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Tag Archives: Second Epistle to the Corinthians

Enter: The Season of Giving

Our designated day to be thankful for all that we have has come and gone. Families everywhere have gathered together to rejoice and share in their abundance, and everyone has made their way back to whatever each person considers to be their “normal.”

Now is the time when people are turning their focus to Christmas–what to buy, where to buy it and how to get the best price. As everyone is preparing their homes and closets for all of the new things they’re planning to get, whether by gift or bargain shopping, I’m hearing many people question what to do with all of their “old” things–“old” being last years model in many cases.

In the past two years, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see the number of people making donations rather than throwing away, but I’ve also heard a lot of doubt that “the right people” are getting what is donated, be it money or goods.

This doubt ties in similarly with not only the book that I’ve been studying, but also, it brings me back to a conversation that I had with someone close to me just before Thanksgiving. This conversation has replayed many times in my mind as I’ve gone over the questions and the possible answers and all of the things that I was too stunned to formulate at the time, and trying to come up with the answer to one certain question.

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I’ll get to exactly what that question was in just a moment, but first I’ll explain a bit about the conversation that started all of this.

 

I don’t know how familiar my readers may be with the World Vision gift catalog, but up until about a year ago, I had never even heard of it or the concept that it carried. When I was introduced to the possibility of sending chickens, pigs, vaccines, water or even the chance for an education to countries and families where such things are luxuries, I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to share this with everyone that I saw.
Eventually my excitement was met with the following question, “How do I know that’s really where my money goes?

I was stumped. How should I answer this question? Is there a right or wrong answer to this?
I walked away from what I was originally so excited about, now feeling deflated and defeated.

The question haunted me and I began asking God how I was supposed to respond. Certainly it would take more than that one question-valid as it may be in any such situation-to make me give up on this amazing opportunity to share blessings.

Over time, my answer came in two parts. The first part was simple. Faith. How do I know where my donation of anything goes to for sure? I don’t. I can’t. I just have to have faith and know that I am doing what God has told me to do,

“…give to charity…”
Luke 12:33

Yes, unfortunately some places where donations are made are scams. It’s not pretty, but it is the truth. That doesn’t mean that we should stop giving. It means that once it is out of our hands, it is in His hands and it is not for us to be concerned about anymore. I can only control my part, and the rest is up to the will of God, and whether I like the result or not, agree or not, or understand it or not, it is not for me to question.

The second part of my answer was supportive of the first, and just made everything ‘click’ all the more.
In “Revolution in World Missions“, K.P. Yohannan says,

“The waters of missions have been muddied. Today many Christians are unable to think clearly about the real issues because Satan has sent a deceiving spirit to blind their eyes… Satan knows that to stop world evangelism he must confuse the minds of the Western Christians. This he has done quite effectively.”

K.P. was clearly speaking about a different topic than giving, but in essence the point is the same; To slow down or stop the spread of Gods goodness, Satan had confused us all. “How do I know that’s really where my money goes?” That question is exactly that confusion.

So remember, not only this Christmas season, but throughout your life, give with a cheerful heart. The intentions of the heart are what is really important, it isn’t always about the end result.

“God loves a cheerful giver.”
2 Corinthians 9:7

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Posted by on December 14, 2012 in Life in General

 

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Blossoming Spiritual Fruit: A Reminder

 

 

 

 

I write this blog with no profound lesson to be shared and no new insight. No, today as I sit to write this, my only intention is to share a bit of encouragement. I’m hoping that this may serve as a reminder when things get tough and Gods presence isn’t at the forefront of your mind.

God is always working.

Sometimes, the things of this world can get in the way, and we forget to focus on what is truly important. If we take the time to convene with the Father, and intentionally become aware of His being and His works, it is not difficult to see the many ways that He is working in everything around us.

Personally, one large area where I have been repeatedly reminded of Gods power lately is in His work in developing one of the Spiritual Fruits that I have had a long life-long trial with.

Yes, even motherhood has not helped me to develop a more godly patience. In fact, it has been just one more thing that I have “added to the list” of excuses for being intolerant of many−even standard−affairs. This has been a long recognized battle that I’ve just not known how to fight. I gave up. I gave it to God. I broke down, and I told Him that I didn’t know what else to do so I was just giving it to Him to do what He saw fit with it. Not surprisingly, that was exactly what I had needed to do for all of this time.

“…For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:10

I’ve been taking daily notice (unintentionally) of the numerous moments where my anger or annoyance is overcome with Gods love and vanished before it even has a chance to make itself known to others. Each time I realize what is happening, I take the time to acknowledge and thank Him for this great work that I was and am unable to accomplish within my own strength.

Along with this, it is also helping to strengthen my humility by making me more aware when the feelings of the flesh jump the gun and slip out before my brain and heart process that it is not the way I should be acting, and enabling me to come forward immediately when necessary and ask for the forgiveness that it sometimes called for.

