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“Going home is never easy,” I once heard someone say. I’ve also heard that once you leave and set out on your own path in life, “you can never really go back home.” I’m not sure that such sweeping statements apply to every situation, but they certainly applied to the Lord Jesus Who did go back to His “hometown” in the days of His earthly ministry. He was born in Bethlehem, spent a very brief time in Egypt (when Herod the Great was trying to find and kill the “little King”), and was occasionally in Jerusalem in accordance with the instructions God had given His people at that time.

But the town of Nazareth had the privilege of being the place in which Jesus “grew up”. Remember that the Lord Jesus had entered fully into the human experience (except without sin, Hebrews 4:15), so it was Nazareth in which the Lord would have cultivated His earliest human friendships and fond memories. Did He feel sentimental towards this small town and wax nostalgic whenever He heard the first century equivalent of the Springsteen song, “This Is Your Hometown”? I have no idea, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that He did.

Just think of the power that God could unleash in your life if you would turn wholeheartedly to Him and let Him into your heart!

Just think of the power that God could unleash in your life if you would turn wholeheartedly to Him and let Him into your heart!

What I do see, however, in reading of His experience in “going back home”, is His hometown’s failure to recognize just Who it was that they had in their ranks for nearly thirty years.

“Jesus… came to His hometown, and His disciples followed Him. And on the Sabbath He began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard Him were astonished, saying, ‘Where did this Man get these things? What is the wisdom given to Him? How are such mighty works done by His hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.’” (Mark 6:1-4 ESV).

What a shame! Here was a whole town of people who thought that they had Jesus figured out! A whole community who thought that they knew Jesus, but didn’t really know Him at all. And in “dismissing” His divine identity, they were dismissing the very hope and only source of life that each and every one of Nazareth’s citizen’s so desperately needed.

“He could do no mighty work (miracles) there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief” (Mark 6:5-6 NSV).

A great many people have taught a great many things about verse five, saying that somehow God’s power was curtailed by the hard hearts of the people of Nazareth. But that isn’t so. Refusing to recognize the glorious identity of Jesus’ Person cannot in any way diminish His essence. What it DOES do, however, is tragically limit what we could have otherwise hoped for in knowing Him. If we choose to not recognize that from Him flow life-giving waters, we’ll not be able to quench our parched souls’ thirst for something more than what this physical life alone can supply (John 4:10, 14-15; Jeremiah 2:13). Or refusing to accept that He has the authority to forgive sin prevents us from having that cursed burden lifted from our shoulders, liberating us from crushing condemnation (Matthew 9:2, 5-6; John 8:10-11; Romans 8:1).

What miracles then couldn’t He do in the little burg of Nazareth? Well, His power over the physical realm was clearly unhindered for He was still fully capable of bringing healing to physical bodies (and did so for some). The people of Nazareth spiritual diseases, however, remained with them. The people’s collective refusal to accept Jesus for Who He was closed their hearts to His power over their sick souls and the spiritual hunger that only He could satisfy. In fact, Matthew 13 says that they “took offense at Him” (verse 57) and Mark 4 records that they not only were offended but just about “lynched” Him. And why? Because they didn’t like the fact that this “carpenter” forgot His place and was “meddling” with their personal lives. People don’t like people who point out their depravity, especially if the people pointing it out are their own people.

We’ll say things like, “Just who does he think HE is anyway? Why that hypocrite! Where does HE get off telling ME how to live my life!” and so on. And how do I know that the spiritual realm is where Jesus “couldn’t” do His miracles in the hearts of the Nazarenes? Because of what happens next in Mark 6. When Jesus leaves Nazareth and begins to reach out with the love of God to the neighboring villages, He sends out His disciples with the message that “people should repent” (Mark 6:12).

