Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends – 22

We sing “Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on…” without realizing that if we want to walk hand-in-hand with Jesus we will have to go where He wants to go, when He wants to go, as fast as He wants to go and then stand still when He says to. Traveling with Jesus means we let Him make all the “going” decisions.

Our spiritual ears work best when our emotional knees are bent and our physical mouth is shut.

God loves me too much and too wisely to give me too much responsibility in his kingdom. But He loves me too much to give me no responsibility.

If we want advice from God we need to have the humility to ask, the patience to wait for the answer, the faith to trust his answer is best and the courage to act on it.

God can’t do his work through us until we let him do his work in us.

If our churches had more suggestion boxes there would probably be more money in the collection boxes.

It is better to ask God rather than tell Him. (We really can’t tell God anything He does not already know.)

We must learn to recognize God’s mercy, be grateful for it and share it.

Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends – 21

Jehovah knew we could never understand a god who could create galaxies, control storms and harness the tides. But He thought maybe we could understand a god who washed feet, loved children and cried at funerals. So He sent Jesus.

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Should we study God’s word so that we can be informed or transformed? Are we as willing to be confronted and challenged as we are to be comforted and calmed?

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In my efforts to please my Father and be like Jesus, do I emphasize rules or relationships? Have I allowed myself to settle for a reasonable degree of success in the “Thou shall not” part of Christianity while allowing myself to fall short in the “Cup of cold water aspect”?

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Lost people don’t need to see good people working for God; they need to see a good God working through people. And these good people need to be aware of and acknowledge that it is the power of the Holy Spirit that enables them to do that work.

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What specific things did I do yesterday that said to the world “That man loves God”? What will I do tomorrow that says the same thing?

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The Father decides.    The Son delivers.    The Holy Spirit defines.

The Anyway God

I ridiculed others......God loves me anyway.
I ignored a need........God loves me anyway.
I was selfish...........God loves me anyway.
I lied..................God loves me anyway.
I spread gossip.........God loves me anyway.
I lost my temper........God loves me anyway.
I held a grudge.........God loves me anyway.
I disobeyed.............God loves me anyway.
I coveted...............God loves me anyway.
I was greedy............God loves me anyway.
I was hypocritical......God loves me anyway.
I was impatient.........God loves me anyway.
I was jealous...........God loves me anyway.
I cheated...............God loves me anyway.
I cursed................God loves me anyway.

When things are going well God will fill us
with gratitude and when things are not going
well He will fill us with fortitude...if we 
let him.

I want to be a trophy to be admired on God's
mantle. God wants me to be a tool to be used
in his workshop.

Because I Love

The day before the first Christmas Jesus and Michael were visiting.

Michael...Are you going to earth tomorrow?

Jesus...Yes.

Michael...Are you sure you want to do that?

Jesus...Yes.

Michael...Isn't the earth still full of anger and hatred and cruelty?

Jesus...Yes.

Michael...Do you think they might misunderstand you?

Jesus...Yes.

Michael...They might even ridicule you and beat you.

Jesus...Yes.

Michael...They may even try to kill you.

Jesus...Yes.

Michael...Then why are you going?

Jesus...Because I love  (insert your name here)

My Heavenly Coach

A standard practice among coaches is to view a film of the previous game with the players. During that viewing the staff points out each player’s mistakes and good plays. A dedicated player will accept the criticisms and resolve to improve. Such an athlete feels gratitude for the compliments and determines to repeat that behavior the next game.

Their won-lost record at the end of the season hinges largely on the success of such sessions.

If I am serious about playing well for my Heavenly Coach I will eagerly take part in the periodic reviews He makes of my life. At times I will sense Him saying “Bob, you missed an opportunity to be a witness there” or “Bob, that was cruel” or “Bob, that was a selfish attitude.”

Then my reaction should be “You’re right, Lord. I’m sorry. I see now that it was sinful. I confess each of these to you and I will try my best not to repeat them. Please help me. Thank you for forgiving me.”

At other times Coach will say “Bob, you controlled your temper pretty well back there” or “You were extra kind and thoughtful with your family today” or “Your attitude of gratitude was strong last week.”

And my reaction should be “Thank you, Lord. All that is the work of your Spirit. I’m going to work harder to make sure I keep developing the fruit of your Spirit.”

Battle With Sin

Why is it that Christians must have the proper concern about the sin in their lives? After all, we have been promised eternal life walking on golden streets. We have been forgiven. Our everlasting reward is guaranteed. Why should we be concerned about our sins?

The sin that remains in our lives will be a barrier to a close relationship with our Father. It will be a cloud that prevents us from knowing Him more intimately and it will block us from understanding his purpose for our lives. It will block the blessings He has planned for us. . Therefore, as his children we must continually be alert for sin. We must learn to recognize it in  its many forms.

Sin comes in many outwardly attractive shapes, sizes, colors and packages. In reality, it is ugly, deceptive and deadly, but on the surface it is often beautiful and alluring.  It is presented to us through the internet, books, friendships, magazines, TV screens, movies, advertisements and the advice of well-meaning people. It calls to us at night, in the morning and throughout the day. It approaches us at home, at work, in the park, on the lake, in the country and in the city. It invades our thoughts when we are alone or when we are in a crowd. It even calls to us on Sunday morning during church services. it can be loud or soft, bold or shy, smooth or crude.

Sin is everywhere, all the time. Satan, who is a liar and killer, constantly tempts us.

God calls for us to use all our strength to resist sin, but He does not ask for us to do it alone. He has given us the Holy Spirit and in Philippians 4:13 He promises we will be able to do all things through Christ. All things certainly includes resisting sin.

