{re}fresh

Month: August, 2013

When God Saves It for Later

by Mike McKinniss

Among the best feelings in the world is this: You walk into a friend’s home and, upon greeting you warmly with a boisterous cheer, he informs you he’s been saving a beer (or soda, if you prefer) for you in the fridge.  With a smile and a shout, you happily proceed to the kitchen yourself.  (After all, with the best of friends you treat their home as your own and vice-versa.)  Opening the refrigerator, you indeed find the icy and refreshing beverage awaiting your consumption.

Naturally, you begin clearing everything out of the fridge so that you can curl up inside and enjoy the drink right where it’s been waiting for you in the coolness of the old ice box.

What’s that?  You don’t do that?

Unfortunately, this is precisely the attitude many of us carry towards Jesus’ exhortation in Matthew 6:20.  “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”  I cannot say how many times I have been advised by well-meaning believers to do good so that I might build up a bank roll I could enjoy when I rest in heavenly bliss after my body has seen the end of its earthly days.

Forgive me, but the admonition to store up treasures for the afterlife has never sat well with me.  What good will those treasures do me then?

It is true: Whatever work we do today in the spirit of Jesus–doing what Jesus himself would do if he were in our place–does in fact get deposited in a kind of heavenly bank.  That is precisely Jesus’ idea in the Sermon on the Mount quoted above.  Offer a much needed meal to a hungry soul and, somehow, that act of faith and kindness gets credited to your account.  Pray for the sick and place another valuable item of faith in your heavenly savings.  Proclaim God’s good news that He has indeed, through Christ, regained Kingship over His creation, and find that yet another gold coin has been locked up in the Lord’s vaults for you.

Like your friend, however, who has saved a cold drink for you to enjoy along with him in the living room, God has safely reserved those heavenly valuables not to await our arrival in heaven, but so they can be enjoyed here at a later date.

This is what is commonly known as the law of sowing and reaping.  That is, what goes around comes around.  Call it karma, I suppose, but on a much grander scale.  Those acts of faith that God stows away on our behalf, you see, are reserved not just to be enjoyed by the ones who deposited them, but by many and for many generations.

Take Abraham, for example.  The story of Abraham is one of a man who consistently sowed deeds of faith.  Having received the promise that his descendants would become a great nation (Gen. 12:2-3), Abraham repeatedly, though not without struggle, acts in faith that the Lord would come through.  His faithful actions, of course, culminate in his willingness to sacrifice his only son Isaac (Gen. 22), believing, a later interpreter tells us, that God could raise Isaac from the grave even if Abraham killed him (Heb. 11:19).  These deeds of faith are stored up in heaven, safe from moth and rust and thieves, for a very long time.

In time, the Lord begins to pay out.  Abraham’s family line, after all, reaches its zenith in Jesus, who becomes, according to the promise given to Abraham, a blessing to all nations.  Moreover, all who now identify with Christ can claim the privilege of being members of the great nation pledged to Abraham.

Perhaps you’ve been sowing your own good deeds in faith.  Perhaps, even, you’ve seen little or no fruit from your efforts.  Don’t worry.  Your work has not been lost.  It’s been stowed away in a safe place.  And it will, rest assured, be paid back (probably with interest) to be enjoyed in this world.

Your Gift is Not Yours

by mandyade

I recently heard about a young soldier who had been badly wounded and was recovering in hospital. The soldier and his family were reeling from pain and loss but in all of it they were so comforted by the amazing nurses and doctors who were caring for them.

God gives a special gift to those in the medical profession. They are gifted so that they can release comfort and healing to multitudes of people. God has not gifted them for themselves but in his mercy for the people. The nurse is not given the gift of nursing to serve herself, but to serve many. That is an easy concept to understand but it works in every realm of gifting.

When we think of a person as being gifted we often think-‘how blessed they are’ when really the response should be ‘how blessed we are’ because the gift given is actually given to us by God through a human conduit. When God gives a gift to the world He uses a person to administer the gift.

When God gives us a gift, no matter what it is, it is given so that we can release it to others. Obviously the ‘trustee’ is also blessed – it is wonderful to sense the Glory of God flowing through, but the gift is given to the multitudes through the ‘trustee’.

