God’s Gifts!

February 14, 2021

“It is the Holy Spirit who is the source of them all” ~1 Cor. 12:4

I remember it so well as though it happened recently. I attended a growing church and was a novice photographer. I wondered if I could capture the joy and exuberance of my fellow worshipers as they sang and praised the Lord. To accomplish this, I needed an additional zoom or telephoto lens. I prayed and asked the Lord to show me how to find such a lens within my budget. 

It was a week or two later that a man in the congregation stopped me after church and said, “I have a gift for you. The Lord put it on my heart to give you all my camera gear!” The following weekend I met him at his home and he gave me two cameras and four lenses. He told me that he was spending too much time with photography instead of with his family and God directed him to give it all to me. I received his gift with joy!

And what about our relationship with The Holy Spirit and His free gifts to us? Do we gladly receive them with eager expectation as I did with the camera gear? Or do we hem and haw, wondering what gift we may have or if we have a gift at all. This question is easily answered in 1 Corinthians 12. If we believe the Bible to be God’s Word then our question regarding Spiritual gifts is answered in Corinthians.

Verse 1: And now, brothers, I want to write about the special abilities the Holy Spirit gives to each of you, for I don’t want any misunderstanding about them.

Now we know the Holy Spirit gives each of us special abilities (gifts).

Verses 4-7: Now God gives us many kinds of special abilities, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all. 5There are different kinds of service to God, but it is the same Lord we are serving. 6There are many ways in which God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work in and through all of us who are his. 7The Holy Spirit displays God’s power through each of us as a means of helping the entire church (Body of Christ).

How wonderful, the Holy Spirit is the source of all of God’s Gifts and—He displays God’s power through us as a means of helping the entire Christian Church! How powerful and essential. Am I still a doubter? Or do I trust God. It’s all Him. There is no begging, no pleading on our knees night after night. God freely gives gift to benefit the Church.

Verses 8-11: To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; someone else may be especially good at studying and teaching, and this is his gift from the same Spirit. 9He gives special faith to another, and to someone else the power to heal the sick. 10He gives power for doing miracles to some, and to others power to prophesy and preach. He gives someone else the power to know whether evil spirits are speaking through those who claim to be giving God’s messages—or whether it is really the Spirit of God who is speaking. Still another person is able to speak in languages he never learned; and others, who do not know the language either, are given power to understand what he is saying. 11It is the same and only Holy Spirit who gives all these gifts and powers, deciding which each one of us should have.

Contemplate these gifts: giving wise advice; studying and teaching; special faith; power to heal the sick; performing miracles; power to prophesy and preach; discerning evil spirits and God’s Spirit; speaking an unknown language; power to understand what the unknown language says.

These gifts are beyond our human efforts which is why the Holy Spirit “gives all these gifts and powers, deciding which each one of us should have.” The key is, He gives us spiritual gifts. God is the originator and the Holy Spirit is the dispenser. 

When my friend said he was giving me all his camera gear, I was thrilled and filled with anticipation. Once I unwrapped the gift, so to speak, I put it into action quickly, becoming familiar with how it all worked; learning everything I could about each piece of equipment. So should we be concerning God’s gifts—filled with anticipation, walking in faith. Verse 7, above says, “The Holy Spirit displays God’s power through each of us as a means of helping the entire church (Body of Christ).”

What Happens If My Life Falls Apart?

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart” ~Proverbs 3:5

The usual way of things in Christianity is that a person prays to accept Jesus into their lives and He gladly forgives their sins and they begin their new Christian journey by attending a church.

Along the way, as the person reads the Bible, learns to pray, attends Bible studies and experiences the joy of giving to others, a subtle little extra creeps into their lives. This is the doctrine of “if’s”.

  • If you tithe regularly (and give love offerings beyond tithes), God will be very pleased and His pleasure will play out in more money and things for you.
  • If you maintain your faith in God during the most difficult trials, He has wonderful materialistic rewards waiting for you just around the corner. God loves giving His followers lots of worldly things to make them happy.
  • If you check your brain at the door, use your emotions as a guide, and always ask other Christians what they think you should do with your life, God will reward you greatly; Usually with a form of prosperity to show his gratitude.