Again, Jesus’ essence cannot be diminished by lack of faith on your part or mine, but we are rendered “unreachable” if we refuse to climb down off of the pedestal of our pride or relinquish our selfishness. Rejecting His right to our lives as Lord or refusing to acknowledge the truth of His Word as applied to our lives (e.g., that we need to forsake sin and follow Him) leaves us shut out of the grace that He would lavish upon us if we would simply humble ourselves and turn to Him.

Just think of the power that God could unleash in your life if you would turn wholeheartedly to Him and let Him into your heart! Such power can transform you, your family, your community, and your country!

“If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV).

We as a people need miracles. We need the miracle of lives being changed from self-serving to serving God and others. We need the miracle of hearts being set free from hopelessness and despair, given instead a new destiny filled with purpose, peace, and joy. The fact is that God is wanting to do just that in our lives. The only thing He is waiting on is for us to really start believing that He is Who He says He is, repent, and turn to Him.

 

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Are you hungry for more of God in your life?

Are you hungry for more of God in your life?

Faith is a tricky thing. And much of what is tricky about it isn’t merely in whether or not we have it, but also in whether or not we understand what it is about it that is actually pleasing to God. If by “faith” we simply mean religious activity or affiliation with a religious body (e.g., “I go to such-and-such church”) then we’ve totally missed what God means by faith. Is it really important to get this right? Is it truly necessary for us to understand what God means by “faith” and “belief in Him”?

Well, frankly, God seems to think that it is important for us to understand His point-of-view on the matter for He makes some very direct remarks about it. For example, He says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (Hebrews 11:1-3 ESV).

This kind of “faith” is not just an invocation of a higher power. It is a radical reliance upon the provision and power of a loving heavenly Father Who sent His Son to accomplish for us what we could not. Living a perfectly righteous life (thereby totally vindicating the Law of God) and then suffering and dying in our place of judgment for our sin were all beyond our reach. So if the mercy and strength of God was mobilized to effect for us so great a salvation (see Hebrews 2:3), are we then willing to acknowledge our confidence in His promise by aligning our lives with His desires for us, our families, our churches, and our communities?

Inasmuch as we are willing to do so, we truly have faith. Faith is simply a confidence in God’s power that affects our values, priorities, attitudes, and actions. Are you sick? Biblical faith moves you to seek guidance and consolation in His Word, the Bible, and then to say, “God can heal me. And if He chooses to not bring healing, it is simply because He has a great good that He will reap through it.” Are you facing financial difficulties? Jesus Himself knows what it means to trust the Father day-by-day for sustenance. Again, as you look to adjust your life and attitude to God’s plan for living, faith teaches you to trust God to meet your daily needs and to find peace in knowing that your heavenly Father hears your prayer to “give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).

And speaking of bread, don’t miss the most important Word on faith of all… that believing in Jesus Christ is the most crucial step you or anyone else can ever take in regard to spiritual life… in regard to anything, for that matter. “Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him Whom He has sent…Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He Who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’… Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst… Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life…. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh” (John 6:29, 32b-33, 35, 47-48, 51 ESV).

So how does one “eat” this spiritual bread anyway? Jesus answers it Himself in John 6:47, “… he who believes has eternal life.” One eats spiritual bread by spiritually devouring it: we take in His Word, digest it, and then rely upon its sufficiency. Relying on the sufficiency of His promise that Jesus’ perfect life, death, and resurrection have accomplished for us open access to His throne is the kind of faith that pleases Him. “…We have been sanctified (made clean and set apart for the purposes of God) through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all…. We have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus… let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…” (Hebrews 10:10, 19, 22-25 ESV).

Faith isn’t really that tricky after all. Faith that pleases God isn’t an accumulation of good deeds and isn’t even about earning righteousness on our own merits (no one can measure up to God’s standard of righteousness on his own anyway). Nor is it some magic power we use to get what we want or make God do what we want Him to do. And it isn’t even always feeling secure and tranquil, although many believe that unless they “feel” their faith, then they must not have it. Faith is simply choosing to rely on our Lord’s Word, trusting in His goodness and power to help us in whatever needs we’re facing, and taking whatever steps in life that are in keeping with that reliance and trust.

