Sample Chapter 1

Assets (Resources) Ė All From God

 

     During the winter, the landscape surrounding my property presents a bare vista.  The towering oaks stand unadorned, devoid of any foliage.  No leaves or flowers protrude from the Appalachian hills engulfing my view.  Gazing across the Elk River, I also behold a lack of greenery.  A coating of snow seals the lifeless scene.

     What a contrast when spring arrives!  Various colored wildflowers emerge from the warming earth.  Bright green leaves appear on the trees.  The forest displays a canopy so thick that the ridge beyond the river is barely visible.  In a few short months, the environment has undergone a complete metamorphosis.

     Likewise, we who are Christians have experienced a remarkable change in our lives.  Jesus Christ is our Savior, made possible by Godís grace.  Salvation could never have been obtained through our own efforts, as indicated in Ephesians 2:8-9.  Truly this is a precious gift from God.

     Christians are promised a home with the Lord.  In John 14:1-3 Jesus tells us that He has gone to prepare a place for His people.  He promises to come again to gather them.   Jesus encourages us to not let our hearts be troubled.

     Considering the turmoil and chaos evident in our world today, one may indeed be tempted to be anxious and discouraged.  Remembering Jesusí promise aids in alleviating our anxiety.  Troubles will always remain in this present world, but our spirits will be uplifted if steadfastly direct our focus toward the wonderful future promised by our Lord.

      Think how valued citizenship in the United States is.  We enjoy freedom and privileges for which we should truly be thankful.  Imagine how it would be to reside in a nation with restrictions on worship as Christians.  Recent years have illuminated the hardships created by policies in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
 

      Many relocated from other countries to establish a life in the United States.  Of these, a great number have become citizens.  They had to meet certain requirements to attain this status.  Those born in the United States, on the other hand, automatically received citizenship.  It was freely given to them, with no effort on their part required.

     The same can be stated for Christians.  By receiving Christ as our Savior, we are born into the kingdom of God.  This is not earned by our endeavors, but graciously bequeathed to us by the Lord.

     The future abode for Christians will be wonderful.  The best part will be that we will reside there with the Lord Himself.  This concept alone encourages and motivates me each day.  Experiencing life with Him at my eternal home will exceed the best moments enjoyed on earth.  Anticipating this makes the hardships of this life more bearable.  Just think of a time when there will be no heartaches or pain!

     Understandably, receiving salvation form the Lord is the most important thing which could occur in an individualís life.  An important point which I desire to emphasize is that Christianity is far more than just waiting for what happens after life on this earth ends.  It also encompasses enjoying a personal relationship which is being nurtured.  It should grow stronger and closer as time passes.

     This is not unlike the relationships we develop over the course of our lives.  I have been a life-long resident of the state of West Virginia.  Born in 1959, I have enjoyed various ties with others.  My love and appreciation for my parents increased as I grew older.  Likewise, the same can be said for other relatives.  Friendships were formed and   strengthened with the passage of time.  Of paramount importance is the relationship I formed with Sue, my beloved wife.  Originally from the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, she has been a highlight on the map of my life.  Finally, my relationship with my two young daughters, Ruth, age five, and Laura, age three, grows at a pace surpassing their rapid (to me) physical development.

     As a result of our relationship with God, He provides us with many spiritual resources.  Everything we possess is given by the Lord.  The apostle Paul explains to us in Romans 8:32 that God spared not His own Son but delivered Him for us all.  Why then, he questions, would God not freely give us all things?  He was willing to develop a plan of salvation which required the sacrifice of His own Son Jesus as the payment for the penalty for our sins.  Certainly He will not withhold whatever provision we need in our daily lives.  Philippians 4:19 indicates that all our needs will be supplied by the riches of Godís glory by Christ Jesus.

     I mentioned in the introduction that assets (resources) are anything owned that has value.  Resources are essential for an organization to operate successfully.  This is true for both the private sector and government.  I am familiar with both, having worked at a hospital, for a manufacturer, as well as with the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.  Christians also require resources in order to live successful spiritual lives.  We must depend upon God to provide them.
 

     God owns all things.  We are informed by Genesis 1:1 that God created both heaven and earth.  That includes all the material we utilize in providing goods and services for our modern world.  Rest assured that the Lord will supply us with everything needed.  This includes both spiritual and physical needs.

     The assets which Godís people receive from Him go far beyond needs such as food, clothing, and shelter.  We receive spiritual provisions consisting of resources available as we engage in the spiritual warfare confronting us on a continual basis.
 