The list can go on, including many more damaging ideas often perpetuated on people who sincerely wish to not only follow the Lord but use their lives as a source of light in this dark world. The problem with this line of thought is that it is a blend of God’s truth and human error. The results of following this path are always the same: failure and confusion.

God’s rewards are wrapped in His promise of forgiveness of sins and eternal, everlasting life with Him. God DID NOT send Jesus to die on the cross of Calvary so all who believe in Him will not only have everlasting life but lots and lots of wonderful things on earth.

If we believe God’s love will be shown to us through material blessings, job promotions, healthy lives and unlimited happiness, then what happens when our lives fall apart? How can we be at peace with burdensome debt, being passed over for promotion, imprisonment for our faith, disease or death?

Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do and He will show you the right way.”

Proverbs 16:2-3. “All a man’s ways seem right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the motives. Commit your activities to the Lord and your plans will be achieved.”

Many people tend to view the Bible and God’s promises through a filter of material possessions and success. Therefore, as we read verses like Proverbs 16:3, we assume God is referring to material prosperity. We get together and agree among ourselves that God has promised success in all our plans. When this does not work out, we are confused and discouraged. Our faith in God is in danger, especially when we see the world or even fellow Christians prospering.

James 1:5. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you; because God gives generously and graciously to all.”

James 3:17 “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.”

Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Our lives on earth will always have challenges and problems. Such is the fabric of our imperfect lives as we await our release from planet earth. However, in the midst of our trials and tribulations, the peace of Jesus Christ is ours if we choose to walk in it. Eternal rest and joy beyond compare await. 

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18  “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth, will be eight u p int he close to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.”

Hope Springs Eternal

Sitting in their third-floor apartment, the couple dreaded what awaited in the mailbox below. Either a check sent from a friend in California, or the reality of an eviction. They were befuddled and discouraged. Neither had jobs yet but knew in their hearts that God had given them the stamp of approval to move to Oregon. 

 Their friends were mostly perplexed when they said, “No, we don’t have jobs and don’t know yet where we will live, but God has promised us that He will provide all our needs. Just like He told Abram to move to a land that He would show him, He has said the same to us.” And now what of their former testimony? What will their friends think of God who they said would be their provider?  

Well, it was time to face the mailbox, to see if God chose to provide through a restaurant owner in California. He was too agitated to go so she trekked downstairs alone. As soon as she entered the apartment, he knew the check had not arrived. His final hope flew out the window. He was crushed. Devastated. Discouraged. She hated to see her husband like this. Her normally upbeat, encouraging, man of faith was sitting head-in-hands on the couch, lifeless.  

Shaking his head back and forth, he muttered, “What will we do now? What happened to God’s promises, His provision?” And then it happened, slowly his head raised up, his eyes focused and he said, “I’ve got to remind myself of Gods promises to us. What does His word say about who we are, who He is in our lives, and that He will provide for us. I must come against this feeling of failure and discouragement and take courage from God’s words to us. Oh, forgive me Lord. Let me remind myself of your precious promises that never fail or fall short.”  

And that was it. He leaped off the couch, headed for his bookshelf and took his Bible to the dining room table. And there he sat until he was washed from head to toe with God’s never-failing promises and words of encouragement. And some of them that spoke to his heart were as follows:  

And by the time the rent was due again, his wife was employed. And another month later, he was starting a new job too. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” Hebrews 11:1 

Weakness!

“I am glad to boast about my weaknesses!” Apostle Paul

Apostle Paul: “Three times I begged the Lord to take (his thorn in the flesh) away. Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NLT 

Rediscovering this section of scripture this morning pierced my heart! Re-reading these words of Paul also reminds me of the incredible patience and mercy of the Lord. He knows how much patience and mercy are necessary in my life daily. Thank you, Lord.

How can I show strength in weakness, Lord? I ask. A man needs to be strong to face the world and its hardships and obstacles. Men have to show strength as an example to those they lead; their families and children. Men stand with shoulders squared, heads up and eyes fixed on the prize, the future, their success. It seems to me that weakness has no place in a man’s life.  

