Will God come through?

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

– Hebrews 11.1

Faith.  Do you know that verse?  Have you heard it quoted before?  I have.  And yet, even though I can quote it to you, my faith is so weak sometimes.

When I was a freshman in college, I was finishing up the spring semester and just a few weeks before summer break I was invited to go on a summer-long mission trip.  I really wanted to go.  But I had raised support for three other summer trips in the past four years, and was not about to try to ask my friends and family to support me again.  With only a few weeks to think, plan and pray, I enlisted an old Sunday School teacher to be my prayer partner with me about what I was to do for the summer.  Shortly thereafter, all of the funds for the trip were miraculously provided within a twelve hour time-frame, without me having to ask a single person for a single dollar.  I spent that summer overseas.  I testified that witness of God’s financial provision for my summer for years to come.  But yet, being confident of His working in that situation, I doubted and stressed the next time I wanted to raise money for a trip.

One day I was out with two friends and we were roaming a village.  Walking down a small street, a friendly family invited us in.  They served us tea and snacks and the conversation quickly turned spiritual.  I shared with them the story of Jesus Christ and asked them if they had ever heard of Him before.  They had not, but the Spirit moved in their hearts and they wanted to follow Him!  After praying and sharing the truth about repentance and making Jesus the Lord of our lives, the patriarch (who was 70 years old) wanted to be baptized.  But yet, every time I start to share the Gospel my heart says, “They don’t want to hear this.  They aren’t going to believe.”

Do you know what the problem is here?  It is striving for faith in the wrong things.  Hebrews says that faith is the “assurance of things hoped for” and “the conviction of things not seen”.  Faith is not the belief that God is going to miraculously provide the money when you want to do something.  Faith is not the confidence that God will cause someone to believe just because you shared the Gospel.  Faith is the assurance of eternal life and salvation in the life and death of Jesus Christ.  The confidence that God will work all things together for good to those who love God (Rom 8.28).  Sometimes He will not provide the money, for your good and for His glory.  Sometimes His plan for another’s salvation is not immediately when you share, but for the story to take root and convict first.

But what about James 1.6-8:

“But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.  For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

Does James not preach that we have to ask for the finances, ask for another’s salvation without doubting?  If we doubt he says we will not receive it!  I personally wrestled with this passage for a long time, never knowing if or how I could mandate God’s working through my confidence of His provision.  But then I read the passage in context.  Verse five states:

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

There are a few things that are concrete promises, and this is one of them.  If you lack wisdom, ask of God, and He promises that He will give it.  But the faith is the assurance that God is God.  That your salvation is found in Jesus Christ.  That He has forgiven your sins.  When you have that assurance and you ask God for wisdom, He will give it generously as you seek Him in His word.  He does not promise that He will give you a new car if you ask Him in faith, or a spouse, or an easy or comfortable life.  No, He promises wisdom.

Awesome.  So what about Jesus?

“If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

– John 14.14

This one is a bit more tricky, and people have interpreted it in a variety of ways.  But the context of this is the furthering of the Gospel, via the apostles.  Jesus promised them that they would start a movement that would change the world.  Their impact was going to be huge.  They were going to do “greater things (John 14.12)” than Jesus did, taking the Gospel to the world.

And Jesus clarifies His statement by saying that: “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14.13).  Whatever you ask, it will be done – to the glory of God the Father through the Son.  In Jesus’ name means that it be towards his kingdom, For His glory and based on Christ’s merit – not for selfish gain or pride.  Thus our faith is in the glory and future promises of God.  Not our personal benefit.

I have prayed for hard things and not seen them answered.  I prayed for years for the salvation of a friend who then died without knowing Christ.  I have prayed for someone who once was extremely close to me to repent, who rejected God – and still have seen no fruit of repentance.  Praying in faith does not mean that I have confidence that God will cause this person to repent.  Praying in faith means trusting God that He is in control and that He will glorify Himself through it, and that it is for my good, because I love Him.

Faith.  It will not waiver when it is in the things that have been promised.  When it is in Christ.  In eternity.  In salvation.  It will waiver when you have faith that God will make your life easy and smooth.  Because he promises the opposite:  That we will be persecuted, have trials and suffer.  He promises, however, that He will see you through it – provide the strength – and you will grow through it and He will be lifted up through it.

In what are you trusting?

If you think God has let you down, your faith is at fault.  Not Him.  He has given and will give all that He has promised.  He will not let you down.

