This morning I want to reflect on a Bible passage from the book of Acts and a story about a man named Herod.
This man had political power, he had connections, and apparently he was an effective orator.
Scripture indicates that when he spoke, people were impressed.
Take a look...
"On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, "This is the voice of a god, not of a man." Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died."
I believe that this passage offers us some guidance today.
You could say that it "speaks" to us today.
I assure you that it speaks to me...because I too am a public speaker.
Each time I speak before a crowd, I always ask God to "give me the words".
As a side note...Because of my asthma condition, sometimes I also have to ask God, to "give me the BREATH to FORM the WORDS that I am asking Him to give me". LOL
And every time I have asked, HE has given.
And even as I was sitting down to TYPE the words you are reading right now, I asked God to supply the words that would bring Him glory.
I do that because I believe that it is important to acknowledge God's role in my daily life.
And I am writing this to you today, in order to share that belief with you.
It seems that the Need for Autonomy & the Pride of Self-Reliance are so prevalent in Americans.
It's almost like those two items are in our makeup...in our very DNA.
These two traits, Autonomy & Self-Reliance run bone-deep in many people.
Perhaps you have even heard the terms:
"He is a self-made man!"
"He pulled himself up from his bootstraps!""
These are terms that indicate a sense of dedication and determination that is not based on fate, but rather on intense focus and grit.
And we as a nation, tend to applaud such thinking.
We applaud hard work.
We applaud accomplishment.
And we applaud "getting one's slice of the American Dream".
But such thinking does beg a few Questions,
Q1. Getting a slice of WHAT?
Q2. What is the American Dream?
Q3. What is the difference between a Self-Made Accomplishment and a God-Given Blessing?
Perhaps the Answer to those questions is...
A1. Getting a Slice of Blessings: Many people forget that every comfort we have is a actually a blessing. And frankly sometimes the things we DON'T have are blessings too.
See the following...
"Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Matthew 19:24
With riches come tempations and all sorts of other troubles.
And some times we have no idea how blessed we are
to NOT have everything we ever wished for.
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A2. The American Dream is of Being Blessed: Many people forget that the American Dream is based on living free and prospering...and that such freedom is based on Spiritual Freedom instead of Financial Freedom.
But living Free does not mean living without Debt.
We owe our LIVES to Jesus Christ, because He died for us to redeem our souls, and then rose from the dead to show His power over death.
He told us that He is going to prepare a place for us in heaven.
We are called to live our lives in the service of Jesus as a response to the debt we owe.
And we are called to do this out of love.
We gladly pay the debt, and enjoy the benefits of being indebted to Jesus Christ.
We rejoice in this debt.
Because the benefit of this indebtedness is
eternal life in Heaven.
"In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you."
This blessing is not unique to Americans...it is for the whole world. Americans tend to be hegemonic..believing that we are the only country who is entitled to God's Blessing.
But God loves every person.
His Son, Jesus Christ, died for Every Person on Earth then and now.
The "American Dream" is not geographically bound to our national borders...it is a term used to define a way of living that is based on loving submission and open Acknowledgement of HIS Ultimate Power and our Genuine Love of Him.
A3. The difference between a self-made accomplishment and a God-Given Blessing is that there IS no such thing as a self-made accomplishment.
We, In and of Ourselves, can do nothing unless GOD wills it to be so.
Therefore in EVERY SINGLE THING THAT WE ACCOMPLISH, or WE PURCHASE or OR WE ARE PRAISED FOR...we ought to remember that GOD gets the glory...not us.
So today, as you go through your daily activities, let me encourage to you remember that God is the one who supplies us with what we need.
God, is the one positions those of us who HAVE to share with those of us who HAVE NOT.
I pray that in all things we thank God for our blessings and that we...
"Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1Thessalonians 5:15-18