We just returned from SOAR 2018 (Sold Out and Radical) youth conference. One of the great things that happened this week, is the conference recognized modern heroes of the faith. Two such men, Bobby Tucker and James Schoenrock, both surrendered to God’s call to preach young, 13 and 11 years old.
This prompted me to think back on my life. I surrendered to special service at about 12 years old. From then until I was 17, I had plans which didn’t include much thought of God nor the commitment I had made. As that last year wound down, I started an elaborate negotiation with God. I bargained with every possible position in His service of which I could think. Finally, as my senior year in high school began, I yielded to His will wholeheartedly without any lines I would not cross. The rest is history!
This week made me wish I had not waited. My advice to all would be yield to His call now. Don’t wait for the right time and place. Don’t wait until it is more convenient. Like Samuel in 1 Sam 3, when God calls, respond, “speak Lord, your servant is listening.” And respond as Isaiah does in Isaiah 6, “here I am, send me”.
Don’t wait, yield to God today!
Have you ever had a book change your life? As a kid, I discovered JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series. I read them many times. I was captivated by the struggle of good versus evil and the little guy playing a major part in the final outcome.
There is another book which captivated my mind and heart at a young age which still impacts my life. As a young child, Momma would read us Bible stories. The heroes of my childhood were Samson, David, Moses, and Joshua. Later, I learned about the teachings of Paul, John, and Jesus. I still learn something new and see how the word of God shapes my life. It is no wonder the prophet Isaiah sad “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” Isaiah 40:8 NIV
God’s word is alive and works within us to conform us to the image. They key is to put it into practice. Jesus said, Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24 NIV Jesus instructs us that life built on the rock of His word stands the test of time. He also contrasted that life with a foolish one. “ 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:26-27 NIV.
God’s word is a solid foundation upon which we can build our lives.
Have you ever needed something? I’m not talking about “need” like many today do. We really don’t need the updated latest greatest cell phone. We want that. No, I’m referring to those basic needs of life: food, clothing, shelter, security. Has there been a point that you felt in a bind for those basic necessities? If you have been through lean times, you can relate to those in need. We all have needs which go beyond the basics. In our culture, many add to the basics things such as sanitation, education, touch, etc.
Wherever you draw the line, as God’s children, we are called to give to others. Solomon in writing his book of wisdom wrote often of this. Proverbs 22:9 says (ESV) “Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.” Jesus said, “give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38 ESV. Notice that in both in the Old and New Testaments, the principle of generosity is same. Give and you will be blessed. God expects His children to be giving people.
Please don’t misunderstand me. The purpose in giving is not so that God will give back to us. Giving is not a get rich quick scheme! Giving in love is the aim. It is good for us to give. It is the method God established to take care of those in need. He even included it in the national laws of Israel recorded by Moses. However, when we live life God’s way, we are blessed. Those blessings may not always be financial, but blessings of God will flow.
Living a godly life includes giving to others. Let us look for needs and meet them as we go through our lives.
I have always loved the show, “My Fair Lady”. An uneducated and unsophisticated girl who earns her living selling flowers on the street is turned into a case study. The professor begins teaching her proper English and manners. All of this is for a bet that he can pass her off as royalty at the ball. The transformation which occurs is amazing!
Jesus often encountered people and transformed them. Mark 5 records one of the most dramatic encounters when Jesus delivers a man from being possessed by a legion of demons. After the change, we find the following conclusion of the story:
Mark 5:17-20 “Then they began to beg Him to leave the region. As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed kept begging Him to be with Him. But He would not let him; instead, He told him, ‘Go back home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you.'”
Jesus here set out a vital principle in conversion. The demon possessed man wanted to follow Jesus, a noble goal. However, the Master’s plan was for him to stay and be a witness in the very area he had once terrorized. People would see the changed life and believe even more. The transformation would be his greatest tool in sharing Christ with his neighbors.
Jesus still transforms us and leaves us in our communities to be a witness wherever the Lord has us. As we go through life, our behavior, words, attitudes, etc should point people to Jesus. We have the same mission. As we live for Him, we can make a change in our community. As v. 20 says, “they were all amazed.”