Church Closes Food Bank because it Attracts Poor People

Shortly after I wrote on homelessness on Wednesday, I heard a heartbreaking story on the radio.  The story was entitled, “Church closes food bank because it attracts poor people”.  Wanting to see the whole story, I looked it up and realized that the story is true, however it happened in the year 2000.  This is the link to a confirmation news account when the story first broke.

The minister of only two months at this small church is quoted as saying,

“It’s attracting a lot of street people that make it uncomfortable…it’s creating social unrest in the church’.”

“A food bank is a social service and that is not who we are.”

The story attributes her decision, at least in part, to input from a sister church located in Victoria.  Rev. David Durksen of the Unity Church of Victoria advised via email:

“Most clients of food banks have not yet come to a sense of personal responsibility in life. They are still in denial, blame or seeing the world as owing them.”

This story is thirteen years old.  Somehow it has made its way back to the limelight, and rightfully so.  People unanimously understand the absurdity of the statement that a Church is not a social service.  This minister erroneously decides to only aspire to feed people’s spiritual hunger while neglecting their physical needs.

Having just reflected on the topic two days ago, I will not rehash my convictions.  But what most deeply caught my attention about this article is the observation made by David Durksen.  He unashamedly makes the generalization that most people who come to the food banks have a mindset of entitlement.  Unfortunately, He is neglecting the reality that this is the culture that our society has bred.  It is not just the poor who think that the world owes them something, it is most people in the United States.

That is why we are known as the “Ugly American” when we travel.  We think everyone should speak English, we want things our way, we want freedom, we want people to serve us, and if we are not pleased we do not want to pay.  Or even if we are pleased, we hope for a comped meal; “on the house”.  We are all beautiful, we are all amazing, we are all worth so much more.  Gone are the days of starting at the bottom and working our way up.  Gone are the days of respect for our elders and authority.  Gone are the days of valuing and serving one another, except for the photo and update we can put on facebook for the world to see and think more highly of us.

“For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”

– Rom 12.3

This is the core of our problem.  We consider ourselves extremely valuable.  On this church’s website, the home page has listed their “Five Basic Principles of Unity”.  Principle number three is:

“Our essence is of God and therefore every human being is inherently good”.

They are proclaiming the very deceit that they abhor in those who would utilize their food service.  If you are successful and established, it is all right to affirm that your essence is good.  But if you rely on the support and help of others, then you are in denial and see the world as owing you.  This is a lie from Hell.  Yes, we are made in the image of God.  But no, we are not inherently good.  All of our attempts at righteousness are as filthy rags (Is 64.6).  There is none righteous.  No, not one (Rom 3.10).  We are dead before Christ breathes Spiritual life [salvation] into us (Eph 2.1).  We are not good.  We are dead.  Utterly incapable of honoring God.  Because everything that is not from faith is sin (Rom 14.23).

So when we understand our universal depravity as a species, what then is the answer?  Is a food bank the answer?  I certainly believe that there is a place for a food bank: a system for providing for those in their time of need.  However, it is more profitable to help these people get on their feet so that they no longer need the food bank.  And when someone assumes that the church does indeed owe it to them to feed them, that is when we preach the Gospel unashamedly:  No, none of us deserves anything good.  But we give freely because we have received freely.  We should not enable people to abuse us or the system, we should help them to honor God with their lives.

I have some good friends, a married couple, he holding a Masters degree and she a successful hair dresser – but he unable to find profitable work and she busy at home with two children under three years of age – who needed to use the church’s food pantry when they could not afford to put food on the table.  They were thankful, they were humble and they continued to work diligently to find work and provide for their family.  This family in no way considered it their right to be fed, but gratefully thanked those who gave.  These ministries are dynamic and fruitful when utilized correctly.  But imagine the impact and blessing the church could have had if they had helped this family to network and find a job and a place to live!

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

– Phil 2.3-4

If you do not forgive, you will not be forgiven.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
A good understanding have all those who do His commandments;
His praise endures forever.

– Ps 111.10

Do you fear God?  Or are you so engulfed with your own concept of love of God that you think He has no standards, expectations or judgment?  Do you remember that He is the Almighty who spoke all things into existence, whose wrath is the establishment and creation of Hell, and whose judgment is that which sends people there?  Or do you consider that since “God is love”, He cannot uphold righteousness but allows each one to do as he pleases (1 John 4.8)?

Scripture is extremely clear that we are to fear God.  The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Ps 111.10).  The beginning!  The foundation!  Until you fear God, you have no foundation of wisdom; you have no wisdom.  Until you have looked eternity in the face and the weight of damnation as just reward for your sin, and shuddered, been utterly broken, felt terror at the reality, you have not fully embraced the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.  You cannot understand Jesus as your Savior until you realize from what you need saving!

