Friday, October 26, 2012

He Has a Purpose

God has a purpose for your life.  What?  You don't think so?  You're not good enough?  You don't have enough faith?  You're too scared?

None of that matters.  God will still use you.

1 Samuel 27:1 - Then David said in his heart, “Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand."  (ESV)

Background: Saul was still king and his current mission in life was to kill David.

But hadn't David been anointed in order to be the next king?  Hand chosen by God?  Why then did he think he would die at the hand of Saul?  

He was doubting.  This statement "proceeded from gross distrust of God's promise and providence; and that after such repeated demonstrations of God's peculiar care over him" (Wesley).  God had done so much for David already!  Before he was even 20, David had defeated Goliath - a giant that the toughest, most experienced, bravest soldiers of Israel wouldn't even dare go up against.  Time and time again, God had provided for David is amazing ways...yet David forgot all of this in an instant and ran scared for his life.

Not only was David doubting and untrusting at this point, he ran to the one place he shouldn't have.  The Philistines are enemies of Israel (Goliath was a Philistine), outside of "God's chosen," and they worshiped other gods!  David was running to a place where one day, as king, he would have to wage war!  And he was abandoning the very people he had been anointed to rule and protect (Henry).

He messed up.  Big time.  But (spoiler alert) Saul did not kill David and David did become the King of Israel!

God still used him.

God did not choose "perfect" people then, and he doesn't choose "perfect" people now.  God will use you, no matter your imperfections, no matter your fears or your doubts.  He has a purpose for you.

I challenge you today to discover what that purpose might be and start living it.

"For I know the plans that I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to welfare and not calamity to give you a future and a hope." - Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I'm sure we've all heard the phrase, "Think before you speak" or "Think before you act."  Both phrases are very good advice.  But how often do we actually apply that advice to our lives?  This is one of those times where the phrase "Much easier said than done" is very easy to apply!  :)

1 Samuel 25:30-31 - 30 And when the Lord does for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and appoints you ruler over Israel, 31 this will not cause grief or a troubled heart to my lord, both by having shed blood without cause and by my lord having avenged himself.  When the Lord deals well with my lord, then remember your maidservant.

Yes, this section is a little bit confusing.  Abigail is speaking to David here.  Who is Abigail you might ask?  She is the wife of a certain man named Nabal. Nabal had refused to help out David's men in quite a rude and ungracious way.  David was outraged at Nabal's reply and immediately set out to avenge him.  Abigail met him halfway and talked him out of his revenge mind set.

In these verses we see her appeal to his conscience, his heart: 

"She cannot but think that if he should avenge himself it would afterwards be a grief and an offence of heart to him...She is confident that if he pass by the offense it will afterwards be no grief to him; but, on the contrary, it would yield him unspeakable satisfaction that his wisdom and grace had go the better of his passion" (Henry).

She knows he would regret this vengeance later.  After all, it would have been reckless and causeless "for though Nabal had been guilty of abominable rudeness, and ingratitude; yet he had done nothing worthy of death, by the laws of God or man.  And whatsoever he had done, the rest of his family were innocent" (Wesley).

If only we all had an Abigail to intercede and give us a chance to think about the actions in which we are about to partake.  It would be so much better for us if "when we are tempted to sin we should consider how it will appear in the reflection.  Let us never do any thing for which our own consciences will afterwards have occasion to upbraid us and which we shall look back upon with regret" (Henry).  

I challenge you today to think before you speak and think before you act.  When does the reflection of sin every prove good?  It doesn't!  Think.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Tell-Tale Heart

In elementary school my best friend had a super sensitive conscience.  If she did anything remotely wrong...even if it really wasn't a big deal, she would get very upset.  Tears would fall and apologies would be profusely made.  I often look back on those times and wonder if that is part of the innocence of a child that God has called us to maintain.

1 Samuel 24:5 - It came about afterward that David's conscience bothered him because he had cut off the edge of Saul's robe.

