God’s employee benefits [no begging required]

When you’re looking for a job, it’s almost paramount to have good pay, but you probably also¬†want benefits. Sometimes employers will pay for holidays, contribute to a 401k retirement account, vacation pay, sick pay, stock options, company car, you name it! You work for them, they take good care of you.

What about God?

God promises to provide for us many times in the New Testament. In Matthew 6, He tells us to look at the flowers of the field and see how God takes care of them. Look at the birds, how they are supplied for. He tells us not to take a care, but to follow Him and seek His kingdom. He says, “All these things shall be added unto you.”

So think about that.

Food, drink, and clothing are all taken care of. “shall be added”

Does that sound like you have to work for them?

Do you have to work for things that will be added to you? No, of course not, they’re added.

So before you go quit your job, realize the first condition. You must seek the kingdom of God. That means following God’s direction in your occupation, your singleness or your married life, your leisure time, and your ministry. Seek to glorify God first, and God will add all the necessary earthly things to your life.

Isn’t that wonderful?

God tells us, you focus on my agenda, I’ll make sure you don’t have to think about where your next meal will come from. He’s got it covered!

Psalm 37:25 says, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”

His seed [children] will not beg for food.

Not: they won’t starve. It says: They won’t beg.

If you follow God, you don’t have to beg for His provision. He takes care of it!

I challenge you, choose to follow God. Seek His will. Seek His kingdom. The benefits will always be there, and the compensation will be out of this world! ūüėČ

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If you hunger, you will be filled

I can recollect times in Sunday School when we would recite portions of the Bible in a happy sing-songy voice. Sometimes we paid attention to what we were saying, and sometimes reciting scripture was just a group activity like any other. The Beatitudes (Matthew 5) I can recall specifically. I remember always pronouncing, “Bles-sed” instead of “Blessed” for some odd reason and wondering what it meant to inherit the earth. The teacher usually made ¬†big deal out of being a peacemaker. And usually there was a comment about persecution and how we were actually blessed when persecuted.

These verses hold so much truth. And somehow, knowing them from a young age, I seemed to underestimate their significance. I was reminded of one in particular recently.

Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”

God didn’t say, “Blessed are those that go to church every Sunday and try really hard, for they will be righteous.”

God didn’t say, “Blessed are those who were born in a Christian family for they will be righteous.”

God didn’t say, “Blessed are those who have a large portion of Scripture memorized for they will be righteous”

No.

He said,

Blessed are they who hunger to be righteous

Blessed are they who thirst to be righteous

God’s not interested in performance, talent, skill, or even your “Christian heritage” as much as He is interested in the condition of your heart right now. What do you hunger for?

Do you hunger for status? A job promotion? A six figure salary?

Hanging with the cool kids, or having that person like you back? Maybe it’s becoming famous or having your amazing talent recognized. Maybe you just want to sleep most of the day and binge watch tv shows for the rest of it.

What do you hunger for?

I challenge you, hunger to stand righteous before God. Hunger to know His pleasure. Hunger to have his approval.

Hunger to stand before Him and hear Him say, “Well done.”

God doesn’t want your leftovers, or trophies that you gained from meaningless¬†ambitions. He wants all of you. He wants to be first. He wants you to hunger to stand rightly before Him.

And the amazing thing is, if you do desire righteousness, He will bring it to pass in your life. Your desire will be met, you will be filled, and you will know what it means to be righteousness.

I challenge you, Desire God’s pleasure – there’s no higher ambition.

 

Spiritual farming

Farmers are patient people. Really, they are. Especially gardeners. Every spring, they must work hard to plant the seed. They prepare the soil, and put the seed in the ground and then . . . . They wait. Day after day goes by and the ground looks the same. And the next day it still looks like dirt. And the next. And the next. In order to reap a harvest, they must have faith. You see, the reason that farmers, gardeners, and all of us have food to eat is because someone had faith in the principle of sowing and reaping. The someone sowed, and he patiently waited for the harvest. No matter how many days he looked at the barren ground and saw nothing, he was faithful.

It’s a lot like our spiritual lives. We sow either good works, or bad, and in the end we reap. Galatians tells us, “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” The next verse expounds on that idea in saying, “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Pretty simple eh? Just like your garden, you put in whatever you want to get.

