11/25/09

How to Create a Harvest of Thanks

Generosity yields greater thanksgiving. Paul told the saints in the Corinthian church, “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us, your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (in 2 Corinthians 9:11). In other words, as you are generous, God will bless, and then you can be even more generous, and as you continue to give, people will start thanking God for your generosity.

Paul went on to say, in verse 12, “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people, but it is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.”

Your generosity—whether financial, social relief work, the gift of our time, supplying of needs, etc.—can result in abundant, joyful cries of “Thank you, God!” Isn’t that what we want? We talk about giving thanks to God for who He is, what He has done, and what He has given us, but this is another way to create a bountiful harvest of thanksgiving. We plant seeds of generosity! The resulting harvest is a triple blessing. We are blessed in the giving, the recipient is blessed, and God is the ultimate One receiving the blessing of gratitude.

In 2 Corinthians 9:7 we learn that God loves a “cheerful giver” (rather than one who gives out of duty). We can develop a greater spirit of cheerful giving as we realize that the end product is an explosion of praise and thanksgiving to God. We know that God, who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will continue to supply and increase our resources and enlarge the harvest of our righteous acts (2 Cor. 9:10).

This Thanksgiving—and all the year through—make the powerful choice to bless others with your generosity. Then watch for the sprouting harvest!


More Thanksgiving! Read "Priming the Pump."

11/18/09

Ripping Out the Truth

Don’t like a Bible passage? Just rip it out! That seems to be the mindset of some. Most anti-Bible folks just rip the thoughts of God or His “rules” from their minds; but some take it a step further. In fact, Lord of the Rings star Ian McKellan says he routinely tears out the Bible page with Leviticus 18:22 when he finds a copy of the scriptures in his hotel room, apparently attempting to make the scriptures more gay-friendly. The passage condemns homosexuality, saying, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable” (NIV). The Contemporary English Version says it plainly: “It is disgusting for a man to have sex with another man.”

According to Popeater.ca (Canada) and reported in Prophecy News Watch (Nov. 6), the openly homosexual McKellen asserted in an interview with Details magazine that his actions have inspired others to follow his example. “I got delivered a package of 40 of those pages that had been torn out by a married couple I know,” he said. They put them on a bit of string so that I could hang it up in the bathroom.”

Not only is McKellan defacing property that doesn’t belong to him, he is badly mistaken if he believes that the ripped out pages change one smidgen of God’s Word. Matthew 24:35 tells us that God’s words will never pass away. Paul says we are not to pervert the gospel (Galatians 1:6-9) and John, in Revelation 22:18-19, said we are not to add to or take away from the scriptures.

I don’t know whether McKellan claims to be a believer, but he sounds like a “natural” man. In the Amplified Bible, 1 Corinthians 2:14 describes the natural man: “But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated.”

McKellan says he is “not proudly defacing the book,” because his choice was “between removing that page and throwing away the whole Bible.” It seems a better choice would be to heed the Word of God!


What would you tell Sir McKellan, if God gave you an opportunity to share the truth of scripture?

Want to read more? "Exposing the Devil's Work" (on Christian worldview), or "Lorem Ipsum" (on biblical discernment)

11/11/09

7 Questions to Examine Entertainment Biblically

Evaluating our entertainment involves a lot more than the simple movie and television rating systems or family-friendly book, magazine, and music guides. It’s not simply a question of “too much violence,” “too much bad language,” or “too much sex”—although those certainly are good places to start!

Christians must use biblical principles to evaluate and discern the worth of entertainment. We are called to a higher standard than the world uses. A higher standard doesn’t mean we have a “holier than thou” attitude, but it does mean we are called to holiness, integrity, and good character. Believe me, I struggle with this as much as anyone, and I sometimes fail in my “free time” choices. I’m not calling for legalism, but for honest evaluation. I know that I do better when I ask myself the following questions—and I offer them for your consideration.

