Faith Is Not always Easy!

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12 NLT)



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Getting More than We Deserve

Many years ago, when I was in seminary, I would leave home on Monday to drive 230 miles to New Orleans to attend New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and then drive back to Mississippi on Friday evening. I am thankful for the churches that allowed me to do that while serving as their pastor. Even though I was busy with my studies, I spent the entire week looking forward to seeing my family late Friday evening. There is something magnetic about home. Home always draws us back. I thought about that experience early this morning as I studied Psalm 23.

David was an old man when he wrote the Twenty-third Psalm. He had seen tragedies and disappointments, but he also had come to know God - a Good Shepherd who gives to His children more than they deserve. David says that the Good Shepherd provides our needs, gives us peace, protection, presence, and paradise.

The older I get, the more I think about paradise, my heavenly home. The Bible says, “Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty. But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10 NLT)

I have lived my 70 which means I have lived a lot longer than I have left.

Jesus showed time and time again that He would and could provide for those who followed Him. Just as a shepherd provides for the sheep, so does Jesus provide for His followers. No better description of this exists than Psalm 23. David closes that Psalm with a mighty faith when he declares, "And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever" (Psalm 23:6 NIV).

One winter's night in 1935, Fiorello LaGuardia, the mayor of New York, showed up at a night court in the poorest ward of the city. He dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench. That night a tattered woman, charged with stealing a loaf of bread, was brought before him. She defended herself by saying, "My daughter's husband has deserted her. She is sick, and her children are starving." The shopkeeper refused to drop the charges, saying, "It's a bad neighborhood, your honor, and she's got to be punished to teach other people a lesson." LaGuardia turned to the old woman and said, "I've got to punish you; the law makes no exceptions. Ten dollars or ten days in jail." However, even while pronouncing sentence, LaGuardia reached into his pocket, took out a ten-dollar bill, and threw it into his hat with these famous words: "Here's the ten-dollar fine, which I now remit, and furthermore, I'm going to fine everyone in this courtroom fifty cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat. Mr. Bailiff collect the fines and give them to the defendant."

The following day, a New York newspaper reported: "Forty-seven dollars and fifty cents was turned over to a bewildered old grandmother who had stolen a loaf of bread to feed her starving grandchildren. Making forced donations were a red-faced storekeeper, seventy petty criminals, and a few New York policemen."

Sometimes we get what we don't deserve. That old grandmother, by the letter of the law, deserved punishment. But she didn't get it. She deserved justice, but she got mercy. She deserved a stay in the city jail, but she got to go back home. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.



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