FELLOWSHIP – – Part Two…


Philippians 1:1-11

I would like for us to begin considering three things that Paul described as being essential to True Christian Fellowship. 

He said – “I have you in my mind.”  (Philippians 1:3-6).  I believe we can agree that this is utterly amazing.  The apostle in dire straits himself was thinking of others, not himself.  He is in prison and awaiting trial in Rome.  However, his mind goes back to the city and people of Philippi.  He is focused on the believers there and those thoughts cause his level of joy to increase.

If you read Acts 16 you gain some insight as to some of the events that transpired at Philippi.  Some of the events could have caused immense sorrow rather than joy.  Paul was illegally arrested and beaten in Philippi.  He was placed in stocks and humiliated before the city.  However, those memories brought joy to his heart.  Why?  The jailer received Christ.  Lydia and her household became Christians.  A demon-possessed slave girl was set free!  Joy flooded his heart.  He made the choice to rejoice!

I believe a legitimate question for each of us is, “Am I the kind of Christian who brings Joy to my pastor’s heart when he thinks of me?”  Paul reflected on, with gratitude, their financial help (v.5).  But lest we misapply the principles and think that it is works that produce salvation, I suggest turning to Philippians 2:8-9.  Here we are not saved by good works.  Then in Philippians 1:6, we realize that the good work is Salvation.  Then back to Philippians 2:12-13, he teaches that God continues to work in us by the Holy Spirit.

I suggest to you that Salvation includes a three-fold work.  The work God does for us – Redemption.  The work God does in us – Sanctification.  The work God does through us – Service.  This work will continue until we see Jesus Christ at His return and then the work will be completed.  1 John 3:2 declares, “We shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.”

It was a source of Joy for Paul to know that God was continuing to work in the lives of his fellow believers at Philippi.  The true basis for Joyful Christian Fellowship is having God work in our lives day by day. 

Let me give an inadequate but revealing illustration.  A woman went to a marriage counselor and said, “there seems to be friction in my home, and I really don’t know what the cause is.”  The counselor looked at her and said, “Friction is caused by one of two things.”  Then to illustrate he picked up two sticks of wood from his desk and said, “If one block is moving and the other is not, there will be friction.  Also, if both are moving in the opposite direction there is friction.  Which is it with you?”

The lady looked at him and replied, “I’ll have to admit I’ve been going backward in my Christian life and my husband has been growing.”  She then said, “What I need to do is get back into Fellowship with the Lord.” 

God working in our lives daily is the basis for Christian fellowship.  As He works in us, we are enabled to focus on others not just ourselves.

I fear making this study longer than I had planned but will pause here and take up the second thought in the next devotional. 

God bless you as you allow the Holy Spirit to work out the kinks in you and as you enjoy this day He has provided.  Have a Great Day!

FELLOWSHIP…


Philippians 1:1-11 – “PAUL and Timotheus, servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Jesus Christ who are at Philippi, together with the elders and deacons:2 Grace be to you, and peace from God our Father, and from our LORD Jesus Christ. 3 I give thanks to my God for your steady remembrance of me.4 In all my prayers for you, I make supplication with joy,5 For your fellowship in the gospel, from the very first day until now,6 Being confident of this very thing, that he who has begun the good work among you, the same will continue it until the day of our LORD Jesus Christ: 7 And this is the right way for me to think of you all, because I have you in my heart, because through all my imprisonment and my defense and confirmation of the truth of the gospel, you have been partakers with me of grace.8 For God is my witness of how much I love you through the love of Jesus Christ. 9 And for this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all spiritual understanding:10 So that you may choose the things that are excellent; and that you may be pure and without offense in the day of Christ;11 And be filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and the praise of God.”

FELLOWSHIP – That is a good word!  It is a Bible word and has such a warm reception when uttered it needs to be kept in circulation as long as possible.  How many times have you heard words like these?  “Come over to the house for some fellowship.  What a golf game!  Man, did we have some good fellowship!  The fellowship after church was tremendous.  Do you need to go and wash the fellowship off your hands?”

