Lessons From A Bookcase

I like to read, and before the Kindle, iPad, Nook or whatever other type of tablet one might use, that meant I had a large number of books. Needless to say, I needed a place to store these books, so I set out to build a bookcase. No this wasn’t a go to the lumberyard and buy sheets of plywood, screws, paint or stain type project, but rather a go to Wal-Mart and buy a bookcase in a box. I got home with my new ‘furniture’ and proceeded to assemble my new bookshelf. I got the required phillips screwdriver and went to work. Now I’ll admit when I finished, well past the 15 minutes the box said it would take to assemble this bookcase, what I had didn’t look exactly like the picture on the box; but when’s the last time you went to McDonalds and got a Big Mac that looked like the one on the tv commercial?

Not only did my bookcase not look like the one on the box, but I had a pile of extra parts; screws, nails, a board and I’d put one end together upside down. I began to put my books on my new bookcase and the more books I put on the shelves, the more the whole thing leaned. I ended up putting books on the floor next to the bookcase to keep it from leaning and falling over. I shared my disappointment about my bookcase with a co-worker who asked if I’d followed the instructions that came in the box, which I hadn’t because seriously, how hard could it be to put together a bookcase? Well, apparently harder than it seems.

I’m sure I’m not the only person that has ignored directions, thinking, how hard can this be only to end up with a disaster on my hands. Whether its building a bookcase, putting together our children’s Christmas gifts, going on a trip, we’ve all ignored the directions provided. But why do we do that? And even more, why do we ignore the directions God has given us for living our life? As we discussed yesterday, the Bible centers around Jesus, pointing us to the Cross and our need of a Savior and it also points us to how we ought to live so we bring honor and glory to Him. Everything we need to know about living a Godly life is found within the pages of the Bible if only we’ll follow the instructions. So rather than going it alone and living a life that leans and needs to be propped up, spend time in God’s Word, apply the truths within it and we can live the life God designed us to live.

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105

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What Do You See

Most people when they look at an old tire for a semi-truck or trailer see trash, an old worn out tire with no value. To me as a salesman of truck tires, when I see those old worn out tires, I see something of value, something I can use. Now you’re probably asking how that old tire could be worth anything, all the tread is gone and it is too big for a tire swing. In its current condition, I can’t use it, but it has value. I can take that old tire, send it off to a retread plant where they will put new tread on it and send it back as a perfectly usable and sell-able tire. Now there is certainly more to the process than what I wrote about, but basically the old worthless tire has new life.

These old tires are representative of our lives. Some people may look at our life or someone else’s life and think it isn’t worth much, but when God looks at us, He sees something of incredible worth. Something so valuable He was willing to offer His Son, Jesus Christ, to purchase it. Think about that, as a parent have you ever found anything that you wanted so badly, that was of such value that you’d give up one of your children? Of course not, but that’s how important having a relationship with us is to God. And He takes this life and He makes it something new, something great, something of significant worth. He takes what was dead and gives it new life! When God looks at us, with all our sin, our failures, our shortcomings, our quirks, He sees something He can us.

Men, take time this coming week to show your wife that you love her & that she has value to you. Take her to her favorite restaurant, even if you don’t like the food there; cook her dinner, bring her flowers (there’s usually a cooler of in-expensive ones at Wal-Mart or Kroger), take her to Burger King for a 50 cent ice cream cone, spoil her a little. It doesn’t have to be huge, just something to show her she matters, that you care and that she’s important to you. Then make a habit of doing these kinda things.

We have value to God and He went to extraordinary means to show this. His desire is for us to have a growing, maturing relationship with Him.

“But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8

Project People

As a kid growing up, many summer days were spent at my grandmother’s house with several of my cousins. One of the things I remember about being at my Grandma Day’s house was there was usually music playing. One of the songs often playing went ‘He’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be, it took him ’bout a week to make the moon and stars, sun and Earth and Jupiter and Mars…He’s still working on me.’ Our Sunday School lessons are part of the Gospel Project, which carries with it the idea of an ongoing work.

