One Thousand Golf Balls

My youngest brother, Brett, played golf occasionally.

One day he played golf with a friend. The friend took out three clubs, stepped up on the tee box, tossed a few blades of grass into the air, chose a club and hit an ideal shot!

Brett thought his friend occasionally played golf like he did, but obviously he played at another level! What Brett eventually found out was that his friend had played some college golf.

This is what struck my brother, in college his friend hit 1,000 golf balls every day!

In order to play at a level above others, an agonizing commitment to have the ideal swing must be pursued!

Paul said to young Timothy:

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

1 Timothy 6:12 ESV

The word “fight” is the source of our English word “agonize.” Timothy is urged to agonize (fight, contend) for the ideal agony (fight, contest).

The young man later admitted to Brett that hitting 1,000 golf balls every day proved agonizing.

We are to agonize to live ideally for that which is worth agonizing. The word “good” could translate as “ideal.” We cannot live a perfect life but we are to strive toward an idea!

Brett found out that the young man “burned-out.” Hitting 1,000 golf balls daily became so tedious he dropped out of competitive golf.

The goal must be worth the agony to achieve it. Golf did not meet that level of worthiness.

What goal did Paul challenge Timothy to reach? “Take hold” of the eternal life you are assured of in the gospel!

Paul did not tell Timothy to “take hold” of eternal life because he could lose it, but so he would be willing to do whatever it takes to fulfill his calling of telling others.

I like to play golf, but I think I would burn-out too if I had to hit 1,000 balls a day.

Here’s our challenge: How about 1,000 acts of obedience to the Spirit each day? Is the goal of taking others to heaven with us worth it?

Our Father, the goal of eternal life is worth whatever it takes so others can know it too. Empower us to be sensitive and obedient to your Spirit today.

The Gold Standard

Does your faith in God through Jesus Christ affect EVERYTHING you think and do?

This verse challenges us who follow Jesus to make sure EVERYTHING we do honors Jesus Christ whom we proclaim as our Lord and Savior:

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17 ESV

It starts in our minds. In Colossians 3:1-4, we are to set our minds on heavenly things. Christ gives us life! When this life is over, we will be with Jesus Christ. When He comes back, we will appear with Him! So, does the things your mind dwells on NOW honor him?

Then it must affect our actions. In Colossians 3:5-10, we are to change the way we react to people and the world around us. We all have idols that must be destroyed, put to death, removed from our actions … as we follow Jesus. Paul lists the idols of immorality, impure thoughts, coveting, anger, malice, slander, obscene talk, and lying. Have any of these become more important than Jesus?

The results must exhibit genuine evidence of a changed life! In Colossians 3:11-15, we are to demonstrate a whole new way of thinking and living. IF we follow Jesus, then these must uniquely characterize our lives: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Also included are bearing with one another and forgiving each other as the Lord forgives us! Above all put on love and let the peace of God rule your hearts!

Then sing! What? That’s right, sing! Colossian 3:16 says to let the word of Christ so occupy your hearts and minds, that you SING it!?

Then, there’s the Gold Standard, that which all else is measured. Colossians 3:17 says,

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Is Jesus honored in every word and deed? Does your speech, business, habits, attitudes, and reactions honor the Lord Jesus?

The Gold Standard for everything we do as we follow Jesus is: can we do it in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to Him in it!?

If you can’t put a great, big sign on “it” saying, “THIS HONORS MY LORD JESUS,” then why are you doing it?

Blip on a Screen

Don’t quote me out of context! We all know that a statement can be taken out of context and be used to mean something completely different than what was originally intended!

A famous example is quoting Matthew 27:5 in which Judas went and hanged himself and then attaching another verse out-of-context from Luke 10:37 from the Good Samaritan story of helping one’s neighbor “to go and do likewise.”

The context of all history, the universe, creation, and Scripture is Jesus. Wow, that’s hard for my little mind to step back and take in that big of a picture. In other words, Jesus puts everything in context.

When Jesus spoke to experts in the law, prophets, and Old Testament writings, he said,

You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.

John 5:39-40 NLT

The Scriptures point to Jesus! How awesome is that! Everything written in the Old Testament points forward to Jesus. All prophecy of the future points back to Jesus. All that God has been “up to” is summed up in Jesus. Real life, abundant life, and eternal life, are found not in writings, but in the person of Jesus!

As much as I love the written word of God found in the Bible, the source of eternal life is found in the Word become flesh, Jesus Christ.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega – the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come – the Almighty One.”

Revelation 1:8 NLT

So when Jesus tells us, “Follow Me,” we are to follow a real, living person who has always existed, is always with us now, and will always be Lord in the future!

Does my brief life on earth really have context? My life of 60, 70, 80, or 90 years is just a tiny speck on the radar screen of eternity. But following Jesus gives that “blip on a screen” context! HE gives meaning to life. HE puts the bookends on the book of my life!

That means my life is no longer insignificant! Following the eternal Jesus gives full meaning to life!

Our Father, thank-you! Fill us today with an awesome awareness of the context of our lives as we follow Jesus.

My Phone Has a Flashlight

What a great refreshing time of Revival we had together last week!! Now, what does God want to do next? We can be very certain of God in our lives, even though we are uncertain of what He will do next. Let’s live today with a

“life full of spontaneous, joyful uncertainty and expectancy!”

(A quote from “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers)

“My phone has a flashlight.” When I’m in a dark corner of the house and need more light, instead of going to track down a flashlight, I pull out my phone and turn on the flashlight app.

“My phone has a flashlight.” Imagine how that would have sounded 20 years ago! A telephone attached to your wall or sitting on your desk having a “flashlight” sounds ridiculous!

We have God living in us by His Holy Spirit. He has downloaded into every Christian a spiritual flashlight app.

For God is working in you to give you the desire and power to do what pleases him.

Philippians 2:13 NLT

Our understanding of the significance of that verse today is like our limited understanding of a cell phone 20 years ago. So ask God today to grow your understanding of this application to your life (“App”).

God wills or desires for us to love Him with our whole being and obey what He tells us to do. He has provided the power source to do it! He even gives us the “want-to” or desire to do it!

Most of us would not even think of leaving the house without our cell phone. Are we as dependent and aware of the Holy Spirit in us as we are of having our phone with us at all times?

Our Father, thank-you for your presence, power, and motivation to know you, love you, and do your will.