Then slowly, as a distant light becomes evident after a long, dark tunnel, I  realized that God’s weakness is not the same as man’s; that His weakness is stronger than man’s strength. And, finally—God’s weakness, the weakness described and displayed by the Apostle Paul, is far removed from the image we conjure up. 

2 Corinthians 13:4  “Although he was crucified in weakness, he now lives by the power of God. We, too, are weak, just as Christ was, but when we deal with you we will be alive with him and will have God’s power.”

2 Corinthians 6:4. “In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind.”

Philippians 4:11-13 “ I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

The Apostle Paul learned an important secret; and that is trusting that God will provide as He sees fit. Paul learned how to be content with any circumstance. As we read Paul’s description of depending on God for everything, we may bristle a little at the idea of not taking care of everything ourselves. But how can we demonstrate our faith in the Lord, appearing weak to onlookers, without trusting in Christ? 

“The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.” ~George Muller

Literally

“Greater things than these you shall do” -John 14:12

Shall I take the Bible literally? Some people say the Bible is informative, great literature, allegorical, fascinating but probably not literal. Perhaps we should think of it as a book of helpful stories that are sometimes informative and encouraging. But literal? Actually God’s written words to us?

Let’s make a comparison to a textbook. If you are in a math class, the professor assigns a book to study. This book is your math book and all its contents must be studied and. . .believed. The professor is not interested in your opinion that this book may be interesting but absolutely literal? You’re not sure about that. Most of us have taken math classes and would not have considered challenging the professor in such a way. All the students know the textbook is filled with factual information necessary to navigate the field of Algebra or Geometry, etc.

It seems to me then, even more than a math textbook, we have a choice to believe that the Bible is literal, given to us by God, via forty different authors over a period of 1,600 years, as imparted by the Holy Spirit, or it is not worth reading at all. 

According to GotQuestions.org: “It is accurate to say that God wrote the Bible. According to 2 Timothy 3:16, Scripture is “breathed out” by God. Throughout the Bible, it is obvious that God is being quoted: over 400 times in the Bible, we find the words “thus says the Lord” (NKJV). The Bible refers to itself as the Word of God dozens of times (e.g., Psalm 119Proverbs 30:5Isaiah 40:855:11Jeremiah 23:29John 17:17Romans 10:17Ephesians 6:17Hebrews 4:12). The Bible is said to proceed from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3Matthew 4:4).” Peter says it this way, “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:21

Ok, you say, I want to believe the Bible is God’s Word. However, it seems like a leap to say we should take it literally. How about the story of God parting the Red Sea so the Israelites could march across on dry land as the sea stood vibrating on each side of this huge throng of people?

“Then Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the Lord opened up a path through the water with a strong east wind. The wind blew all that night, turning the seabed into dry land. So the people of Israel walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on each side!” Exodus 14:21-22

Now that is hard to believe, you may think. And you would be correct. Without God it is impossible! If God is real, then the Bible is real and literally true. You can’t have one without the other. Either God saw to it that the Bible was written for all who come along throughout history; and it is literally true or the whole idea is ridiculous and the Bible is a hoax.

Here’s another mind boggling story. It is a true story from the Book of Numbers, chapter 22 verses 22-33. This is the story of a prophet named Balaam and his donkey. Balaam was sort of a prophet for hire who was not as interested in spreading God’s dictates as he was feathering his financial nest. On his way to give King Balak, a Moabite, a prophecy, God sent the Angel of the Lord to shock him into speaking the truth to Balak. He got his attention through the mouth of his donkey.

As they were traveling, the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord standing on the path with a drawn sword. The donkey turned into the field to avoid this obvious problem. Balaam hit her. This happened three times in all. After the third encounter, the donkey plopped down under Balaam. She was not moving. Balaam was furious and he beat her again.“Then the Lord gave the donkey the ability to speak. “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” it asked Balaam.

“You have made me look like a fool!” Balaam shouted. “If I had a sword with me, I would kill you!”

“But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life,” the donkey answered. “Have I ever done anything like this before?”

“No,” Balaam admitted.

Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the roadway with a drawn sword in his hand. Balaam bowed his head and fell face down on the ground before him.