"Conscience" is actually translated from the Hebrew word used for "heart."  Most translations leave "heart" in the text, but a few, as seen above, change it to "conscience" in order for it to make more sense (Parallel Bible).  However, "bothered" is defined in the Hebrew as "to strike, smite, hit, beat, slay, kill" (Strong's H5221).  It makes much more sense when paired with "heart" instead of "conscience" for the lexicon explains that his heart "palpitated most vehemently and struck his internal breast."  I've had that feeling once or twice - you know you've done something wrong and your heart feels like its going to jump out of your chest - you can even hear it beating extra loudly  *thump thump* * thump thump*  

David had a chance to kill Saul here and he didn't.  Instead, he simply cut off the edge of Saul's robe.  Doesn't really seem like he did anything wrong does it?  But it bothered David "because it was an affront to Saul's royal dignity" (Henry).  Saul was still king and David shouldn't have done anything to disrespect his authority.

Henry makes a great point here: "It is a good thing to have a heart within us smiting us for sins that seem little; it is a sign that conscience is awake and tender, and will be the means of preventing greater sins."  If it doesn't bother us to lie or cheat on a test/taxes or disrespect authority...then how do we know it would bother us to murder or steal or kidnap?  Each time we sin and it doesn't bother us, it builds up an immunity to our conscience.  We are putting a wall between our heart and our actions, making it easier and easier to sin.

I challenge you today to let your heart, your conscience speak to you!  Don't ignore it!  What are you doing that your heart is telling you you shouldn't?  Listen to that *thump thump*  *thump thump* and let it break down the walls of indifference.  Every little sin should bother us until we make a change!

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Weak Things of This World

Everyone has heard at least one story of someone unexpected making a huge difference in this world.  The story that pops to my mind first is of a 21 year old girl who moved to Africa.  I can't recall her name or any specific details but I know the story and I want to share it with you.  After a brief missions trip to Africa, this girl could not get the homeless children she had seen out of her mind.  So she decided to do something about it.  She moved to Africa and adopted not one or two or even three children, but close to 20 children who were living on the streets.  Now, they all have a home, and she is "mama."  Because of her, these children will know the love of Christ and they have a future full of love and shelter.

1 Samuel 17:32-33 - 32 David said to Saul, "Let no man's heart fail on account of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine."  33 Then Saul said to David, "You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth."

From Day 1, no one expected David to be anything great.  He was the youngest of countless sons (not even 20) and his job was merely to tend to the sheep.  He wasn't even supposed to be near the battle, a novice at such things (Wesley).  But none of that stopped David. You see, God often uses the unexpected, the weak, the untalented to accomplish His goals.

The difference is our attitude.  David was willing and committed as we can see in verse 32.  You see, "a person with a [willing] attitude is like a bumblebee.  The bumblebee should not be able to fly, because the size, weight, and shape of its body in relationship to its wingspread makes flying aerodynamically impossible.  But the bumblebee, being ignorant of scientific theory, flies anyway and makes honey every day" (John Maxwell, Real Leadership, pg. 144).  David shouldn't have been able to take down Goliath, he shouldn't have even had the courage.  But David knew that God was on his side. 

And he was looking out for the good of the people, not himself.  No one else was even willing to attempt to fight with Goliath.  Because of this the Israelites seemed doomed for failure.  David knew that God didn't want His people to fail, so he stepped up to do what was for the best of the community, despite the fact that everyone told him he was going to fail or that he seemed the most unlikely candidate to defeat such a giant.

How often are we willing to look past ourselves and look out for the good of the church?  How often do we attempt the impossible, knowing that we shouldn't be able to accomplish such a task?  I am weak.  I'm not very talented.  I'm not any more special than anyone else I speak to throughout the week.  But God can use me!  After all, like David's story, "God often [does] great things for his people by the weak things of this world" (Wesley).

I challenge you today to let God use you!  No matter what your station in life, no matter your talents or abilities, God can use you if you are willing!  Don't let the world tell you you aren't good enough.  Those are lies!  The truth is that we can ALL be used be God...again, if only we will let Him.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

You Have a Beautiful Heart

Our society is completely caught up with looks.  From interviews to churches to a simple lunch with friends - how we dress, how we style our hair, how we look, impresses those around us.  I'm reminded of a the new ABC series, "The Neighbors" (it is really funny, go check it out) where the teenage girl asks the teenage alien if he thinks she's pretty...then proceeds to say something about "I don't mean pretty on the inside..."  Don't we all take offense to that?  

