Tonight I had some tomato soup for dinner. It was upsetting to find no saltine crackers after I already prepared the soup. It just wasn’t the same. It didn’t take me long to grumble because there were no crackers, and then remember that I am blessed to have the bowl of soup.
We often forget how blessed we are by God. He gives us so much. We take it for granted. In Romans 11, we read the question, “Who has ever first given to Him, and has to be repaid?” This basically says we can never out give God. He gives in abundance. He blesses us greatly. Everything comes from God and if we grasp that, we will live with a heart of gratitude and not cling to the things of this earth.
The Sabbath is a special gift to us. We need to remember it’s not just about taking a rest. The Sabbath is so much more. It’s about remembering where everything comes from— GOD. The people were to collect for six days and rest the seventh. In doing so, they were trusting in the provision of God. The people were trusting that God will give them all they need. They recognize everything is from Him.
I love to celebrate the Sabbath. It helps to keep me focused. It helps to keep me thankful. Today, remember “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it.” Remember that God is the great provider. Trust Him to meet your needs. Rest knowing that He is faithful.
“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.” – Psalm 24:1 [NLT]
“Or who has ever first given to Him, and has to be repaid? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” – Romans 11:35-36 [HCSB]
Does God ever give you more than you can handle? That is something people debate often. Many times I hear that God will never give you more than you can handle. This is often said when we are going through something tough in life like a loss of loved one, a painful illness, or an employment layoff. As we suffer and look to friends with our tear-stained faces, we hear the somewhat comforting words, “God never gives us more than we can handle. You’ll get through this.”
When I hear these words, I consider 2 Corinthians 1:8, where it says that the people were “crushed and overwhelmed beyond… ability to endure.” They were suffering. They believed they would not live through it. I consider Job, who lost it all—family, financial resources, health. Could you handle this? Would this be more than you could handle? I know some were not able to make it through. I know some who could not take it anymore. Why do we think we should be able to face all of this, that we can handle anything thrown our way? It is not that easy. We shortchange ourselves believing it is that easy. Instead, cling to the Father.
The Bible does not say that God will not give you more than you can handle. The truth is this world is a dark place and you may find yourself drowning and unable to cope. What the Bible does says is that God “will not let you be tempted beyond your ability.” In 1 Corinthians, it says that God “will provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” This is talking about temptation, not about pain and suffering. This is saying that when we are tempted, there’s always a way to not succumb to the temptation. We saw this demonstrated. While Jesus was in the Wilderness, He responded with the Word of God when faced with each temptation.
Today, you may be facing something very difficult. You may not think you can make it through it. Whether it is too much to handle or just getting the best of you, know that you have a Heavenly Father Who is the Comforter. Cling to Him. Remind yourself of His promises. Surround yourself with those strong in the faith and be in continuous prayer. This great burden is temporary my friends.
“We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.” – 2 Corinthians 1:8 [NLT]
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13 [ESV]
Your focus changes everything. If you focus on your problems, you will become overwhelmed by your problems. You will worry. You will become stressed. Your attitude will darken. When you focus on Christ, you realize for Whom you live and you are reminded of His Word. Focusing on Jesus helps you to live by Christ, to trust in His promises, and to embrace the eternal.
In Colossians 3, we read about seeking God, about focusing on Christ. Paul wrote for us to set our minds on things that are above—the higher things. Verse 1 says aim at and seek. This says so much. When you aim at something, you have to focus intensely on the target. When you focus on the target, you have to be facing the target. It is all about the target and reaching the target—making contact with the target. When you seek something, you go forward, toward the object. You attempt to find the object. With Christ, this is so very easy. The Bible says, seek and you shall find. The Bible says when you seek Him with all your heart, you will find Him.
Today consider how you are aiming at Christ, how you are seeking Jesus. Are you focused intensely on Jesus? Are you facing the direction of Jesus? Do you make contact with Jesus? Are you moving in His direction? Are you seeking wholeheartedly?
