Are You Greedy?

I don’t know about you, but when I think of greedy people, I immediately think of Ebeneezer Scrooge. He’s grumpy, cheep, tight-fisted, and cares for no one but himself. But most importantly, he doesn’t exist.

That doesn’t mean greed isn’t real. It is, however, easier to recognize in others than in ourselves. Why is that?

Unlike other sins, greed is more of a lifestyle than an incident. It’s not like murder or stealing or adultery, where you can look at a specific date and time and say, “I committed the sin of murder then.”

No one likes to be accused of being greedy. But to recognize it in yourself, you have to do some serious introspection.

So how do you know whether your greedy or not? Here are some questions you can ask yourself.

What do you do with your money?

I’m not talking about paying bills, buying groceries, gas, or rent. Those are the things we are obligated to do with our money. We have to eat, so we buy groceries. And if we want to continue living in our homes, we have to pay rent and mortgage. I’m talking about what you chose to do with what’s left over at the end of the month.

Analyzing our spending habits can tell us a lot about ourselves. Not just where our favorite restaurants and theaters are. But how quick are you to help someone?

Are you as generous with your money as you are your time? Or would you rather keep your stuff all to yourself? Do you give gladly and without expecting someone to pay you back, or do you only grudgingly depart with the things you value?

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (NKJV) But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

Why do you help people?

The Bible says we are to pray in private and not to be seen or heard by men. The same can be said for giving.

Are you helping others just so people can see how generous you are? Do you long for someone to put your name on a placard or on the side of a building in recognition of your good deeds?

Matthew 6:1-4 (NKJV) “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.

More than money or praise, there is thing we should crave–our heavenly reward. We can’t buy our way to heaven. Only God can grant us that gift.

What do you do with your Sundays?

Now, I know some of us actually have to work on Sundays. There are some jobs that don’t close on the weekends, and there are people who have to work them. A lot of those jobs pay better on the weekends, and I can understand the draw.

If you have to work on Sundays, there’s a lot of temptation to just not bother with church. Much easier to stay home and rest.But there are ways around this problem.

If you have to work on Sunday, maybe you can take an early shift and go to church after work. Or the opposite. Maybe there’s a congregation in your area with services that fit into your schedule. And let’s not forget, a lot of churches meet on days other than Sunday. Hopefully you can find something that will work for you.

But if you’d rather work than be with your fellow Christians? You can’t feed your soul by staying away from God.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJV) And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Who do you rely on to solve your problems?

Sure, having money can make things go easier. We always rest better knowing we can pay our bills and feed our children without worrying about the amount we have in the bank. However, money can’t solve all of our problems. In fact, most of us aren’t rich enough to make our problems go away by throwing money at it.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct[a] your paths.

Some things take divine intervention to fix. For some things, we have to rely on God. And that’s hard, because while we can control our money, we can’t control God.


It all comes down to what do you put first in your life–God or money? Putting God first requires a conscious decision on our part, because the sin of greed can sneak up on us. There’s nothing wrong with money, but there is something wrong with loving it too much.

1 Timothy 6:10 (NKJV) For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Let’s face it. We’re always going to struggle with money. Clutch God. Not your wallet.

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Scriptures about Patience

The hardest thing to do sometime is to wait on the Lord.

stress patienceHumans are a very impatient people. We hate waiting for things. If we want something, we want it now. I’m no different. I have problems with waiting. I don’t want things to happen in God’s time. I want things to happen on my time, and I want them now.

Sounds a little childish, doesn’t it? I feel that way sometimes, like a little kid wanting candy instead of supper simply because I can’t wait a few minutes for the food to finish cooking. Candy doesn’t make for a good meal. Likewise, my impatience sometimes drives me to do things that would otherwise be unhealthy or harmful to me.

I know God’s timing is better than my own. I’ve seen God move in my own life and know I couldn’t have improved on His timing no matter how hard I try. I’ve also studied the Bible and have seen the trouble others fall into when they try to help God out. I know this, and yet I still make the same mistake.

How can I cultivate patience?