Many times people think that once they give their life to Christ, the hard parts over and that it is smooth sailing from there. Many people are of the mind-set that faith in Christ makes for an easy life, faith doesn’t make life easy, it makes the impossible possible. The moment we accept the gift of salvation, our new life in Christ begins. A life filled with the grace and love Christ, but even more, a life filled with the Holy Spirit. What happens is so far from the end that many people believe it is; when we accept Christ we don’t automatically know the entire Bible, we don’t understand sacrificial living, we aren’t sure what our service is, we grow to understand those things.

I love my wife; I love her with a love that words cannot begin to describe. When we were dating, we sent countless text messages to each other during the day, we’d see each other during the evening, talk on the phone until 2 in the morning, I couldn’t wait to get off work so I could see her. And you know what, I still can’t. One of the best parts of my day is coming home to her. I say that to make this point, my prayer for you is that through these devotions, our time together as a class, our activities together that they will all serve to cause us to fall more in love with our God and our Savior. That we would want to spend time with Him; we’d be excited about our relationship with Him That through it all we’ll become the people, the spouses & parents Christ desires us to be. That we will recognize we are a project and allow ourselves to be broken of what we want and allow God to form us into the person He created us to be.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 (KJV)

What Are You For

One of the things I like about the job I have is I get to spend a good part of each day in my truck, and a lot of that time is spent listening to the radio. Earlier this week, I was struck by the words of a song that were something along the lines of ‘they don’t know what we’re for, only what we’re against’. The song was speaking of how un-churched people think of church people, always talking about what we’re against.

Before we go further, don’t get me wrong, there are absolutely things we ought to be against. I remember in Bible College one instructor, if you asked him what he was preaching about on Sunday, his answer was most often, “sin, mostly against it”. Sure, we’re against sin, but we must be careful that we don’t allow what we’re against to define us. We must guard against spending so much time on the things we’re against that we forget what we are for.

But what are we for? I can remember as a kid in Sunday School and Church being taught what I shouldn’t do, but not much time was spent on what I ought to do. I guess folks figured if they taught me what I shouldn’t do, I’d do what I was supposed to because it was the only thing left to do. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that and besides, its a very negative mind-set. So back to the question at hand, what are we for? As children of God, we must be for the same things Jesus was for, compassion, mercy, unconditional love and bringing people to a personal relationship with God the Father through Christ the Son.

Understand, it is easy to get caught up in being against stuff. Just turn on the television and watch 4 grown men who want to lead our country trash each other. I don’t know that Barack Obama and Joe Biden or Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan know what they’re for; I don’t even know if they are as concerned about you voting for them as much as they just want you to vote against the other guy. It is sad, it is divisive and if we aren’t careful the same mind-set will find its way into the church.

For some reason we find it more difficult to be for things. Well folks, I’m here to tell you I’m 100% FOR Jesus, I’m for His church, I’m for His purpose and I’m for you. I’m for compassion, I’m for hope, I’m for the eternal life that comes from a personal relationship with Jesus. It is past time that we start letting folks know what we are for. People are living lives that are leading them straight to a devil’s hell and we have to let them know we’re on their side, we’re for them and we want them to experience the forgiving love & grace of Jesus in their life.

We have to start being the church and doing what Christ instructed the church to do. When Jesus gave the church the commission, it wasn’t a list of things to be against but rather things to be for, telling folks about salvation, baptizing them and teaching them so they can go out and do the same thing.

My prayer is that we will each start living our lives based on what we are for and not what we’re against. That we’ll start living a life FOR Jesus.

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:19&20

You Want Me To Do What?

Yesterday we ended with a passage that instructed us as children of God to be ready to give an answer to those that ask about our hope, but to do it with “meakness & fear”. Yes we are to have confidence, but we must avoid the sin of pride. We must remember the source of our confidence is not the result of anything we have done but all about what Jesus has done.

