"Oh, give thanks unto God, for He is good, for His mercy is eternal" (Ps106:1, 118:1, 136, 1Ch16:34)
And "His mercy...is ON THOSE WHO FEAR HIM" (Ps103:17, Lk1:50)
Thing is, there is nothing in life that does not function without some CAUSE and EFFECT relationship. (A) happens, therefore (B) results. A baby gets hungry, therefore it cries. The parent hears baby cry, therefore baby is fed.
How do people know they love God? Do they sense God's presence, and -just- 'because' (He is there) they magically know that they love Him? And its companion thought, they are thankful? Does thankfulness happen without something to cause it?
We are told...
How does God show His love? What is the basis for us to give thanks?
In the same spirit as Paul's life was recorded as an example to us...
Recently, after 23 years ("making tents" Ac18:3) in the Sign Business, it was time to retire. If you will indulge me a few minutes, perhaps my 'testimony' will prove beneficial to this whole topic. My sign business has not been like most people who operate businesses for the purpose of making money, and getting rich. There have been many occasions where I nod my head in the understanding that: THIS IS THE LORD'S BUSINESS. I'M NOT RUNNING THIS BUSINESS.
Let's go back to the beginning. Years ago I married an unequal yoke. One of the contributing factors was that before I met her I had started down a path of apostasy. It was the 70s, and whereas I started out on the straight-and-narrow, I allowed other voices to pull and sway me. In that context, there she was. We got married. And after 15 years, one day she up-and-left. (1Co7:15) I sooooo loved her, it utterly devastated me.
That night was my FACING GOD MOMENT. More 'dramatic' than when I was first saved at the age of 5. I don't think I got any sleep that night. Yes, the wife whom I dearly loved had departed...but that night was not so much about her...in my spirit I knew that my heart was not right. It was a night of MAKING THINGS RIGHT WITH GOD.
As the story unfolds: We were running the store together. But it was a "woman owned" business. (Looking back, I'm not sure what that meant) She was the "boss". I was still working in electronics assembly, and helping her finish up orders when I would get off the electronics job. Then, it progressed to me working full-time at the sign shop. But when she left, I might have known how to make signs, but I knew nothing about 'running a business'...and there I was, 'plop', the business dropped in my lap. How do you price orders? How do you deal with customers? All those things... I seriously considered just "walking away" from it, and letting the pieces fall where they might. I'm dealing with the greatest heart-break of my life...ever...and I'm supposed to also learn how to run a business?
That lengthy introduction is necessary to paint the picture of the context of what follows, as the Lord picked up the pieces.
I decided to GO FOR IT. I'm sure a lot of 'understanding' customers, as I would explaing my situation. But the Lord -BLESSED-. As God said through Moses, the blessings "came upon and overtook me". When she left we were in the process of negotiating a lease for some more equipment, which I had cancelled FIRST THING when she left. (If I wasn't going to continue, I didn't want to have a brand new lease to have to pay for) But the Lord's blessings came so richly that, a lease that might have had a term of a couple years...well...within a couple of months I was able to WRITE A CHECK for the full amount and buy it outright.
As the other two leases were having payments made, the first lease was paid. As I considered what to do WITH THAT MONEY, business 'plateaued' -downward- by the PRECISE AMOUNT of that lease payment. Then as the other lease was paid off, a repeat of the first experience. Business 'plateaued' -downward- by that PRECISE AMOUNT. In other words, God had a specific amount that He intended for me to earn, and the purpose for which I thought to put that 'extra' amount into the bank and save it up...He didn't want that to happen.
Now, about a year ago I was to an age where it seemed right to start drawing Social Security. The very month my first SS payment came into the bank account, THAT VERY MONTH the store stopped making enough money to pay me. The store payments, rent, bills and everything were paid. But not enough to PAY ME. At first I associated it with Obama-nomics. When Clinton was president business 'gradually' declined, but when Bush took office, it 'jumped'. (No, it was not "Bush's fault"!) But this current matter went on for a whole year like this. Some months the Lord would let the orders 'wait' till the very end of the month, and would suddenly 'gang up' with orders at the end of the month, so that the payments were -always- there.
When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He says...
Now here's the kicker. As I calculated the credit card receipts, and the bills to be paid, and final closing month of rent...it came out that there is $6.00 left in the account. How 'close' can you get? Right?
When I was in a place of being humbled, and was at my wit's end, and was following the Lord, the store (as I often said) ran itself. How many times did I remark: IT'S THE LORD'S STORE. He was 'running' it. I didn't know how to. He did it. God sustained me.
And when it came to selling it, the Lord even 'arranged' that. By the end it was not a 'thriving' entity. But the Lord had somebody in mind and we two parties could not have been better suited to each other and the goals of the transaction.
When I was 'down' the Lord allowed the store to make money 'hand-over-fist' to let me know He was taking care of me. But then, business 'settled' in to be 'just right' for the work the Lord had for me to do. It was while standing at the work table one day that the Lord's 'call' was clear and a monthly snail-mail began. Then, just as clearly, as I heard somebody talk about something called a "website", even though I didn't yet know -what- a 'website' was, the Lord made it clear that that was what I was supposed to do. For 20 years the store made -just- 'enough' to live on, and also give me the 'time' to work on VW and the vw-edition Bible. Most of that all happened from the store, on the store's computer. If you browse through the website, you will see there is a -lot- of stuff there. And doing the vw-edition was a lot of MANY hours. And even in 'scheduling'....there were often times I 'hoped' that business would be slow SO THAT I COULD HAVE TIME to work on VW things. And I don't know HOW OFTEN (too many to count) it would happen that, -as- I was finishing up the rough draft of some article, study series, or whatever...that the phone would start ringing, and within the space of perhaps 5 minutes (bam bam bam), often 5-6 orders would have come in...and there was work to do for several days. If I had been making lots of money at the store, there wouldn't have been time or energy to do VW. It was the "Lord's store"...He wanted me to do A Voice in the Wilderness, and the store was His means of supporting my life. While there have been those who send in, and they do so as the Lord directs them, unsolicited; it has been the purpose to provide the ministry "without charge". (1Co9:18)
Back when I was married -I- had the idea that I was going to be some big super-duper 'musician' for the Lord. You would have heard me singing at all the big crusades, and such. With what you read around here now, can you imagine such a thing???
God has taken care of me. He gave me work to do that I never would have drempt of. I was never a preacher; although I -was- the son of a preacher/missionary. (Am7:14) And for sure I was even less a writer. The only way I was comfortable in front of people was performing music. I did not have the 'talent' to write. In school the writing assignments were always met by the low grades from the teachers. But like God took the 'uneducated' fishermen to stand before the scholarly elite (Ac4:13), He took me in my inabilities and gave me to -write- for Him.
Solomon was given physical wealth beyond what most people experienced. That was God's blessing upon him for asking for wisdom. (1Ki3:9-13) But Jesus also warned about wealth...
Early on, the Lord let me understand that, were things to go a certain way, a LOT of money -could- be had from the sign business. But I didn't 'need' that. The Lord supplied what was JUST RIGHT.
"And they glorified God in me." (Ga1:24)