Friday, January 25, 2013

A Good Measure

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Luke 6:38 NIV)

Give to the Poor
Government change often and seldom can get to the root of the problem of poverty, but the church does. This is according to an article ‘Christians Really Do Reduce Poverty’ published on March 8, 2012 at ChristianityToday.com.

“This week I have been eyewitness to the inadequacy of governments alone to solve the problems of poverty,” wrote Richard Stearns, president of World Vision US, and author of the article. “… over the past week I have visited the poor in Cambodia, and I can attest that while economic growth in Asia has been tremendous, government efforts are not enough to change the lives of the poor. The church and private nonprofits, on the other hand, can do exactly that.”

According to Stearns, World Vision spends roughly $2.8 billion annually to care for the poor, and that is just a portion of the American church's effort to alleviate poverty. In the U.S., private giving to international causes exceeds government humanitarian and development programs.

Yet poverty is extensive, and despite the progress toward the Millennium Development Goals, roughly 1.4 billion people live on less than $1.25 per day, according to the article by Stearns. Should we then be unconcerned for the poor in our midst and count on government policies alone to work their way toward meeting their needs?

Jesus said, "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (Luke 6:38).

Are we among those who are doing well? If we are, then we ought to search our hearts and ask ourselves why we should hog the riches God has given us? Perhaps we do not have much and are thinking how we can help while we are struggling to make ends meet. Well, in whatever small ways we can, without reluctance or hesitation, we should give to those who have greater needs than us and to the ones who are dying of poverty.

As followers of Christ, let us consider carefully what we hear and should do, for in the same way we treat and judge others, we shall be treated and judged. By the measure we use to help the poor, the same will also be measured to us and even more (Matthew 7:2; Mark 4:24). Instead of just meeting the spiritual needs of others, therefore, let us take a step further to meet their physical needs as well, for all is lost if a person dies of hunger before receiving Christ as Lord.

Dear Lord, thank You for giving us good gifts. We know Lord that every good and perfect gift is from above, and it is of Your own we give to those who have greater needs than us. Help us Lord not hesitate to go beyond meeting spiritual needs to also meet physical needs as well. Bless us Lord that by the measure we give, the same will be measured to us and more.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Collapse

and when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city. (Joshua 6:20b NAS)

Hurricane Sandy @ NJ
On October 29, 2012, Terrence T. McDonald of The Jersey Journal reported at NJ.com chaos in Jersey City as flood waters rose, amid officials investigating reports of building collapses. Downtown Hoboken and most of the Jersey City waterfront had seen significant flooding due to Hurricane Sandy, and by evening, water was quickly spreading throughout the streets of both cities along with widespread power outages.

Fire Director Armando Roman told the press he was on his way to 31 Newport Parkway where there were reports that the building's facade collapsed between the sixth and 16th floors. His vehicle however got trapped in rising waters on his way to the emergency.

In a news update on January 1, 2013 at NJ.com, Eugene Paik and Erin O’Neill of The Star-Ledger reported that the October 29 storm battered New Jersey, causing tens of billions of dollars in destruction. It damaged more than 72,000 homes and businesses, uprooted the lives of Polites and thousands more. At least 50,000 households in New Jersey qualified for temporary shelter as a result of Sandy.

Despite the best laid plans of architects and engineers, it is not unusual for us to hear from time to time about houses and buildings collapsing. Some are destroyed by earthquakes, fires, floods, and other natural disasters. Some structures are destroyed by deliberate acts. Faulty design can also lead to structural collapse. This is according to the article ‘Disasters and Collapses—How and Why Buildings Fall Down’ at Architecture.About.com.

In Joshua 6, the Bible recorded for us the account of how the wall of the city of Jericho fell down flat after the priests blew the trumpets and the people of Israel shouted with a great shout (Joshua 6:20). This falling of the wall was not a result of architectural or engineering flaw but faith in action and obedience to the LORD’s instruction (Joshua 6:1-5; Hebrews 11:30).

Like the wall of the city of Jericho which became an obstacle to the Israelites getting to the Promised Land, we may at times also face obstacles in our lives. If the Lord’s instruction to us is clear and verified according to the word of God, we need not fear or turn away because of hindrances or obstructions. Jesus said, “… if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you” (Matthew 17:20). 

Let us therefore listen to the words of our Lord and put them into practice, for such is like a wise man who builds his house on the rock. When the rain comes down, the streams rise, and the winds blow and beat against the house, it does not fall flat because its foundation is built on the rock (Matthew 7:24-25).

Grant us dear Lord the faith to obey Your instructions without wavering even when we face obstacles. Strengthen us Lord that we may not turn away from doing Your will because of opposing views or objectionable sentiments among the people we know or care about. Help us put in practice what You teach us O Lord that we may be wise to build our faith on You, our Rock and salvation.

Friday, January 11, 2013

When God Says Wait

How to deal with waiting on God

When God Says Wait
The fat, juicy tomatoes beckoned me from the garden in my backyard.

And even though some were finally ripe, it was taking me a while to get out there to harvest.

“Pick me, pick me!” their chubby selves would have chanted if they had mouths.

It was a wet day when I finally found the time. I donned my yellow slicker and braved the elements dropping glistening tomatoes into my collection bags.

We were into September already with our first frost quickly approaching. And less than half my crop was what I’d call “harvest ready.” This season has been a slow one for ripe tomatoes—even for me.

You see, I’m used to late tomatoes.

For some reason, mine always seem to ripen at a snail’s pace while my friends have long since “put up” their season’s best. And after several years of home gardening, I’ve learned that lateness is one thing I can count on with my beefsteaks, romas and cherry berries.

