Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Could giving be self-centered?

I heard something on the radio the other day that made me stop and think. Pastor Chris Brown, on his True Stewardship Show (hosted by Dave Ramsey), was talking about the difference between giving and returning.

In the church, we talk about giving to God - our time, our talent and of course, our money. Pastor Brown was explaining that while it's a nice concept, it's pretty self-centered! When we decide what we give to God, the focus is on us. What I am giving to God. How I am blessing God. If I am being used by God. Now flip that and think about this: All we have has been given to us by God. Yes, we may earn a living by working, but who gave us that job? Who gave us the mind and the skill to do that job? God, of course. So, it makes sense that we give back - or return to Him what He gave us.

When we acknowledge it's all His, the focus shifts from us to Him. We realize that we are stewards, someone who manages someone else's property, in this case, God's.
"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms." 1 Peter 4:10
In his autobiography, George Muller, a true steward of God, said this:
"In whatever way God makes us stewards, whether in temporal or spiritual things, if we act as stewards and not as owners, He will make us stewards over more."
"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Trials, choices and a harvest of righteousness and peace

This Sunday my husband will be preaching from Romans 1:17:
"For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
What is righteousness?
"The Father through the Son and in the Spirit gives the gift of righteousness (justice) to repentant sinners for salvation; such believing sinners are declared righteous (just) by the Father through the Son, are made righteous (just) by the Holy Spirit working in them, and will be wholly righteous (just) in the age to come." (
OK, so I am declared righteous at salvation, but then I am called to live out righteousness by faith. What exactly does that mean?

A few days ago, I came across a passage in Ezekiel 14 where God is talking to the prophet and not once, but 4 times (verses 14,16,18 and 20), He mentions Noah, Daniel and Job and their righteousness! I began to think about the lives of these three men and what made them righteous in God's eyes. A common thread among all three was their belief (faith) and obedience despite extreme obstacles.

Then, as I continued reading George Muller's autobiography, I came to a chapter entitled Food for Growing Faith. Muller stated that when a trial came into his life, he would pray that God would uphold and increase his faith. He did this with every trial, no matter how small or big. He went on to say that if we stand firm in the hour of trial, we will see the help of God IF we trust in Him. But then came an extremely powerful point. The more I am tried in faith, the more I will have the opportunity of seeing God's help and deliverance. However, I must let God do the work of deliverance! If we get ourselves out of a situation, we show that we do not trust God. And then, in the next trial, we will be inclined to deliver ourselves again. With every trial met this way, our faith decreases!

Let me end with one more passage from Hebrews 12:11 which I hope will put it all together:
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Declare it...just not with words

In his autobiography, George Muller writes of the true story of Baron von Kamp "for the encouragement of believers who are tried by having unconverted relatives and friends." This baron did many great things for his countrymen, but was not content with that. He was always looking for ways to win people to the LORD. When a talented university student wrote to the baron for assistance when his own father could not support him any longer, the baron received young Thomas in a most affectionate way. He offered him a room in his home and a place at his table. The baron served this young student in the most kind and affectionate way as much as possible to show him the power of the gospel in his own life. He did this without arguing with him or even speaking directly to him about his soul. Thomas was deeply involved in philosophy, reasoning about everything, even questioning the existence of God. The baron avoided getting into any argument with him. In fact, every evening when Thomas got home, the baron would meet him and serve him in any way he could, even helping him take off his boots. This went on until Thomas couldn't take it anymore. He said "Baron, how can you do all this? You see I do not care about you. How are you able to continue to be so kind to me and serve me like this?" The baron replied "My dear young friend, I have learned it from the LORD Jesus. I wish you would read through the gospel of John. Good night."

Young Thomas did read the gospel - for the first time with an open heart and willingness to learn. And God blessed him. He became a follower of the LORD Jesus.