As Believers we are called to be a generous people…and this was displayed vividly this morning in Church. Our Pastor announced that as we left each family would be receiving a plain white envelope with cash inside ranging from $20- $100. We were to consider this a starting point to bless others during this holiday season. The Lord has called all of us to be missional…reaching outside the Church walls to help others. For we are to be His ambassadors… shining His light, expanding His Kingdom, and seeking to leave an eternal impact on our community and world. (A direct quote from the note enclosed in the envelope.) As I hold this bill in my hand, I know the Lord will not only direct us as to how much we are to add to it, but who we should bless with it.
The other day I helped at the local Food Pantry organizing all the donated food that’s coming in this time of the year from the many food drives going on… there was a mountain of food to find a place for. It struck me how willingly and joyfully the people of this area are in donating to this great cause…and because of their generous nature, many will have food on their tables this holiday season. We can’t be tight-fisted, just giving the bare minimum of what we have to others…for it’s really not ours in the first place…the Lord has blessed us with it. Instead, we need to be happy and glad to give, for it tells us in II Corinthians 9:7, “God loves a cheerful giver.” This Scripture shows us that they gave generously of all they had, not holding back but giving with a open hand and a big heart. I pray we may become that type of people.
I find it fascinating how people rationalize and marginalize their sins away. We’ll blame everyone else in order not to place the guilt where it belongs…on ourselves. “The devil made me do it!” doesn’t stand up well in light of such scriptures as Hebrews 4:15 which states that Jesus was tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Taking ownership of our sins is the first step to getting right with God…as is conceding that a sin is a sin – there is no scale from 1-10 of severity of sins…so there’s no difference between a “little white lie” and a serious sin…both are missing the mark.
If you’ve ever seen oxen yoked together…you’ll see one thing quickly…they must move together as one. The yoke forces them to move in the same direction, even if they don’t want to. This hitch they are joined together by suddenly becomes a burden as they both pull in opposite directions. When we are unequally yoked with unbelievers, it soon becomes a wrestling match of the wills…a match between light and darkness…truth and deceit…with no one winning.
When we’re going through a time of spiritual confusion…there are only two ways we can go. We can argue or chose to obey. We can spend our time trying to reason and debate our way out of the disconcertment in our life…or we can yield and submit ourselves to the authority and supremacy of God. You can’t think your way out of spiritual confusion…the only thing you can do is to obey what God places in front of you…step by step, day by day. For Christ demands unquestioning obedience from us, even when the way is shadowed.
As we learned from the Devotional yesterday, we have this great and wonderful treasure in jars of clay. But just like those breakable vessels, our mortal body can be stronger than we can imagine. You see, those clay jars withstood outside pressure and remained durable and lasting for hundreds of years…and so can we. This verse promises us that we can be troubled but not overwhelmed by it…confused but not to the point of hopelessness…harassed and bullied but never forsaken by our Heavenly Father. You are a jar of clay, but one tough, resilient, and tenacious jar – holding an unspeakable treasure within.
In Biblical times, clay jars were used to store items of importance. In Jeremiah 32:14-15, the Lord tells Jeremiah to buy his cousin’s field and take the documents and place them in a clay jar. “For this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.” This promise that they would return to their homeland would take 70 years of exile in Babylon before it would come about…but these important documents would be kept safe until then…safe within a fragile clay jar. And if you’re a Believer, you have the great power and Almighty energy of God within your clay jar…your body, placed there by God for safe-keeping.