Wednesday, April 18, 2012

“Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.” James 5:4

I put down my pen and highlighter and sobbed. The tears had been welling up and as I finished Bible study homework, they just began to flow out. I’m getting so much direction and conviction and guidance in this study of the book of James, it’s a little frightening, quite frankly.

The topic was hoarding, essentially. Focusing on James 5:4, I realize that injustice has many appearances. It has also taken up residence in my home. I can almost hear the cries of the overflow of abundance as it shouts for someone to use it as it was meant to be used.

Is your house this way, too?

What this study of Scripture screamed to me was: ENOUGH! Do something!

The packed closets and overflowing drawers are full of things that:
 1) we don’t need,
2) we don’t use, and
3) (probably the worst culprit) we don’t even realize we have!

The reality is, if I am blessed, it’s because God wants me to turn around and be a blessing to someone else. My family may not be wealthy, but in God’s economy, we have more than we need and we need to be generous with it.

I have a list in my head of the places in the house where we hoard. And after completing the study time, I happened to be in one of those places. The Holy Spirit settled into my heart strongly with the clear instruction – clean it out. So, I did. I filled two 13-gallon garbage bags with things like excess blankets, sheets, towels and other items that were doing nothing but collecting dust and cramming my shelves.  My daughter and I went right out and found a place to donate them. I don’t know who is going to get them, but I KNOW it will be someone who needs them.

You know what happened? I felt a load lift. I felt like I had, indeed, done what God had directed and that He was pleased. More important, I knew that someone else would be blessed and perhaps feel the Father’s love in a way they need. And, isn’t that what we’re supposed to do in this life?

There’s quite a few more cluttered spaces to plow through in my house, but I’m motivated. And now, the motivation is out of love. Because I can almost see a single mom getting household items she desperately needs. Or a child getting clothes that will bring a smile to their face. Or a woman getting an outfit that will be what she wears to the interview for the job she has been praying to find.

Putting action behind my faith. That is the message I’m learning.

Friday, April 6, 2012

“We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Luke 23:41

Hanging on a cross. Dying a slow, agonizing death. A death he actually deserved. A criminal. He knew his punishment was just. But also, this man realized who was next to him. He knew not only was Jesus being crucified without just cause, but He was who He said He was, the Son of God. In that moment, he repented, asking Jesus to remember him in His kingdom. He knew the only way he had any hope was complete belief and trust in Jesus.

In every way, that criminal is me. A life that is sinful and wicked. Condemned to a death I fully deserve. A death leaving me separate and apart from God. Knowing that nothing in my own doing will save me from my fate.

But Jesus.

On that day, next to that criminal was the Son of God. The perfect and living sacrifice for my sins, and yours. He took upon the punishment and separation that every one of us deserves. He died a death that was unfathomable. The physical brutality of it was bad enough. But the anguish of being separated from our Heavenly Father was even more painful. And yet, He willingly accepted it as full and complete payment for the sins of those who would believe in Him. 

This Good Friday, I am reflecting. I am pausing to concentrate on Jesus’ death because I need to remember just how enormous His sacrifice was. And, I need to remain thankful that He took my place. It is only by His grace and mercy that I am not condemned to the fate I deserve. 

My response? Sheer awe and amazement. And obedience to Him. I pray that I submit to His will every day. In the same manner that Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, I pray. “…yet not my will be done, but yours.” (Luke 22:42)