The sting of hurt flooded his soul as Peter shared his testimony about the cost of discipleship. He was twenty years older, but he told the story from the broken heart of a ten-year-old boy. "I ran home from Sunday School that day as fast as I could to tell my Father about meeting Jesus. It was the most exciting day of my life.
I was the only child in a family of third generation lawyers. My Dad had inherited the family mansion in a rich part of town but there was a small evangelical church just a few blocks away, filled with energetic, loving people who taught me to love God's Word.
The moment I mentioned Jesus' name, Dad scowled at me and said, 'Son, we don't believe in God. Just leave that talk at the church.' I was to learn a few years later that this was a warning to me. But my life in the church was more important than anything even though I knew Dad expected me to be the next attorney in the family. When I told him I was going to go to college to learn to teach the Bible, he said, 'I thought you would have outgrown this by now. Son, you will have to make it on your own. I won't help you throw your life away.' From that day, it was as though he had disowned me."
Peter concluded his testimony by saying, "The church became my family, and I haven't spoken to my dad in over 10 years. My friends, discipleship can cost heavily. But I feel as though I am the richest man on earth, because although I lost a dad, I gained a Heavenly Father who has riches beyond my imagination. And He has never let me down."
GospeLines Prayer: Father, make me ready to walk with Jesus when He leads me through fields of unpopularity, streets of hostility, and roads of rejection. Prepare me to follow, even when His steps take me through suffering, persecution, humiliation and maybe even death. I want to be ready for living or dying; nothing or everything; giving or receiving; coming or going; rest or work; peace or war. Amen and amen.
My high school football coach would say to me, "Run under control." I didn't understand what that meant until I actually saw it demonstrated before my eyes. While driving through my neighborhood it isn't unusual to see a squirrel or two scurry across the street just inches in front of the tires. You've seen it, and wondered as I, how they make it across as often as they do. On this day, the squirrel did his little zig-zag, scooted back the other direction just in the nick of time, and BAM! The critter ran full throttle into the curb and knocked itself out.
The Bible says we are running a race in Hebrews 12:1. And I can still hear my coach yelling, "Run under control." Even when we are running away from the enemy there is a sense in which we need to be aware of what we are running toward, as well as the direction we are running from. You see, it isn't just about running; it’s about running under God's control.
Living the godly life means that God is directing every step of the way.If we run too fast, we will get ahead of God.If we go too slowly, we will fall behind.God not only provides direction, He also sets the pace.
Thank you, dear God, for the privilege of prayer-- Where ever I am I'm glad that you're there. You're never too early and never too late-- Sometimes I need to have patience and wait.
I don't want to go too fast and be on my own, Or drag my heels and be all alone. I want to stay always close by your side, To follow your lead and with you abide.
Thank you for trials that teach me to trust. I know that you'll show me what I need to adjust. I'm glad that in your love I can rest, Serving you, dear God, makes my life the best. (Author of poem unknown)
We said a prayer today for someone we didn’t know.There was a horrific automobile accident near the church which resulted in a fatality; perhaps someone was trying to get to the Lord’s house, but was, instead, called home.Our Lay Leader reminded us that we were given “one more day” and if nothing else was said, we should shout to the Lord, “thank you!”We shouted and praised His name for waking us up in our right minds, with relatively good health, and even thanked Him for the trial and tribulations He allows us to go through.Because the truth is evident; if we didn’t go through the trials, we wouldn’t know just how much we need God!
As I sat quietly on my pew during prayer time, it brought to mind those friends and associates who are reaching milestone birthdays, if God says the same.Some baby boomers have already retired and/or are contemplating such a move.Decisions will be made relative to financial resources--where to live; how to sustain the lifestyle they had while working, but may not have once they’re off someone else’s payroll; and there’s a question regarding what to do with more leisure time.Those fortunate boomers will travel, perhaps play golf or tennis, learn a new skill, develop a hobby or pursue some dream deferred.Others aren’t quite ready for that step for a number of reasons, even if the calendar says another year has come and gone and Social Security is beckoning.And, still others, will find that retirement doesn’t hold the allure they thought it would; they are ill-prepared because they have no focus.
As they contemplate their future, I wonder what is in the rearview mirror.Perhaps the ultimate question to ask is:
The question for each man is not what he would do if he had the means, time, influence, and educational advantages, but what he will do with the things he has. ~Hamilton
If today were our last day on earth (and we don’t know when we’ll be called), what have we done with the precious time God has given us?Have we wasted most of it for self-indulgent, extravagant “things,” when He gave us other instructions?Did we store up treasure for ourselves or did we share our resources?When He gave an assignment, did we whine and complain instead of thanking Him for the privilege of caring for His children or whatever gifts He bestowed?Have we worried about how we were going to carry out the assignment, knowing that God is faithful and will provide?Do we look to others when it’s clearly our mission?(God gives each of us responsibility and mine may not be the same as yours.)When we are absolutely worn out, do we pray to Him for strength?Do we understand His perfect will for our lives and that sometimes, the weight only seems heavy?We know we can do all things through Him who strengthens us!He does not ask more of us than we can handle.
While we had certain visions of what our lives would look like before retirement and since, God just may have another plan.Perhaps we need to get down on our knees and ask what He wants us to do and thank him for entrusting us to carry out His mission.
