We Are Surrounded By God’s Favor

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Returning a Favor

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When I moved into my home in 1977, I salvaged an old table my father was discarding. Our family grew from four to seven around that table.

Then we shrank. When their father departed, we were six.

The years began to show on the table. One of its legs began to wobble. Without warning, it would collapse to the floor leaving all the work for the other three legs. We would laugh. But after a while, one of us found the falling leg not so funny.

When my youngest son was eight years old, he found a hammer and some very long nails and played carpenter. He reattached the errant piece, permanently joining it to the table. The repair was effective, but not pretty.

A few years later, I got a “new” dining room table—also recycled. This table was better. It expanded. And our family was expanding. I had remarried. Some of the children had grown and married and had children of their own.

So the table could be small for everyday dinners, and it could be large for family celebrations. Plus, it was reliable–for a time. Then one of its legs turned mutinous too.

This time, my husband Paul played carpenter, and unless you peeked underneath, you didn’t know the difference.

But our family continued to expand. Eventually, even our stretched out table was too small. Our range of motion became cramped. From fork to plate, to mouth and back. We yearned for extra room for side dishes and elbows.

So last year, Paul and I bought a new table. An Amish carpenter constructed it.

This table is even more expandable than the last one. And it’s rectangular rather than oval. Now we have room for baked corn, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, and a host of elbows.

The table was ready just in time for Thanksgiving.

But in order to use your furniture, you first must get it into the house.

Paul heaved and I pushed. But even in its smallest state, the table was too wide for our front door. It would have to come in through the back door. To accomplish that, we would have to hoist the table over the back rail deck. And that seemed impossible unless we could get someone else to help.

The best candidate seemed like the young man who had just moved in next door. He seemed strong and he was home.

As Providence would have it, he is a mover by trade. God had placed the perfect workman right next to us.

Moreover, there are many workmen with you, stonecutters and masons of stone and carpenters, and all men who are skillful in every kind of work. (1 Chronicles 22:15 NASB95)

All we had to do was ask.

The old table went out the back door and the new table came in.

We had planned to put the old table on the sidewalk with a “Free” sign on it. But Paul found out that this very neighbor and his wife had no table. Now they do. We would never have known their need if we had not asked for his help.

So I’m thankful for my new table. I’m thankful for the craftsman who made a table with legs unlikely to wobble in my lifetime. I’m thankful for the help of a neighbor and that we could help him in return.

I’m thankful for all the elbows to occupy our table this holiday and those we hope will arrive in coming years.

Most of all, I’m thankful for the Master Carpenter who places us in each other’s lives and gives us opportunities to help each other.

Give thanks to the God of heaven,
 For His lovingkindness is everlasting. (Psalm 136:26 NASB95)

Today’s Devotions

Morning

November 20

Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 1Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. 2Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.

When we gather together for corporate worship, we need to be especially conscious of what we are saying. Modern worship services often focus on one preacher. How important it is that his words be clear and to the point! If there is humor, it needs to be applicable and appropriate. Better a short sermon that is anointed than a long winded one with many rabbit trails. We need to leave with the clear message ringing in our hearts. Anything that distracts from that should be avoided. C. S. Spurgeon once said that the ground behind the pulpit was holy ground, and that one should take his shoes off before standing there.

We can be easily moved by emotion and the appeal of the sermon to make a vow to God. This passage warns us not to be hasty in our hearts to utter anything before God. Be sure that it is at the direction of the Holy Spirit and that you have counted the cost before making commitments to God. To make a vow to the Almighty is a serious thing. When God promises something to you, you can count on it coming to pass. We are to be like Him, faithful to our word. Use caution not to fill the air with words just to avoid silence. God often speaks to us in the silence.

When you come together to worship, come to hear the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart. Expect Him to meet you there. Take what He has said seriously. Take it with you through the week and determine how God would have you respond. Count the cost and then make the commitment.

Consider: What steps can I take to remember and cling to the Spirit’s direction?

Streams in the Desert – November 20

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Blessed is he that waiteth (Dan. 12:12).

It may seem an easy thing to wait, but it is one of the postures which a Christian soldier learns not without years of teaching. Marching and quick-marching are much easier to God’s warriors than standing still.

There are hours of perplexity when the most willing spirit, anxiously desirous to serve the Lord, knows not what part to take. Then what shall it do? Vex itself by despair? Fly back in cowardice, turn to the right hand in fear, or rush forward in presumption?

No, but simply wait. Wait in prayer, however. Call upon God and spread the case before Him; tell Him your difficulty, and plead His promise of aid.

Wait in faith. Express your unstaggering confidence in Him. Believe that if He keep you tarrying even till midnight, yet He will come at the right time; the vision shall come, and shall not tarry.

Wait in quiet patience. Never murmur against the second cause, as the children of Israel did against Moses. Accept the case as it is, and put it as it stands, simply and with your whole heart, without any self-will, into the hand of your covenant God, saying, “Now, Lord, not my will, but Thine be done. I know not what to do; I am brought to extremities; but I will wait until Thou shalt cleave the floods, or drive back my foes. I will wait, if Thou keep me many a day, for my heart is fixed upon Thee alone, O God, and my spirit waiteth for Thee in full conviction that Thou wilt yet be my joy and my salvation, my refuge and my strong tower.”
Morning by Morning

Man’s ruin and God’s remedy

By: Charles Spurgeon

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.” Numbers 21:8

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 23:1-5

Christ’s redemption was so plenteous, that had God willed it, if all the stars of heaven had been peopled with sinners, Christ need not have suffered another pang to redeem them all—there was a boundless value in his precious blood. And, sinner, if there were so much as this, surely there is enough for thee. And then again, if thou art not satisfied with Christ’s sin-offering, just think a moment; God is satisfied, God the Father is content, and must not thou be? The Judge saith, “I am satisfied; let the sinner go free, for I have punished the Surety in his stead;” and if the Judge is satisfied, surely the criminal may be. Oh! Come, poor sinner, come and see; if there is enough to appease the wrath of God there must be enough to answer all the requirements of man. “Nay, nay,” saith one, “but my sin is such a terrible one that I cannot see in the substitution of Christ that which is like to meet it.” What is thy sin? “Blasphemy.” Why, Christ died for blasphemy: this was the very charge which man imputed to him, and therefore you may be quite sure that God laid it on him if men did. “Nay, nay,” saith one, “but I have been worse than that; I have been a liar.” It is just what men said of him. They declared that he lied when he said, “If this temple be destroyed I will build it in three days.” See in Christ a liar’s Saviour as well as a blasphemer’s Saviour. “But,” says one, “I have been in league with Beelzebub.” Just what they said of Christ. They said that he cast out devils through Beelzebub. So man laid that sin on him, and man did unwittingly what God would have him do. I tell thee, even that sin was laid on Christ.

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