Sunday, July 25, 2010

God Bless the Child

If you were to turn to the Book of Billie Holiday, you would read the following passage:
Them that’s got shall get
Them that’s not shall lose
So the Bible said and it still is news

Mama may have,
Papa may have
But God bless the child that’s got his own
That’s got his own

Yes, the strong gets more
While the weak ones fade
Empty pockets don’t ever make the grade

Mama may have,
Papa may have
But God bless the child that’s got his own
That’s got his own
Now I imagine that some of you are jumping out of your chairs and yelling “Hey, wait a minute! There is no such book in the Bible!”

OK, you caught us operating in a little jocularity - just a wee bit of humor. But, in all seriousness, the concept behind that classic blues song is taken from a scriptural context. Specifically: those who have will be given more, and those who have not shall lose what little they may have.

Let’s pause to read a passage from the Bible in which Jesus is giving some rather stern teaching about the kingdom of heaven. He earlier talks about the foolish virgins who were shut out of the wedding celebration. Later, Jesus will teach about the sheep and the goats. The overall theme seems to be those who do those works that are an acceptable to God, and those who are rejected.

13Watch therefore [give strict attention and be cautious and active], for you know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of Man will come.
14For it is like a man who was about to take a long journey, and he called his servants together and entrusted them with his property.
15To one he gave five talents [probably about $5,000], to another two, to another one--to each in proportion to his own personal ability. Then he departed and left the country.
16He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he gained five talents more.
17And likewise he who had received the two talents--he also gained two talents more.
18But he who had received the one talent went and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.
19Now after a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.
20And he who had received the five talents came and brought him five more, saying, Master, you entrusted to me five talents; see, here I have gained five talents more.
21His master said to him, Well done, you upright (honorable, admirable) and faithful servant! You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much. Enter into and share the joy (the delight, the blessedness) which your master enjoys.
22And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, Master, you entrusted two talents to me; here I have gained two talents more.
23His master said to him, Well done, you upright (honorable, admirable) and faithful servant! You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much. Enter into and share the joy (the delight, the blessedness) which your master enjoys.
24He who had received one talent also came forward, saying, Master, I knew you to be a harsh and hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you had not winnowed [the grain].
25So I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is your own.
26But his master answered him, You wicked and lazy and idle servant! Did you indeed know that I reap where I have not sowed and gather [grain] where I have not winnowed?
27Then you should have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received what was my own with interest.
28So take the talent away from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents.
29For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will be furnished richly so that he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have will be taken away.
30And throw the good-for-nothing servant into the outer darkness; there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.

Matthew 25:13-30 [AMP]

In the above passage, a man gives three of his servants finances to manage.  The most industrious servant received the most... and adeptly traded these funds, doubling the amount for his master.  The second did the same.  The third guy was lazy and fearful.  He hid the money in the ground where it could not earn any interest or grow in value.  The top performer was rewarded... but the lazy bum was punished.

When we become Christians, we are given gifts from God.  We are to use these gifts to glorify God, and to help our fellow man.  If you never share... never help the needy... never use your nice car to give someone a ride... never take time to listen to someone suffering from emotional pain... never share the good news of God’s love gift of salvation through Jesus Christ... if you never do anything with the gifts that God has given you, then you are like the lazy bum in Matthew 25.

The idea of acceptable works being rewarded and bad works being rejected is not a New Testament concept. In the Book of Genesis, we see two brothers: Cain and Abel. One brother brings a sacrifice to God that is accepted. The other brings a sacrifice that is rejected.

3And in the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground.
4And Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions. And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering,
5But for Cain and his offering He had no respect or regard. So Cain was exceedingly angry and indignant, and he looked sad and depressed.
6And the Lord said to Cain, Why are you angry? And why do you look sad and depressed and dejected?
7If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.
Genesis 4:3-7 [AMP]

Cain and Abel are examples of two types of sacrifice: one that is accepted by God and one that is rejected by Him.  So let’s focus on what God is looking for in our lives.  Returning to our concept of the Billie Holiday song, if you gots... you shall get.  If you not... you shall lose. Abel did that which God respected and received the blessing of God’s respect.  Cain got the opposite... and had a bad attitude.