     Paul exhorted the church at Ephesus to put on the armor of God in order to withstand Satanís attacks.  Observing the big picture, our real struggle is not against flesh and blood members of this world (Ephesians 6:12).  True, we have adversaries, whether it is somebody trying to aggravate our personal lives, or terrorists attempting to alter our lifestyle.  Still, we must remember that Satan is the one behind all the problems we encounter.  He is the ruler of all darkness in this world.

     Our conflicts with other people originate from a spiritual source.  If I am angry at somebodyís sinful actions, I have to keep in mind that Satan is the instigator.  He tempts and lures folks into committing acts that are displeasing to God.  My response may help or hinder the situation, depending on how I handle it.
 

     I must remember to not act inappropriately in reacting to circumstances.  I Peter 5:8 provides the instruction to be vigilant, for our adversary the devil moves about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  An agitated lion is definitely something to be avoided.  Other animals must continuously remain alert to avoid falling victim to the lionís deadly fangs and claws.  Particularly weak animals are prone to be caught and destroyed.  Spiritual resources provide a bulwark against Satanís devices.

     Why is Satan depicted as being on the prowl, desiring to devour as many spiritually as he can?  Letís consider the passage recorded in Isaiah 14:12-20.  Lucifer (Satan) has fallen from heaven.  The reason given is that he desired to exalt himself in heaven to possess a throne above that of God.  His plan was to ascend above the heights of the clouds, to be like the most High.  Instead, our omnipotent God has designated hell as Satanís eternal dwelling place.  The one responsible for implementing turmoil in the world will experience a lowly state in the end.  He has been cast out by God, no superior to a carcass trodden under foot.  Satan is not considered even worthy of a decent burial.

     Jesus further enlightens us in Luke 10:18 stating that He beheld Satan fall from heaven as lightning.  Pride prompted Satan to attempt to exalt himself above God.  Satanís attempt was a complete failure.  Being no match for almighty God, he was expelled from heaven.  Satan troubles the world now, but his eternal destiny is the lake of fire, where he, as well as all the enemies of God, will be forever punished and humbled (Revelation 20:10).

     Before that day arrives, however, Satan will attempt to deceive as many souls as possible.  His desire is for them to share his eternal destruction.  He also attempts to discourage Christians from being obedient to God.  By ourselves, we are no match for Satanís power.  Fortunately, God is more powerful than all the forces of evil.  Jeremiah 32:17 proclaims that God has created the heaven and the earth by His great power, and that there is nothing too difficult for Him to accomplish.  This is reassuring to know!  I know that the Lord is not only able to save my soul from my sins, but is also capable of sustaining all of my needs.

      God has chosen to accomplish this in part by allowing His Spirit to abide in Christians.  This permits us to realize the things which God freely renders (I Corinthians 2:12).  The Lord supplies the resources we need for victory, and His Spirit makes us aware of them.  No credit is due to any world system for meeting our spiritual needs, for in fact it can not.  Our victory rests solely on the accomplishments of the Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:57).  Godís people should always praise and thank Him for His gracious provision.

     How sweet it is to be able to depend upon God for victory.  The seventh chapter of I Samuel provides an excellent illustration of this.  It discloses what occurred when David encountered Goliath.  King Saul offered the use of his armor and sword, but David wisely declined the offer.  He chose to depend upon God rather than upon the inadequacy of man.  If Saulís armor was sufficient to secure victory over Goliath, why hadnít Saul used it?  Why would he think it was more suitable for a young man like David?  It is far better to trust God for deliverance rather than to depend upon our own means.

     The result in this instance, of course, was that David experienced a mighty victory over the giant.  We Christians should be cognizant that almighty God is prepared to render us victorious over whatever situation might arise from our enemy, Satan.  Though Satan himself has already been defeated by God, he will still take every opportunity possible to try to defeat us in individually.

     When encountering an obstacle on the job, I would find it best to pause, if only for a brief moment, and ask God for His guidance.  He will reveal the correct course of action to take.  Something from the Bible may come to mind as an example.  The Lord can also prompt a recollection of the proper application of something learned from years of training and experience.  Regardless of how He accomplishes it, He deserves all the credit for success in facing the challenge at hand.

     While God is providing the resources for victory, Satan is not lackadaisical in his efforts to discourage us from following the Lordís direction.  The first chapter of Exodus clearly depicts how Satan will attempt to defeat a person.  A couple of things stand out to me as I read about the bondage of the Israelites in Egypt.  First, the Egyptians sought to discourage the children of Israel.  Taskmasters were set over them for the purpose of afflicting them with burdens.  The Israelites were used as slaves to complete Pharaohís building projects.

