Daniel: Overwhelmed Then Strengthened

We have been camped out in Daniel 10 for a few days as we continue to harvest some great concepts from the text.

As we have seen in Daniel 10, Daniel was fasting, mourning and seeking God’s help for 3 weeks. God will send Daniel answers and comfort, but we will see that God brings a powerful vision that completely zaps the strength from Daniel until he is face down and unable to talk.

When the divine messenger came to Daniel, Daniel was not immediately strengthened and comforted. What happened first? Daniel was overwhelmed by the visions, the mere presence, and the powerful voice of this being. The men who were with Daniel did not see the vision, but just the mere presence of this being brought trembling to those men to where they had to run and hide (verse 7)!

When Daniel saw the vision of this heavenly being (which may be Jesus here, not an angel):

(8) So I was left alone and saw this great vision, and no strength was left in me. My radiant appearance was fearfully changed, and I retained no strength.

As this being spoke to Daniel, here was the initial effect:

(9) Then I heard the sound of his words, and as I heard the sound of his words, I fell on my face in deep sleep with my face to the ground.

So, Daniel started out mourning, fasting and praying. He then sees the vision and is completely drained of all his strength. As the words of this spiritual being are spoken, Daniel goes into a trance-like state.

Then this heavenly messenger touched Daniel, but Daniel is still trembling.

(10) And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees.

Do you see how God is overwhelming Daniel with His power, His presence and His voice? Then and only then, does God lift Daniel up to comfort and strengthen him! This is so awesome, and this is how God works with us all, even if not through a miraculous vision. God wants us to be completely humbled, overwhelmed and in awe of His majesty, so that we can truly be lifted up by His strength.

Here comes the comfort to Daniel by this spiritual messenger.

(11) And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling.

(12) Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words.

The words of this heavenly being silenced Daniel’s words and took the last bit of energy and strength from Daniel’s body:

(15) When he had spoken to me according to these words, I turned my face toward the ground and was mute.

(16) And behold, one in the likeness of the children of man touched my lips. Then I opened my mouth and spoke. I said to him who stood before me, “O my lord, by reason of the vision pains have come upon me, and I retain no strength.”

This is where God wants everyone of us so that we can be filled with His strength and holiness. Look at the question that Daniel asked in verse 17, and ponder it. This is so true. How can we talk with our Lord unless He gives us the strength to do so?

(17) How can my lord’s servant talk with my lord? For now no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.”

Once again, we see the comfort from the touch and words of a divine being:

(18) Again one having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me.

(19) And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”

If we want God to speak to us, do you know what He is going to tell us? Well, in the next two verses we will see the answer. God will only tell us the truth!

(20) Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? But now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia; and when I go out, behold, the prince of Greece will come.

(21) But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince.

God’s Voice and the Storm

But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
(Mark 4:38-41)

Here is a song to listen to today, called Oceans. Very encouraging.

God’s Voice and the Storm

It is no wonder that these Jewish men were wondering “who” Jesus was! God’s power over the waters, winds and storms is evident throughout Scripture (Genesis 6:17; Exodus 14; Joshua 3; Psalm 29:3,10; 65:7; 89:9; 93:3-4; 104:6-9; 107:29; 148:8; Proverbs 8:29; Job 38:8-11,25; Jeremiah 5:22; Nahum 1:4). When Jesus woke up and “rebuked” the wind and told the sea to be calm, it immediately obeyed His voice. Only God has that power.

Read Psalm 29 about the voice of God. Think about Jesus as you read this, but also think about the “storms, winds and floods” in your life. Where is our faith? We are in the boat with the God of the Storm.

Psalm 29:1-11

A Psalm of David. Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. (2) Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness. (3) The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters. (4) The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. (5) The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon. (6) He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox. (7) The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire. (8) The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. (9) The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare, and in his temple all cry, “Glory!” (10) The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever. (11) May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!

Jesus rebuked the wind (Mark 4:39). He also rebuked the fever in Peter’s mother-in-law (Luke 4:39), he rebuked unclean spirits (Mark 9:25). Peter tried to rebuke Jesus and Jesus turned around and rebuked Peter (Mark 8:32-33). After His resurrection, Jesus rebuked his disciples for their unbelief (Mark 16:14). When James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven upon the Samaritans, Jesus rebuked them (Luke 9:55). There is authority and great power in the rebuke of Jesus. Let’s let Him rebuke our storms and winds.

