Abundance

Ten Apples

By Karl Lee

I like a good story, how about you? I find that some stories just stick in your head and at times sort of pop up in your mind. Of course a good story always begins with, “Once upon a time” This is one of them:

Once upon a time there was a man who had nothing and God gave him ten apples. God gave him three apples to eat, three apples to trade for shelter from the elements of the weather, and three apples to trade for clothing to wear. The last and tenth apple he gave to the man so he could it give it back to God in gratitude for the other nine.

The man ate the first three apples. The next three apples he traded for shelter from the sun and the rain. The last three apples he traded for clothing to wear. Now it came to the tenth apple; the apple he was to give back to God in gratitude.  The man looked at the tenth apple and it was the reddest, biggest, juiciest looking of all the apples. The man began to reason that God had all the other apples in the world…so he ate the tenth apple and gave back to God the core!

Isn’t it amazing that God provides us with enough apples to supply our needs and often more than our needs. Yet we find ourselves reluctant to give back to God generously a portion of what He has given to us.

Looking back at the story we might consider the blessing the man could have received had he not only given back to God the tenth apple but also one of the other apples. It is not that he was deprived of his lifestyle as he had shelter, food and clothing it was self-love was greater than love and gratitude to God.

Do you remember the story in Luke 21 of the rich men and the poor widow putting money into the temple treasury? The rich men had given from their abundance; the poor widow gave all she had. What was Jesus’ comment toward her? He said, “She has given more than all of them.” How can that be? Because she gave from her heart, cheerfully and generously.

If we can only pause long enough to remember it is God who owns everything and has granted us the privilege of managing a portion of it. We can take a lesson from the man in the story. His reasoning was erroneous. He acknowledge that God had all the other apples in the world. Where he erred was his failure to acknowledge God also owned the apples he gave the man for his subsistence.

Not out of our abundance should we give back to God what is His, but also out of a willing and cheerful heart.

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it. Psalm 24:1

Even Now

By LuAnn Edwards

In 1998 I was spending time fasting and praying for the Lord’s will to guide us in a decision my husband and I were making about adopting. I felt drawn to orphans in Cambodia and desired the Lord’s direction. We already had two older children, so starting over was a little intimidating. Isaiah 58 became a prominent passage in my prayer time.

These scriptures in Isaiah spoke to me about reaching out to children in need in a personal way. I was willing to make a life-long commitment to love and care for one of them. Verses 6 and 7 from Isaiah 58 talk about setting the oppressed free, sharing food with the hungry, and providing shelter and clothing for the poor. I believe the next few verses were promises to me that God would provide. God would be with me; when I called upon Him, He would answer.

The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11

Verse 11 gave me the promise that even though I was growing older, He would satisfy me and keep me strong. My life would be like a fountain never running dry. I have drawn strength and comfort from these verses over the years. Even now.

Our daughter was nine months old when we brought her home 15½ years ago. I am not sure she will ever understand the love God has placed in my heart for her. When I look at her, I do not see a Cambodian child; I see my daughter. We may not look alike, but she is a part of me – a gift from God birthed in my heart.

Even now, when we are the worst parents on the planet, unreasonable and ignorant, even now, I adore her. There is nothing she can do to stop my love.

God’s love is like this for us. Romans 8:39 says that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Even when we get upset and fuss and complain, He still loves us with an everlasting love. A tender, compassionate love. A sweet, gentle love.

His love goes far beyond how I love. He loved me so much that He sent His son Jesus Christ to die for me. There is no greater love than this. Because I have accepted Jesus into my heart and life, I believe His promises in His Word are true and for me. I gain strength and comfort through the scriptures. Words written to me.

Allow the Lord’s love to comfort you today. May you find strength in His Holy Word; words written to you, too.

Overwhelming Abundance

By Karen Polich

Malawi brings me thoughts of abundance. While lacking needed resources, there is an abundance of many things; smiles, joy, voices singing, hospitality, passion, and friends. Malawi is a place of simple abundance surrounding things that touch hearts.

It’s the rainy season in Africa. It is a time to watch crops grow after the labors of preparing fields and planting. It is a time of planning for the harvest that will provide food in the coming months. But this rainy season is different. Malawi has seen record flooding in recent days. The abundance of rain is overwhelming. Lives have been lost in Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar, while there are those still missing. Thousands and thousands are displaced from their homes. Crops are ruined. Now and in the coming months, where will the needed food come from? How will lives be restored after such devastation?

This abundance is not welcome. It brings with it destruction and pain. It brings the abundance of difficulties now and in the time to come.

What is there to do to help from so far away? Please join me in becoming a prayer partner for the people of Malawi and the mission work that Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church is a part of. Together we can do something with great abundance. We can pray. We can pray for:

  • safe water and food
  • restoration of homes and schools.
  • for immediate relief and for God to heal and restore lives
  • for events such as the upcoming Valentine’s banquet that will raise funds to send laborers into the mission field
  • the work our Malawi mission team will be doing when they arrive there in May

We can do something regardless of our location. We can pray!

Will you join me? Click here for information on becoming a Malawi Prayer Partner.

 

 

 

Abundant Life

By: LuAnn Edwards

Are you filled with the peace of God? Are you overflowing with joy and abounding in love? When we abide in Christ, He lives through us and we bear His fruit. I believe this is the abundant life Jesus talks about in John 10:10.

The Christian life is not just an adequate life; it is full of blessings – God blessing us and us blessing others.

When we allow Him to lead us and we rely upon Him with complete trust, He will work through us. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20a). In addition, each one of us is a new creation in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17). No longer should we live in the past or the ways of our past. We should now live for Christ and desire a deeper, personal relationship with Him.

An abundant life comes as a result of abiding in Christ so we will bear fruit. To abide in Christ means we completely surrender ourselves to Him and walk in obedience. We bear fruit as we continue in our daily walk with Christ. This daily walk should be one of personal commitment and getting to know Him better through prayer and Bible study. “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8). Bearing fruit, such as peace, joy and love, honors the Lord and brings gladness to our hearts.

Peace abides in us if we know Jesus as our Savior and Lord. In John 14:27a Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” Jesus has personally given us this gift; He is our peace! Peace is a special place of knowing He is always present, along with believing He is working all things together for our good. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him…” (Romans 15:13a).

An abundant life is filled with joy.

When others see this joy in us, they long for it too. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4).We should always be joyful, for the joy of the Lord gives us strength (Neh. 8:10). Joy also comes through loving others.

In 1 John 4:11-12 we read, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” Our love shines outward as we deny ourselves and our selfish desires and put others first. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4). These verses portray a beautiful picture of love.

An abundant life is a life growing in Christ. It is a life dedicated to prayer and gaining knowledge through His Word. Through this walk of surrender, trust and obedience, Christ richly fills us with His peace, and we experience overflowing joy and abounding love.