FELLOWSHIP – The word seems to have many different meanings, yet it is worthy of our attention and consideration.  I believe that fellowship, like several other biblical words, has been misused, misunderstood, and needs to be rescued because of its immense value.

When we consider the life and situation the apostle Paul found himself, we discover some valuable truths.  Despite his circumstances as a prisoner in Rome, he was rejoicing!  The secret of his joy was ‘singleness of mind.’  He lived for Jesus and the Gospel.  In Philippians 1 Christ is mentioned eighteen times and gospel six times.  In verse 21 we read, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  Sounds single-minded to me.

The question we need to answer is, “What is a Single Mind?”  Among other things, it is the attitude that declares, “It makes no difference what happens to me, so long as Jesus is glorified, and the gospel is shared with others.”  That is singleness of mind and focus. 

Paul rejoiced despite his circumstances because he believed that his circumstances strengthened the fellowship of the gospel.  The Promoted the furtherance of the gospel and it Guarded the faith of the gospel. 

FELLOWSHIP is to have commonality.  True Christian fellowship is deeper than sharing a cup of coffee, cake, cookies, a meal, a game, or shaking hands and having a conversation.  Too often, what we call fellowship is nothing more than acquaintance or friendship.  You cannot have fellowship with someone unless you have something in common with them.  The basis upon which Christian Fellowship is enjoyed and experienced is Possessing Eternal Life – (Jesus – Salvation).

Therefore, unless a person is born-again, he knows nothing of the fellowship of the gospel.  Thus, we discover in Chapter Two of Philippians the Fellowship of the Gospel, and in Chapter Three, we are introduced to the Fellowship of Suffering. 

When we share what we have with others, this is also Fellowship. (Philippians 4:15).  Therefore, Christian Fellowship is much more than having your name on a Church membership roll or attending services.  You can be close to a person physically and be light years from them spiritually.  You can also be away from someone physically and be near them spiritually.

I am going to pause here and introduce three things that the apostle Paul described as being True Christian Fellowship.

God bless you as you enjoy this day in Jesus!

MOUNTAIN MOVERS OR MOUNTAIN BUILDERS? 


Mark 11:22-24 – “So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.  23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.  24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”  NKJV

Somebody asked me, “Are you going to give a Halloween devotional?”  My answer was, “NO!  I don’t do Halloween.”  I choose to focus on the LORD and His Kingdom, not the things of darkness except to expose them.  

In many ways, this text is a perplexing one that many Christians have attempted to achieve and failed miserably.  All of us face mountains from time to time and all of us would like to be able to remove those barriers that hinder our progress in life, right? 

To the people of Judah, in Jesus’ day, a mountain represented any hindrance to their progress.  Therefore, when Jesus told them they could have whatever they said and included the visual of the mountain they could readily, identify with what He was teaching.  How many actually believed Him is quite another story.

I would suggest there are some rules or serious considerations for ‘moving a mountain’ in our lives.  I believe it is important to understand the hindrance we are trying to remove or move and how it came to be. 

For example, if you have created a financial mountain through a lack of wisdom and discipline you will find it quite stubborn in its resistance to your commands to be removed.  If your mountain is physical sickness and you have maintained an unhealthy lifestyle failing to eat, exercise, and rest properly that mountain will be quite stubborn when you speak to it.  I would suggest that UNTIL you take proper steps to correct those root problems you will not be successful in removing them.

Let me give you a few simple rules regarding ‘Moving a Mountain.”

  • Do Not Build The Mountain In The First Place.

God may not allow us to be mountain movers if we are continuously in the process and habit of mountain building.  Praying for the mountain to move will not work if we are, at the same time, responsible for their creation.  I have witnessed some get healed physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually when they removed resentment and bitterness from their hearts.  (The Lord removed them through repentance).  

I have witnessed financial miracles when the root of jealousy, greed, covetousness, and envy was rooted out.  I have seen lives move from struggle to spiritual peace when the bad company was eliminated from the associations.

  • It Is Critical To Know That What You Are Saying Is Correct.

Jesus did not say that we were to pray and then hope that God will remove the mountain.  No, he said we are to believe and expect the mountain to be removed. 

