- Jesus prayed early in the morning. (Mark 1:35)
- Jesus obeyed the promptings of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 4:1)
- Jesus cared about lost people he had never met. (Matthew 23:37)
- Jesus met the physical needs of others. (Mark 6:36-42)
- Jesus cared about the emotional needs of others. (Luke 24:36; Matthew 10:31)
- Jesus let God control his speech. (John 14:10)
- Jesus turned regular conversations towards spiritual issues. (John 4:4-41)
- Jesus attended church regularly. (Luke 4:16)
- Jesus fulfilled family responsibilities. (Luke 2:52; John 19:26-27)
- Jesus gave proper priority to physical possessions. (Matthew 8:20)
- Jesus helped disciple new believers. (John 6:3)
- Jesus welcomed “outsiders”. (John 4:4-41)
- Jesus faced criticism in order to tell the truth. (Mark 2:13-17; Mark 3:1-6)
- Jesus had an enthusiasm for the church. (Mark 11:15-17)
My prayers of gratitude and praise should be as frequent , intense and lengthy as my prayers of need and request.
- Short prayers:
- Thank you
- I will
- I’m sorry
- I won’t
- I love you
- Forgive me
- Use me
- Protect me
Dear God, don’t let my lack of understanding about you lead to an absence of faith in you, a reduction of love for you, an unwillingness to obey you, hesitancy to share you, and fear to praise you.
* * * * * * * * *
When Samuel said “Speak, for your servant hears” he was not referring only to physical hearing, but also to a willingness to obey whatever he might hear. Too often my reaction is “Speak, and your servant will consider hearing.” But when that is my attitude I’m really not being a servant, am I?
Are you stymied for gift giving ideas? Giving gifts can be problematic in our society of affluence when trying to find something for those who “have everything.” Here’s an idea for consideration. The ideal gift is yourself.
That’s right, give away some of yourself:
Give an hour of your time to someone who needs you. Give a note of encouragement to someone feeling down. Give a hug of affirmation to someone in your family. Give a listening ear to someone who is lonely. Give a word of compassion to someone who has suffered a loss. Give a deed of thoughtfulness to someone who is overlooked. Give a gentle response to the frustrated. Give a quiet push to someone needing encouragement. Give the benefit of a doubt to the misunderstood. Give a second thought to someone else's opinion. Give forgiveness to those who have harmed you. Give a second chance to someone who has failed.
God gave Jesus to us on the first Christmas morning. Jesus gave his life for us on a cross of disgrace. How much of ourselves are we willing to give others this Christmas season?
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?
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.
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.
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.
None of us consciously intends to disobey God. We don’t get up in the morning and say “Today I’m going to refuse to do what God tells me.”
Yet every day we manage to be disobedient. Why?
Sometimes the answer is that we simply don’t hear Him telling us how to obey. We are like the child who, as he runs off to play, honestly does not hear his mother say “You be home by noon.” We don’t consider our actions to be disobedient because we can’t be expected to do what God says if we don’t know what He says, can we?
Oh, we don’t put our hands over our ears and shout “I can’t hear you” like we did when we were children. Yet we allow the radio, phone, TV, computer and demands of job and family to drown out his still, small voice. We don’t hear because we don’t listen. Often we don’t listen because we fear He will tell us to do, or stop doing, something.
We may feel “I didn’t know” is an acceptable excuse for sinning. But while it may serve as a thin veneer of acceptability in our minds, God views it differently. For a child of God to be ignorant of His commands is a sin that leads to further sins.
Does God really want to make his specific will clear to each of us every day? Yes! But those messages will remain a mystery unless we learn to listen and comprehend. To hear Him more clearly and consistently we must enter our prayer closet several times each day, listen for his voice in the din of life, read what He has already written for us and discipline our minds to think of spiritual things.
He will guard us from accidental disobedience if we deeply and sincerely want to obey.
Luke 2:49 indicates Jesus had unusual spiritual sensitivity. Does it mean He knew then He was the Messiah? Maybe and maybe not. But it does mean He understood that God had a specific, personal claim on his life to one degree or another. And what did He do about it? He went home and correctly played his proper role as a family member (Luke 2:51-52). He continued to do so for the next eighteen years (John 2:3-10). My first and greatest opportunity to behave in a Christ-like manner is at home with my family. If I don't follow his example there I won't follow it anywhere. Genesis 4:26 states the people began to "call on the name of the LORD". Do I call on his name in surrender as often as I do in request? Do I call on his name asking that He change me as often as I ask him to change others? In my efforts to please my Father I need to emphasize relationships more than rules. I must not allow myself to settle for reasonable success in the "Thou shalt not" category of Christian living, while ignoring the "cup of cold water" part. Joshua 24:15 says "Choose you this day whom you will serve". I think we are also asked each day to decide who we will "worship." This will be determined and demonstrated by which TV shows we watch, what internet images we download, which magazines we read, how we spend our money, which gossip we listen to, what attitudes we reinforce, which priorities we develop and what parts of our culture we embrace.
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.”
He said "Don't," but I did. He said "Do,", but I didn't. He said "Stop," but I kept going. He said "Keep going," but I stopped. He said "Give," but I kept. He said "Keep," but I spent. He said "Go," but I stayed. He said "Stay," but I went. He said "Louder," but I stayed silent. He said "Be quiet," but I shouted. He said "Now," but I waited. He said "Wait," but I did it anyway. Over and over I sinned. Over and over He forgave. And that is "Good News"!