A Gift Not A Given

thankfulness, grace, GodI met a remarkable fellow this week.  In my job doing internet sales I come into contact with people from all over the world.  Mostly these are fleeting encounters that only take as long as a single phone call and are quickly forgotten.  This one man, however, I hope I will not soon forget.

I am confident that this meeting was ordained and orchestrated by God.  The reasons for the sale, both our product and his need aligned so perfectly that he flew half the length of the country to come and meet us face to face.  In addition there was a circumstance that required his presence in our state that was completely separate from the sale.  That this circumstance and his need for our product could have occurred at the same could only be considered providential.

As we were wrapping up and he was preparing to leave he shared with me a little bit about his other reason for visiting our state.  A younger relative of his who no longer had any parents or guardians around had gotten in to some trouble with the law and was incarcerated on some serious charges.  As a retired pastor and minister of the Lord he felt it was his responsibility to go and visit this relative and pray with them and give them whatever comfort and wisdom he could.

This man was now in charge of a large non-profit ministry that fed and assisted the homeless in several communities across the northern part of the country.  Based on his own past experience and the trouble that his relative was now in he made this statement:  “If you can work and provide for your family and put food on the table and keep a roof over your heard then that is a gift, not a given.  We are all equal in God’s sight but we do not all have equal abilities and are not all equally capable.  Some people just need more help than others.”  Although it went unspoken I could see in this man that he felt that he had been called to help the helpless and I thanked God for his witness.

Later in the day I thought about my job and my home and all that God has provided me and I realized that I tend to take it for granted.  I don’t thank God enough for giving me the ability to work and a place to work.  As I look back on my forty years I realize that I have worked for over half of it and I have never had difficulty finding a job when I needed one.  God has always been there, looking out for me and making a way for me.  He has provided for my family and even in lean times we have always had enough.

When you really get down to it, God does not owe me or anyone else anything at all.  We’ve all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory and God would be well within his rights to turn His back on us and leave us to our own devices.  Yet His love and grace is persistent and His mercy is new every morning and He delights in giving His children good gifts.  Woe to me if I begin to think that I am owed God’s provision or that I deserve what He so generously offers.

My prayer is that God would open the eyes of His children to see all that He has done for us and that we would not take any of it for granted.  I pray that He would keep us humble and help us to acknowledge Him in everything that we do.  God’s grace is given with every breath that we take.  Let us always remember that this is a gift, not a given.

Three Things To Never Forget

god is good, good is real, god is ableIt’s easy to forget.  It’s easy to lose focus on what really matters and to take for granted those things that are the most important.  When we lose focus, we have a tendency to drift into ways of doing things and patterns of thinking that are of the flesh and not of God.  With that in mind here are three truths that we should call to mind every single day.

God is real – We profess to know Him and to be His children but our thoughts and actions often tell a different story.  How often do we try to solve a problem without consulting Him?  How many of our decisions on a daily basis include Him and His strength rather than our own?  Are we moving through life with the weight of the world on our shoulders or have we cast all of our cares on Him?

If God is real and His words are true then it follows that we would be better off to listen and obey.  When we remember Him and include Him we are blessed and He is glorified.  When we forget Him and try to do things our own way we will inevitably stumble and fall.

Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created (Revelations 4:11) NASB

God is able – More than just knowing God exists and believing in Him we must learn that God is able.  He alone holds this world and all of us in His mighty hands.  He spoke all of creation into existence with just a word and with just a word He is able to calm all of the storms of life.

We need to see God in action.  We need to experience firsthand how great and powerful our God really is.  And that only happens as we seek Him with our whole heart and invite Him to move and to work in us and through us.

It takes trust to know that God is able.  Trust comes from our faith and our faith grows little by little as we walk step by step through this life with Him.  As He brings us through each trial and each tribulation and as we stumble and fall and experience His love and mercy all over again we get to know Him more and more.  God is able.  God can do it.  There is nothing that He can’t redeem.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4) NASB

God is good – If you’ve seen the movie “God is not Dead” (and if you haven’t you should stop what you are doing and go watch it right now!) then you will remember the pastor of the local church and his missionary friend.  They have a saying that takes both of them to complete and it is: “God is good (first person says this) All the time (second person says this) And all the time (first person again) God is good. (second person finishes).  This movie is not the origin of that statement but it does such an excellent job of showing how important that statement is and how we should be using it to lift one another up that I had to include it here.

In the midst of an evil, fallen world it’s very easy to forget that God is good all the time and all the time He is good.  We are tried and we are tested and it often seems like evil is winning.  And if evil is winning then how can God really be good?

He is good because His character is perfect and good and it is an ultimate, timeless good.  The evil and trials of this world are temporary and will pass away.  God allows evil to exist in the world for this span of time so that we might choose Him of our own free will.  If we choose Him now, in the midst of this fallen world, then one day we will get to be with Him in a perfect place where there is no evil, no sickness, no death, no weakness and no sin.

As God works in our lives (and He is working whether we notice or not) will we choose to trust in His timing, trust in His plan and trust in His ultimate goodness?  Even when it seems like everything is falling apart?  Can we encourage each other and hold each other up by looking forward to a day when God will do away with evil once and for all?  Or will we forget that God really is good?

To know Him is to know His goodness and His character.  Get to know who God is and we will never doubt His goodness or character!

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting. (Psalm 136:1)