The Power of Envy

Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up.
(Matthew 27:15-18)

An innocent young man, Joseph, was sold into slavery by his brothers because of envy (Genesis 37; Acts 7:9). King Saul tried to kill righteous David because of envy (1 Samuel 18:7-11). The Jewish leadership persecuted the apostles because of envy (Acts 5:17). Because of envy, the Jews in the Galatian region contradicted everything Paul was trying to preach. They were envious of the grace and attention being given to the Gentiles (Acts 13:45).

Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?
(Proverbs 27:4)

Who can stand before jealousy? Great question. Look at how the people, including the Jewish leadership, treated Jesus because of envy. He was innocent, righteous, holy, and he did nothing but good for others. Jesus would be the safest person in your community. Yet, whom did they choose to release back into their midst? A “notorious” criminal, Barabbas, who was a murderer and a thief. These people had absolutely lost their ability to reason because of envy and blind rage.

I will write more about this later, but this is something for us to ponder. What can jealousy do within our hearts? Where will it lead? How will it hurt others? You don’t have to look any further than what happened to Jesus because of jealousy.

Who Can Stand Before His Cold?

He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes. He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold? He sends out his word, and melts them; he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
(Psalm 147:15-18)

A majority of the nation is dealing with some really cold temperatures right now. Here at home we are expecting a high of -3 degrees tomorrow. Crazy cold, but I know other places are much colder. I’m not much of a winter fan, but the snow sure is pretty today and it was so beautiful watching it fall last night.

I found this verse today that talks about the winter and God. God brings the winter and He takes it away. He gives the snow and hurls down crystals of ice and then He melts it all in spring. Snow is a gift from God intended to refresh the soul and water the earth (Psalm 148:8; Proverbs 25:13; Isaiah 55:10).

But what struck me is this question, “Who can stand before His cold?”

The question is nobody. Even the toughest people with the warmest gear will eventually get to a place where they can’t take any more cold and they have to warm up. In temperatures like this, frostbite occurs very quickly.

This concept reminds me of what our congregation was just studying in the book of Job. God paraded all of nature before Job, including His greatest, most magnificent creatures. The questions to Job were something like, “Can you do this?”, or “Can you stand before this?”

As we brave the cold and endure the harsh winds and drive over ice and snow, we can be reminded that God is the one who rules the winter. We are in His hands. Just like we cannot stand before the winter, we cannot stand before God. That is of course unless we have Jesus and His blood to help us stand before Him. Which leads to another thought.

God’s forgiveness is also compared to snow.

  • Psalm 51:7 – Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
  • Isaiah 1:18 – “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

God’s holiness and appearance is compared to the whiteness of snow.

Think about what it is like when you have a blanket of snow on the ground and a very sunny day. What do you need? Sunglasses! That’s the image of God’s presence presented to us in Scripture.

  • Daniel 7:9 – As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire.
  • Matthew 28:3 – His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.
  • Revelation 1:14 – The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire…

Here is one final thought. Last night my neighbor came over and plowed our driveway. After he was finished, we were talking, and I said, “Listen…isn’t that amazing as to how much quieter it is when it is snowing?” It is really awesome to think about the quieting effect of a fresh blanket of snow. Here’s an article that explains why it is quieter when it snows. God’s presence also is to have a calming, quieting effect upon our lives (Psalm 131:1-3).

Well, that’s it. Enough about snow and cold for now!

Fear

This week, I would like us to take some time and consider one word…”fear”.  I think this is a good word for men to take a good hard look at…especially in our relationships and lives.  If we are truly honest with ourselves, we are going to find fear.

I am not talking about the healthy fear we have in our lives in which we use our God-given senses to be careful and make good judgement in avoiding hazardous situations.  Fear, for this discussion, is more in line with insecurity.  That takes on a whole different meaning and deals more about where we put our security and when others somehow (whether real or perceived) threaten us

So where do find fear or insecurity?  I submit a good place to find it in our relationships is by looking at when we get mad.

Why when we are mad?  Because I believe that fear or insecurity is a root of our anger.  It isn’t necessarily “the root” but is certainly a root…along with hurt, confusion, a whole lot of other things.  This is certainly true with my wife, my children, at work and even with the brethren.   There is a lot at stake in these relationships and sometimes there are a lot of things going on and some of them I do not understand and cannot control.  This brings fear…and my fear manifests itself in anger.  So with my teenage son (who by the way needs a father who is looking to be like The Father), instead of screaming “I am scared to death you are going to succumb to peer pressure and make a bad judgment and hurt yourself or someone else”…I just yell!  I go on the attack.  I put myself “back in control” and make a mess of it.  I pick something easy and start yelling and man can I get on a roll and oh boy the aftermath of hurt feelings can take days to unravel and repair…if at all.  But in the end…I blew it.