I am reminded of the story of the woman who heard the preacher preach from this passage and there was a mountain near her house that she had to go around to get to town, so she went home and commanded the mountain to be removed.  The next morning and said, “Just as I thought, still here!”   That is expectation wrongly applied! 

Jesus said that the person who says to the mountain ‘be removed’ will get what he speaks if he does not doubt ‘in his heart.’  Therein is the rub.  We have the promises of God and proclaim and claim them but in our hearts, we doubt them.  The heart is the residence of doubt and the residence of faith.  It depends on what we allow in our hearts and minds. 

Doubt can be dealt with and overcome with knowledge.  The more I know the less I doubt.  It is valuable for us to examine our hearts and lives to see if we are creating the very mountains we are trying to remove.  If we are then we need to take steps to correct our actions.  Then, believe God’s promise that we can identify that mountain, speak to it through His authority and see it crumble before us.

I am not suggesting that whatever you say regardless, you get it.  I am saying that if you face mountains, not of your creation God has given us a promise that if we trust Him that mountain can be and will be removed!  

God bless you as you go through this day!

AFTER ALL, ALL THEY CAN DO IS KILL ME…


Luke 12:4-5 – “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.  5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!”  NKJV

I used to hear a saying: “They can kill me, but they can’t eat me” and thought, Yes, they can! It is not an image I care to allow in my consciousness, but cannibalism is still a 21st-century reality.  But the FEAR OF MAN has such a paralyzing effect on many people from the White House to the Doghouse and everything in between.  People are petrified of people if not physically emotionally and socially.  The perception of others holds such sway on many lives they live in actionable paralysis and live miserably in fear.

Jesus addressed this here warning against the fear of man.  He phrased it beautifully saying, in essence, “if they kill you that’s all they can do”.  His message was plainly that man is not the one to be feared for man can only do you physical harm and since we know that death is not the end we need not fear.  He speaks of whom we should fear (albeit reverentially).  We are to fear the one who after having killed us has the power to cast us into hell.  We should fear God!  I am not suggesting a tormenting fear unless we are in rebellion against God for in that state, we should fear Him in trembling.

It is always good to be concerned about what people think so as not to become calloused and hard.  However, we should never allow man’s perception to dictate our life’s path.  It is never good to allow the desire to please men to dictate our stance, actions, or words.  Then we are allowing them to ‘kill us’ spiritually and emotionally. 

In life, our desire should be to please God and obey Him.  We should not make, “I just tell it like it is” a justification for meanness, rudeness, insensitivity, or harshness.  It is one thing, to be honest, and another to be calloused.  Fearing man should never enter into the equation of our standing for God and right and Fearing God should always cause us to ‘speak the truth in love’ and with the ‘heart of God.’

If you are facing situations or dealing with people and find yourself fearful of the outcome or the result of people’s perceptions, then I desire to pray for your deliverance.  “Father, I ask that you set my friends free of the fear of man and grant them the liberty to follow Your directives with peace and confidence.”

May the Lord be with you as you go through your day!

HAVE YOU EVERY WANTED TO PRAY – Lord, Knock Their Teeth Out Please?


Psalm 58:6 – “Break their teeth in their mouth, O God!  Break out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD!”  NKJV

We are told that honest confession is good for the soul so let me confess; there have been times I wanted God to kick somebody’s behind for me, but He did not do it physically.  I have even asked if He would let me do it and He would not.  Okay, now that is out of the way let’s consider this verse and Psalm 58 as it relates to you and me as believers in the 21st century.

Is David really asking God to ‘break the teeth and fangs’ of the wicked?  We find something similar in Psalm 3:7 and again I ask, is he asking God to kick some booty?  I know people who believe that based on these passages and a few others in Scripture they can enlist God’s help in hurting those who hurt them and live wickedly.  These same people want the Grace of the New Testament and the license of “an eye for an eye” of the Old.  Sometimes people adapt scripture to fit their desire or belief rather than allowing scripture to guide their faith and conduct. 

