just one drop covered them all.  But Jesus shed all His blood for us.  All!  He gave more than the basic requirement.  When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He poured His love out for us lavishly.  It was almost as if, in giving it all, in abundance, lavishly, He shouted a shout that continues to this day to those who will hear:  “I love you!  The price for your sin is paid beyond its cost.  You are worth it all and more!  I love you!  I love you!”  It reverberates across the miles, across the centuries, across the cultures, throughout the entire world.  And this message is not for the masses, but for every individual.  It’s for you, too!  Receive the lavish outpouring of His love for you today!

Romans 5:16-17 NIV  16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:12 AMP  Now we have not received the spirit [that belongs to] the world, but the [Holy] Spirit Who is from God, [given to us] that we might realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts [of divine favor and blessing so freely and lavishly] bestowed on us by God.

Is This Crisis About His Kingdom?

Does the current economic crisis have you on edge, to put it mildly?  It’s something I’ve been battling for a few weeks now, this sort of edge of fear and anxiety, though I know the perfect love of God casts out all fear.  Yesterday morning, I had a little glimpse of God’s perspective that set me free from that fear – even the edge of it, and I want to pass it along to you.  I want to make clear that I do not have all the answers, all the what-abouts and how does that fit this theology, etc.  I’m just giving you what I was given to understand by the Holy Spirit, and trust that He will help you see it and even more.

I had turned to Matthew 6 in the Amplified Bible to read what we refer to as the Lord’s Prayer, particularly verse 10, where Jesus says, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  How often that has come out of my mouth in prayer and declaration when praying for this nation, and when praying for the body of Christ.  I continued reading in Matthew 6 until I got to verse 24, where I felt like part of the verse practically screamed at me.  Jesus begins this verse by saying, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions, or whatever is trusted in).”  The word cannot was so big to me in that moment, and I saw this as the root problem in our economy.

Jesus spoke very definitely that we cannot serve Him and money, too, yet that is exactly what we have been trying to do.  In His mercy, it has been allowed for a time; but now in His mercy, He is exposing it so we will return to serving only Him – and all as a result of praying and declaring “Your kingdom come, and Your will be done right here in Your church and in this nation!”  He led us to pray it because He wants to move in mighty ways here, but He didn’t show us just how He was going to work it out.  (Sometimes, it is just better that we don’t know all the steps ahead of time!)

In that moment of revelation, any power of fear over me in these times was ended, praise the Lord!  Though I still don’t know how He’s going to complete it, I know the Greater One lives in me, and He is fully trustworthy, even when things are in upheaval and seemingly turned topsy-turvy for a time.  I couldn’t help but exclaim Romans 11:33 & 34 Amplified, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unfathomable (inscrutable, unsearchable) are His judgments (His decisions)!  And how untraceable (mysterious, undiscoverable) are His ways (His methods, His paths)!  For who has known the mind of the Lord and who has understood His thoughts, or who has [ever] been His counselor?”  In God’s infinite wisdom, He knows what is needed to return His people to Him.  When we do as 2 Chronicles 7:14 says – humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways (serving mammon), then He will fulfill His part of that promise – hear from heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land.

No, I don’t know the specifics of how God will heal our economy, but I know He has promised to do so when we turn away from serving money to serving the One True God.  He will forgive us, helping us change so that His kingdom will be made known on earth (through us, glory to God!) as it is in heaven!