It is the grace of God that saves us from the wrath of God.

There are a few statements in Scripture that call me regularly to serious reflection.  In the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught the disciples and many followers on a variety of topics.  He laid the foundation for the new covenant (a relationship with Him) by teaching how one honors God by having a heart the loves God and is compelled by that love to uphold the Law of God.  Obedience driven by love.  During this passage, Jesus gave instructions on prayer and He taught them the Lord’s Prayer.  Immediately following the prayer, He said:

“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

– Matt 6.14-15

If that does not terrify you, you have nerves (or a heart) of steel.  Why does Jesus say that?  How can Jesus say that?  God is love, right?  And if God is love, He has to forgive me, right?  Jesus also said, in the same sermon:

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged.  For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”

– Matt 7.1-2

By your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.  The bitterness and grudge that you hold in your heart, the standard of loyalty, respect and love which you uphold is the same by which you will be judged.

These are hairy passages.  Is God’s forgiveness of our sins contingent upon our forgiveness expressed to others?  No, I believe it is not.  But I do believe that the one who understands the depths at which he has been forgiven cannot help but joyfully and quickly forgive anyone for any injustice performed against him.  Jesus here is clearly our example when He forgave those who murdered Him – while they were in the process and act of murdering Him (Luke 23.34).  If you have a heart that holds grudges or that judges apart from the standards of God as expressed in Scripture, your heart is neither aware of the judgment you deserve nor the depth of the grace which you have been (or could be) shown.

“For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

– Luke 7.47

He who has been forgiven little loves little.  Holds grudges.  Judges harshly, and that not in accord with Scripture.   Therefore, he who holds grudges, who loves little and judges harshly is not forgiven by God.  They have not [yet] been forgiven by God.  Our hearts of mercy are the outpouring of the mercy shown to us.  We cannot and will not forgive, love and push one another on to maturity according to Scripture unless we have been forgiven.  And we necessarily must understand our just deserts (damnation) to embrace the weight of the grace which has been shown to us.

How much have you been forgiven?

By what standard do you judge?

Are you angry or holding any grudges?

Homeless

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress,and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

– James 1.27

Beggars.  The world has known of the poor and needy in many manners and forms, and begging has been the sole source of income for many people throughout the ages.  In many developing countries around the world, children are disfigured and mutilated so that they can earn more money as a beggar child, and often people pretend to be sick to make themselves look more pitiful to the passers by.  Here in the United States, we have welfare and shelters for the poor, but people often stand on street corners with signs, asking for help for a variety of reasons.

While living overseas, watching children be trained to beg from infancy, but seeing them report back to an adult overseeing beggar, I began carrying water and instant noodles in my car to give away.  I was wary that money would go to the overseer, and is not truly a help to those in need, but if they were hungry I could at least feed them a meal.  This by no means solved hunger in that country or city, but it was one small way I could help.

beggar

When I moved to Denver last year, I was struck by the number of beggars in this city too.  There is no way I can know the heart of every beggar whose path I cross.  Will the money buy drugs or alcohol?  Or will it buy food?  Or a new pair of shoes?  Not wanting to be the person to whom Christ says, “I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me”, I began in like fashion carrying bottles of water and granola bars in my car to give to people who are hungry (Matt 25.42-43).

Recently, I was pulling off the highway and there was a man standing at the intersection at the exit ramp with a sign that said, “Hungry.  Anything helps.”  So I reached into my back seat and grabbed two granola bars and a bottle of water.  As I rolled down my window, this dirty man wearing a tattered jacket with grime under his fingernails reached out to receive my money.  When I handed him the food, he turned his hand up and said, “I don’t want that” and walked away.

I have chewed on that and mulled over that time and time again.  The applications are endless and the questions as numerous.  Was he afraid I had poisoned the food?  Did he want money for other purposes?  Was he not truly hungry but lying?  Do I consider all beggars to be crooks and on the street because they choose to be there?  Do they not truly want help?

There was a time in my life less than two years ago, where were it not for the love of my parents, I could have feasibly been on the street.  I lost my place to live and my job in one day.  While there were friends in the church willing to help out by letting me stay for a night or two, it was said to me that it was the church’s role to care for me Spiritually, not physically.  I am a capable young woman, with a Master’s Degree and no hole in my work history who immediately started looking for work the day that I found out I had lost my job.  But we all know that jobs are not immediate.  I worked for a temp agency as they could place me while I looked for something permanent, but had it not been for my parents telling me I could come home, I would have been homeless.

Homeless.

