Good morning, everyone!
Let me just start by saying my office is colder than Sarah Palin's hometown of Wasilla, Alaska. If you need somewhere to hang raw meat, come on over.
I have a lot of studying to do for Sunday so I can't take a long time here, but I wanted to throw out a couple of thoughts.
One hit me as I was driving down Walnut Ave. last week. A reality dawned on me that I thought might be a broader spiritual principle that applies to others also.
The Count family budget is very, very tight right now. Tighter than it's been in a long time thanks to a couple things. 1. The Pool. (I know you feel reaaallly bad for me right now, don't you?) 2. Amy's change from a salary job, to 100% commission.
As I was driving down Walnut, I was lifting this up to God and praying for Him to supply our needs. Not overly stressed, just relying on Him to get us through - and then it hit me: I couldn't remember the last time I had done that. There hadn't been a need to pray for that because paying our bills hadn't been a problem.
That led me to ask myself a question - Was I really depending upon God when I had more than enough in the same way that I was depending upon Him now? Who was I really trusting in for my daily bread? Was it God or my salary?
In my life, I've found that when I have more than enough I become self-reliant and less God-reliant. The urgency of the need for God's provision isn't there. I hit cruise control and I enjoy the ride. On the other hand, need brings me to my knees and therefore, to God.
It's funny, isn't it, that we try to get to the point where we are comfortable financially and yet that very thing might create distance between us and Him. Is it any wonder that God has to yank everything out from under us from time to time so that we don't forget who we are to depend upon?
And, silly us, as soon as we are knocked down from the top of Sunshine Mountain, we're trying to figure out how to get back up there - even though we might never be as close to Jesus as we were at the bottom.
I consider myself a lot like the rich young ruler. Jesus told him what He should do: Sell everything he had and give it to the poor.* He gave him the opportunity to voluntarily lay it down. Unfortunately, the guy just couldn't do it.
Everyday, each one of us can look around and see ways that we could voluntarily lay it down for Jesus - but the pull of materialism and self-preservation is just too strong. We can't do it. And so God, in His mercy, takes it away from time to time so that we will remember to rely on Him (and probably a host of other reasons).
I have less money right now than I have had in a long time, but ironically, I am more aware of how blessed I am than I was before. Praise God for His superior ways and wisdom!
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
(Philippians 4:11-13 NLT)
I don't think Paul is asking us to pat him on the back because he was able to be content when he had plenty. It's the fact that even when he had plenty, he knew it was a temporary thing. He knew he would face more times of need and perhaps that is what enabled him to be so spiritually minded and so close to Christ - he was never that far away from needing to totally rely on Jesus just to survive.
The blessing is needing Jesus and Him providing what we need. I wonder if we miss out on that blessing because we never really need anything.
Just a thought...
*incidentally, Jewish scholars don't believe that Jesus was saying that everyone should sell everything and give it to the poor, but he knew it was specifically what the rich young ruler needed to do because of his attachment to his money.
Song of the Week
Just to drive last Sunday's sermon home. I thought about using it in the service, but it seems like we are always short on time.
It's by one of the runner ups from American Idol, either last year, or the year before.
Some people think we could be twins.