“The billions keep piling up for many of America’s Great philanthropists. So, too, do their charitable contributions. The nations 25 biggest givers have donated a total of 169 billion over the course of their lifetimes, according to Forbes estimates. That’s up from 149 billion last year, partly due to new information and covered by Forbes – but mostly due to another year of huge giving by these 25 mega – donors.”
Let’s think about this a minute. Why? Some people will say they do it for a tax write off. Maybe somewhat, but they could enlarge their business investments and still write off business expenses. First of all we must thank God for their giving and pray for them. What? Pray for these rich people? Why not? Aren’t they doing God’s work? Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, helping the downtrodden, the widow and educating the poor?
When the offering plate comes around do we take our wallet and thumb past the $50, the several $20s and pull out the torn wrinkled $1 and then as an act of our generosity pull a second $1 to match it and boldly place it in the offering plate, all the while smiling at the usher like we’ve done something? Funny right? We’ll it happens all over the world every Sunday morning.
Here’s something to consider, the Bible teaches us: “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38)
Could it be that the difference between us and the wealthy givers is Luke 6:38? In my life I have seen time and time again the blessings bestowed upon generous givers. They don’t give to get, but they do get when they give. You can’t out-give God. You can’t out-give God.
Jack was a handful of a teenager to raise, but his father, Reverend Abernathy, did his best. A widower of more than a decade, being a single dad had its challenges. But lately, life became almost unbearable. Jack took up with friends and together found themselves in continuous trouble. Drinking, drugs, out all night became the norm until his dad had enough. He sent Jack to a military school hoping that they would instill the discipline to make him change his ways.
Jack absolutely hated his formal life of discipline and being controlled. After the first semester, he wrote his father and apologized. He begged to return home promising to follow the rules, forsaking bad habits and the friends he had followed. His dad wrote him back and gave him the reply that he was not looking for.
He wrote, “Son, I’m sorry that I had to take the action that I deemed necessary, but it was for your own good that I acted. I know how this must have hurt but you have come through it. I’m glad you have changed your ways and I hope that your repentance holds true. You can’t come home now, but at the end of the next semester, when it will not adversely affect your grades, I wish for you to come home. We’ll begin a new start for a bright future”
The Apostle Paul under similar circumstances wrote to the church in Corinth: “I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways.” (2 Corinthians 7:8-9)
When love is hard, love is proven. Do what you have to do to save them from themselves, in love.
Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)
Mother. Just the name evokes a flood of thoughts and memories. Childhood memories of a loving hand to bandage a skinned knee, and a magical kiss upon that bandage that made the pain fade away. The big smile and wild applause from the third row in the audience of a second-grade school play, acknowledging my dramatic interpretation of a tree, a tree that spoke not a word. The bedtime stories and prayers where I learned that the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
Sometimes I look at her bloodstained Bible, which she took with her to dialysis treatments in her latter days. There she shared her faith and testimony with the other patients, being a blessing in her time of sickness. Though she is with the Lord, her life and love remain in my heart.
Mother. I am doubly blessed that my child has the best one, a Mother whose child is the center of her world. She’s a Mother who loves, teaches, corrects shares, prays, plays, and focuses herself completely on the health, welfare, and happiness of her child. She’s a Mother who cries every year on the first day of school after we put our daughter on the school bus. So to cheer her up and get her mind off of it, I take her to breakfast at IHOP. It’s hard to cry in your pancakes. She’s a role model our daughter will be hard-pressed to duplicate, though I know she will.
Mother. There are many wonderful Mothers in all our lives and though we honor them every year, it seems inadequate considering what they really deserve.
Mother. There once was a Mother so unique, so precious, that our heavenly Father chose her to be the Mother of His only begotten Son. She was so trusted that even though she was young, inexperienced, and poor, she was chosen to Mother our Lord Jesus. Difficult circumstances were her lot in life, and yet through unspeakable adversity, such as the death threat against her son by the King, she poured herself into her son, who became the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
It makes one wonder, what part of His determination; compassion, patience, longsuffering, and love came from her influence on Him. We assume that He received all of His attributes from His heavenly Father because He is the Son of God. But He is also the Son of man, so we must not forget to honor His Mother for being used of God the Father to instill many of those attributes.
Mother. She’s the one who pushed Jesus into His public ministry by making Him do His first public miracle. John 2:1-11describes how He wasn’t prepared to turn the water into wine because He said that His time had not yet come. “This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him” (John2:11)
Like us, He experienced that wonderful force of nature, a Mama who knows best!
He acknowledged her and provided for her even during His torture on the cross.
“When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. John 19:26-27
Their love and Devotion for each other didn’t end there. As she prayed with the others in the upper room on the day of Pentecost, He filled her with the Holy Spirit, and their relationship continues to this day. She is an example to Mothers, as He is an example to Sons and daughters.
Mother. Love her. Cherish her. Honor her. She deserves it!