"You are so beautiful on the inside."

"Really??  So you think I'm ugly?"

"I didn't say that...I...I...I...just really appreciate and love who you are on the inside..."

*cricket cricket*

"...and out..."

But I think we've got it all wrong.

1 Samuel 16:7 - But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

Did you catch that?  The Lord looks at the heart!  He looks at what is inside.  I could have the body of a 6 ft, bleach blonde, Vanity Fair model but if my heart is wicked, it doesn't matter.  God does NOT look at our outward appearance!  He looks at our heart!  (And yes, the Hebrew means the same thing, so no argument there.)

I think the greatest compliment I could ever receive from God would be:

"You are so pretty on the inside.  You have a beautiful heart."

And I wouldn't snap back about being ugly on the outside.

I challenge you today to look at the heart of your family, your friends, and every new acquaintance  Look past their appearance, whether it is good or bad, and see what their beauty holds on the inside.  You might be surprised what you find.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wait Upon the Lord

Waiting....and waiting...and waiting...  Who likes to wait?  No one that I'm aware of.  Especially in today's world - we have got to be the most impatient generation to ever exist.  We are a want it NOW, need it NOW, have to have it NOW society.  If we don't have something right away we throw a fit about it until we get what we want.  If someone isn't doing something right we feel the need to step in and do it ourselves to accomplish the job faster.  If there is an empty position, we fill it ourselves even though our plate is already full, because it needs to be done now.

1 Samuel 13:14 - But now your kingdom shall not endure.  The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.

Let's back up and find out just why Saul needed to hear these words in the first place.  Israel was about to go to war with the Philistines.  This process included offering a sacrifice asking favor from the Lord.  However, Samuel, who was, by law, supposed to offer the sacrifice was running a little bit late.  Saul grew impatient and decided to offer the sacrifice himself...which is going against the commandment of the Lord.  The verse above, is a direct result of Saul's disobedience.

While to us, this disobedience seems a bit trivial for such a punishment, "It was not little: disobedience to an express command, tho' in a small matter, is a great provocation.  And indeed, there is no little sin, because there is no little god to sin against" (Wesley, emphasis added).  I love that Wesley points out how there is no little sin!  I think that is something we easily forget!

But the biggest thing I learned while studying this verse, was the importance of waiting.  And more importantly, waiting on God - "We are taught hereby, how necessary it is, that we wait on our God continually.  For Saul is sentenced to lose his kingdom for want of 2 or 3 hours patience" (Wesley).  If Saul had waited just moments longer (verse 10 says Samuel showed up as soon as Saul finished the offering) he wouldn't have lost the entire kingdom.  Samuel is God's intermediary at this point (which is why he should have offered the sacrifice), so in not waiting on Samuel, Saul did not wait on God.

How often do we jump into a role that is not suited for us because we aren't waiting on the Lord.  I have seen it happen so many times in different churches and ministries.  There is a need and because no one else seems to want to do it, one of "the usual" people (who already has a full plate and then some) jumps in and takes over.  But I don't think that's what we are called to do.  Yes, we need to be giving of our time...but not to the point that we are burnt out.  And if you don't have the talent that suits the need whats the point in taking over anyhow?  Just like Saul, we get ahead of ourselves...when Samuel might be just around the corner.  We just have to wait on the Lord!  I am a firm believer that if there is a need, He will provide in one way or another.  If no one is jumping to fill the role immediately, give it some time.  He will provide someone.  And if you aren't supposed to be doing it, He will provide someone to take your place eventually anyhow...just as he mentions in this verse.  God already had someone to take Saul's place (that someone was David).  He knows what we need and when we need it and I have faith He will always provide - it just might not be in our timing!

