When giving is not easy

When giving is not easy

The great prophet Elijah, under God’s direction had pronounced a drought on the nation of Israel as punishment for Idolatry. All the land had been afflicted. People everywhere were running out of food and starving, such was the case with the widow of Zarephath.

This widow was down to almost nothing, when God tells Elijah “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” (1kings 17:9) To Elijah’s credit he did not question God. Who would have ever thought a widow with next to nothing could provide a place of refuge.

When Elijah got there he asked the widow for food. She described the little she had. Once again Elijah is not disturbed. He instructed her to feed him first and then her child and herself. The nerve of this man to come into town as a stranger to take the little bit she had left. But Elijah understood God’s plan. This widow was about to find out that not only is there a God, but that He can take the little we have and turn it into a great blessing for ourselves and all those around us.

Shockingly she did not give the strange man a “piece of her mind” or in other words “tell him off”. No, remarkably she submitted. She would take the little bit of flour and oil and make bread for Elijah and miraculously there was still more left to make. The next day the same thing would occur. Everyday there was always more flour and oil to make bread. As long as she fed the man of God, she had flour and oil for her family. The widow practiced great faith, in obediently giving the little she had and God rewarded her faith.

It is not easy to give when we have little. But there are many ways of helping those in need. There are also multiple ways of helping to progress the work of God. When we sacrifice what we can in faith, God is faithful in return. I would never promise great wealth. However I know that God is able and willing to care for our needs when we learn to trust in Him. Jesus said “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:31-33) Paul also said “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

A Purpose for the New Year

KJV Bible

KJV Bible (Photo credit: knowhimonline)

If these are the last days what should we expect?  Faith to decline. False teaching to increase, men to become “lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God”, (2 Timothy 3:1-4).

Paul also explained that in the last days instead of seeking the truth and God, people would seek confirmation for whatever they wanted to believe, and practice. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:1-4)

These are not pretty pictures, men and women living their lives purely seeking to pleasure themselves without considering the world around them and most importantly those less fortunate than themselves. To make matters worse instead of seeking the truth they only look to confirm their selfish beliefs and justify their actions. Has this already occurred? Are we living in the last days?

We are the ambassadors of Christ. Jesus gave us the great commission to go into the entire world to teach everything he commanded and to make disciples. (Matthew 28:19-20) Sometimes we cowardly remain silent while we hear the world justify outrageous actions, abortion, pornography, violence, just to name a few.  We also stand by while many, including Christians, become more materialistic and hedonistic.

It may not be popular but our focus in these trying times must be preaching the gospel that changes lives, a gospel that teaches us to love God above all things (Mark 12:28-30), to obey the commandments (John 14:15), to love one another, regardless of our differences (Matthew 5:43-48), to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Mark 12:30-31), to do unto others as we would have them do to us (Matthew 7:12), that directs those that have to help those that do not have (Mark 10:21, Acts 4:32-35) that emphasizes sacrifice, giving and kindness over pleasure, taking and callousness.(Matthew 25:35-40)

The living and preaching of this gospel should be the purpose of our new year. It begins at home and then extends to the rest of the world.  Let us begin today!

More from bibleaid

1-What is a Christian? article/devotional

2.-Verses on love (A  list of verses)

3-Commandments of love article/devotional

4-More bibleaid New Year’s articles and resources (link to a collection)

Enhanced by Zemanta

What is a christian?

You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Matthew 7:16

The history books speak of Christian armies conquering the new world and enslaving Indian tribes. The Spanish Inquisition with all its horrors depicts Christian’s torturing their victims into submission. We have early American Christians hunting down witches and killing them. Many claim Adolph Hitler to be a christian and thus another example of a violent sadistic Christian. The list, I am sure, could go on and on. There is however a consistent problem.

If we claim to be Christians we must follow Christ. I would make a very strange Christian if I were following the teachings of Buddha or Mohammed. I would also be a strange Christian if I didn’t believe that Jesus was the messiah and the bible his word. To be a true Christian means you are following Christ and are sincerely trying to submit to his teachings. Jesus declared a principle that is basically applied by all thinking logical people. He said “You shall know them by their fruit.” (Matthew 7:15-20) Till this day we rightfully and intelligently judge people by their actions, not by what they say or claim. In other words I could claim to be a rocket scientist. Does that make me one? I could claim to be the strongest man in the world, but if my neighbor beats me in arm wrestling then I am not. My claims mean nothing if my actions do not support my claim.

