The Amazing Blessings of Living a Spiritually Rich Life

Monday morning ushers in the beginning of another work week. With a full week of activity ahead, Sweet T and I are looking forward to celebrating my Mom’s 80th birthday this coming weekend. In the decade since my Dad passed, we’ve watched my Mom grow deeper in her spiritual walk and grow closer to God. This has been a true blessing to us and all the people who know her. My Mom is a social butterfly; always kind, always generous. She’s deeply loved by her friends, many of whom she’s know for decades. She’s never met a stranger and she’s always willing to help someone.  Mom is a great example of what it means to live the Bible you read. She does that every day in the way she treats other people and goes about her daily routines. She’s got an incredibly bubbly spirit despite not always having the easiest of lives. Mom often reminds me of the popular pericope “The Widow’s Mite” found in the Synoptic Gospels of Mark and Luke.

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The Widow’s Mite (Gospel of Mark)

41 And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. 43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.

Mark 12:41-44 (ESV)

My Monday Morning Cup

The Widow’s Mite (Gospel of Luke)

1 Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3 He said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For they all offered their gifts out of their wealth. But she, out of her poverty, put in everything she had to live on.”

Luke 21:1-4 (NET)

The story is a lesson in poverty and prosperity based on the weights and measures of God’s economic scale. The widow, while physically poor, was rich spiritually. In contrast, the scribes, dressed in their long robes of pride, were rich physically but stood before the widow spiritually bankrupt. They had everything and gave only that which cost them nothing. She had nothing yet gave God her all.

There is more to walking the walking then simply talking the talk. Actions have always spoken louder than words. James, the half-brother of Jesus, makes it clear that our belief is expressed through our deeds. What we do, in other words, reflects what comes to our mind when we think of God.

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14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, Go in peace, be warmed and filled, without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

James 2:14-17 (ESV)

Me and MomSweet T and MomIMG_3236

My Mom will readily tell you that she doesn’t understand all the things of God. She has often said she doesn’t know her Bible as well as she would like. Yet, her actions show how deeply God’s truth is engrained in her. Her faith is self-evident in how she greets each day and every person she meets. Sweet T and I are thankful that the Lord has blessed us with her and grateful that she continues to be a blessing to others.

One of Mom’s gifts that she readily shares with others is her art. As long as I can remember, my Mom has always done artwork, particularly molding and sculpting original pieces from clay. This has provided her with the opportunity to spend quiet time with God and to share her love of art with others through the pieces she produces. Her artists circle consists of an eclectic blend of friends, each with their own unique talents.

Original Clay Pieces made by Mom © Karin I. Bantau

Mom models living a spiritually rich life. When we put God first, good things happen.

How about you? Do you feel spiritually rich today? I pray you do.

P.S. If you see Mom this week be sure to give her a birthday hug. Be sure to tell those you love that you love them. Better yet, do something that shows them how much they mean to you. None of us are promised tomorrow. Amen.

God is good all the time. All the time God is good!

Be Blessed and be a blessing.

#Spiritual Growth #More of Him Less of Me #Blessings

The Real Reason Christmas Matters

The Birth of Jesus Christ

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23    “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,

and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

What We Believe About God Matters

Christian theologian and writer A.W. Tozer once said that what comes to our mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us. What do you know and believe about God? Do you know that you were created by God or do you believe that you are simply the by-product of some random, chaotic evolutionary process? If there is a God, why is there so much evil and suffering in the world? Who is Jesus? Does God love me? These are all questions people ask. People are the only ones that ask these questions. Creation doesn’t question its Creator.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

We know what Joseph believed by his actions, not his words.  Amidst great difficulty and against all odds, Joseph acted on his convictions. Surely, he did not understand. Surely, his mind didn’t comprehend. But, he loved the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his mind, so Joseph did what God told him to do. Joseph did as he believed. How about you? Do your actions match your beliefs? How do your actions declare what you believe about God?

The name Jesus (“Yahweh saves”) describes what Jesus does; Immanuel (“God with us”) describes who Jesus is.

To say that Jesus would be called “Immanuel” means Jesus is God and that He dwelt among us in His incarnation. He is always with us. Jesus, on Earth, was God in the flesh, making His dwelling among us.

No, Jesus’ name was not Immanuel; but Jesus was the meaning of Immanuel, “God with us.” Immanuel is one of the several titles for Jesus. Immanuel is a description of who He is. The life He lived here on Earth and continues to live in Heaven and through His dwelling in us through the Holy Spirit models who He is. Jesus is God with Us. Jesus is the God who can save us.

Save Us From What?

In his letter, Romans, the Apostle Paul, an eyewitness to the resurrected Christ, declares that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and that the wages of sin is death. Paul teaches us that even though we all have sinned and the cost of sin is death, God, our Creator, took the initiative to provide a substitutionary sacrifice to atone for our sins-His Son, Jesus Christ.

Our sin separates us from God. Jesus, through shedding his blood for us, pays the penalty in full for us, affording us the opportunity to be reconciled to God, living a life forever in God’s presence and with great abundance—because when you have God, you got it all. Apart from Christ, we have nothing.

Jesus is God with Us who, through His shed blood and sacrifice, saves us from the wages of our sins. 

Where are you today? Is life not giving you what you expected? Do you feel low enough that you have to look up in order to see bottom? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Then come to Jesus. Repent and believe, that’s all you have to do today to change your tomorrow. Don’t be afraid. Be courageous. Stand up and be delivered and receive God’s promise for you today.

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Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 1405). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.