Do Me a Favor

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

In Debt

But we, brethren beloved by the Lord, ought and are obligated [as those who are in debt] to give thanks always to God for you...      2 Thessalonians 2:13

Actually, I was looking for another verse when I ran across this one.  What initially caught my eye was "in debt." I had recently been in a conversation about trusting God, and we were thinking of concrete, tangible ways to do that.  Among the several responses, the one I remember most was trusting God to have enough money to pay the bills. 
My brain immediately rewound to 25 years ago when this problem seemed to constantly plague my family.  Through God's grace, we eventually got through that tough time. 

Trust God? 
Very difficult when you're having to figure out just when the paycheck will hit the bank so you can buy as few groceries as possible that will last as long as possible. 
Very difficult when your child wants to do something extra at church or school and you have to say no.
Being in debt is no fun.  So how do we get out of debt?  We pay whatever it is that we owe.   When we pay a debt in full, we feel relief with a little freedom thrown in. 

In the verse above, Paul said we are obligated to give thanks.  The Amplified Bible added “as those who are in debt.”  Are we indebted or obligated to give thanks?  Yes, because God did the very thing that would free us all and give us eternal relief from the debt of this world. 
Love Him, trust Him, obey Him, and all with great thanksgiving.

He loves us so very, very much.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


I used to have a quiet time first thing in the morning.  This was way back in the day when my kids were growing up.  I had a full-time job so I had to cram all of my home time around my job.

To accommodate the quiet time, I got up an hour early to pray.  I had a small notebook with pages upon pages of people and situations to pray for.  Once you got on my list, you didn't get off.  Even dying didn't take you off, because then I prayed for your family.
And being a dutiful pray-er, I would ask God what he wanted from me.  Most times I would go on and on about how I wanted to be used by Him, suggesting different things that I was interested in. 

But sometimes – sometimes – I would shut up and just listen.  Be still.  Try not to think of anything.  Well, of course, I would have these random thoughts go through my head. 
"I wonder if Alice ever found her other shoe." 

"Surely Mark has finally picked up his room." 
"I need to tell David about that funny noise the car is making."

Or people's names would float through my mind or their circumstances.
"I hope Mable is feeling better." 

"I wonder if Randy got that job he applied for." 
"The preacher looked a little pale last Sunday.  I hope he's okay."  

And I would try my best to ignore them all.  They were intruding upon my quiet time, and we couldn't have that, now, could we?
One day it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, those thoughts were the answers I had been looking for.  I had asked God to use me, and then I ignored his directions to me! 

Perhaps I thought of Mable because she could use a call from me or a note to cheer her up.  I could call Randy and ask about his job situation.  I could stop by the church office and look in on the preacher. 
I came to call those thoughts "holy thoughts."  They are not mine.  I'm not that bright. 

But God is.  And He loves us so.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


This should have occurred to me long before now, but the more I study the Bible, the more I'm aware of how radical Jesus was during his time on earth. 
Being a Jew, he was, of course, born into a hand-picked Jewish family who was dedicated to their Lord God Jehovah.  In those times, and for thousands of years before that, the temple was their church.  There were all kinds of feasts and observances and sacrifices made to clean up each family spiritually. 

The priests did everything in God's name.  For example, if a man brought a certain animal or bird and had the priest sacrifice it, the priest would pronounce the man and his family clean of all sin.  The priest was the highest person in the church or temple hierarchy.  This is the culture Jesus was born into and was a part of for 12 years.
And then he did something that truly surprised everyone present:  he stood up in the temple and spoke.  Usually the speaking was done by adults or the priests, well-educated and highly respected men of the community.  Jesus explained parts of the scripture that day – something the priests normally did. 

Later in his life, Jesus said he was the Son of God and had all the authority he needed to forgive sin.  How bizarre would that be?  It would be like a modern day Christian saying he was taking people to heaven on the next rocket ship out of here.   We wouldn’t believe such a claim.  Too radical.  Goes against everything we have learned throughout our lives.
And yet Jesus continued to be radical, knocking ancient Jewish law around a bit, worrying the Pharisees to the point of murder, and forgiving sins all along the way.

This was a big change for the good Jewish people waiting on their messiah.  Some couldn't make the change.  Some did boldly and some did so timidly.   
Jesus' radical style doesn't really come into play for us.  We have always known of his love and salvation.  We have always known that we don’t have to have a priest to be forgiven.  And we have no sacrifice to make to earn God's favor. 

Jesus took care of all of that.  Come to think of it, that’s pretty radical, even during our time.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Treasures Old and New

I heard a Sunday School teacher say recently that it is absolutely imperative, no getting around it, you have to memorize lots of scripture to have a deeper relationship with God.  That was upsetting to some because they find it impossible to memorize much of anything.  The teacher said it had to be done, period.  He encouraged everyone to try.

I don't think he is right.  I don't believe God is playing word games with us.  I believe that we should keep scripture close to us, and one of the ways to do that is to memorize it.  But there are other ways, too. 

How about memorizing just for a day or two, just for an hour or two?  I'm thinking God would be more pleased with that than someone fretting over it.

Would He rather hear you say a verse or two, maybe even paraphrase it (making sure not to change the meaning of it) while you go about your day? 

Would He rather hear you read it from an index card or a sticky note and then think about that scripture and what it means to you? 

God wants us to talk to him.  He knows what's in our hearts.  He knows how we struggle to understand.  He is pleased when we keep trying.

My youngest grandchild is almost 2 years old.  He talks a lot!  What is he saying?  God only knows (and I mean that literally).  But we don't care!  We think it's cute!  We encourage him to make whatever noise he wants to make!

Is it possible that, because we're God's children, He might take the same approach?  He's happy to hear from us.  He wants us to know Him better.  He doesn't care if we can quote Him exactly.  He wants us to do our best, and, even more, He wants to help us do our best, whatever we're doing.

Please don't misunderstand me.  I am not saying memorizing scripture is not important.  I believe it is extremely important to closely study God's word.  I believe that for those who can, memorizing scripture is a good thing.  But to those who can't, it might be a stumbling block that I don't believe comes from God.

Ultimately, it all revolves around God and His love for His children.  It's not really about memorizing scripture; it's taking scripture a little piece at a time and reading it, saying it out loud, looking at it from all angles, asking God what He thinks about it. 

He doesn't care if our words are not perfectly spoken.  Just as I do with my grandbaby, God will take anything genuinely given and rejoice over it.

So he (Jesus) told them, “Every student of the Scriptures who becomes a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like someone who brings out new and old treasures from the storeroom.”            Matthew 13:52 (CEV)