Bad Day?

bible.com/72/2co.12.10.hcsb

I can’t even imagine what kind of life the Apostle Paul led. We read about his exploits in the book of Acts, and are appropriately awed by all the things he said and did. I know I am amazed at his evangelical prowess, his ability to argue from the Old Testament and from his experience as an Apostle proving that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. But then there are verses like this that prove being an Apostle is not an easy job. In fact it is physically and emotionally challenging. Yet He speaks of his physical trials not as detriments but as encouragements. He takes on the attitude that the bad stuff that happens to him is actually working out for good, and is working out for a good end. I just don’t know if I can be that positive. I mean, I had oncall last Sunday.

I was called in three times to deal with patient issues. I was ok with the first and managed the second, but by the time I had my third call-in, I was upset. I had had enough and didn’t want to have to deal with another emotionally and spiritually troubled person that day. Lord forgive me. I went in angry, only to run in to an awful tragedy. And I repented. God needed me in this situation too. Paul would probably have been delighted to have another opportunity to minister the gospel. I wasn’t Paul.

Even though I was tired and done with the day, God still needed me. I was weak and tired, but God strengthened me to do ministry. Are you having a bad day? Are you suffering from circumstances beyond your control? Remember this verse. When I am weak, then am I strong. His power is made perfect in weakness, because it is His glory, not our own, that shines through. It is when we stop depending on our own strength and rely on His, His hope and promises, that we truly shine for Him. I hope you are having a good day, but if not, remember He still loves you.

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Why go to Church when the weather is bad?

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The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets!”
(Pro 22:13)

This is an unavoidable problem like illness. Weather can be severe enough to keep anyone from attending church, whether it be extreme snow and ice, or severe thunder and lightning. There are times when no one should be outside. If the weather is too serious to even creep out of your door, then don’t come. Something as simple as dark can be a hazard for someone who cannot drive at night.

But like illness, weather can be an excuse. Don’t be like the one who peeks outside, and if the weather is uncomfortable, decides to stay in bed. Bad weather will come  and go, but don’t start telling yourself that I can’t go to church today because it might rain, or, “It sure looks cloudy out there. I better stay home.” Honestly, for those able-bodied this should rarely be a reason to avoid going to church.

Using this as an excuse is actually much more revealing. One who stays home because “it just doesn’t look good outside” is someone looking for a reason. Honestly, there have been days when snow was piled up a foot or two deep, but I went over and unlocked the church. I can’t wait to get to church on Sunday morning. It just feels right to me, and if I have to weather a bit of weather to do it, that just makes it a challenge. The non-Christian is certainly discouraged by unfavorable weather, but a warm and inviting Church can conquer weather.

We Cannot Imagine

The Lord Speaks

I’ve got 99 problems, but the Lord is bigger than all of them. Job could have said that (and did by the end of his book). So can we. Why do we appeal to God when we suffer, because we know, without thinking, that the Lord exceeds the extent of our suffering, He is bigger and more powerful than anything we can ask or imagine. No sooner than we conceive a limit for God, He exceeds it. And yet, in our limitedness, our Gini tide, God does not look down with contempt, but with the love of the vastness of His nature. Doesn’t God deserve your attention and respect today?

Inconvenienced For Christ!

A few weeks ago, I was talking about getting volunteers for our VBS program and asking any and all to help out. Anyone who helped I know would be “inconvenienced” for the week, but only that they might introduce some small child to the Lord. What a task! A responsibility to witness to the truth of the gospel is ours, and what greater opportunity than VBS!

What did you say?

Many chose not to be “inconvenienced for Christ.” I know the reasons, because I’ve used them myself. But, I fear that these will be the testimony of millions before the throne of Christ.

He’s coming you know. He’s coming for you. He will ask you to give an account for the talents you’ve been given. (Romans 14:11-12) “For it is written, “As certainly as I live, declares the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will praise God. Consequently, each of us will give an account of himself to God.”

What will you say?

You might believe that the missionaries and ministers fulfill the great sacrifices. You might think that the only the professionals can accomplish the great missions. “I just don’t have the time or training.” Nonsense! Did the Lord only call the missionaries and ministers? No.

