Tag Archives: unity

God Supplies Our Every Need

weekly theme #48 God Supplies Our Every Need*          

week containing the Sunday between Sept 25 – Oct 1

This is a difficult concept for me.  The first reading for the week is 1 Kings 17, where Elijah is fed by ravens and he asks God to raise a boy from dead.  However, in those same days I’m sure other people were not miraculously fed, and people who died were not raised from the dead.  There has to be some concept I’m not grasping.

As I read Jesus’ words about his faithfulness in provision, I catch myself thinking, “Yes, but…”  The middle of Luke 12 has examples: verse 29 “And don’t worry about food…” and verse 31 “He will give you all you need from day-to-day…”   Yes, but what about the hardworking folks who seem caught between terrible need and no way out?  Yes, but aren’t there people around me every week who don’t seem to have all they need?  To be fair to God, I must include Jesus’ qualifier to his instructions on not worrying, “…if you make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.”  Will he provide for my needs if the Kingdom of God is not my primary concern?  What happens then?

I don’t know how to explain this, but I think there is a relationship between my needs and my generosity.  A lack of generosity seems to be a lack of faith, for I close my purse to others today to assure my bounty today or my security in the future.  Yet I need not hoard today or fear tomorrow if God promises that he has already prepared my path.  He doesn’t require a certain amount from all of us.  The size of what I give means a lot more to me, and those who know my giving, than to God.  God is looking for my joy in giving, whether it means out of my abundance or through sacrifice.  Maybe what I’m trying to say is that perhaps my “need” isn’t for more but for a thankfulness and generosity with what I have.

In 2 Corinthians 10:13, Paul uses the phrase “Our goal is to stay within the boundaries of God’s plan for us…”  Some things I think I need are only required because I’ve overstepped my boundary.  If I would serve within the call God has given me, it would reduce my current needs.  Since I tend to take heed to other calls as well as God’s (e.g.- to receive praise from others as well as God, try to do too much, or have nice stuff) my needs escalate.  I’m not saying I should always stay inside what is comfortable or familiar, for God’s plan is often neither.  Nor should all our boundaries be the same.  What I’m saying is that I can overreach what God wants me to do, be, or have at this time.  The results are for me to have “needs” that God never intended me to have.

Human wisdom looks like foolishness to God, and God’s wisdom seems foolish to us humans.  Such a case is God trusting me, as one of his followers, to reach the entire world with the Good News.  That assignment has been on the Church’s to-do list for two thousand years.  Coca-Cola reached the world in less than two hundred years.  What does this have to do with God supplying my every need?  Just as he entrusted us with spreading the Good News, he has allowed us to be his primary method of supplying every need.  Yet, just like the Good News, I cling to comfort and safety at the expense of the Greatest Commands and the Great Commission.  God does supply our every need, but the needs and supplies are not distributed uniformly.  That’s why Jesus stressed the need for us to be in unity and work as a body.  We must share who we are and what we have with others.  God does supply our every need, but he counts on other parts of the body to deliver what he has sent.  Like many of his followers in the USA, I’m hoarding both the Good News and other resources.  Why do I see people in need?  Because I see other people in excess.

Maybe the key is not so much God giving me more supplies for all my needs as it is realizing what God supplies is all I need.

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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The Triune God

weekly theme #30*

week containing the first Sunday after Pentecost

 I struggle to write anything about the Trinity.  I find the relationship among Father, Son, and Holy Ghost difficult to grasp, yet I have no trouble believing in a singular God who is manifest in different ways.  Perhaps it’s not as important that I understand their relationship with each other as it is that I embrace their relationship with me and other believers.

Jesus describes his relationship with Father in the fifth chapter of John as “being one”.  In the seventeenth chapter, Jesus prays that his followers would share that closeness with him and with each other.  The path to this unity is through a new way of new way of thinking for me, accompanied by surrender.  Rather than thinking of freedom as me being in control of myself, I can think of freedom as not needing to be in control because God is in control.  I surrender the burden of control because I’m in unity with the One in control.  I am still responsible to take action in obedience to God, but I’m not responsible for the results of my obedience.

As I said, I can’t explain the unity of the Triune God, and my experience of living that unity among other believers has been infrequent, localized, and temporary.  However, the foundational step in that direction is me living in harmony with the Holy Spirit.  If I, as a member of the Body, submit to Christ the Head, it will allow me to be and do exactly what the Body needs.  Unity among the Body begins with my unity with God.

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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The Church of the Spirit

weekly theme #29*

week containing Pentecost Sunday

“A deep sense of awe came over them all.”  That’s how Acts 2:43 describes the early church.  Seldom do I sense awe, and that is embarrassing to admit.  The Creator of the universe has reached out to me, and he gives his Spirit to dwell within me.  Yet I’m not in awe of this indwelling.  What does that say about me?  I may say that I am so focused on what I am to do that I neglect who I am to be.

