How do I give thanks in the tough times?

How do I give thanks in the tough times?

At one time or another we all face difficulties. We get so caught up in our problems we fail to realize that there are many things for which we can be thankful, starting with our very existence.

Twenty five years ago Capi, a teenager in Rwanda, ran from her home as her parents and brother were murdered by warriors during a civil war. With nothing more than the clothes she was wearing she walked without food or water until she reached Lake Tanganyika where she boarded a small boat that was picking up refugees and depositing them at a UN refugee camp in a neighboring country.

For seven years she lived in a tent and then a cinder block building with no privacy and no running water. Her situation seemed hopeless–a frightened orphan, living in a foreign land where the people around her spoke a language different from her own. She constantly struggled with hunger, loneliness, fear of sexual assault and the dread that pervaded the camp. Yet, she recalled the Bible verses she was taught as a child and daily thanked God for her life even as she cried out the words of Psalm 13: “How long, O Lord…”

At a church in the camp, she met Canesius, a teacher, who was also a refugee. Despite cultural, language and age differences, the two decided to get married. For three more years they lived in the camp unable to return to their homelands. Then one day they were selected to be sent out of the camp, and by a miracle ended up in Virginia arriving wit only a few dollars for resettlement, and finding some new friends at a next-door church, Capi and Canesius started their American life with a whole new set of challenges; learning another language, finding housing, getting jobs, etc working out transportation and paying the fees to become U.S. citizens.

Today Capi radiates joy as she expresses her thanksgiving to God for all the ways she and Canesius have been blessed—jobs, schooling for their two boys, a car, a Habitat for Humanity home and a church home where Capi is a deacon. Though poor in material things they are rich in the knowledge that they are children of God and are helping new refugees.
So, are you thankful for the job that God has blessed you with? How about family and friend, the place you call home, or the freedoms you enjoy as Americans? How about the computer or phone on which you are reading this post? If God has provided you with some of these luxuries in life, then you are truly blessed and thank God for them!

Remember however, it’s not things that will make you happy in tough times. In the Bible, Paul the Apostle , wrote to friends in Philippi saying:

…I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ    (Phil. 3:8)

All that is required for true joy is a relationship with our Creator:

Take delight in the Lord,and he will give you the desires of your heart.   (Psalm 37:4)

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.   (Phil. 4:19)

When we have a relationship with God, we can be content in situations.

Once we have our hearts and eyes set on God, everything else falls into it’s proper place . Thank God with your whole heart this week! He promises to never leave you or forsake just like for Capi!

Bible verses are quoted from the New International Version.

Should I tithe 10% of my income?

Should I tithe 10% of my income?

The better question may be: “can I ever out-give God?”

Imagine what your community, our nation, the world, for that matter, might look like if every Christian were to give 10% or more of their income to the work of God…not the average of 3% it gives now.

Tithing was instituted in God’s law as a tax to support a theocratic nation known as Israel. The Israelites were chosen by God to separate themselves from the idol worshipers who lived around them. They were given a very high moral standard by which to live. They were promised that not only would they enjoy a loving, prosperous relationship with God, all the world would be blessed through their descendants.

When these people turned their back on God and refused to pay their taxes, they were called out by prophets, including one named Malachi. He reminded them that the law said:

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

Malachi 3:10

This was a clear admonition to a people who ignored God and abandoned their responsibility to support the priests and temple worship prescribed by God. On top of that there were calls for additional tithes to further God’s work, including caring for widows and orphans, helping the sick and impoverished, and celebrating God’s blessings.

Tithing is not mentioned by Jesus or by Paul or by any other of the New Testament writers. We find no mention of tithing in the writings of the early church fathers. Why is that? The New Testament standard for giving is clearly the tithe and more. It is the intentional, responsible act of a Christian recognizing that because Jesus gave everything for us, including his life, we should gladly give all for him. Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

2 Corinthians 8:9

Paul wanted Christians to recognize that the standard for giving should be inner motivation guided by the Holy Spirit, not outward compulsion.

For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.

2 Corinthians 8:3-5

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:7

So, when the issue of tithing come up, you should ask yourself, how has God prospered you, not how will God prosper you if you give. Despite what some preachers may tell you, there is no magic formula that says if you give X amount, God will give you back twice, or five or ten times as much. God is not in the bargaining business. He loves a “cheerful giver.” He also is a cheerful giver. Think about it, he has given you everything. So how much should you give? Let’s look at the examples of the Christians in the early church:

The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea.