I got mad because I was scared and what I should have done was taken a breath, admitted my fear, and talked rationally about it with the mini-me standing in front of me.  I have done it a whole lot of times too…even after I learned some of the lessons I am sharing here.  Still, I am thankful that my God loves me and is patient with me…because He is the reason I can be better and not let fear dictate my life and how I live it.

So be reminded with me of God’s position in our lives and ability to take away our fear and replace it with love, forgiveness, grace, mercy, long-suffering.  Paul reminds Timothy and let us be reminded too:  “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  (2 Timothy 1:7; NKJV)

The reason that is true…that we shouldn’t have a spirit of fear but of power and of love…is because we serve a Living God and He is our Abba Father hearing and answering our prayers according to our good.  In Psalm 61:1-4 David teaches us that we should call out to Him and in doing so we can have power and not fear.

But it isn’t always that easy.  What is easy though…is opening God’s book and learning what He has to say about fear.  Start there…look for that word along with afraid and see what He teaches you.  It will give you power and will give you a sense of being loved so you can love.  And it will help you deal with your fear properly…but boldly going to His throne of grace and shedding it at His feet while asking for Him to help and trust that He will.  This is such glorious blessing and brings such a relief to the heart.  You will find the strength to not fear and in that understand that God is with you in all your relationships so you don’t have to be afraid and hopefully will reduce the amount of time you spend angry.  Let’s look at that more closely this week…but for now consider these verses and start asking yourself “What am I afraid of?” or “Am I mad because I’m scared?” or “Why am I carrying this fear around all alone?  Why don’t I give it to God?  Why don’t I find a brother to help me?”

Let’s start there and see what we can learn about ourselves this week as it pertains to fear as we work to face fear in our lives, to find out what is really going on, and to figure out we need to do to be free of it.  We’ll learn and relearn together to search out and to find safety and power and love in our Heavenly Father, His Son, His Spirit, and His Word.

James’ Words for the Rich and Powerful

Today’s words come from the book of James, and the focus is those who have power and possessions. There are some blunt words and clear warnings given by James to those with the funds and the status.

Read these words of wisdom and reflect on what God has to say to those of us in positions of authority. What is God saying to us when we have the blessings of material goods in our lives? Authority and money are great tools and wonderful blessings that can be used for God’s glory; they don’t have to be used like most people use them (abuse them).

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
(James 1:9-11)

The rich man must remember that all those “pursuits” will fade away. Use them, enjoy them and share them, but remember they are all going to perish.

Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
(James 2:5-7)

Being affluent doesn’t mean anything to God when it comes to salvation. In fact many times it gets in the way, because the rich often are too proud and self-sufficient to see a need for salvation. We may be rich in funds, but we must become poor in spirit.

For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
(James 2:13-17)

One of the very reasons we work and get wages is to have funds to help others in need (Ephesians 4:28). If you have this world’s goods, remember to look around for those who are lacking those goods, and share your blessings with them. Don’t do it out of guilt, do it out of gratitude. Show your faith by how you use your cash.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”–yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
(James 4:13-17)

Plans and life itself all change in a millisecond. James bluntly calls us arrogant when we make all our plans without regard for God, His will, or the brevity of life.  Are you doing the Lord’s will today? Tomorrow may not arrive.

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.
(James 5:1-6)

Finally, God pays attention and knows very well who is being oppressed and abused. Those who use authority, status and money to hurt other people will be judged by a holy and just God. If the workers cannot cry out to their bosses for mercy, they can certainly cry out to God for mercy and He will hear them. Use your power, status and money to be a protector and provider of others. You know it shouldn’t have taken unions, lawsuits and riots to force businesses to do the right thing for the workers. If those who are running businesses and managing employees would honor God and read James, then they would naturally work to create a safe working environment and pay fair wages.

Getting a Brain Lock

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
(2 Corinthians 10:5)

We’re told here by the apostle Paul that we are to bring every thought captive in order to obey Christ. But we know that our mind can really go downhill in a hurry. Someone just gets under our skin, and we just can’t let it go. It affects how we treat that person, just like Joseph’s brothers got to a point where they could not speak peaceably to him (Genesis 37:4). Then how we treat others is affected because we are really upset at someone else (Heb. 12:15). I’ve heard the expression, “I’m so mad I can’t see straight.” That’s exactly right.

