How much do you REALLY need?

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:17 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/exo.20.17.NASB1995

How much do you REALLY need? Covetousness is the violation of the first commandment – whether other gods, another’s goods, or restless dissatisfaction with our life. It hides in our hearts: “covet” is repeated for emphasis, and it is comprehensive – it covers everything. Instead of looking at others possessions, we should be thankful that our neighbor has what they have. It’s okay to have desires, but not when it becomes an obsession. “If only…” is one of the most destructive phrases in existence. In Joshua, chapter 7, covetousness cost Achor his life. Paul warns the Corinthians about covetousness:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”
1 Corinthians 6:9‭-‬10 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/1co.6.9-10.NASB1995

The thirst for more – having wealth is not the problem, but when the wealth owns you, that is the problem, when the focus is always on “more”.

“Then [Jesus] said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”
Luke 12:15 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/luk.12.15.NASB1995

Cultivate contentment, not complacency. Be satisfied; subtract ungodly desires, add dependence on Christ. Contentment defined: The learned, divinely empowered ability to be satisfied with the providence of God in any and every circumstance of life. (1 Timothy 6, Hebrews 13:5 Philippians 4:13) Through the Strength of Christ, we can be content. SEE what you have and be thankful.

“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:9‭-‬15 NASB1995

Thanksgiving, even when we don’t feel like it!

“Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.”
James 5:13 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/jas.5.13.NASB1995

As Americans, we are especially blessed. Even with all of the ridiculous shenanigans (I’ve always liked that word) in Washington and around the country, we really are blessed. That said, I know there are many who are struggling and suffering, and my heart and prayers go out to them. I’ve never been particularly good at being thankful in the midst of suffering, or being cheerful in times of stress. Pretty much the opposite… and definitely not like James tells us:

“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;” James 1:19 NASB1995

https://bible.com/verse-of-the-day/jas.1.19/2932

Here’s another one, this time from John.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”
1 John 4:7 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/1jn.4.7.NASB1995

That’s a verse I really have to work on applying in my life! Coming up on Thanksgiving, with Christmas following close behind, I find that this might be the thing I struggle most with. I think most families have that person that we struggle with liking….. or even tolerating. God knows, and He is very clear on this. After all, being fully aware of the plans the Pharisees had for Him, and knowing that Judas would betray Him, Jesus showed love to them. He showed love to the thief on the cross next to Him. I am to reflect the love of God by showing love to everyone around you whether they deserve it or not.

If you don’t have that “special” person in your life, I almost envy you. However, if we are honest with ourselves, I expect that we have that someone whom we don’t like. Whether their actions or their personality. You, or I, might even be that person to someone!

LORD, Father God, I bring this to You today, and pray that You will take the resentment and anger and frustration from me, and help me to show Your love to that person. It’s only through YOU that I am able to do this. Let me be a blessing to that person, so that they might see Jesus. Amen.

Abortion: BABY, or “Fetus”

For You formed my inward parts;

You wove me in my mother’s womb.

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully
and wonderfully made;

Wonderful are Your works,

And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,

When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;

Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;

And in Your book were all written

The days that were ordained for me,

When as yet there was not one of them.
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!

How vast is the sum of them!

If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.

When I awake, I am still with You.

O that You would slay the wicked, O God;

Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.

For they speak against You wickedly,

And Your enemies take Your name in vain.

Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord?

And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

And see if there be any hurtful way in me,

And lead me in the everlasting way.

Psalms 139:1321,23-24 NASB1995

Thank God!

A Psalm of David:

I will give You thanks with all my heart; I will sing praises to You before the gods. I will bow down toward Your holy temple. And give thanks to Your name for Your Lovingkindness and Your Truth; For You have magnified Your Word according to all Your Name. On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.”

“All the kings of the earth will give thanks to You, O LORD. When they have heard the words of Your Mouth. And they will sing of the ways of the LORD, For great is the Glory of the LORD. For though the LORD is exalted, Yet He regards the lowly, But the haughty He knows from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your Hand against the wrath of my enemies, And Your Right Hand will save me. The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your Lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your Hands.” Psalms 138:1‭-‬8 NASB1995

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. Everything is a gift. Be thankful for His Mercy, Pardon, Patience, Lovingkindness, Truth. “It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night,….” Psalms 92:1‭-‬2 NIV

Pray. God delivers His promises in fulfillment of His Word. Don’t forget to say Thank You, Jesus! “….. to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,….” Ephesians 3:19‭-‬20 NIV

Remember God’s Pre-eminence. Eventually, EVERYONE will give thanks and praise the LORD. ALL of Creation will praise Him. He is our protection. Be thankful for all the troubles that have MISSED us. God’s Grace and Mercy will sustain us. He gives us Purpose. He will complete and accomplish His plans for me. God made me and He has a purpose for me!

“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.” Psalms 139:13‭-‬14 NASB1995

“….. being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NIV

Thank God for His fulfillment!

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20‭-‬21 NIV

Happy Thanksgiving from my home to yours!

Now to Him

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NASB

It is so easy to be judgmental based on how a person looks. We can look at someone on a street corner & think “Get a job! Quit begging!” But do you know their circumstances? Personally, I find it difficult to understand how – and why – anyone is homeless with all of the resources available now… And yet, I spent several months living on the street years ago because of my own bad choices. I was too proud to reach out for help, so God used others to help me out of that pit. Not with money, because He knew that wouldn’t help me, but with a place to stay and food to eat until I got my health back, and I could get a job and my own place. We look at the outside, but thank God that He looks at the heart!

