Chas and Phil are two of the homeless men who regularly come to the soup Kitchen. The other night, Chas was telling my friend, Judy, and me about their project to clean up garbage along a road outside Lebanon. They worked for days and walked miles. Then he asked us, “Will you tell others so they will know that we aren’t bad people. We care about things and are willing to help out anyone.” He grabbed the front of his dingy shirt and continued, “It doesn’t matter what I’m wearing, I’m going to heaven.”
“It’s not the condition of your shirt but the condition of your heart that matters,” I assured him.
Chas talked about his struggle to give up drugs and alcohol and how much he wished he was the man God wanted him to be. Judy said, “God loves you. He tells us that in His word.”
With tears in his eyes, Chas reached for Judy and my hands, “Pray with me,” he said. “Lord, thank you for these wonderful ladies and for bringing me here.” After his amen he said, “I knew God had me sit at this table for a reason. Thank you so much.”
As a new Christian Chas was hungry for God’s word and direction. Our comments were familiar truths to Judy and me but were fresh insight to him. For me this was a conversation; to Chas it was confirmation. I was astonished at his enthusiasm as he told us and then the people at a nearby table how much God loved all of us. I am praying to regain the passion I had when I first trusted God.
On this Easter, may your amazement of what God has done for you become as fresh and exciting as when you first believed.
Last week I talked about how The Lord’s Prayer showed me that God answers our needs day to day. It is not for us to worry about tomorrow. I applied that lesson to stop worrying about our property payments. Well, sort of. I stopped calculating how God could solve our problem and began anticipating that He would answer right away; since I wasn’t anxious any longer.
Meanwhile, when praying with my prayer group one of them said I was bitter. I knew it was true. I was angry about the time and money the farm took. If I trusted God with excitement when we bought the farm, why was I bitter now? Did God change? No, it was I who gave up. I prayed that the spirit of bitterness would be removed. I apologized to my family for my attitude.
Eventually, the excitement in truly trusting God returned.
Six months later, I randomly met someone who said he knew the owner of the second largest Christmas tree operation in the Northwest. He asked if I wanted him to tell the owner about our farm. Of course I did, expecting he would mention it the next time they met, if he remembered. To my surprise, the owner called me within an hour. He looked at the trees and made an offer to purchase 3/4th of them. His last payment would be paid at the time our property loan was due and would be more than enough to cover it.
God does answer our prayers but sometimes we get in the way of the blessing because of our attitude.
Are you expecting God to answer your prayer or are you trusting Him to take care of your problems?
Each week during the church service, we recite The Lord’s Prayer together. Evidently, I repeat it weekly and still don’t understand its meaning.
Ten years ago, my husband and I bought a farm. I prayed about it and believed that God would bless us with money for the annual payments. But I constantly tried to figure out where the money would come from. Shortly after our purchase I lost my job. I tried to make up for the lost income by working hard on the farm. Then I lost my health. Not only could I not help my husband, I had large medical bills. When the Christmas trees were big enough to harvest, the market declined so we were not making a profit. We made each minimal payment as it came due, but the bulk of the loan remained. By my calculations, we couldn’t pay off the 13-year contract.
Then one Sunday I was praying, “Give us this day our daily bread.” I realized it was saying that God takes care of our daily needs. It didn’t say God had to explain where next week’s bread was coming from. In ten years God had been faithful from day to day, yet I was still wasting my time worrying about three years down the road. God can be trusted to provide all my needs at the perfect time and in His way, not mine.
Have you ever tried to calculate how God should answer your prayers?
John the Baptist was asked, “Who are you? What do you say about yourself?” (John 1:22) He was preaching of the coming of the Messiah and baptizing those who repented. He was also living in the wilderness, eating honey and locust and wearing goatskins. He may have appeared to people then as a homeless person would to us today. That didn’t bother him.
What do you say about yourself? I have a new grandson that fills my heart with love so my response is, “I’m a grandmother!” People I talk to soon learn about Liam and often are subjected to pictures. But I am more than a grandmother; I am a mother, wife, sister, friend, church member, writer, volunteer and the list goes on. Or I could physically describe myself, as I use to do; I am fat and ugly with dark circles under my eyes and unruly curly hair.
Whether you talk about yourself from a physical, genealogy or educational point of view, what you say is important. Is it positive or negative? I no longer use degrading words to describe myself or anyone else. When John was asked who he was, he went to scripture to find the answer. “I am the voice of one calling in the desert. Make straight the way for the Lord.” (Isaiah 40:3) We can also find the answer in scripture.
We can say, I am:
Fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14);
Made and formed with God’s hands (Psalm 119:73);
Loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3);
Never separated from God’s love (Romans 8:35-39)
Redeemed and forgiven (Colossians 1:14)
Shown mercy (Nehemiah 9:17)
Promised a future (Jeremiah 29:11)
There are many more scriptures that show us how God sees us through His everlasting love. John was testifying of One that would come after him; we can testify to the One who is with us now.
What do you say about yourself?
In the last weeks, I have talked about three of the riches we receive when we inherit the Kingdom of God by believing in Christ Jesus. The first one was hope. We have an expectation that God will fulfill our desires when we place our trust in Him. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19 NIV) I like this analogy of our hope holding us in place so that we are not tossed into danger but is keeping us solid in rough times.
Forgiveness was the second riches I mentioned. “If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared.” (Psalm 130:3-4 NIV) I think of fear as awe or honor. God tears up any evidence of our sins; He deserves our highest respect.
Joy was the next treasure. It is one of the fruits of the Spirit that become ours when we choose to follow God. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) All are available to us as part of our inheritance. When we allow the Holy Spirit to work through us, they are within our reach.
We don’t have to wait until we reach heaven to enjoy the inheritance that is ours. God has provided many good things for us to experience while we are alive. Claiming our inheritance doesn’t mean we will never see hard times. It means we have the tools available to help us navigate the challenges. And we are never alone. The Holy Spirit is in us and should be the one at the helm, directing our position.
Are you claiming the riches that your position as an heir gives you?