"Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you." (Phil 3:13-15)
I am one of those travelers who always take more than is needed on a trip. Unnecessary baggage is what they call it. For sure, I always take enough with me and usually bring back more unworn clothes than those I wear while away. There must be a name for a person like that...compulsive packer? Uncertain traveler? Whatever the name I think I know the motive for it. I am afraid that I will leave something behind which I will need on the journey. Do you know folks like that too?
The apostle Paul had me in mind when he spoke of life's journey. All those things of the past, both good and evil, seem to follow me into tomorrow. The good things I carry tend to make the future seem brighter than it really is, and the bad things I drag along make me pessimistic about everything. What a lesson to be learned here. To look behind is OK as long as it is only a glance, but the future comes without the luggage of the past unless I choose to bring it with me. It is a glorious feeling to know that my future need not be influenced by my negative history.
If life is a race, then I want run it without the heavy burden of yesterday. To do that, however, I must be willing to let go of those things in the past which might make me proud, giving me a false sense of spirituality and maturity. Today is a new beginning and the finish line is ahead of me. As I lunge for my goal, my desire should be to allow this moment to stand on its own. Because I acted in a mature fashion yesterday doesn't guarantee I will do the same today unless I continue to exercise and train...i.e., pray and seek the face of God in every situation. Relying upon yesterday's results, whether victories or defeats, will hinder the race I am running now.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, as I stretch for the finish line of today's contest, I ask you to help me stay focused on the moment. Remind me again that my failure of yesterday does not mean I will fail today. And, show me how to keep my eyes on You, not on my good deeds of days past. Amen and amen.
A little red-headed, blue-eyed toddler lived next to a railroad track. The narrow road which separated his two bedroom house from the passing locomotives got a workout everyday with his little tricycle. It was a daily ritual for him to wait until he could see the train, then race fast as he could to see who could get to the two black creosote posts, 100 yards down that shell road.
In his little heart he wondered what it would be like to touch that train. One day, instead of racing the train, he rode his tricycle toward it. About 10 yards from the tracks, he started walking toward the moving locomotive with his innocent hand stretching out as far as he could reach. The noise made him oblivious to the screams of his mother, warning, pleading for him to stop.
Just as my hand was about to touch those tons of moving steel, my mother’s arms swept me away to safety. She saved me from certain death that day.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, sometimes evil is camouflaged in ways that seems enticing and intriguing. I can’t always know when something is good or bad. When my wisdom fails me, O Lord, I beseech you to whisk me away from dangerous situations and pull me to the comfort of your bosom. Amen and amen.
"My children, I am writing this so that you won't sin. But if you do sin, Jesus Christ always does the right thing, and he will speak to the Father for us. Christ is the sacrifice that takes away our sins and the sins of all the world's people. When we obey God, we are sure that we know him." (1st John 2:1-3 CEV)
Do you remember the Etch-A-Sketch? Did you know it can teach us about God’s love in addition to providing hours of entertainment for our children?
I didn’t make the connection until today during Children’s Time at our church. The director, Ms. Welch, showed us how to turn one of two knobs to create horizontal or vertical lines for a drawing (creating circles is truly a challenge…). As they sat on the pulpit’s steps, those children were mesmerized as she attempted to draw something. In a matter of minutes, Ms. Welch also showed us how to erase our drawing to begin anew; you just shake it up and there is a clean slate!
God uses several things to get our attention. Perhaps Charles West said it best, “We turn to God for help when our foundations are shaking, only to learn that it is God who is shaking them.” God forgives us when we make mistakes and has given us a clean slate through His son who died for our sins.
While we are unique as the drawings created on the Etch-A-Sketch of life, we remain His children and we are blessed.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, I’ve made my share of mistakes and while I strive to be more like you, I am human and fallible.
I am thankful that I can share my joys and concerns with You and that You forgive my transgressions. I want to live as Psalm 51:10-12 (NLV) says: "Make a clean heart in me, O God. Give me a new spirit that will not be moved. Do not throw me away from where You are. And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Let the joy of Your saving power return to me. And give me a willing spirit to obey you."
Thank You for giving me a clean slate and for showing me Your love through a child’s eyes.
A friend called today for help with his computer. Yesterday, my son asked for help with his algebra homework. My wife recently called an appliance repair shop for help with our washing machine. We always seem to be asking someone for help of some kind.
However, not all "help" is the same. When we ask a spouse or a parent for help, we know that they are not just our help in time of need; they are also our partners; partners in marriage or partners in life. When we ask a spouse or a parent for help we know that their response will be based in love and a sincere desire to help.
We ask people for help, but we also ask God for help when we pray.
He is our heavenly "Spouse": "For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church (us), his body, of which He is the Savior." (Ephesians 5:23) "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife (The church… Us!) hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." (Revelation 19:7-8)
And, He is also our heavenly Father: "Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father.' So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir." (Galatians 4:6-7)
So, how do you think He will respond to our cries for help?
Paul tells us in Romans 8:26 that "The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will."
The Spirit helps us…
We get the word "help" from the Greek sunantilambano. This isn't a true Greek word, but a combination of three words: sun-anti-lambano. "Sun" (pronounced sün as in soon) implies a partnership; to come along side; what we do together. "Anti" means to come against (but stronger). It's more like to rage against something; to come against a thing with all your might. "Lambano" means to take away or to receive. What does it mean when it's all put together?
Holy Spirit help us… sunantilambano…
The position of the Holy Spirit is along side of us; He wants to do things with us, not for us. His attitude is one of intense rage against anything that comes against us and His desire is to remove anything that may cause us to stumble.
Holy Spirit help us… sunantilambano…
Jesus tells us in Luke 18:1 to "always pray." 1st Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to "pray continually." How can we pray all the time?
Again, think about a husband and a wife. When they are together, they are always in communication - not necessarily by spoken words, but by looks, expressions, gestures or touch. However, they are always ready to speak when necessary.
If we are in partnership with the Holy Spirit; if He has "come along side of us," always ready to rage against anything that comes against us - we are like the husband and wife - always in communication, always ready to speak when necessary.
Because of God's unquenchable love for His children, the Holy Spirit yearns to be our partner and to work with us, not just for us. The Holy Spirit wants to be our partner, not just a vague or remote abstract that we sometimes remember in our prayers. He is God! He is your Spouse, your Parent, your Partner; and, He is along side of you now!
GospeLines Prayer:Holy Spirit help us… sunantilambano… Thank You for being our partner. Thank You for coming along side of us and always being ready to rage against the forces of the world that come against us and ready to remove whatever evil threatens us. Thank You for being in constant communication with us; always there; always ready; always Lord. Thank You Jesus! Amen!
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 2:5
Someone is certain to raise a righteous eyebrow when I ask this question, "How much is enough?" So much of our time (and too much of our preaching) is spent dreaming of more, wishing that we were richer than we are, scheming of ways to make one more dollar. We forget that wealth is not attached to money. Hear the words of a wise man on this subject:
SAYINGS OF AZUR
Two things I ask of you, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread, Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the Lord?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. Proverbs 30:7-9
GospeLines Prayer:Father, help me to know when I have had enough, in my leisure and in my labor, in my spending and in my wanting. I want to learn how to say "Yes, but...," and when to say "No!" Give me the maturity to realize that more is not always better for me. Amen and amen.