by Katherine Britton crosswalk.com
“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” – 1 Chronicles 29:14
While I was in elementary school, family friends made the decision to leave the States for Kiev, Ukraine. This family of seven, including children my age, had to downgrade from a four-bedroom suburban home to an 800 square foot flat. That meant getting rid of a house full of clothes, toys, yard tools, furniture, dishes – a whole host of personal preferences and “needs.” Each family member had the luxury of one big trunk as they moved halfway around the world.
For this family, however, the joy of sharing the Gospel in a former USSR satellite nation outweighed all their possessions. My dad asked his friend how he was handling the sudden “loss.” His answer was telling.
“Actually,” the new missionary responded, “this is the most freeing thing I’ve ever done.”
This family found a special freedom far before I began to sniff it out. For me, this reorientation is coming slowly, helped along recently by a little book called The Treasure Principle. In it, Randy Alcorn uses a science metaphor to explain why our friends felt unshackled rather than empty. He writes:
It’s a matter of basic physics. The greater the mass, the greater the hold that mass exerts. The more things we own—the greater their total mass the more they grip us, setting us in orbit around them. Finally, like a black hole, they suck us in.
Consider our materialism that way – the more stuff, the more mass. The more mass, the greater its gravitational pull. And the harder it is to escape.
Compare this to David’s exhilaration in 1 Chronicles. He is humbled not by how much God has blessed him with – but by how much God has allowed him to give away. The king of Israel, a center of the ancient world, found his joy not in the palaces and the women at his disposal, but in the act of returning to God was rightfully God’s. How many of us can say the same?
We live in a physical, material world. But we have the chance to defy its hold on us with every cent, toy, and “need” that comes our way. Are you ready?
1 Chronicles 28:12, 19 12He gave him the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind for the courts of the temple of the LORD and all the surrounding rooms, for the treasuries of the temple of God and for the treasuries for the dedicated things… 19“All this,” David said, “I have in writing from the hand of the LORD upon me, and he gave me understanding in all the details of the plan.”
There is a tendency to think God was more visible and directly involved in the Old Testament in more dramatic ways than in this age. As David was sharing the plans of the temple with Solomon, he told how he received the inspiration for the plan. He did not have a vision or experience autonomic writing. He did not have a vivid dream or travel in his spirit to heaven. The Spirit of God put it into his mind. The hand of the LORD was upon him and gave him understanding of the details.
The LORD often works with us in the same way. If (and that is a great big if) we are seeking Him and His will with all our heart and have been walking with Him for some time to learn discernment, the Spirit inspires our thoughts. As we walk with the hand of the LORD upon us, we will have Spirit inspired thoughts.
Thoughts come from one of three sources: attacks of the enemy, our own soul, or the Spirit of God. As we mature, we learn to discern the difference, and become more and more attentive and obedient to Spirit inspired thoughts and quick to reject the enemy’s temptations. When we pray, we will notice the thoughts of whom to pray for enter our mind. As we approach daily difficulties, we will notice solutions that we would never have come up with on our own. Be careful to give God all the credit and all the glory. That is what David was doing when he said, “He gave me understanding in all the details of the plan.” “I can’t take credit for one little detail. God inspired my thoughts.” We find the same experience today as we go about working on the temple with living stones.
Remember: Grab those God inspired thoughts and give Him all the glory when you see the good fruit.
Faith—Claiming Wonderful Grace
Scripture Reading — 2 Corinthians 12:1-10
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” — 2 Corinthians 12:9
A friend of ours was a gifted speaker with a bottomless well of humor. Quick-witted and fluent with words, he loved to speak. We loved to listen. It was delightful to know him.
But a stroke struck. He was left with only traces of the gifts he had known. Rehabilitation was long and arduous and limited in its results.
I visited this friend regularly. He eventually learned to speak again, but he had to force his words out. So his speech was loud—and delightful. It was full of grace. He didn’t like his losses, but he accepted his new reality with remarkable grace.
Every time I visited him, he would say, “The grace of God—wonderful though!” Why “wonderful though?” In spite of severe losses and crippling limitations, he knew he was blessed. God was gracious with him, caring for and loving him deeply. He accepted God’s grace, embracing it warmly. His life showed it. He bore the fruit of patience, kindness, goodness, love—even joy!
In him I saw the paradoxical truth that Paul discovered: “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. . . . For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Yes, our friend was now very weak, but in him I saw the power of Christ. In the Lord, he was strong!
The grace of God is indeed wonderful—and sufficient.
Lord, you promise sufficient grace. Thank you for all who show that grace in their lives. Give us the grace to accept your grace. Amen.
By: Charles Spurgeon
“And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said unto him, Come, and I will shew thee the man whom thou seekest. And when he came into her tent, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples.” Judges 4:22
Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 12:1-4
Rest not content till the blood of your enemy stains the ground, until he is crushed, and dead, and slain. Oh, sinner, I beseech you, never be content until grace reign in your heart, and sin is altogether subdued. Indeed, this is what every renewed soul longs for, and must long for, nor will it rest satisfied until all this shall be accomplished. There was a time when some of us thought we would slay our sins. We wanted to put them to death, and we thought we would drown them in floods of penitence. There was a time, too, when we thought we would starve our sins; we thought we would keep out of temptation, and not go and pander to our lusts, and then they would die; and some of us can recollect when we gagged our lusts, when we pinioned their arms, and put their feet in the stocks, and then thought that would deliver us. But brethren, all our ways of putting sin to death were not sufficient; we found the monster still alive, insatiate for his prey. We might rout his hired ruffians, but the monster was still our conqueror. We might put to flight our habits, but the nature of sin was still in us, and we could not overcome it. Yet did we groan and cry daily, “Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” It is a cry to which we are accustomed even at this day, and which we shall never cease to utter, till we can say of our sins, “They are gone,” and of the very nature of sin, that it has been extinguished, and that we are pure and holy even as when the first Adam came from his Maker’s hands.
For meditation: We should never underestimate the power of sin, but we can never overestimate the power of the Lord Jesus Christ to conquer sin. Sin may remain, but it need not reign (Romans 6:12).