Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Don't Shop Hungry

It is recommended by those who make their living giving advice regarding personal savings and financial management for households that you shouldn’t go to the grocery store hungry.  The outcome will be spending more money than if you went shopping full. 

I believe that if we shop hungry, we’ll make decisions based on current needs and wants rather than on long term planning.  We’ll then fall short days later in our pantry and in our wallets.  It’s best to go shopping after supper.

In our Christian walk, its best to live and act out of ongoing faith, hope & love rather than out of desperate need.  We’ll then make decisions out of a place of consistent contentment, and the outcome will have long term, life-giving ramifications for ourselves and others whom we come in contact.

We don’t need to act in faithful ways out of need & hunger for greater things.  We should live in faithful ways as a lifestyle, a way of life, a culture. 

Malachi 3, for instance, should be a lifestyle, and not in light of prophetic utterance.  Malachi called his community into repentance, but his words were a declaration of how things should be.  We should be tithing as an act of worship and out of a pledge of allegiance to a Man, to His honor as a lifestyle.

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.  I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty.  “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.
n  Malachi 3: 10-12
When it’s a lifestyle, a way of life, a culture of tithing, it will also be a culture of knowing & experiencing & giving testimony of how God Almighty opens up the windows of heaven & pours out blessings.

If we live hungry lives and not satisfied & worshipful and giving testimony of the goodness of God, there’s something we’re missing.  The grace of God found in Christ that forgives, saves, delivers and makes whole will always satisfy.  If we’re not satisfied, we’re not believing freely that we’re truly forgiven, saved, delivered and made whole, and we won’t give testimony of God’s blessings because we don’t know of them.  Honestly, I’m not hearing a lot of testimonies from Hewett.

You don’t need to go to the store hungry, and we don’t need to live our lives collectively hungry for what we’ve been given freely.  Give to His honor and praise as those who are satisfied & watch the blessings come & I want to hear your testimonies.  Many need to hear what God has done for you.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Seek the Lord

Evildoers do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it fully.
--Proverbs 28: 5 (NRSV)

I ran across this verse recently, and it struck me between the eyes.  First of all, it speaks of, I believe, the issue in the church that has been deemphasized dramatically.  That is, seeking the Lord. 

We seek so many other things and resources to falsely buoy us up in times of travail and difficulty.  We speak so much of discipline and faithfulness, but we don’t seek our source of life and grace with any regularity.  We depend on the voting process at annual conference or in our voting booth at our local polling station to affect culture. 

Deuteronomy 4: 29-31 goes like this –
But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.

When we seek the Lord, we return to the Lord.  In Matthew 7: 7-8, we hear of the benefit of seeking itself – Seek and you will find.  When we seek, we find.  The benefits of finding what the Lord has promised or assured us far outweighs what we find in politics or resources found among those who have stockpiles to waste. 

Isaiah 55: 6-7 gives us more encouragement –
Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 
Let the wicked forsake their ways 
and the unrighteous their thoughts. 
Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

Mercy and pardon are found a great deal in John Wesley’s sermons and journals.  Have we lost our desire to share the good news of mercy and pardon found in seeking and finding the Lord?  Sure we have.  In fact, we sometimes take great glee in passively refusing to communicate mercy & pardon for all God so loves (John 3: 16) because we want our political side to win the argument in the state house, on the editorial page or the conference website. 

We will only understand justice when we seek the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding.  Our own experiences of justice, mercy & pardon come from our God who provides these abundantly.  This will, first of all, compel us to share this good news, and it will be this reality that characterizes Methodists in the generations to come.