I would suggest that if you will note the beginning of this Psalm that David was addressing those in positions of political and/or spiritual authority who were not presenting or promoting righteousness.  He suggested this approach due to the wickedness of their heart.  He noted that what they were saying and doing was poison and destructive. 

When people either religiously or politically see wrong and sit in silence they are complicit and in a profound sense guilty of that very evil.  I suggest that David was speaking metaphorically and asking God to ‘take away their power and authority’.  If God renders them powerless, without influence or authority they will no longer be able to do their destructive works.

In that sense, I fully endorse praying this kind of prayer toward those who demonstrate wickedness in this world.  I believe as in Ezekiel 33 that we are charged to ‘warn the wicked’ to turn from wickedness and if we do not do so we are guilty of their sin and the innocent blood will be on our hands. 

Therefore, I believe it is fully in agreement with the Bible to ask God to render those desiring to do wickedness and destruction powerless.  In fact, we Job declared in Job 29 of ‘breaking the fangs’ of the wicked and snatching victims from their teeth and considered it honorable to do so.

I realize that the Bible instructs us to pray for those in positions of authority and I do.  But I also realize that the Bible instructs and permits me to pray against evil and I do.  I have no hesitation to ask God to forcefully intervene against ‘sex offenders, sex traffickers, abortionists, and child molesters, terrorists and even oppressive government.’  How can I watch as evil is carried out and not do that which I know to do to stop and silence it?

Therefore, while I do not expect God to, physically ‘break out the teeth’ of the wicked I do ask Him to expose them and strip them of power.  I have no qualms about asking God to intervene on behalf of His children when oppressed, targeted, bullied, and abused and ask Him to silence those guilty of such acts.  I do not encourage anyone to view God as their bouncer or enforcer but rather as their shelter in the time of storm and wall of defense for He has declared He desires to be.

Please do not ask God to do physical violence upon those who seek your hurt. Instead, pray for their souls, pray against their works, and always maintain the right attitude.  As you demonstrate His character, pray His promises, and stand on His principles you will see God move on your behalf and while those doing the deed may not see or understand others will, and lives will be touched.

God bless you as you go through your day!

WHAT THEN, IF YOU CAN’T OR WON’T FOLLOW?


Matthew 20:24-28 – “And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.  26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.  27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave —   28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”   NKJV

James and John’s mother was ambitious for her sons and wanted to ensure they had prominent cabinet positions in the coming kingdom.  So, she went to Jesus to request that they be given the two most noticeable and prominent positions at his side.  What is often missed is that she did not come alone for it is clear that James and John were there and desired the same thing as is revealed in verse 22. This caused no small stir among the other disciples and the dissension became so heated that Jesus stepped in and presented a principle of leadership that too many miss. 

Jesus addressed the carnal desire for preeminence in the world and how those in power like to lord their position and authority over those under them.  He then told them that leadership in the Kingdom of God cannot and would not take that path.  The principle was simple but powerful and difficult:

  • Desire a position of authority?

Then you must demonstrate not only a willingness to serve and follow but you must actually do it.  It is not enough to mentally ascribe to the principles and say all the right things about servant leadership you must BECOME a servant and serve.

That is something that few desiring to occupy a position of leadership in or out of the church find palatable.  You want me to serve?  I was asked to mentor a young man once who wanted to become a pastor.  When I addressed this principle with him, he immediately informed me that those menial tasks I was assigning him were not befitting his education or calling and he would not do them.  He could or would not accept the principle that Jesus laid out and considered his seminary training an immediate qualification for leadership in the congregation. He would not serve, and I could not allow him to lead.

  • Become like Jesus.

If Jesus was willing to and actually became a servant, then anything less from us is unacceptable. 

In my years I have found both in the church and in secular business those who cannot follow make terrible leaders.  A person with an entitlement or elitist mentality makes a horrific leader. 

I served in the military with some who understood this principle and some who did not.  I would have charged hell with those who did and resented those who did not.  (I was not serving God during that time). 

In business or in the church an individual that knows how to follow understands authority and cooperation whereas one who either will not, has not, or cannot follow only knows arbitrary power not leadership, community, or teamwork and either fail or become a doctorial tyrant and both are tragic.