So, what are we to do when our brain gets locked on something negative? What I mean is someone at work did something that bothers or irritates you and you just can’t seem to get your focus off it. Or you have perceived that your spouse was insensitive to your needs and you just can’t let it go. It ruins the whole day and puts everyone in a sour mood. Or maybe you are on a sports team and the referee makes a bad call. It just seems to overwhelm your thinking and you go into a mental downward spiral. I’m sure we’ve all been there at some point.

How do we resurrection ourselves when our brain gets focused on something that really bothers us?

Recognize the source. We have to recognize that this is one of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). The wrath of man doesn’t produce the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20); instead, we become instruments of the Devil to do his bidding. Sinful thoughts lead to more sin (Matthew 15:19).

No excuses. God has told man from the beginning that we have the power to control our thinking and we can harness and redirect our emotions (Genesis 4:6-7; Jeremiah 4:14). Cain hated his brother and was very angry, and God told Cain to “rule over” his anger. Again, no excuses, no blame-shifting.

Take a moment. Even Jesus went out to the mountain to pray. Jesus had time alone with God. You may have to take a minute to yourself, go out and cool down. There is a time to speak and a time to BE SILENT. You may have to tell those around you that you need a few minutes to yourself and think things through. It may be that the more you talk the more you make a mess of things, so it would be best to be silent and chill for a bit. This is not the silent treatment, this is taking a few minutes of silence so you can later give the right treatment.

Meditate on these things. Read Philippians 4:8. I’m not saying this is a quick fix, but when our brain is at DEFCON 1, you need a go-to-place for your mind. Passages like Philippians 4:8 are Holy Spirit-given guides to tell you WHAT to think about. Imagine if you took a few minutes to thank God for 50 amazing things about your wife instead of getting OCD about the one thing that ticks you off? And, what really upsets you may not have even been a good reason to be upset in the first place!

Talk it through. In the multitude of counselors there is safety (Proverbs 11:14). Walking through it with a wise, godly older person will help you see that you were really silly in being so upset about this. Or even if you do have a good reason to be upset, that wise person can give you the calm guidance to work through it.

Learn to see it coming next time. A wise man sees danger and hides himself (Proverbs 22:3). With wisdom and experience should come the ability to see the warning signs that your brain is going down the wrong road. God knows the inclination of our hearts and he wants us to warn ourselves of attitude problems that may come up (for example see Deuteronomy 15:9). Daniel knew what kinds of things he would be asked to do in Babylon, and he prepared his mind on what to do beforehand (Daniel 1:8).

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
(Isaiah 55:6-7)

Slow to Anger, Great in Power

An oracle concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum of Elkosh. The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies. The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebukes the sea and makes it dry; he dries up all the rivers; Bashan and Carmel wither; the bloom of Lebanon withers. The mountains quake before him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it. Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him. The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. But with an overflowing flood he will make a complete end of the adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into darkness. What do you plot against the LORD? He will make a complete end; trouble will not rise up a second time.
(Nahum 1:1-9)

We were studying the book of Nahum last night in our Bible class. Nahum was sent to pronounce the final judgment upon Nineveh and Assyria. Jonah had been sent around 100 years prior to this, and the people of Nineveh repented. However, they have gone back into their violent and wicked ways. God was slow to anger, but now there is no remedy. He will come at them with an overwhelming flood of judgment and punishment.

The phrase I want to focus on for just a moment is that God is “slow to anger but great in power.” A question that was posed last night in class was, “What if God was fast to anger and great in power?” We all agreed that there wouldn’t be much left of us and it wouldn’t take long for God to do it. He would snuff us out in a hurry.

Look at the passage above. Nahum asks, “Who can stand before His indignation? Who can endure the heat of His anger?” When God is full of wrath, there is no place to hide nor any shelter strong enough to withstand the blast (except the shelter of the blood of Jesus, of course). “His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken in pieces by Him,” Nahum added.

Are you great in power? What I mean is, are you in authority over people? At work? At home? In organizations? How about in the church? What do you do with that authority and power? Do you run rough shod over people? Are you quick to anger, or are you slow to anger like God is? Is your wrath poured out quickly and instantly known by others (Proverbs 12:!6)? Are people around you intimidated and scared to set you off? Do others walk on egg shells around you because of your hair-trigger temper?

God is great in power, but slow to anger. He has the power to do whatever he wants to you and me, but His lovingkindness governs His power. Have you ever driven a truck that had a governor set where you couldn’t go over a certain speed? I think we need something like that with our anger and all our passions and emotions. What regulates my power and strength? Does God’s love, mercy and kindness rule my authority so that I do not take advantage of those who are accountable to me?