Are you hungry for more of God in your life? Then visit Him in His Word. Fellowship with Him in a church that is truly seeking Him. As you see more and more clearly what God is like, and what He asks of you, trust Him enough to do as He asks. Be the kind of person He wants you to be in your heart, your family, your work, and your worship. Discover that He is indeed the bread of life that abundantly nourishes your spirit for this life and prepares your soul for the next.

 

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Free Indeed

“My country, ‘tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing: Land where my fathers died, Land of the pilgrims’ pride, From every mountainside Let freedom ring!” So penned Samuel F. Smith in the 19th century as he reflected upon the origins of a nation still young and fresh and still near to its roots in God’s gracious providence.

Let freedom ring! May this anthem swell again in our hearts and be proclaimed upon our lips until the sweet refrain of liberty is achieved for all men and women everywhere! Is this too much to ask for every American? I think not. Is it too much to ask for any man or woman anywhere in the world? I truly hope that we would never sell any human being so short as to think he or she was not entitled to freely be all that God would make him or her, no matter how different from us or far removed from us he or she may live.

He who does not know how to spend his freedom nobly is not truly free at all.

He who does not know how to spend his freedom nobly is not truly free at all.

Just think! As surely as our nation was once under the power of a truly oppressive government, so were we all once oppressed under the iron fist of sin and death. But “… just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.  When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.  But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed?  The end of those things is death.  But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:19b-23 ESV).

And so we have given to us through Jesus a great “Declaration of Independence” from sin and self, sealed through the shedding of His blood on the cross. “Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!… There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.  For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Romans 7:24-25a, 8:1-9a ESV).

It has been said that it is difficult to define what it means to be American. Yet I believe it is clear that the common thread that binds all Americans everywhere is the liberty we celebrate. While we struggle at times to define even what it means to be free, let us each concur that he who does not know how to spend his freedom nobly is not truly free at all. “What sort of persons ought we to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness?” (from 2 Peter 3:11).

In like manner, let us who call upon the name of Jesus and consider ourselves to be free, follow in every way the leading of the Savior. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…. Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.  The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:31-32, 34-36 ESV).

Perhaps you spend Independence Day reflecting deeply on your identity as an American and the entitlement of fellow human beings across the globe to freedom. Be careful to not neglect the need to consider whether you are still in bondage to sin and death. If you are not already so, seek to be set free into God’s life and peace and become the new creation He has had in mind all along.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

 

Copyright ©  Thom Mollohan

Jesus has a disdain for complacency that is very disconcerting for those who are complacent.  In fact, reading some of the things Jesus actually says in the Bible are not only downright uncomfortable, but are terrifying for those of us who have attained the deceptively fragile equilibrium of the status quo.

For instance, Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.  And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.  Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:34-37 ESV).

If one reads this passage shallowly, he might conclude that Jesus’ intent is simply to create chaos and enmity between people, particularly members of the same family.  But when one reads it in the context of all things Jesus says and examines His earthly ministry, as well as His suffering and death on the cross, he sees that Jesus is referring to the rebooting that takes place when one comes spiritually alive and finds within himself a new slate of priorities… namely, love of God first and then love of others (Matthew 22:37-40).

Of course, these new passions in a person’s life will conflict with the priorities embedded in the traditions of families that have for generations believed and taught that one’s first loyalty is to himself; that the greatest measures of success in life are power, possessions, and popularity; and that the temporal is all there is.

A "rebooting" takes place when one comes spiritually alive and finds within himself a new slate of priorities!

A “rebooting” takes place when one comes spiritually alive and finds within himself a new slate of priorities!

It is an abomination to the general psyche of the various perspectives in the world to believe that one’s first loyalty is to God; that the greatest indicators of significance in life are lives influenced towards heaven by our own lives; and that we are created for eternity, not just for the now.

