My father says God gives you a cross that is just heavy enough to kill you.
"Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." Luke 9:23
Ever wonder about the trials in your life? Why do we have to go through trials? What are these heavy burdens we have to carry at times?
Perhaps these trials are the cross God has designed to help you deny yourself and follow Him. And the cross He has designed for you is just the right size for YOU; which means, it is best not to compare your cross with another’s, because God knows exactly what each of us needs to make our faith grow.
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have it’s perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." James 1:2-4
"Likewise, you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:11
"But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." 2 Corinthians 10:12
What My Father Says About Reading the Bible Daily...
"You cannot live on yesterday’s manna," my father says.
I don’t think I know anyone who has a cupboard full of food, but is so lazy they would starve themselves before opening it and eating. However, that is how many people live spiritually. They read the Bible occasionally, perhaps when they are really desperate, or simply because they feel like they should. This is not how God taught us to live!
"Then the Lord said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not." Exodus 16:4
What happened when Israel tried to eat yesterday’s manna? “But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank.” Exodus 16:20
You have to go and gather each and every morning the sustenance God has for you. Are you reading the Bible daily? Are you reading it as if it was your daily bread?
"So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord." Deuteronomy 8:3
"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night." Psalm 1:1-2
"In this manner, therefore, pray…give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:9, 10
One thing your dad always said when he was teaching that I have ingrained in my head is this:
"When God repeats Himself in scripture… it’s going to be on the test."
It helps me so much when I’m seeking the will of God to remember those simple words! What are the issues that DEEPLY matter to the heart of God? Look closely, He will talk about them often.
I find that whenever I uncover some nugget of truth that was evasive to me because of my own sinfulness… when I finally see myself through God’s sorrowful eyes, repent and that truth is revealed— Glory! I see how those same truths were there, all along, woven throughout the scriptures, oft repeated, artfully explained, waiting to be consumed so they can nourish me with the nectar of heaven.
"When God repeats himself in scripture…. it’s going to be on the test."
Holy Spirit, show me what is important to You. Help me to see those places in scripture you have made it easy for me to hear Your voice and obey.
I praise You, Lord, for the graces you have showered on Liza’s father and his faithful daughter.
This past week I read Matthew 20 and upon reading, asked myself whom I identified with. [At this point please take a moment to read Matthew 20:1-16.]
Here is the story of a vineyard owner who hires people to gather grapes. He hired some early in the morning, some before noon, some at midday, afternoon, and before evening. He agreed with each group to pay them an equal amount. When they all came to collect their earnings, each earned the same even though the last group only worked about an hour. And naturally, the laborers who’d worked since early morning, when finding they hadn’t earned more than those who began before evening, grumbled.
In our society does someone who works for an hour picking grapes earn as much as someone who’s worked for 12 hours picking grapes? No way! That wouldn’t be fair! How could God do this to those who’d been working for 12 hours?!
If I’m honest, I find myself often identifying with the person who feels like they’ve gotten the short end of the stick. I feel as though I’ve been working since morning, but getting the same amount as those who just joined the group. What does this say about my view of God? Am I measuring God by my standards or His?
"Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way, I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?" Matt. 20:13-15
"Life isn’t fair." And it isn’t about fairness! It is about His goodness and mercy!
I felt so convicted, it brought tears to my eyes. I suddenly saw how wonderful God is, and the selfishness in my own heart. Praise God that He is more concerned with being merciful than being fair! How fortunate I am to be working in His vineyard at all!
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9
Do you view God through the lens of fairness? “What am I gonna get?” Or do you view Him through the lens of mercy? “Thank You for choosing me!”
I read a couple pages of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book Discipleship last night before going to bed. Something he said reminds me of what my father taught me:
"Because talk about obedience as a consequence of faith is unseemly, due to the indissoluble unity between faith and obedience, the statement "only the believers obey" has to be paired with the other one, "only the obedient believe."
When I was young and my father would ask me to do something and I didn’t do it or did it incorrectly he would ask me, “did you hear me?” If I said, “yes,” then he would reply, “no you didn’t, because you didn’t do what I asked.” He would tell me about how the word in the Bible (I can’t remember if it was the Greek or Hebrew) for to hear is the same word for to obey. They are synonymous. To hear is to obey.
He would then say, “if you don’t hear me the first time, I might have to turn up the volume.” :)
So, according to Bonhoeffer, “only the believers obey—only the obedient believe.” And according to my father, “to hear is to obey.” We must be believers, we must be hearers of the word, we must obey by doing what God asks. Or else, God might have to turn up the volume.
Well, Miriam and friends…perhaps this will be the beginning of a book.
What was it I said tonight “my Dad always says?” Oh, right…that we should handle our brothers and sisters in the Lord as we would handle the Body of Christ. We need to treat each other with respect, love, honor, care, and caution. A good reminder indeed.
"For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit…the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually." 1 Corinthians 12:12-27
"And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works…" Hebrews 10:23