If you want to ascend to a position of authority in the church or life learn to be a servant. 

God bless you as you go through your day!

DARE WE USE THE THREE-MONKEY APPROACH?


Proverbs10:8-12 – “The wise in heart will receive commands, but a prating fool will fall.  9 He who walks with integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will become known. 10 He who winks with the eye causes trouble, but a prating fool will fall. 11 The mouth of the righteous is a well of life, but violence covers the mouth of the wicked. 12 Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.”  NKJV

The foolishness of the heart is often revealed in the incessant blabber of the lips whereas the wise person desires to gain knowledge and instruction.  Walking in one’s integrity is a walk that exudes from a sense of peace and security, whereas the wicked seek shortcuts and pervert justice and wisdom.  The words from the mouth of the righteous bring peace, and hope and point to life whereas the mouth of the wicked propels toward destruction and often is accompanied by violence.

Sadly, I know some in Christendom who have taken what I call the ‘Three Money Approach’to sin.  They refuse to see it, refuse to hear it, and refuse to denounce or speak against it!  They pretend to see nothing, hear nothing, and offer no rejection of wickedness in our present world.  That approach, in my view, expresses Hate, not Love.  I know, I have made a very bold statement and desire to explain what I mean if you will afford me the opportunity.

If you recall the words of Solomon in Proverbs 13:24 we are told that the parent who refuses to discipline (the rod) hates the child.  We also read in Proverbs 10:12 that hatred stirs up strife, but Love covers offenses.  That is not a directive to ‘wink at sin’ but for forgiveness. 

In Proverbs 8:13 we are told that the fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.  I would ask, “If you saw a relative or friend destroying their life would it be a demonstration of love to remain silent and allow them to continue when you could give a warning?”  Be careful that you do not come across as judgmental but use wisdom, compassion, caring, and love when you give the warning. Let the Holy Spirit make your words and attitude one of compassion, not judgment. I would suggest it could be argued that it is the opposite of love for if I see you in mortal danger and remain silent how can I argue that I am doing so out of Love?

I know many quote the passage in Proverbs 13:24 as “spare the rod and spoil the child” but it is stronger than that as you can read.  It is spare the rod (refusing proper discipline) is evidence of hate, not love, and spoiling the child is a minor thing compared to the destruction that awaits.  In Proverbs 23:13 we are told that in administering discipline to the child we prevent that child from death (spiritual and possibly natural).  This can be expanded to all relationships. 

As a Christian and a minister, I do not want to come across as all Hell Fire and Brimstone to the exclusion of Love and Grace.  But there are times when I must sound the alarm, identify sin as sin, and warn of its destruction.  If I ‘wink at sin’ and pretend it is not a big deal I open an unwanted door.  That sin, whatever it might be or however small, can then grow uninhibited into a deadly cancer in the soul and my ‘Three Monkey Approach’ only brings death and destruction. 

The Bible says that ‘faithful are the wounds of a friend’ (Proverbs 27:6). You may not like what I have to say, or I may not like being called out when wrong but if the objective is life and restoration then wound me, please!

The Three Monkey Approach creates a condition where the supposed pursuit of tolerance and acceptance becomes a death sentence.  It reduces the church to a social club rather than a spiritual hospital and rehab center.  If we genuinely Love one another, we will not be abusive, but we will not ‘wink at sin’ for the love that lives in us will overpower the desire to be accepted by all. 

If you are my friend, please NEVER ‘wink at my sin’ but let your love for me compel you to speak truth to my life.  I may not like it but if you love me, you will help me see the fallacy of my ways and lead me to the place where sins are covered.  If you allow me to continue without objection you only bring me and possibly you trouble. 

Oh God, please break our hearts over sin again!   May the Lord be with you as you go through your day!

THE STATE OF MANY TODAY – – I Am Not Apathetic, Just Too Busy With Me to Care…


Revelation 3:16 – “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”  NKJV

Disclaimer – – The Title is not my state of mind, but a reflection on how many people think today! 