There are many horrors on this earth; murders, abuse, genocide, violence in many forms, mental depression, and so forth. The list goes on and on as conceived by the devil. But friends, there is one horror which will capture the majority of humanity. That horror is HELL.
Would the almighty God, creator of all things, send His Son to live like us, and then die on a cruel cross of despair, then enter hell for three days if it were not for a supremely good reason? I’ll tell you why. To save us from the horror of eternal damnation in a hopeless torturous place reserved for evil. The Bible says:
“As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2)
Run! Run from the worst horror of all time! Run to God.
A father desperately searches for his young son. They always had a great relationship until lately when his teenaged son started running with the wrong crowd. Late at night he drives the town looking for him to no avail. When one night as he crosses the railroad tracks he sees a silhouette walking slowly in the distant foggy night. He leaps from his car, yells the boys’ name and says, “Come back! Son. Come back.” The boy stopped and slowly turns to his dad and says, “Why? Why do you want me back?”
His father rushes to him and without a word, puts his arms around him, lifting him up with a-hug, and said, “Yes Son, always.” He replies, “ I’m sorry dad. Let’s go.”
The Bible tells the familiar story of the prodigal son, and how in spite of everything, the father welcomes him home with open arms. Friends, Father God sent Jesus to die to get us back. What else does He have to do to prove His love for you? He just wants you to come back. Forget the past. Theres no future in the past. Come back. He’s waiting for you with open arms.
“We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)
There was a Priest who struggled all of his adult life with alcoholism. As a teenager his buddies and he would hide out in a friends’ barn and spend hours playing cards and drinking whatever they could steal from their parents and relatives liquor closets. It was all fun and games they would tell each other, as they challenged each other to chug one more drink.
Later after graduation his friends grew up and gave up the excess drinking but the future Father did not. He became an alcoholic and began drinking alone. This destroyed his life, his future until one hot July day, he threw his last bottle of whiskey in the dumpster which he was living beside and said “enough.”
He entered a program at church, got clean, and turned his life around. Still the temptation was always there, lurking like a vulture over his shoulder waiting for him to die. Wanting to help others and live right he became a priest. He studied and eventually was given a church to pastor. His dreams were coming true.
The Father found caring for his congregation in this inner city poor part of town very challenging. People struggling with alcohol and drugs were his every day work. He helped many and even set up a shelter to help people “dry out” and become clean. Then tragedy struct. His mother and sister was killed in a car accident and his father was permanently paralyzed. Gripped with grief and left to care for his father, his life became too much for him to bear.
Late one night while closing up the church and the shelter, he found something which became the last straw in his miserable house of cards. A half empty bottle of whiskey. Picking it up to discard, he couldn’t release it from his grip. Though he hadn’t had a taste in more than 25 years, the bottle called to him. “You do so much for others and you’ve lost so much, go ahead…you deserve to have a little pleasure in life. You can quit after tonight but what’s the harm in taking one night off?
Six months later the Father changed into a hoodie and jeans to enter the liquor store to purchase his new best friend. He couldn’t wait to get home, so after leaving the store he turned into the first alley, sat down beside a dumpster, leaned against the wall and hurriedly opened the bottle. He knew nobody would see him there. Six months, six months of drinking, hiding the truth, covering his breath, becoming a functioning alcoholic. After all, he told himself, he deserved it.
Hours later father felt himself being kicked. Waking up abruptly he looked into the familiar eyes of a police officer. “Hey buddy,” the cop said. “There’s a law against public drunkenness. You’re coming with us.” The two officers lifted him by the arms and placed him in the back seat of their patrol car. The cop driving kept glancing at him through the rear view mirror then suddenly realized, even with his cap pulled low, “Hey you’re my priest!” I don’t go to mass that often but I’d recognize you anywhere!”
Father was mortified. He thought now I’m going to lose everything. The cop driving told his partner,
“Bill I’ve got to do something. Just trust me.” So he drove to the church instead of the police station, took father carefully from the car and walked him to his quarters in the back. He helped him change clothes, washed his face and tucked him into bed. But before he left, he knelt down beside the bed and prayed. “Dear God, please help this your servant, your child. He has made the difference in so many lives, and I don’t know what has brought him down to these depths, but please reach down and pull him out. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Left alone now and crying, father prayed, “Dear God, forgive me for my sin, my lack of faith, and my weakness. Please restore me and give me another chance to gain your love.” God replied in that still small voice, “Son, you have never lost my love. You may have lost your way but I sent those officers to you to rescue you. You were in the deepest depths of despair and could not help yourself, even though you wanted to. I heard your inner cry and yes, you’re forgiven and restored. Look to me as your help. When you see a bottle, see me. For I am there with you and will help you. Never will I leave you.”
With that, father slept. When he woke up he felt fresh and a knew. He had a new start and deliverance from the deepest depth. He knew he would never, ever, go to those deepest depths again.