Thursday, July 15, 2010

Praise Patterns Excerpt: The God Who Sees

The theme of Praise Patterns Chapter Five is "The God Who Sees". This is a very meaningful chapter to me because I was writing it when my friend Maura was diagnosed with cancer for the second time. As I worried about her and prayed for her, I clung to the knowledge that The God Who Sees was aware of Maura's condition, her needs, and her service to Him.

This excerpt comes from Day Three, and it follows Day Two's discussion of the story of Hagar (see Genesis 16).

The story of Hagar shows us that God is aware of our circumstances. Today we'll see that He is aware of our service and sacrifice.

While all the people were listening, He said to His disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who want to go around in long robes and who love greetings in the marketplaces, the front seats in the synagogues, and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows' houses and say long prayers just for show. These will receive greater punishment.”

He looked up and saw the rich dropping their offerings into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow dropping in two tiny coins.”I tell you the truth,” He said.“This poor widow has put in more than all of them. For all these people have put in gifts out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 20:45-21:4)

Jesus talked to His disciples about the religious leaders who bragged about their faith and righteousness while demanding honor and being unkind to the poor and taking advantage of helpless widows. Then, while watching people leaving their offerings at the temple, He drew their attention to a woman of great faith: an impoverished widow giving her last coins to God. I wish I knew the rest of this story: why did the woman offer God all she had? What did she eat that night? Did she have a place to sleep? Yet the more I meditate on this story, the more I see that that it is more meaningful this way. When I don't know all the details, Jesus does. He sees the heart attitudes and motivations, the sacrifices, the unnoticed service to Him. I don't have to remind God who is valuable to Him, or how much someone loves Him. He sees. He knows.

Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord's work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
(I Corinthians 15:58)

Isn't that encouraging? Here's the Message Bible's contemporary paraphrase:

With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don't hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.

God calls all His children to serve Him in some way. Some Christians serve God in obvious ways on church platforms and in mission organizations, while others serve in less visible places. Perhaps today you are serving God by being kind to less-than-courteous customers or making sure your family has clean laundry. Maybe you are discouraged by the dishes piling up in your sink or the e-mails flooding your inbox. You might be offering the sacrifice of a quiet demeanor when you feel anything but serene inside. Whatever your act of service is today, you can be sure that He sees both your sacrifice and your heart.

Reflect & Respond
How has the Lord called you to serve Him—or sacrifice for Him—in this season of your life?

Do you know someone who serves the Lord in a thankless or not-very-visible way? Pray for that person today.

Read more about my Praise Patterns book here.

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