Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Do You Have the Right Stuff?

This past Sunday, my Pastor shared several messages on relationships.  And he was talking about how someone could be attracted to someone else based on their "stuff".  That could be attractiveness, poise, any of a whole slew of signs of wealth (cars, electronics, houses, etc.).  And he compared that to our relationship with God.

Many believers go after God because of who He is.  There's a continually growing love of God, based on a continually growing understanding of who He is.  But there are those who "love" God for His "stuff": protection from bad things, success, wealth, being given attention.  Whatever.  "Hey, God, what have You done for me lately?" might be a question underlying that relationship.  The relationship is based on God performing for the believer.  It becomes all about "me".  If I'm doing things right, I get all these blessings.  In the '80s, ministries with this thinking were known as "name it and claim it."  And, if God didn't perform on cue, there had to be something wrong with you -- there was sin in your life or you just weren't spiritual enough.  And the real problem was that this kind of thinking eliminated God's love and His Will from the equation. The idea that God allowed good or bad things to happen because He knew which was best for our spiritual growth was not considered.  Nor the possibility that even the bad stuff was allowed by God for our benefit because He loves us and gives us what we need for the most spiritual growth and benefit.  I'll take Him instead of His "stuff", thank you.

I have a "thing" for words.  And the word "stuff" reminded me of a message preached by one of my spiritual heroes, the late Pastor John Palmer.  Every March, our ministry has a conference in Europe. And every year, there are those that are greatly disappointed in not being able to go.  Finances or work schedule or other circumstances prevent some from going.  And, for similar reasons, some who want to go out on the mission field are unable to.  Pastor Palmer referred to those staying at home as "the stuff stayers", based on 1 Samuel 30:24,  "For who will hearken to you in this matter? but as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the goods: they shall part alike."  While it's outwardly a great thing to go into battle, no nation could send all its military out to battle without leaving the homeland vulnerable.  So, some must stay home to guard it. And, although the context is wrong, the application of Romans 11:29 is appropriate.  It tells us that "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance."  When God has some go and some stay, it's because He knows which is best for each of us.

The combination of those messages got me to thinking about "stuff".  It's good and humble to appreciate the "stuff" we've been given.  As long as our focus is on the "Stuff Giver".  Don't envy or desire the "stuff" at the expense of missing the "Stuff Giver".  And it's just as honorable to stay home and  guard the "stuff", if that's God's call on your life, as going out to capture and bring home more"stuff".


Don't forget to pray for Libby!

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