Archive for September 2013

CAUGHT IN A TRAFFIC JAM!

September 30, 2013
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  John 3:16  NIV
Traffic Jam
Have you ever experienced a day that feels like one big test? Mine was last Friday. It began with running late. I was late to nearly everything – a  7 o’clock prayer breakfast, an 8 o’clock meeting, a 9 o’clock appointment, and a 10 o’clock phone call.  There were people who were counting on me. There were emails to reply to and problems to solve.  There was one stress after another.

Then there was a noon luncheon I was responsible for. I rushed to the meeting room only to discover it was completely unprepared for our important guests. So the luncheon ran late, and I was late meeting my wife afterwards. We jumped into the car to race seven hours from Orlando to Atlanta to spend the weekend with friends. But of course, traffic was bad.  Entire fleets of enormous 18-wheelers surrounded us. Driving a small compact next to these giant mammoths makes my wife nervous – which then makes me nervous.

When we finally reached the outskirts of Atlanta, just a few miles from our destination, traffic came to a standstill. In 20 minutes we moved maybe 20 feet. Exhaust fumes engulfed us. I nearly lost it. I felt frustrated, nauseated, and irritated. Almost nothing had gone right today. And although some of it wasn’t my fault, some of it was. Why, I wondered, don’t I plan my life better? Why can’t I do my work faster? Why can’t I be more confident? Why do I get so upset over things beyond my control? Why can’t I learn to accept myself for who I am?

Silently I studied the tail lights in front of me as questions whirled through my head. To take my mind off this frustrating day I turned on the car stereo and put on a Max Lucado CD. It was a live presentation of songs and readings from Max’s book “He Chose the Nails.” Then in the midst of an Atlanta traffic jam I heard these words…

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only son.” Aren’t you glad the verse doesn’t read, “For God so loved the rich or the famous, the sober or successful, the young or the old?”. . . How wide is God’s love? It’s wide enough for the whole world. Are you included in the world? Then you’re included in God’s love!

As the words sank deep, music played, frustration dissolved, and spirits lifted. Suddenly all the hurry, worry, and flurry of the day melted away. Peace settled in. “For God so loved the world…”  That meant He loved every person, in every car, in every traffic jam in the world.  Including me.

He loves me in spite of every question I’ve ever had about myself. He loves me on good days and bad days equally.  He loves me despite all my faults, failures, and foibles.  Just knowing that made me feel … grateful.

Thank you Lord. Thank you for the traffic jam that slowed me down. Thank you for Max Lucado who lifted my spirits up. Thank you for your love that reaches me anywhere. And most of all, thank you for putting all three together when I needed them most.

Love

Enjoy your day, “Working for Christ!”

AN ACCIDENT WAITING TO HAPPEN!

September 23, 2013

“They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord. They were to do the same in the evening.” (1 Chronicles 23:30, NIV)

The Levites were set apart to offer thanks and praise to God every morning and every night – day in and day out, in a never-ending cycle. It was their job. It was forced. It was required of them. Forced “thank yous.” Required praises. Imagine the temptations inherent in this routine. Did easy-to-repeat prayers take the place of petitions motivated by full hearts and genuine gratitude? Did their minds wander as the words bubbled out? “Hear me, O God. Here we go again.”

Praise and thanksgiving are like the yellow line down the center of a highway. If we ignore that line and go off course, we could easily crash and bring others down with us. It’s purpose is to keep us on track – to keep us safe. But it’s just a painted line. It’s not a concrete barrier. If we choose, we can cross that line anytime we want. It really doesn’t take much to veer off course.

Praise and thanksgiving are key ingredients in a healthy relationship with God. We need them as much as we need fresh air. Praise isn’t just an outward gesture; it reveals what’s inside us – the attitude we have toward God. When we offer meaningful thanks, we acknowledge that God’s goodness deserves our recognition. Every gift comes from Him.

How can we make our relationship with God stronger and more meaningful every day? Unlike the Levites, God doesn’t demand that we follow certain daily requirements. Maybe that makes the routine more difficult. It’s up to us to take the time to bow before Him and offer our praise and thanks. When we skip this part of our daily lives, we become like those drivers who disregard the center line. Our lives become a potential accident waiting to happen. But when we take the time to regularly focus on the God who loves us, He helps us to stay in the right lane and get to our final destination!