If one cannot see the eternal, then to him it seems foolish and even dangerous to tolerate those who do, lest others are “poisoned” with “foolish talk of heaven”.  Naturally, this friction and, at times, open hostility towards a mindset on the things of Christ is a powerful deterrent to whole-hearted pursuit of Jesus as Savior and Lord.

However, we are each responsible for weighing the temporary pain and rejection of sincerely following Jesus against the ultimate pleasures and delight of pursuing Him with all out abandon.  The “cop out” of watered-down Christianity is not what Jesus called us to and too small and petty a thing for His children.  He has raised for us the banner of passionate and urgent pursuit of His will in all spheres of our lives – from worship to service, from giving to telling, from things “church-related” to things “job-related”, from the chores that we do to the entertainment in which we indulge whether books, movies or music.

The real problem with us is that we see Jesus’ shaking up of things as a threat.  We resent the intrusion of His lordship into our lives and when we observe others bowing to Him in matters both great and small, our consciences are pricked and we assume the posture of people who are intruded upon.

But do we really want to reject a higher and more meaningful life than what we can contrive for ourselves in this short span of years we have in life?  It might make sense if all we have is a few decades of existence, but it makes no sense at all when we realize that this short time is the season of investment for an eternity beyond the limits of our flesh and even our galaxy.

Perhaps this is why Jesus explains, “Whoever finds His life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39 ESV).  It seems that the only way to “buy stock” in eternity is by entrusting ourselves to the Eternal One.

It’s not an easy decision for us since we are personally conditioned to focus on the short term perspective of our short term physical lives.  Nor does our fellow man or woman easily tolerate one who easily dismisses the promises of instant gratification.  Yet, it is the watershed point of our lives, the moment we decide for whom will we live, to whom will we bow, and in whom will we trust.  Ourselves?  Others?  Or God?

Jesus declares, “Whoever does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:38 ESV).  He isn’t being vague.  He isn’t being touchy-feely.  He isn’t sugar-coating what it is that He expects of us.

The world doesn’t need cultural Christians.  It doesn’t need easy evangelicalism if its evangelism does not make clear the drastic command of Christ to leave all in order to follow Him.  It doesn’t even need a world religion that teaches people to get along no matter what if it means compromising a whole-hearted giving of ourselves to Jesus and His commands.

The world needs “little Christs” who, being filled with His Spirit, love as He loves, obey Him as He obeyed the Father, and speak the truth courageously even if the whole world rejects them.  As the days are filled with more chaos, as violence grows and spreads, as confusion tosses people back and forth from uncertainty to uncertainty and fear to fear, become the child of God and agent of light and love He sent you into the world to be.

Jesus said, “Whoever receives you receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him Who sent Me” (Matthew10:40 ESV).

 

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

A Water Horse Requiem

The Water Horse on the dry land,

       She guarded long the key of brass

Slyly hidden by wisdom’s hand

      So unbidden ones could not pass

Unmarked into wherein were kept

      Secrets to cracked soul and torn heart

So summoned there she lightly slept,

      Warden of hope for a new start.

One fateful day when one with strength

Came and sought to take hold the key,

And so fought the horse and at length

Soon sent her to her destiny.

Water horse strove to hold her own,

Although she stood upon dry land.

Parched and weary and all alone,

She fell to the Seeker’s strong hand.

Seeker gazed sadly on her foe

Who so valiantly defied,

But beaten to the earth below,

She lay there still until she died.

The Seeker took the key and went

Alone into the secret place.

Even so, she made lament

Whilst her tears trickled down her face.A Requiem for a Water Horse

“Alas! Water horse gave her all

To keep her promise to be true!

But now she lies upon the floor,

So now, I see, we need some glue!”

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

* A fun (for me) “nonsense poem” with a back story (a private little joke with co-workers – and they know who they are).  And can you tell that I enjoy Old English style poetry (and making mountains out of mole hills)?

