My husband, Glenn, and I both love inductive Bible study and tonight I’m writing purely to point you in the direction of his blog. It is well worth the time to read. My posts tend to look more at personal application of Scripture, whereas Glenn tends to focus more on application for the church as the body of Christ. He recently posted an in-depth study on why the tithe is obsolete (but giving and generosity aren’t).
God has Glenn and I on an amazing journey towards loving the poor, lowly and broken hearted. It is a journey of dying to one’s self, gaining Christ’s compassion through trials and frustration, learning patience and humility, laying down preconceived ideas of ministry style and culture . . . and many other humbling lessons!
Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. (Galatians 2:10)
I love where God is taking us, but I must admit it is not always a comfortable journey. God constantly demands more of us – not in busyness, but pride, thought, heart, intention, finance, and inner motives. He calls us to sacrifice our own desires and dreams, laying them at the foot of the cross. Even as we do so, we pick up His desires and walk more and more into His purposes. We gain His heart. And what is His heart? Obviously, salvation of all people. But we also see in the Word – both in the New Testament and in the Old Testament – that His heart is for the poor and lowly.
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:17-18).
I can’t say I have “arrived”. I know this journey will be life long. I don’t have much to give this blog other than to challenge you to join me. I challenge you to completely surrender to God, one small step at a time.
What is out of your comfort zone in His call to love and serve the poor? Is it helping at a food shelter, talking to a homeless man, inviting a foster child into your home, moving to a poorer area to live and serve your neighbours?
God calls us to love that knows no bounds.
There are those who argue that grace requires no works. They are correct in the truth that ONLY grace is needed for our salvation. They are incorrect when it comes to the “working out” of our salvation. The Holy Spirit is the seal of our salvation (1 Cor 1:21-22), and so, if we have the Spirit within us, we are going to keep in step with the Spirit!
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (Gal 5:22-23).
Jesus, Himself, gave us the commandment to LOVE – love God and love others (Mark 12:30-31). Love is not an emotion, but a challenging accumulation of traits – just read through 1 Corinthians 13 if you don’t believe me!
So let us learn how to love in truth and deed. Let us learn to love without bounds. Let us call out to the Father, asking Him to give us a love that crosses culture, social status, age, nationality . . .
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
This event has been playing in my mind these past two weeks:
And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed.
Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:12-19)
We are called to live a life of thanksgiving. But how often do we pause in our busyness to say “thank you”? I’m mainly referring to thanking God, but I think that a life of thankfulness will flow out to those around us, too.
I have seen God answer prayers my entire life. Sometimes the answer comes in an unexpected way or season, but it does come.
Revelation 8:3-4 tells us that the prayers of the saints rise before God as a fragrant offering! John 16:23-28 tells us that the Father will give us anything that we ask in the Son’s name.
We quote the above scriptures all the time when making requests of God. But how often do we return to Him and say thank you? Do we quickly forget that we made a request at all? We cry and rail at Him in our need, but once it’s met then we run ahead and forget.
When you journal, do you take time to note down praise points? Do you have a record of testimonies to God’s faithfulness? Are you bold enough to share your thanks of what God has done in your life with family and friends? Do you remember His past faithfulness when coming before His throne with new requests?
Let’s be like the leper who turned back and praised the One who healed him!
God gave me an interesting, yet powerful, image for my marriage a few days ago:
God asked me how I would respond to our child if he made a mistake (no matter how large) and came to confide in me, repentant. Of course, I would forgive immediately, open my arms wide, embrace him, and shower him with love, comfort, and a mother’s tenderness.
As this was running through my mind, God kept an image of Glenn as a gap-toothed, primary school aged boy before my mind’s eye. As these feelings and thoughts of protectiveness and love overflowed for my son, God reminded me that Glenn is His beloved child. What beautiful tenderness came into my heart at that moment; what protective love appeared; what a strong, nurturing desire.
and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3-4)
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:5-6)
Glenn is first God’s child, then my husband. God desires me to love Glenn with His love for him, which includes understanding that Glenn is a spiritual child (like I am) and needs my “mother’s heart” more than wifely criticism. Seeing him as a child also helps me to be quick to forgive and to look beyond myself towards the purposes of God.
All of us, as children of God, are still growing up. God’s love and grace embraces us when we stumble on the path of righteousness. Like a loving Father, He picks us up, brushes the dirt off, and sends us onwards towards holiness. We are to extend this same love towards our brethren in Christ, and especially our spouses. I find that viewing Glenn as a child – God’s child – helps me to champion him forward with the same loving tenderness, understanding and quick forgiveness that I extend to our boy.
All of my life I’ve been told in various ways that I have a “big capacity”. Looking back on my life so far I can see what they saw. I have always filled my calendar to overload – and enjoyed it!
I was the child doing multiple sports a term, in a school band, plus the choir, as well as some out of school activity (read “activities”) such as scouts, gymnastics, ballet, rugby and church groups. Even the past year – the first as a Mum – Glenn and I started our own business whilst also moving city to become part of a church ministry and I did some writing projects on the side. Thankfully living in South Africa makes a maid feasible cost-wise because my large capacity doesn’t extend to cleaning . . . :p
But recently God has been speaking to me about my large capacity. You see, my large capacity is not for things of the world. My large capacity is for His Living Water. And guess what – you have the same large capacity!
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39)
God has been making it very clear that I am no longer to be filling my time up with strenuous work or worldly striving. I’m only to take part in what He asks of me (because we all know there’s no escaping from people trying to add to our loads!)
Everything we are to do is to come from a place of rest, peace and fullness in Christ. This is where God can work most powerfully through us and in us.
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:17)
And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”‘
But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’
So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:15-21)
I am finding so much joy reading through the Gospel of Luke at the moment – the Gospel that focuses on the least in society. This is really where God is challenging me at the moment – to be His hands and feet to the poor.
Glenn and I constantly reminded not to store up earthly treasure for ourselves. Whatever we have is His to be used in the Kingdom. For all you businessmen out there – keeping building wealth, but make sure you’re investing it back into His Kingdom!
But what about you and your family? What if you are faithful to be rich towards god? Read on dear one:
And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried.For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:29-34)
What a beautiful promise – we can give freely, knowing that we are storing up treasure bags in heaven! Surely our reward will be great. This leads to a removal of fear around giving to and working with the poor. We can go out and care for the least, just as Christ did, knowing that we are building eternal wealth.
Who do you know that is poor? Who do you minister to that is needy?
“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”
Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:41-49)
Who are you in this story? Do you invite Christ into your home, but offer only the most basic hospitality and criticise His followers? Or do you know that you are a sinner, saved by His grace, ready to pour out all you have for Him and into His Kingdom?
I am the woman. I am poor of heart. I am of the most sinful. But He has cancelled my debts of sin and I now desire to pour my entire self and all I have out at His feet. Everything I have, He gets. All I am is His now. There is nothing I can give Him in exchange for my salvation – it is a free gift. But from the gratitude in my heart flows a love so strong that I want to serve Him with all of me.
What this outpouring looks like will be different for everyone. For me, at the moment, it means renting our house out to live in a city we would never naturally choose to live in, and live as missionaries rather than in formal employment. The beautiful perfume I am pouring out to Him is finance and time. What is your perfume of love?