     Second. The Egyptians attempted to reduce the Israelitesí numbers by curtailing the marriage potential between their men and women.  This occurred when Pharaoh requested the Egyptian midwives to kill the Hebrew boys that were born, while allowing the girls to live.  Had the plan been successful, as that generation of Hebrew girls matured, there would have been far fewer Hebrew males to wed.  Lacking Hebrew males to wed, the young Hebrew women would have had to seek husbands from amongst the Egyptians.  The Israelites would eventually become assimilated by the Egyptians, and Israel as a people would vanish.

     Satan employs a similar strategy today.  First, he utilizes a variety of means to discourage Christians.  Included are attempts to keep them from praying and reading the Bible.  As a result, their spiritual health deteriorates, and the probability of becoming discouraged increases.

     Second, Satan tries to discourage Christians from being a witness for the Lord.  The devil tempts us to compromise and mingle with unbelievers in sinful activities.  Satanís goal is to decrease the number of Christians as they die.  Their numbers diminish if new converts arenít available to replace them.

     Lack of witnessing will result in people not knowing what the gospel is.  Sinful compromise will discourage people from listening to the gospel.  This allows Satan to drastically reduce the number of Godís people on the earth, in his endeavor to eliminate them.

     Here again, Satanís plan fails as did his one in Egypt.  God provides His people with victory over Satanís strategy.  It is imperative that Christians rely upon the Lord for victory over battles they encounter.  Letís return to the story of David and Goliath, where I Samuel 17:17-20 reveals that David went to bring provisions for his brothers who were in Israelís army.
 

     Davidís brothers were counting on fortification as protection from Goliath.  While intuitively this seems reasonable, it did nothing to alleviate their larger problem.  Sheltering themselves from Goliath was not going to remove the danger threatened by him.  Their fighting abilities against such a warrior were inadequate.  Only God could provide deliverance, which he did by using David.

     We must remember that the Lord is our strength and fortification.  The Bible tells us not to fear, because God is with us.  We shouldnít be dismayed, for God truly is omnipotent.  He will help us and uphold us in our time of need (Isaiah 41:10).  While witnessing the horrendous terrorist attacks which took place on September 11, 2001, fear suddenly struck at the hearts of not only Americans, but people all around the world.  The results of the attacks were tragic on a large scale.

     Considering the potential number of casualties, however, I believe that God limited Satanís attempt to cause widespread human destruction and misery.  The World Trade Center housed 50,000 workers alone.  Many were not there at the time.  There were also individuals absent from the Pentagon that morning.  The consequences could easily have been worse.
 

     I believe that Godís fortification today is no less secure than it always has been.  In this sinful world, bad things will occur.  This potential shouldnít cause us to become so fearful that we cease to engage in our daily activities.  Trusting God to be there for us, we donít face the challenges from evil alone.  Even if something should befall me, perhaps ending my life here, I know that I would then be transported to my eternal home to be with my Lord forever.  Being His child, I cannot really lose regardless of the circumstances faced.

     To reiterate, God is far superior to any fortification which man can devise.  While Davidís brothers were temporarily safe from Goliathís onslaught, they could not mount an offensive by just sitting.  In comparison, the Lord not only protects His people, but He also provides them with the means to complete His will.  In the case of the terrorists, look how much has been accomplished in a short time.  Though not obliterated, they have suffered defeats and have had their activities curtailed.
 

     I cannot overemphasize that there are many resources God provides to enable us to live victorious lives for Him.  Subsequent chapters will be devoted to various resources which Christians should possess, and how these resources should be utilized.  These assets can be distinguished as current assets or long-term assets.  In a business enterprise, current assets consist of cash and other items that can be sold (such as merchandise inventory) or consumed (such as supplies) within a short period.  Long-term assets consist of things such as investments or equipment.

     The resources which the children of God receive are available for both current and long-term needs.  The fantastic thing is that the assets received from God, when utilized (or consumed), are in no danger of being depleted.  If a clerk uses all of an organizationís petty cash to purchase pens and paper, it will have to be replenished.  Godís resources require no replenishment!  They are available to His people today, and will continue to be available in the future.
 

     The seventeenth chapter of I Kings reveals an interesting illustration.  During a drought, the prophet Elijah asked a widow woman to bring him a morsel of bread.  She replied that what morsel of food she possessed would not even make a bread cake.  She and her son were preparing to eat it, and then wait for death to overtake them.  Elijah informed her that the Lord would not let her barrel of meal be depleted, nor would her cruse of oil become empty until He sent rain.  God was going to miraculously supply the resource of food, until the resumption of rainfall would allow for food to be grown again!

     This example portrays Godís capability to supply material needs.  His supply is truly inexhaustible, not only for material needs, but also for spiritual ones.  Before commencing to examine some of the spiritual resources which are furnished by God, letís consider the Lordís grace which makes them possible.               

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