** “Hippopotamus” is Greek for “River (or Water) Horse”.  Yes, this poem is a bit on the “dry” side of the humor spectrum.  :-)

*** The “Water Horse” in question was a wooden carving I had picked up in Africa about ten years ago.  While completing an errand, a friend accidentally knocked it onto the floor and its leg broke.  She humbly messaged me and apologized.  I am glad it happened so that the saga could be completed!

 

A great deal of tragedy has struck in the past week in our country’s Midwest.  Literally dropping out of the sky, destruction and terror descended unexpectedly into the lives of people who were simply going about their daily activities and minding their own business.  Like so many, they had no idea beforehand the ordeal that would sweep away routines, livelihoods, homes, and in some cases lives of loved ones.

TornadoI am glad to see how people are working in response to save lives, rescue survivors, and comfort those who have been especially devastated by the disasters like those that have hit Nebraska and the Dakotas.  It is especially significant to me to see how God’s people have rallied to help via the many trained disaster relief workers who are going to help in the immediate crisis but also in the days to come.  Tragedy and disaster cannot be made as if they have not happened, but a Christ-like compassion in others renews hope and drives fear away.

Perhaps it occurs to you, as it does to me, that these deadly twisters are reminiscent of circumstances and trials that unexpectedly drop out of metaphorical skies into the lives of people everyday. Of course, we may know of people (or may even be those people) who, like storm chasers, seem to go out of their way to get as close as possible to trouble (some for the thrill of it but some to learn more about the tornadoes so that lives might be saved).  Nevertheless, even when you are not looking for trouble, trouble sometimes finds you anyway.

Some will say that if you accumulate enough good “karma” that you will avoid trouble, or if you have enough faith, trouble will not come to you. Perhaps you know of someone who believes in “luck” and calculates his propensity for trouble (or for escaping it) by trying to determine how lucky he is or by carefully reading horoscopes and so forth.

But even Jesus Himself had “trouble”, which is to say that He experienced uncomfortable, painful and sorrowful situations in the days prior to His ascension into heaven. Those things were not the result of His going out of His way to find such trouble nor were they the result of His being negligent with daily opportunities to make for Himself a life of prosperity and/or ease. They were simply the circumstances that arose in His life as He engaged the world.

Mockers, disloyal friends, rejection, conspiracy, betrayal, pain, humiliation, and death were “troubles” or “storms” that arose in His life that allowed Him to demonstrate the extent of His faithfulness to the Father, His love for us, and His commitment to conquer the troubles that beset Him with a victory so complete that we, as His followers, would inherit a rock-solid assurance that sustains us when twisters of trouble suddenly and unexpectedly drop down onto us.

Jesus comforted His disciples with words that are meant also for us today. “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 ESV).

What kinds of troubles are swirling around you right now? What vortexes of confusion, doubt, and fear are threatening to turn your life upside down? Whatever the occasion, the victory of Jesus is found in His not only overcoming death, but in guaranteeing us an eternal place of belonging. Whatever storm may be beating up on you right now will, sooner or later, have to pass. Who awaits you on the other side of your storm? God!

Simply trust that it is God’s plan that the winds eventually will give way again to peace, that hailstones of hurt and doubts will finally have to end, and that wounds you have suffered will be bound up and healed by the hands of God.

When I find myself discouraged and I wonder if I can survive another storm, God’s Holy Spirit reminds me that even if all the world is lost to me, He has heaven in store for me. So if you are finding yourself a victim to troubles that are threatening to spin your life out of control, remember the One Who sometimes calms our storms but sometimes chooses to walk with us through them. It could very well be that He is striving to help us know Him better and give others in the world through us a glimpse of grace and hope that no wind on earth can possibly blow away.

 

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Let’s ask ourselves a question that may at first sound a bit typical coming from a “religious” perspective (although it is, in fact, not really a matter of its being “religious” so much as it is “spiritual”, “biblical”, and “godly”). The question is this: “When a person gives, does God look past the veneer of his words and actions and actually weigh the content of his character?”