Enjoy your day, “Working for Christ!”

SHARE THE LOVE!

September 18, 2013

“Just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:7, NIV)

Share the Comfort

I’ve noticed through the years that those who have suffered are quick to comfort others who may be hurting. When a young couple suffers the loss of a child, another couple who also lost a child asks if they can help. If a couple loses their main income, almost immediately another couple steps forward to offer their aid, remembering their own journey through foreclosure years earlier.

Again and again we see the body of Christ supporting and encouraging one another. These Christians have learned that they can use the trials they’ve been through to reach out to others going through similar difficulties.

Have you been sick? Lost a loved one? Been imprisoned? Unfairly treated? In all of our trials, God promises to bring something good out of even our darkest moments (James 1:2-4). One way this takes place is when we share the comfort He offered us with those who are now going through trials.

As Paul points out in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, we are comforted by a Savior who knows our suffering, and we honor Him when we pass His comfort on to others.

Take a look around your workplace today. Do you know anyone who is suffering or in pain? Imagine yourself in their shoes. If we know the path another person is experiencing, God will help us guide that person into His presence. He comforts us so that we may bring comfort to others.

Be a little more like Jesus today. Comfort someone with the love of our Savior.

share the love 2013

Enjoy your day, “Working for Christ!”

WHERE ARE YOU GOING DRESSED LIKE THAT?

September 17, 2013

“Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. … And over all these virtues put on love …” (Colossians 3:12, 14, NIV)

MISMATCHED CLOTHES

Sometimes when I’m about to leave the house, my wife stops me and says, “Are you serious? You can’t go into public dressed like that! Really?” It’s usually something about the shirt not matching my pants or the color of my slacks being out of sync with my sport coat. I used to get insulted when she questioned my fashion sense, but I’ve come to realize she knows what she’s talking about. It took me several years, but I’ve come to realize she’s always right!

Scripture often calls us to “put on” attitudes and actions that match our identity in Christ. Sometimes we are known by the clothes we wear, but we can make Jesus known to others by wearing attitudes and actions that show His presence in our lives.

The apostle Paul advised us to set the fashion standard by modeling the wardrobe of Jesus’ “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness.” And, he added, “above all these things put on love . . . . And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” (Colossians 3:14-15, NIV).

Clothing ourselves in Jesus’ likeness begins with spending time with Him. If you hear Him say, “You can’t go out like that!”, let Him take you back into the closet for a wardrobe change. Clothing ourselves with Jesus’ attitudes and actions shows His presence in our lives.

Colossians 3_12

Enjoy your day, “Working for Christ!”

DON’T “CUSTOMIZE” YOUR BELIEFS!

September 16, 2013

“All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.” (Psalm 119:160, NIV)

Music Apps

Pandora and iHeartRadio are two of the music “Apps” you can place on your computer, phone, iPad, or Tablet so you can listen to your favorite songs when you want. They help you create your own personal radio stations by allowing you to “customize” your music. They play a song and then you click a thumbs up or down to indicate whether or not you like it. You end up with a grouping of only the songs that you like.

Unfortunately, sometimes we do that with the Bible, too. We may pick the Scripture passages we like and ignore the others. By studying the Bible this way, we “customize” it to our preferences.

The psalmist looked at God’s Word this way:  All your words are true.” (Psalm 119:160, NIV)

And the apostle Paul told Timothy, a young pastor, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness … “ (2 Timothy 3:16, NIV)

The Scriptures were important to Jesus (Matthew 5:17-18), but He looked at them differently than the religious leaders of His day. To Him, “You shall not murder” was on the level of being “angry with a brother without a cause” (Matthew 5:21-22, NIV). Far from customizing Scripture, He was concerned about the motivation of people’s hearts in applying all of it.

As we embrace God’s Word more fully, we’ll know Him more deeply and want to honor Him.

Take a minute this morning and read this prayer: Lord, I don’t want to treat Your Word lightly or to dismiss what seems too difficult. Show me my heart and help me obey from the heart whatever You tell me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

From this day forward, when you open your Bible, ask the Author to open your heart. Give a “Thumbs Up” to the entire Bible, not just some parts of it!

thumbs up

“Enjoy your day, “Working for Christ!”

