Bill was a truck driver who worked hard and didn't need God until he was sixty years old and fainted next to the truck one day. He and his wife went to church that next week and you could tell that they weren't just window-shopping. They joined a disciple group. Bill had never prayed and didn't know Adam and Eve, but he was genuinely curious and when people treated his questions seriously, he was hooked on the Bible study. And then one night, he decided to pray for the first time.
He never looked back. That disciple group decided to take a Mission trip to Kentucky and Bill volunteered to drive. As the pastor was leaving that church to go to another field of service, Bill asked if he could take him out to breakfast. They got over to the restaurant and he looked at his pastor and said, "I've got to thank you because I was in trouble when I came to church. I never even figured church would help, and thought the roof would fall in on the day I visited. But I was surprised and the last couple of years have been the time of my life."
Beloved, many of you are involved in Bible Study groups at your churches and places of employment. People come to you with wounds inflicted by health, society and family chaos. Embrace them as you would your own children. Let them know how much God cares about their needs. But you can do more than minister to those who seek you out, you can go find them and share the best news they have ever heard. That's what a disciple is.
Andrew witnessed to his brother Simon. Philip found Nathanael and witnessed to him about Jesus. Generally, a witness is needed to help others "see" Jesus. You cannot adequately follow Jesus without also extending the invitation to others.
Bill and his pastor didn't know, but he had terminal cancer even at that breakfast and he wasn't going to see another year out. He had gone 60 years without God and then turned into a new guy who was having the time of his life. Don't wait to be a disciple.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, when you spoke to Moses from the bush, he wasn't ashamed to ask You to give the job to someone else.He said, "I can't speak very well, and they won't believe me."I hear your call of discipleship and answer, "Why me?" And Your response is always the same, "Why not?" Give me holy boldness and unconditional grace to overcome both my fears and my prejudices, so that I may become the mentor You expect me to be. Amen and amen.
33 Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.”
34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter - this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” 35 “No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.
Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
36 Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” 37 He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. 38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
When I read this passage about Jesus’ betrayal, it was His humanness that captured my attention… ”My soul is crushed with grief…,” he declares.Despite knowing that Peter would betray him and that His death was imminent, he could pray and readily admit that he felt vulnerable and sad.Imagine that?
We often pretend that all is well with the world and as we attempt to find our own personal escape hatch, God still knows the truth.I can put on any number of disguises, but God knows me better than I know myself.
Even when I don’t articulate my precise feelings… He knows my sense of abandonment in several significant relationships during my lifetime.The pain of knowing that someone can’t take care of you, wishes you hadn’t been born or doesn’t or can’t love you is excruciating.It never completely escapes your mind or your heart even when you bury it as far away as possible.
Each time you open yourself to new relationships and possibilities; you expose yourself and take risks.And, the optimist holds out hope that things will be different.You long for that someone who will love you for you and that they will be your fiercest protector and ally, sheltering you from external forces – “you and me against the world!”
But, alas, each time you risk it, you hold on to a little bit more of your heart… because there are no more tears left to shed and your hope is fleeting…
GospeLines Prayer:Father, you know I have a hole in my heart.I admit that fact when I’m in the dark corners of my mind…alone.You’ve heard my pleas and just like Your Son, I am vulnerable and sad.Imagine that?
But, it’s YOU and me against the world, Father.When I have no where else to turn and I have reached the point of physical and mental exhaustion, You remind me that You are with me… today, tomorrow and every day.
You do love me despite how I could be viewed -
As Aurelia told Jenny in Joyce Meyer’s new book “The Penny” -
“I think you’re the only one around here trying to keep people from seeing who you really are.You’re the only person around who thinks you aren’t worth much.”
Thank You for listening whenever I need to talk and for validating me as someone worth loving.
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday: August 15, 2007
"Suffering for Goodness' Sake"
"...they kept shouting,
'Crucify him! Crucify him!'
For the third time (Pilate) appealed to them:
'Why?What crime has this man committed?' "
Why do bad things happen to good people?In the case of our Lord, He had done nothing wrong, but His suffering and death were carefully scripted before the foundation of the world, as a part of our Father's redemptive plan.
But what about the normal, everyday Christian?Why do we suffer?There are at least four causes of Christian suffering:
Some suffering comes as the consequence of our own sin.
Some suffering is caused by the sins of others.
Some suffering is the result of God's discipline.
Some suffering is induced through persecution, after our attempts toward redemptive ministry.
If your Christian walk is too much like the lifestyles of everyone else, maybe you should be asking the question, "Why doesn't anyone ever want to persecute me?"Jesus (and His disciples after Him) was persecuted because He was different... He stood for something.
GospeLines Prayer:"Father, I would rather suffer persecution because I stood for something, than to live and die for nothing.I don't know how courageous I would be if I faced that kind of challenge, but I would like to believe that any cross You give me would be less of a burden than the cross of a coward."Amen and amen.
There was a time when the Apostle Peter said, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?" (Matthew 19:27) Only after years of trials, teaching and indwelling of the Holy Spirit did he mature enough to say, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you." (Acts 3:6)
Warren Wiersbe said in his book, On Being a Servant of God:
Selfishness says, "What will I get?"Service says, "What I have I'll give to you."
The ability to make that transition in our thinking - from selfishness to service - comes from time with the Holy Spirit... time with the Word of God... time to become spiritually mature.
Paul told the Corinthians that when he was among the spiritually mature, he tried to give them a [higher] wisdom; but, it was not wisdom of this world.They were ready to receive knowledge of the divine plan of God that was previously hidden to them (1st Corinthians 2:6 - AMP).
My Brothers and Sisters, delight yourselves in the Lord and rejoice that you are in Him.Worship God in spirit, glory in Jesus Christ; and, put no confidence or dependence on what you are in the flesh or on outward appearances.Consider whatever things you may have had prior to accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior as loss for His sake.
Count everything as loss compared to the priceless privilege of knowing Christ Jesus and of daily becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him.For His sake, consider all things of this world to be garbage in order that you may be found and known as in Him, not having any [self-achieved] righteousness that can be called your own, but possessing genuine right standing with God which comes through faith in Jesus Christ. (Paraphrased from Philippians 3:1-15 - AMP)
So let those of us who are spiritually mature and full-grown have this mind and hold these convictions:"Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you."
"…we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world."
The disciples didn't want to believe it.Jesus tried to prepare them for the end, but wasn't getting through to his faithful followers.The time had come for Him to say just how bad it was going to get, and told them that one would even betray, and another would deny Him.Could Jesus see their despair?Was the doubt inscribed upon their faces?At the appropriate time, Jesus said:
"Do not let your hearts be troubled.Trust in God; trust also in me.In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.I am going there to prepare a place for you.And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.You know the way to the place where I am going."(John 14:1-4)
Beloved, I remember well the content of a favorite verse:"Earth hath no sorrow which heaven cannot heal."(Thomas Moore)The mere notion that our troubles upon this earth will one day be forgotten may be the best news we hear today, and may tempt us to slow down in our diligence. Just so we will not forget that we have work yet to be done upon the earth, let us remember that heaven is a prepared place.And it is for prepared people.
GospeLines Prayer:"Father, teach your children that the "Hope of Heaven" is not a bus we are waiting to catch!Let us know that we are ALWAYS to be in transit, until the day You come for us, teaching and preaching, preparing others for that glorious event."Amen and amen.