Therefore, I can without hesitation say that not everyone on the street is there by choice.  I can also say that not everyone is there for lack of trying.  Lastly, I can say that some people who have been successful right in our Church communities can and do fall into serious need.

The church most certainly does not have a limited role to Spiritual needs.  Yes, each of our greatest need is Spiritual: forgiveness from God for our sins.  But we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves.  If you were in a place of need such that you had nowhere to stay, you would not rest until you found a place.  So if I am supposed to love my neighbor as myself, how can I rest when he has no place to stay?  There are many homeless shelters and food kitchens in our cities, and there are also many halfway homes and ministries to help people get on their feet.  But why are we, as a church, not networking to help professionals find jobs in their fields?  Why are we, as a church, not offering our homes to those who need a place to stay, work for those who want to work, and assistance in all of these very real needs?

I work for a non-profit organization that sends supplies to those in need overseas.  We function with a “basic human dignity” standard, whereby we do not send anything to the field that we would not give to our own families.  This clearly does not mean in style or preference, but in quality.  We send brand new product.  Why?  Because we value human life.  And people know the difference of a used and worn pair of shoes to a new pair.  We communicate our care to another by giving something nice, something new.  Not our dirty leftovers or worn out hand-me-downs.

There are times when a person qualified for many things might have to work in food service.  There are times when a father might have to work two jobs to provide for his family.  There are times when one who is truly trying and wanting to provide simply cannot.  There are times when children have no one to care for them and when the elderly have depleted all of their savings on cancer or a new roof or an unexpected bill.  These are the times that we should step in.

“If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.”

– 2 Thess 3.10

In our times of distress, we may not be picky.  Yes, I have a master’s degree, but when I was completely without, I worked for a temp agency, sitting in whatever role they could place me, just to earn whatever I could.  We should not coddle one another and encourage laziness.  We must be willing to work in whatever way that we can.  But if you are stable and established, why not pull some strings to help that new college grad get an internship?  Help that new small-business owner make contacts?  Teach that man on the street basic carpentry skills?

Let us not miss the boat.  God gave us the church for community, for encouragement and support.  We must push one another on to know and love God first and foremost.  But we also must care for one another like we care for ourselves.  If we care for that homeless man like we care for ourselves, we will help him to develop his skills, work ethic and help him become stable.  Not feed him a granola bar and water bottle – that he does not want anyway.

And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’  This is the great and foremost commandment.  The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’”

– Matt 22.37-39

With what are you trusting Jesus?

affair1

 

In October I was able to go on a two week trip back to my host country of four years.  While driving through the capital city I saw the sign above.  LG is targeting people having affairs with a privacy “guest mode” on their new phone.  Our culture and values have disintegrated so far that an affair is no longer taboo or sinful, but we accept it and try to help others out who are participating in such an activity.

Last night I participated in an Advent dinner, and the leader of the discussion asked, “With what are you trusting Jesus?”

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.  Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

– Matt 7.24-25

We can talk doctrine, morality and theory until we are blue in the face.  But until we begin to actually trust Jesus with our lives, we are playing a mental game.  We are theorizing, debating, imagining and strategizing, but the rubber has yet to meet the road.  In reflecting on this passage my roommate noted that the trials will come.  The floods will rise, the wind will blow.  Life will test our houses.  Our faith.

“If you will not believe, you surely shall not last.”

– Is 7.9b

Where do you turn in your moment of need.  When a trial pops up, do you despair?  Do you get depressed?  Do you jump into overdrive to fix it yourself?  Does your house fall down?  Unless our foundation is faith in the solid rock our houses will fall.

Do you have a foundation laid?  Or are you so acculturated with the world’s values that you cannot even discern the will and heart of God?  Does it break your heart that marriages are falling apart, that people are irreverently breaking their covenants and promises?  Or do you think a privacy guest mode for phones is a good secret-keeping idea?  When our foundation is laid in the teachings and heart of God, these tragedies should break our hearts.  We hate the things that He hates and love the things that He loves.  And when our foundation is laid in His grace and law, when we build our houses out of faith in those things, when the winds blow and the floods come, we trust in Him.  We are solid.  We are firm.  He holds us together.  And He sees us through.

With what are you trusting Jesus today?

He gives a greater grace.

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

 – Annie J. Flint (1866-1932)

Life is hard.  But God’s grace is so rich, so deep, so redeeming and freeing.  He knows the plans that He has written for us.  He has every one of our days numbered, and each of our steps established.  And he pours out grace as and when we need it.