From this we can draw some conclusions. First (and obviously) if you sow to the flesh you reap corruption. Obviously, if you sin you’re going to mess up your life. But remember the patient farmer? Things didn’t look like they were going to grow at first. And that’s exactly how it is with sin. You plant sin, and then you look at the ground and say, “I don’t see anything.” What’s the big deal? The ground looks the same!” Next day, you plant some other sin. And the ground of your heart looks the same. After a while, all those seeds start growing and bearing fruit, and before you know it you are overwhelmed by the sin in your life and there seems to be no escape! All those previous sins are bringing more sins every day and it’s only by the grace of God that you can break the cycle.

You can put your faith in the principle of sowing and reaping.

Second observation. When you sow righteousness, you gain a reward. Here’s one more situation. You plant righteous living in the ground of your heart. And the next day you’re like, “What’s up with all the hard work? It was a real struggle to plant that and I got nothing!” Next day, you plant, but there’s still no harvest. It’s tempting to quit. It really is. It’s not easy to keep going. That’s why so many people sign up for the gym on New years and quit before they’re in shape. They didn’t sow long enough to reap.

You may think, well I sowed. Shouldn’t I reap? Well, yes, you will. But the Bible also tells us, “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also¬†sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” A farmer fills his field with seed, so he has enough harvest to live, and we must do the same. We can’t live off the harvest of one or two seeds. We need a bountiful harvest.

God knows¬†that it isn’t always easy to keep going. That’s why he gives us promises to encourage us. He tells us that we will reap what we sow. He tells us there is a reward for righteousness. He tells us to keep going. Wherever you are, and whatever your situation, I say to you: “Keep going.” Keep sowing. It may not be easy now, but you will reap a harvest. However bountiful your harvest is, depends on what you do now.

I leave you with Galatians 6:9, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

And just one more Scripture I couldn’t leave out: “The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but¬†to him that soweth¬†righteousness shall be a sure reward.” – Proverbs 11:18

Your reward is sure. Keep going!

When you don’t need to know

Little kids want to know everything. They are always asking why, or how much, or how much longer, where did this come from, when will we do this, etc. Sometimes their questions are relevant. Sometimes they are not. It’s the same with all of us grown ups. We can ask a lot questions: some that need answering, and some that aren’t so pressing.

When we read the Bible, we can gain so much information. There is a multitude of knowledge woven into God’s Holy Book and we can gain much from any study of the Word. However, if we approach the Bible without a proper attitude and understanding, we can waste a lot of time. Yes, I said you can waste time when studying your Bible. It’s true!

In John 20:30, we can read, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:” Think about that, God left a whole bunch of information out of the Bible. Jesus did so much, and we only have a small portion of what He did. Why would God leave so much out? Well, the next verse gives us insight. It says, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”

It’s quite simple, God wanted us to have life. He wanted us to believe on Him. And that’s why He ordained the Bible to be written. The Bible was written that we might be saved, and that we might continue on living a full life with God.

The Bible was not written to satisfy our every curiosity. There is much profit in studying God’s word, but every once in a while we should examine our method and motive for studying it. Sometimes our questions aren’t relevant. Questions perhaps like, “I wonder what the sop was at the last supper?” “What color were Jesus’ eyes?”¬†“Who are the two witnesses in Revelation 11?” Obviously God didn’t tell us. There might be a reason why. It’s fun to wonder now and then, but we don’t necessarily need to spend exorbitant amounts of time theorizing about what God found proper not to tell us.

In Daniel 12, God tells Daniel many things. Daniel asks God how everything will end and God says, “Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” Just like we can, Daniel asked out of curiosity, and not out of a desire for holiness and maturity. There is nothing wrong with being curious, but sometimes it can be wiser to simply use the information revealed to live a righteous life.

God knew what He was doing when He wrote the Bible, and He knew what He was doing when he left information out. He gave us more than enough to live an abundant life. Let us not fritter away our time away wistfully wondering about information God considered unnecessary. I challenge you as I challenge myself: Let us take what God has given us and allow it to refine us into who we need to be for Him.

