Jul 10, 2013 - Hearing From God    11 Comments

NOTHING FROM FROM NOTHING LEAVES NOTHING

Can a person bring more of nothing? Before your answer this question, let me tell you how the question came about … Friends of ours invited us over to their house for pizza. It was a fun time of food, conversation, and fellowship.

As we were eating, I shared how it sadden me to see people come to the house of God and not grow into mature Christians. It seems as if people just bring “more of nothing when they come to church,” I said. Then, our friend shared that sometimes people bring “worse then nothing.” My wife laughed and said, “Wait a minute … are you guys listening to what you’re saying? How can you have more of nothing? And, how can you have worse than nothing?” We all laughed hysterically as one by one we chimed in with our comments about how ridiculous that sounded. A mathematical equation that says 0 + 0 = 0. And, there’s even a song written in 1974, by Billy Preston, titled Nothing Plus Nothing Leaves Nothing. Our friend said, “OK, Billy where are you going to go with this … I know there is Biblical application here somewhere that you’re dying to share”.

The funny thing is, the spiritual application did not come to me right then. It wasn’t until a day later when I was meditating on God’s word and asked,”Lord, what was all that more of nothing all about”? That’s when the story of The Widows’s Offering in Mark 12:41-44 came to me. Let me give you a little background first. Earlier on in Chapter 12, Jesus had finished teaching in the temple; warning the people to beware of teachers of religious law. For they liked the seat of prominence, fancy clothes, the honor of the people, yet they cheated widows out of their property. They pretended to be pious by saying long prayers in public. In the story of The Widow’s Offering the Scriptures say, Then Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. (comparable to a halfpenny in today’s currency) Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.

imageThere are things that we place tremendous value on that have no value to The Lord at all. That’s what I meant by bringing “more of nothing.” The reality is we do bring something but what it amounts to is of little or no value to God. The widow putting the two coins into the collection represented her giving to God the sum of all that she had and the heart of who she was. The value of these coins was only six minutes of a day’s work. If she had only six minutes of life to live I believe she would have given it in serving Jesus. When it comes to giving or serving, The Lord God determines what is valued. To know what God values, you have to know God. God is constantly looking at our hearts and He knows what we hold dear. God desires love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in the Holy Spirit. These are what God values. And, if we are not bringing what God values, we are really bringing “more of nothing.”

Here’s something scary to think about — could we be bringing to God something “worse then nothing?” Jesus shares the story about two men who went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a despised tax collector.
The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: “I thank you, God, I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I imagedon’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I am certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.” But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, “O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.”
Luke 18:10-13

In comparison, we see that the Pharisee not only brought nothing to God in his prayer but he actually brought something “worse than nothing” … Pride. He relied on himself and not God. His prayer was prideful, focusing on himself and what he had accomplished. It was as if he did not need God’s help but that God needed his. This is what my friend meant when she said people can bring to God something “worse than nothing.” The Tax Collector, however, did bring something to God and it was of great value. It was humility. He confessed that he was a sinner in need of The Lord’s help and mercy.

There have been times that I entered the house of God with a bad attitude. I mean it stunk. Others may not have smelled me but my wife and kids sure did. Yes, we may look good on the outside but what’s going on in the inside is a whole other story. Jesus is interested in what’s going on in the inside. He is looking at our heart. So what does The Lord value? We see that The Lord valued the widow’s and the tax collector’s humility.

The next time you enter the house of God, take a moment to check yourself. What is it that you are bringing and is it what God values? 2 Corinthians 13:5 says to
Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

Jul 5, 2013 - Hearing From God    3 Comments

OUT OF THE MOUTH OF BABES PART II

If you missed Part I, check out my previous post to get the background on the story of my daughter and her new Kindle Fire.

Part II
Interestingly enough my daughter’s praise, though humbling, was easy for us to receive. But what would our reactions be if she had praised the manufacture of the Kindle over us? This was the case with Jesus when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did and the children in the temple were crying,“Praise God for the Son of David.” The chief priests and scribes were sorely displeased and said unto Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus said to them, Have you never read the Scriptures? For they say, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings you have perfected praise?” Matthew 21:15-16.

If you ask me, these children displayed more wisdom and zeal for The Lord then the chief priests and scribes. My daughters Emma Grace and Ella Louise are a constant reminders of what it’s like to possess a childlike zeal. Watching my girls explore on their Kindles with such excitement brought joy to my heart and their zeal brought me back to my own fond childhood memories. I never gave it any thought that some day I would be watching my own children creating their own memories.