Isaiah 40:31 - Yet those who wait for the Lord
                    Will gain new strength;
                    They will mount up with wings like eagles,
                    They will run and not grow tired,
                    They will walk and not become weary.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

3 Simple Steps

Some people look at the "God of the Old Testament" and the "God of the New Testament" or the "God of today" and feel the He is very different in each of those scenarios.  However, our God is the same, yesterday and today.  And one thing I love about Him that is a definite constant is that our God is a God of second chances (and just to clarify...He is the ONLY God).

1 Samuel 12:20,24 - 20 Samuel said to the people, "Do not fear.  You have committed all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart... 24 Only fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you."

You see, Israel had judges who oversaw them, kind of like pastors for us today.  God was their "king."  Yet, they were unhappy because everyone else had a physical king and they wanted to be like everyone else.  God relented and gave them what they wanted (though He definitely knew better...) by placing Saul in the position of king.  This is the evil that Samuel is referring to.  

Even though they had committed such an atrosity and gone against God's better judgment, He was willing to look past it - "...what was past God would pass by, provided they would be obedient in the future" (Clarke).  As long as they would fear (or revere) God and serve Him in truth with ALL of their hearts, He would forgive them and not forsake them.

The same is true for us today! God will look past what is in the past so long as we are obedient in the future.  Samuel lays out 3 simple things we must do in order to be forgiven and accepted as God's people:

  1. Fear the Lord - Again, to fear the Lord is more of a reverence - "reverential trust with hatred of evil" (Scofield).  We must trust Him and hate evil.  If we hate evil does that not mean we avoid it at all cost?  What exactly is evil?  The Hebrew word, ra' can be translated as "displeasing" meaning that we should hate (and avoid) anything that is displeasing to the Lord (Strong's H7451).
  2. Serve Him in truth - Truth is defined in the Hebrew as "firmness, faithfulness, truth."  If I were to tell you to be faithful to your spouse, though would mean to not cheat, to have eyes for your spouse and only your spouse.  The same goes with the Lord.  We are to be faithful to Him, we should have eyes for Him and only Him.  
  3. Serve Him with all of your heart - God asks for nothing less than ALL of you.  Yeah, it is pretty intense.  But so is His love and His mercy and His power...I could go on and on.  To give Him all of me is a small sacrifice to make for all that I get in return.  When we serve the Lord (which should be in all that we do) it should be 100%, not 25% or 70%...not even 99%...but 100%.
Clarke puts it a bit more simply: - "Act towards your God as an affectionate child should act towards a tender and loving parent."  But regardless of how simply you look at it, if we do these 3 things (and truthfully, it is hard to have one and not the others), God will forgive our past and accept us.

I challenge you today to give 100%, to be faithful, and to hate the things that displease God.  As the old saying goes, "It couldn't hurt."

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

History Repeats Itself...But Only if we Let It

History repeats itself.  From bell bottoms to genocides to the collapse of solid can flip through a history book and see the same things yet different eras.  You would think we would learn from mistakes made throughout history...but it seems that we just don't care that we're making the same mistakes they did - surely the outcome will be different - right?

1 Samuel 6:6 - Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts?  When He had severely dealt with them, did they not allow the people to go, and they departed?

The Philistines had taken the ark of God from the Israelites. And, obviously, God didn't like that.  So...He made that known via death or painful tumors (this word in the Hebrew can also be translated as hemmoroids) (Strong's H6076).  Most of the Philistines were very ready to send it back to the Israelites by this point.  It does seem though that in this verse there were at least a few who wanted to keep the ark of God.

However, someone was smart enough to learn a lesson from the mistakes of others.  It might have been something like this:

In a mild panic:
The Egyptians and Pharaoh had hardened their heart to the will of God and           look what happened to them!  10 plauges!  10!  Do you really want to deal with more than these tumors?  How about we add gnats and frogs and the death of our first born to the list?  That sounds like a plan! took the Egyptians 10 plagues to figure out that they needed to listen to what the God of Israel wanted...can we just stop at 1?  The God of Israel is going to get what He wants one way or the other...

