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.

Becoming Like Jesus

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.

Let Jesus In

In Revelation 3:20 Jesus said “I stand at the door and knock.”

Which door? The front door, we hope. That is the door we want Him to enter. We want Him in the part of the house most likely to be dusted and “picked up.” This is the part of the house that is ready for an honored guest.

But what if He is standing at the garage door or the back door? What if Jesus wants to come in through those “other” parts of our house? Are we as anxious to let Him see our storage room and garage as we are for Him to see the “parlor?” What if Jesus wants to see our clutter room and our “junk” drawer?

While Jesus is visiting are we going to take Him on a tour of all the house? Will we open every door and even allow Him to look into the closets and behind the shower curtain? How about the medicine cabinet and the magazine rack?

How long will Jesus stay? That depends on us. How long do we really want Him to stay?

Jesus will come into any house where He is invited. He will even stay and eat a meal. (Revelation 3:20 and Matthew 9:10)

However, if we want Jesus to be a permanent resident in our home, we will have to clean out all known sin and disobedience. He will not abide long where He is expected to share living quarters with known sin.

Such house cleaning cannot be done alone. We need the help of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will show us just what clutter and junk has to be removed and He will give us the ability to do our share of the clean up.

Courage to Care, Contact, Confront

In Luke 10 and Matthew 25, Jesus told his followers to be concerned with the physical and emotional needs of their neighbors. Then in Luke 19:10, he stated that the main purpose for his incarnation was to meet the spiritual needs of the human race. In Matthew 28:19-20, he directed us to have the same priority – the spiritual needs of others.

Before we can successfully carry out this Great Commission we must have the

Courage to Care

We must allow the Holy Spirit to created within us a sincere attitude of concern. We must allow the joys, sorrows, dreams and disappointments of others to become important to us. Until we have a true, heart-felt caring attitude we will not be successful “Great Commission” Christians.

Courage to Contact

The boldness of first century Christians caused them to go to public places and intentionally meet non-Christians so they could witness to them about Jesus. They were not content to form a holy huddle and hide their light inside the walls of a church building. We, too, must be willing to meet and interact with lost people so we can tell them the Good News.

Courage to Confront

In our live-and-let-live society, most of us avoid confrontations because they make us uncomfortable. The gospel of Jesus Christ is, by its very nature, confrontational. This is what Jesus taught in Matthew 10:34-37. Every person is either lost or saved, serving God or serving Satan, condemned or forgiven. The Great Commission will never be carried out until we confront the world with this knowledge.

We must allow the Holy Spirit to make us brave enough to care, contact and confront.

Good or Best

     Does Satan sometimes influence a Christian to do “good” things? Oddly enough, it seems sometimes the answer is yes. 

     One of Satan’s most successful ploys is to encourage us to do good things which will prevent us from doing the best things that God intends for us. 

          Satan may tempt us to do a religious thing rather than a Christian thing.
          Satan may tempt us to do a church thing rather than serve a neighbor.
          Satan may tempt us to only pray for another person rather than help them while we pray.
          Satan may tempt us to give a cup of cold water rather than explain the path of salvation.

     The allure of the good is strong for several reasons. Such activity is usually socially acceptable and we gain the praise of others for being so generous. Good behavior is less likely to involve a long-term relationship that might be confining. And, of course, good behavior allows us to have warm feelings of self-satisfaction.

     What is the promised reward when we correctly identify, select and carry out the best? We will hear “well done, thou good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23)

     How can we know which actions are good, but not the best? James 1:5 promises such wisdom. If we don’t seek this wisdom, we are likely to miss the chance to do the best things by instantly doing every good thing that comes along.

     It is vital that we have an eagerness and willingness to joyfully serve our Master. But before putting our enthusiasm into play, we must seek and find his will. We must allow him to help us correctly identify our assignments. Then He will help us complete them. 

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.

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.