Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What Will You Not do Without?

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  -Romans 12:1 (KJV)
Occasionally during a crucial moment in my Sunday sermon someone’s cell phone starts ringing.  Pockets are searched, a purse might be emptied, and there is a general feeling of “Oh please make this stop” in the air where peaceful worship had prevailed.  After what seems like a long time the phone is recovered and turned off.   My usual strategy in these moments is to go on preaching as if I can’t hear it.  “Poor Brother Dan.” people probably think. “He’s losing his hearing.” No, my hearing is fine; I’m simply trying to cope with yet another nuisance created by the age of technology.

Millions of people carry cell phones and we would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t own one.  Most of us have become so dependent on our phones that if we forget them we turn the car around and go back to get them.  Truly we have come to believe we cannot function without our cell phones.

Consider what would happen if we resolved that there are certain aspects of our faith we will not do without.  What if we decided we would not leave the house in the morning unless we have prayed and spent time in God’s Word?  Imagine what would happen if we determined to be Christ-like at all times?  Picture an outlook on life so characterized by the love of the Lord in us that we begin to see others the way Christ sees them.  

Such personal sacrifice would be revolutionary in today’s world.  Instead of looking out for ourselves and our needs we would become more attuned to the needs of others.  Such love compels us to reach out in the name of the Lord and become those living, breathing, and walking sacrifices spoken of Scripture.  We would become energized to walk forward in vibrant faith each day.  Instead of being self-centered we would become Christ-centered.  Rather than be bitter we would be joyful.  A pessimistic outlook would be replaced by one of optimism over the blessings the Lord has in store for us.  When we become living sacrifices for Christ we are empowered to rise up from the ashes of defeat and experience the true power of God’s Spirit.  Such spiritual power is like cool, clear water to a parched and weary soul.  

Do you desire this fresh touch from God?  Try putting your phone on silent for a while and get back into God’s Word and prayer.  You will be astounded at the results.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

God’s Will in What Seems Impossible

6And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.  7And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it.  8And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.  -Genesis 18:6-8 (KJV) 

My grandfather, who has been deceased for a number of years, continued to live an active life well into his 70’s.  He stayed busy working around his small farm in eastern Kentucky and always enjoyed visiting with family and friends.  I am told my grandfather went to see the doctor for a physical and the doctor asked him if he was experiencing any health problems.  “Just one,” Granddad replied, “anytime I run up the hill behind the barn my heart beats very fast.” I don’t know exactly what the doctor told him, but it may have involved advising him to be careful about running up the hill as this will indeed make one’s heart beat faster. 

The Bible says in Genesis 18 when Abraham received the three angelic visitors he “ran” to his herd and selected a calf to slaughter for the meal.  Remember that Abraham was 99 years old when this took place – approximately 20 years older than my grandfather when he used to run up the hill behind the barn.  No doubt Abraham’s heart beat fast as well.  Yet, I believe Abraham’s heart rate increased not only as a result of exertion, but of excitement over what the Lord was doing in his life.  After all the years of waiting for God’s promise to be fulfilled something was finally about to happen.  But what was it going to be?  The angels revealed how one year from then a child would be born to Sarah, Abraham’s wife.  We see the miracle God was doing, for Sarah herself was around 90 at the time of this pronouncement.  So stunned was she when she heard the words of the angel that she laughed (Genesis 18:12).   

Let’s not judge Sarah too harshly.  How many of us might have responded similarly?  In fact, many among us might have cried over such news.  Andrea and I have now arrived at what is known as middle age, and we cannot imagine starting all over again with a baby.  Yet, this was God’s plan for Abraham and Sarah.  The fact they were well beyond the years of having children presented no problem for God and the working of His will.  True to His Word, one year later Sarah, age 90, gave birth to a precious little baby boy (Genesis 21:1-7).  They named him Isaac, which sounds like the Hebrew word for “He laughs.” How appropriate was this name.  In a case such as this we might as well laugh and seek to enjoy the blessing God has set before us.   

What sort of blessings has God set before you today?  Do you mistakenly believe they are hardships?  What sort of seemingly impossibly situations are you facing?  Remember the same God who gave a baby to a man 100 years old and a woman who was 90 can work miracles in our lives today.  Stop doubting God and begin to walk by faith.  Learn to laugh in the face of the trials we face, for the Lord can and will transform them into blessings – in His time and according to His good purposes. 

Run, don’t walk, toward God’s will today.  (But be careful about that increased heart rate.)