Acts 11:29

For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own,

2 Corinthians 8:3

Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.

2 Corinthians 8:11

While tithing is not specifically taught in the New Testament, we see that Christians were commended for giving according to their ability, and in some cases beyond their ability. If you are reading this, you are likely to be among the richest people in the world. (If you earn more than $15,000 per year, you are in the top 5%; if more than $50,000, you are a one percenter!) That suggests that today you should be thinking about how much, not how little, you can give back to the God who gave you everything. And since money is just a reflection of your earning power, you may also want to consider ways to give of your time and talents over and above your monetary contributions.

If you are a Christian, it’s probably a good idea to budget at least 10% of your income to support God’s work in your community and around the world. For most, that is a starting point. Sometimes you may need to stretch, to actually sacrifice, to give to God’s work. But, more often, you will find that giving as God has prospered you results in giving cheerfully well in excess of the tithe.

Bible verses are quoted from the New International Version

What is Apologetics?

What is Apologetics?

This question and topic generally today refers to Christianity. The word apologetics is somewhat misleading and has nothing to do with apologizing in the modern sense of the word. Apologetics is building the case for explaining and defending the Christian faith. So, the straightforward answer is that apologetics defines, “What Christians Believe and Why Christians Believe It.”

First, an examination of the ‘What is Believed’ includes knowledge about God, creation, nature, origins of man, sin, morality, stewardship, life’s purpose, Jesus Christ, redemption, salvation, Heaven, Hell, the Christian church, the Bible, the Old Testament history of nations, End Times and eternity, for starters.

Then there is the second part of apologetics, ‘Why Christians Believe It’. Christians start with a concept that the Bible is the inspired word of God and therefore totally reliable as truth about what it contains. They trust the evidence that proves the Bible is historically correct, that it is the best documented of all ancient books and that it contains prophecy that is 100% accurate as only God could see the future of human history as if it is already completed. The Bible is a miracle in its own right as it was written over a period of 1600 years by 40 authors in complete harmony and without any contradictions.

Christians trust and believe the evidence of both Biblical and secular records, Josephus AD 75 & Tacitus AD 116, of the life, teaching, miracles, death by crucifixion, resurrection (witnessed by over 500 people) and ascension to heaven of Jesus Christ. They further believe the evidence of the dramatically transformed lives of Jesus 12 disciples who boldly proclaimed the truth of the gospel and were martyred for their testimonies. The fact is that no one willingly dies or is martyred for a lie. Then there is the miraculous contribution of Christianity to Western Civilization; literature, art, science, music, mathematics, medicine, education, philosophy, law and much more.

Finally, there is the witness and testimonies of the hundreds of millions of followers of Jesus Christ through the centuries. Why so many believers? The answer is because Jesus is the only way to eternal life and a transformed life full of meaning and purpose. He is ‘The Way’ to receive God’s gifts of joy, love, peace, forgiveness, contentment, faith and eternal hope.

What is the Biblical Concept of Sanctification?

What is the Biblical Concept of Sanctification?

Sanctification is a very important concept or process to understand in the life of a Christian. It’s much more than just a fancy word of the Christian faith. Sanctification simply means “to be set apart” for God’s exclusive possession as a reminder to us of God’s redeeming Grace made for our salvation. That gift of grace of course was the gift of his Son Jesus Christ who paid the price for our sins on the Cross so that we could be forgiven and restored to a right relationship with God our Creator.

Sanctification is the on-going process by which a person becomes holy in God’s sight by yielding his or her life daily to Jesus. It is a life long experience for the believer. We are reminded over and over again in the Bible that God never leaves us as we were before we experienced salvation in Jesus Christ. It is in fact a lifelong pursuit guided by God’s Holy Spirit and God’s inspired Word. Like an athlete training for a marathon, sanctification is an endeavor that takes discipline, time, sacrifice, commitment, faithfulness, and a desire to please and follow Jesus and bring honor and glory to God.

Finally, sanctification requires getting into God’s Word on a consistent basis, participating in Bible studies, having a regular quiet time with Jesus, attending and participating in worship services and treasuring God’s Word in one’s heart by memorizing Scripture. The goal of sanctification is to, over time, make a believer more and more like Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:1-18). As that happens, others will see Christ in the believer and he or she will be able to tell them about Him and God’s love for them.