The teachings of Christ are clearly laid out in the gospels for the entire world to see. Christ warned his followers that if you live by the sword you die by the sword.(Matthew 26:52) He also said that we should love our enemies. (Matthew 5:44) It is difficult to claim you love your enemies if you are torturing, burning, enslaving and killing them. He also said that we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves. (Matthew 22:39) This needs some explaining. Jesus used the parable of the Good Samaritan to clarify His teaching. We learn from the parable that your neighbor is anyone you come in contact with, due to technology that could be anyone in the world. If we are busy loving everyone as we love ourselves how could we justify harming them in anyway. This next principle from Jesus truly makes it difficult to commit acts of violence and torture on anyone. He said do unto other as you would have them do unto you. (Luke 6:31) Now if the intention of the Crusaders was to have someone invade their home, then they would be justified. However I seriously doubt that. Nor were the crusaders desperately seeking to die by the sword. They obviously were not following the teachings of Christ of doing unto others what you would have them do to you.

Now if all of these violent men were ignoring the teachings of Christ were they really Christians? The simple answer is no. If you are following someone you live by their rules.

Jesus gave of us rules of love. If we were not clear on them, He then specifically told us how to love. Our love was to be one of sacrifice. The good Samaritan went out of his way to help the injured victim he found. On another occasion he told a rich man to sell everything he had and give it to the poor. Jesus also taught that we must feed the hungry, clothes the naked, visit the sick and the imprisoned. This command came with a warning, that if we failed to do this we would be condemned.(Matthew 25:35-46) Jesus also warned against harming children and the innocent.

How did Jesus expect his followers to treat sinners? First we are all sinners, which is why Jesus said judge not less ye be judged. (Matthew 7:1-3) However, Jesus did expect all sinners that would become his followers, to repent of their sins, and sincerely try not to sin. He on several occasions had commanded those he had forgiven to go and sin no more. However he never suggested forced conversions. Jesus was looking for sincerity, which is why He said we would know them by their fruit. It is also why He said we must worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24) Jesus did give his followers directions on what to do if their message was rejected in any given town. They were to simply leave. (Luke 9:5) No swords involved.

There have been violent men in all religions, nations, cultures, races and they have existed throughout history. They have often used their nation, culture or religion to convince others to follow and assist them in their quest for blood. Some were Muslim, others Christians or atheist. A faith should be judged on it’s holy writings and teachings of its founder. We are all seeking the truth and we should not allow ourselves to be fooled by the actions of some who claim to be the adherents of a faith but then brake every commandment of that faith. I would ask that Christianity be judged on the works of Christ and His true followers. He turned fools into wise men, leaders into servants, sinners into saints and the condemned into the saved. He has changed countless lives for the better and will continue to do so until He returns.

A time of Darkness

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105 

Prostitution, idols to other gods, incense burning to a multitude of  gods, priest dedicated to the worship of strange gods in the temple, the practice of witchcraft,  channeling (also known as mediumship or spiritism) and the sacrificing of children, by burning them, were among the horrific practices of Israel when Josiah became king. (2 kings 22-23)

How had Israel fallen so far from the grace of God? They had rejected God and misplaced their bible.  They had tossed out the very word of God, as if it was garbage. They no longer had any use for it.

Israel had entered a time of darkness much like our own.  We now have a society that has rejected God and the bible is treated like it’s a work of fiction.  Its rules, commandments, code for living, and guidance in all matters are no longer applicable.

Today we have prostitution, drug addiction, and in this year we’ve had almost 40 million abortions; in the United States 22% of all pregnancies end in abortion. (http://www.worldometers.info/abortions/).Slavery exist all over the world, in the form of human trafficking, where children and woman are either kidnapped or bought from poor parents and kept worst than cattle. They are sold into prostitution, used in pornography (remember pornography is protected as free speech) and when they are no longer of use resold for body parts. In our generation, with the United Nations firmly established and active throughout the world we have seen in different locations government sponsored genocide, wars and acts of aggression. We are living in a time of darkness right now.