May God use us to amaze our neighbors and win more to the faith.
.This Monday is Memorial Day in the USA. On Memorial Day, we remember and honor those who have died serving to defend our freedom in the military. It is a sober reminder that we enjoy the liberty we have because of those who have fought and died to secure and preserve that freedom. We owe them a debt of gratitude.
Paul in speaking of a believer’s relationship with civic authorities told the Romans, “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” Romans 13:7 ESV I cannot think of any who deserve our honor and respect more than those who willingly laid down their lives for us.
We have an obligation to remember and honor them. This used to go without saying, but as the decades went by the attitude of many has changed. As believers, we must honor their sacrifice. We are blessed to live in a nation which was established to allow us to control the government. We elect representatives to decide on matters which impact all of us. Our military serves to protect and defend our freedoms for enemies foreign and domestic. Honoring their office and service does not imply we agree with all actions our government takes, but it means we respect their service.
One great way to honor them is to pray for those in active service and for the families of those who have paid the ultimate price for our liberty. 1 Timothy 2:1-3 says, “Therefore I]exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,”
Remember the fallen and pray for those still standing on watch for us.
I have always been overweight. I never viewed weight as a spiritual issue. Then came Financial Peace University. What does eliminating debt have to do with health? Dave Ramsey has often said, “You don’t take financial advice from broke people. It’s like taking dieting advice from fat people.” He also stressed stewardship in all aspects of our lives. God owns us and everything. We are merely His stewards.
It finally sank in that my stewardship of my health was pathetic. Last summer, I had trouble walking due to the pain and stress on my feet and knees caused by excess weight. I reached the highest weight of my life at 360 lbs. I knew I had to do something.
Shannon and I started Weight Watchers on July 1, 2017. Since then by eating lean proteins, fruits and veggies and making better choices in my carbs I have lost 104.8 lbs.! People have been asking how I have done it. The biggest factor which made this time different was finally have a good enough why.
Why did I want to lose weight? I finally get it that I am responsible to the Lord for stewardship of my health. Paul said in 1 Cor. 4:2 ” 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” ESV My health issues were self-imposed due to bad habits. I also have no desire to get back into a wheelchair. 11 years ago, Guillain-Barre Syndrome left me paralyzed and it was a long road to get back on my feet. Last summer, I saw that I was moving back to the wheel chair as my poor health took its toll on my mobility. I also turn 50 in June 2018. I saw that looming milestone and wanted to get as healthy as possible before entering a new decade. Finally, my last why is my family. My son, Joshua crossed over to Boy Scouts this year and I was sitting at 100 pounds over the maximum weight allowed for many scout adventures. I don’t want my health to limit him. My daughter is entering the high school where I teach next year, and I don’t want to reflect poorly on her. All of us needed to improve our health so we have taken this journey together.
Now that 30% of my starting weight is gone, I feel better. I have energy, very little pain, and my blood pressure is much better. I have discovered a new why and a reason to keep going. Many others have noticed and now turning to this fat boy for information on what works! We are reaping the benefits of working together to get better.
We will plan to remain good stewards of our health so that we can better serve the Lord. Learning self-control and discipline has paid dividends in my walk with the Lord as well. Seeing all life as a stewardship issue makes us more mindful in all of our choices.
Have you ever had one of those mornings? You know the kind. The alarm doesn’t go off so you wake early in and in a panic. You can’t shave properly because you run out of shaving cream. The Keurig sprays coffee all over the cabinet instead of it streaming into your cup. Added to that are the even bigger difficulties of health, finances, relationships, and temptations.
The Psalmist knew that feeling and wrote of it in Psalm 25:16-17:
“16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.” ESV
There are times in which we feel lonely and afflicted from all sides. In those times of distress, remember that we have a loving Father who will rescue us by His grace. Jesus promised to never leave us alone. At times, difficulties can steal our focus and seemingly be insurmountable, but He is with us. Like the Psalmist, in those moments, we need to remember to cry out Him.
Notice the requests in this text. Turn to me, be gracious to me, and bring me out of my distress. When we turn to God, He puts it back into perspective. What seemed overwhelming shrinks back to its proper place.