My husband has seen a large difference as of late in the way that I have been handling things and he too knows that God is the only One who can be given the credit.

As long as I have struggled with my own impatience and the negative results that it has produced, I am truly in awe of the God that would love me enough with all of my many flaws, to free me from this burden to bring me closer to Him.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2012 in Life in General

 

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Bad Things?

Over this past weekend I’ve been reading the book “The Most Misused Verses In The Bible” by Eric J. Bargerhuff.
I picked it up off of a promotional shelf in the book store a couple of weeks ago, and it looked like something that might be interesting to me. I must say, I certainly wasn’t expecting to find the answers to all of lifes questions, so I was quite surprised when I found some answers to one certain question that I’ve heard asked many times by a variety of different people from all faiths and backgrounds. 

So what is that “one certain question?”

Why do bad things happen to good people?

As I said, I wasn’t looking for these answers and the thought that I may find them—not only in this book, but in my lifetime at all—didn’t even cross my mind as I began to read.
My discoveries may not be the “full” explanation or answer sufficient to every person who has ever wondered about it, but upon the study of this book and a few key scriptures, I found the answer that I didn’t even know I was asking.
The first verse that ignited this chain of thought was Romans 8:28:

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Bargerhuff summarizes, “Bad things happen, but God works it for good.”
That is when a light came on; Why do bad things happen? To shape us. To teach us. To form us into what we are supposed to be: More Christ-like. Evil was done when Jesus was hung on the cross. Of course, God knew it would happen. God used the ultimate evil to work the greatest good, the redemption of His children.
Why do bad things happen?

“…to make us rely not on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead.”
2 Corinthians 1:9

I had always just formed a vague answer in my own mind when I heard that question asked. You know the kind, “Oh just because that’s how God wants it.” While that may be at least partially true, there is so much joy in finding and gaining new understanding of scripture that puts a far more complete answer behind it.

I am so thankful for all that God has been teaching me, through good times, and the bad.

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2012 in Life in General

 

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The Word of the Day is: Self-Control

Anybody who knows me knows that my mind works in phases; my focus jumps from one thing to the next pretty quickly, but wherever my focus is at, it is all there. My most recent obsession, if you will, has been on self-control. Not only has my concentration been in large part on this topic, but the few, rare moments that it was not, somehow whatever I was doing or whatever I was reading, brought it back into focus.

I’ve been reading the book, Made to Crave (which is already well-known to anybody who has read my past few posts), and the writer speaks a lot about self-control. I’ve been working on learning a calmer attitude, which requires lots of self-control. I’ve been reading the Bible, and what do you know? I keep coming across verses about self-control. So let’s start there. 2 Timothy 1: 7 tells us that God made us to possess self-control.

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

I find it both amazing and obscure how unattainable self-control seems in relation to ourselves, yet most of us nearly always, not only hope for but expect and almost demand that those who are close to us possess it. I’ve just been talking with friends who are struggling to maintain a friendship in contempt of a quite significant disagreement. What started as a calm, relaxed conversation, turned into a dispute that resulted in hurt feelings and acutely substantial tension. Why? Because one friend didn’t exercise self-control. From my perspective (across the room, and pacifistic to the change of tone) it was quite easy to spot the error that was made, and even easier to think to myself of how much better I could have handled it, if it were myself in the situation.

I began thinking about it, and in reality, would I have handled it any better? While I can’t say for certain, the most feasible answer, is no, I would not have done better. I was quick to stop this train of thought that I was on, knowing that I’ve been dealing with my own struggle with self-control. Again, what does the Bible tell us?

“A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.” -Proverbs 25:28

“The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.” -1 Peter 4:7

We are commanded to have self-control. Not only for God, but we need to have self-control. If we really sit back and think about it, we would all be in trouble if we had none. The problem is finding the strength to use it in the situations that sneak up or even the situations that we justify not using it (perhaps that new bakery down the street, or that last piece of cheesecake in the kitchen?). So where do we find this strength? Where do we find everything that we truly need? In God. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, it says that Gods power is made perfect in weakness.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Up until around 2 weeks ago, I never really understood that verse. Actually, to be perfectly honest, I never gave it a second thought. It has come to be one of my favorites though. It tells me that I don’t need to be down when I am feeling weak. Weakness, is not a bad thing. When I am weak, God takes over for me and He is my strength. I can’t be any stronger than I am when God is in control. The key, and it’s one that I’m still working into practice, is owning my self-control, and realizing that it comes from God. If you take a look at the following verse, it speaks such beautiful words, but they are more than just words, they are truth. Truth that will be there to help strengthen you when you need it, when you need to use that self-control that is inside of you.

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” -2 Corinthians 12:10

 

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