Sounds like fiction doesn’t it? But it really happened. Now let’s look at the New Testament at one of the most important moments in man’s long history. This true story is found in the Book of Luke, 1:26-31. 

“God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

Yes, the Bible is beyond human understanding but is literally true. God chose a simple young woman with no fame or fortune to bear the Son of God, Jesus. Jesus who died and rose from the tomb as the living sacrifice for our sins. He literally did!

You see, God used people to write the Bible. They were guided by the Holy Spirit. Since that is true, how can we presume to ignore certain sections of His Word or decide they no longer apply? 

1 Peter 1:24-25. “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like a flower of the grass. The grass withers and the flower drops off, but the Word of the Lord endures forever.”

Don’t Look Back!

DOHA, QATAR – OCTOBER 05: Noah Lyles of the United States, gold, and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake of Great Britain, silver, compete in the Men’s 4×100 Metres Relay during day nine of 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 at Khalifa International Stadium on October 05, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for IAAF)

“Forgetting what is behind. . .I press on toward the goal. . .”  Phil 3:13

It was the semi-finals and tension filled the air as Phil prepared to defend his title in the 400 meter sprint. In the beginning, Phil was a short-race sprinter, running the 100 and 200 meter races, placing in the top three consistently. But one year, during practice, one of his friends challenged him to a race in the 400. Of course Phil accepted. To everyone’s surprise, including his, he won. That simple challenge changed his racing future.

         And now, one year later, Phil was running the most important race of his career. If he won, he would advance to the finals. He was ecstatic and ready to run. In preparation for this race, Phil had competed in and placed first in the 200 meter finals earlier in the week. But this was his first 400 semi-finals. He had that special feeling that he would finish well.

         Finely tuned, awaiting the starting gun, Phil shot forth at the sound. Running so far at near full speed is very tricky and physically demanding but his training was paying off, he knew instinctively that he was in the lead. Rounding the final turn Phil was focused on a spot just beyond the finish line, a trick his coach had taught him so he would never slow up before he crossed the line.

         He was closing in, he was actually ahead. His legs were screaming for more oxygen but he couldn’t supply any. It was all guts and heart now. Sheer determination would carry Phil across the finish line in first place. And that’s when the unthinkable happened, one tiny split-second of uncertainty. He glanced to his right to make sure he was ahead. That’s all it took. Looking right caused him to stumble ever-so-slightly. So slightly that no one in the stands could tell, but Phil and the other runners could, as they passed him, taking first and second place. Heart broken, Phil finished third. It was only a hundredth of a second, but third place instead of first. Phil looked back and paid the price. It was heartbreak. God cautions us to forget what is behind.

Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”  Luke 9:62

I do not claim that I have already succeeded or have already become perfect. I keep striving to win the prize for which Christ Jesus has already won me to himself. Of course, my friends, I really do not think that I have already won it; the one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Christ Jesus to the life above.  Philippians 3:12-14

As Christians, we must “forget what is behind,” and put on the armor of God because the enemy of our soul will attack with hundreds of scenarios in which we’ve been badly treated, accused of wrongdoing, or lied about. What shall we do in these cases? Praise God for false accusations and character attacks. If these attacks are false, we will be aligned with our loving Savior who, when falsely accused, did not defend Himself.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth. Isaiah 53:7

He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.  

1 Peter 2:23

So, call out to God. Believe in His awesome power to overcome all the weapons of the enemy. Place your life in His hands and trust that He will ultimately deliver you from all sin and destruction because He said so. Remember what He told the thief on the cross, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in paradise.”  Luke 23:43

The Crash!

A phone call. It was a schoolmate. “Hey, I’ve got my Dad’s car tonight. Want to go for a ride?” (The car was a 1957 Chevy Bel Air with a powerful V8 engine. It was new).

We were both 15. No driving license. His dad was unaware of my friend’s plan. “Ok. I”ll tell my mom I’m going over to your house. Where do you want to pick me up?” In a few moments, we were headed out of town on the two lane country road that all teens took for fast driving and smooching. Tonight would be fast driving.

As you leave the city limits and take a few curves, the road lays out long, smooth and arrow straight. “Want to see how fast she will go?” he said.