The people under your authority may not be able to escape. They have to endure that anger and face those blasts of wrath because they have to keep coming to work everyday or they have to live with you everyday. When you go off on a rant, they may have to just stay there and take it. But that isn’t fair to them is it? Should they have to endure that kind of abuse because you can’t control your temper?

If you are that person who has that kind of anger issue, please work with God to get to the root of the problem. Sit down with wise, godly people who can help you work through your anger and give you the tools to control that anger and put it in its proper place. It will take humility to admit you have a problem, and even more humility to seek out help to work through it.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
(James 1:19-22)

How Can I Keep from Singing?

The point I am considering today and invite you to consider is that of contentment and joyful living and how that makes a huge difference in the lives of those we come in contact with each day.

One of the Shepherds at South Macomb Church of Christ once said to me… “God didn’t promise a smooth flight…He promised a safe landing.” The comment was made in reference to fact this world is tough, our lives will be tough, difficult circumstances will present themselves…BUT…if we cling to our God and Father through our Elder Brother and Savior Jesus Christ…we will one day make it home to be with God forever. That home has no tears, no fears, no sin, no death, no confusion and the list goes on. It is a perfect rest in the place God always intended for us to be…in His presence, in His family, forever.

Though we are not home yet…God is all around us! His glory and power are screaming at us…but we don’t always see it because of all the noise and confusion and suffering in the world. But He is there and if we look, and we consider Him and His promises…how can we not be filled with joy and peace? And if we are filled with this how can we not love and live in such a way that is different and makes those around us take notice? And how powerful is that opportunity when someone asks “How can you be so at peace or so joyful or so loving and so hopeful in a time or place like this?”? That is when the power and love of God that fills us pours out and makes a difference in the world.

Fill yourself up with Him to the point it overflows and others will notice and opportunity will arise for the Gospel. We sow the seed…the increase belongs to God. Go about your day singing and you will be different and you will have opportunity for Christ and in that God will be glorified.

I love you all and appreciate the work you do for the sake of Christ in your homes, in the Church, in the workplace and throughout your everyday experiences. May a song of Jesus fill your heart today and the spill over into the lives of others.

Can I Give God Something That Isn’t His Already?

We are studying the subject of giving in our adult Bible class. I’ve been thinking about a question, “Can I give God something that isn’t His already?” I have heard myself and others say often that everything we give to God is already His. We are giving Him “a portion of that with which He has richly blessed us.”

It is true that everything is God’s including all people (Psalm 24:1). The “cattle on a thousand hills” are His (Psalm 50:11). He is not worshiped with men’s hands, because He doesn’t need anything (Acts 17:25). Giving is not about “appeasing the gods” like in other religions. God doesn’t need our stuff to survive.

Giving is about the will…MY will

God gave to me my own free will. It is mine. I can offer to the Lord, or I can keep it to myself. Even Jesus demonstrated in the Garden of Gethsemane that He had His own will. He offered that will as a sacrifice to glorify His Father. “Not My will, but Yours be done” (Mark 14:36). Jesus said once that His “food” was to do the will of His Father (John 4:34; see also John 5:30; 6:38-39).

When the 24 elders fell before the throne of God in heaven, they said:

“You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created” (Revelation 4:11).

Think about that statement. God is “worthy” to receive glory and honor and power. Wait a minute…He is God, right? Doesn’t He have all of that stuff already?

He does not “receive” that from most of humanity, does He? He is worthy enough to receive it for sure, but the fact remains that He does not receive it. Jesus healed 10 lepers, only one came back to say, “Thank you” (Luke 17:17). Do I give God the honor, or do I keep it for myself? Is God glorified by every cell in my body, or do I keep the glory for me? Does God receive the power over my life? Am I sacrificing my will to give Him full control?

“Your will be done on earth…” (Matthew 6:10)

Being thankful is a sacrifice, because it involves my will (Psalm 50:14,15,23). Praising God is also a sacrifice for the same reason (Hebrews 13:15). Our favorite subject is ourselves…just look at social media. We love to talk about ourselves. Taking time to thank and praise someone else takes away the spotlight from us.

You see, you can offer God millions of dollars and offer Him lots of religious time, but have you given Him the one thing that is yours…your will? Jesus said that in order to truly follow Him, we must “deny” ourselves (Matthew 16). Again, that involves your will, the one thing God gave to you that is yours. Will you offer it to Him freely?