“If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead’, aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds, and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not the things that are on the earth.” – Colossians 3:1-2 [AMP]
In life we spend a lot of time in the here and now. We see things from a temporal scope rather than an eternal scope. God has a different time scheme than us. We consider our lives here on earth as our lives. Even when we say we have accepted Jesus and will have eternal life, we again and again take ourselves back to considering time as the time we spend on earth.
As we make plans for our lives, as we look at our lives, we see what time we have here on earth. It’s great to plan. It’s great to consider our steps. But we always must have an eternal focus as well. Our life here on earth is such a short blimp of our eternal life. It’s nothing compared to eternity.
Now Jesus said we aren’t to “waste… energy striving for perishable food… [but] work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides.” So how do you do that? You read His Word. You pray for direction from the Spirit. He will provide you with nourishment, spiritual nourishment that will help you to grow in Him and the nourishment will last forever. You might think its okay to snack here and there, but the truth is the food that matters is the food that sticks with you. May you seek His food and may you see things from His eternal perspective. Life is so different when you see things through Him.
“Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food like that. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.”
-John 6:27 [MSG]
Inheritance is a word that is tossed around often. Some people work hard to leave a large financial inheritance to their children. Some people spend a lot of time teaching their children so that their inheritance is a great moral legacy. Some people are “lucky” to receive an inheritance that will help them out of their financial ruins. Many people seek out a lawyer to get proper documentation to ensure the inheritance will be split up as they wish.
This type of inheritance is very different from what God offers us—He offers us a priceless inheritance. There is no price we can pay for this inheritance. He freely gives it us because of His love and grace. You won’t get a nice spot in the will for being the better son or daughter. Each person is equal with God. He loves each person as His only child.
Not only can no one pay for this inheritance He offers, but nothing can compare to this inheritance. This inheritance doesn’t run out. It does not depreciate in value. It is always awaiting you. We are so fortunate that because of God’s love, His grace, His mercy, His forgiveness, that we are able to receive such an inheritance, a priceless inheritance. Now let us live with great expectation of this inheritance, praising God for all that He has done and awaiting the day He calls us home.
“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.” – 1 Peter 1:3-4 [NLT]
There were different offerings given to the Lord including the Grain Offering. The Grain Offering was to show honor to God. Recently when I was reading Leviticus 2, I read about what was involved with the Grain Offering. There was choice flour, olive oil, and frankincense. But there was something else. Something else was added to the Grain Offering. Salt.
The salt was used to season the Grain Offering. That might sound strange to us because we think of salt as a seasoning for food that we will eat. Why would a person salt an offering that was going to be given to God? This salt was to remind the people of God’s covenant with them. Salt symbolized preservation. Salt symbolized healing. God offers us preservation and healing. This salt reminded people that God was active in their lives. He was active and he was offering preservation and healing and restoration.
Today we are still offered preservation and healing and restoration through Christ. Like salt, God can penetrate our lives and preserve them. He can offer us healing. He can offer us eternal preservation. But have you added the salt? Have you allowed God to penetrate your life? Are you allowing Him to be active in your life?
“Season all your grain offerings with salt to remind you of God’s eternal covenant. Never forget to add salt to your grain offerings.” – Leviticus 2:13 [NLT]
Despite wearing suntan lotion, my daughter got sunburn. While walking through the parking lot, we were side-by-side heading toward the car. Halfway to our destination, a gentleman began to back up out of his parking spot without looking around in our direction to see if anyone was walking behind him. I forgot about my daughter’s sunburn at that point; I reached out and grabbed her shoulder to pull her back towards me so the car wouldn’t hit her. My daughter yelled because she claimed to have seen the car approaching and she said she was planning to stop. She was screaming because I had touched her sunburn. My daughter did not grasp the fact that I was trying to save her from injury.
Our Father tries to save us and at times we react in this same dissatisfied manner. We do not look at the fact that He’s keeping us from something that could be hurtful or something that could put us in danger. We look at what we lost or what we do not like with our situation. We see things with a different perspective. God looks at the eternal salvation perspective—wanting to save you so you can have everlasting life with Him. We look at what saves us at the moment—what makes us happy and satisfied right now.
Today consider the salvation that is offered to you. Thank God for His concern for your eternal well-being. Examine your current situation from this eternal vantage point. Perhaps things will look a whole lot different with this different view.
