Several years ago, I took my first trip to Haiti with coreluv.org. One of the things we did was to go to a very poor part of town to feed some children whose parents didn’t have enough money to feed them. I’ll never forget this little girl who couldn’t have been more than five years old. She had her baby brother with her who was around a year old. She took her food and began to feed him. This plate, with a small mixture of rice, beans, and pasta, was all she would get to eat until the next day. Instead of scarfing it down, she took care of her baby brother first.
I have worked with kids my whole life, and I cant think of any other kid who acted so selflessly. Her mom wasn’t standing there telling her what to do. She did it out of love while starving. I was broken in that moment. I grabbed another plate, put a couple of spoons of rice on it, and grabbed her brother to feed him so she could eat as much as she wanted. After her brother ate, he fell asleep in my arms, and I began to reflect on what I witnessed.
In Philippians 2, Paul starts out asking if God’s love has made a difference in our lives. He then says, in verses 3-4, that if it has, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had” (NLT). This little girl in Haiti exemplified who we are supposed to be as Christians.
If you and I could act as selflessly as this little girl, the world would stop and take notice. I’ve read many stories where Christians have acted selflessly and won entire villages and towns to Christ. If we are going to be called by His name, we should be trying to have His attitude in our lives. Do something today that puts someone else’s needs above your own. Bless them selflessly, putting their needs ahead of yours, and then tell them God loves them. We become more like Jesus one selfless act of love at a time.
This is the brother as he fell asleep. The sister is right beside me.
Several years ago, my father in law was about to undergo surgery. To make sure he could handle it, the doctors gave him a stress test for his heart. He failed. They immediately called for an ambulance and sent him to the hospital. When they took a look at his heart, they found several blocked arteries and performed a bypass surgery. The doctor informed us of how serious it was, but assured us that he was better now.
Over and over I’m asked why we as Christians are allowed to endure hardships. I believe that part of it is that we are still under the consequences of Adam’s sin. If only sinners went through hard times, got sick, or died young then people would not choose God based on love. They would follow Him out of fear, and that’s not what God desires. So it rains on the just and the unjust alike.
Another part of the answer is so we can see what’s inside of us. God already knows, but just like that stress test revealed my father in law’s heart condition, difficult times often reveal what’s inside of us. It proves what we really believe, and also shows any weaknesses we need to correct. Going through difficult times gives us a chance to truly walk out our faith so we can know how much we really trust God.
The great news is that we aren’t left in the stressful situation. Psalm 71:20 says, “You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth” (NLT). Like my father in law’s surgeon, God is in the restoration business. He corrects and removes the things that hold us back so we can serve Him better. He brings us back up, out of the depths, so we can share with others the faith we discovered in the hardship.
I love the candy bar Snickers, and I especially love their ad campaign. Their slogan is simply, “Snickers satisfies.” Their commercials right now have one person in a group as a celebrity with a problem. The others get upset at the celebrity, then finally offer them a Snickers. After taking a bite, the person turns back into themselves and the other person asks, “Are you better?” Then a voice over comes on and says, “You are not you when you’re hungry.” Genius!
I can tell you that you are not you when you’re spiritually hungry either. Inside each one of us is a deep hunger to who we are, why we are here, and how we got here. Many people search a lifetime for those answers. I’ve found that God satisfies them in me, and wants to do the same in others. He not only gives us good things, but He’s created each one of us with a purpose that only we can fulfill. If you’re looking for spiritual satisfaction, quit trying religion and look for a relationship with God.
Here are some Bible verses about how God satisfies.
1. And I will always guide you and satisfy you with good things. I will keep you strong and well. You will be like a garden that has plenty of water, like a spring of water that never goes dry.
Isaiah 58:11 GNT
2. For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
Psalms 107:9 ESV
3. For I [fully] satisfy the weary soul, and I replenish every languishing and sorrowful person.
JEREMIAH 31:25 AMP
4. Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully!
Matthew 5:6 GNT
5. And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your soul in scorched and dry places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
ISAIAH 58:11 AMP
I try to grow a small garden each spring. Some years the garden does well, and others not so much. This year it didn’t produce anything. My radishes came up empty. My carrots were tiny. The squash took forever to even bloom. Then the corn stalks dried up and died. It was a sad site to behold for sure. It started out with such promise, but it never delivered even though we watered it and did our best to keep the weeds out.
