Tag Archives: Dedication

He Did Not Miss

He Did Not Miss

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.  1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Recently I read of one High School Graduate in Pennsylvania who was being honored for perfect attendance.  From Pre-K to grade 12, this young man did not miss a single day of school.  Incredible!  This truly is a good record to hold.  No matter how he “felt” he was at school.  On sick days, he took medicine and toughed it out.  How could he be so consistent?  Perseverance.  Dedication. Determination.

In the verse above, please note how that the Lord is faithful to finish what He starts.  When a person is saved, the Lord begins to change them from the inside out! This is called “progressive sanctification.”  It is the Lord who changes us, but the change is also dependent on the Christian yielding and submitting his life each day as a living sacrifice to the Lord.  Jesus wants us to “live for Him.”  God is faithful to preserve us and take us to Heaven at the time He has appointed for us.

These same qualities of faithfulness, perseverance, dedication, and determination are also necessary in the Christian life for us to develop, be more fulfilled, and for us to live lives that truly glorify Jesus.

Here are 3 helps to be faithful to the Lord…

  • David Looked For the Faithful. Psalm 101:6 Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me. David wanted to be around people who loved the Lord and were faithful to Him.  The people we “hang” with do influence us.
  • Moses was a Servant. Hebrews 3:5 And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after.  Moses, a prince of Egypt, leader of Israel, and spoken directly to by God, did not let that get to His head.  He was faithful because he still saw himself as a servant.  Who are you serving today?
  • God Sends His Blessings to the Faithful. Proverbs 28:20 A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent. Serving self, or being selfish is not blessed by the Lord. The “others” focused person who is faithful in His walk with God is blessed in many tangible and intangible ways.  There is no price tag on peace or contentment, yet this is what God can give to the people who are faithful to Him.

Well, I can’t get perfect attendance in school; I am well past that stage of life – but I can be reliable.  I can be dependable.  I can be faithful to the Lord.  While the Lord is sanctifying me and making me more like Jesus, I can yield my life and decisions to Him each day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Better Question

The Better Question

“…Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”  Ephesians 5:25

Joe was blessed when he truly understood the Bible for the first time. “Imagine the love of God for a sinful person like me?” he thought.  Following accepting Jesus for salvation, Joe began to study the Bible with another church member.  Soon after he was baptized and was excited to be part of a loving church where he could hear the Bible taught each service.  He attended both services Sunday and even got up early for the Bible study in Sunday School.

Joe was busy just like everyone else.  His job required late nights and the shift hours were tough at times.  He was trying to advance his career and was taking classes to earn another degree.  His son played in the local baseball league, and his daughter was busy with music lessons and performances.  Yet he still prioritized giving Sunday to the Lord.  His life was changing.

Then one day, he was sick, and unable to take the family to church.  His wife and kids went without him.  He next week he needed to be out of town for completing a certification for his job and he did not make it back in time for Sunday church.  The following week a family reunion was to start at 1:00 PM and it took about 2 hours to drive to the location, so he and the family had to miss church again.  That fourth Sunday, Joe was simply tired.  He had been up all night working on a house project “We have to have heat,” he grumbled.  He was not a plumber, but he was working on the heating system to make sure his family was warm.  “I’m tired, leave me alone,” was now rubbing off on the whole family.  Each one was now discouraged.  No-one in Joe’s family went to church that Sunday.  After several months, Joe’s family were not heard of again in the church.

A story like this happens in every church. Much. Too. Often.

Why is it that some Christians “give up” on faithful church attendance?  The consistent attendance and participation in church worship services is an integral part of the Christian life.  After all – the Lord Jesus gave His life for the church.  What an example of love for church Jesus demonstrated for us?  Could we give ourselves to faithful church attendance?  The world, our flesh, and Satan are enemies of this godly routine of setting a day aside to worship the Lord.

Some believers get out of the church attendance habit.  They do not decide to, but it just happens.  One service here, one sickness in the family, a vacation or trip, a snow day or an inconvenient change in the work schedule.   After missing 3-4 services, some Christians begin to lose their resolve to go back to church.  With a sense of defeat they think: “I missed this much, what is one more?”

After several months of no church attendance some Christians ask: “What will the church members think of me if I show up this Sunday?”  The reasoning is that the other Christians will be judgmental or harsh for the lack of attendance.  I have found that this reasoning is faulty.  The regular church members are happy for the “backslidden believer” coming back to church.  The faithful church members have been praying and have missed the wayward brother or sister in Christ.  Instead of commendation – the others congratulate the friend for coming back to church.