FACE TO FACE WITH TROUBLE!

September 11, 2013

“Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the Lord for guidance.” (2 Chronicles 20:3, NLT)

Jehoshaphat

King Jehoshaphat found himself face-to-face with trouble. A huge army marched toward Jerusalem, and the scouting reports didn’t bring him much hope. The problem on the horizon promised to be enormous by the time it reached the king. “Alarmed,” we read, “Jehoshaphat asked for the Lord’s guidance.”  He looked past the trouble. Faced with an overwhelming situation, the king immediately turned to the One who is never overwhelmed.

Trouble comes in threes, they say. But who’s counting?

You’ve probably noticed that acknowledging and investigating troubles seem to make them multiply. Consider your house, for example. The roof starts leaking. So you climb into the attic to check it out and discover several bad spots, a rotten rafter, mold, mildew – and often the repair bills mount from there.

Obviously, ignoring problems also makes them multiply. Ignoring the leak today leads to the living room ceiling sitting in your lap tomorrow. So you face a dilemma: If your troubles multiply whether you examine or ignore them, what should you do?

As we face trouble in our own lives, our prayer can be like Jehoshaphat’s: “Lord, I know you’re in charge. So I choose to recognize this trouble as your problem, not just mine. I admit that I can’t handle this situation, yet it needs to be resolved. Please help me!”

When you read a little further in 2 Chronicles 20, you will notice how God responded to Jehoshaphat’s prayer of faith. He answered, but he didn’t promise to help Judah win the battle. Instead, He said he’d fight for His people. Could the king have anticipated this answer? There are times in our lives as well when God’s answers surprise us. But notice also that the king still had his marching orders: God told him not to be afraid (twice), not to be discouraged (twice), to march out, to take positions and to go out and face the enemy. By the time the people had completed God’s instructions, the battle was over.

Again we face a dilemma. We often find ourselves a little too close to our troubles – so close that we end up wallowing in them. Or we find ourselves trying to avoid troubles – giving them the opportunity to pull a surprise attack. But God calls us to trust Him, to look through our troubles and toward Him.

When troubles arise, bow down and turn your focus to the Lord! There is no problem too big that He can’t handle.

Big God

Have a blessed day, “Working for Christ!”

YOUR NAME IS MORE THAN JUST A NAME!

September 10, 2013

“To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.”  (Revelation 2:17, NLT)

A New Name

In my Bible, those words are printed in red ink.  That means they are the words of Jesus.  They were spoken in a vision to the Apostle John about the rewards that are waiting for God’s people in heaven.  For those who are victorious over sin, Jesus promises to give Manna – the bread of life.  To those who overcome the struggles of this life, Jesus promises to give a white stone with a new name.  A different name.  A unique name.  A secret name.  Maybe we will keep our earth-born names in heaven, maybe we won’t.  One thing for sure is that we will be given new names known only to our Savior and to us.

I like the way Eugene Peterson paraphrases this same verse:

“I’ll give the sacred manna to every conqueror;  I’ll also give a clear, smooth stone inscribed with your new name, your secret new name.”

A secret new name.  Will it be a name of power?  A name of mystery?  A name of victory?  A name of affection?  We don’t know for sure.  What we do know is that God will someday rename each of us.  We’re not sure how that will happen, but it will be something special.

Perhaps it will happen after you’ve been in heaven for just a few days – after you’ve walked the golden streets, splashed in the river of life and had conversations with Esther, Adam, and Moses.  Perhaps God will approach you and ask if you have a few minutes to spare.  “I have all eternity,” you reply.  So you and your Maker go off together to a quiet, peaceful place.  There you sit and talk about the trials and triumphs of life on earth.  You blush when God calls you victorious – a conqueror.  But then your eyes nearly pop out of your head as He pulls a beautiful white stone from His robe and places it in your hand.  There in letters shining with the colors of a rainbow is a name.  A secret name.  A private name that only you and He will know.  At that time, you and your Father will have a special bond that will never be broken.

Why would God go through the extravagant gesture of giving you a new name?  Because you are unique.  Because you are special.  Because you are His.

“… The Lord who created you says: ‘Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.  I have called you by name;  you are mine.’”  (Isaiah 43:1, NLT)

Isaiah 43_1

Enjoy your day, “Working for Christ!”


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