Our minds are the battlefield on which we must defeat sin. We can be successful only if we give God control of our thoughts and actions. In James 1:5 He has promised us his wisdom to use in this battle. Through the Holy Spirit He will direct our fight against sin. If we follow his directions our lives will be increasingly free from Satan.

And then we can give our heavenly Father all the glory, praise and gratitude.

The Great He Is

At the burning bush Moses asked God to identify Himself. God replied, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14) In that same verse he directed Moses to tell the Hebrew people the “I AM” sent him. Our assignment as God’s children and servants is to tell people HE IS!

HE IS the truth.
HE IS the one who forgives sin.
HE IS the only path to eternal life in heaven.
HE IS the wisdom we need to succeed in this life.
HE IS  the final victor in the battle between good and evil.
HE IS the creator and sustainer of the universe.
HE IS  the one who gives us joy and peace.
HE IS our protector from temptation.
HE IS our refuge. 

HE IS
and it is our privilege to tell everyone we meet!

Our Need For Companionship

Four times in the first chapter of Genesis, God looked at his creation and “saw that it was good.” Then, in verse eighteen of chapter two, He considered Adam’s aloneness and said “it is not good” (emphasis mine).

At first it might seem that when God evaluated his creative efforts He realized He had made a mistake or left something undone. Adam was alone and it was not good. Had God simply forgotten to create woman? Was Adam left to play a life of solitaire because God had overlooked something? Of course not!

God had a purpose when He allowed Adam to begin life without companionship. Just before Eve was created, God caused all the animals to pass by Adam (Genesis 2:19-20). Adam saw that throughout the animal kingdom there was male and female. Only he had no counterpart.

God wanted Adam to realize he was alone so he would place greater value on Eve when she was provided for him. From the very beginning, human nature has caused us to have greater appreciation for a blessing if we have spent some time without it. (We don’t realize the value of water until the well runs dry.)

We, like Adam, have a God-given, built-in need for human companionship. He intentionally put within us the need to communicate and fellowship with other people. This need is evident in all stages of life. The infant that stops crying instantly when his mother picks him up and the child who cries out “Mommy, mommy, watch me” are responding to this aspect of being human. The herd instinct that drives teens is evidence of its presence. Wedding vows are exchanged because of it – and sometimes repudiated due to the lack of it. The elderly can lose the desire to continue living if they don’t have it.

Satan recognizes this need and uses it to harm and tempt us. He tells us that we can never be happy until we find a human companion. He leads us to believe we are alone because we are somehow unworthy or unattractive or socially deficient. He tries to make us feel we are incomplete if we are alone.

And often, in response to Satan’s prompting, we begin to base our life on the search for a person whose presence will fill our emptiness. We evaluate others on the standard of “Do I want this person to be my companion and friend?” If we feel they do not somehow measure up they are rejected and the search goes on, often in the wrong places.

How does God want us to deal with this need until He provides us with the companions He has chosen for us? First of all, we must understand that such companionship does not necessarily contain a sexual component. Companionship can come from either gender and does not require the breaking of the seventh commandment.

We must learn to look to Jesus as the perfect companion. In John 15:13-15 Jesus offered us his friendship. And in John 14:23 Jesus said he and the Father will come and live with those who love and obey Him. How’s that for companionship?

Jesus wants us to make him Number One in every part of our life. He will provide all we need in this endeavor because He is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20)

Fill My Cup

The woman at the well said to Jesus “Sir, please give me a drink…” (John 4:15). She asked Jesus to fill her physical cup with physical water to meet a physical need. She admitted she needed something and she hoped Jesus would give it to her.

We must go to Jesus in the same way, recognizing and admitting our physical needs and asking Jesus to meet them.

But the importance of our spiritual needs is far greater than the importance of our physical needs. And for these needs we extend to him the empty cup of ourselves–a life that is empty because we are trying to meet these needs in our own power out of the resources of the world.

The woman at the well needed water. In the quiet honesty of Spirit-led introspection, what do we most need from Jesus? He has already offered us joy, peace, confidence, health, prosperity, protection and a person relationship with himself. We are invited to request as much of each of these as it takes to fill our lives.

So why are we still empty?

The answer may be slightly different for each of us, but basically we remain empty because we do not have enough faith in Jesus to fully believe two of his promises. Jesus said “If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28) And in Luke 12:29, 31 He said “Don’t keep worrying about having something to eat or drink. But put God’s work first, and these things will be yours as well.”

He has offered, but He will not fill our cup without our permission.

The Disciples’ Easter Weekend

JESUS DIED TODAY  (Friday)
          Nailed to a cross, held up in the air
          So his enemies could see Him there.
          Beaten and tortured, bleeding and bare
          Jesus died today.

          He did not cry out, did not complain.
          Like a lamb at the altar He was slain,
          So my sins with me would not remain.
          Jesus died today.

          He chose to die...the time and the place.
          He did it for the human race,
          the example of God's loving grace.
          Jesus died today.

JESUS IS BURIED TODAY  (Saturday)
          His place is a tomb, cold and alone,
          A borrowed grave instead of a throne
          To pay for sins like my very own.
          Jesus is buried today.

          There is no marker, no special way
          To see where Jesus lays today
          Because He said "Father, I obey."
          Jesus is buried today.

          Draped with cloth from his head to his feet
          The great sacrifice is now complete.
          Proudly all his enemies repeat
          Jesus is buried today.

JESUS ROSE TODAY  (Sunday)
          Women were first to see it was true.
          They went to the tomb while day was new.
          They told others. Soon everyone knew
          Jesus rose today.

          He left the tomb so cold and so bare.
          No need to look, Jesus is not there.
          The news is joy to men everywhere.
          Jesus rose today.

          Death is defeated. Jesus has won.
          This is the proof that He is God's son.
          He's the Messiah, the Promised One.
          Jesus rose today.