I am not to change the world.  God changes the world, and he desires to work through me.  How awesome that is!  And he works through me best when:  1) I allow him to change who I am (my being) from the inside out, and 2) I work in community.  The Holy Spirit is more than feelings.  He is God dwelling within me, and he wants to manifest himself through me if I will surrender my wilfulness to him.  I can live in the illusion that I control my life or surrender my life to the only One who can control it.  I could not follow Christ with the Holy Spirit dwelling within me.  Alone I am too weak to progress against the opposing current of my own bent toward sin, the world’s distractions and opposition, and Satan’s wile and power.  I need to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, making my inner self a welcoming place for the Spirit to reside.  I cannot open the door of my inner self to the very things that oppose spiritual health without damaging the Holy Spirit’s work within me.

The result of my surrender and cooperation is the ability to best function as part of the Body of Jesus.  The Spirit allows clear and continuous communication between all parts of the Body and the Head, who is Christ.  It’s hard to read through the book of Acts and not get focused on the acts of individuals such as Peter, Barnabas, and especially Paul.  Yet the Holy Spirit can move whole churches as well as individuals.  Acts presents the community of believers as an example of how fellowship looks, warts and all, and even in that imperfection the early church is evidence of the Holy Spirit moving people as groups as well as individuals.  The Holy Spirit is key to the unity of believers that I so crave.

I’m afraid that I have minimized, perhaps ignored, the value and role of the Holy Spirit.  Truly, I have been off target, and I have asked for correction.  I’m eager for where the Spirit takes me.

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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Life Together

weekly theme #28*

week containing the seventh Sunday of Easter

God designed us to live in harmony.  I am to be in harmony with him, others, creation, and myself.  Becoming who God wants me to be is not an individual affair.  The fourth chapter of Ephesians has a lot to say about God’s gifts to the church, and verse thirteen says we become mature, full-grown, and measuring up to the full stature of Christ through using those gifts in unity for the good of the church.  I am both an individual and a member of the community, the Bride of Christ.  I need to embrace both and find comfort in both – even though there can be pain in both.

I picture Paul as a tough, perhaps gruff, young man.  His letters contain some fierce words and scathing rebukes, but I think he mellowed as he aged.  Not that he lost his passion or standards, but Paul’s spirit softened and his love flowed more easily and with more clarity.  The book of Philemon witnesses to that idea.  I hope I mellow as well, for the good of unity.

How well I love my Christian family members is a strong indication of how I love God.  Paul offers an example of how the Christian family should sacrifice for each other in the sixth chapter of first Corinthians.  He proposes that it is better to forgive another Christian who has wronged me than to make the “family disagreement” a matter of public record.  If a member of my Christian family wrongs me, I have the opportunity to respond like Jesus rather than like the world.  What do I value so much that would make me choose being unforgiving rather than being like Christ?

My ill-delivered zeal for unity among Jesus’ disciples has actually caused division.  The change I long for in the Body of Christ, from independence to inter-dependence, will not take place through words that condemn but words that compel.  Moreover, my actions must show unity and love.  No matter how mature I am in my Christian life, I can have confidence that my every attitude, act, and belief is less than perfect.  If I convince myself differently, it hinders further maturity and growth.  Rather than clutching to my imperfections, I need to cultivate the ability to change my mind, behavior, and attitude when it is clearly God’s will for me to do so.  (adapted from Liberation of Life by Harvey & Lois Seifert)

Paul said we need each other, but the breadth of his meaning is greater than I first thought.  Romans 12:5b says, “And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each needs all the others.”  I belong to other believers, and I need all of them.  No member of the body is optional; they are all mission critical.  I don’t just need the Rock-Star members; I need the humble, meek, quiet members, too.  In fact, God does not long for Rock-Star Christians to give a performance as much as he longs for his Bride to be ready for the wedding.

A thought about balance is a fitting close to this week’s long-winded piece.  In this unity, there is a place for solitude.  Without times of solitude with the Lord, unity can begin to feel clingy, overwhelming, and even parasitic.  I can know unity is always there even when I am not in the midst of it.  Solitude increases my love for unity.

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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Lincoln On Leadership

Donald T. Phillips has put together one of the most practical leadership books I have read.  He has managed to combine Lincoln’s words and actions to create a blueprint of a leadership style born during one of America’s most troubled times yet applicable for today.  It seems we are dealing with many of the same problems.  “All the “how to” of leadership is ineffective without integrity, honesty, and the resulting trust.  Morals must precede method.” 

I did not realize Abraham Lincoln possessed a temper that needed to vent.  I learned that this venting was often done by writing scalding letters that remained in his desk – never sent.  “Every human has flaws.  Leading always brings these flaws to the surface.  Leaders must learn to restrain those flaws from devastating their followers.”

It is a worthwhile book for all leaders, whether they lead their homes or their countries.

My notes on this book can be downloaded in MS Word format from the blue “FILES box” located in the left side-bar of this blog.

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