The Widow’s Giving (Luke 21:1-4)

The circumstances in your life are not the cause of your behavior. You act the way you do because you choose to. Such is the case for the widow who gave two mites. The context indicates that people had taken advantage of her which brought about her poverty. But what affect did it have on her? Didn’t even have an effect?

It did not affect her faith. Why would a poor person sacrifice and give? This poor widow woman was forced to depend on God. She probably had been depending on him for sometime. She most likely received answers to prayer, provisions of food, gifts of love from the concerned and protection. She lived from day to day depending on God. Giving her last two mites was nothing because her dependence on God led her to depend on God.

It did not affect her outlook. Imagine the larger gifts being tossed into the coffer and then her meager two mites. What a small drop in the big pool of gifts. What did two mites matter among so much? It may not mean much to the natural eye, but it meant much to her. She must have known that God values the gifts that are brought to him. You and I must recognize that when we give to a need, we are really giving to God.

Little did the widow know that her great sacrifice of a mere two mites would be affecting countless lives centuries later.

Remember, whatever you do for God, it is not compared to others. It is measured by your faith in the abilities that God has given you. You may not be the shining star you desired to be, but you can yield yourself to him in faith and obey his leading. Your life then will shine brighter than you ever imagined.

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Can’t Meet the Criteria (Psalm 51:1)

Forgiveness from a human perspective, it is usually based on the person meeting some type of behavior or expectation. Forgiveness might be based on the person being sorry, expressing sorrow or performing some act of penance.

However with God, it is a different story. God‘s forgiveness hinges on two aspects of his character: lovingkindness and tender mercy.

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. (Psalm 51:1)

Both of these traits stem from the love of God. The former relates to his actions toward men and the latter-meaning womb-reflects his emotional bond with us.

The remainder of Psalm 51 conveys attitudes and promises to declared by David, but without loving kindness and tender mercy, forgiveness would not even be considered.

Therefore, when you find yourself needing forgiveness don’t try to follow a pathway of penance or self restoration to a God of lovingkindness and tender mercy, but instead run to the throne of grace whereupon your loving and merciful God sits. From there, he will forgive and lead you to a place of restoration.

Upholding Others (Psalm 54:4)

Have you ever been so tired that you just couldn’t stand? If there wasn’t a chair available, you did the next best thing: you leaned against something to give you the support you needed. If by some chance you saw somebody in this type of a condition, you probably would have helped them along by holding them up.

Did you ever think of all the people who struggle so much with life that they just can’t stand any longer? All of life‘s hurts, struggles, disappointments—and for some trauma—continue to bear down upon a person‘s heart. Some choose to end their lives as a way of escape. Others successfully find the help and support they need.

Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul. (Psalm 54:4)

The support and help these people need are other people. They need the strength that others have to be shared with them and when this happens, their inner being or soul gains strength. Your actions of love—whether they are words spoken or written—bring strength to those who cannot stand alone. Any act of kindness can help those who are crumbling under their life‘s condition. You may not be able to do a thing about their circumstances, but you can be an encourager.

As you go to work, social events and church, look for the people that God brings to you for encouragement and share your strength with them.

Thanksgiving (Psalm 50:4)

What is giving to God? Think about it, you cannot give anything to him because he already owns everything. Giving isn’t a yielding, because he can take it anytime that he wants. So what is giving to God.

Giving stems from a desire and that desire should be to express how you feel towards someone. When we give to God, we express how we feel towards him. The Psalmist writes that the emotion behind his giving is thankfulness.

Offer unto God thanksgiving… ( Psalm 50:14)

A thankful heart is what God wants. Gifts to God result from thankfulness. These gifts aren’t given out of coercion, responsibility or even guilt. They come from hearts that recognize what God has done for them and are mere expressions of that thankfulness.

As I look back, I can see many occasions when my gift to God was nothing more than the relinquishing of my possessions to him. I guess I’ll see those items as wood, hay and stubble at the bema seat, but there were many times when along with the possession, I gave to God a heart overflowing with thankfulness.