We can never exhaust the supply of wisdom to be found in the Scriptures, but we can strive to gain as much as we can in the few short hours given to us. Lets use the Word to gain Holiness and Glorify God!

Will you stand in judgment?

Psalm 1 is a beautiful description of the righteous man. This servant of God, has nothing to do with sin. Not in his lifestyle, partial participation, or even occasional activity. He desires and delights in God and in His law. Because of His obedience and desire for God, he stands tall and brings forth fruit while others fall away.

Because of his innate strength gained from God’s blessing, he will remain when the wicked pass away. After the Psalm mentions the ungodly falling away ¬†like chaff, verse 5 says, “Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.” This seems to imply that the righteous man will stand in the judgment and in the congregation of the righteous.

But what does it mean to stand in judgment? Is God saying that the wicked won’t be judged? Obviously not. In this passage, I believe standing in judgment means to stand as a judge. As 1 Corinthians 6:2 says, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” God will appoint people to be judges when he returns, and the wicked will not fill those positions.

In contrast, the man who delights in God and lives rightly, will. It’s easy to live the Christian life, sinning without care and repenting later. After all, once you’re right with God the slate’s clean? Right? Well, not really. There will always be the consequences of your actions. You will have negative effects from your sin, and so will others.

Our lives must be lived for Christ to have maximum influence. Someday our lives will be over, and we may very well see the impact of every thought or deed we have produced. It may be that even though we are saved, we may not be counted worthy to judge very much in the next life. As Christians we must focus on the eternal. Our lives are too short and precious to be lived for ourselves. I challenge you, be like the righteous man in Psalm 1 who completely shuns evil. You will see how much God can produce through your life. You will stand in judgment- and in the congregation of the righteous.

Be righteous, and your afflictions will be many

Even if you are a faithful and obedient Christian who loves the Lord and follows His statutes, there will be times of trouble and trial. And God tells us those times will be many.

Psalm 34:19 tells us, “Many¬†are¬†the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.” – Psalm 34:19

Look at David! He was a man after God’s own heart. As He was following the Lord, He was betrayed, plotted against, and hunted down by the king like a wild animal.

Paul was a great apostle, and while he was doing God’s work, he was subjected to all sorts of trials. Shipwreck, beaten at least 8 times, subjected to the ocean for a day and a half, bitten by a poisonous snake, and even stoned.

It is easy for us to complain. To mutter. To feel bad for ourselves when things like this happen. But that isn’t the right way. We must trust in the second part of the verse. We must put our faith in the Lord that He will deliver us. And when He does, others will see His goodness, we will be stronger and more devoted servants, and our faith and his faithfulness will ring out His glory for all eternity.

So I challenge you, when your many afflictions come- and they will come- Trust in God. Fear Him. Honor Him. Don’t allow yourself to be conquered by the enemy and wander in a desert of self pity or fear. Put your trust in the Holy God whose strength is beyond measure and whose power is without compare. He will deliver. He will save. And we will praise His name!

“But the salvation of the righteous¬†is¬†of the LORD:¬†he is¬†their strength in the time of trouble.¬†And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.” – Psalm 37:39-40

“For¬†I¬†reckon that the sufferings of this present time¬†are¬†not worthy¬†to be compared¬†with the¬†glory¬†which shall be revealed¬†in¬†us.” – Romans 8:18

When your bones wax old

The human was not designed for sin. I was told once that it is not human nature to sin. In fact, “It is not human nature to sin, and every time a human sins, he becomes less human.” When I heard that, I was astounded. But if you realize that we were created to have a relationship with our Creator, then the idea is no less than common sense.

In Psalm 32, David says something we don’t usually hear in our English. He says, “my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.” At first, this verse can be a little confusing, but if you read the chapter thoroughly, it becomes clear.

David spoke this when he was keeping silent, and further verses explain that he was keeping silent about his sin. David explains that day and night, God’s hand was upon him, prompting him to confess and forsake his sin. While David kept silent about his sin, his body either felt like, or actually was¬†deteriorating.

