Archive for Magnificent God

A Broader Vision

All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you. (Colossians 1:6, NIV)

Christians had gathered from all over the world to spend a week worshiping, talking, and learning together. And I had spent the entire week there in a publisher’s booth selling one particular product: our new hymnal. Every little feature of that product, every detail of the booth, was my life for those days.

Then on the last day, with lighter crowds, I wandered around a bit and saw some of the other exhibits. Right there across the aisle from me was the world missions area. Walking through, I got a glimpse of the desperate needs in so many world areas. I saw display after display of the world’s great cities, and I thought of all the needy millions crammed into each of them.

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the details and mechanics of our own little area of ministry. And let’s be honest: at times our concerns revolve too much around how that ministry impacts our own interests. We forget the needs of people, which is the real reason the ministry exists.

With all that in mind, I was approached by a former missionary who was hosting the display. Seeing my name, he commented on a publication I had helped produce years before. He relayed how useful it had been in his work on the mission field.

As he spoke, I thought immediately of new projects I was working on. I realized that God would be able to use them to touch the lives of others, if I stayed focused on Him and on the needs of His people.

I came away with a desire to do a better job right where I am. I don’t need a broader field of service. I need a broader vision of His work here where He has placed me.

Our ministries are only a tiny part of the overall picture, but they matter. We need to stay faithful to Him and focused on Him with each task He places before us. Somewhere that task will make a difference in the lives of people. Somewhere are needs He intends to meet through us today.

God designed our individual spiritual gifts and
roles in the Church to be
small and specialized.
Yet He calls us to
a perspective on the Church that is
broad and all-encompassing,
taking in the entire eternal purpose of God.

Hymn: Beyond All Barriers

More on Stewardship

“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21, NIV)

A steward is one who handles an owner’s property as the owner would want it handled. In a day when slow travel and communication created many absentee business owners, the steward was responsible for making daily decisions as the owner would make them.

As God’s stewards, how are we to manage His resources? What is important to Him? Sure, He wants us to value and respect His ownership too much to waste what He has entrusted to us. But penny-pinching and maximizing profits are not the essence of the stewardship He desires. Remember, He can create anything He wants by simply speaking the word.

What is important to Him? Where does He want His resources focused?

God is love (1 John 4:8). Love is precious to Him. People are precious to Him. Look at the way He spent His one and only Son. He was willing to sacrifice what was most precious to Him for the good of His people.

If we want to please our Owner, we must treat people well. That means everyone: family and strangers, friends and the unfriendly, next-door neighbors and people across the globe. God is love. If we love Him, we will love those He loves. They are all unspeakably dear to Him. He asks us to love them all as much as we love ourselves.

This “golden rule” isn’t some secondary, optional commandment. It is the prime directive. And there is no business exemption. He doesn’t say, “Treat people the way you want to be treated, as long as they treat you fairly” or “as long as it doesn’t cost too much.” Jesus said that loving God and loving other people are the two greatest, most essential commandments in all the world. Everything…everything…hangs on these two commands. (Read Matthew 22:34-40.)

Further, if you want to please your Owner, trust Him. He treasures the simple faith of His children. Trust Him with every need and every concern. Words of trust aren’t good enough. He wants you to prove your trust by the way you use His resources.

In summary, if we want to be a good steward and please the God who trusted you with His resources, use them to love people. That’s how this Owner wants His resources spent. Treat people as He would treat them. And show God that you trust Him by the way you spend what He has lent you. Remember what Jesus said:

“Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things [the necessities of life] will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33, NASB)

Stewardship

Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. (1 Corinthians 4:1, NASB)

A while back I came across this interesting observation: before the year 1800, no product, no message, no idea could travel faster than a horse. Think about that for a moment. Geographic separation was an impenetrable barrier to quick communication. For we who enjoy instant communication with nearly anyone in the world, such a severe limitation is almost unimaginable. Cell phones, email, internet, jet planes – geographic separation is no longer an insoluble problem. But this has been reality for only a few seconds of our race’s history.

