Sunday, August 31, 2008

Desiring Recognition

"...Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days; bring a thank offering of leavened bread, and proclaim freewill offerings, publish them; for so you love to do, O people of Israel!" says the Lord God.
(Amos 4:4b-5)

The prophet Amos is "having words" for the people of Israel - namely, how they've distanced themselves from God. Here he speaks about their worship & offerings. The people had many rituals & worship services... complete with numerous offerings. Surely that's pleasing to God, right? Um, no! God even knows how much they like to publish the collection amounts!

Before I condemn these "sinful Israelites," I have to look at myself in the mirror. I may not be too showy when it comes to worship or giving offerings... but I have to admit that I like to have my "good deeds" published. Not literally, of course... but emotionally. Sometimes when I do some things around the house to help, if Jody (my wife) doesn't mention it when she gets home, I feel the need to point it out to her, and ask what she thinks. Why? Becuase I like the recognition for a "job well done." But maybe God desires that I do things without recognition & reward. Maybe I could nurture a giving & generous spirit without it needing to be noticed? (wouldn't that be cool?!)

Prayer: Let it be so, Lord. Let it be so. AMEN.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Not really a financial decision

"The man of God answered, 'The LORD is able to give you much more than this.'"
(2 Chronicles 25:9b)

King Amaziah of the Southern Kingdom of Judah assembled the troops and found he had 300,000 competent & capable soldiers. But he also went out and hired 100,000 more soldiers from the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He paid them 100 talents of silver - equivalent to more then 7,550 pounds of silver! However, a prophet told him God didn't want the Israelite soldiers fighting as part of Judah's army. In fact, if they do, Judah would lose their next battle. Amaziah's single concern was: "But I've already paid them!!!" The prophet replied, "The LORD is able to give you much more than this."

Money & finances are always a key factor in so many decisions we make. Especially in a period of economic strain like we're in today, it's easy to identify with King Amaziah's concern. No one likes to "waste" resources - from kings to cabbies. But this is a reminder to me that previously expended finances should not be the 'trump card' in all decision in life. God may choose to speak a word of change - to move us in a new direction. Will I be able to choose to follow like Amaziah did?

PRAYER: Lord, I want to be led by Your Spirit, and not by my bank account. Help me to trust that You can provide for all my needs. AMEN.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Up From the Throne

"When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes."
(Jonah 3:6)

Jonah reluctantly gives his message (of doom!) to the wicked city of Nineveh... and "surprise!" the people believe God and repent. Not only that, but the king himself joins in the effort. For some reason, the fact that he "rose from his throne" struck me. He had to get up off his seat of authority... his place of power and privilege. Couple that with removing his royal robe, and this is a true act of humility.

What "thrones" do we enjoy sitting on? For me, the throne of "pastor" at times is a "high and exalted one." I walk the line between just being me, and being THE PASTOR. I'm at my best when I'm me, the pastor, not me, THE PASTOR. I've been called to serve this congregation with grace. I must not get caught up in titles & positions, but rather lead with humility. I also have a throne as "father." I need to be willing to get off my throne, step down from my position of authority, and be humble before my children (and my wife). There are no awards for sitting on the throne the longest!

Prayer: Lord, continue to teach me humility. Help me model it for my family and my church in Aiea. Help me be willing to get up from the thrones that follow me, so I can be real before You. May I never abuse the authority entrusted to me. AMEN.