Thursday, November 18, 2010

3 Tough Words to Say

Lately my mind has been drawn to a passage of scripture in Genesis 50:20, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” This passage is dealing with Joseph as he faces the brothers who had so cruelly betrayed him so many years before. This move of betrayal by his brothers had come as their response to Joseph having shared his dreams and visions with them as a young man. This move of betrayal by his brothers had set in motion a chain of events in Joseph’s life that would forever change him, his country, and his brothers.
I am sure that many times throughout the years of his new life in Egypt, Joseph had looked back with a plethora of emotions on that fateful day when his brothers sold him into slavery. I am sure that from his life as a slave in the house of Potiphar, to his being thrown into prison due to the false accusation of Potiphar’s wife, Joseph found many reasons and much time to get bitter. He had ample opportunity to reflect with emotions that must have at times ranged from regret, remorse, anger, hurt, bitterness and I am sure, cynicism and doubt both at God and man. Since Joseph was a man, just like you and I, I am confident, that many times he must have asked the question, “Why me God? Why did this happen to me?”
However the story thankfully does not end there! The Joseph we find meeting his brethren many years later in the 50th chapter of Genesis, had somewhere along the twisting and winding road of life, brought himself to say, “Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good”. He was able to bring himself to utter those three tough words we find sometimes so hard to say, “God did it”.
When we can look back over the difficult times in our life and say “God did it”, it changes our entire approach, response and attitude towards life. When we can see that, even in difficult times, even when we perhaps made poor decisions, God’s hand was directing and moving in our behalf to bring about a greater good, our faith in Him becomes that much stronger! Joseph had every opportunity to get bitter, to become resentful at his lot in life, but instead, God gave him the grace to say, “God meant it unto good!”
It is of course, much easier to say “God did it”, when life is going well and the seas of life are calm. Yet, we know that is not the way life always unfolds. Greater still it is to say “God did it” when life is throwing one storm after another at you, and you can’t seem to see your way out of it. God still did it!
When we are facing a mountain that seems too hard to climb or a valley you just can’t seem to get over, why not realize that maybe, just maybe, God is working to bring a greater cause to pass in your life and in the life of others. Maybe just maybe, has Job also found, “God did it”. He is the one that allowed life’s road to twist and turn in such a way, that at the end, we can all say together with great faith in him, those 3 tough words to utter, “God did it!” He did it, to save people alive. He did it, that HE might receive Glory!
Romans 8:28 “And we know that ALL things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to HIS purpose”
Thanks for reading the ramblings of a pair of Cheeks in Owasso, OK!
God Bless!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

To Keep it, You Must Give it Away

Lately I have focused a tremendous amount of study and prayer on Paul’s writing to the church in Galatia. Paul tells us in Galations 5: 22-26 (ESV), “ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” Paul here is addressing the larger subject of the importance of being filled with the Spirit, and the impossibility of living a life pleasing to God without everything we do on the outside being driven by an inward filling of the Spirit of God. My thoughts on this passage have taken many twists and turns in the last few months, but as of late, I have found myself focused on the importance of GIVING away these “fruit of the Spirit” in order to KEEP them.

I have a dear friend who is heavily involved in the Alcoholics Anonymous program. I count this man as a dear friend and in many ways, a confidant and mentor. It was some time ago that this friend shared with me the famous AA statement, “To Keep it, You Must Give it Away”.  When I first heard the statement, I immediately liked it and began to use it in everyday conversation and apply it as a principle to my life. However it was not until recently while studying Paul’s writing in Galations that I felt like God spoke to me this thought as it relates DIRECTLY to the “fruit of the Spirit”.

The only way to have the fruit of the spirit (love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) in our life is to have the Spirit of God. The only way to keep them in our life is, obviously as Paul states, “be led by the Spirit” and “stay full of the Spirit”, but in addition, we must GIVE them away! It is the giving away of these “fruits” that enable us to keep a free flow of them coming to us. If we truly are manifesting the fruit of the Spirit, we will also be giving them away!

You ask, what meaneth this?!

The only way to have love is to give it away and you cannot really love, except you have the Spirit of God which is love!
The only way to have joy is to give it away, and you cannot really have joy, except you have the Spirit of God which is joy!
The only way to have peace is to give it away, and you cannot really have peace, except you have the Spirit of God which is peace!

I think we get the point.

Jesus also famously echoed this sentiment in Matthew 5:7 in what is known as the beatitudes when he said, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

      Of the many dangers and pitfalls of spiritual pride, probably one of the greatest, is the  thinking that by works of self righteousness, apart from the inward working of the Spirit of God, that one can produce the “fruit of the Spirit”. Not only is this impossible as Paul writes, this type of self righteousness is never something that one gives away, after all it is all about SELF!


Thanks for reading today!