Friday, December 14, 2012

God's Voice Over the Enemy's

Prayer Request: We had two neighborhood brothers over for dinner last night. I'll call them C and T, ages 9 and 7. We've invited them to church before but their parents are resistant to spiritual food and said no. They're having financial difficulties and may have to leave their rental home for an apartment. We've heard this for the last three months. Yesterday the boys told me their parents were having a big fight over whether or not to move. We all held hands and prayed over the financial worries, and last night for the first time, their mother said yes to the boys staying for dinner (maybe because they were fighting?) My husband wasn't home yet, but I read the Christmas story after dinner from the Jesus Storybook Bible--a rendition that is easier to understand, and rich in Truth and Light and Comfort. I prayed much while they were here, that the Lord's message of grace and love and peace would prevail over Satan's in their home and in their hearts. Please, pray that their hearts (the whole family of four) would receive Him? The grandmother goes to church and the boys think their mother went to church as a child. These boys are hungry for Truth and Comfort! 

They are hard to have as guests because they won't focus on an activity, although they're plenty bright enough. It's hard to maintain order and so we would love prayer regarding that as well. I want to have them as often as they're willing, but I need them to stay calm. Thank you!

Now on to today's post:

Tis the season for indulgence and plenty. What a perfect time for counter-cultural spiritual food to help us contemplate God's heart in regards to our resources. The world tells us to make our Christmas celebration as perfect as possible, but what is God's heart? What does He wants us to do in His name? The lure of materialism is so strong this month, even for the most committed Christians.

What is the heart of God and how can we bring Him glory?

Being fortunate is a blessing but it comes with responsibility. To whom much is given, much is required, and not just monetarily speaking. If one has many gifts he is responsible to use them wisely for the benefit of others for the glory of God.

The fortunate aren't concerned about daily bread. They don't have immediate and crucial physical needs left unmet, like many Compassion children do, and like the neighbor without a job experiences.

But the fortunate aren't meant to have easier lives. God's intent isn't inequality, as we can learn well from the Old Testament (read about The Year of Jubilee). Rather, His intent is that we would love one another by meeting each other's physical needs: food, clothing, shelter.

God could have made it easier and just given everyone the same skills, talents and gifts. He could have made it a level playing field. But in such a world, who gets glory? Who shines?

No one, not even God. 

And God wants His glory!

The Lord's heart is especially close to the poor. He comforts them in ways the fortunate will never know. He has plans to exult the poor, in fact.

1 Samuel 2:7-8 The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor.

And the fortunate? He allows them a different kind of comfort. A different kind of earthly life--one not spent in constant need and struggle. And with that freedom comes responsibility; responsibility to remain thankful and grounded in the things of God, and to resist the lure of the world. To not judge the poor for their plight, but to quench their thirst and relieve their hunger and assure their shelter.

Both sides, the fortunate and the poor, have lives that are hard. The struggles are merely different. In America, we are the fortunate. Can we even wrap our heads around the fact that 80% of the world lives on less than $2.50 a day? And that those in abject poverty live on far less than that?

God requires that we do wrap our heads around that. That we think long and hard about that expensive coffee that costs more than a family elsewhere lives on for a whole day.

Blogs like mine can feel tiresome. She's talking about this again? Hasn't she already beat this to the ground?

And my answer? We live a midst a powerful materialism. A Sinister Enemy speaks loud enough to be heard and in America Satan is gaining ground, especially among those under 40 years of age. Those in God's camp cannot afford to quit speaking the Truth in His name.

For we the redeemed have been given much, and much is required of us.

Verses courtesy of Compassion International. Let's read them and allow them to wash worldliness right off our backs. I have purposely included those you may not already be familiar with:

Proverbs 11:24-25 One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

Micah 6:8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Luke 14:12-14 Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

Acts 20:35 "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
Romans 15:1-2 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.

1 Corinthians 10:24  Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

Proverbs 14:20-21 The poor are shunned even by their neighbors, but the rich have many friends. He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.

Isaiah 58:6-11 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
"Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

"The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."

2 Corinthians 9:6-13 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

As it is written: "He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

Deuteronomy 14:28-29 At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

Ezekiel 16:49 "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy."

Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.

Deuteronomy 15:11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

Isaiah 14:30 The poorest of the poor will find pasture, and the needy will lie down in safety.

Proverbs 22:22-23 Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the LORD will take up their case and will plunder those who plunder them.
Psalm 72:12-14 For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.

Proverbs 28:27 He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.

Psalm 109:31 For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save his life from those who condemn him.

Psalm 145:14-18 The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

You are so right my friend and this post comes at the perfect time...CHRISTmas. We are supposed be conformed to the image of Christ yet I must admit I have spent more time thinking about gifts lately than the ultimate giver. That is why I love your BLOG it encourages me in Christ-likeness. Thank you for your faithfulness.