How do you respond to people when they ask you if you’re a Christian? Do you understand the true meaning of the word; to be Christ-like. When Jesus was on earth He didn’t seek the crowds, the crowds sought Him. He didn’t seek attention, but He received it all because of what He did, the will of the One who sent Him, God the Father. The crowds came and attention was given because He served and ministered to others. Consider this, the very Son of God, present and active in the creation, leaves His place in heaven, takes on the limitations, weaknesses and needs of a human body and despite the fact that He is God, worthy to be praised, worshiped and served, He, Jesus, washes the feet of His disciples. Really take a moment and ponder this, understanding the times and the fact that if the disciples went anywhere, they WALKED, in sandals, on dirt roads and when their journey for the day was done, Jesus humbled Himself, removed their sandals one by one and washed these men’s feet. At the end of the day, that’s the task Christ chose for Himself, to serve others.

Our Christ-like life is about serving others and it requires us to humble ourselves. As the Apostle Paul said, we must be “crucified with Christ…”. To be like Christ, isn’t to have the attention, to be surrounded by the crowd, but its to freely give of ourselves for the benefit of others. To be willing to do those things that others aren’t willing or able to do because it is the call of God in our life at that moment.

“And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” Acts 11:26

Lessons From A Hospital Waiting Room

Monday, Britney & I spent the day at MD Anderson while her mom was having surgery. The surgery was successful and it looks like there is no cancer (Glory to God!).

One of the things you may notice about MD Anderson is their TV commercials with cancer survivors that end with the survivor saying “MD Anderson made my cancer history!”. The purpose of the commercial is to give hope to those who have or might be diagnosed with cancer and their families.

As I spent the day in the small part of the hospital we were in, and let me tell you MD Anderson is a big place and I saw less than half of the place, there was a lot of hope. Surgeons would come out, speak with families and you could see the relief wash across family members’ faces as they were told the surgery was a success. As I watched these conversations play out and looked at the signs with the word “cancer” with a big red line through it, I thought of the hope it brought. A hospital with the best doctors, nurses and specialists, together with a track record of treating a dreaded disease and bring hope, I realized it was a flawed hope. With all the good done, the hope offered is a wish, a want, coupled with worry if the treatment doesn’t work.

As children of God, we are to have and offer hope, but not what the world thinks of hope. It is not a wish that we have, its not a fretting, but rather a confidence in the God of heaven. We have a confidence because the God we place our confidence, our hope, in doesn’t change! Our God is the same God who spoke the world into being, who parted the Red Sea and destroyed Pharaoh’s armies, that equipped a shepherd boy to defeat a giant. The God who protected three Hebrew boys thrown into a fiery furnace and another thrown into a den of hungry lions. The God we have confidence in made the lame to walk, the blind to see, He calmed the storms and the exciting news is He’s still the same God! Our God is still the Great Physician, healing when doctors say there is not hope, He still protects His people from harm and our God still calms the storms of life!

As a child of God we have no reason to worry, no reason to fret, nothing to be anxious about because we have every confidence that our God can, our God is able, our God is stronger and our God will! Do we really understand that? It is not a question of God might or God could but God is able! That should make us shout, it should make us sing, it should make us dance, yes dance, because our God can! We should live our life different than the world, confident in our God who can and has and does!

May our prayer today be that we are living the hope that can only come through a life lived in Jesus Christ.

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meakness and fear” 1 Peter 3:15 (KJV)

Have You Heard From God?

One of the most often asked questions among church people today is, “Why doesn’t God speak to me or answer my prayers?”

Have you ever had a conversation with someone, your spouse, child, parent, sibling, friend or co-worker and they wouldn’t let you get a word in? You’d try to talk and this person would talk over you like you weren’t trying to say anything. Now think of your quiet time with God, what’s it like? Do you allow God to get a word in or is it a time filled with your wants & needs?

We have no right to charge to the throne of God and begin to demand things from Him. The only reason it is possible for us to approach God is because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We have an audience with God because of His mercy & grace not because of anything we’ve done or can do.
I encourage you during your quiet time to take at least one day each week and spend the majority of the time listen to God; you might be surprised at what He has to say.

God say, “‘Stop your striving and recognize that I am God! I will be exalted over the nations! I will be exalted over the earth!’ The Lord who commands armies is on our side! The God of Jacob is our protection!” – Psalm 46:10&11 NET