Saturday, November 16, 2013

Prosperity

This morning in my Bible reading I read from 2 Chronicles and once again this verse caught my attention.

"And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper."  2 Chronicles 26:5

We all want to prosper – but what does that mean exactly?  What does prosperity look like?  I know most people will consider one prosperous if they own a lot of material goods – a nice home, a nice car, designer clothes, etc.  But the truth is I have known people that have lots of material things that are absolutely miserable!  In fact I remember a time in my life when we were going through some of our darkest hours – our daughter had cancer, we were going through a recession, our lease was up on our car so we had to turn it in, and we had no money for another one, groceries were scarce…as I said a very dark time.  With all that was going on – we, our family, knew that God was carrying us through, that He would take care of us, and He put many people in our lives that were praying for us, providing blessings for us – and we were at peace.  At the same time someone I knew very well, someone that looked very prosperous because of all the material goods they possessed, had no peace at all!  Their home was in complete turmoil, they had no support group, and none of their worldly possessions could help their circumstances.  So, prosperity is not found in material things!

In the Scripture I quoted above we see that Uzziah was able to prosper as long as he sought the Lord!

"And he made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal. And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong. But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense."  2 Chronicles 26:15, 16

Once Uzziah thought that he was strong and "successful" he quit seeking the Lord and became proud.  That pride let to his destruction.  He was prospering when he was weak in his own eyes. "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10

I know it doesn't make sense to say that when we are weak, then we’re strong, but I have come to understand that when I realize how weak I am, I can then receive the strength the Lord has for me.  

One of my favorite songs, "The Refiner’s Fire" sometimes almost feels like my life’s anthem.  

Here are the lyrics:

There burns a fire with sacred heat
White hot with holy flame
And all who dare pass through its blaze
Will not emerge the same
Some as bronze, and some as silver
Some as gold, then with great skill
All are hammered by their sufferings
On the anvil of His will

Chorus:
The Refiner's fire
Has now become my souls desire
Purged and cleansed and purified
That the Lord be glorified
He is consuming my soul
Refining me, making me whole
No matter what I may lose
I choose the Refiner's fire

I'm learning now to trust His touch
To crave the fire's embrace
For though my past with sin was etched
His mercies did erase
Each time His purging cleanses deeper
I'm not sure that I'll survive
Yet the strength in growing weaker
Keeps my hungry soul alive

The last line in the second verse speaks of the strength we gain from trusting the Lord through our trials as a life giving force that only God can create.  The original meaning of the word prosper is “to make happy.”  Money can’t do that!  Oh sure, it is nice to have money to be able to buy things when we want them – but in truth, money can’t buy happiness!  Only God can give us true joy. “Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.  Nehemiah 8:10 If the joy of the Lord is our strength and we see that God’s greatest joy is when we walk in truth as stated in 3 John 4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth”; then we are stronger when we walk in God’s truth, with God, in His counsel, and as we delight in His Word we are promised prosperity!   

 “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." Psalm 1:1-3

In Psalm 73, (read it when you get a chance), we see the psalmist is tempted to believe that prosperity is tied to money; that when one has material goods, or a trouble free life, it is an indication that they have prospered. He is conflicted because he sees that ungodly people are prospering in the world while he is suffering.  In further reading the Psalmist comes to realize that because of God’s mercy he allows the foolish (the fool has said in his heart there is no God) to enjoy a measure of so-called prosperity because in the end they will face destruction – while he (God’s child), on the other hand, may be suffering here on earth, in the end realizes that God is always with him and will carry him on to glory.  It is kind of like allowing the convicted murdered to enjoy the best meal of his choice before he is executed – at least allow them a small pleasure because what they are about to face for all eternity is horrible!

As long as you seek the Lord, He will make you to prosper, you will be marvelously helped– but once you start thinking you’re strong, your deceitful heart will lead you to destruction!  This month of November as we all pause to thank, remember to thank God for everything - He is your strength!

 “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.”  Psalm 28:7

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Forgiveness

Forgiveness -what a wonderful word.  Forgiveness is something we all long for – and something that was purchased for us at GREAT COST!

Forgiveness for our sins was paid with the Blood of Jesus! 

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” Ephesians 1:7

In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” Colossians 1:14

Forgiveness – God loved us so much that He gave His only Son to die in our place so that we could receive forgiveness for our sins.  What a freedom we enjoy when we know we've been forgiven!  I remember so clearly how I felt after I was saved and knew that I had received forgiveness from my heavenly Father through Jesus His Son!  It was as though I had been carrying chains and shackles around with me that I had grown so accustomed to carrying I didn't even realize how heavy they were – until the weight was gone! 

In a very small way it is like the difference a mom feels when the need to carry the entire baby paraphernalia is gone after her last child no longer requires a diaper bag filled with everything she could possibly need, stroller, blankets, car seats etc.  I remember when my 4th child was all done with the diaper bag and so forth that I kept feeling like I was forgetting something – my arms were free!  I actually remember it very clearly – we were going to the Santa Clara County Fair and I didn't need a stroller, diaper bag, Sippy cup – nothing!  I remember raising my arms in the air and saying, “Wow! I am free!  I don’t have anything I need to carry – I am even going to leave my purse in the car!”  I didn't realize they were was burdensome while I needed them – I had grown accustomed to carrying all those things with me for the 7 ½ years as I went from 1 to 4 children in 5 years!

We are all so very thankful when we are forgiven.  Forgiveness is something given to us as a gift from God…and probably one of the hardest things that God has commanded us to give.  I know people have a hard time parting with their money – but I believe more people struggle with forgiveness.

I know that I find it easy to forgive someone that has injured me – but it is a different story when I must forgive someone that has harmed my family! Yet, God does not place any parameters around “who” we are to forgive, In fact in Mark 11:25, He makes it pretty clear who we are to forgive when He says, “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”   

Refusing to forgive is a form of pride; it is an act of disobedience.

"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matthew 6:14 – 15

On the other side of forgiveness – is judgment.  While forgiveness for our sins from God brings us redemption and allows us to know freedom; not forgiving puts us in the place of a judge, condemning someone and deeming them unworthy of forgiveness.  That puts us in a horrible place!

Jesus showed us the danger of not forgiving…

"Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses." Matthew 18:32-35

That’s a pretty strong statement – wouldn't you agree?

Furthermore in James we are warned…

"Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?"  James 4:11-12 (Basically saying, "Who do you think you are?")

In order to do that we must humble ourselves in the sight of God – we must receive the grace that God will give us as we humble ourselves and forgive others.  “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”  James 4:5

We are living in a day where there is so much turmoil in this world – as wives, mothers, Christians, we need to be in a place where our prayers are answered – and that won’t happen unless we forgive “any” against whom we have “ought.”

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”  Luke 6:37, 38


Hope you'll forgive me for this looonnnggg post :)  Have a wonderful day!