We are all ‘trustees’, given gifts to administer in different ways to people. Sometimes we shut up our gifts for various reasons; we choose to keep these gifts in a safe place reasoning that it is our gift given to us and for us. In reality our gift is not for us to hold onto or hide away, it’s ours to release to many others – it doesn’t matter how imperfect it is or how inadequate we may feel, we must release what God has put inside us as it is His gift to the world.

God uses imperfect people to release His Kingdom to the earth and He has entrusted you and I to do this!

He Will Wait for You

by ivyjonah

And He ( Jesus) took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:16

I have been very conscious, lately, of the many aspects of healing that the Lord has brought into my life. Sometimes, looking back is not a bad thing. It can actually be a source of gratitude and an altar of remembrance.

Such was the case, when my husband just got up from his recliner to get our mail from our street side mailbox. I pictured him going up the driveway and crossing the street and retrieving the mail. Going from “Here to There”…the route from the house to the mailbox…a very normal routine.

Years ago, I was living in a new town, with young children, without a car, a church or friends. I started to experience symptoms of agoraphobia. I was terrified of leaving the house. I may have not had a severe case, but it was debilitating. I tried to keep my fears hidden from others, as I thought being honest about them would send me into a hospital.

As I thought about Marcel getting the mail, a question formed in my mind, “Do you remember when going to get your mail was nearly impossible?”

Of course I remembered.

Getting the mail produced an unreasonable amount of fear. I would look out our picture window and stare at the box. To me, it was like being asked to leap between two tall buildings. I was frozen. I was trapped.
My healing didn’t come in one whole swoop. I likened it more to the Lord saying “Take the first step and I will teach you how to walk! You come…you step out…you can do it.”

There is a plethora of touching videos online of military personnel being reunited with family members. The ones with children are the most heartwarming.

The scene is a school gym. The soldier dad arrives and gets about half way on the court and he bends down and waits. At the other end is his six year old son, who is has cerebral palsy. He was never expected to walk. But there he is, walking tentatively towards his dad. It had to have taken tremendous restraint for that dad not to run to his son and scoop him up. But LOVE waited. In that hesitation; he was showing his son the love that says “Come here to your Daddy.” You can do this son! I believe in you!”

So where is Here to There for you?

You have a Heavenly Father that is your greatest cheerleader. He is the One, who believes in you and waits for you. His arms are opened wide, as He scoots down to your level, to pull you into a warm embrace. He is SO proud of you!

My Abba…my Daddy God, let me always remember that YOU are the most important between here and there.

Citizens of Heaven

by Rob Dunne

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:20

Truly, it was a magical kingdom. Some of my favorite book and movie characters roamed freely throughout the park. We soared above London and through Neverland on a pirate ship. Space was explored within the confines of a metal mountain. Presidents long dead were resurrected to share their stories. Bears played foot stomping music in a jamboree. Children of all races reminded us that it in spite of its massive size, we live in a small world after all.

One of the greatest vacations my parents ever planned for us included a visit to my grandparents in Florida and a trip to Disney. It was everything I imagined it would be and more. Reflecting on it now as an adult, Disney brings me back to the innocence that was my childhood. There were few if any cares in my world back then. Disbelief was easily suspended. It was such a happy place. If only Disney was a country that you could immigrate to permanently.

While Disney excited me as a child, the prospect of going to heaven cannot be defined with words. Over the years, I have expressed this longing to go to heaven to other people. More often than not, this statement is met with disbelief. Let me be clear. In stating that I long for heaven, I am not proclaiming that I want my life here on earth to end. Rather, I am acknowledging that the benefits of heaven far outweigh anything that life here on planet Earth has to offer.

What do we have to look forward to in heaven? First of all, we will have intimacy with God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit on a level that no human being has ever experienced. God is love and we will feel that love in ways that our minds cannot comprehend. The bodies we possess will be replaced with glorified ones that do not break down. Never again will we face our own mortality or the prospect of losing loved ones. Pain and sadness will be a thing of the past. In fact, I suspect that we will forget what it was like altogether. The affects of sin will be nonexistent.

The daily news is filled with discouragement. From Sandy Hook to hurricane Sandy to the Middle East, we are constantly reminded that the world is filled with pain, loss and destruction. Understanding that we are citizens of heaven reminds us that better days are ahead of us. The days of innocence we once enjoyed as children will resume when Jesus reigns over the Earth as King of kings and Lord of lords.

“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” Revelation 22:20.

Does His imminent return excite you as much as it does me? I hope so!

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