Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Don't forget

Then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Deuteronomy 8:14

Pride forgets where it came from. Humble beginnings and dependence on others seem to get erased from the memory of someone influenced by pride. Pride may get promoted, but it forgets those who contributed to the process of success. It is forgetful either intentionally or unintentionally. Pride loses its focus on who was really responsible in furthering its career. There is too much credit given to self and too little credit given to others. Pride forgets its family. Sometimes it gets so busy in work or play that it fails to involve the ones who provide the platform for its performance. Pride takes family for granted and ignores their needs. It is selfishly wrapped up in itself. Pride forgets the feelings of others; it is insensitive and obnoxious.
Pride is not afraid to crush someone’s spirit on the way to success. Pride forgets others, while humility includes others; Pride takes all the credit, while humility shares the credit; Pride discourages, while humility encourages; Pride pontificates, while humility prays; Pride talks too much, while humility listens liberally; Pride blames, while humility takes responsibility; Pride is oblivious to good manners and courteous conduct. It is all about itself, with little or no regard for the needs of others.
Above all else, pride forgets God. It may talk about God but only as needed to rubber-stamp its plans. Pride subtly uses God to carry out its agenda, and it forgets to see God for who He is. Almighty God is high and lifted up. He is holy, and His expectations are love, fear, and obedience. Pride forgets that God governs the universe and all its inhabitants. God is engaged with you up to the smallest of details, and He knows where you are and where you need to go. He wants you to remember His pristine track record of faithfulness. His past provision is a predictor of His future provision. Pride forgets this; it has amnesia to the things of the Almighty. Pride may say it believes in God, but its actions communicate agnosticism. It is too busy to create margin for its Master.
It is imperative you allow Christ to keep your pride in its place. It can only be conquered with humble dependence on God and obedience to His commands. Humility displaces pride and bows down before Divinity in prayer. Humility remembers God’s faithful deliverance from darkness into light. It remembers God’s salvation from sin and self to grace and service. Humility remembers to love God and people first, and subjugates its needs so that they are second. It has tremendous recall for good because God is its leader. Humility remembers how generous God is, and is generous in return. It understands and remembers what’s important to the Lord, and then invests its energies toward His initiatives. Humility remembers to thank others and to pray for them. It is extremely grateful, and appeals to heaven on behalf of people.
Humility remembers because it cares.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Patience in the process

When you were in school you would have to take regular tests. These tests let the teacher know where you stood on the material you needed to learn. If you were unable to pass these tests, then more assignments and more tests would have to be given.
God also gives tests. His tests show where we are on the road of our personal development. God is not going to bring you to the fruition of your destiny until He knows you are able to handle it spiritually, emotionally, physically and the like. 
If you cannot handle it, you will lose it rather than use it for His glory. That is why He focuses so intently on our development as He takes us to our destiny.
The timing and length of our detours in life is often dependent upon our personal choices and growth. God may have a short detour planned for us but we make it longer through our hard-headedness, stubbornness, resentment or immaturity and doubt.
For those of you who work out or exercise, did you know that your muscles change almost immediately after a strength training session? The process called protein synthesis occurs anywhere from two to four hours after exercising. This is how the muscles grow stronger and bigger. Yet even though it happens so quickly after strength training, it is typically four to six weeks before noticeable muscle changes are seen by others. 
Have you ever started an exercise regime only to quit it because you did not see any results? Many people do because they expect results a lot sooner than the results take to actually develop.
Similarly, many people stop pursuing the pathway to their destiny when they don't see things lining up as quickly as they thought they should. But God is intentionally using the delays and detours in our lives to develop us for where He is taking us. 
Arriving at your destiny requires patience in the process. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Be rich

But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God. Luke 12:20-21

Am I building my barns bigger? Or, am I building God's barns better? Jesus, with striking contrast transitions from two brothers bickering over their inheritance to illustrate a heart of greed. Subtly, wealth simultaneously decreases the need for stuff, with less of a felt need for God. If I act like I am the owner of my possessions, then the acquisition of more possessions becomes my motivation. But, if I live like the Lord is the owner of my stuff, and I am His steward, then the distribution of His possessions becomes my passion. Generosity starves greed.

The parable Jesus unpacks is packed full of emotion, wisdom and warning. He calls out a prosperous man for his foolishness: shortsightedness, self indulgence and self deception. The productive man deceptively thought he owned his possessions: "my crops, my barns, my grain, myself". The farmer even missed stating the obvious: the Creator of the soil, his soul, and the harvest, was Almighty God. This foolish man failed to be rich toward God by living for himself.

"And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever" (2 Corinthians 9:8-9).

Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, was extravagantly rich toward God. He was rich in his relationships by giving personalized encouragement, wisdom and financial generosity. He was rich toward orphans and foster children by providing facilities and opportunities for them to feel loved and taken care of. Though leading a billion dollar company, he lived modestly, so his team members could take off from work on Sundays and take care of their families. Truett famously said about business, "If we focus on becoming better, our customers will demand we become bigger". As followers of Jesus, if we focus on becoming more like Christ, others will look to learn about following Christ. Being rich toward God is valuing what God values over ourselves.

Here are some questions we can all pray over to assess how rich we are toward God:

  1. Dear Lord, how do you love me and how do you want me to love others?
  2. Dear Lord, how can I build your barns better, and avoid building my barns bigger?
  3. Dear Lord, as my possessions increase, how can I increase my need for you?
  4. Dear Lord, what is your heart for the possessions I manage for you?
  5. Dear Lord, how can I be wise and not foolish in your eyes?
  6. Dear Lord, show me the peril to my soul of meeting the demands of bigger barns for me.
  7. Dear Lord, how would you like for me to be rich toward you?

What does it mean to be rich toward God? It means to treasure what He treasures: my relationship with Him and others, lost souls, love and compassion for hurting human beings. To be rich toward God is to be rich in good deeds, rich in generosity and rich in relationships.

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life" (1 Timothy 6:17-19).