Why don't we learn from the mistakes of others?  After all, "It is much cheaper to learn by other people's experience than by our own" (Henry).  And I'm not just talking about watching the people around us.  The Philistines were not even God's people and they knew He meant business.  They just had to look at history.

We ARE God's people, we have access to our entire history...and yet, we make the same mistakes that are written there for all to see.  David had an affair and God made sure he learned from that mistake. Yet, we see affairs happening within our churches like it isn't a big deal.  Soddom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of their wicked ways...also known as homosexuality.  Yet, some churches are allowing homosexuals to be ordained and preach from the pulpit...without repentance.  Ananias and Sapphira lied and they died on the spot.  Yet, we lie everyday and usually don't think twice about it.  Jonah ran from the will of God and was eaten by a whale!  Yet, we go to church, listen to the sermon, and go home unchanged, completely disregarding what God has asked of us, what we are called to do.  I could probably go on and on with more examples, but these will do for now.  

Do you see it??  We have been given a history and we are letting history repeat itself every single day.  We do the same things and expect the outcome to be different.  God gave us stories like this so that we wouldn't make the same mistakes.  The Philistines knew He meant business and they didn't want history to repeat itself.  We should live the same way!

I challenge you today to learn from someone else's experience before you have to pay the price.  The Bible is full of wonderful history and experience but so is life.  Look to the Word but look to others as well.  Chances are, you can find someone who struggled previously with what you are struggling with today and they can help you through it by sharing their own experience.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, we were created for community.  If you don't have a good community now, try to find one!  My hubby and I tried several churches around our area but never found one where we felt the community was healthy, growing, and supportive.  Now, we travel 45 minutes each way on Sundays to go to a small town church where we feel loved and accepted.  And let me tell you what - if we are stumbling and someone notices, they will tell us to straighten up and give us the tools we need to do so.  That is what community is about!  Don't settle - find somewhere that community is priority or make it your priority to create a better community experience!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

All Good Men...

"You can't understand, you aren't a mother."

Yes, I've heard it...a few times.  No, I can't completely understand what it is like to be a mother because I haven't yet had the chance.  But that isn't the point.  The point is that mother's worry and fret over their children.  For those of us who are not mothers, sometimes it seems a little much.  But when I hurt, my mom hurts...and that's a fact.  When my brother hurts, she hurts...  You get the picture?

1 Samuel 4:13 - When he came, behold Eli was sitting on his seat by the road eagerly watching, because his heart was trembling for the ark of God.  So the man came to tell in in the city, and all the city cried out.

You see, Israel was at war with the Philistines and Eli knew they wanted the ark of God.  He knew they were a threat to what God had given Israel.  And his heart was trembling... 

In other words, he was afraid - "Though old, and blind, and heavy (vs. 15, 18), yet he could not keep his chamber when...the glory of Israel [was] at stake, but placed himself by the way-side to receive the first intelligence..." (Henry). I've been there - you can't sleep, you are completely restless, all because you can't stop worrying or thinking about a certain situation.  Eli solved that by sitting by the gate and keeping watch.

What we can learn from this is simple: "All good men lay the interests of God's church nearer their hearts than any secular interest or concern of their own, and cannot be in pain and fear for them if at any time they are in peril" (Henry).  Eli's sons were in that battle (and they both died), yet he was sitting there awaiting news of the war not because of his sons but because of the ark of God (Clarke)!

I'm not saying to abandon your family or anything...but maybe your priorities aren't quite straight.  Maybe you are more concerned with work than whatever is going on in the church.  Maybe your health becomes a bigger issue than the  issues facing God's church.  It isn't easy to be kingdom-focused all of the time.  But I challenge you today to try.  Try to focus on eternal matters - what issues are facing God's church as a whole today?  Or what issues are facing your church?  But the big question is: What can you do about it?

For a peek at some very big issues facing God's church today, check out the facebook post I just stumbled across (moments after publishing this post).  This was written by Dr. Donald E. Wildmon, President of the American Family Association - it is pretty good and puts things in perspective:

In 1973 The Supreme Court said it was ok to kill unborn babies. Since then, we have killed more than the entire population of Canada. And it continues. A woman's choice? Half of those who have died in their mothers' wombs have been women. They didn't have a choice. It is called abortion. 