A better question to ask than “What do the church members think?” Is this question – “What does Jesus think?”   In our misplaced pride, we can speculate the response of other people.  We should live to please Jesus, not others.  Avoid letting pride about what others think to prevent you from getting back into the church attendance and worship participation habit.

Jesus wants you to come back to church.  Even though the church is not perfect – yet, you make it a better form of the image of Jesus when you show up and participate in worship and service to the Lord.  Go back to church this Sunday.  The people will congratulate and welcome you.

 

 

 

Marathon Marriages

Marathon Marriages 

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  Ephesians 5:31

I have never aspired to run a Marathon.  Running for 26 miles is an incredible achievement that I may never arrive at.  If I am not chasing after a ball (basketball, baseball, even a golf ball) it is difficult to want to run.

Marriage is a teaming up of two people for fulfilling God’s plan for the family.  God ordained a man and woman to come together to form a new unit called and He even called them “one.”  In marriage a couple can enjoy life, procreate children, and establish a home.

Mistrust, jealousy, and misunderstandings all create greater possibilities for divorce.  The culture emphasizes “do what you want” in relationships to the neglect of honoring the spouse you have declared your commitment to.  Notice how definitive this commitment is in Ephesians 5:31, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  Two become one.  That is real commitment.  

This marriage commitment changes the daily lives of the couple.  The physical, emotional, and spiritual beings that we are unite together in marriage.  Becoming “one” could mean a man and woman now share the same e-mail accounts.  It could be getting a new e-mail name that reflects your marriage union.   It could be that all the social media platforms are shared or at least, both partners have password access to those accounts.  These are just samples of how the concept of “two become one” could look in the media portion of a marriage.  It takes commitment, trust, and humility for this.  Just as a marathon requires intense commitment, so does marriage.

The following ideas are designed to help you start the Marathon of marriage and finish it.  These “mile markers” that come along the road will not be achieved all at once.  Your marriage is a marathon, not a sprint.  Arriving at these identifiable marks will take time as well as teamwork.

Here are a few “mile markers” each couple should cross along their race to the finish line.

  • The Cellphone Mile Marker. Back 20+ years ago, it was a big deal when a recently married couple got their first phone number.  They were living separately and then the wedding day came and from that point on, they were happy to give out their new home address as well as their new home phone number.

Today, many couples opt to keep their cell phones without getting a new home landline.  Many even keep their old phone numbers on their parent’s plans.  This may seem harmless, but it is not the healthiest arrangement.  If money is keeping the newlyweds from “joining” their cell phone accounts then they are misguided.  The positive psychological effect of passing a mile marker together totally surpasses saving a few dollars on a bill.

  • The Combining of Checking and Savings Accounts Mark. His and her credit cards or bank accounts are not a good idea.  If a couple is “joining together” then they should do so financially as well.  The love of money could cause the man or the woman not to commit to this idea.  Money is never a good reason for not consolidating the interests of the man and the interests of the woman into one.

In the era of prenuptial agreements, lawyers and clerks who do not have the Bible conviction of marriage will say “save up for a break up.”  The Christian should never look at his marriage as having the potential to fail.  More times than not – it is the same love of money that becomes a sore spot and a symptom of hard hearts of people headed for divorce.

  • The $1000 Savings Mile Marker. Many Christian Financial leaders recommend that a couple save up and have $1000 available as an emergency fund.  I recommend you have this in cash, safely kept, yet available in the case of an emergency.  Have you ever been to the store when the credit cards machines are “down.”  If there is another disaster and power is lost, then having cash to buy needed supplies is a good idea.

An article I read recently suggested that with the combined debt of the citizenry of the United States that a person who has no debt and has a $10 bill in his pocket is richer than most folks.  The point is- we should be saving money.  Save money together.  Look at ways to trim your expenses and then celebrate when you arrive at your $1000 goal.