Consider what it was like for business owners in biblical times. Unless the owner lived within daily travel distance of his business – a handful of miles either by foot or by animal — he had to have someone on site to run his business for him. Travel and communication were too slow to allow the owner to have any say in the daily decisions. Absentee owners were common. They had to rely on a manager, a steward, someone they trusted completely to run their business as they wanted it run. The steward made all daily decisions on behalf of the owner. He was to best use the owner’s resources for the owner’s good.

That is the biblical concept of stewardship. God, the source of all that is, has entrusted some small portion of His property to us, His stewards. We are to manage His property as He would manage it.

For that reason, we must know God personally, thoroughly, intimately. How can we manage His property as He would manage it unless we know what is important to Him?

No business owner wants his or her precious resources wasted, and God is no different. But if you think penny-pinching and financial profit are the ultimate in biblical stewardship, you don’t know your Boss. He created all the physical universe with a word, out of nothing. He simply expressed His will, and the universe appeared.

Such a Being never runs short of resources. He has no need for more money. He could create such things with a word. If He needed them, He wouldn’t have to tell us.

So what is important to God? As His stewards, managing His resources as He wants them managed, we need to know. What does God want you to do with your resources?

God never wants material things from us
for their own sake.
He can create those with a word.
When He lends to us and urges us to give of it,
He is teaching us to trust Him and
to share in His generosity.
He is drawing us into His love,
His freedom, and
His abundance.
He is drawing us into Himself.

Hymn: My Life Is Not My Own

Divine Coincidence

“Speak, for Your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:10, NASB)

Have you discovered that Almighty God wants to take part in your daily work? Here’s one example from my own experience.

Matching a hymn text with the right tune can be tricky, painstaking business. But years ago I began receiving tune ideas from the Lord. Sometimes I would hear an original tune in my head. Other times I would feel prompted toward a folk or classical tune in one of my sources. I would set the tune aside in my “pending” pile, put it out of my mind, and go on with my work.

Then within days the Lord would give me a lyric idea separately, from my Bible study or from an audio book I was listening to. Sometimes it happened the other way around. The text idea would come first, then the tune.

What was amazing was how often I’d find the perfect match for the text or tune there near the top of my “pending” file. I had forgotten about the first one until the second showed up and I went looking for a mate. The two had come to me entirely separately, though in the same time frame.

At first, I considered it mere coincidence. But it began to happen so regularly that I coined a term for it: divine coincidence.

But it wasn’t just texts and tunes that came together so marvelously. Often a thought or scripture would come to me from my daily reading or listening that was exactly what I needed for some current writing endeavor. I hadn’t gone looking for it. It just jumped out at me.

Some would explain such phenomenon as the subconscious working of the mind. And I can’t claim to explain all the workings of this amazing brain the Lord has given us.

But God regularly uses divine coincidence to remind me that He deeply, personally, constantly cares about my daily activities. My work is His work, and He doesn’t abandon me to it. He works beside me all day, every day. The Spirit of the sovereign, almighty, universal God works through me. He will work through you as well. How wonderful is that!

Father, all our work is Your work. Keep us open. Keep us listening. Keep us dependent on You.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21, NASB)

Father, though I am small,
weak, and
O so brief,
You are almighty,
all-wise, and
all-loving.
As I trust You,
You accomplish Your beautiful purpose
through me.

Hymn: God’s Mysterious Ways

Rejoice

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! (Philippians 3:1, NIV)

Rejoicing is joy that is dancing.
Rejoicing is faith as it sings.

Every time I turn to You, Lord,
joy rises in me.
You call me to joy.
You call me to be deep-down happy in every situation –
not because the situation is pleasing,
but because You are God and
You are always good.

You want me to rejoice in You!
When I do, I can rejoice always and
with all my heart.

Lord, I rejoice in You this morning
in the face of Satan’s temptations to anxiety and discouragement.
I rejoice that Your work is going forward right now,
in spite of all I see.
Praise to You, my God!

I rejoice that You are faithful to me every moment and that
Your Spirit never leaves me,
not for a second.

I rejoice that my whole family and every person I love is
in Your hands.

And Lord, I rejoice in the privilege of knowing You.
To know You is to trust You.
To trust You is to love You.
And to love You is to take pleasure in You and
rejoice in You continually.

Thank You, my Father!
Thank You for all that You are!

