Saturday, December 3, 2022

Are You a Blessing or a Curse?

 Good management and stewardship results in happy people.

Solomon's humility led to wisdom. The wisdom God gave him led to fame, prosperity, and honor. It also created an environment of blessing, happiness, peace, and prosperity for his people. And the blessing of those who live under the influence of a wise, God-honoring individual results in praise and thanksgiving to God.(1 Kings 10:6-9) Blessing, righteousness, and justice come from the hand of God.

For those of us in ministry, with influence and the ability to steward authority: are you a greater benefit or detriment to those under you? Does your very presence bring joy or confusion, sadness, and fear? Are people happy to see you come and sad to see you go? Or is it the opposite?

Jesus is our example. Those who reflect and imitate Him walk in love and the evidence is in the response of those who don't have a choice but to interact with you. 

Beloved, let’s love one another; for love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. By this the love of God was revealed in us, that God has sent His only Son into the world so that we may live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we remain in Him and He in us, because He has given to us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, we also are in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and yet he hates his brother or sister, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother and sister whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God must also love his brother and sister. (1 John 4:7-21)

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Redeeming the Mundane

I talked to an old friend yesterday. And as she shared long, drawn out, incredible answers to prayer in her life over the past many months.

She mentioned it here and there, in passing, and yesterday we were able to see God's provision. He works so many intricate pieces, people, circumstances, and timings we don't see in the midst of our situation. But looking back, we marvel at how he sent one person after another, moved one circumstance, ended and began others. 

As she spoke, the thought came, "Had I prayed? Did I love and care for her enough?" Just as quickly, I thought of raising and lowering our bedroom blinds. That is/has been my prayer time for her. Perhaps it's the result of reading, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, but prayer for others is more tied to events than time. The repetitive actions of life are tied to prayer for specific people. In this way, it's possible to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). 

It doesn't happen all at once, but a coffee mug represents one person. Walking to and from the mailbox brings prayer and praise for another. Mowing the yard brings thoughts of many, back and forth. And so it goes, the mundane becomes a sanctuary, a hallowed place. It is not simply a task to be done, but a vehicle for prayer, a place of love, sacrificial giving, and connecting with God Himself.

Having a time and place set aside for prayer is an important routine in the Christian life, but living a life of prayer is to draw on His presence and power in the ordinary moments of life here on earth. It is unseen communion with the Holy One; with Life itself.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Wisdom and Growth

 A young woman in a difficult situation cried, "But I asked God for wisdom and He didn't answer me!" 

"Yes, He did. This is it. Now you know what not to do next time."

God's wisdom doesn't magically or immediately prevent hardship, trials, or discomfort. Instead, He desires to help us learn and grow through it. God shows Himself greater than the difficulty. He is with us through the difficulty. He allows difficulty to create dependence, humility, patience, steadfastness, and spiritual growth. The goal is not avoidance of difficulty--though that is often what we want. 

Asking God for wisdom does not negate or repel trouble. Asking God for wisdom and expecting it to dissipate is like the individual who ended up in the Emergency Room because he applied bear repellant--to himself--instead of the bear. We must use God's Word according to the instructions. And God says it's a life-long process of learning, growing, and depending. 

The question isn't, "Did I avoid trouble?" Instead, the questions are, "What did I learn?" "Was I dependent on God, myself or others?"  Did I worry and fret, seek to manipulate or coerce others into doing what I wanted, or did I pray and wait?

The word for "trouble" in James 1 is something we can't avoid--like Mr. Magoo we fall into the manhole of difficulty not necessarily because of sinful choices, just because. That's normal. It's how we grow. 

Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that person ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:2-8)