“Yes!” I looked at the speedometer which read 50. It pegged out at 120! We were not wearing seat belts. They were a nuisance.

He shoved his foot to the floor. That Chevy V8 lept into action, roaring down the highway faster and faster. The speedometer swept past the numbers, as we were sucked back into the front seat: 60, 70, 80, 90. We were giggling, shrieking, cursing. Two teenage boys, being naughty and brave in a rocket to the stars. We reached 120 miles per hour!

Ralph took his foot off the accelerator and we coasted down to normal speed. He pulled over and parked. “Wow!” he said. 

“I know. I’ve dreamed of something like this. That was the best, man.”

It was a black night with no highway lights. Neither of us were frightened.

“Want to do it again?” he said.

“Yes.”

No cars on the highway. Ralph pulled onto the road, headed back to town. Once again, he slammed his foot to the floor. The Chevy responded with a roar, hurtling us like a rocket back down the road. And there it was, 120 on the speedometer! We looked at each other in disbelief and excitement. It was then I saw it. A second passed before I yelled, “Curve!”

Back then, power brakes and steering were new and very sensitive. Plus, Ralph was not a skilled driver…at all. The last thing I remember was him hitting the brake pedal sending me into the metal cowling around the windshield. I was knocked out.

Just like in a movie, the next thing I remember is waking in the hospital bed the following morning as the nurse appeared.

“You are one lucky young man,” she said.

“What happened? I just remember hitting the windshield cowling.”

“The car spun out of control and then flipped over and over, coming to rest on the side of the road, throwing you out onto the highway in the process. You should have been killed my friend. A car full of boys came around that curve shortly after the wreck and they said you were sitting on the highway in the middle of car parts and pieces. They said you were conscious and talked with them but what you said made little sense. Three of the boys stayed with you while the other drove to the nearest place to call the ambulance.”

I laid in my bed, thinking of what happened. Considering my good fortune. And then it hit me; There must be someone who decides if you live or die; someone in charge of such things because I should be either dead or crippled for life. There must be a God!

Reject Fear!

Again and again Jesus stated that fear is the enemy of life. “Don’t be afraid; just believe” (Luke 8:50). “Do not be afraid little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (Matthew 14:27). Fear breeds a deadening caution, a holding back, a stagnant waiting until people  no longer can recall what they are waiting for or saving themselves for. When we fear failure more than we love life, when we are dominated by thoughts of what we might have been rather than by thoughts of what we might become, when we are haunted by the disparity between our ideal self and our real self, when we are tormented by guilt, shame, remorse, and self-condemnation, we deny our faith in the God of love. When God calls us to break camp, abandon the comfort and security of the status quo, and embark in perilous freedom on the journey to a new Canaan, and we procrastinate out of fear, this represents not only a decision to remain in Haran, but also a lack of trust. 

 From the book, The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning, page 20

Our Position in Christ

May 9, 2020

“My sheep listen to My voice—no one can snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:28 

On occasion, there may be events in our lives that lead us to believe we have been shunned or ostracized by a person or from a group. If that happens, it is painful and confusing. It may be that we caused the action or it may not. Sometimes it is the result of cross words or misunderstandings. However, if our position with the person or group has changed and we’re no longer welcome, hurt and insecurity gain momentum. What is wrong with me, we wonder. 

Fortunately for all followers of Christ, we will never be ostracized from the true Church, which is the Body of Christ. Our position is permanent, eternal and secure. Jesus paid the ultimate price for our membership and standing. No matter how difficult life becomes, Christ remains our intercessor, pleading with the Father on our behalf. 

1 Peter 1:3-5   ”All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation,  and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.  And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.” 

1 Corinthians 12:12-13  “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.”

John 6:39-40  “And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.” 

Romans 8:38  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” 

Cindy sat dejected on the bed as Paul packed his suitcase and grabbed arms full of clothes from his closet. He was leaving. He “needed his space to really embrace life to the fullest” he gave as his reason for wanting a divorce.

Four lives changed forever; Cindy, Paul and their two children.

“Paul you promised in our wedding vows to stick it out through sickness and health, richer or poorer,” she reminded him.