Through my years of serving as lead pastor and in Christian service, I have often met the objection or excuse from someone regarding a need in the church, “I would, but I’m just too busy.”  I always opted to leave it at that and move on to someone who was less apathetic or self-absorbed.  Before you castigate me for that statement let me suggest that busy people are often the ones who give the most time in volunteer work so is it busyness or something else that is the real issue?

I really cannot find any scripture to support Apathy or Self-Centeredness, but if you have them feel free to enlighten me.  Now I must caution you they will need to be contextual not just an isolated passage such as the two I have heard used where a person angry at another quoted, “Judas went out and hanged himself… Go thou and do likewise.”  Two isolated partial passages are used to convey the desired message. 

The words of the LORD to the Church at Laodicea are arresting and I wonder how applicable they are to today’s church and Christians.  He addresses them identifying the fact of their lukewarmness and then declares, “I will spew you out of my mouth.”  He identified their attitude as totally unacceptable.  The Bible tells us that whatever our hand finds to do to do it with our might and that would appear to be the opposite of lukewarm.

If we are Apathetic and our focus is on the Self, we will find that unless it directly impacts us, we are largely disinterested.  Sin and man’s lost condition do not tug the heart as a daily rule and any conviction over that attitude is quickly dispelled with images of our selfish objectives. 

We justify our inaction and apathy with the claim of Busyness in the interest of caring for our own and fail to remember that our LORD declared that if we ‘seek first’ the Kingdom of God and His righteousness all these things will be added to us.  Therefore, from a biblical perspective, the best approach to life is:

  • God First and Foremost.
  • Others Second.
  • Self Last.

In every area of life, I have encountered Apathy. When people are apathetic political freedoms are lost.  When people are apathetic relationally relationships are destroyed.  When people are apathetic economic opportunity is lost.  When people are apathetic spiritually souls are lost, and the abundant life promised eludes us.

I have long contended that when speaking to a crowd I thrive on two kinds of crowds:  Those who are enthusiastically for me or against me.  The crowd or audience that drains me is the apathetic crowd.  I would rather watch grass grow than speak to that kind of audience.  I suspect God feels the same and thus the reason for the warning and plea to the church at Laodicea. 

May God stir your heart so that you are HOT rather than COLD and press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ.   

Be blessed and walk in the power provided by the Spirit of God. 

LET’S TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT GENEROSITY…


Proverbs 11:24-25 – “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; And there is one who withholds more than is right, But it leads to poverty.  25 The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.”  NKJV

It is always fun to read the Old Testament and find a passage that has been defined in the New either by our Lord Himself or one of the apostles.  There are two prominent New Testament Principles that can find their beginnings in this passage.  The Law of Sowing and Reaping or Reciprocity and Giving.  These are explicitly addressed in the New Testament.

Here the writer describes two kinds of people – Generous and Stingy.  I have known people who were generous to a fault and some who pinched every penny so tightly it squealed when released.  The latter would sometimes give but grudgingly and with much compulsion and convincing.  The writer declares that one leads to an increase and the other to a lack.  He reveals that the generous will prosper and the wonderful truth that the one that cares for others will be cared for by others.

Paul taught that God loves a cheerful giver, and some have attempted to expand this truth to make it an investment plan to provide riches for themselves.  They omitted any consideration for the motive behind the giving or the purpose for the increase.  That is why some who have attempted this principle became disillusioned and gave it up as a false doctrine.  The Purpose is as important as the gift.  What is the motivation behind the gift and the desire for any return?  God is not interested in satisfying our personal greed or carnal appetites.  He does what He does with purpose, and it is always focused on the redemptive.

The Law of Sowing and Reaping reveals a principle of farming that we reap WHAT we sow.  If we plant watermelons, we will not reap cucumbers.  If we plant peanuts, we will not reap carrots.  WHAT we sow regardless of what that is will come back whether that is money, compassion, labor, etc. 

We also reap LATER than we sow.  No farmer plants seed one day and expects to get up the next morning to bring in the harvest. Time is important in the process.  We also reap MORE than we sow.  We plant a grain of corn, and it produces a stalk that produces ears of corn that have multiple grains.  We plant a pea and reap a stalk that produces many pods with numerous peas in them.  So, we reap what we sow, later than we sow, and more than we sow.  The principles revealed here are the same.