Hymn: Joy in Your Presence

All You Are

Lord Almighty,
blessed is the one who trusts in you.
(Psalm 84:12)

Father, so much of my daily life is still untouched by
the truth of all You are.
You are
perfect wisdom,
perfect power, and
perfect love,
yet too often I think and act as if You are
limited and unreliable.

O my Father, I long to live in full response to all You are.
As I worship,
teach me,
remind me,
shape me,
draw me.
Fill my faith with all Your magnificence.

Father,
You are the center of all reality.
Everything revolves around You.
May it be so in my life.
Help me see everything—
every resource,
every task,
every problem—
only in relationship to You.

Hymn: High and Holy Sovereign God

God of Endless Abundance

My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19, NASB)

God of endless abundance,
God of glad, unbounded giving,
You have made me
Your child,
Your heir.
I am rich beyond measure
in You.

Father, help me turn my back on everything
that distracts me from You.
Help me flee from
all anxious grasping,
all foolish desires, and
all self-glory.

Instead, help me wholeheartedly embrace
generosity,
contentment,
humility,
gratitude, and
joyful, self-giving love.

Father, You are the one eternal God.
Help me love You
with all my heart,
with all that I am and
all that I hold.

Father,
You are all-in-all.
I am always
complete and
sufficient in You.

Hymn: God Alone

Today in Your Care

Sovereign God,
You dwell in eternity,
unmoved by time.
Your promises,
Your purposes,
Your burning love are
always now,
always sure,
always undiminished.

Today
I am in Your tender care.
Here in You,
nothing is forgotten,
nothing ignored,
nothing overlooked,
nothing left to chance.
Your purpose is never threatened.
You suffer no surprises and
no setbacks.
You are not bound
by the present or the past,
by norms or impossibilities.

Within me is
pain,
sorrow,
weakness, and
uncertainty.
But You have hidden me in Yourself.
I am completely,
eternally,
untouchably safe in You.

The Eternal I AM,
the Source of All,
is my shepherd.
I lack nothing.

Hymn: Be Still, My Child

An Adventure of Faith

All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant. (Psalm 25:10, NIV)

God, You are God.
Your ways are always loving.
Your ways are always wise.
The way You lead me is always the best way.

So, Lord, help me to trust You boldly and gladly.
I will not shrink from tasks to which You have called me.
I will accept them as an adventure of faith,
as a chance to discover more about You,
to experience
Your guiding,
Your power,
Your blessing and providing;
as a chance to glorify You.

Lord, I accept this challenge
as an adventure of faith.

Father, it frightens us
when You send us out with
no support and no resource
but Your promise.
But those experiences bind us to You
and prove that
You are who You say You are and
will do all You say You will do.

Hymn: The Upward Call

Our Single-minded Father

Father, this morning You helped my heart to grasp
what my mind had dimly known:

Everything You have allowed me to go through in my life,
everything I am going through even now,
is to build my relationship with You:
all the years of frustration,
all the loneliness,
all the financial struggles,
all the endless waiting,
all those disappointments.

You have isolated me to Yourself.
You have hemmed me in.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me (Psalm 139:5, NASB).
By my circumstances and by Your Spirit within me
You have turned me repeatedly, persistently toward You.
You have made Yourself
my only comfort,
my only hope,
my only unchanging Rock of truth,
my only refuge.

Father, the unfailing faithfulness of Your eternal love swamps
my tiny attention span,
my childish self-centeredness,
my meager, stumbling faith.
I am a child learning to walk.
Like any eager parent, You call me,
lift me,
point me,
hold my hands, and
draw me toward Yourself.

Sometimes we wonder whether faith is entirely a gift of Your sovereign choice,
or whether it is our doing.
But You are like one building a campfire.
You work to create a tiny spark,
then patiently blow it into flame by Your mighty but gentle breath.
I have to respond,
but all the doing is Yours, my loving Father.

Continue to patiently, persistently draw me.
And when I am tempted to despair or complain,
help me to remember and look to You again.
You are my Father, and I am
gladly,
proudly,
humbly Your child.

God’s greatest blessings often come
disguised as difficulties.
These difficulties are opportunities to
trust Him in a new way, and thus to
know Him in a new way.

Hymn: Good Gifts