Me? I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That's what Christians do now. 

First, it was in dingy, dirty theaters. Then, convenience stores. Then, grocery stores. Then on television. Now it is in the homes of millions via the Internet. It is called pornography. 

Me, I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That's what Christians do now. 

They call it no-fault. Why should we blame anyone when something so terrible happens. Haven't they already suffered enough? Half of the marriages in America end this way. The children suffered. The family broke down. It is called divorce. 

Me, I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That's what Christians do now. 

At one time it was a perversion. We kept it secret. We secured help and hope for those who practiced it. Now it is praised. We have parades celebrating it, and elected officials give it their blessing. Now it is endowed with special privileges and protected by special laws. Even some Christian leaders and denominations praise it. It is called homosexuality. 

Me? I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That's what Christians do now. 

It used to be an embarrassment. A shame. Now a third of all births are to mothers who aren't married. Two-thirds of all African-American children are born into a home without a father. The state usually pays the tab. That is why we pay our taxes, so that government can take the place of parents. After all, government bureaucrats know much better how to raise children than parents do. It is called illegitimacy. 

Me? I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That's what Christians do now. 

At one time it was wrong. But then the state decided to legalize it, promote it and tax it. It has ripped apart families and destroyed lives. But just look at all the money the state has raised. No longer do we have to teach our children to study and work hard. Now we teach them they can get something for nothing. We spend millions encouraging people to join the fun and excitement. Just look at the big sums that people are winning. They will never have to work again! It is called gambling. 

Me? I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That's what Christians do now. 

Not long ago, Christians were the good guys. But now any positive image of Christians in movies or on TV is gone. We are now depicted as the bad guys - greedy, narrow-minded hypocrites. The teacher can't have a Bible on her desk, but can have Playboy. We don't have Christmas and Easter holidays - just winter and spring break. We can't pray in school, but can use foul language. It's called being tolerant. 

Me? I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That's what Christians do now. 

Yes, all these things came to pass within 30 years. Where were the Christians? Why, they were in church. All these things are for someone else to deal with. Times have changed. Involvement has been replaced with apathy. 

But don't blame me. I didn't do anything. I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That's what Christians do now.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Gift or the Giver?

When was the last time you were so excited about something that you literally jumped up in down with joy?  I remember countless times in my childhood...but I think the most recent time was when Justin popped the question, a moment I had been waiting for my entire life!  But I don't remember at what point I thanked God for that moment.  Don't get me wrong, I thank God for my husband everyday (okay, well almost everyday...), but I'm not sure if I ever thanked God for our proposal and the beginning of such a joyous and wonderful chapter.

1 Samuel 2:1 - Then Hannah prayed and said,
                     "My heart exults in the Lord;
                      My horn is exalted in the Lord,
                      My mouth speaks boldly against my enemies,
                      Because I rejoice in my salvation."

(If you haven't read her history, I would check out 1 Samuel 1, or for a brief run down check out my previous blogs: here and then here.)

Though she never says his name, Hannah is praising the Lord for her long-awaited son, Samuel.  The important thing to note here is that, "she overlooks the gift, and praises the giver; whereas most forget the giver and fasten only on the gift" (Henry).  You cannot miss the joy in her words here (and this is only the beginning - her praise continues through verse 10).  

Let's take a minute and think of the definition of the word "good."  Okay, well not literally - but if I were to define it simply, my dictionary entry would look like this:

good - God.

Yep, that's all my definition would include.  God IS good.  And I think we forget that a lot of the time.  You see if God IS good, then everything in our lives that is good, is Him.  Simple as that.  And how often do we thank Him for ALL of the good in our lives?  I might literally leap for joy...but am I giving Him credit where credit is due?  More often than not, I don't.  And I assume that is the same for most of us...

I pray for myself today, and for each on of you that reads this, that I can be more like Hannah.  For everything good thing that I encounter or receive, I want to immediately recognize God.  I challenge you today to look past the gift and praise the Giver.