I wanted to leave up the post with the Christmas poem until after Christmas, but I couldn't get this off my mind. WARNING---this is long! You may want to grab a Coke or a cup of coffee....and a cookie!!
Sunday after church my husband and I made a run to Walmart. He wanted to change out of his too warm sweater. We didn't have time to run home between services as our church Christmas play was that evening. So, he found a shirt he liked and we headed back.
As we pulled up to the traffic light exiting the parking lot, there was a man holding a sign that read, "Out of work-need help." I turned to my husband and asked, "Don't you think we should give him something?" He asked me, "What has the Lord told you?" To which I replied, "He didn't speak anything specific to me but His word says if someone is in need and we have it beside us that we are to give." (Matt. 5:42, 1 John 3:17)
I knew I only had one bill in my purse but I drew it out, rolled down the window and said, "Excuse me, sir." I held out the money to him. He looked at the money in my hand, took the few steps to the truck, received the money, he may have mumbled something, and returned to his spot in the median. The man never once looked at my face or smiled. I never saw his eyes. His focus was only on the money in my hand. I didn't feel any real gratitude from the man.
This has stayed with me the past few days.
When we give to someone we don't worry about what they will do with the money. As far as we are concerned that's between them and God. I learned a long time ago (from my Mom and Dad) that when someone is in need and you have it to give, you simply give. AND you don't expect anything in return. When we trust God as our source, He is the One who repays us, and we are blessed. I didn't say rich because that we are not. But God takes care of our needs.
I thought about that man at Walmart as I drove to work today. I wondered how many times we, as Christians, treat God in the same way. How many times do we look to His hand instead of seeking His face? Our Father hears our faintest cry, turns to us, reaches out and blesses us. How often do we receive His blessings and never even thank Him? The answer would be-Every. Single. Day. And every single day we wake up looking for the next blessing. Even if we don't look for them, they are there all around us.
I watched as the sun rose through the clouds and thought, "Every day is a precious gift that we unwrap as we move forward, step by step and breath by breath." Do we thank the One in Whom we live and move and have our being? The One Who gave us breath and continues to give us breath every moment of every day is worthy of our thanksgiving and our praise.
We may mumble a quick, "Thank You, Lord" under the breath He gave us, but do our actions show that gratitude? Really!? Do we worship Him in spirit and in truth? And do we love Him with ALL our heart, ALL our mind, ALL our strength, and ALL our might? Does every fiber of our created being desire to please our Maker? I wonder.
What if we truly believed Immanuel? What if we truly believed God is with us? Do we believe the reality
of His presence? Always! Do we live our lives, think our thoughts, do our works as if we believe this vital truth? HE IS WITH US!
We are His children, the sheep of His pasture, the apple of His eye, His chosen, His peculiar people, His beloved. He is our Provider, our Healer, our Deliverer, our Redeemer, our King, our Lord. Do we treat Him as such? If so, why do so many begin their day without acknowledging His very presence? HE IS WITH US! Why are there so many Christians who feed the body and not their soul? Why do so many enter the church on Sunday morning unprepared?
They take time to shower, brush their teeth, and fix their hair. Their clothes are the latest fashion. Make up, just right. The outside of the cup is fresh and clean. But the inside is empty, even dirty, maybe. They are unprepared. Worship begins and they stand there. Idle. Waiting. They wait for the waters to be troubled so then, maybe, they can jump in. BUT, someone else always gets there first. Or maybe, they don't want to be first, so they wait.
They want the outside temperature to be just right. They want someone else to "carry them" into the waters. They complain about the song, the music, the singers. They are harboring their pet sin (unforgiveness, criticism, jealousy, etc.) and they just can't seem to focus on the King today. They define their worship according to external circumstances or internal feelings. They have forgotten to be thankful, they forget the reality of His presence, and have forsaken the relationship of the heart.
A thankful heart, one that is in love, will always respond in worship and adoration.. Do we enter His gates with thanksgiving? If not, we cannot enter His courts with praise. People, it shows on the outside, more often than you think, where your heart is. God doesn't want lip service, He wants your heart. Many may be saying, "God looks on the heart and not the outward appearance." Yes, this is true! God was speaking of the difference between Saul and David. Actions speak louder than words! David worshipped God. David trusted God. David was obedient to God. David was all that Saul wasn't. Where is your heart? God sees!
Worship is much more than singing a song. It comes from a grateful heart. It puts our focus fully on Christ. It exalts Him and as we lift Him up He draws us to Himself. Worship is spiritual warfare! As God inhabits our praises, the yoke of the enemy is broken. When everyone is worshipping, we are in one accord and of one mind and Holy Spirit wind and fire is set loose in our midst. When we worship we are in unity with heaven and with one another. When we worship we become united in one with the God Who united us with Himself in the Person of Christ Jesus.
God came in the flesh. He still comes in the flesh; our flesh. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19) God is not peering down at us through some cosmic hole in the universe. No! HE IS WITH US. We, as His children, should act us such and reverence Him. Then we shall see Him moving in our midst and not before.
Today, I asked God to forgive me for my ingratitude. I asked Him to forgive me for the times I seek the blessing and not the precious face of the Blessor. I asked Him to forgive me when I take His gifts for granted. I asked Him to make me more aware of His presence every moment of every day. Will you join me in this prayer? Because--HE IS WITH US!