  • The Church Ministry Service Mark. Serving together in a ministry is a great team building exercise.  Bus routes, Sunday School, and Youth Ministry are great places to serve together.  The choir, special music, greeters, and sound /media production are all enriched by the service of competent couples working together.  Embracing ministry together grows the husband and wife closer emotionally and spiritually and they may see their consistent labor bloom into viable fruit they can see.
  • The Car Purchase Marker. Researching, deciding, and settling on a car can be nerve-wracking, but it can be an accomplishment for the couple to win in together.  Driving the emotions of an item as big as a vehicle will cause great consideration in each spouse to reveal his or her thoughts.  Avoiding research, neglecting mutual decisions, and not learning to “settle” on an issue like this can feed a common problem among couples: a lack of investment.  A vehicle is a big deal, but it is not as big a deal as when you decided to get married.  Avoiding big scenarios is a way of being ill prepared for bigger life challenges that a couple will encounter.  By the way: the car does not have to be brand new.  “New to you” at 2-3 years old is a great price point and will give you a vehicle with a lot of life left in it.  A cash purchase of a nearly new vehicle is a terrific milestone in marriage.
  • The House Purchase Mark. A historically important characteristic of freedom loving Americans is the opportunity to buy a house.  Sometimes houses are inherited and sometimes spouses will live at the house the other had before they were married.  It is helpful to visit, consider and purchase together.  The victory of a house purchase and then paying off that purchase is monumental.  It is a big mile-marker.
  • The Giving Mile Marker. The Bible teaches that we labor in order to give.  Ephesians 4:28 says, Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.  With your spouse, deciding to give large gifts to others or to church ministry can be very satisfying.  I know several couples that have given away cars to friends, family, and church ministers.  One couple has given 7-8 good vehicles to other people in recent years.  They just were looking for ways to help others and to encourage some of God’s people.  The result of your combined effort at work, saving, and living and bring about generous giving to the work of the Lord.  This is a mile marker that starts with the basics of money discipline and bringing a tithe to God from your combined income.  Start with the 10 percent and see how big of an impact you can make together in giving above and beyond to others and to the Lord.

Achieving something worthwhile takes time and teamwork.  Your marriage is a marathon.  Run the race of life together.  Marathon marriages have been won the world over.  Perhaps you know a couple or two who have raced their entire lifetime together.  With God – all things are possible.

Following Jesus in A New Year

Following Jesus in A New Year

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23

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Peter has just declared that Jesus was “The Christ of God.”  Jesus tells them to “tell no man” and that He would suffer many things.  Peter and the other disciples did not really understand the suffering of Christ until after His death and resurrection.  The next part of this narrative directs us to this verse: “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

Self denial is one of the most difficult things to do as human beings.  Recently, our family was treated to a terrific Chinese Buffet.  Walk into a Chinese buffet or similar “all you can eat” restaurant and you will see that many Americans struggle with denying self.  Denial issues could relate to eating, exercise, music, the friends we have, time in front of a screen, and nearly every area of life.  Even things that are not necessarily a sin of themselves can become sin to us when we do not practice moderation and the discipline of self denial.

Taking up the cross includes suffering for Jesus.  Some people at work or at school will not love Jesus like you do.  Some will persecute you.  You may be passed over.  The neighbors may not be as kind to you.  You may have people threaten you or mock you.  Take up this cross, letting others know you are a Christian, no matter what suffering you may encounter.  This is to be done daily.

Then Jesus says: “Follow Me.”  “Deny self, take up cross,” and “follow me” are great places to begin a new year.  Here are a few suggestions to help you follow Christ.

  1. Decisions are about Jesus.  A new year’s resolution?  Read the Bible in a year?  Handout a Gospel tract each week? Accept a new job?  Relocate?  Become engaged?  Get married?  What about other spiritual decisions such as confessing sin?  Going to the altar during the altar call and making a decision for Christ?  How about service in the through the local church?  Will you serve in areas you like most or areas that are needed the most?  Make all your decisions about Jesus. 
  2. Discussions are about Jesus.  What will be the topic of our conversations?  Will you boast, exude pride about self?  Will you speak of personal selfishness?  Will you talk about the Lord to others?  Will you say how good God has been to you?  Could you tell someone about Jesus and His gift of eternal life in this new year?  Avoid talking negatively about your local church, pastor, Sunday School teacher or other Christian.  They are not perfect, and for that matter neither are you.  We are to talk to others about Jesus and talk to the Lord about our “problems.”  Be sure to tell people about Christ while at the same time speaking well of His bride – the church.  The lost will pick up on dissension in your speaking about other Christians and it will turn them away.  Be careful of the words you say and how you say them.  If it would be improper to say something in a press conference in prime-time, it would be wrong anytime.  Discussing the Lord will help you choose proper words because of the proper topic being Christ.
  3. Dedications are about Jesus.  To Whom or to What will you be dedicated to?  “Me, myself, and I” is very shallow and humanistic.  The “world, the flesh, and the devil”, are other choices for the dedication of your heart, but will leave you in sin leave your heart heartbroken and enslaved to sin.  “Money, fame, and getting ahead” are insufficient to bring you true peace and lasting joy.  “Following Jesus” is all that really matters.  Be dedicated to following the Lord in every area of your life. 

 

Whether the dedication of your heart, the discussion of your mouth, or the decisions of your mind, let’s determine to be followers of Jesus Christ this year.  Deny self, carry your cross, and follow Jesus.