Every Christian is called to ministry (Rom 8:28 “And we know that he works all things together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose”), for we have all been tasked with the ministry of reconciliation (2Co 5:18 “All of this comes from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation”), bringing this lost world under the subjection and saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (may His Name be praised). We have a duty to our King to serve Him, wherever we are. This call isn’t just for religious nuts, or the slightly dazed and confused. It’s time we proclaimed the truth about Jesus!

But you’re tired. You like your life the way it is. Christ will only get in the way, mess things up, be too much of a bother, an inconvenience not to be pursued. Sadly, many will die with these words on their lips. (Luke 12:19-20) “”Soul, you’ve stored up plenty of good things for many years. Take it easy, eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.” But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Now who will get the things you’ve accumulated?’”

What will you say?

You see, Jesus isn’t just for the super-religious. Life is too short to be a spectator. Jesus isn’t for the pious, the perfect, the morally pure. (Mar 2:17) “When Jesus heard that, he said to them, “Healthy people don’t need a physician, but sick ones do. I did not come to call righteous people, but sinners.”” Jesus calls you to come to Him, to become a “beloved disciple” whether you feel you deserve it or not. Are you willing to be “inconvenienced for Christ?”

What will you say?

It’s Hot!

Now that’s some news! There’s just something about summer. It’s always hot. But it wasn’t that long ago that it was cold. And then we wished for summer weather. Well, your prayers have been answered. It’s hot! Do we have cause to complain? No, not really. It’s a trait of human nature, and a trait that God dislikes.

Ancient Israel mastered the fine art of complaining. When they were liberated from Egypt, were they thrilled? For about a day. When they reached the Red Sea, they “murmured” against Moses. “Murmur”-ing is a quiet form of complaining. When they crossed the sea of dry land, watched the Egyptians drowned, and finally walked as free men, they started murmuring against Moses because they had no food. God heard them, sent them Manna (bread from Heaven), and they filled their bellies, that is, until they tired of Manna. “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost – also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” (Numbers 11:5, 6) So the Lord sent quail to give them meat to eat. But God was so angry at their ingratitude that He struck them with a severe plague! “Again and again they put God to the test; they vexed the Holy One of Israel.” (Psalms 78:41) Thus we receive the warning in 1 Corinthians 10:10, “And do not grumble, as some of them did – and were killed by the destroying angel.”

These are chilling words on a hot day. We can find a million things to complain about, but what does God think about it? God is the one who constructed the seasons, both the heat and the cold. In fact, if you go back into the Scriptures, you might find that winter and summer are consequences of the flood. Before the flood, the world was a temperate paradise. A layer of water in the upper atmosphere protected the world from the sun’s harmful radiation.1 But with the flood, that water, and the water under the earth flooded the surface (Genesis 7:11) and exposed the ground to direct sunlight, and the extremes of the seasons. And why did God send the flood? “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” (Genesis 6:5) So whose fault is it that it is so hot? Ours, because we are still wicked. We still wander away from God, and resist His will for our lives.

So what is it that God wants from us? He doesn’t want anything from us. He wants us, just as we are, to love Him, just as He is. He is the bringer of rain, to cool hot days, and of clouds, to shield from the sun. He is the Grower of green things, to feed you and to please you with its beauty. He loves you in so many different ways, but most importantly, He sent His own Son to you, to die for you, to pay for your wickedness in His Father’s eyes, and finally to rise again from death, to invite you to Him, if you are willing. His grace truly is amazing.

The path to Him is very simple:

Believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He died and rose again.

Confess that belief to others.

Repent of your sins before God and change your heart with His help.

Be immersed for the forgiveness of your sins, and receive the presence of the Holy Spirit and the gift of eternal life.

Grow in Christ, through prayer, Bible study, time spent with Him, attendance and participation in and with Church.

Stop complaining. It’s always going to be hot in summer. But it sure beats Hell!

1 C. Theodore Schwarze, The Marvel of Earth’s Canopies (Chicago, IL: Good News, 1957), 24ff.