Favour is the flavour that adds colour to a man's labour. A year of favour is greater that a life time of labour.Psalm 102:13 "Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come."
"Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you"(John 2:4-5).
In Bible times, a Jewish wedding was a special celebration that could last seven days. It was a time of joy and celebration on behalf of the couple. Wine was an integral part of these weddings. Jesus, the disciples, and Mary, his mother, were invited guests to such a wedding. At some point during the celebration there was no more wine. Mary became concerned and turned to Jesus to solve the problem. But Jesus had not yet performed any miracles. However, His mother must have known that he was capable of doing so. Perhaps she had been waiting for the time for him to begin performing miracles.
When she proposed to Jesus that He solve this problem, he answered, "My time has not yet come." You can almost hear that motherly Jewish tone... "Yes, it has son. Please handle this emergency for me." Then she instructs the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them to do, seeming to know that He was going to solve the problem, but not really knowing how. Jesus proceeds to respond to his mother's request.
Now, my western mind imagines what the headline would be the day after this wedding, in the politically incorrect Cana's Daily News: "Son of Mary turns water into alcoholic drink - 180 gallons!" What a way to begin a ministry! Thankfully, there was no negative press.
Now the quality of the wine that Jesus made was exceptional and would have cost a fortune. Imagine, 180 gallons of fine wine! As in most miracles Jesus performed, He involved the faith and obedience of others. The servants were an important part of the miracle - as they did just what Jesus told them to do.
Have you ever asked Jesus to get involved in an unusual problem? No matter what problem you have, Jesus invites you to seek Him as the solution to your problem.
"For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone." Psalm 91:11-12
For years Sergis ran his small retail business from his store in a local shopping center. Every week a visitor would drop by to collect a percentage of his sales. The visitor wasn't his landlord; the mafia had taken control of business in his small country.
Through the ministry of a workplace Christian, Sergis came to faith in Christ, and God began a deep work in his life. One day Sergis decided he could no longer give God's money to the mafia.
A few days later his "friends" paid him a visit. They kidnapped him, blindfolded him, and placed him in a jail cell located in the middle of a mafia-controlled house. During the night Sergis sat in the jail cell discouraged. Two locked doors with guards separated Sergis from his freedom. Suddenly, in the middle of the night Sergis awoke to a voice: "Sergis, get up. Follow me." Sergis awakened to a real, in the flesh, angel of God sent to deliver him. The angel opened the doors while the guards remained asleep. Sergis and the angel walked quietly past the guards to freedom. Sergis immediately went to his Christian brothers to share the miracle that had just taken place.
This true story is living proof that we serve a God who still does miracles on behalf of His servants. Ask God for the miracle you need today.
"Who despises the day of small things?" Zechariah 4:10
Life is filled with a series of small things that can amount to something big. Have you ever considered why the God of the universe came to earth and spent 33 years identifying with mankind through work? Jesus grew up as a carpenter's son and, no doubt, learned the trade from His daily routine of helping His father. For 30 years He worked. When it was time for Him to begin to fulfill His purpose for mankind, He told countless stories of people and their work. He told stories of landowners, farmers, fishermen, tax collectors, and so on. He related to the everyday man because He Himself was one. This is why it was important for Him to have some personal work experience.
Life is filled with daily routines. Every now and then, God takes us to the mountaintop to experience His presence in a dramatic way. This is not the norm. It was not the norm for those in the Bible either. Moses spent 40 years in preparation. Paul spent a great deal of his life working toward the wrong purpose until a dramatic event changed his life. Jacob spent 20 years working for Laban.
God uses work to develop character qualities that He plans to use at the appropriate time. In the small things we develop trustworthiness with God. The day-in and day-out grind of working life molds us and makes us into what God desires. God may still be preparing you for something far greater. For now, however, you are learning the daily lessons of small things. Pray that you will be faithful.
"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work." Ecclesiastes 4:9
Have you discovered yet that you are incomplete by yourself? During my "warrior" stage of life you would have been hard-pressed to convince me that I needed you or anyone else. I know few people willing to admit their need for others, but many who live according to this principle. However, sooner or later we discover God's truth regarding our need for others.
