When Are You the Most Still?
Do you really believe God will see you through every difficulty? King David did! On his deathbed, he said, “As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my life from every distress.” (1Kings 1:29) WOW! Every distress! We know David certainly had plenty of them. So, how should you and I respond to our greatest difficulties? Psalm 46:10, gives us a hint. The Lord says, “Be still and know that I am God.” When are you the most still? When you’re dead! Try and irritate a dead man. He could care less! Slap him! He won’t even look at you. Why? He’s dead! Paul encouraged us, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Galatians 2:20) Die to your attachment to how your life should turn out, and be still and know God has your life in His hands.
Would you like to live forever? How many of you want the resurrection life Jesus promised? Those of us, who know Him, certainly do! But, you can’t have resurrection life, until you’re dead! Paul the apostle said, “I die monthly—when the bills come in?” “I die yearly—during tax season?” No, he said, “I die daily!” How often do you die? As little as possible? How can you tell if you’re dead to your own will? Consider these answers: When you’re asleep in a boat in the middle of a storm. When someone slaps you on one cheek, and you turn the other one. When all hell is breaking lose outside, and you’re in total peace because you’re letting Heaven have its way inside. Resurrection Life! It’s what we all want. Die to self and receive it!
Your Biggest Breakthrough
All of us are hoping for a breakthrough. But, what’s the biggest breakthrough each of us really need? Paul the Apostle knew exactly what it was, “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy…” (Acts 20:24a) If something moves you, distracts you, unsettles you, then you can’t finish your race with joy. If you count your life dear to yourself, if you’re more concerned about yourself than God or other people, then you can’t finish your race with joy. The biggest breakthrough you and I really need is called, “none of these things move me!” The Bible says we should “…be steadfast, immoveable!” (1Corinthians 15:58) God’s not trying to change your circumstances. He’s trying to change how you respond to them.
Learning to Walk
Walking is the art of balance. It’s learning to correct a continuous state of imbalance. “Walking,” like life, is a constant “mid-course correction.” It’s a continuous acknowledgement of “I was wrong, but I want to make it right.” Isn’t it funny, that after all of the times we’ve blown it in our lives, we still have trouble admitting when we’re wrong? If we would just realize admitting we’re wrong shouldn’t be deflating. It should be the most positive thing we can do. Walking is a continuous state of admitting, “I was heading in the wrong direction, but now I’m getting back on track.” No one begins by mastering the “art of walking.” Our first steps in life are always wobbly and unstable. But, as time goes by, our walk becomes steady. Eventually . . . we can even carry others.
Lost in the Woods
When my daughter Deborah was about six years old, we went for a walk in the Oregon woods. It wasn’t until it was getting dark that I realized I was lost. Sadly, it doesn’t take much for me to get lost. So I said, “Deborah, I think we’re lost!” She said, “I know how to get us back.” I looked at her for a very long time. She was 6 years old, 3 foot nothing! She could barely tie her shoes. So I said, “Are you absolutely sure, Deborah?” She said, “Yep!” And so, as it was getting really dark, she took me by the hand and led me out of those “dark, scary woods.” It was the beginning of a significant revelation: the next generation will be leading us before we know it, and it will be a good thing.
How does someone have a healthy walk with God? The Bible says, walk in the light! “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” (Ephesians 5:8, NKJV) It sounds simple, but how do you walk in the light? Our walk with God is founded on either good or bad habits. And these habits can only be formed by disciplines. Our desires will come and go, but our habits will stick. Why? Because our habits will affect our future! The balanced Christian life is the disciplined Christian life! God can’t change your life until He can change the habits of your life. “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16) God has provided everything we need for each of us to walk in the Spirit.
Former prisoner of war under the Nazi’s, Corrie ten Boom, was once asked if it was difficult for her to remain humble. Her reply was simple, “When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, on the back of a donkey, and everyone was waving palm branches and throwing garments on the road, and singing praises. Do you think that for one moment the donkey thought any of that was for him?” Everything we have has been given to us. Therefore, we have no reason to glory in ourselves. When we are truly humble, we understand how undeserving we are of the many blessings we’ve been given. The Bible says, “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life.” (Proverbs 22:4) “The branch that bears the most fruit is bent the lowest to the ground.”
Values to Live By
Before I began to pastor fifteen years ago, my wife Suzie and I traveled for 18 years, speaking in hundreds of churches. What we saw changed our lives and shaped our future. The healthiest qualities, seen in the healthiest people and churches, became the best representations of Jesus Christ we’d ever seen. They became our church values, but I believe they are also great values for each of us to live by. Here they are: Be grateful for who God is, and what He’s done for you. That will fill your life with joy. Allow God’s Spirit and Word to make you whole, so that you can fulfill His destiny for you. Following Jesus is more about action than words. Be committed to love, give, serve, and honor those God brings your way. And lastly, be accountable to others, so that you can finish well.
The Giving Line
What line are you living in: the receiving line, or the giving line? All of us have received many blessings from God. The Bible says, “…He gives to all life, and breath, and all things…” (Acts 17:25, KJV) If we see our lives from God’s perspective, at the end of the day, we’ll realize that none of us have been short-changed. All of us have been overpaid. Each of us has a blessed life! But, it takes faith to trust God—to take Him at His Word. When we stand before Him and see how pure His heart is, we’ll realize He wanted to bless us all along. Don’t spend your life in the receiving line, Jesus promised you’d be happier in the giving line.Having your hands up with gratitude is far more enjoyable than living with your hands out.
Everyone’s important to God. We’re all created in His image and likeness—given precious deposits of His character, personality and gifting. Therefore, everyone should be important to us—and treated with respect. Since God believes in honoring, it should be one of our values as well. The Bible says, “Honor all people.” (1Peter 2:17, NKJV) This word “honor” literally means, “to prize, to revere, to value.” Often prejudice comes from lack of honor and respect. We devalue someone else for our own benefit. Honoring and respecting others would completely eliminate prejudice from the planet. But though we honor others, we should never take honor away from God. Likewise, we should never focus on receiving honor for ourselves. In that way, honor is like chewing gum. Enjoy it briefly, but don’t swallow it.
At one point, not too long ago, the Biography Channel examined the lives of people who had genuine accomplishments, now they focus primarily on celebrities. Many people confuse fame with honor. Madonna is famous. Mother Theresa is honored. Newspaper editor Horace Greeley once wrote, “Fame is a vapor. Popularity is an accident and money takes wings. The only thing that endures is character. And the only thing worth honoring is character.” At one point in history, Nero was the Roman Emperor: the most famous man of his day. At the same time, Paul the Apostle was an obscure Jewish Christian leader who wrote a few letters. Virtually no one had heard of Paul, while everybody had heard of Nero. How ironic that, two thousand years later, we name our sons Paul, and our dogs Nero.
Habits That Will Change Your Life
Here are three habits that will change your life: First, come into God’s presence every day. The key to an effective prayer life is to “just show up.” And when you show up, stay there long enough to create a memory. Satan can’t steal a memory of God’s presence. Second, read the Word of God, the Bible, consistently. Ask God to open the eyes of your understanding so that what your head reads, impacts your heart. And number three. Plan your day. List seven things that you’re committed to do today. Why? Because structure creates growth! The Bible says, “…continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of…you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2Timothy 3:14-15, NKJV)