We live in a time where we have never moved at a faster pace and yet accomplished so little. Do you ever wonder about the time we spend and what we spend it on in a typical day? The US Bureau of Labor Statistics says that in an average day, employed people between the ages of 25 to 54 with children spend it doing;
Simply put, our lives will show others if God is in us or not. What do people see? Are you honest enough with yourself to ask that question or will you explain away why you chose to neglect God and his ways? Dr. Lee Roberson said, “The commands of Christ are sharp and clear, but the response of his people is often measured and lifeless.” Measured and lifeless…some are just going through the motions if they go at all. Where is the desire to please God? Where is the desire to be obedient?
The Expositors Bible Commentary says “As obedience is practiced, so God's love matures in us.” If we exhibit a lack of obedience to the direction of God, we can never expect to mature in him. You will always struggle as long as you choose to be disobedient. Where are you when the time to “assemble” comes? What does your personal study time look like? Do you have a personal and active prayer life? That phrase in verse 5 is telling: “hereby know we that we are in him.” What do your actions portray? Enjoy your coffee.
Love you all,
Recently, I was reading a book written on prayer by John R. Rice. In that book, there is a chapter entitled “Why Pray.” As I read this chapter, I kept asking myself, “Why Not Pray?” Are our intentions when we pray God-centered or self-centered? Do we spend an adequate amount of time in prayer? How much is enough? The easy answer to those questions would be, “I can always pray more.” While that may be true, do we spend time in prayer the way God intended us to?
I went back to the original question of “Why Pray” and found where Mr. Rice listed some compelling reasons to pray and pray as God intended. Here they are:
Are there times in your life that you may have reached the place where giving up seemed the best option? The day or days had not been what you expected and you grew weary? Ever think that maybe Christians should not have to face adversity, but from God’s perspective, suffering is what produces faithful Christians? If we all had lives without opposition, trials, or pain, we’d never really know God because we’d never need Him. Like it or not, adversity teaches us more about the Lord and the realization that our strength is small but God’s strength is mighty. In Proverbs 24:10, we read “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” Life's challenges will increase our faith in God if we look to him for strength.
In 1940, Britain stood alone against Nazi Germany. Hitler was marching through Europe and the invasion of Britain seemed imminent. Times were bleak and there were several leading British politicians who advocated suing for peace. Winston Churchill inspired the nation to fight on and achieve total victory – whatever the cost. In a speech on the floor of the House of Commons, Churchill said this: “We shall defend our island; whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.” Five years later, British troops took part in the allied landings in Normandy and over a year later completed the liberation of Europe. Britain went from standing alone to helping defeat one of the greatest demagogues of that century.
There may be times we feel we stand alone against the world but rest assured that as believers, we are never alone. Joshua 1:9 says this: “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” There is no place a child of God is alone. There is no adversity you face that God will not fight the battle for you. This day that we live in presents the greatest opportunity to tell others about the saving grace of God. We gain strength and wisdom through our battles and realize that victory has already been won. Churchill went on to say this: "Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'" I look forward to what tomorrow holds. We should want to finish strong for God and grow in his grace and when our time on earth is done, they will say that they have fought a good fight, they have finished their course, and they have kept the faith: truly this was their finest hour. Enjoy your coffee.
Love you all,
Opening day! Play ball! It is that time of year again where everyone who follows baseball has hope. Will the Chicago Cubs win their first World Series since 1908? Is it the smell of a fresh cut outfield or someone enticing you to “get your red hots here” that brings out the passion in you? In Philippians 3:4-14, Paul writes about “knowing” God. Paul was passionate about his relationship with God. Being passionate about something is in each of us. Passion is defined as an intense desire toward something or someone and that can apply to just about any area in our life. Passion ought to appear in the believer’s life as well. We should be passionate about our Savior. We should seek to know this Jesus who saved us.
Oftentimes, we claim to know people but do we really know them? Have we invested the time it takes to “know” someone? Some have head knowledge but not heart knowledge about Jesus. He is not the “man upstairs” he is the world’s Savior, the virgin-born Son of God who accepted death in our place and then rose again to sit at the Father’s right hand. Who is this Jesus that willingly died? Why did He give His life? Ask yourself:
1. How well do I “know” God?
Charles Stanley wrote, “Oftentimes people get saved and remain satisfied with this first step—knowing a few facts about God is enough for them. If they are asked, 'Do you know God?' most will say that they do. But there’s a vast difference between knowing facts about God and personally relating to Him. Believers should continually be growing closer to the Father—always learning more about whom He is and what He considers important.” In other words, though we’ve gained Heaven, we can miss the treasure of experiencing Christ as Lord. How deep are we willing to go to know God? Are you willing to count your life outside of serving God as trash?
2. Are you willing to count your life outside of serving God as trash?
After listing his accomplishments, Paul said in verse 8 that he “counts them but dung.” do you consider what you do and who you are trash compared to who God is and what he has done? The more Paul got intimate with God the more intimate he wanted to be. The more Paul got to “know” God, the less he cared about himself. Paul realized it was not about him but his life was all about God. He was going "to press" toward the high calling of God in Jesus Christ.
3. What are you pressing for…moving forward with God or living on the past?
Although the exact number of tries has been debated, ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 attempts, it’s safe to say Thomas Edison tried and failed many times before he successfully created his light bulb. When questioned about his repeated failures, he said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Paul said in verse 14 “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul forgot the past, forgot his agenda, and pressed toward knowing and serving God in God’s way. Living in the past is detrimental and serves no purpose. Knowing God personally gives us a will and desire to press on. The calling of God far exceeds any calling this life has to offer. How passionate are you about knowing and serving God Enjoy your coffee.
Love you all,
Gary W. Hall, Pastor of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church.