A child’s zeal can be contagious if you take the time to view things from their perspective. However, zeal without imageknowledge is a very dangerous thing. Zeal without knowledge can cloud all rational reasoning. The Apostle Paul in Romans 10:2 shared this about the Jewish people to Christians living in Rome: “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.”

This was the case when Jesus had come into the city of Jerusalem. Matthew 21:12-14 The people were filled with zeal and very curious about Jesus; talking amongst themselves and saying, “Who is this?” And the multitude said, “This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” Jesus went into the temple and saw the people buying and selling and exchanging money. Jesus over turned their tables and drove them out of the temple saying, “My house shall be called a house of prayer but you have made it a den of thieves”. At first glance, one might think Jesus actions we’re violent. But it wasn’t until He threw them out of the temple, that the blind and lame came and were healed. Jesus’s actions transformed mans’ selfish acts of buying and selling into what God had intended His house to be: a house of prayer, a place of healing, praise, and worshiping. We see again the pitfalls of zeal without knowledge.

If we don’t fully understand the purpose of something it will become easy for us to misuse it. Jesus knew that the zeal of childlike faith produced determination. Children don’t possess the suspicions adults have. Adults would do well to possess the trust and humility of a child concerning Jesus. These are traits that every believer should aspire to have. In Matthew 18:3, Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” In this verse Jesus wanted His disciples to take on a childlike humility because in the verses prior to this His disciples wanted to know who would be the greatest in the kingdom of God. A proud spirit will kill one’s zeal for The Lord and bring about a false worship!

My little girls are a constant reminder to me of what it’s like to have zeal and to remain humble. The next time you enter the House Of Worship, do it with the heart of a little child. Come with zeal having the knowledge of what Jesus can and will do. Come humbly, expecting the needs of others and yours to be met by a merciful God.

Jul 3, 2013 - Family Matters    8 Comments

FROM OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES

Wade Girls

This week I have such a wonderful insight into God’s word to share, I’ll be sharing it in two posts.

PART I

Even as I write this my eyes want to tear up, but I must share this precious story.

Here’s the background …
My wife and I purchased two Kindles Fires for our daughters, Emma Grace and Ella, as gifts for them to enjoy while we travel on business during the summer. I know what you’re thinking – Kindles for an eight and six year old, really! Are you serious?

We thought that too; especially since the girls’ behavior can be a tad challenging not to mention the drama! But we had hoped the Kindles would “light a fire under them” when it came to practicing their school work all summer long. Our plan was for them to earn playtime on it once they had done their school work.

We arrived in Columbus, OH on our first business trip and I couldn’t wait to give them “their surprise.” My wife wanted to talk to them about it first but I just couldn’t wait. So while at the hotel breakfast on the first day, when my wife was working, I broke out the Kindles. The girls were beside themselves with excitement.

Out of the mouths of babes …
While walking around the Easton Shopping Area in Columbus, Ohio my wife,Amy, told me about a conversation she had with our eight year old daughter, Emma Grace. Amy said she had been so impressed with how Emma Grace had been behaving that she had to ask Emma Grace what was so different. Here’s what Emma Grace said:
When daddy first brought out the Kindle I thought it was for me and Ella to share so I was glad about the Kindle but not so glad about having to share it with Ella. Then, I saw him bring out a second one. When he handed it to me I just couldn’t believe you guys got me a Kindle … MY OWN Kindle! And I kept thinking about it, how I didn’t deserve it, but you still bought it for me … I just had to change my behavior … I wanted to change my behavior. I mean you got me MY OWN Kindle!

We thought Emma Grace might shape up her behavior to “earn” time on the Kindle. It never occurred to us that she would change her behavior simply because she reflected on how good it is to receive something you don’t deserve.

Jesus showed us once again, first hand, how His mercies are fresh every morning. And, the praises of His mercies can come from a babe like my eldest daughter. How perfect for us to see through the eyes of of a babe, Jesus’s love towards the undeserving. God did the same thing in that He gave the world what it did not deserve; His only Son Jesus. God’s word says, God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

All to often we have ears but do not hear and eyes but do not see. My little Emma Grace chose to see that day. And by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit she realized her need and had a desire to make a change in her behavior. Maybe she did the math and realized that more often then not she received far more then she ever deserves. The fact is, what she said moved her parents to once again see The Lord moving in their midst.

Look for PART II of Out of the Mouth of Babes on Friday …