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.

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.”

How Does My Task Change Me?

When God gives us an assignment (task, opportunity to serve) He is, of course, concerned that we complete it in the most effective manner and on his time schedule. He will guide us so that we are able to do what He has directed. He has promised we will be able to do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13). He will give us the ability and strength necessary to complete the assignment.

However, He is also concerned with the changes that take place in us during the completion of the task. Do we become more cynical, critical and impatient? Does our self-reliance increase while our God-reliance decreases? Do we allow ourselves to become more task-oriented and less people-oriented?

Unfortunately we can sometimes reach the narrow achievement goal He gives us but move farther away from the larger become-like-Christ goal He has for us each day.

If at the end of each assigned task we are not more humble, yielded, kind and pleasant than when we started, we might not hear “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).

I’m glad I serve a God who is concerned with my spiritual growth while I am trying to serve Him.

Hypocrite?

I am a hypocrite if I say I believe Luke 12:29-31, but still worry about my economic future.

I am a hypocrite if my relationship to God does not cause me to be more generous and caring than my non-Christian friends who are “good” people.

I am a hypocrite if my relationship to God does not cause me to give sacrificially to my church.

I am a hypocrite if the only time I say “God is good” is when I am with other Christians.

I am a hypocrite if my relationship to God isn’t causing a consistently increasing harvest of the “fruit” of the Spirit in my Monday-Saturday life.

I am a hypocrite if I could stop going to church and not miss anything except the social contacts.

I am a hypocrite if I say I love God but do not spend time with Him just enjoying HIs company.

I am a hypocrite if my play list does not include songs that draw me to Jesus.

I am a hypocrite if my wish for arrested criminals is more for punishment than rehabilitation.

I am a hypocrite if my “love” for people does not include service to other people.

I am a hypocrite if my prayer “Teach me Lord” does not include “Now.”

I am a hypocrite if my love for God does not include my obedience to God.

Progress Toward Perfection

     When I consider my current position in God’s eternal kingdom and my qualification for entering heaven in the future, I realize I am already perfect. The Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe has already promised me a place there.

     I am born again. I am a new creation. I am a bought-and-paid-for valued possession of the Almighty God. I am an heir in his kingdom. I am a once-lost coin and a have-been-found lamb. I am the returned, accepted prodigal son. My name is already written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. 

     The blood of Jesus makes me one hundred percent qualified to enter heaven and spend eternity there. God says I don’t need anything else. Nothing needs to be added, subtracted or changed. The transaction is complete. Christ’s blood changed my eternal address from lake of fire to pearly gates.

      In things eternal I am perfect.

     But when I consider my position and condition in God’s now kingdom I realize I am very imperfect. I am selfish, lazy, inconsiderate, intolerant, thoughtless and nasty. I miss and ignore opportunities to serve others. My times of ingratitude to God and others remain legion. God has provided the Holy Spirit to teach and sanctify me, but much of the time I ignore his teaching.

     I thank him every day that He considers me a work in progress, rather than a lost cause. I am not as Christlike as I should be or will be, but I am better than I was. I need to hang a sign around my neck that says “Have patience. Holy Spirit at work.”

     My place in heaven does not depend on such improvement, but my joy and peace in this life surely do. My chance of hearing “well done” from the Father is contingent on my allowing the Holy Spirit to do his work in me.

How Do You Want To Be

“What do you want to be when you grow up” is a question many of us have asked a child. (Maybe you can even remember when it was posed to you.) When we ask it we expect an answer that involves a vocation, a hobby, or a heroic accomplishment.

As Christians, if we ask this of a youngster, why don’t we say “What do you think God wants you to be when you grow up?” This slight change will perhaps stick in their mind as they move through the school years into the adult world of work. Maybe it will become the standard they use to make all life decisions.

There is another variation that cuts to the heart of a Christian’s spiritual growth process.  “How do you think God wants you to be when you stop growing?” This involves personality, attitudes and life-style components. It includes morals, ethics and family values. “What kind of person do I think God wants me to be when I stop growing?

Is that too deep a question for a child? Probably so. But it is perfectly appropriate for adults.

But wait. “I stopped growing years ago. I’m not going to get any bigger.”  Good point. But can we get “better.”  Too many of us reach a level of Christian maturity and decide that in the process of becoming Christlike we are currently just where God wants us. We expect God to be satisfied with our “here and now” level of growth.

This attitude is wrong. God expects us to consistently and regularly grow until He calls us home. And once we accept this, we can read Galatians 5:22-23 and Matthew 22:37-39 with new insight and appreciation.

And He promised the Holy Spirit will be available to help us become just exactly “how” He wants us to be. (John 14:16)