God Replied

Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ…” (KJV)

     I said to God “I really don’t have many chances to give a verbal witness to others about you  and your love.”

God replied ” Give and care and share. Help others in such radical ways that people will ask ‘Why did you do that?’ Then you can tell them about me.”

     I said to God “I really don’t  have many chances to give a verbal witness to others  about you and your love.”

God replied, “I will allow you to be publicly tempted and you can publicly resist that temptation. People will ask ‘Why did you act like that?’ Then you can tell them about me.”

     I said to God “I really don’t have many chances to give a verbal witness to others about you and your love.”

God replied “I will allow some tragedy to come into your life. As you continue to be loyal to me in your time of trouble people will ask ‘How can you have such faith in times like these?’ Then you can tell them about me.”

Possessions, temptations and grief are opportunities for us to develop stronger trust in God and a stronger witness for God. Is our faith strong enough that He can reach others through us?

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     Today I will meet some “evil” people who will enrage and oppose me, some “good” people who will frustrate me and upset me, and come Christians who will ignore me and puzzle me.

As a child of God, I am to pray for all of them and actively love each of them.

Jesus’ Tower

Luke 14:28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?”

In Luke 14 Jesus talked about the dedication demanded from everyone who would be His disciple. Verse 20 put forth a requirement that seems extreme to the point of cruelty. Often misused by those who would subvert the scriptures for their own gain, this verse tells us that discipleship demands a conscious decision to put Jesus above all else in our lives.

This decision must be carefully made. Verses 28-30 explain this concept in terms His original listeners could understand. He was warning against starting down the path to discipleship and then being unwilling to pay the full price demanded. He was saying “Consider the full price of discipleship before you commit yourself to the process.”

What was Jesus’ tower?  What tested his level of commitment to determine if He was willing to pay the full price and complete the task.

The answer, of course, is the CROSS. The cross was the tower Jesus had already decided to complete. He had been tempted by Satan in the desert after his baptism. At that point in his life He had refused any shortcuts or compromises. From that moment on his entire life had been directed toward completing the sacrifice that would allow Him to take the blame and burden for our sins.

That resolve was to be tested again in Gethsemane. In that garden He again looked inside himself to see if He could complete His tower. The result of the  self-examination  was his statement to the Father “…thy will be done.” (Matthew 26:42) Jesus’ entire life had been preparation for this final decision and when the time came He was up to the task. (His final statement of “It is finished” was the announcement that the tower was complete.)

Will our tower demand such sacrifice? Probably not.. Have we been given some sort of tower to build.? Certainly! Do we have the resolve to finish it?

Sunday Morning Football

I once watched a football game in which one team, the Crusaders, forgot the purpose of the huddle.

When they first formed their tight little circle they congratulated themselves for the previous play, whether it gained five yards or fifty yards.

Then they took the time to point fingers at each and assign blame for lack of points on the scoreboard.

Then they checked on each other to see if anyone had been injured on the last  play.

Then they reminded themselves of what a good coach they had.  Sometimes one or two of them would stand up, look over to the bench and wave.

Then they would talk about how nasty and mean the opposing players were.

Then the conversation usually turned to how unfair the referees were, always calling penalties on them but never on the other team.

Eventually they would discuss and take a vote to determine their next play.

Needless to say, they lost the game.

But does that description of the Crusaders’ huddle sound similar to what goes on in Sunday School classes and church gatherings today? (Go ahead and read it again.)

Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends – 4

For forty years the Hebrew people had to go out each morning (accept on the Sabbath) and gather their food for the day. This is a reminder to me to spend time each morning allowing myself to feel God’s Spirit, become more grateful for His blessings and fully understand my assignments for the day.

*****

“I will set nothing wicked before my eyes… I will not know wickedness.” Psalm 101:3-4) Avoiding temptations is largely my responsibility. I am to take specific steps to avoid being tempted. If I ask the Holy Spirit He will help me, but the resolve to avoid sin and sin-inducing situations is up to me.

*****

I tend to want to live in “hallelujah” territory and remember that the “whosoever” of John 3:16 includes me. But I want to ignore “I’m sorry” territory and forget that the “all” of Romans 3:23 also includes me.

*****

Immanuel… God with me. Impossible! Incomprehensible! Outrageous! Wonderful! Unbelievable! The God who imagined and created and understands and controls all the universe has chosen to be with me – to love and value me. This has to be the greatest miracle of all time!!!

*****

Jesus said “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me… and you will find rest…” (Matthew 11:29) What is His “yoke?” I think it is concern, sympathy and love for others. (Can I learn such feelings?) Whatever it is, I will rest when I accept it and wear it. I think wearing it allows me to learn some things I cannot learn any other way.

Forgiveness Was Not Easy

God said “Don’t!”

But I did.

God said “Do!”

But I didn’t.

God said “You sinned.”

I said “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”

God said “Okay.”

I said “Is that all it takes? Is that all I have to do? That was easy.”

God said “For you, maybe.”

I said “What do you mean ‘for me.’ Those were private sins. No one else is involved.”

God said “All sin requires punishment.”

I said “Please don’t punish me.”

God said “All right. I will let Jesus’ punishment on the cross apply to your sins.”

I said “Thank you, Jesus.”

And I will continue to say it as loud as I can throughout all eternity.

Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends – 1

God sends, but He also welcomes. If He sends me to a different part of the house, town, country or world, He is already there to welcome me when I get there. This is a wonderfully comforting fact. May I never forget to be grateful for it.

I must remember that knowledge of the truth and agreement with the truth do not constitute obedience to the truth.  And until I am totally obedient, God is not done with me.

Those who admire Jesus want to know more about Him. Those who follow Him want to be like Him. My prayer is that I will go beyond knowing and admiring to copying.

I prayed “Father, show me my sins so I can confess and repent and be more like Jesus.” So He showed me one, but it was one of my favorite things to do. Then He showed me another one, but it was one of my favorite opinions. Now the ball is in my court. Am I really ready to change (or be changed)?

The Bible is God’s own record of His dealings with the human race. He could have subtitled it with “This is My Account of All I Have Done and Will Do In the Process of Loving Mankind.”

Spiritual Garage Sale

When we prepare for a garage or yard sale, we look through the attic, basement, garage and closets to find all the stuff we have accumulated and do not need. Part of our motive is to make some money, but usually we are also trying to make our life more effective and efficient. We collect all the unnecessary clutter, set it out on the lawn and hope someone will come along and buy it. We often wonder just exactly where it all came from and why we have it in the first place.

If God directed me to collect and clear out everything in my life that he considers unnecessary, where would I begin to look? Where would he send me to find all the stuff that is blocking me from being and doing all he desires?

Would he send me to my safety deposit box, checkbook and portfolio? Would he ask me to surrender my accumulated wealth?

Would he have me look into my memory chest and get rid of the photographs, souvenirs and memorabilia of days and events now gone? Would he have me loosen the strings that tie me to the past?

Would he have me search my “Sometime I’m Going To” lists so I could throw out my goals and ambitions? Would he have me abandon my self-determination?

Would he direct me to give away my fishing gear, golf clubs and TV set? Would he tell me to clean out all that occupies my time with non-eternal activities?

He wants me to surrender all the “good” things in my life so that he can replace them with the “best.” Only he knows just what that “best” is for me, right now and in the future.