The first thing you can do is pray and ask God for patience. The Bible says several times that God knows what we need and will provide for us. This includes patience. If we follow God and focus on Him, He will provide us with what we need. My favorite verse on that is Matthew 6:25-34. It’s also good for when I’m worrying–which I often do when I’m impatient.

James 1:4-5 (NIV)  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 

Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV) Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Be careful what you ask for

pray handsThe problem with praying for something is sometimes you get it. Patience, however, isn’t a sweater that you get for Christmas. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was? Then we could give it back if we don’t like it.

James 1:2-4 (NIV) Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Patience is a product of experience. It’s easier to wait for God the second time around than it is the first. We are better able to live through different situations after we live through similar ones. Unfortunately, that means we have to go through the hardships and trials in order to get the patience we crave.

Closing thoughts

A lot of the time, though, it isn’t patience we really want when we pray for it. What we really want is for this feeling to go away. We think that will happen if God provides us with what we’re impatient for now. But instant gratification isn’t the way to cultivate patience. The only way to cultivate patience is to wait.

No wonder waiting is so hard.

Trust God, Not the World

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct[a] your paths.

It’s Hard to Trust God

faithAs Christians, we are supposed to rely and trust in God. The Bible tells us that if we trust in God, He will bless us. Good things will come.

But then those good things don’t come, or they don’t look like what we think they should, and we start to doubt Him. Bad things happen, and we go through trouble times. How could God do this to us?

It’s not easy to trust, let alone trust in God. People tend to be control freaks. We like to make our own decisions, and we like to think we control what happens to us.

Then we’re reminded that the world is not to be trusted. We cannot control it, and we cannot control people. And if we can’t control it, we can’t trust it. Isn’t that the way we think?

People and things let us down daily. People lie. The weather changes. Our cars break down. And if we base our definition of God off these things, off things that fail us, then of course learning to trust God is going to be hard.

God is Trustworthy

Deuteronomy 7:9 (NKJV) “Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;

Hebrews 6:17-19 (NKJV) Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might[a] have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,

Our God is a God who keeps His promises. He has never gone back on His word. If He said He was going to do something, He did it. God never lies.

That’s hard for us to comprehend, because people break their promises all the time. But it’s true. The Bible testifies over and over again that we can trust Him. He gave Abraham the son He promised. He gave the Israelites the land He promised. And He sent us Jesus. There isn’t a single promise He’s made that He hasn’t kept.

So when He says we can trust Him, we can believe Him.

We shouldn’t trust God based on what the world says, or what we see the world do. Nor should we define God based on the world. The world’s definition of God is nowhere near accurate. The god the world worships and teaches is not the one you find in the Bible.

The world’s god does not love and does not tell the truth. It’s selfish and lies. It’s goal is to tear you down and tear you to pieces. It’s only concern is for itself.

Our God tells the truth. He loves us. He is concerned for our well-being. He wants us to trust Him even when it’s hard.

Because He loves us. And that’s the truth.

Can you do something so bad God won’t forgive it?

grace-mercy-blessingsSin is a nasty, insidious thing. It creeps up on us while we aren’t looking. It’s Satan’s pet, and together, they whisper lies and deceit in our ear. Sin dresses itself up as something good and desirable and seduces us.

No one is immune to sin.

Let’s face it. No one is perfect, especially Christians. We don’t always do the right thing. Sometimes we mess up. Really, really mess up.

Have you ever made the wrong choice? Done something really bad, and then had to live with the consequences of that sin for years and years? Have you lived with years of guilt, fear and self-hatred because of it?

It looks hopeless, doesn’t it? But it’s not. That’s one of sin’s lies. There is almost nothing you can do that God won’t forgive.

The Wonder of God’s Love

Make no mistake. God is under no obligation to you. He isn’t compelled to forgive you, wipe you clean of all the dirty things you’ve done, or give you a new future just because you exist. In fact, He should kill us for what we’ve done.

And yet, here we are, alive.

God knows exactly what bad thing you’ve done, and He loves you anyway. He isn’t repulsed by what you did. He doesn’t berate you, yell at you, condemn you, or hate you.

How marvelous is that? God knows you, knows all the bad things you’ve done, all those bad things that make you hate yourself–and He loves you anyway.