1. Will this make me more or less sensitive to the things of God?
God does not want me to conform to the world, but to be transformed; and that is hard to do if I call evil “good.” (Rom. 12:2; Isa. 5:20)
2. Will this help me glorify God and grow spiritually?
Will it help me “walk worthy” of the Lord, fully pleasing Him? Will this dishonor God in any way? (Col. 1:10; 1 Cor. 10:31-32a)
3. Is this pure, healthy, wise input?
I must be careful what I allow into my mind and view with my eyes. Wisdom avoids even the appearance of evil. (Phil. 4:8; Ps. 101:3; 1 Thess. 5:21-22).
4. Will this change my worldview?
I will eventually become what I think about. God wants me to have a strong biblical perspective, not a worldly, ungodly, or self-absorbed mindset. (Prov. 23:7a)
5. Am I using my resources wisely and well?
I say, “I am not my own; I am bought with a price,” but do I live like that is true? God gives me a brain to think and plan, but I need to pray about my choices, because Jesus is my Lord. (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
6. Is this a good use of my time?
There’s nothing wrong with relaxation and wholesome recreation—in fact, I need that—but God wants me to be careful with how I use my down-time. (Eph. 5:16)
7. Do I understand that I am accountable to God?
(2 Cor. 5:10; Phil. 1:10) And others may be watching—will this cause someone else to stumble into sin?

The choices we make about our entertainment have consequences. I’m grateful for God’s forgiveness when I choose poorly, but I want to become more sensitive to His leading, not less. Don’t you? May we guard our eyes and thoughts as we ask tough questions and build stronger safeguards into our lives (Prov. 4:23; 1 Peter 5:8).

For more help in making wise choices, see "Seven Cs for Making Wise Choices," "Reasons, Not Excuses," and "Not Choosing Blindly."

11/4/09

God Is Sovereign ... So Why Pray?

A friend told me recently, “Ok, I’ll pray, but I’m not sure why. God’s gonna do what God’s gonna do.” Her words made me think (and study)!

I have no problem believing that God is sovereign. All things are under His rule and control. Nothing can happen without His direction or permission, and nothing takes Him by surprise. I believe this, because the scriptures are clear (Ps. 115:3; 135:6). God decides what He will do, and then He does it.

God is sovereign because it is part of who He is, but He also is sovereign in practice. God does or accomplishes all things according to the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11). We might make plans, but God’s counsel still stands (Prov. 19:21; 2 Kings 19:25; Dan. 4:35); and there is nothing that can thwart His will (Isa. 46:11b).

So if God is sovereign, why should we bother to pray?
(1) We pray because God instructed us to pray; it is His will that we come to Him with our praise, requests, and intercession. Jesus taught His disciples to pray (Matt. 6:9-13; Luke 11:5-13; 18:1-8; 22:40); and the apostles taught the early Church to pray (Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2; Eph. 6:18-19a; 1 Thess. 5:17; 1 Tim. 2:1). Prayer is a matter of obedience.

(2) We pray because God uses prayer to accomplish His eternal purposes. Our part is to pray in confident faith. An example of this is shown in Genesis 20, when God told King Abimelech, “[Abraham] is a prophet, and he will pray for you, and you will live” (Gen. 20:2, 7, 17). God used Abraham's prayers. God also promised to restore His people in response to their prayers (Jer. 29: 11-14).

(3) We pray because we are to be imitators of Jesus (1 John 2:6), and Jesus was a man of prayer (Matt. 14:23; 26:39-44; Mark 1:35; 14:35-39; Luke 5:16; 6:12; 9:28; 22:41-45; John 17; Heb. 7:25). God desires to conform us to the image of Christ, and part of that conforming is to follow Jesus’ example in prayer for the Father's will.

(4) We pray because God has the authority and power to answer us, and furthermore, He does answer prayer. He tells us to ask, see, and knock because He responds (Matt. 7:7)—we can expect Him to respond (James 5:16b; 4:2b). God rewards our perseverance in prayer (Luke 11:5-10). Prayer is a precious privilege, and the Father delights in blessing His children as they pray (Luke 11:11-13).

So then, God may prompt us to pray in His sovereignty, but we must choose to pray as a matter of submissive obedience, faith and rest in His purposes, following the example of Christ, and fervent expectation for God to work.


Are you a bold warrior of prayer? Andree Seau's words made me examine my prayer requests: "Two Obstacles to God-Honoring Prayer".

11/3/09

Tethering

God showed me that one of my attitudes was deadly to my spiritual health.

But He also showed me how to change. Read about it in my post at True Woman*, 11-2-09, titled "Tethering."

*True Woman is a ministry of Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Revive Our Hearts Ministries. For more information about this women's movement, go to TrueWoman.com. True Woman will hold three powerful conferences in 2010.