David made a good choice. He decided to get rid of that sin and stop holding it inside him. Instantly, David felt better. He begins to speak of all the things that God is to Him. As we know, humans were designed to have a relationship with their Creator. He says that God protects him, and is his hiding place, and gives him songs of deliverance. God delivered David from his sin, and David rejoiced and sang songs of praise to Him.

So here’s the contrast, Sin: Bones rotting and cries of distress ~~~ Righteousness: Praise to God, a relationship with Him, and joy.

Which benefit package would you like to apply for today?

I challenge you, if there is unconfessed sin in your life, make it right, right now. You weren’t designed to sin, in fact, sin is the very thing that destroys you and brings your death. Don’t allow such destruction to reside in your heart. Make a choice to make it right today, and God will forgive you.

In Psalm 32, David gives instruction. He says, “Be ye not as the horse,¬†or¬†as the mule,¬†which¬†have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near thee.”¬†In short, will you be like the animal who must be punished in order to follow his master’s instruction, or will you willingly follow His words because He knows what’s best?

The psalm finishes with, “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all¬†ye that are¬†upright in heart.” – Psalm 32:11

Choose righteousness and live.

Adjusting the white balance

One of my old roommates was taking a photography class back in the day. As part of his projects he had to take several pictures with different lightings, and being his roommate, I observed his work. I noticed that every time he was about to take a picture he would hold up a white piece of paper and do some tinkering on the camera. He called this adjusting the white balance.

You see, no matter what lighting the picture was taken in, the camera had to be adjusted- and it had to be adjusted only by a certain card. As I thought about this, I realized that it was a lot like our focus in the Christian life.

Proverbs 28:5 tells us, “Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all¬†things.”

Evil men don’t understand righteousness and proper judgment because their lives aren’t based on any standard. They live how they want. They’re like a camera that hasn’t been balanced. They are unaware of what is proper because they live without any guidelines.

Those who seek the Lord, however, they understand. It’s interesting, they understand not only judgment, but they understand all things. No matter what situation, circumstance, or ‘lighting’ these people are in, they can make sense of it. They can judge what is true. Their view isn’t off color or wrongly shaded because they have a standard, and their standard is the Lord. With their eyes on Christ they perceive what is truly important and what is not. What is righteous and what is evil. What is proper and what is not.

If we try to focus our lives on what we see around us, and the “light” around us we will never have a clear picture of our situations. But if we keep the standard of Christ before our eyes, and seek Him, we can have understanding in any situation.

I challenge you, let us not be as the wicked who are tossed to and fro. Let us seek the Lord, and while we seek Him, and adopt Him as our standard of living, we can live our lives on the rock. While others may find themselves in confusion, we will have a sure foundation from which to stand, and to pull others out of the storm.

Let’s live on the Rock!

“He is¬†the¬†Rock, his work¬†is¬†perfect: for all his ways¬†are¬†judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right¬†is¬†he.” Deuteronomy 32:4

Can God be worse than an infidel?

Today I would like to share an interesting perspective on how we can have faith that God will provide for us. We must first realize that we are God’s children. In Galatians 3:26 we can read, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” Because of our salvation, we have been adopted into His family. We are the children of God by the faith we have in Christ Jesus. In short, all¬†Christians¬†are God’s children. So now that we know that God is our father, we can read 1 Timothy 5:8 in a new light.

1 Timothy 5:8 says, “If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.” So if we are God’s children, and He doesn’t provide for us, God is worse than an infidel.¬†How could God deny the faith that He is the source of?¬†How could God be worse than an infidel? The answer is simple, He can’t. ¬†We know that, whatever our situation may be, God will provide for us. As Jesus preached in Matthew 6, “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” If you are a Christian, I would like to encourage you, God will provide for you. He cares for His children and will not allow them to be deprived of food, water, clothes, or any other necessities.

In the Old Testament, Israel needed water, and he caused water to come out of a rock, twice. When they were hungry, He miraculously provided heavenly bread for them to eat, for forty years! When Jesus was on the earth, he caused food to multiply so the multitudes could be fed, twice. Time and time again, God provides for the needs of His children.

God is powerful. He knows all and is over all. Isn’t it comforting that we, being His children, are important to Him.

“I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous¬†forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”

Psalm 37:25