God made us to need others. We may not discover this until we fail - fail in a business, a marriage, a close friendship, or in a client relationship. We are incomplete without the ongoing input from others into our lives. An independent spirit is one of the most detestable sins from God's viewpoint. It is the highest form of pride. "Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice" (Prov. 13:10).
God has made each of us so that we have only so many gifts. He did not give any of us all the available gifts. Hence, we learn to depend on others and to humbly trust others to complete us where we are deficient.
David had Jonathan. Paul had Silas. John Wesley had George Whitefield. Martin Luther had Philip Melanchthon, who was 14 years younger. Martin Luther learned that he needed someone in his life to complete the work God called him to do. Luther had the greatest respect for this friend who helped him reform the Church of their day, and the Church as we know it at present. Luther learned a great deal from Melanchthon, who was a great scholar at a young age. He could speak several languages, and he became Professor of Greek at the new University of Wittenberg at 21 years of age. This was ten months after Luther posted his famous theses on the church door in Wittenberg. Melanchthon helped shape the Protestant movement of the sixteenth century through his research, writings, moral purpose, and religious conscience. Luther and Melanchthon became inseparable, and when they died, they were buried next to each other.
Who has God placed in your life to complete you? Perhaps it is a mate. Perhaps it is a close friend. Perhaps it is a business partner. If you lack this in your life, I encourage you to seek someone out who can speak into your life. If you have someone like this, tell him or her how much you appreciate the role he or she plays in your life.
"'Your servant has nothing there at all,' she said, 'except a little oil.'"2 Kings 4:2b
Her husband had died. There was no way to fulfill her debts. Her creditors decided to take her two sons as slaves for payment of the obligations that still remained. She pleaded for assistance with theonly man of God she knew.
"Is there anything in your house?" Elisha asked.
"Nothing at all," she said, "except a little oil."
Elisha then instructed her to go and collect all the empty jars that her neighbors might possess. "Ask for as many as you can," he instructed.
When the jars were collected, he instructed her to pour what little oil she had into the jars. The oil was more than enough to fill the jars. In fact, there was more oil than jars to fill. "Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left" (2 Kings 4:7b).
God often mixes faith with the tangible. The widow believed she had no resources to meet her need. God said she had more than enough resources. She did not see the one jar of oil as a resource. It did not become a resource until it was mixed with faith. Her need was met when her faith was mixed with the practical step of going into the workplace to sell what she had in order to receive her needed income. In fact, there was so much income she was able to pay her debts and live on the money derived from the sale.
Quite often we forget that God works through commerce to provide for our needs. It is wrong to place total trust in commerce withoutfaith in God. God often requires simple obedience to an act that seems ridiculous to the logical mind. It is this faith mixed with the practical that God honors.
Do you have a problem that is perplexing to you? Do you see no way of meeting your need? God may have already given you the skills and talents to meet your need. However, He may be waiting for you to mix them with faith. Ask God to show you the steps necessary to solve your problem. Be willing to take the next step.
"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven" (Luke 6:37).
Have you ever made a judgment about a person or situation only to discover how wrong you were in your assessment? Such was the case in a story told by Os Guinness in his book, The Call.
"Arthur F. Burns, the chairman of the United States Federal Reserve System and ambassador to West Germany, was a man of considerable gravity. Medium in height, distinguished, with wavy silver hair and his signature pipe, he was economic counselor to a number of presidents from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Ronald Reagan. When he spoke, his opinions carried weight and Washington listened.
Arthur Burns was also Jewish, so when he began attending an informational White House group for prayer and fellowship in the 1970s, he was accorded special respect. In fact, no one knew quite how to involve him in the group and, week after week when different people took turns to end the meeting in prayer, Burns was passed by-out of a mixture of respect and reticence.
One week, however, the group was led by a newcomer who did not know of Burns' status. As the meeting ended, the newcomer turned to Arthur Burns and asked him to close the time with a prayer. Some of the old-timers glanced at each other in surprise and wondered what would happen. But without missing a beat, Burns reached out, held hands with others in the circle, and prayed this prayer: 'Lord, I pray that you would bring Jews to know Jesus Christ. I pray that you would bring Muslims to know Jesus Christ. Finally, Lord, I pray that you would bring Christians to know Jesus Christ. Amen.'
