LeBron James, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, was asked what was the number one thing he did after every game. He said the first thing he does is check the number of turnovers his entire team committed and the second is the number of turnovers he personally committed. In baseball, mistakes are called errors; in football they’re known as fumbles; and in tennis they’re unforced errors. These are what champions focus on first in order to grow, succeed and win. Similarly, King David prayed, “God, keep me from presumptuous sin.” Though we shouldn’t fixate primarily on our mistakes, we need to ask God for wisdom and discernment to protect us from unforced errors that are unnecessary and will cost us dearly.
Doing the Impossible
Many times those who do the impossible don’t premeditate doing so. Perhaps it was just a vision or conviction that required everything of them and necessitated stepping out in faith in a supernatural way. They met God on their journey and He became the difference-maker. When God does the impossible it blasts us out of our unbelieving stupor into an eternal realm that will last infinitely longer than our brief time on Earth. It reminds me of Francis of Assisi, who started out a loser and ended up a legend, leading a movement of radical followers of Jesus. He said, “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” His statement reminds me of the faith-filled words of Jesus who challenged all of us, “…with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 b, NIV)
Something Out of Nothing
I’m a recovering atheist. I spent seven years adamantly professing God didn’t exist. That ended abruptly when I found myself crying out to the God I didn’t believe in. And, guess what? He heard me! The problem with being an atheist has always been “how does something come from nothing?” Where did that first “something” come from? If you can believe Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” then you should have no problem believing the rest of the Bible. But, if you can’t believe God created everything, then any leap of faith will stumble you. Whenever you’re facing making something out of nothing, remember that’s one of God’s specialties. If you’ll trust Him, He’ll make something out of nothing every day of your life.
Seeing Jesus in Me
We learn about God, by examining what He does. The Bible says after God created the heavens and the earth, on the seventh day He rested. God didn’t have to rest because He was tired, or to catch His breath, God rested in order to show us how we need to live. If God chose to schedule a day of rest, a day to replenish, how much more do we need to rest as well? Yet, the New Testament states that Jesus has fulfilled the purpose of God’s Sabbath. (Hebrews 4:9-11) God has given us an eternal Sabbath rest, and part of our destiny is to learn how to rest in Jesus. I take that personally. One of my life goals is to be so at rest that people can see Jesus in me.
There’s nothing more dangerous than a partial truth, because a complete lie is rarely believable. So, when the devil tempted Adam and Eve and said, if you eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, “…God knows that your eyes will be opened…” (Genesis 3:5), they believed him. Their eyes were opened all right, but all they could see was a tsunami of shame hurtling toward them. (Genesis 3:7) They realized then, as we do now, that at times when our “eyes are opened” we see less, not more. I did drugs. My eyes were opened. I saw less, not more. I disobeyed my conscience… my eyes were opened. I saw less, not more. Disobedience always brings shame, and we see less not more. Follow God’s warnings, for they always lead to a safe and healthy future.
Favoritism is Pride
It is the responsibility of all parents to prepare their children for the future; but we will each need a good dose of humility to do this well. Eve’s expectations seemed to have caused her to favor her son Cain over Abel his brother. When Eve gave birth to a second son and named him Abel, the meaning of their names was most revealing. Cain means, “Here he is!” while Abel meant, “something unsatisfactory.” WOW! “Here he is!” meets “something unsatisfactory.” You could say her favoritism left Cain ill-prepared when God received Abel’s sacrifice over his. Cain then killed Abel out of jealousy. The lesson? As parents, our children will be better prepared for the future with humility rather than pride. The Bible provides the key to success, “Humility comes before honor.” (Proverbs 18:12, NIV)
Is God an emotional being? Absolutely! But, is He led by His emotions? Absolutely not! He’s led by His wisdom. But, at times, appropriate wisdom necessitates great emotion. In the Bible, the prophet Jeremiah was called the “weeping prophet.” Those who saw the great preacher, George Whitefield, an evangelist who helped fuel the 1st Great Awakening, said, “they never saw him preach without weeping.” True love will always require emotion! But what is appropriate emotion in an age of over-stimulation, where you can watch “tear-jerking” movie and a “side-splitting” comedy—all in the same night? One of the great challenges in this age is remaining appropriately, emotionally connected. May God help us to weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice.
Turning Myself In
Have you been born again? Jesus said you must be “born again” in order to enter the Kingdom of God. One of the first signs that you are born again is that you take sides with God—against yourself. HA! That may sound funny, but when you and I freely admit that we’ve sinned and been wrong, we’re finally seeing how good God is, and how much we desperately need Him. Many times we’re willing to excuse our sin and even complain if anyone judges us. I’ve found a much better way to live is to turn myself in rather than wait to be caught. I want to run toward God and not away from Him, I want to trust Him more than I trust myself, because there is no One who has my best interest in mind more than He does.
Have you dismissed the Bible because you think its miraculous stories are too far-fetched: stories like Noah and the Flood? Literally, hundreds of people groups have their own accounts and legends of the Flood. Why? Because ALL people groups came from the Flood. More than 200 cultures have passed on the oral account of a worldwide flood. In 88% of these flood-believing cultures, there is a favored family, in 70% survival is due to a boat, in 95% the sole cause of the catastrophe is a flood, in 66% the disaster is due to man’s wickedness, in 67% animals are also saved, and in 57% the survivors end up on a mountain. A closer examination of God’s miracles will not just reveal their possibility, but their reality.
The Lamb Principle
There’s a principle in the Bible called the “Lamb Principle” that demonstrates the importance of giving our first and best. Abel offered God a sacrifice of his first and best lamb. Cain, at the end of days made his offering. (Genesis 4:4) The Israelites sacrificed a “first and best” Passover lamb to protect their families. (Exodus 12:11) On the Day of Atonement they likewise offered their first and best lamb for their nation. (Leviticus 23:27) All of this was a prelude to Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, being offered as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. (John 1:29) God the Father gave His first and best for us in Jesus. Would you like God to bless your life, then follow the Lamb Principle, obediently give God your first and best when it comes to all He’s given you: your time, talents and treasures.
Skip With a Limp
Would you like your life to be easier? If you would, it will likely not be for your benefit. Actually, making our lives easier will not help us fulfill our destiny. You can lower the net to four feet, but it won’t be basketball. You can take down the net completely, but it won’t be tennis. You can take off all the weights on the bar, but it won’t build muscles. In much of our culture, we’ve done our best to eliminate many of the challenges in life, but it hasn’t necessarily made our lives better or any easier. God’s looking for someone who’s willing to skip with a limp, not skimp and become a wimp. It is when we persevere during life’s struggles, cheerfully and hopefully enduring, that we see our souls truly transformed.
Rest is a Holy Act
Everything God does is holy. So, when the Bible says, “God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when He rested from His work of creation,” (Genesis 2:3) God made resting a holy act! Rest is not being entertained, spacing out, or just having fun; rest is focused peace! Resting is not being lazy! It is consciously trusting God with our lives! Rest is bowing to God, not the pressures of life, or the “god of performance!” It actually takes more faith to rest in God than to rely on ourselves. Though we are born “hardwired for rest,” this world is “hardwired for stress.” We cannot be conformed to the image and likeness of God and not live at rest, for He is not just a “God of rest,” He is a “God at rest!”