“I thank Him who has given me strength, CHRIST JESUS our LORD, because He judged me Faithful, appointing me to His service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received Mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief*, and the Grace of our LORD overflowed for me with the Faith and Love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received Mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:12‭-‬17 ESV

*Unlike Paul, I was not ignorant of God, nor was I an unbeliever. Still, in His infinite Mercy and Grace, the LORD of the Universe forgave me and took me back into His arms. How thankful I am for His Mercy and my wholly undeserved forgiveness! I remain convinced that of those people who helped lift me out of the muck, some had to be angels in disguise. Take time today to thank God for what you have, and do something good for someone. We never know when we might be entertaining angels!

“Now to Him Who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20‭-‬21 NASB

Good Friday

“When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.” They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?” “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” Mark 14:17‭-‬26 NIV

I grew up celebrating communion, or as we called it, the Lord’s Supper, and it was a solemn occasion. Not sad or upsetting, but serious. We always ended with a prayer and my Dad (the pastor) telling us all to go in peace and without speaking, but as we would leave we sang (a capella) Blest Be the Tie That Binds.

  1. Blest be the tie that binds
    Our hearts in Christian love;
    The fellowship of kindred minds
    Is like to that above.
  2. Before our Father’s throne,
    We pour our ardent prayers;
    Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
    Our comforts, and our cares.
  3. We share our mutual woes,
    Our mutual burdens bear;
    And often for each other flows
    The sympathizing tear.
  4. When we asunder part,
    It gives us inward pain;
    But we shall still be joined in heart,
    And hope to meet again.

Today, as we prepare for Easter Sunday and the joyous day that it is/should be, is a great day for families to gather and participate in the Lord’s Supper, just as Jesus did with His friends. I lift my cup and my bread to Him, and thank Him that I have the freedom to do so. I miss my family and friends during this period of social distancing, but I thank God for “the Tie that binds”!

Motivated

Motivations can be positive things or negative things…. These are some motivations for us; the benefits of a robust spiritual life:

“For if these qualities (moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love) are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:8‭-‬9a NASB

Spiritual growth is spiritual productivity; to be fruitful you must be growing and prgressing. Failure to grow leads to spiritual amnesia.

“Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; FOR AS LONG AS YOU PRACTICE THESE THINGS, YOU WILL NEVER STUMBLE [into doubt of your salvation]; …. 2 Peter 1:10 NASB

Do you need reassurance of your salvation? How do we make sure we are saved? God has called us and chosen us, He has elected us. HE chose US, but WE have to choose HIM. If we are not growing and moving forward, we are slipping backwards. We cannot lose our security in Christ, but we can lose our assurance when we stop growing in Him.

God’s Word to us – “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, …..” Romans 8:15‭-‬16 NASB

Along with the fruits of the Spirit that we read about in 2 Peter, our growth is shown by our prayer life.

“…… and He took the seven loaves and the fish; and giving thanks, He broke them and started giving them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. And they all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, seven large baskets full.” Matthew 15:36‭-‬37 NASB

Wow. I fail miserably at this…. how many times have I sat down to eat something and skipped thanking God for the fact that I have food? What about the blessings of my life, and the challenges, too. Am I thanking God daily for them? I’m not concerned about where I will spend eternity, but I wonder sometimes how I will spend eternity…. Is my life, my example, enough to show the people around me that I am sure of my future? Our “glorious entry” to heaven is the evidence that we lived to please Christ, not to boast for ourselves. The kingdom is Eternal, it is the Future, and it belongs to Jesus Christ.

Conclusion: “Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.” 2 Peter 1:12-‬15

For Great Is The LORD

“For great is the LORD, and greatly to be Praised; He also is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and Majesty are before Him, Strength and Joy are in His place. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, Ascribe to the LORD Glory and Strength. Ascribe to the LORD the Glory due His Name; Bring an offering, and come before Him; Worship the LORD in holy array. Tremble before Him, all the earth; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.” 1 Chronicles 16:25‭-‬30 NASB

“I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders.” Psalms 9:1 NASB

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. It’s difficult for a lot of us, and for a plethora of reasons. Still, there are moments…. when the 5th grader with an attitude problem introduced me to her dad and said I was “really nice” (!!!). The special chocolate bar a coworker gave me, and the excitement of the girls I shared it with. Coming home to a card and chocolates from my sister and niece. Even though I was (am) alone, I’m not alone. God gave me these moments. I’m grateful!

It’s the little things. The LORD is Great, Mighty, All-Powerful, yet He remembers the little things.
He wants to be everything for you, too. The big things and the little things.

In His Word I Do Hope

“Out of the depths I have cried to You, O LORD. LORD, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive To the voice of my supplications. If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O LORD, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His Word do I hope.” Psalms 130:1‭-‬5 NASB

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the FATHER of Lights, with Whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17 NASB

I accompanied my Mom to a banquet Sunday night. When I took her home, she was thanking me for taking her. Why should she thank me? Considering all of the things she has done for me, places she has taken me, sacrifices she has made for me and my siblings, everytime I see her I should be thanking her. Likewise, every single good thing that has ever happened to me, I should be thanking my LORD. My bad decisions are all mine, and my good decisions are all His.

“I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12‭-‬13 NASB

I’ve had abundance, and I’ve had hardship. Sometimes it feels like it’s ALL hardship. A friend used to tell me “You have 5 minutes for your pity party, then get over it and MOVE ON.” Throughout my life, even at my lowest, there was something to be grateful for, even if it was having my family mad at me – because it meant they still cared. If there is absolutely NOTHING you can think of to be thankful for, be thankful for toilets and toilet paper!

What are you grateful for today? Where do you find your hope?