Cake For Everybody! Part 2

Part of being in community with people is seeing how others you know are being celebrated, favored, and straight out blessed. Right in front of you.

Time for a moment of truth:

I haven’t always found it easy to instantly go into celebration mode whenever someone else have had their socks blessed off.

Even when I know I should be leaping with joy, do cartwheels around the block, and shout until my voice is gone, it doesn’t mean I feel like doing so.

Something in me reasons that when someone else are celebrated, favored and blessed, there’s less left for me. There’s not enough to go around. Someone else received what I also needed and wanted, and therefore, I can’t have it, or as much of it as I desired. A spirit of poverty, rejection and comparison takes root in my heart (if I let it).

The truth is, there is enough to go around; more than enough.

There’s cake for everybody!

Instead of feeling that I miss out on anything, I am reminded that because I choose to go and celebrate someone else, I also get a reward (the party and what it has to offer).

The celebration of someone else is also a testimony that good things do indeed happen. I’ll wait a bit longer, and those good things will surely come my way.

 

 

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God Is Always Better Than You Think!

In my last post, I asked “How good are You, God?!?”

I will proceed to talk about how “He is always better than you think!” 

What you’ll read next, is a topic I’ve taught on a few times.

 

In church we tend to say that God is good! And we tend to say this all the time. But do we really know what this means?!? I want to give you an outrageous claim today:

God is always better than you think!

In Matthew 7:9-11 Jesus says:

“Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (NKJV)

So Jesus, who is representing Father God to us, says that we know how to give good gifts to our children, but we are still evil compared to Him! For us, goodness might look like not being straight out evil or mean to someone, and especially to those we love. Do you realize that giving your children food is actually only the beginning of good?! It is by no means the highest measure of goodness!!!!

So we like to say that God is good but do we know what true goodness is?? I would say that for most of us the answer is a definite “No”, or “I know more about it than I used to..”

However, even if the goodness of God is something you can truly relate to, I would still claim that “God is better than you think”.

Let’s have a look at what Luke 15 says:

In verse 1 and 2 the Pharisees and Scribes of that day are complaining that Jesus spends time with sinners and tax collectors! I mean, that is just sooo wrong!

Jesus responds with parables, one of them known to a lot of  us as The prodigal son. Do you know what prodigal means? I didn’t, but someone told me, and I’ve looked it up again for you. It means:

wastefully extravagant. having or giving something on a lavish scale.

The parable should actually be called The prodigal father. And Who is the father in this story?

He is THE FATHER – Our God, and I would dare to say that in this parable He’s coming across as a better father than we can even imagine.

I hope you have heard the story before, especially since it’s a true one, and both you and Father God are in it!

But in case not, I’ll break it up for you:

A father has two sons. The oldest always stays with his father, obeying and serving him.

The youngest son, however, asks for his inheritance and goes as far away as he can from his father, spending all he has on rather selfish and shameful things. He eventually ends up really poor and miserable. As he finds himself in this state, he decides that he’s better off as a servant for his father than staying where he’s at, so he goes home, repenting. The younger son goes home, hoping to be a servant in his father’s house, but nothing more.

Let’s get real. What would happen right here, in most cases?

I mean, the son has dishonored his father through his poor choices (which apparently were known to everybody by then). Not only that, but back in the days, asking for your inheritance ahead of time was pretty bad. The son practically said:

“I wish you were dead!”

Now the younger son comes back, and mainly because he has no better thing to do. And he humbles himself, expecting and hoping to be a servant for the rest of his life.

A lot of us might take this son in (whether he is a son to us, or some other kind of relation in life) – and give him shelter, food, or we might help him find a job.

Why?

Because we’re good, right? To ignore him or send him back would be too harsh.

But would we treat him as we used to?

Would we instantly – or ever – give back to him his authority and dignity?

Truthfully, no that’s not what we’d naturally want to do.

We would want to protect ourselves – and others – from the younger son, whoever this is in our lives.

We can forgive – yes – but forget?? That’s harder.

But you know what?

God isn’t afraid of us messing up!

Why?

Because God is love and there is no fear in love! (1 John 4:18)

God doesn’t fear that we’ll mess up again! So, why should He not fully restore us, give us authority and responsibility and privileges again???

The Father Jesus tells about forgave his son and acted as if nothing bad had ever happened!

That’s what he did for the youngest son. And he didn’t wait it out, or do it in secret. No.

Instantly and publicly. That’s how the younger son was restored back into everything he had once had.

The father gave him a robe, a ring, and shoes, and held a big party for him.