To correct my errors, I have decided to check my heart before each offering to God and make sure that I am expressing gratitude instead of obedience or any other attitude. Secondly, I will guard my heart for complaining and instead ask God to help me recognize his plan so that I can be yielded and thankful for his sovereignty and provision.

Don’t Forget the Blessings

God works many wonders in our lives. However many of the blessings we seem to forget and merely focus on current circumstances. I decided to list 100 of God’s workings in my life. I know that I probably have missed more blessings than I have counted. I encourage you to do the same and then share them.

Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. (Psalms 40:5)

Many of these are very personal. I ask that you be quick to read and slow to judge. God bless.

1.He saved me and all the work that brought it to pass.

2.He removed me from ungodly influences.

3.Gave me my son as a direct answer to prayer.

4.After salvation, he led me away from paganism and settled my feet into Christianity.

5.He gave me my first house.

6.He gave me work in the midst of the extreme recession in the early 80’s.

7.He delivered me from a being killed in a steel mill accident involving a locomotive.

8.He relieved the financial burden as the recession increased and everything in my life began to crumble.

9.He provided housing in a very desperate time.

10.He comforted my wounded heart.

11.He empowered me to minister to hurting people.

12.He blessed my ministry involvement.

13.I grew in grace.

14.He brought friends into my life to support and help me.

15.He led me to advance my education.

16.He provided transportation.

17.He provided a car.

18.He answered prayers for food and finances.

19.Unemployment was extended.

20.He blessed with me getting called back to work after 20 months of being laid off.

21.He enabled me to by my truck.

22.He guided me through some legal turmoil and enabled me to escape the attack.

23.I moved to my new apartment in Spring City.

24.God blessed my work, ministry service and life.

25.Anthony memorized Psalm 23 before he turned 4 years old.

26.God continued to comfort my wounded heart.

27.He strengthened me to stand strong and live for God.

28.He helped me pass my Greek classes.

29.Helped me through a terrible sickness.

30.Found a better place to live.

31.He caused a person to fall into the pit that they prepared for me

32.Was able to leave the steel mill and be off work on Sundays.

33.Found a new job.

34.Learned maintenance skills that I would later use in God’s work.

35.Received a great promise from God.

36.Graduated from college.

37.Received another great promise from God that would come true seven years later.

38.Married Beth.

39.Signed a lease for an apartment two days before the wedding. (That was close)

40.Lost my job.

41.Found a deer that had recently been hit.

42.Able to sell my truck to pay the rent.

43.Picked up extra electrical side work.

44.Exhaust on car fixed for free.

45.Transmission went, got many rides to work while hitch hiking and had to walk much less.

46.Somebody gave us a station wagon.

47.Found a place to live closer to church

48.Refrigerator broke and someone bought another one.

49.Did not get to adopt my niece and then Beth found out she was expecting just several weeks later.

50.Marybeth Princess was born.

51.Strength as we faced uncertainty with Marybeth’s heart condition. God gave strength.

52.Somebody gave us a car after the engine seized in the wagon.

53.Anthony enrolled in Christian school

54.Moved to Font.

55.Great ministry days with hundreds of kids attending church

56.Marybeth’s open heart surgery was successful.

57.Injured ankle and out of work for months. Secured a new job.

58.Promoted at work

59.Went full time into the ministry

60.Able to get away with the wife for a three day vacation

61.Honey bucket of blessings dumped over on us at Christmas

62.Became principal of Landmark Christian school

63.School enrollment increased the next year

64.Bought a house with $1down and 120% financing. Yep, $1 down and extra cash for renovations.

65.New roof, bathroom, carpet and tons of paint along with residency inspection in 30 days.

66.School enrollment increased by 150% from my first year.

67.Able to buy my first computer

68.Bought a car instead of having one given to us.

69.School increased by another 40%.

70.Moved the school to a larger location and added a library.

