Wednesday, April 6, 2011
My wife and I support a fellow Believer who spends his time ministering to the homeless in our area of WV. Jane cooks once a week; a good home cooked meal with noodles, meat, rice or spaghetti. Catholic charities supports this ministry also in our area. In the Spring and Summer of the year Jane goes to yard sales to purchase coats, sweaters, shirts, socks and hats for the ministry. We do this at the behest of what Christ taught about the needy, poor and depressed who live among us. This has been in every generation since the beginning of time, I believe. One of the purposes of God allowing this is to see if His children will give of what He has blessed them with. I have been thinking over the past several weeks of Peter and James when they encountered the lame man when they were in the Temple area in Jerusalem. They passed this man as he was seeking alms from the those who went to the Temple to pray and offer sacrifice. What Peter said is amazing if you think about it. He told the poor man that he had no silver and no gold; but he would give him what he had; RISE UP AND WALK! I do not know any Believer personally that can do this with any great confidence. I have never done it. Peter did not tell the man "I will be praying for you and your healing..." he did not say "God can heal you if you believe enough. " Peter said "Such as I have!" A fellow I know went out on a field trip into one of the wooded areas where the homeless in our area live with the Brother who delivers food and clothing I was speaking of. I do not know if that trip accomplished anything other than food and clothing for the needy. This brother walked up to one of the homeless, pointed to a bottle of beer and told him that " this is your problem, the drink is responsible for your condition." Where is the one who can take someones hand and say, "I have just been with God, rise up and be healed of your condition..."? I cannot do it. Why not? Is it because I have not spent enough time with the Father or is my faith weak. Do I not want the embarrassment of failure or the responsibility for this broken person after they are delivered? Tough questions. God, give us direction, faith and Your compassion for the needy and oppressed you have placed in our midst. May we have the faith of Peter and James in these last days. Church as usual if not getting the job done.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
There is an interesting passage of Scripture in Isaiah 41:4. It says that God knows the beginning from the end. Those whom He chooses are called from the beginning. Who has done it; calling the generations from the beginning? " I, the LORD, the first and the last; I am He. " For those not called or who refuse His calling, the rest of Isaiah 41 gives a picture of the efforts of those living in rebellion against Him, or those in ignorance of Him encouraging each other in their pursuits of making some meaning out of this life. Verse 7 says that the carpenter encourages the goldsmith and those who smooth an image with a hammer and use an anvil and soldering tools to prepare an image they can worship work in vain. In our day the majority work for a new vehicle, a larger home, a nice retirement or the dream vacation. Or, perhaps saving for our children to go to an exclusive college so they can build upon what we have accomplished. These can be idols that take valuable time from the eternal. It is quite different for those who have been called from the very beginning of time. God is behind the calling. It is an awesome thing to swim upstream against the tide with everyone else swimming in the different direction. We are different; we are called. We have a higher calling, as the Apostle Paul says; do not neglect the high calling in Christ Jesus. In this quandary the called find themselves in God has made very special, specific promises. He says, "Fear not because He is with us; do not be dismayed, HE is our God. " There is no other God besides Him. He is first and foremost in all things. He promises to help us and uphold us in our travails, battles and problems. Eventually those who have fought against us will be ashamed and confounded. When this is all over they will be as nothing; as if they never existed. Those who strive against our calling will be as nothing, God says. We shall look for them and we will not find them. There is nothing in our power that makes this happen. God says in verse 13 that He will hold our right hand and say to us, "Fear not; I will help you." What more could we possibly want? Throughout the process we are made into new, sharp threshing instruments that have teeth. As we grow, mature and learn to wait upon Him we will thresh through our mountains and obstacles and beat them small and the hills will become dust. The whirlwind will carry them away and our rejoicing will be in the LORD; for He has done this for us. He is the one that opens rivers in high, dry places when we thirst. There will be fountains in the middle of great valleys and in the dry lands springs of water. This infers that there are mountains, valleys and dry places. As we pass through these places the called of God are very different that the others. In our wilderness He will plant cedar and myrtle and oil trees. Yes, the desert will serve a purpose. Everyone will know that He is the One who has done this. We cannot do this on our own. All who know us will stop and think, see and know that the hand of the LORD has protected us and brought us through. The Holy One of Israel, the One who called us from the beginning has accomplished His purpose in our lives. Do not lose heart; never give in to the lies of our enemy. His days are numbered and he know it! As my good friend Rev. Cooper likes to say when he or I are going through a great difficulty, WE WIN; NO MATTER HOW IT LOOKS!