Deuteronomy 8:11-20 – Remember

Deuteronomy 8:11-20 – Remember

Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.” – Deuteronomy 8:11-20ESV

In 2018, Americans are predicted to spend an over of $887 per person (not per household) on Christmas gifts, and actual spending is usually higher than the predictions (Haury, 2018). In Arvada, CO, where our church is located, the median income for 2016 was just over $70,000 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2016). Just a year earlier, the average household income for the entire world was $17,760 (Muggeridge, 2015). In fact, in 2013, at least 80 percent of the world was living on less than $10 a day, which translates to less than $3,650 a year (Shah, 2013).

The moral of the story? No…it’s not shame on Americans for having money when other people in the world are poor. Rather… if you are an American, no matter your circumstances, you have been given so much. You are incredibly blessed. We live in a nation of unprecedented wealth, where even those at the poverty line are among the top 14 percent richest people in the world (Blair, 2011).

And in America…there are plenty of places to spend that money. We can buy a designer dog or cat that costs almost as much as the entire yearly income of the poorest in the world. The average new car price in America in 2018 was $36,270 (Nicolai & Buehler, 2018). Even a latte is over $4 a cup, which again, is at least half the daily income of the poorest in the world.

And with wealth…it’s easy to forget to whom we owe all things. God knew that about the Israelites as they prepared to enter the Promised Land after over four-hundred years of slavery in Egypt and forty years of wandering the desert. They were going to go from from former slaves and homeless wanderers, to living in a paradise in their own kingdom. As their fields grew and their animals multiplied, God knew the temptation would be to sit back and say, “Look what I have accomplished.” Against that temptation, God said, Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth…”

As you enter the Christmas season, hunting down those perfect gifts, buying new decorations for the house and the ingredients for special meals…don’t forget from Whom those dollars come. Don’t forget Who has made it possible for you to own that home, have that family, see those sights. Don’t forget the One for whom the lights sparkle. Don’t forget the Gift the gifts point to. When Silent Night comes on the radio, or you single along to Noel, don’t forget He for Whom the songs were written came into the world to a poor man and woman in a cave on a cold spring night. He came to bless the world with Himself. With Hope. With Purpose. With Love. With Truth…

So as you rush around this Christmas season, remember our Lord. In your blessings remember the blessing He first gave. And then be that blessing with the blessings He has provided.

  • On a piece of paper, list out all the blessings God has provided for you. Get really detailed.
  • Spend some time in prayer, thanking God for this list of gifts. Think of it like the big hug you give someone you love when they’ve given you exactly what you wanted for Christmas.
  • What are some of the reasons why you forget all the good God has done for you?
  • Challenge for the Week: At the end of each day, make a list of all the blessings in the day God provided. Then once a week, find a way to be a blessing to someone else.

References

Haury, A. C. (2018, November 8). Average cost of an American        Christmas. Investopedia. Retrieved from https://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/1112/average-cost-of-an-american-christmas.aspx

Muggeridge, P. (2015, June 23). What is the average wage around the world? World Economic Forum. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/06/what-is-the-average-wage-around-the-world/

Nicolai, A. & Buehler, B. (2018). Press releases: Average new-car prices rise nearly 4 percent for January 2018 on shifting sales mix, according to Kelley Blue Book. Kelley Blue Book. Retrieved from https://mediaroom.kbb.com/2018-02-01-Average-New-Car-Prices-Rise-Nearly-4-Percent-For-January-2018-On-Shifting-Sales-Mix-According-To-Kelley-Blue-Book

Shah, A. (2013, January 7). Poverty facts and stats. Global Issues. Retrieved from http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats

U.S. Census Bureau. (2016). Data USA: Arvada, CO. Retrieved from https://datausa.io/profile/geo/arvada-co/#category_wages

1 Corinthians 12:14-26 – More than Attendance

1 Corinthians 12:14-26 – More than Attendance

“For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” – 1 Corinthians 12:14-26ESV

Have you heard the claim the pinky toe has no purpose? If you haven’t, it was definitely something I’ve heard and never believed. I’ve stubbed my toe on the edge of a bed or bedside table enough times, trying to get to bed in the dark, to know stubbing the 5th piggy can really lay you out.

Well, it turns out, the pinky toe’s value has been proven in recent years! Apparently, loss of the pinky toe “can significantly inhibit a person’s ability to skip, run or walk” (Hoyt, 2017). In other words, that stumpy, sad-looking, finger-like appendage that may not even have a nail helped you balance when you learned to walk, made your childhood fun, and carries you through every early-morning run or evening olympic lift. Hard to believe something so small can be so important. If you lost your pinky toe tomorrow, if would take physical therapy to help you learn to walk without it.

As important as the pinky toe is to your body, you are just as important in your church! But the sad thing is…most of us never believe that. We view ourselves as mere “members” of the church, like we are members of a gym, showing up to get personal benefit but cutting it the moment the demands of life require a sacrifice somewhere. Or maybe, we dedicatedly show up year-after-year offering our presence and tithe, but never do more than consume the word of God in Bible study and worship.

But Christian…we are meant for so much more! In 1 Corinthians 12:14-26, Paul compares each believer to a part of the body, saying in verses 21 & 22 (ESV), “the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable…” In other words, every part of the body of Christ is critical to the work God is doing on earth. There is more to your life in Christ than warming a pew at worship or a seat at Bible study! Worship and Bible study are merely the nutrients through which the Holy Spirit works to help you live out your critical role!

Now, I know it can be hard to find your place…and that first step out to do what you feel God is calling you to do can be intimidating. But that voice in your head saying, “Don’t do it…you’ll only fail because you don’t know what you’re doing” or “Don’t do it, you’ll make a fool of yourself and no one will ever respect you again”…that voice is a lie from Satan to hold you back from exactly who God made you to be. Indeed, you may fail. When Jesus went to His hometown to share the Gospel they tried to stone Him to death (John 10)! And He’s God! But that does not absolve us from obedience…stepping into God’s calling because He knows what He’s doing…even if we don’t.

If your gift is making food…make food for a church meal or for a hurting family you know! That is a gift as important as the gift of preaching when it comes to God’s call to bring His love to our world.

If your gift is knowing how to fix things, help keep the church fixed up or use your gifts to be the most trustworthy, Christ-centered repairman in town! That is a gift as important as teaching the Word when it comes to God’s call to bring His love to our world.

If your gift is compassion for the hurting…you know they are everywhere inside and outside our church. I bet they’re even in your office building or your restaurant or school. Love people as Christ does! That is a gift as important as singing praises when it comes to God’s call to bring His love to our world.

Brothers and sisters in Jesus…God has crafted you and called you to so much more than mere “attendance”. You are a warrior called to the front lines to fight for the King to save our kidnapped family members. Step forward with your gifts, knowing the God who shaped the universe works in and through you. Even failure isn’t failure in His hands.

  • Make a list of the things you’re good at. Now underline the things you are good at that you are also passionate about, enthusiastic for, make you excited, or give you energy.
  • Now from those you underlined, circle those you are already doing in your day-to-day life.
  • If you haven’t been seeing these as an avenue to bring God’s love to our world, why?
  • Challenge for the Week: Spend some serious time in prayer asking God to set you free from whatever is holding you back from using your gifts for Him, whether it’s fear of failure or self-doubt. Then ask God to show you how to use your gifts to His glory. When the opportunity arises…take it!

References

Hoyt, A. (2017, October 16). Surprise, your pinky toe does serve a purpose. HowStuffWorks. Retrieved from https://health.howstuffworks.com/human-body/parts/surprise-pinky-toe-does-serve-purpose.htm