I have a friend who is new to the area who also enjoys home gardening, and I heard that he was having the same problem I was—waiting on slow-ripening tomatoes.

But, long before my tomatoes were ripe, I heard that his wife was busily canning and putting up loads of spaghetti sauce. I jokingly told her that I’d be doing the same … in about a month.

Recently, I was at my friend’s house and he showed me a table full of ripe tomatoes – offering them to me. He said that his tomatoes were being so slow that they went out and bought bushels of tomatoes for their canning. Now that they were done, their tomato crop decided to show up!

We’ve all had our own personal trials with waiting haven’t we? And sometimes when things don’t develop at the pace we want them to we choose step in and “help out.”

Something similar happened to Sarah. After hearing that she and her husband Abraham were going to have a child in their old age, Sarah waited … and waited.

And then she waited so more.

Finally, Sarah felt that she had waited enough. And she came up with a plan that would bring her husband a son a whole lot quicker. She took herself out of the equation and provided Abraham with a “substitute wife” (see Genesis 16).

But Sarah’s plan wasn’t God’s plan was it?

God wanted the promised child to come from Sarah’s womb. And Sarah would just have to wait.

Does Sarah’s “waiting game” sound familiar to you? I know it does for me. Sometimes I want to “help” God along in answering my prayers and sometimes, I just want to quit.

Florence Chadwick was the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. And in 1952, she set out on another long distance trek swimming from Catalina Island toward the California coast.

It was a 26 mile swim in numbing cold water.

But thick fog had set in and Chadwick, after 15 hours of swimming, asked to be taken out of the water. The shoreline was close, she was told, but, because of the fog, she couldn’t see it and gave up. Chadwick later found out that she was just a half mile from shore. And she told reporters that if she could have just seen land, she might have been able to keep on going.

Waiting on God is a lot like that sometimes isn’t it? God doesn’t always give us the “inside scoop” on how and when he is going to answer our prayers. And when we can’t see clearly how things are going to turn out, we are tempted to give up like Florence Chadwick.

Are you in a “holding pattern”right now? God’s saying wait and you’re wondering how long? Be careful not to move forward on your own or even quit without prayerful consideration.

Sometimes things, like ripe tomatoes, take time. —Debra Torres of MyChristianDevotionalBlog.com

Helpful Bible Verses on Waiting
Psalm 52:8-9; 62:5-6; 130:5-6

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Consequences of Neglect

Burning Bush
We all have those times in life when we find ourselves dealing with the ugly consequences of neglect and procrastination.  Truth is we all have areas of neglect we need to deal with.  The problem is realizing we have a problem! Our big neglect problem was our landscaping.

When we moved into our home many years ago, the hedge of Burning Bushes was below the fence line. Not knowing much about that particular type of bush, we were afraid to prune it.

Over the years, we’ve tried to ignore it. Consequently, it grew and grew and grew, until it was over our heads.  Then we trimmed it lightly. Unfortunately, despite our pitiful efforts, it kept on growing taller and taller. Plus it started popping up all over the place! Every time we pruned a new stalk, it grew back with multiple branches!

Our Burning Bush is beautiful in the fall when its leaves turn scarlet, but it has been a major stress factor in our lives. It has symbolized all the other areas where we had neglected work that needed to be done.

This year we finally took the plunge and pruned this monstrosity almost to the ground. We were at the point where we didn’t care if it lived or died.  It had to go or become more manageable!

After we discovered how easy it was to take a chain saw to cut it down to size, we kicked ourselves for being so timid and neglectful. This bush had not brought joy, but misery, for it was a constant reminder of our failure to maintain control over our landscaping.

The Bible says in Luke 16:10, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much …”

Neglect is not visible at first.  In fact, it is easy to become neglectful because no one does notice at first.  So many factors come into play when we start trying to figure out where we went wrong.

Neglect is not something we plan for; it’s a condition that occurs when we do nothing. Other activities take over our lives before we even realize what’s happening. It’s the small things that tend to trip us up the most. Then we begin to form a habit of procrastination and neglect of our duties. We are unfaithful in carrying out our responsibilities.

For some the biggest area of neglect is their spiritual life.  Forgetting to read the Bible daily or to spend quality time in prayer contributes to spiritual neglect.  We can’t attend church on Sunday and expect to have all our spiritual needs met.

If we want a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus, we must plan time with Him.  When our focus is not on Him, we are prone to becoming entangled with worldly pleasures and entertainment, leaving no time for Jesus or His work for us.

It is time to repent of our sin of neglect, realizing that being faithful in all our ways is pleasing to our Lord. Let us discipline ourselves to take care of issues as soon as they crop up, lest we procrastinate and leave our duties undone.

Dear Lord,

We thank you for reminding us how important it is to be faithful in the seemingly small things of life. We ask your forgiveness for neglecting our relationship with You. We confess we have not been faithful to pray and read our Bible regularly. We haven’t relied on You, but have exercised our own will and failed miserably to accomplish all we must.  Help us to prune out the sins of unfaithfulness and procrastination. Help us tackle our daily tasks with zeal and enthusiasm, refusing to allow ourselves to be tempted to put them off. Help us to be faithful servants in every aspect of our lives. We look to you, O Lord, for strength to persevere when we are tempted to seek our own way. Thank you for your constant faithfulness! —Linda Hull of Words of Encouragement

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year 2013

Wishing You a Blessed and ...

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward
to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal
for the prize of the upward call of
God in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:13b-14 NAS)

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