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17 [NIV]
This morning I gave my dog a bone and I found that rather than eating it, he took it over to his special area of the room and lined it up with a few other bones he had collected. If he could talk, I think he would have been boastful of his nice collection. Of course, what is the purpose of having a collection of bones that doesn’t get eaten? Pardon my harshness, but I’m not fond of collections. I do not think God wants us building up big collections of items. In the Bible there are times when there are reminders that will be used to keep God’s people focused on God. Some manna is saved in a jar. Some stones are piled up. I get this. All of this saving and collecting involved God.
There is nothing wrong with saving money and being a good steward, but a problem occurs if the money becomes a god and a reason for living. I think of the character of Uncle Scrooge, counting coins as the poor families struggle. There is nothing wrong with collecting some mementos from the past, but to live in the past can prohibit you from reaching where God wants you to be in life. There is nothing wrong with having a few porcelain dolls or baseball cards, but when it encompasses much of your time and much of your attention, where is God’s glory? Where is God’s time?
My dog was collecting bones. When we think of bones, we usually think of something that is dead. It reminds me of these collections that we have here on earth. Our life here is temporal, and each collection is simply as collecting bones. It is so much better to taste what the Lord has given, say that “it is good,” and enjoy a relationship with Him, than to collect things that He created to build up a temporal kingdom here. What He has for us is so much better than we have seen with our eyes or felt with our hands here on earth.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” – Matthew 6:19
“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” – 2 Corinthians 5:1
I was driving down the road the other day, when a song started playing that really caught my attention. I heard the song many time before; however, this time I saw it differently. The song, “Forever,” by rising Country Singer-Songwriter Danielle Lowe, appears on her recent debut album, “Off Limits.” The song is a love song, but while I was driving down the street a few days ago, I wasn’t seeing it as a song shared between a man and woman. I heard a few lyrics that made me think of our relationship with God.
The song talks about two that are “meant to be together,” and says that their “love will last forever.” God is our Creator, and therefore we are forever connected. We are “meant to be together.” This relationship began when He placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. As time progressed, Abraham was called a “friend.” God sacrificed His Son to redeem us from our sins, and allow us to have eternal life. It is so clear to see that we are “meant to be together” and that for us God has a “love (that) will last forever.” He simply wants us to love Him back.
The song continues by making reference to love whether they have “a million dollars” or “a few,” because it didn’t matter either way. We are told to not put focus on temporal items. Luke 12:31 of the New Living Translation states: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and He will give you everything you need.”
What really stuck out the most was my favorite part of the song. This part of the song says, “Let your heart help you find your way. It’s simple, you don’t have to be afraid.” Too many times, people try to make it appear difficult to love God. Some will pile up tons of laws along with the Law, and make it appear as if God is too far beyond everything to be reached. The rules overshadow God to these people. There are others who would love to attend church or study their Bibles; however, people are telling them they must dress a certain way or act a particular way to participate.
In reality, though there is a Bible that consists of 66 books, and traditions that have been around for a long time, no one is perfect and no one is unable to approach God. Everyone is at a different level. There is no shame in speaking to God in a dirty, torn shirt. There is no shame in coming to God despite the fact that you haven’t memorized the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed, or because you missed last week’s church service or haven’t attended once.
The part of the lyrics that really stayed with me was that we “don’t have to be afraid.” Fear not. I love to slip that in everywhere. There’s a reason for it though. Too many times we get fearful. We worry. We doubt. Then Satan comes around the corner and creates some way to sneak through the cracks of our armor. Did you ever do a search and see how many times “fear not” or similar wording is found in the Bible? I can’t be certain, but when I did a search of it being exactly spelled out as “fear not,” Biblos.com came up with over a hundred mentions. This is not including different word usages and phrases that mean the same thing.
Why do we see so many “do not be afraid” and “fear not” phrases? Is it possible that God wants us to understand that we should not be afraid? That we have nothing to fear? That Satan has already been defeated? Fear not, be not afraid. You are “forever” in God’s hands– there is no better place to be.