There are years though where every time I walk over to it, there is food. We then take that food, cook it, and eat it. Afterwards, we are able to take the seeds and replant them so that a new crop is produced. That’s the way a garden should be, but it’s also the way that God’s Word is. It produces fruit in our lives which feeds us. It also produces seeds that regenerate a new crop of faith in our lives.
Isaiah 55:11 says, “It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it” (NLT). God’s Word doesn’t have off years like my garden. It always produces and always prospers no matter what ground it’s planted in. That’s the key though. If we want God’s Word to produce and prosper in our lives, we first have to plant it in our hearts.
Some of the fruit of having God’s Word planted in us is that we won’t sin (Psalm 119:11), it brings healing (Psalm 107:20), and it gives life (John 1:4). God’s Word is a powerful seed that each of us as believers need to plant daily into our lives. Before I read it, I like to pray, “God, open my eyes to see things in your Word that I’ve never seen before. Help me to make connections that I’ve never made. Prepare my heart to receive from you as I read, and I pray that you would plant it deep in my heart so that it will produce all you want it to.” Pray that prayer today, and watch God produce a bumper crop in your life.
As a kid, I loved to play King of the Hill. There’s was something fun about standing on top of some dirt and trying to keep from being knocked off. As the others would run up the hill, you’d try to push them down as they tried to push you off the top. There were days when I couldn’t seem to hold my ground, and other days when no one could knock me down. I had no idea that I was learning important lessons during that game.
I had no idea the importance of high ground and the strategic advantage it gave whoever was the King of the Hill. It turns out that when you are on the high ground, you choose the terms of mobility and can deny your opponents from taking ground. You have the ability to use your weight and gravity together to resist while they are fighting you and gravity. Being higher up also reduces the angle of attack from below.
I say all of that because you and I are in a daily struggle with the devil. In Ephesians 6:13, Paul tells us, “So put on God’s armor now! Then when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist the enemy’s attacks; and after fighting to the end, you will still hold your ground” (GNT). As I’ve read this my whole life, I’ve imagined myself on even ground in this fight, but now I understand we have the high ground! You and I have the advantage and can hold our ground when the enemy attacks.
When we accept Christ, we immediately gain higher ground. Our lives begin to move upward, that’s why the enemy attacks. He wants to knock us down, but we have the advantage in higher ground. We can increase our odds of holding our ground significantly if we will also put on the while armor of God. We will not only be able to resist attacks, but we will still be holding our ground as King of the Hill that God has set us on. Don’t let the enemy fool you into thinking he has the advantage.
One of the lessons my son is having the hardest time with is learning to wait when he has a question. My wife and I will be in a conversation, and he will walk up, interrupt us, and ask a question. We will tell him we will answer when we are done talking, but that’s often difficult for him when he has a question. I’m teaching him to walk up and just put his hand on mine when he has a question. I told him that when he does that, I’ll acknowledge him and then answer him when I can.
I wish I could say that works all the time, but it doesn’t. It’s as hard for him to wait for an answer as it is for us as adults to wait for one. When we have a pressing need or question, we’ll bombard God with questions and demand an answer immediately. We call it faith when we pray that way, but I wonder what God calls it. One of the hardest lessons any one of us has to learn is how to approach God and to ask for what it is that we want or need, especially when we feel we need it urgently.
They say that patience is a virtue, but we often lack it in waiting for God to answer our prayers. In Psalm 69:13, David prayed a tough, but wise prayer. He said, “But as for me, I will pray to you, Lord; answer me, God, at a time you choose” (GNT). He was telling God that he wasn’t expecting Him to operate on his timetable. He was willing to wait for God to answer on His. That’s a hard thing to pray and to do.
This verse challenges me because I’m not there yet. In my prayers, I’m like my son trying to get an answer. I don’t want to wait for God to finish what He’s doing. I want my answers right now. If David was a man after God’s own heart, and he had the ability to pray this way, i believe it’s something we all can learn to do. Instead of trying to force God in our timeline, we can start asking God to give us the answers to our prayers in His. I’ll just need a little help learning to wait.