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Can you pay God back?

We live in a world with social media and it’s not going away. And for the most part it’s a fun distraction, it can put a smile on your face – but I don’t know if people always notice that when the Facebook field is blank there is a question there… and it says “what is on your mind.”

 

What’s on my mind? Wow….

 

What’s on my mind is Pringles cans should have a twist mechanism like stick deodorant.

 

What’s on my mind?

 

What happened to all the Sour Patch parents?

 

What’s on my mind?

 

Roasting marshmallows is great because it combines dessert and playing with fire.

 

That’s what is on my mind… aren’t you glad you asked?

 

And when Joanna and I moved to the new house – we both kind of agreed we were NOT going to post it to Facebook even though it was VERY much “on our minds.” Why not? Well, because to us it felt like bragging. New cars, new houses, new boats, it all feels like showing off.

 

It’s great to feel proud, but it turns a corner when you call attention to yourself I think; and Joanna and I didn’t want to do that – I say this because it happens in some churches as well. People serve or give and they get a sense of pride and they call attention to it to say

 

“Look at me – look at what I’ve done.”

 

And I don’t know if we’re showing off for other people – or God. Because if it’s God, then it’s almost like you’re paying God back. “Look, I am doing this and this… I’m volunteering in multiple areas – wearing multiple hats. “I’m doing it all for you God!”

 

But you can’t pay God back, right? There is nothing you can do, no team you can serve on or board you can volunteer for that can equate in value to God sending you His son.

Jesus died willingly and now you have the forgiveness of sins, now you have been shown grace – what do you think? Is there anything you can do? To say THANK YOU to God for what He’s done?

 

And I know why we act and think this way – it’s because we were raised with it. For many of us – work – or no work – determined our reward or punishment. If we do something good – we are rewarded. If we abstain from work – or work poorly – we are punished.

 

We earn Heaven…. but the default is hell.

 

 

Good – bad – its all a scale and life is keeping the tip and balance in your favor.

 

Did we get that from our parents? Did we get that from Mom & Dad? The thought was, I have to do enough to be accepted in this family. I have to behave well enough, otherwise I won’t be loved. I want to be a family member, I want my parents to be proud of me, so I work for their approval and their love.

 

It’s a constant battle – we are either fighting against pride in our accomplishments, or we are fighting insecurity that we are not doing enough. As a pastor, I feel this way all of the time. I fight this struggle every day. On Sunday morning you always get accolades about how well you’re doing, and the rest of the week you fight the feelings that you never do enough. There is always more you can be doing.

 

We either earn love, or we feel we don’t deserve love.

Do you know what? Neither of those are found in the Bible.

That is not the definition of love found in the scriptures.

 

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God is the only true giver

Acts 17:24-27

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,  nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us.

 

You don’t help God.

You don’t feed God.

You don’t judge God.

 

In fact you don’t give anything, because we as the “created” we have nothing to give but our thanks. You think you can GIVE God anything? You can’t. Everything you have to give was given to you – by God.

 

God is the only true giver.

 

I know, you’re fighting that statement – of course you give. You give God your time, your talent, and your treasure, Ok but God gave you all of those things first. God says, “thanks you gave me a cow – tell me something – who made that cow?”

 

Everything you give God – He gave you first.

 

 

 

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Being thankful with your service

Psalm 50:16-23

But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips? For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you. If you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you keep company with adulterers.

 

“You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit.  You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done, and I have been silent;  you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you. “Mark this, then, you who forget God,  lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!  The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;  to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”

 

Those are harsh words. God says “Do you hate my commands? Yea, I can tell. You’ve adopted this, can’t beat ‘em – join ‘em attitude. I am watching you. Do you think that because I am silent, or because I have not punished you that I am ok with what you’re doing?”

 

Reminds me of Romans 2:4

Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

 

Instead we think, “well, I got away with it this week… I guess God is ok with it.”

 

But God says… One day…. one day it will catch up with you and He says….

 

“Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!

yikes…. how do you translate that? Justify that? Rectify that passage? And we judge God and ask “Well, how can an all loving God punish?”

 

Listen, I don’t want God to judge me or punish me either, but I’m not going to hide my head in the sand or try to reinterpret this passage to suit my own self

 

How do you interpret this passage? it sounds pretty cut and dry For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you. “You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit.  You sit and speak against your brother… “Mark this, then, you who forget God,  lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!

It all sounds bleak…. but how does the passage end?

 

v23 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;  to one who orders his way rightly  I will show the salvation of God!”

God says… salvation will come to the one who is thankful to God with their service.

 

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August by Andy Rooney

 

 

 

 

 

This is the worst time of year. The last two weeks of August are the dregs of the 52. If I had to drop two weeks out of the year I’d drop these. Everything about the end of August is depressing. There’s that foreboding of the death of a season in the air. There are reminders all around us that this is the end of something good, and none of us like to see good things end. From the middle of August on, the threat of labor day looms big in our minds. We know it’s coming. We count the days. The Summer is dwindling down to nothing. The grass is turning brown and the plants and flowers are just holding on.

 

There is no other time of year when we all become aware of how quickly time passes and how soon the seasons go. At New Year’s we cover the passing of time with false gaiety, but at the end of August, with school and work and winter facing us, we can’t hide from the fact that it’s the clear end to another time in our lives.

 

But the trouble with the last two weeks of August may be that we’ve gotten into the habit of looking ahead too much instead of enjoying what we’ve got at the moment. The end of August would be ok, if we didn’t keep thinking of summer being almost over. It’s all the looking ahead that makes the last weeks of August so depressing.

 

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Today’s Moment of Truth – Lee Strobel

Lee Patrick Strobel is an American Christian apologetic author. He has written several books, including four which received ECPA Christian Book Awards and a series which addresses challenges to a Biblically inerrant view of Christianity. His latest book Today’s Moment of Truth: Devotions to Deepen Your Faith in Christ is a daily devotional written to strengthen your knowledge on apologetics.

 

Apologetics is the branch of Christianity that deals with the defense and establishment of the Christian faith. Through the book you will be presented with 180 devotions. The devotions are written in a familiar format that we are familiar with – each page has a small Bible passage followed by a thought or inspiration related to that passage. The topics are very intellectual and cover everything from science to the creation of the universe. And before you just assume that this is a collection of Lee Strobel’s past works, you’ll be happy to hear that this book is an origianl work and joint effort with Mark Mittelberg (who is also a best selling author and apologist).

 

Thank you to Zondervan for issuing me this preview copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

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