We all know what happened next:  Cain killed his brother.  Sadly, this behavior still occurs.  We have people who get jealous of those who are blessed and want to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10).  I have experienced it in my life... perhaps you have as well.  Rather than celebrate your success, they plot to bring you down... all because they see you receiving what they did not achieve.

But that is a bit of a tangent from our original scripture... that those who manage what God has given them shall receive more... and those who mismanage shall have what little they have taken away.

Interestingly, this seems to be the opposite from one of the world would view as the norm. Not to make this a political statement, but our President seems to think those who have should lose and those who have not should gain. Banks that were in trouble because of bad business practices should be bailed out, and those who managed their finances properly are dealing with higher taxes. But, of course, this is not about politics.

In the economy of heaven, your works that are reflective of a faithful spirit will bring you great reward.  Likewise, the lazy and carnal Christian will have nothing in regard to rewards. That person may even be facing punishment, and according to these scriptures -- most likely so.  YIKES!  What we are reading suggests that our Heavenly Father does not give cash for clunkers!

It is important at this point to emphasize that no one can buy their way into heaven by doing good works. However, good works are an indication of the level of our faith. Yes, we understand that salvation is a gift from God through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord, we also understand that faith without works is dead.

14What is the use (profit), my brethren, for anyone to profess to have faith if he has no [good] works [to show for it]? Can [such] faith save [his soul]?
15If a brother or sister is poorly clad and lacks food for each day,
16And one of you says to him, Good-bye! Keep [yourself] warm and well fed, without giving him the necessities for the body, what good does that do?
17So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead).
18But someone will say [to you then], You [say you] have faith, and I have [good] works. Now you show me your [alleged] faith apart from any [good] works [if you can], and I by [good] works [of obedience] will show you my faith.
19You believe that God is one; you do well. So do the demons believe and shudder [in terror and horror such as make a man's hair stand on end and contract the surface of his skin]!
20Are you willing to be shown [proof], you foolish (unproductive, spiritually deficient) fellow, that faith apart from [good] works is inactive and ineffective and worthless?
21Was not our forefather Abraham [shown to be] justified (made acceptable to God) by [his] works when he brought to the altar as an offering his [own] son Isaac?
22You see that [his] faith was cooperating with his works, and [his] faith was completed and reached its supreme expression [when he implemented it] by [good] works.
23And [so] the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed in (adhered to, trusted in, and relied on) God, and this was accounted to him as righteousness (as conformity to God's will in thought and deed), and he was called God's friend.
24You see that a man is justified (pronounced righteous before God) through what he does and not alone through faith [through works of obedience as well as by what he believes].
25So also with Rahab the harlot--was she not shown to be justified (pronounced righteous before God) by [good] deeds when she took in the scouts (spies) and sent them away by a different route?
26For as the human body apart from the spirit is lifeless, so faith apart from [its] works of obedience is also dead.
James 2:14-26 [AMP]]

I like what Joyce Meyer often says: when she asks someone “Are you a Christian?” one of the more common responses is, “I go to church.” Joyce follows that with, “You can sit in the church... that doesn’t make you a Christian. I could sit in my garage, that doesn’t make me an automobile.”  A lot of people go to church... but are they sheep or goats?  Again, the scriptures define the acceptable one(s) as those whose faith is evidenced by their good works!

One thing I have often related is that I have had more problems in life from people who call themselves Christians than from people who seem to worship the devil or claim to be atheists.  It is not only frustrating to have someone claiming to be a fellow believer in Christ telling lies about you and sowing all sorts of discord (Proverbs 6:16-19)... but it makes it very difficult to convince the lost of their need for salvation through Christ when they witness that sort of behavior.  Such occurrences were part of the inspiration behind our book, “Please Don’t Feed the Atheists” and our Powerhouse audio teaching Things That God Hates.

Please Don't Feed the Atheists

How about making a commitment this week to live a true Christian life -- by committing works that please God, rather than those that anger Him?

How do I do that?

The same way that you received salvation (or, if you have never received salvation... this is how we do it:

For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation.
Romans 10:10 [AMP]

Put your complete trust in Christ... yielding to the Holy Spirit (because He has the right of way) and allowing Him to walk out those good works through you. Make a commitment to do this daily and it will go from an action to a habit to a lifestyle.

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