In Josiah’s time the nation of Israel was spared complete destruction for only one reason.  They rediscovered God’s word and turned to it with all sincerity. They put away all their evil practices and obeyed God. I truly believe that God is merciful and if our nation can rediscover God it would bring down a shower of blessings that would benefit both great and small. It is still not too late for a revival.  We can begin with caring for our neighbors, sharing God’s love and preaching His word.

Try Verses on the bible

Stay the Course

For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David. 1 kings 11:4

Staying the course, especially if it’s a long one, can be a difficult challenge. Preparing for a competition, seeking a new career, sticking to a weight loss program, starting a business or just getting a degree; there is an endless list of long term goals that can start with a fury of commitment but end with a quiet fizzle, like the air coming out of a balloon.

Solomon, one of Israel’s greatest kings, the same Solomon famous for his wisdom, was given a lifelong course. He was to remain faithful to God, so that God would bless his descendants. Solomon started out great. He asked God for wisdom and used it to make his kingdom great. He enlarged the kingdom, built a larger army and navy. Increased his wealth and gained famed throughout the world. But he also married quite a bit. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines. That’s 1000 women to keep happy and listen to. In the end it was too much for even the wisest and richest man Israel ever saw. The bible relates that Solomon in his old age worshiped the gods of his foreign wives. God was angry and punished Solomon. Most of his kingdom was torn from his son, coming under the rule of another family, tarnishing the greatness of Solomon.

Our Christian life is a lifelong course as well with many challenges. There are many forces seeking to take us in different directions. Temptations that would cause us to sin and commit acts that do not please God, tops the list for sure. However quiet innocently we can relegate our walk with Christ to low priority without even knowing it. We can fill our lives with many wonderful and productive activities. Too many activities, like Solomon’s wives, can act to squeeze God out. We must be attentive to where God is fitting in our schedule. If there isn’t much time for Him we risk an even greater danger of failing God, as Solomon did.

Consider the time we spent on God, once upon a time, when we were on fire for Christ. There was time for Sunday school, prayer services and even a chorus rehearsal. Bible reading and prayer was a daily routine. Whenever a special program or service was announced we were glad to be there. No sacrifice was too great for our God.

Perhaps some of us are still on fire. We must stay the course and be aware of the forces working against our commitment. However if we are within the group that has grown a little cold don’t wait another second to seek God earnestly. Make a re-commitment to serve God fully.

No more excuses!

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh….(Exodus 3:11)

Moses was having a pleasant time. He was relaxing while tending to his sheep in the quiet stillness of the night. However, for no apparent reason, a bush went up in flames, and didn’t burn up. Then the voice of God was heard. Moses was terrified and hid his face. Then it got worst.

God proceeded to give Moses directions to speak to the mightiest man on the planet. He had to tell the ruthless pharaoh of Egypt to let the enslaved Israelites go.

Moses came up with one excuse after another. First He said “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt? (Exodus 3:11) In other words I am not important enough to speak to pharaoh. Then Moses said, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” (Exodus 3:13) The implication was that he didn’t know what to tell the people who were supposed to follow him, the Israelites. God told Moses what to say, but Moses was not done giving excuses he said “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.”(Exodus 4:1). God performed several miracles before Moses to show him what he would do as proof. But Moses was still not satisfied and said “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” (Exodus 4:10)

Four excuses, Moses truly had self esteem issues. He was certain that he lacked the qualifications. He must have been thinking “Just let me take care of my sheep, that’s all I am good for.” But he was wrong.

Many of us have had these moments, when we doubted our abilities or capacity. Perhaps we thought “Lord I know you don’t make mistakes, but there must be someone better for this task, responsibility, or position.” But we are wrong also. If God calls us to do something or hold a position he will equip us. He will educate us and prepare us. If He wants us that means we are the best person for the job. It could be a talent or an expertise we have or perhaps a quality in our character that God sees. God can see the gifts he has placed in us, while we sometimes only see our failures and weaknesses.

With Moses the excuses finally stopped and he did go to pharaoh. Ten plagues later, and a disastrous defeat for pharaoh’s army and the Israelites were free. The whole time all Moses held in his hands was a staff, but the power of God was behind him every step of the way.

If we say yes to God’s calling in our lives His power will be behind us every step of the way, the enemy will be defeated and what awaits us will surely be the promise land.

You may like these Verses on excuses