Many times in our Christain walk, we face things that we believe are unique to our particular situation. I mean, no one else has ever faced or experienced what I have. Right? Wrong!
Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “Whatever has happened—that’s what will happen again; whatever has occurred—that’s what will occur again. There’s nothing new under the sun.” Did you notice the last phrase; “There’s nothing new under the sun?” Which means that life is basically the same no matter what generation, century or contient you are living in?
Which brings me to the point of this blog. I have struggled for years with a consistent devotional life. But someone more gifted and more spiritual than I has said it best. Today, someone posted on Facebook a quote from Martin Luther. “It is a good thing to let prayer be the first business of the morning and the last at night. Guard yourself carefully against those false, deluding ideas which tell you, ‘Wait a little while. I will pray in an hour; first I must attend to this or that.’ Such thoughts get you away from prayer into other affairs which so hold your attention and involve you that nothing comes of prayer that day.”
Every day without fail, when I decide to pray, something “urgent” begins to pull be away. I get the same thoughts as Martin Luther. (Remember, there is nothing new under the sun?) The thought pray later when you aren’t so busy is a daily temptation. When you feel like praying the least, is when you should pray the most. [Jefferson Bethke]
We have all experienced it. At the birth of a baby, someone might say, “He has his mother’s eyes, or nose, or chin”, whatever. At a family reunion, someone might remark, “Doesn’t he remind you of his Uncle Fred?” An angry mother might yell, “You are just like your father!”
When my grandson visited me for the first time at my church, several people commented, We don’t have to ask whose grandson he is! He looks just like his granddad. ” You may or may not resemble your relatives but as Christ-followers, people should be able to see the likeness to our Savior, the Lord, Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father…” John 14:9
When we bcome a part of His family, we begin to look like Him. Everday we should become more and more like Him. We bear the family resemblance right now; we will one day be like Him more fully. “We don’t know what we shall become in the future. We only know that, if reality were to break through, we should reflect his likeness, for we should see him as he really is!” 1 John 3:2
Do people notice your resemblance to the Savior? They should. In Acts 4:13 we read, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” [Emphasis added]
Yesterday I watched the video “When the game stands tall.” (Highly recommended) The De La Salle Spartans (High School football) have just completed an incredible 151 consecutive victories and 12-straight state championships but it ended when they played against Bellevue on Saturday, September 4, 2004, in a 39-20 loss.
Needless to say, the team was more than upset. The assistant coach gave them awesome advice. “Don’t let a game define who you are. Let the way you live your life do that.”
I remember years ago, one of my children coming to me with a broken toy and asking me, “Can you fix it?” If it was a simple fix, no problem. But sometimes it was unrepairable. As a retired pastor, I look back over 40+ years and remember people’s lives that needed “fixing.” Divorce, abuse, addictions, criminal behavior, etc. In my humanity, I sometimes wondered if there any hope for them to rebuild or restore.
But then I remembered God promising a elderly couple that they would have a son. The couple understandably thought this was impossible. God’s response? I am the Lord! There is nothing too difficult for me.” Genesis 18:13-15 CEV [See also Jeremiah 32:17 ; Jeremiah 32:27
The words from the Hymn “I will serve Thee” says “…Heartaches, broken pieces , Ruined lives are why You died on Calvary. Your touch was what I longed for. You have given life to me.”
Listen to the Cathedrals sing this great hymn.
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” Genesis 28:16
Jacob was forced to leave his family after receiving the blessing of God from his father, Isaac. He ran as a result of his broken relationship with his brother, Esau, who threatened to kill him. He was alone after leaving his family and was sleeping in the wilderness area at Bethel. It is here that Jacob encountered God personally for the very first time. This encounter with God made him realize that God was in this place, even though he had not been aware of it. God had to remove Jacob from all that was of comfort to him in order to reveal Himself to Jacob.
How often we go about our daily routine and fail to recognize that God is in the place where we are? Often our problem is we are not expecting God to reveal Himself in routine life we live. When you woke this morning, did you think, “Today, I will make every effort to be aware of His Presence in my life?” If God is Omnipresent [and He is], be assured He is with you, even in the most trying circumstances. God often must do radical things in the life of the servant in whom He has special plans:
- Jacob had to be separated from his family
- Jacob had to have all physical resources removed
He was alone with God at Bethel; nothing else could distract him from an encounter that would change his life. God wants to change you. Today look for God to intersect your life. Become aware of His presence.
My father was hooked on old western movies! One of his favorite actors was Randolph Scott. So much so, he wanted to name my youngest brother after him. Luckily my mother intervened, somewhat, and he ended up with the name, Randall Scott.
Names are important. Whether you are stereotyping a group of people or calling someone a name to demean their character. Name-calling is usually derogatory. Such is the case found in Acts 11:26 “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” That “name” was used a term for mocking this new ‘sect’ of the Jewish religion. That attitude of cynicism has made a full circle and is now militantly being attacked.
My father told me that that having a good name was something to strive for. He said he could go into our small town and get a loan from any bank just because of his name. “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches… Proverbs 22:1 Do you even care how those around you view your name? I’m not talking about the actual name. Mine is Gary which I share with millions in America.
A good name really speaks to your integrity. It’s about your reputation and the character you have inside. It identifies who you are from a moral and ethical standpoint. Essentially it is what you are all about. Three reasons why a good name is better to pursue than great riches:
- A good name provides stabilityWhen you have a good name people can trust you. That trust is a stabilizing factor in your relationship with them.
- A good name is eternalRiches are fleeting.A good name however is theoretically eternal. How many men and women of history are still being spoken of in a positive light? Wouldn’t it be special if that could be you?
- A good name brings loving favorThe ending phrase of Proverbs 22:1 says, “…loving favor rather than silver and gold.” People will love you for having integrity. They will appreciate you for showing kindness, mercy and attention to their needs. They will stand up and support you when you are bombarded with unwarranted attacks.
Live in a manner worthy of the calling with which you were called: Eph 4:1