Burn's prayer has become legendary in Washington. Not only did he startle those present with refreshing directness, but he also underscored a point about 'Christians' and 'Christianity' that needs repeating regularly. It highlights another important aspect of the truth of calling: Calling reminds Christians ceaselessly that, far from having arrived, a Christian is someone who in this life is always on the road as 'a follower of Christ' and a follower of 'the Way.'
Before you judge a situation, consider that your judgment might not be an accurate assessment of the situation.
"Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know." Job 42:3b
If there was any one man on earth who had reason to question God's love, it was Job. He lost his family, his health, and his wealth - all at the same time. His friends came to his side only to question his spirituality. God had already answered the question of his integrity. Job was described in the opening verses of the book as "blameless and upright" (see Job 1:1). His calamities were not born from sin. Job acknowledged God's right to do anything in his life until one day he could take it no longer. He questioned God's motives.
God answered Job, but not in the way he wanted to hear. God answered him with a series of questions that represents the most incredible discourse of correction by God to any human being. Three chapters later, Job realized that he had questioned the motives of the Author of the universe, the Author of love. He fell flat before his Creator and realized his total depravity. "Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know."
Have you ever questioned God's activity in your life? Have you questioned His love for you based on circumstances that came your way? The cross at Calvary answers the love question. He sent His own Son in replacement for your sin. If you were the only person on earth, He would have done the same. His ways cannot always be understood or reconciled in our finite minds. That must be left for a future time when all will be understood. For now, entrust your life to Him completely. Embrace Him in the hard times and the good.
"That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies..."Joshua 7:12
It matters not how strong you are. It matters not whether you have the greatest resources and talent. It matters not if you have the best plans and procedures. It will all fail if you have a break in your armor.
This is the message God told Joshua when he attempted to go against a small army at Ai, which was the Israelites' second battle in the Promised Land. Sometimes we try to figure out why we are not successful in an endeavor. We look at all aspects of our performance to see what went wrong. For the people of Israel, it was not easily seen on the surface. Everything seemed just as it should be from Joshua's vantage point, so when his army was soundly defeated, he cried out to God, "Ah, Sovereign Lord, why did You ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us?" (Josh. 7:7a)
The people had been defeated because God could not bless them. One person had violated the covenant with God. They were not to take any possessions from the first battle, but one person failed to live up to this, and the whole army suffered.
Sin makes our armor vulnerable to attack from satan, who then gains permission from God to attack us in the area where we have failed to uphold righteousness. If we break down in moral purity, satan comes in and establishes a stronghold. If we give place to bitterness and unforgiveness, we will break fellowship with God and others. If we become money-focused, we will fall into greed and deception. It is a vicious cycle.
Examine your armor today. Make sure you are not susceptible to attack. Begin from a solid spiritual foundation and your chances of success will be great.
"All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping [the idol] there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family" (Judg. 8:27).
Israel was at war with the Midianites and the Amalekites. So God chose a humble young man, Gideon, to deliver Israel by cleansing the land of idols. After submitting a fleece to determine it was God calling him, Gideon obeyed the Lord and destroyed the pagan idols in the region. Then he summoned a large army - over 30,000 men - to fight the Midianites and Amalekites. God said the army was too large, so He first reduced Gideon's army 10,000 men, and then to a mere 300 men. When God gave Israel the victory with an army of only 300 men, all of Israel knew that it was the power of God, not the strength of his army.
If the story had ended there, all would have been well. But at the moment of Israel's triumph, Gideon stumbled. He told the people, "I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder." The Israelites took the gold from the bodies of the enemy dead and Gideon melted it and fashioned it into an idol. The Bible calls this idol an ephod, a word that refers to a ceremonial breastplate?Gideon probably depicted the Lord God as a warrior with an ephod of gold.
But God does not allow Himself to be represented by an idol. This idol was an offense against God and a trap for the people. After Gideon's death, the Israelites again worshiped the pagan god Baal. They forgot the Lord God who rescued them from their enemies.
The story of Gideon has a great beginning, but a tragic ending. This is an instructive lesson for us all. As the apostle Paul tells us, "If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" (1 Cor. 10:12).
If we fail the Success Test we must go back to God without fear. We can ask Him to help us learn the lessons of our failure and to strengthen us for another effort. The God of second chances is able to accomplish His purpose through us even if we have failed Him many times before.