While most of us would say “yes” to this question without even having to think about it, the choices made in many of our lives will in the end paint pictures entirely different than what we may think about ourselves. Sadly, many of our life stories will make it clear that we don’t really believe it to be true or that we perhaps don’t even care about what God thinks anyway.

How else could we possibly rationalize the callousness of our hearts, the striving with others for wealth, and the subtle little treacheries that we contrive in order to help ourselves at the cost of hurting others? Does God sit and look upon our daily deeds, reading our motives? Does He really care why we do good deeds just so long as good deeds are done?

“(Jesus) sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box.  Many rich people put in large sums.  And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.  And He called His disciples to Him and said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box.  For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.’” (Mark 12:41-44 ESV).

When God is pleased with the faith, reverence, and love of His child as she gives sacrificially, He moves into her experience, prepared to reveal Himself to her in ways she's not yet known Him.

When God is pleased with the faith, reverence, and love of His child as she gives sacrificially, He moves into her experience, prepared to reveal Himself to her in ways she’s not yet known Him.

Now the Law of Worldly Economics tells us that $1,000 is more than one penny. But here, Jesus is pronouncing a new law… or rather a Kingdom principle that should begin to clear a bit of the fog of selfishness and flesh-bound perspectives. When we give our all to God, surrendering to His care both control of our resources as well as our worries about the future, He sees us from “where He sits” and takes note not only of what we’ve done, but also the way in which we’ve done it! Then, pleased with the faith, reverence, and love of His child, He moves into our experience, prepared to reveal Himself to us in ways we’ve not yet known Him. In this “Kingdom of God Economy”, a penny can produce unimaginable results while thousands of dollars can have no more worth in eternity than a puff of hot air.

When the Christian gives or serves the Lord out of his or her poverty, God does not disdain the gift or act of service. He doesn’t sneer at our sacrifices but embraces them because it hurt us to give. Even if what we give or what we do seems inferior to what others may have given or may have done, the Lord doesn’t get caught up in comparing us to anybody else, but takes us at face value. Thus, a small act of kindness, when motivated by a selfless regard for others, may result in producing enormous spiritual fruit while a huge, multi-million dollar benevolence fund granted to a charity or a church may have very little meaning in the eyes of God if such giving is done to impress others or to bolster one’s opinion of his or her own spiritual superiority.

Consider the small boy referred to in John 6:5-13. He had only a few small loaves of bread and a couple of tiny fish. Yet his small lunch, when surrendered to the Savior, fed five-thousand men and those with them. All were blessed who were present that day… the crowds, the disciples, but that little boy most of all as he witnessed God take his small contribution and use it to nourish the many. Giving can be a scary thing, but remember that God is in control.

Think for a moment about Abraham. In the Bible (Genesis 22:1-14), God asked Abraham to give Him his son, Isaac. Abraham decided to trust God completely, even with this precious son. Father God was then able to take that “offering” and from him create a line that would ultimately produce the Messiah Himself, Jesus. Through that line, God provided us a Savior Who willingly gave His life for us on the Cross of Calvary. Giving can be a painful thing, but remember that God is in control.

“He… did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all…” (Romans 8:32 ESV). “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 ESV).

In the end, let it simply be said that God cares about motives and means as well as end results. He loves it when we give to Him and serve Him… but only when we do so cheerfully and trustingly. He loves it in part because when we have learned to give of ourselves from our finances, our homes, our cars, our time, our energy, and so on, we reflect, in small ways, His Own nature. He loves it when we give because He Himself is the ultimate Giver.

“The point is this:  whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.  As it is written, ‘He has distributed freely, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.’  He Who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.  You will be enriched in every way for all your generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:6-11 ESV).

Let us praise our Father that He can take what we have, what we do, and what we are and produce an abundant “harvest of righteousness”. So let us take the riches with which He has blessed us (material or otherwise) and sow them according to the generosity that He has shown to us through Jesus Christ.

 

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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