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.


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.


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

What Does the Lord Require of You?

Have you ever noticed how Scripture repeatedly shows us two paths–two distinct patterns—that we can choose to follow? One road leads us to God while the other leads us astray, eventually ending in the Lake of Fire.

Jesus loved teaching in parables to help his disciples and other followers come to a greater understanding of godly principles and righteous thinking. I am reminded of one of my favorite parables found in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 21, verses 28-32.

In the parable, a father directs his two sons to go work in the vineyard. The first son initially refuses but then changes his mind and does as his father instructed. The second son immediately tells his father that he will go work in the vineyard as his father asked him to but does not go. Jesus asks his disciples which one of the sons they thought did the will  of his father. The disciples correctly reply “The first.”

Matthew 21:28-32 (NIV)

The Parable of the Two Sons

28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

“The first,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

While we are quick to note that Jesus, out of his love for others, spent time with sinners like tax collectors and prostitutes, yet we misunderstand his reason for investing time in the lost, the last, the least and the lonely. He did not do so because he approved of their behavior. He did not simply overlook their shortcomings and show them love despite their disobedience without addressing their need for repentance. He loved them, just like He loves us. But in that love, He spoke Truth to them. Jesus spent time with them so that they might see the light of men who shone in the darkness and that darkness could not overcome. Jesus invested time in lost and hurting souls to lead them to repentance and return them to the paths of righteousness God had paved for them.

While God sees us in our rebellion, He loves us, demonstrating that love through giving His only begotten Son as an atonement for our disobedience and sinfulness. God does this not so that we would continue in our walk of wickedness or down our paths of sin, but so that we would repent, turning away from our rebellious disobedience, and return to walking in faithful obedience to Him, as God intended for us to do all along.


From the first acts of disobedience to the last, God’s heart breaks for us, because our rebellion separates us from Him, just like the second son, through his deception and disobedience,  put an obstacle in the relationship separating him and from his earthly father.


Even though we rebel and disobey God initially, we can return to right standing with Him, through repentance and by believing in the atoning work of His son, Jesus Christ, on a Cross at Calvary over 2,000 years ago.

God is for you, not against you. He has made the way for you to return to Him through repenting and accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

Do not let the chains of your disobedience continue to shackle your soul. Step away from your chains, that God has loosened, and begin living a life of faithful obedience to the Lord God Almighty. What are you waiting for? There is no time like right now.


I’ll be praying for you.

He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8 (NIV)

Forgiveness Comes Through Repentance


In Psalm 139, we see David pleading with God to search his life and expose his sin. In this beloved Psalm, David acknowledges the omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence of the Lord. Although an imperfect man chosen by God to lead the people of Israel, David’s love for the Lord is strong and steadfast. He recognizes his shortcomings, many attested to in Scripture, and realizes his need for God’s grace and forgiveness.

When Jesus came from Heaven to Earth, he commanded people to repent and believe. (The Gospel of Mark, 1:15)

Through Scripture, we learn of God’s promise of forgiveness and eternal life to anyone who asks. This grace is available to us because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who having shed his blood, paid the cost of our sins. It is through the Bible that we learn that we have a sin problem, that we all fall short of righteousness and holiness, and fail to be obedient doers of God’s will.

However, individually, we also recognize that we have a problem that separates us from God, causing us to feel empty when we are full and lose hope when find ourselves in the pit looking up to see the bottom. Sin are those activities and actions that offend our Holy God.

Yes, God has rules.

We find them summed up by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 22:37-39), when He declares that the greatest commandments are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul and all our mind and to love our neighbors as ourselves (including our enemies).

Sin then, is anything that separates us from God, distracting us from His will for our lives and keeping us from faithfully obeying His Word and doing His Will. As believers who worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23), we are to go out and be the salt and the light in the world (Matthew 5:13-16), sharing the message of repentance and need for salvation while pointing a lost and fallen world to Christ.

Genuine love for one another is expressed through truthfulness.

A relationship based on lies and deception isn’t a good relationship. Love isn’t best expressed by agreeing with someone simply for fear of offending them. That’s not love. That’s not respect. Loving someone means supporting them through thick and thin, while having the courage to speak to them in a truthful, loving manner when they go down a path that does harm to them or to others. We should strive to speak truth accompanied with a strong dose of grace. Ultimately, that which seperates you from God is harmful to you.

God loves all of us.

However, becoming a part of the family of God comes with the conditions of repentance and belief in Christ.  In Luke 15, we see that the father of the prodigal son did not love his son any less because he went down a wayward road. But in order to come home and rejoin his family the prodigal son had to turn away and leave his old lifestyle behind. The same is true of our relationship with God. God does not ignore our sin by captiulating to our demands. Instead, He offers us a solution, if we are willing to recieve it.

In Psalm 139, we see David recognize his fallen nature and his need for God’s forgiveness. He recognizes the supremacy of God in the Universe and more importantly, in his own life.Redemption is available for all who ask. Apart from repentance and faith in Christ, there is no inclusion.

Was David perfect? No, absolutely not. Are we perfect? No, none of us are without sin.

The good news is that we don’t have to live a life empty and devoid of God.

Through Christ, God has woven a path for us leading to redemption and reconciliation (John 14:6). In order for us to see our need for repentance, we first have to recognize our sins. Sin isn’t defined by us, but by God. It is why the Lord gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites in the first place; so that they would recognize their need for forgiveness. It is why Jesus taught them to the World. Otherwise, there would be no need for him to go to the Cross.

It would be hard for us to know if we were speeding if the governing authorites didn’t post speed limit signs. In the same way, God doesn’t want to suprise us and play “Gotcha!”. No, He lays it all out for us. There are no speed traps with God. We can choose to ignore the warnings and fail to heed the signs, but not without avoiding the consequences. If you get a ticket, the judge doesn’t pay the fine for you. He certainly doesn’t find a subsitute responsible for paying your ticket. He doesn’t decide to change the law simply because a bunch of us are speeding.

In God’s plan of salvation, the fine has been taken care of. Individually, all we have to do is recognize our need for a Savior. By turning away from our old ways and placing our trust in Christ, we can each find redemption. It starts with us recognizing our sinfulness, as David did, and turning to God, as David expresses so eloquently in his psalm.

Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart

1  O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
2  You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3  You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4  Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
5  You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

7  Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8  If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9  If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10  even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11  If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12  even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

13  For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15  My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16  Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

17  How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18  If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

19  Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
20  They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain.
21  Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22  I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.

23  Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24  And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ps 139:title–24). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.