Friday, November 19, 2010

Spiritual Bargain Basement

Tis the season! Shoppers camp out late at night to be first in line to buy products they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people who don’t care. Ah, tis the season indeed!

But, if you get in line early enough, are committed enough, sacrifice enough of your time and comfort and are willing to pay enough - you are usually able to get what you want.

So why isn’t the same way with God? Do you ever find yourself bargaining with Him? If you get to church early enough, often enough, are committed enough, sacrifice enough of your time and comfort and are willing to pay enough, read your Bible enough, memorize verses enough, share with people enough, pray enough, serve enough - you should be able to get what you want - right?

Why isn’t He blessing? I’m doing all the right things. Why isn’t He holding up His side of the bargain?

Bargaining with God - but living in the basement of life; God’s, “Spiritual Bargain Basement”.

Here’s the truth, God doesn’t want these things. WHAT? SACRILEGE! Nope; sorry. God doesn’t want them. Don’t get me wrong. All of these things are wonderful - when they are truly the results of a contrite heart, a humble gratitude and irrepressible love. God doesn’t want our actions; GOD DEMANDS OUR ALL. He wants our heart. He wants our will to be uniquely, specifically, totally yielded to His will. He wants our very being, wholly and completely to be yielded to His control. No, He is not bargaining. The answer is no; NO. Once we realize this, once we realize how aimlessly and hopelessly futile OUR very best spirituality is, we are prepared to relax in HIS very best for us!

The Bible says,

“Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS - delight, gladden yourselves in Him; again I say REJOICE! Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness - your considerateness, your forbearing spirit. The Lord is near - He is coming soon. Do not fret or have anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything by prayer and petition [definite requests] with thanksgiving continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding, shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus! For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there be any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things - fix your minds on them.” - Philippians 4: 4-8

Have you ever noticed? Bargain basements are usually left overs, last season’s and damaged goods. You and I really DO get what WE pay for. But never forget, HE has paid the price!

It is He Who has mapped the plan. He directs the path. He provides everything and more. We need only to relax in Him - trust and THEN obey. The attitude of doing what I must, to get what I can, is not God’s Biblical equation for blessings or balance.

Ah, but there is tremendous comfort! We need not bargain with God because we are joint heirs with Jesus! We already own His inheritance. There are no early bird specials, no blue light, red tag, two-for-one or five cent sale. He owns it all and freely gives, over and above, to His children.

“He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” - Romans 8:32

“So I say to you, ASK and keep on asking, and it shall be given you; SEEK and keep on seeking, and you shall find; KNOCK and keep on knocking, and the door shall be opened to you. For every one who asks and keeps on asking receives, and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds, and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking the door shall be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a loaf of bread, will give him a stone; or if he asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg will give him a scorpion? If you then, evil-minded as you are, know how to give good gifts - gifts that are to advantage - to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask and continue to ask Him!” - Luke 11:9-13

“For the Lord is a sun and a shield; the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor and [future] glory - honor, splendor and heavenly bliss! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed - happy, fortunate [to be envied] - is the man who trusts in You, (leaning and believing on You, committing all and confidently looking to You, and that without fear or misgiving)!” - Psalms 84: 11,12

“Do you not know that your body is the temple - the very sanctuary - of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a gift] from God? You are not your own, you were bought for a price - purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body.” - 1 Corinthians 19,20

It’s a new day. Why not take a moment and ask yourself, “have I been bargaining with God or have I faithfully surrendered my all? Have I truly and dependently waited upon Him and served Him - anyway? Am I in a spiritual “bargain basement?”

“I WAITED patiently and expectantly for the Lord, and He inclined to me and heard my cry. HE DREW ME UP out of a horrible pit - a pit of tumult and of destruction - out of the miry clay (froth and slime) and set my feet upon a rock, steadying (BALANCING) my steps and establishing my goings. And He has put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. many will see and fear - revere, and worship - and put their trust and confident reliance in the Lord.” - Psalms 40:1-3

God bless!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Matter of Perspective

What Is Your Perspective?

Perspective: 1.) a way of regarding situations, facts, etc., and judging their relative importance; 2.) a mental view or outlook; 3.) the ability to perceive things in their actual interrelations or comparative importance.

All three definitions are accurate. One, however, contains within it a vitally important element that sets it apart from the other two. Did you notice it? Take another look.

The first definition can lead to an incorrect conclusion while the second often stubbornly claims those conclusions to be true; “don’t confuse me with the facts; my mind is made up!”

“Perceiving things in their actual interrelations or comparative importance” is quite different. There is a certain responsibility alluded to. It is as if some “achievement” were attained allowing the individual to separate inconsequential influences from reality.
This allows such an individual to proceed through life unobstructed by fear. It renders the, “what if” influences powerless.

You ask what is meant by, “what if” influences?

Imagine a long plywood plank lying flat on the ground. Let’s give it some “facts” to add to our analogy. The plank is thirty-foot long, twelve inches wide and two inches thick. It’s a sizable piece of wood. Now imagine standing at one end of the plank while at the other end rests a $20.00 bill. All you have to do is walk upon the plank from one end to the other to pick it up - and it is yours! Simple enough, right? Now let’s modify the circumstances slightly. Let’s say we place the same plywood plank between two buildings. There are a few additional facts to consider. The buildings are separated by twenty-feet. We have maneuvered the plank to the ledges of two opposing windows, eighty-five feet above the ground. You stand in the window of one building and directly across from you, at the end of the suspended plank, rests a $100.00 bill. Oh, one more fact, there is a slight breeze so we’ve placed a weight on the bill - just in case there is a slight gust. All you have to do is walk upon the plank from one end to the other and pick it up - it’s yours!

Notice how your perspective has changed?

Perspective can be a powerful tool. It can provide a “last moment glimpse” of potential consequence outweighing potential gain. Becoming personally responsible for others, causes our perspective to be all the more panoramic. We recognize the influence our actions have upon their lives. We proceed - or decide not to proceed - based upon what we perceive to be in their best interests.

Perspective can be debilitating. The fear of what might happen can render an individual isolated from their potential. A victim of life and life’s inequities, this individual perceives no destiny and sadly remains locked in time, never to risk, never to enjoy the thrill of success or the grit that comes from a goal attempted - but “not yet” attained.

Do the Scriptures give us any insight about perspective? Indeed they do!

“Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” - Ephesians 1:2-4

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” - 
(Proverbs 3:5-6)

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows [presently] grace and favor and [in the future] glory - honor, splendor and heavenly bliss! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” - Psalms 84:11

The pages of the Scriptures are filled with promises from the lips of God to listening ears and open hearts. Each, however, appears to have a condition. That condition is included for our benefit, for our spiritual growth and discernment. The condition? In all our ways acknowledge Him, trust in the Lord and walk uprightly.

King David writes:

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” - Psalms 119:105

“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” - Psalm 138:8
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
- Philippians 1:6

“Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, ..." - Ephesians 1:18-23

It’s a new day! It’s a new day with new opportunities! It’s a wonderfully significant day in your life!

THIS is the day the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it!” - Psalms 118:24

So, why not change the, “what if” influence to the, “SINCE, THEREFORE” influence. SINCE He loves you so and gave Himself for you, THEREFORE now there is no condemnation to to those who are in Christ Jesus and to those who are called according to His purpose.

God bless!