The Good and Perfect Gift

 

Hey, Where’d You Get That?

From: Get More strength

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father” James 1:17

One of my favorite classical works of music is The Creation. But what I like even more than the stirring sounds and moving lyrics is the attitude of composer.

It was the year 1808, and the last note sounded as the symphony’s performance came to a close. Applause thundered through the auditorium in honor of one of the greatest composers of all time, Franz Joseph Haydn. The piece that had been performed was called The Creation. Haydn had written it to glorify God, by telling the Genesis story of creation through music. Audiences all over Europe adored it. And that night, he responded to the crowd’s ovation by pointing upward and exclaiming, “No, No! Not from me, but from thence! From heaven above comes all!”

At that same concert, Haydn’s contemporary Ludwig van Beethoven is said to have knelt and kissed Haydn’s hands in an act of honor. Praised by other great composers of his time and admired by the public as well, he was heaped with fame and adoration. Still, he refused to become prideful of the music God had created through Him. He knew from where it had come.

For sure, not many of us will be musical geniuses like Haydn. But God has given all of us talents and abilities. Some of us have exceptional people skills; some have what it takes to crunch numbers with precision. Others might be able to cook, write prose and poetry, or repair the transmission on a car. These gifts from God are the result of the way He created us—in His image. God is infinitely talented and able to do anything! Being made in “His image” means we have been given gifts from Him to accomplish good things and to contribute to our world.

But here’s the rub. If we’re not careful, the stealth enemy of pride will whisper to you that you are the one who deserves the credit. There is something really seductive about applause and affirmation. Giving the credit to others is not an easy thing to do. But in the end, who would you rather have people admire—you or your God? And even if you are tempted to honestly admit that you’d kinda like it to be you—upon further reflection, my guess is that you really don’t want to go there. And you shouldn’t. Competing with Him for the applause, especially when He deserves it all, is not a good idea. Particularly when we read that, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).

firstfruits

From: Our Daily Journey

 


And now, O LORD, I have brought you the first portion of the harvest you have given me from the ground (Deuteronomy 26:10)

Read Deuteronomy 16:10-12and find out what it means for you to celebrate the Festival of Harvest.

How do you honor God with the firstfruits of your harvest today? What does it mean for you to bring your best to God?

John started his new job. When he got his first check at the end of the month, he wanted to celebrate by buying my lunch for me. During our meal, he told me that his first paycheck was his “firstfruits.” With a grateful heart, he wanted to give a significant portion of it back to God.

Moses repeatedly reminded the Jews that God was their Deliverer, the Giver of their land, and the Provider of their material blessings (Deuteronomy 26:1,3,7-10). As God blessed them materially, they were reminded to do four things:

First, they were to return to God “some of the first produce from each crop [they harvested]” (Deuteronomy 26:2). This gift was their personal act of thanksgiving, acknowledging that God was their Provider (Deuteronomy 26:3-4). It was also their public act of worship, as they placed the offering on the altar (Deuteronomy 26:4), “[bowing] to the ground in worship before Him” (Deuteronomy 26:10).

Second, they were to tell the story of their redemption. They were nobodies, nomads, and slaves. But God made them into a great nation and gave them a land to call their own, a land of plenty (Deuteronomy 26:5-9).

Third, they were to celebrate, rejoice, and enjoy the good things God had given to them (Deuteronomy 26:11). God wanted them to enjoy it all: “Rejoice . . . because the LORD your God has blessed you” (Deuteronomy 12:7).

Finally, they were to be generous and share their material blessings with the poor (Deuteronomy 26:12-13). Knowing their selfish hearts (Deuteronomy 15:11), Moses reminded them to “remember to include the Levites and the foreigners living among you in the celebration” (Deuteronomy 26:11).

God has given us plenty of things to enjoy, and to share. We also have a story of redemption to tell—proclaiming who our God is, how great and good, gracious and generous He is.

Are You Listening to God?

From: My Utmost For HIs Highest

They said to Moses, ’You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die’ `—Exodus 20:19

We don’t consciously and deliberately disobey God— we simply don’t listen to Him. God has given His commands to us, but we pay no attention to them— not because of willful disobedience, but because we do not truly love and respect Him. “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Once we realize we have constantly been showing disrespect to God, we will be filled with shame and humiliation for ignoring Him.

“You speak with us, . . . but let not God speak with us . . . .” We show how little love we have for God by preferring to listen to His servants rather than to Him. We like to listen to personal testimonies, but we don’t want God Himself to speak to us. Why are we so terrified for God to speak to us? It is because we know that when God speaks we must either do what He asks or tell Him we will not obey. But if it is simply one of God’s servants speaking to us, we feel obedience is optional, not imperative. We respond by saying, “Well, that’s only your own idea, even though I don’t deny that what you said is probably God’s truth.”

Am I constantly humiliating God by ignoring Him, while He lovingly continues to treat me as His child? Once I finally do hear Him, the humiliation I have heaped on Him returns to me. My response then becomes, “Lord, why was I so insensitive and obstinate?” This is always the result once we hear God. But our real delight in finally hearing Him is tempered with the shame we feel for having taken so long to do so.

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