Back in Jesus’ time, this ring put the son’s finger was a sign that the son had the same authority the Father had. The robe signified dignity and covering.

These specific shoes were reserved for wealthy sons, never for servants or slaves.

And the fattened calf, was something meant for festivities only!

Are you shocked yet? I know I am, and I have had time to think about this.

God is always better than you think!

What about the oldest son?

As the youngest son gets a party from his father, the oldest son is mad – why, he never got a party, even though he always served so well!

He said to his father:

“(..) these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.” (Luke 15:29)

The oldest son lived close to his Father and served him well, but still he didn’t really know him!

I’m sure the older son knew his father was good; in the way a master can be good and benevolent to a servant.

He just didn’t know how good He really was! He didn’t know what it really meant to be a son in his father’s house! All this time he had access to everything – including his father. He just wasn’t fully aware of it.

The Father said to him:

“Son, you are always with me, and all i have is yours!” (Luke 15:31)

The older son could have just asked his father for whatever he wanted and he would have gotten it – all this time!

And it wasn’t even about something he needed. No! He already had that.

The older son wanted to party and enjoy life!

And the father was totally ok with that!

In fact, He acted surprised, and to me it sounds as if He is saying:

“Why didn’t you already throw that party?!?”

The older son didn’t do that – because he didn’t realize just how good his father was!

 

This God of ours actually wants us to have a good, happy life. Work is good, but God wants us to enjoy life too!

Who’s the oldest son? The Pharisees and scribes, yes. They wanted to serve God. But they didn’t know God as a good Father.

Who’s the youngest son? The sinners and tax collectors mentioned, yes, but we can all sometimes find ourselves in the same situation as the older or younger son.

Even though the two sons made very different choices in life, do you realize that the sons had one big thing in common?!?

Yes, you’re right: They didn’t truly know their father! They didn’t know how good He was!

Had they known, their life stories would have looked different.

The good news is that they both had the chance to find out about and experience His goodness! And so can we!

Maybe you feel like the youngest son.

If you’ve turned away from Father God, you can go back to Him, and you’ll even find He’s been actively keeping a look out for you. You just didn’t see it because you had your back turned to Him. You might think that it’s too late – that it’s no use, or that He’ll be angry with you?

I’m telling you: God is always better than you think!

Give Him a chance to shower His goodness upon you!

Or you might feel like you’re the oldest son; a great servant, but missing out on the intimacy, fun and abundance you so desperately want.

Well, it’s all there.

Just as the father said: You are always with Him and ALL that He has is yours! Father God doesn’t in any way want you to feel like a servant in His house.

You are a son (or a daughter 😉 )! And whatever Father God has, He has said that it’s yours also! You are also always with Him, which means you don’t have to stay away from Him Instead, you are in His inner circle, and have easy access to Him already!

God is always better than you think!

So, how good do you think God can be??

I dare you to find out for yourself! And I know He wants you to find out!

How Good Are You, God?

“How good are You God? Will You show me?”

I ask God that now and then, and He always answers. I can kind of picture Him getting that question, His face lighting up (even more), Him rubbing His hands excitedly, and saying: “I’m glad you asked (finally)!”

Or, “Well, since you’re asking, why, yes!”

The thing is, my question is awful big – bigger than I can even imagine. Certain questions or requests take quite a while to answer. I’m sure that at some point I’ve said or thought:

“Wow, God, now I know how good You are!”, in response to something that has occurred in my life.

And I’m sure that God, although I haven’t actually heard Him say this, must have said something like:

“Wait, I’m not done yet!”

In fact, He only just got started. A question I have is, do I stop receiving of His goodness way too early, thinking that I already got more than I thought I could get?  Quite possible. Fortunately, part of God’s goodness is His patience, and He doesn’t stop, just because we think it’s over!

Now, I’m sure God could make it quite clear to me how good He is a lot faster than He does, but I wonder if it might kill me..?!

So He must have some good reason for me to still be walking this Earth, and encountering His goodness in smaller, more rationed portions. Yet, even these “smaller” portions are quite overwhelming at times – so much so that I wonder how He can top the present encounter I’m having. Well, it’s left for me to wonder, and for Him to come and show me. Over, and over, and over again, like waves coming at you when you’re at the beach.

You can ask God to show you His goodness, and He will continually do so. But will you step out into the water and actually search it out? The goodness of God is so strong, so powerful, you might never get back to the shore. You might never recover. It’ll feel overwhelming. Too much. You’ll never be the same.

As we enter into a new year and a new season, this is what’s on my heart:

Knowing more of His heart for us. And because of that, never be the same!