Helping God? No Way.

Mark 6:41   (NLT)   Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. He also divided the fish for everyone to share.

Miracles invite our involvement. God created everything out of nothing, but He still used and accepted the 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish He used to provide more than enough food for 5K men + women and children. Jesus could have made bread and fish to appear in Mark 6.41 - God Needs Our Help--No Wayfront of each person, but He still asked his disciples to help distribute them.  Sovereignty does not promote passivity inactivity, or laziness. Obviously, God can do anything by Himself. So, His invitation for us to join Him in a miracle is not because He’s lacking. Whatever our participation is, no matter how small, brings us opportunity of experiencing the joy of miracle. Sure, for every small part we contribute, God has incalculably multiplied times more, but there’s still satisfaction and joy in knowing that we take part.

God is a good Father. He does not want to spoil us. Even in forgiveness, although He forgives us absolutely, He still disciplines us. He doesn’t allow us to get off, scot-free without experiencing disciplinary consequence. Discipline may not even sound palatable in the age of grace, but discipline and grace aren’t contradictory. In fact, discipline is a proof of us being a part of the family of God. Like in the case of the people who complained against God about their food. They were bitten by snakes and many of them died because of that. When they realized they did something wrong and repented, they asked God to forgive them and to stop the judgment. God was willing, but it was not an immediate termination of judgment; Moses still had to construct a brazen serpent on a pole, and people still had to look at it for them not to die.

God honors us. Praise God, He does not clip our wings but allows us to live to our maximum potential. Why did Jesus intend to just pass the disciples who He saw were in serious trouble rowing hard against the waves? My guess is, He knew they would have made it. As dangerous as their situation may have been, they would still have succeeded and reached the shore safely. He wanted to give them the joy of achievement.

God helps us. Even if it would require a miracle to do it; He does. But He also stretches us. It is often through that when we realize there’s more in us and to us than we know. So, we gladly and gratefully welcome the invitation to join Him in His work and share the joys of His victories and miracles.

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Step Forward; Speak Up

Genesis 44:18   (NLT)   Then Judah stepped forward and said, “Please, my Lord, let your servant say just one word to you. Please, do not be angry with me, even though you are as powerful as Pharaoh himself.

At times the difference between good or bad, success and failure, life and death depends on whether we step forward or not, whether we speak up or not. Judah was about to lose another brother; as a result, he may have also lost his father. He wasn’t going to let that Genesis 44.18 - Step Forward, Speak Uphappen without trying to do something. He risked incurring the anger of the 2nd most powerful man on earth that time; he did it anyway. He stepped forward; he spoke up; he explained; he pleaded, and it dramatically changed what could have been a devastating continuation or conclusion of their story. His effort benefited him, and a lot more people—perhaps, an entire race of people.

There are so many great opportunities people allow to slip right through their fingers just because of not taking the step of faith, not opening their mouths. There’s a lot of wisdom in constraint; there’s wisdom in silence; it’s not necessary to always step forward and talk. There are dead heroes who could have been living heroes had they taken more precaution. But there is time and place for doing something.

There are worthy causes and reasons risking our lives for. It will take people of courage and conviction—people who recognize the value of what they are fighting for. It will take people of discernment, wisdom, and humility; they know who to approach; they know the people to talk to; they know the people who can help, and they know the people who can make a difference in their situation. These are people who act in faith—they believe that they need to do something, that they can do something, and that something can happen.

God knows how to bestow favor upon them. His Word clearly declares: He is pleased with faith and those who act on their faith.

Listen Well

Mark 4:24   (KJV)   24 And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given.

The measure of our understanding has very much to do with the measure of our hearing. The more intentional and sincere our listening is, the more understanding we Mark 4.24 - Listen Wellreceive. Understanding, discernment, illumination—all these are from our gracious God, but it’s not an encouragement to passivity or laziness; it’s an invitation to enjoyment of our undeserved participation in His wonderful works.

The principle is God-established; it does us well when we zealously take it to heart. To whom much is given, much is required. It’s a circular blessing and response design: the more we heed what we hear, the more understanding we’re given; the more understanding we have; the more we ought to hear. If we don’t use our gifts, we lose them; if we use them, God multiplies them; if we use them for God’s Kingdom, God multiplies them greatly.

Our God is omniscient; there’s no secret He’s not privy to. He’s never at lost as to any kind of information or knowledge. He knows exactly how to approach every situation. No problem’s too big that He can’t solve; no question’s too hard that He can’t answer; no situation is too messed up that He can’t find a solution for. He has the authority, the power, and the willingness to share with us a necessary slice of His infinite knowledge and wisdom. And it’s an awesome privilege to be honored recipients of such assuring and extremely important blessing.

 

The Golden Guide

Matthew 7:12  (KJV)   12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Many of us are aware that there are Ten Commandments. I’ve read that there are actually 613 commands in the Old Testament. That sounds quite right although I haven’t really counted them myself. The Lord summarized them into two: loving God and loving our neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39). How? The Lord summarized all possible love actions into this one rule. What an awesome guideline. No wonder it’s called “The Golden Rule.”

God delights in blessing His children. And He does, whether we deserve it or not. God is just naturally gracious. But He also delights in blessing us when we’re obedient. So, He gave His people all necessary instructions – detailed instructions. But, some well meaning people who wanted to make sure that every dot and tittle are obeyed added so many peripheral commands. What they intended for good turned out to be really bad; it weighted people down and caused alot of hypocritical, external obedience to the letter of the Law and missed the true spirit of the Law.

Jesus brought us back to the true essence of all His commands – minus men’s additional commentaries: love. And just in case people see love as a description of an emotional response and not action, He left us with a precise description of what we ought to do to live out love: the Golden Rule. Of course, we can be passive and avoid deliberately hurting others. That’s why we’ve heard of a seemingly similar saying: “Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do to you.” The drawback on this is to feed on people’s self-centered attitude in life and feel satisfaction in the fact that they’re not doing anything evil to others. True. Except that it also leads to not doing anything good to others.

Dear God of love and blessings, thank You for giving us clear direction as to how we can live the most wonderful life we can live – a life of love, obedience, and blessing. Please help us to do to others the good and beautiful things we desire for ourselves. We know that there are those who won’t necessarily reciprocate our godly actions, but it doesn’t matter; our blessings flow from You. I admit, there are times when we are very comfortable living in our own small personal world without thinking of others. We become just preoccupied with our own personal interests and affairs. Many of our present technological applications tend to increasingly promote self-centeredness and self-aggrandizement. We feed on our already bloated egos and feel really satisfied and happy with it. Everyone’s doing it so, well, I guess we’re “trending.” How sad.

We’ve become so comfortable with attitudes and habits that are diametrically opposed to Your admonitions. We’re not hurting others; it’s fun; people are happy – that’s why we get tricked and don’t see the dangers of slowly having our minds programmed to be focused on ourselves. Not only have we gotten comfortable of not being natural and deliberate in pursuing what’s good for You and for others, sadder still: we have become blind to You and the good people who are doing alot of good and wonderful things for us. We just enjoy receiving from them, and have grown calloused to the the Spirit’s promptings for us to reciprocate their display of love, care, and concern. We’ve become heartless and we don’t even know it. Of course, we easily find satisfaction and justification in the fact that we love people. Yes, selected people we are drawn to. But really?

Father, please forgive us. Awaken us to truly desire and deliberately be Your holy nation – a people belonging to You, separate from the world – it’s system and it’s “whitewashed” practices.