Jesus addressed giving in numerous places and the Bible makes it clear that God is far more interested in the purpose and proportion than the amount.  In Luke 6:38 Jesus spoke of this principle saying, “Give, and IT (whatever you give) will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put in your bosom.  For with the same measure (proportion) you use, it will be measured back to you.”  

The Law of Giving as described by Jesus reveals that WHAT we give is WHAT we get in return.  The principle is advanced that the return will be WHAT we give and MORE than we give.  I suggest that this principle can be immediate or over time, but it will be WHAT and MOREand be directly connected to the proportion of our giving. 

If we give love, then love will come back to us.  If we give mercy, then mercy will come back to us.  If we give hate, then hate will come back to us.  If we give a helping hand, then a helping hand will come back to us.  As we cast our bread on the waters after many days it returns to us. 

When Jesus sat near the offering bucket and watched those who had much put in their gifts, He was largely unimpressed but when the widow came and gave her all He was.  He even declared that she had given more than all the others.  MORE? Not in the amount but in the proportion. 

I like to say, “If you didn’t notice it or feel it when it left you will likely not notice or feel it when it returns.”  If it had no impact on you departing it will have no impact when it returns.  If you give with a teaspoon, why expect a watering trough in return?  I know the return is MORE than the outlay, but the proportion will still hold true.

I pray that God will inspire a spirit and heart of generosity in each of us.  Blessings!

IS IT FAITH OR FAITH IN FAITH?


John 4:46-54 – “So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.”

49 The nobleman said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies!”

50 Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son lives.” So, the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. 51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, “Your son lives!”

52 Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” And he himself believed, and his whole household.

54 This again is the second sign Jesus did when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.”  NKJV

I realize that the title of this devotional may cause questions after reading the text.  So, let me explain my thought and hopefully, it will be both a blessing and benefit in your daily walk.  I find it interesting to note that John is careful to remind his readers that this was a return to Cana of Galilee where Jesus had turned the water into wine.  Some have suggested that this nobleman had attended the wedding I do not know but that is not the point.  There are some things about this passage that should inspire our confidence in God’s Promises.

The man was not faithless otherwise he would not have come to Jesus to heal his child.  The response of Jesus to this man’s request to come and heal his son is intriguing.  Jesus responded to his plea for the healing of a child with, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.”  

If, as some have suggested, this was an indication of the absence of faith on the nobleman’s part then the rest of the passage would be negated.  I believe that Jesus was challenging him and stretching him in that statement.  It was not the absence of faith but a human condition in conjunction with his faith that many of us have experienced. 

He had total confidence that “if” Jesus personally went to the child healing was guaranteed.  He likely had no knowledge or understanding of how healing could transpire otherwise.  He did not have a long history of miracles in his memory banks or experience to draw from.  He believed Jesus could and therefore made his impassioned plea not once but twice.

Jesus, after the second plea, said, “Go your way; your son lives.”  The next statement demonstrates the heart of the nobleman and should be our hearts.  It says, “So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way.”  He did not continue to plea, pray, or attempt to persuade Jesus to do what he thought necessary HE BELIEVED!  He not only believed in his heart but demonstrated the accompanying sign of obedience and departed from the physical presence of the LORD. 

This is Faith not Faith in Faith!  He simply believed what Jesus said and demonstrated the corresponding action to accompany that belief.  That is faith in action! Had he simply had faith in faith he would not have been able to believe the word of Jesus and obey that word he would have continued to insist that Jesus come to his house and perform whatever ritual to bring about the healing.  He had faith that demonstrated the response of obedience.  As he went back home his servants met him and informed him the child was healed.  His inquiry into the timing only further solidified his confidence in the Words of Jesus.

The key for us in receiving the promises of God is:  BELIEVE the word of Jesus and ACT upon that word.  Once we have HEARD His Promise, we can GO in confidence that we have the petition we asked for.   I encourage you to read 1 John 5:14-15at this point.

God bless you as you go through your day and walk in faith!  Blessings abundant is my prayer and desire!