71.School maxed out at 257% larger than the first year I became principal.

72.Many learning disabled children helped at LCS.

73.Able to visit the Dominican Republic

74.Able to visit the DR again.

75.Senior class trip to the DR.

76.Able to return to Northeast.

77.Mentored by Dr. Bish…what a guy.

78.Permitted to create the special education curriculum for Northeast

79.Invited to speak on special education issues at Ocean City, MD for the Delmarva Christian school association

80.Big personal setback, but the Lord gave much grace

81.God’s hand of blessing on me

82.Everything began to crumble around me, but God continued to bless my life.

83.Strength to work two full-time jobs

84.Exposed to the mental health industry

85.Relief from financial setbacks and back to one job

86.Wisdom, patience and guidance were given

87.Able to go back to school again

88.Leadership to leave Northeast

89.Comfort through disappointment

90.Three meetings on the calendar. No job or money. God filled up the calendar and met our needs.

91.God blessed to help countless people through speaking engagements as I traveled around the country

92.My wife and daughter were not killed in the auto accident

93.Grace through the painful months

94.Medical insurance obtained

95.Secured work at Devereux

96.Promoted to Treatment Manager (thank you for the financial trouble which exposed me to the mental health industry)

97.Promoted to Learning Specialist

98.Promoted to Learning Manager

99.Promoted to Operations Manager

100.I have great health

Brace Yourself!

Brace yourself! This is the phrase that we use to prepare ourselves for some impending negative event. It may be physically holding on to something in preparation for jolting or even a collision. It could even relate to preparing yourself for news that may move you emotionally.

As bracing yourself may seem to work in the physical world, it does not work in the spiritual. However, what will work is if the Lord braces you.

1 The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee;

2 Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion; (Psalm 20:1-2)

In this time of distress for David, he is looking for the Lord to send him help and strength. The strength he is seeking is comfort and to be held up. Another meaning for the word strength would be to brace. David is not bracing himself for the trial that he faces, but he is asking the Lord to brace him.

When I think of the Lord bracing us for trials, I picture a parent with a child. Imagine a small child in the arms of a father as they face a frightening experience like a thunderstorm. With each flash and bang of the storm, the child buries their head in the father’s chest as the father tightly braces the child. The father’s embrace may not be able to stop the storm, but it does bring security and strength to the child.

As we face the storms of life, God wants to brace us for them. He may not choose to remove the storm, but with his tender embrace, he will provide us the comfort and strength that we need.

Thankfully his loving embrace in these times is based on his mercy and grace. Because of this, we can always count on the father to be there for us. As you face storms in life, bury your head into the chest of your heavenly father and experience his strong loving embrace.

Brace Yourself!

Brace yourself! This is the phrase that we use to prepare ourselves for some impending negative event. It may be physically holding on to something in preparation for jolting or even a collision. It could even relate to preparing yourself for news that may move you emotionally.

As bracing yourself may seem to work in the physical world, it does not work in the spiritual. However, what will work is if the Lord braces you.

1 The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee;

2 Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion; (Psalm 20:1-2)

In this time of distress for David, he is looking for the Lord to send him help and strength. The strength he is seeking is comfort and to be held up. Another meaning for the word strength would be to brace. David is not bracing himself for the trial that he faces, but he is asking the Lord to brace him.

When I think of the Lord bracing us for trials, I picture a parent with a child. Imagine a small child in the arms of a father as they face a frightening experience like a thunderstorm. With each flash and bang of the storm, the child buries their head in the father’s chest as the father tightly braces the child. The father’s embrace may not be able to stop the storm, but it does bring security and strength to the child.

As we face the storms of life, God wants to brace us for them. He may not choose to remove the storm, but with his tender embrace, he will provide us the comfort and strength that we need.

Thankfully his loving embrace in these times is based on his mercy and grace. Because of this, we can always count on the father to be there for us. As you face storms in life, bury your head into the chest of your heavenly father and experience his strong loving embrace.