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Good Stuff

Most people who reach my age have a lot of stuff. It’s not that we are hoarders, necessarily, but our “this-and-that” accumulation has gradually morphed far beyond our needs, and a sizeable portion of our wants, for that matter. Many of us have a growing yen to right-size our earthly possessions to what is important as we run the bell lap of life. I think there’s a reason for this: as this life fades behind us and the nearing Kingdom increasingly consumes our field of vision, we realize that much of what we’ve treasured from an earthly perspective is different than what God esteems, and that a godly character is infinitely more valuable and impactful than one’s wealth and possessions. We do well, then, to understand what God values and to align our entire beings to His desires.

Wisdom. Wisdom, wrote Solomon, “is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.”1 For wisdom protects us and watches over us,2 and through wisdom we gain understanding and direction, well-being and honor, and counsel and justice.3 Aren’t these what we want above all else? Pray for wisdom.

Commands. God’s laws moved David’s heart to song: “The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold”;4 it is “sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.”5 For God’s laws lead us in “the way that is good and right,”6 the way of love for God and for each other. In His mercy, He has put His Spirit in us to move us to follow His decrees and to be careful to keep His laws.7 Walk in His Spirit.

Integrity. Observed Solomon, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”8 We may marvel at worldly accomplishments, wealth, or fame, but isn’t it true that we esteem most highly those of noble character—character that reflects God’s presence? May your good name reflect His.

Faith. Life-giving faith is the complete abandonment of self-righteousness and the total reliance on the righteousness of Christ, for life itself is found only in Him. No wonder Peter declared faith to be “of greater worth than gold,” for it will “result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”9 Trust Him.

These are treasures that last, treasures built up in Heaven. They glorify God who glorifies us. This is good stuff.

Father, send Your Spirit to us to convince us of what is truly important to You and therefore to us. Grant us the grace and wisdom to submit everything to You for Your glory and our good. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 Proverbs 3:14-15
2 Proverbs 4:6
3 Proverbs 8:12–21
4 Psalm 119:72
5 Psalm 19:7-10
6 1 Samuel 12:23
7 Ezekiel 36:27
8 Proverbs 22:1
9 1 Peter 1:7

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Your Calling and Your Gifts

Before she passed away, Sue led a group of women who call themselves the Beacons. This gang of big hearts still gathers monthly to piece and sew fabric squares into patterns and then hand-tie layers together into quilts for distribution to the poor in the Appalachian foothills in Southeast Ohio. The Beacons have a limited budget, so receiving donations of cotton fabric is always a plus. That’s were Sue came in, for while sewing was not among this leader’s skill sets, procurement of donated fabric was. “I can’t sew, but I can beg,” she would quip. The irony was rich: the leader of a quilting group, unable to sew but humble enough to ask store managers for remnants.

This story reminds us that we all in the body of Christ have different gifts, for we saw in Sue what we heard from Paul: “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”1 Yet in Sue, we see more than just the differences among us; we grasp the wisdom behind them, the beauty of our submission, and the confidence to thrive in our uniqueness. There is no reason to envy the gifts and callings of others, for no matter our role, it is vital and worth our all. Again, Paul challenges us, “So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”2

Ours, then, is to accept our differences, embracing our role, celebrating our gifts, and living boldly in the confidence that God knows what He is doing in us and through us. So, if public speaking terrifies you, but you mentor well one-on-one, engage deeply. If you cannot endure a short-term mission trip, but you can intercede for those who do, pray boldly. If you do not fully understand the troubles besieging others, but you have the compassion to come alongside them, then care sacrificially. Your roles and your gifts are all part of God’s plan. So be bold, and rejoice. You are gifted and equipped for whatever God has in store for you today.

Father, thank You calling me into Your kingdom work. No role is unimportant nor any obedience unfruitful, so lead me into whatever You have for me to do today. I trust You. In Christ I pray. Amen.

1 1 Corinthians 12:4-6
2 Romans 12:6-8 NLT

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Come and Sit with Me for a While

“You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.” —Psalm 16:11

Our Bible discussion among internationals was winding down for the evening. Just in our little breakout group alone were people originating from Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau, China, and even two from Michigan. Now it was time to share our prayer requests. One by one they poured out from full hearts—deep desires for faithfulness, hope, healing, strength, stamina, and direction, some of these for ourselves and some for others. When it was her turn, one young woman—we’ll call her Michelle for purposes of this post—prefaced her plea, explaining to us, “Sometimes I will say to God, ‘I don’t have a prayer [right now], but can you come and sit with me for a while?’ I find it calming and freeing.” Her prayer? She wanted more of this. And in that humble moment, we all did. For this was relationship—the Creator and the created, together.

It is good simply to be in the presence of God—resting in His love, trusting in His care, and enjoying His being. David longed for such nearness, expressing his desire through lyrics, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”1 Likewise, God desires us to draw near and just be with Him, such as the time when Jesus and His disciples were so busy in ministry that they didn’t even have a chance to eat. “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest,” He told them, so “they went away by themselves . . . to a quiet place.”2 Jesus and His friends, just being together.

The 17th century mathematician, physicist, philosopher, and theologian Blaise Pascal once opined, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” If this is true, then here is some good news for humanity and its problems: we don’t have to sit anywhere alone. Take a moment today—now, if you can—and sit quietly with God. Enjoy His presence, knowing He enjoys yours—the Creator and the created, Jesus and His friends, God and you, together.

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds. —Psalm 73:28

Jesus, come and sit with me for a while. In Your presence may I find freedom and calm. Amen.

1 Psalm 42:1-2
2 Mark 6:31-32