John 3:16-17 (NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

There is Light at the End of the Tunnel

You’re world doesn’t have to end because of One Bad Thing. You don’t have to live in darkness, surrounded by self-hatred and hopelessness. Your life can change. God is waiting, hand outstretched, eager to forgive you.

You aren’t unforgivable. You aren’t unsaveable. You aren’t hopeless. God has forgiven worse men than you. Remember that mob that condemned Jesus to death? God forgave them. In fact, they were some of the first members of the church.

Acts 2:37-38 (NKJV) Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

If God can forgive them, He can forgive you. All you have to do is repent and be baptized, and follow Him. It’s as simple as that. One choice, one quick act, can turn your life around and change it forever. Make it better.

What’s stopping you?

Is There a Right Way for Christians to React to Depression?

Is Depression Christian?

I’ll be frank. I don’t know the answer to that.

I want to say no. That’s ridiculous. Being depressed has nothing to do with Christianity. We can’t help if we’re depressed or not. Besides, it happens to everyone, Christians included. Everyone gets down.

I guess the question is, is it wrong to be sad? Is depression this mindset we choose to dwell in, or is it just a temporary, passing thing? Modern science tells us that depression can be a major disorder. It isn’t just being sad. Those suffering from the disorder can’t help feeling the way they feel. They need medication to help them feel better.

When looked at that way, it’s ridiculous to even consider depression un-Christian like. But there are some people who feel that since they’re Christian, they have to be happy. All the time. Take Phillipians 4:4 for example.

Philippians 4:4 (NKJV) Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

Wouldn’t depression get in the way of rejoicing? Who feels like rejoicing when they’re depressed? When the world is against you and nothing will ever be right again?

The Example of David

King David was called a man after God’s own heart. By no means was he perfect (read 2 Samuel 11-12 for example), but he always tried to obey God. David was also a man constantly at war. In fact, he spent much of his early adult life running for his life, pursued by King Saul. Many of our Psalms came from situations just like this one.

Psalm 6 (NKJV)

To the Chief Musician. With stringed instruments. On an eight-stringed harp. A Psalm of David.wash

O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger,
Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure.
Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak;
O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled;
But You, O Lord—how long?

Return, O Lord, deliver me!
Oh, save me for Your mercies’ sake!
For in death there is no remembrance of You;
In the grave who will give You thanks?

I am weary with my groaning;
All night I make my bed swim;
I drench my couch with my tears.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
It grows old because of all my enemies.

Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity;
For the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my supplication;
The Lord will receive my prayer.
10 Let all my enemies be ashamed and greatly troubled;
Let them turn back and be ashamed suddenly.

This isn’t the only Psalm David writes on this subject. He wrote several, and many of such Psalms end with David worshiping God.

I have to marvel at his faith. He’s clearly in distress–shall we say, depressed?–but still, at the end of the Psalm, he turns his problems over to God and worships Him. What kind of strength does it take to do that? Having never been pursued and in danger of losing my life, I can’t say. But I would say a lot.

Concluding Thoughts

I don’t believe depression is a sin. Our feelings shouldn’t have any bearing on our faith, though it can. While in the depths of despair, we can fall out of faith. We can doubt ourselves and God to such an extent that we come to believe God no longer loves us. That He’s punishing us for laughs. Or something.

We should fight such thoughts. Phillipians 4 tells us that not only are we to rejoice, but we are to pray. We are to turn our problems over to God, who is much better equipped to handle them.

Philippians 4:6 (NKJV) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

Depression happens to everyone. If–and when–we run into trying times, times that send us into spiraling into the grips of despair, we should seek out God. A single prayer may not be enough to solve our problems, but it certainly won’t hurt.

Strange Christmas Traditions

Christmas Traditions

xmas-treeChristmas has got to be one of the most convoluted holidays.

I mean, just think about it. What are you doing this Christmas? Chances are, you’re going to open presents, visit with family, and eat lots of food. There will probably be a tree and carols. Christmas movies. Santa statues. Nativity scenes. And on and on.

Christmas has so many traditions, all taken from so many different religions and situations–I mean, Santa is red only because of Coca Cola–that it is hard to know what Christmas was “originally about” or “originally celebrated.” It changes from region to region. But I think the strangest tradition that got added to Christmas was that of the Lord’s birth.