Prayer:Father, we know not when You will call us home.Our rearview mirrors are full of missteps and foolishness from time-to-time.We sometimes choose to ignore You because we think the task may be too hard or we have other things of importance—our own agenda.
Truth be told, there’s nothing more important than You and the plan You have established for us.Maybe we have to take another route than the one we had in mind; to care for someone who is ill; to help rear someone else’s children; to tutor some youth or adults who have learning difficulties; to minister to or break bread with someone who doesn’t look or think like us; maybe, we have to go above and beyond the norm, just to show that Jesus does live in us.
What are you going to do if you only have “one more day?”Ask God!He has the plans for you according to Jeremiah 29:11-13.
Associated Press writer Tom Breen (the author of the article) stated that declining (and aging) membership, tighter budgets and decaying and outdated facilities are “dragging down churches that are forced to spend money on maintenance and repairs instead of ministry, charity and other Gospel-derived imperatives.”
Although the situations described in this article are true (membership is down and aging, budgets are down, and facilities need repair and updating) it does not address a critical question that begs for answers - Why is membership down (and aging)?
The article indicated that “many pastors are loathe to set aside money for maintenance that could be used on missionary work or charitable services like soup kitchens.”When membership is low and resources are limited, congregations are sometimes forced to make difficult and unpleasant decisions that may jeopardize their future for the sake of the present.
Even though we are in those difficult and unpleasant situations times today, no congregation deliberately allows their facilities to crumble if the means are available to prevent such decay.So, the critical issue remains; why are those means not available today?Why is membership aging and declining?
Consider the message preached in many churches today.Attendees hear the Word but they do not respond; or, they respond only for a short time and then they fall away.Why? Many may hear the Word, but the temptations of the world quickly take it away.Others hear the Word and receive it with great joy; but, because they have no intimate and personal relationship with Christ, they quickly fall away. When trouble comes because of the Word (when they must choose between the way of the world and the way of the Word), they fall away because Christ is not the center of their lives.Still others hear the Word; but, the worries of life, the false promises of wealth and their desires for other things choke the Word from them - again, the way of the world wins. (From Mark 4:15-19 - NIV)
Why do these things happen? Perhaps many are falling away because we are focusing too much on the safe “middle-ground” - the more liberal, “sugar-coated” version of the Word so as to appeal to the “you’re ok; I’m ok” politically correct crowd instead of preaching about the increase of wickedness in the world today (Matthew 24:12).Although our messages usually include the message of Christ’s grace, perhaps the young of today hear the fear in our voices - fear that if we really teach all of God’s Word we’ll be labeled as narrow minded or intolerant.Perhaps it’s that very fear they see as a lack of conviction, lukewarm Christianity; and, like the Lord Himself, they spit us out of their mouths (Revelation 3:16).If so, maybe we shouldn’t be too surprise that they fall away.
I am fearful that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, our minds (and our preaching) have somehow be led astray from the pure and full Gospel. When someone today preaches a Jesus (a Gospel) other than that preached by the Apostles and written in Scripture, we accept and tolerate it far too easily. (From 2nd Corinthians 11:3-5 - NIV). Brothers and Sisters, it’s time to call sin what it is - anything that is contrary to God’s Word; anything that will distance us from God - and to remind the world that just as Heaven is real, so is hell - and time is growing short.Our churches may be in disrepair; but, what about the souls of those who do not know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior?It’s time to preach the full and true Word to the world.It’s time to stand up and be counted.It’s time to be counted as a Christian today so that we can be counted with the sheep on That day.
≈ Devotional for Friday, July 23, 2010
“The Younger Generation”
Next time you and I are tempted to be critical of the "Younger Generation," pull this out and read it. I asked a talented 16 year old GospeLines Family member to write something which I may share with you. Thank you, Alicia! You bless my life!
Dear God, I pour out to you. I make myself vulnerable to you. Why do our people pray for Christians in poverty while they pray for us in our provision? When we have nothing, it's easiest to give to You. Show us what this is about.
[Skillet - "Splinter"] "Here I lie again, inside this broken body, Rest here against the tree, My muscles aching. To give up now is death; To die is to really live. My flesh is restless twisting Spasms in my back increasing Splinter me. Splinter me. My heart; my head. Splinter me. "Here I think again to try and solve this puzzle. What is not yours I don't want. My mind aching To reconstruct my thoughts, or let it blow away. You are all-knowing. Changing, Yeah, You're killing me. Splinter me. Splinter me. My heart; my head..."
Thank You! GOD. I want to see You, JESUS! I want You, LORD!!! I'm empty without You. I'm after Your heart. I'm after Your heart.
With an empty altar, what consuming fire comes? Let it just be our cry that you take us and change us even if it's uncomfortable for our flesh to do so. Let us not fear Your cross because of the splinters we'll endure. Create in us a hunger so great for You that we are in need and in love enough to give over that which we keep from You, Father. Cause in us a desire for those splinters of Your cross (caused by carrying it day to day), because whatever was to our profit just doesn't matter anymore and is now considered loss for the sake of Christ! EVEN more, we consider everything unimportant and a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord, for whose sake we have lost all things. [LORD, for Your sake, let us lose.] I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. I want to share in his sufferings, because You've made me worthy to bear Your Name. Lord, SPLINTER me.