We have all experienced the dichotomy and reality of seasons of trial versus seasons of peace.  We long for peace and comfort, and that is a godly yearning which will ultimately be fulfilled in eternity.  But when we walk in peace and comfort here on the Earth, without the physical presence of God amongst us, we get comfortable.  Our prayer lives shrink back.  We forget our desperate Spiritual state and live to please our physical bodies.  But when trials come, when life falls apart, when the bottom drops out we run back into the arms of our Savior who gives us the strength and mercy to go on.  He leads us through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, He directs our faith and hearts to eternal glory and we grow.  Spiritually we grow.  And we fall more deeply in love with Him.

No one enjoys trials.  But if we look at our Spiritual walks objectively, we will all note that we were closest to God and grew the most in the midst of dark times.  And that is because:

“But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble’.”

 – James 4.6

He gives a greater grace.  He meets us in our times of need.  He provides the strength.  He loves us.  Rest in His grace and mercy today.

Are you hungry for righteousness?

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  
Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.  
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.  
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  
Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

– Matt 5.2-12

In Matthew’s account of the Gospel, Jesus preaches an extensive sermon towards the beginning of His earthly ministry, where He covers most topics of religious conversation for the day.  He begins the sermon with those eleven verses above, what has come to be known as the beatitudes.  A beatitude is literally a “supreme blessing or happiness” (thefreedictionary.com).  Not an attitude.  Jesus is listing the highest blessings possible upon a person.

Debates have arisen over the history of the church as to the truest and best interpretation of this passage.  Saint Augustine believed it to be allegorical, while many others take it literally.  Is is speaking directly to the religious, Christian experience or day-to-day life?  Is it progressive?  Must you have the first before you can have the second and third?  Regardless of the questions that arise, the overall theme is clear and undebated:  “The way to heavenly blessedness is antithetical to the worldly path normally followed in pursuit of happiness…The beatitudes give Jesus’ description of the character of true faith” (John MacArthur).

“Poor in spirit” is the first beatitude listed.  Such a one is blessed and his is the Kingdom of God.  He will get to spend eternity with God.  What is poor in spirit?  The opposite of rich in spirit.  The realization of one’s inability to save himself.  He who is not self-sufficient but relies on God Almighty for salvation, life and happiness.

Those who mourn are blessed.  Those who mourn over sin in their own lives.  Mourning is a temporary sorrow that can also be experienced because of death, loss or a melancholy spirit, but those who are blessed are those who mourn over sin.  Paul defines this as a Godly sorrow – the sorrow that leads to repentance (2 Cor 7.10).  This mourning is essential for salvation.  Until we hate our sin we do not realize our need for a savior.

Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied.  If we try to achieve righteousness on our own, we will fail.  But if we realize that God alone can and will sanctify us, and turn to Him and wait on Him, He will give us the strength to live holy lives.  He will satisfy us.

The merciful will receive mercy.  Jesus regularly speaks to the retributive nature of our judgment and mercy.  In the way that we judge, we will be judged (Matt 7.2), and if you do not forgive your brother, God will not forgive you (Matt 6.15).  So we will be shown mercy if we show mercy, and the opposite is also true.  Thus Jesus’ commandment to do unto others as we would have done to ourselves takes on a substantially weighty application.  It is not just good discipline, it is for our own benefit that we show mercy, forgive and love.

Blessed are those who have been persecuted.  I have been thinking much this week on the reality that all who desire to live Godly lives will be persecuted (2 Tim 3.12).  And Jesus words it in this passage that to such as these belongs the Kingdom of Heaven.  Because persecution is a predecessor to inheriting the Kingdom, we should “rejoice and be glad, for your reward in Heaven is great” (Matt 5.12).

Are you self sufficient?  Or are you aware of your inability to please God and keep His law?  Are you broken over your sin?  Or are you floating through life making fleshly and impulsive decisions without considering God or His mandates?  Are you merciful?  Are you living in such a way that Jesus shines through you and those who hate Jesus hate you?

Those who hate Jesus and the claims of Scripture should hate us for being committed to Him and His ways.  But their problem must never be with us, it must always be with Scripture.  Do not add a stone of offense over which some might stumble – because the Gospel is radical enough.  And Jesus laments over those who would stand in the way of the Gospel, “But woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes” (Matt 18.7).

Do you want to be blessed?  Do you want to receive the Kingdom of God?  Eternal life?  Pray that God would cultivate these dispositions and blessings in your life.  Be humble.  Be merciful.  Be broken over sin (because it is your sin that put Jesus on the cross).  Be fully and utterly dependent on God.  Because He loves you and paid the penalty for your sin so that you could be blessed.