Don’t get me wrong. We should remember Jesus’ birth, and December is just as good a month as, say, March. But you have to admit, the story the birth of Jesus Christ is odd next to all of this commercialism and materialism.

Who is Jesus Christ?

I mean, think of it this way. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The King of kings. Lord of lords. Ruler over heaven and earth. When He came to earth, He deserved to come down in style. In a shower of riches and glory. Think of all the press that happens every time a new prince is born in England. He should have had a hundred times that. And yet, He had none.

Philippians 2:6-8 (NIV)

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Christ wasn’t born to riches, though He deserved it. He wasn’t showered with earthly praise or glory. He certainly wasn’t treated the way He had every right to be treated. Instead, he was born to a poor couple in the poorest of circumstances and as far from any royal palace as possible.

The story of the birth of Christ teaches us how Christ, not valuing attention, glory-hogging, riches, or prestige, left heaven–where He literally ruled the universe–and sacrificed His rightful position. And what for? For a life of poverty, hard work, servitude, and a painful death. Because He loves you, and wants you to be with Him in heaven.

And what does Christmas today teach? That the only way to show love is to shower people with presents. That things are more important than people. To spend, spend, spend, and receive, receive, receive.

How did these two holidays get stuck together?

What is Christmas all about?

Personally, I don’t think Christmas is about Santa, family, presents or Jesus Christ. I think “what Christmas is all about” changes too much. What it means to one person is not what it means to another. Nor will it mean the same thing to our children when they are grown.

But what is most important this Christmas? That never changes.

So, Christians, don’t hesitate to talk about Jesus this holiday season just because you’re tired of singing the songs or seeing the nativity scenes. Don’t forget to teach your children what is really more important–Jesus Christ. Not ribbons and bows and toys.

Scriptures at Work

Scriptures I have seen at work this week

pray handsBad things and tragedies strike every day to both good and bad people. I’ve written several posts about scriptures you can cling to when these things happen. This week, I was on the other side of those post.

My step-father-in-law had a massive heart attack. Yes, it’s been rough. We’ve spent a lot of time at the hospital, and we’ve prayed a lot. He’s hanging in there, and, with God’s help, he’s healing.

I could easily list the scriptures I’ve clung to in order to get through this week. But I’d rather talk about all the scriptures I’ve seen at work instead.

Jesus is Everywhere

When bad things happen, it’s real easy to think that God is behind it. Or that God must not be real, because if He was, why would bad things happen?

I never had a chance to doubt His existence. From the very beginning, we had too much support and prayers to doubt Him. God said He would be with us. He was, and He is.

Matthew 28:20 (NIV) and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

I not only saw God in the world around me, but in the people around me. The doctors and nurses, and those who came out to comfort and support us–they were all compassionate. And I couldn’t help but remember a verse from 2 Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NIV) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

Comfort comes from God. He comforted us when we were in trouble. When others fall onto hard times, we should take that and use it to comfort others.

I saw others do this. They have had problems of their own, have gone through their own tough times. And yet, they took the time to comfort us in our hard time.

Then, of course, there was the prayers. The endless prayers.

James 5:15-16 (NIV) And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

I’ve seen, heard, and prayed a lot of prayers. Sometimes, prayers tend to be more like orders, or maybe wishes. “God, for Christmas I’d like a goldfish.” We pray like God is a vending machine or something. How insulting to God.

Other times, we pray and don’t expect God to answer. Maybe because we don’t really believe He’s real? Or that He cares enough to answer little ol’ me? Perhaps it’s a prayer we’ve prayed so many times that it’s become automatic. Like our prayers of thanks for the food. No reason for God to respond to that.

But the prayers this week were different. They were prayers of healing, that God would heal someone, and they were done in faith. They believed God would answer our prayers, that He would heal. These people believe prayers have power.

I believe the same. Prayer’s have the power to get the Lord’s attention. There’s nothing much more powerful than that.

My step-father-in-law is slowly improving. He’s not home free yet. But based on just what I’ve seen this week, I would say God has heard, and answered, our prayers. I would say God is present in the hospital.

God is present in our lives. My step-father-in-law’s life. My life.