Monday, October 15, 2018

Wide Blessings


“…all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”  Genesis 12:3 NIV

God called Abram to leave his town and to travel to a place that God had prepared for him. God promised to bless Abram for his obedience and said that the blessings would extend beyond Abram to all the people on the earth. How true that promise has proved to be. Because of Abram’s obedience, the nation of Israel grew, and out of that nation came our Saviour. As Christians, we also bless people in ways that we don’t foresee. Our influence goes beyond our intimate circle of family and friends as we support missionaries, gather as churches praying for the needs of the world, vote for governments and shine our lights into dark corners of the human condition.  God always has the big picture in mind as well as the personal relationships with his people.

I am not Abraham, nor am I a person of wide influence but my life does have an effect on the world. As I encourage young people in their faith, who knows where God will lead them? Even in small ways, by being patient and kind I reflect the light of Christ and those who come in contact with it feel blessed. My name will quickly be forgotten after I die, but my spiritual life as a Christian will have changed the world for the better.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Right Order


Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. Haggai 1:9 NIV

The book of Haggai describes the Israelites as a people who are interested in their own worldly prosperity and who are neglecting the Kingdom of God in their pursuit of material gain. The prophet points out to them that in spite of their hard work, their harvests are slight, their appetites are not satisfied, their clothes don’t keep them warm and their money keeps disappearing.  He is challenging the people to put God first and see how He will bless them. Today, many people, Christians and non-Christians are struggling to get their personal house in order and postponing any engagement with God until they feel secure in their careers, houses, or relationships. Sadly, they have it all backwards as the first stone of security is to be in relationship with God. Seek first the Kingdom of God.

Life really can seem like a book. I have watched friends and family chase after fame and fortune, careers and adventures and, while they have obtained some of what they were hoping for, the amount of effort is not in line with the meager return. On the other hand, I have seen people who put God first in their lives and I have observed how God has blessed them above and beyond their efforts. God has chosen to bless me financially in unexpected ways and I thank him for honouring my desire to put his kingdom first even if  it cost me money.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Kings


He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. Daniel 2:21 NIV

The Old Testament can be a difficult book to read. In it are many stories of violence and wars. Some Israelite kings are concerned for their people but others aren’t.  How can it be that God is sovereign over the rulers of the world if some of them are so bad?  I think sometimes God uses our rulers to discipline us even as he uses good rulers to bless us. It is in our nature to be rebellious and selfish, and those characteristics can lead us down many paths away from God. We don’t always realize the ways in which Satan is ensnaring us or preparing us for destruction. Sometimes God has to figuratively slap us to get us to pay attention and see things as they really are. God is always going to bless us, Satan will always try to destroy us. Satan  masquerades as an angel of light and very often deceives us.  He is after all the father of all lies and his biggest, most persistent lie is that God does not want what is best for us.

Hard as it can be to understand, I need to remember that God does put our leaders in their positions. They are not perfect and may do things that I disagree with, or that are harmful to our country. God is not primarily concerned with national governments; he is concerned with his personal relationship with us. I need to keep my relationship with him as my primary focus. However,  I am admonished to pray for the political leaders of my town, province, and country, and I believe I should exercise the right to vote as this is also something that God has given me. Politics can be frustrating but if I keep my eyes on Jesus I will maintain a view of the big picture of God’s work in the world.



Monday, October 1, 2018

Help My Unbelief


The boy’s father exclaimed, ”I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” Mark 9:24

The father of a boy who is having dangerous fits asks Jesus for help. He pleads with Jesus that if Jesus can do something for the boy, that He does it. Jesus points out the man’s doubts of Jesus power and says that everything is possible for the one who believes. The reply of the man is such a good reflection of how so many of us feel.  We do believe and yet there can be niggling doubts. We come to Jesus, praying and wanting to feel sure of his care and love for us, but we are not totally convinced of the veracity of his words. I appreciate the honesty of this man who knew that his faith also needed to be bolstered by the power of Jesus.  In spite of our doubts, Jesus does answer our prayers in the way that is best for us just as He did with this man.

As I get older, it is easier to look back and see God working in my life.  Some situations that were painful at the time I now see in a different light  and realize they drove my life in a better direction and helped me to grow in my faith.  I have more peace and love to share with others because of those prayers answered in God’s perfect way. Going forward I trust God to keep his hand on me and to bless me as He has promised He will. My prayer also needs to be : “help me overcome any unbelief.”

Friday, September 28, 2018

True Power




…nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ…Romans 8: 39 NIV

Violence, intimidation, mockery, poverty, illness – none of these can separate us from the love of God that is manifested in Christ. We are absolutely secure in his love and in his everlasting care. This is true power. It is the power that can overcome fear and hate. To know that we are loved by God, the creator of the universe, reduces attacks against us, whether by men or Satan, to their real level. Our shepherd will keep our souls safe even if our bodies die or are killed. We are invincible because of our relationship with Christ. He has all power and he will not let us go. We are bound together for eternity. Even our own waywardness cannot pull us from his grasp.

I don’t believe in an impersonal spiritual essence.  I believe in a God who loves me personally and who covets my relationship. If I am rejected by people, it is nothing in comparison to being a child of a loving Father. What a blessed assurance I have that in this life and the next, I am definitely going to be with the God I love.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Familial Love


“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.”  Hebrews 13: 1 NIV

When I read this verse, I am struck by the fact that many people today don’t experience familial love. How sad it is to hear of parents splitting up and one parent gradually fading from their children’s lives. How sad it is to have people express surprise that a couple of siblings could be happily sharing a home. God wants family to be a haven where there is acceptance and love. From the beginning in Genesis, God wanted people to live harmoniously in families but due to rebellion and jealousy even the first family experienced discord and violence. Today, we have so much mental illness due to stress and loneliness. Pills and psychotherapy are held out as the solution but wouldn’t affection and inclusion work even better?

My church family hurts me at times but I need to remember that God wants me to forgive and love the church members as though they were my biological family. The witness of the church to the world is only as strong as the love that we show to each other.  I pray that I will strive to be kind and understanding to my brothers and sisters in Christ remembering always my many weaknesses and failings. Lord, help us to love.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Support Each Other


Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.  Thessalonians 5:11 NIV

The Christian life is always about community. It begins with our relationship with God and extends to the community of Christians and also to unbelievers. God knows that we need a social group and that we need to feel safe in that group to really prosper. In the letter to the Thessalonians, Paul stresses the importance of encouraging one another. There is a difference between flattery and encouragement that builds up.  Flattery grows our pride of self, but true encouragement reminds us of our blessed relationship with God and of the gifts that he has given us to use for the benefit of others as well as ourselves.

I hope I won’t be tempted to idly flatter people so that they will like me.  I hope I will truly encourage them with words of wisdom and reminders that I am praying for them. In times of physical need, I hope I will help in real ways to ease the burdens of others. I hope they will know that I care about them and that I truly wish God’s blessings on their lives. God’s kingdom grows when we support each other.