This one is off the hip…

There is a lot in life we take for granted. I suppose it is because at the core of who we are there is the root of unthankfulness. Thankfulness is the antithesis of taking things for granted. They are opposites. Unthankfulness is the bi-product of a heart that is not grateful to God for all things. Sure we thank God generically for our groceries, but then we grumble at the rain. Out of the same mouth come blessings and curses. These things ought not be.

My grandmother has been a caretaker for the majority of her life. With a mother sick and dying and an absentee father, she dropped out of school, not reaching high school level education, to take care of her mother and sisters, and really to just survive. I’ve sat and listened a few times to her begin to reminisce about the hardship she endured. Later in life she cared for her in-laws who, just like her mother, were sick and dying. She took her mother-in-law into her home and for many years changed bandages, cleaned wounds, changed sheets and bedpans, and cooked meals for someone just like her mother, someone sick and dying. When most cannot stand a simple vacation with their in-laws my grandmother served hers tirelessly, in her home, by the sickbed, until the day they died. Apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, I cannot think of a more selfless person.

As far back as I can remember my grandmother has cooked…a lot. She not only cooked lots of meals, she cooked lots of food with those meals. I would venture to say that she has cooked more meals that there are stars in the sky. Aside from moving off to college I cannot think of a single month, and here recently a single week, of my life in which I have not eaten something she has cooked. She is poor but her kitchen is full. Family is always packed in her little kitchen, gathered around the table. It is noisy and sometimes chaotic (my family never lacks opinion on anything and they are not afraid to tell you about it). But the constant in the midst of the chaos is the meal.

Now every meal was not a home run. She has her “go to” recipes that really knock it out of the park – things she will be famous for long past her time here on earth. But what has struck me most is the steady diet of meal after meal, day after day, that has been a supply for four generations now, my young children being latest beneficiaries of grandma’s efforts. Not every meal was great, but they served their purpose. They were food for life.

This got me thinking.

Grandma’s cooking is a lot like a sermon. If you are one of the fortunate ones that has a pastor that labors over God’s Word week after week to feed you with the food that is necessary for your existence, then by all means thank God for that. Be thankful for the meal. Search your heart and ask whether or not you are taking these things for granted. They might not always be the best meals, but if prayed over, digested, and taken for what they are – food for life – it will do your soul good in the promotion of godliness, humility, and thankfulness.

How many times have we come to eat the food of God’s Word prepared for us and taken for granted, week after week, this steady diet that is the very lifeblood of our life in Christ? If grandma’s cooking were are sermon, are you partaking with a thankful heart? Are you saying, “Preach it grandma!” or have you taken this vital part of your life for granted? It just may be that there is a relationship between our attitude regarding our physical bread and our spiritual bread. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). Both are necessary and both can very easily be taken for granted.

I look forward to showing up at my grandmother’s house again soon to partake of a meal. Do you look forward to the food prepared for you?

“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul” (Ps. 19:7).

He was born in a borrowed manger.

He preached from a borrowed boat.

He rode into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey.

He ate Supper in a borrowed room.

He was crucified on a borrowed cross.

He was buried in a borrowed tomb.

The life of the God-man was a life of humility and meekness. In one word, He was lowly. The religion of Christianity is, most basically and most simply, a religion for the lowly. It is for the lowly in heart. It is for those who humble themselves under the mighty hand of God, repent, and believe. But in some sense it is also a religion for the materially poor.

The Gospel’s paint a picture for us of the meagerness of Christ, and His earthly parents. Joseph and Mary, as believers in the promised One to come, took the Lord to the temple according to the law. Lev. 12:1-8 gives the background for what was going on. It was the law of purification after childbirth. Mary was to offer a sacrifice to the Lord and offer the firstborn male as holy to the Lord. The sacrifice she was to offer is as follows.

When the days of her purification for a son or daughter are over, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting a year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a dove for a sin offering. He shall offer them before the Lord to make atonement for her, and then she will be ceremonially clean from her flow of blood. These are the regulations for the woman who gives birth to a boy or a girl. But if she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean. (Lev. 12:6-8)

The themes of purification, offering, sacrifice, and atonement are glaring.

Lk. 2:22-24 gives us the details of the day.

And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord [Ex. 13:12]”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”

The law gave Mary three options for an offering – a lamb with a young pigeon or dove, or two doves, or two young pigeons. But there’s something you may have missed.

The provision in the law of Moses for two turtle doves or two pigeons was a pauper’s provision. It was a poor man’s way of approaching God sacrificially. What is a pigeon, what is a turtledove, but a common bird found in the wild? This offering by Mary was none other than a poor man’s offering. Mary’s offering was a sign to all that she was destitute. She had nothing more to offer than a common wild bird. But when a person offers God their heart, it does not matter what little may be in their hand.

We must not lose sight of the fact that our Lord’s life was marked by humility. From birth he was born into meager circumstances. His dedication at the temple was consecrated by a poor man’s offering. He grew up eating at a poor man’s table and slept in a poor man’s bed. He worked a poor man’s job. Would he not share in a poor man’s woes as well?

But it is no coincidence that our Savior “became poor” (2 Cor. 8:9). It is also no coincidence that scripture is full of warnings about the deceitfulness of riches. The heart cry of a wise man to God is “give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion” (Prov. 30:8). But the Lord, though possessing the very molecules of the universe, for by Him all things were created and are upheld by the word of His power, laid His rights aside to take up the mantle of the poor (Phil. 2:7). He laid aside the prerogatives of exaltation and took up the prerogatives of humiliation. He was born in the likeness of men, and poor men at that. Deity took on flesh. Oh, mystery of mysteries! But, what comfort! What consolation! What hope! What courage! What a stooping down of the God-man to take up the cause of dust.

The consolations of the poor in the face of these facts are as boundless as the riches of Christ. There is really no room for complaint. We have in heaven a mediator who knows firsthand what it is to be poor.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:14-16)

James Smith once wrote,

If God is my portion, then I ought to be content without any other portion. He is . . .
enough in poverty,
enough in persecution,
enough in life,
enough in death,
enough for evermore!

But be warned you who are rich! The one who trusts in his riches, has his portion in this life. But God is the portion of His people, and He is theirs forevermore (Deut. 32:9; Ps. 119:57).

Hallelujah! Christ is the poor man’s friend and He is enough.