As he snapped the suitcase locks and grabbed his overnight bag Paul replied, “I know but things have changed, Cindy. We’re different people now!”

Unlike this scenario which happens far too often, God never changes His mind and will always keep us close to His heart.

Hebrews 13:5  God has said, “I will never leave you; I will never abandon you.”

God As The Great Dispenser

“You, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth” Psalm 97

Lawrence beamed at the capacity audience in San Francisco; the sixth stop of his Worldwide Evangelical Movement tour. “God is sitting on his throne, waiting for you to give him a hint. That’s right, God is leaning forward, anxious to hear your requests so he can give you what you desire in the deepest place in your heart. He made you to abide with him some day and until that day, he wants to make you happy and satisfied.

“Have you been passed over for that promotion? God knows and wants to release the blessings of that new job to you. Can’t find that special person to complete you? God is aware of that missing piece in your puzzle of life as well. What about the home you keep driving by, wishing it was yours? Yes, my friends, God is fully aware of your needs and he wants to fulfill them, make you happy and give you the greatest, most fulfilling experience that life has to offer.

“I know some of you are thinking something like, ‘How can I ever afford that home I truly want? I need a better job and less debt.’ Friends, God is the God of satisfaction and delight. He made you and knows how to make you satisfied and content on this earth as you prepare for eternal life with him.

Lawrence became silent, walking back and forth on the platform, scanning the audience as he moved. And then, “What is the key to unlocking God’s blessings, you ask? Sacrifice. Yes, it is sacrifice. Think of how he showed his love for us. Sacrifice! He sacrificed his own Son so we could have this wonderful life. And now he expects us to learn that same sacrifice. God GAVE so we could live and now it is our turn. We must sacrificially GIVE to release those blessings from heaven.”

By now Lawrence was commanding the audience with his fine-tuned and powerful voice, it was as though he hypnotized them…”Give, give, give. Sacrificially give. Give when you don’t think you can. God is waiting. Release those blessings from the throne of God.” They were on their feet as the army of ushers passed buckets across the rows of excited, believing people.

Does this scenario sound familiar? Do you have secret desires you hope God will bring to pass to make your life better? Desires of more money, better job, better marriage, better body, bigger house? If you do, admit it to God. As the famous southern pastor, J. Vernon Mcgee once said, “You might as well tell Him because He knows anyway.”

God does understand our secret desires of wealth, health, homes, trips, etc. But what he wants for us is far better. Does anyone really believe that God sent his only Son, Jesus, to live and die for us so that we could have more money, bigger homes, better cars, and more fun? Jesus did give sacrificially, didn’t he? His sacrifice was given freely so you and I could experience redemption and forgiveness of sins. Surely we can see clearly that Christ did not experience such an excruciating torture and death so we could accumulate more stuff on earth.

Our lives are actually spiritual. As such our warfare is taking place in the spiritual realms, every day— every hour. God’s great sacrifice has made it possible for us to walk our lives guided by the Holy Spirit. As we gear up each day with the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-13), we engage in the battle with God as our General. Do you see material things as important in this daily battle for souls?

Men and women who claim to speak for God but seek to gratify their flesh are, in truth, serving the enemy of our soul and feeding their own flesh. The Bible tells us to die to the flesh:

Romans 8:12-16  “So then, my friends, we have an obligation, but it is not to live as our human nature wants us to. 13 For if you live according to your human nature, you are going to die; but if by the Spirit you put to death your sinful actions, you will live. 14 Those who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s children. 15 For the Spirit that God has given you does not make you slaves and cause you to be afraid; instead, the Spirit makes you God’s children, and by the Spirit’s power we cry out to God, “Father! my Father!” 16 God’s Spirit joins himself to our spirits to declare that we are God’s children.”   

A man left his house early one morning to attend a Bible study. He saw an obstacle! A flat tire. Not low but dead flat. He had no time to change a tire. He pondered his situation and felt God nudging him to have faith that He would take care of the tire. So, he prayed and believed that God would do the impossible. He drove three miles to a gas station, filled the tire with air and drove to the study. The tire never leaked or deflated again. Life is spiritual!