Dinner’s Ready

“I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people. But let them not return to their foolish ways.”

Psalm 85:8 NLT

“Come to the table, dinner’s ready.” For most of us, that would be an important statement. We would tune-in and come immediately! The older we get the more we appreciate a good, home-cooked meal.

But when a couple of four-year-olds are engrossed in a cartoon, stopping to eat a meal is a chore. They tend to tune out “adult talk.” They don’t even hear it until it is repeated the second or third time. And then they whine, “Oh, do we have to?!”

For almost two months our daughter, her husband, their four-year-old twins, and sixteen-month old have been living with us while transitioning from their Nashville, Tennessee home to their new home in Bryant, Arkansas.

I’m pretty sure the twins hear just fine. Listening is another issue! Listening requires focus and concentration. Listening to Mom or Dad means having to do something in response. It’s just more convenient not to listen.

Does God speak? Absolutely! He speaks through the Bible, His Spirit, circumstances, and other people!

Why don’t we hear Him then? Perhaps it is the same reasons children do not “hear” their parents.

First, we don’t listen to God because we will have to stop doing what we are so engrossed in doing at the moment. It’s inconvenient.

Second, we don’t listen because if we hear God speak, it will always require a response. We will have to come to what Henry Blackaby in Experiencing God calls “a crisis of belief.”

Dr. Blackaby explains the process of “Experiencing God” this way: 1) God is always working around us, 2) God desires a relationship with us, 3) He invites us to be involved in what He is doing, 4) GOD SPEAKS, 5) a crisis of belief results, 6) adjust your life, then 7) experience & obey God.

As Psalm 85:6 says, either we carefully listen to what God is saying, adjust, do it, and experience His peace or we return to our own folly of doing things our own way.

Has God spoken to you? Are you in a “crisis of belief?” Are you willing to adjust your life to obey and experience God?

“Dinner’s ready!” So what will it be? Will you keep watching that silly cartoon or experience a God-cooked meal of obeying and experiencing Him?

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“I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people. But let them not return to their foolish ways.”

Psalm 85:8 NLT

 

Sandwiches or Burgers

Of course they wanted the $6.50 carbonated concoction in a plastic cup with a striped, spiraling straw! The drink would be quickly slurped. Mom or Dad would have to then carry it around the rest of the day. Then once home, it would be placed on a shelf to be forgotten forever.

Oh, and don’t forget the $9.00 hamburger and the $5.00 French fries! And then multiply that by four! For just under $100 the family could sit at a picnic table, under vapors of mist in a crowded amusement park on a hot summer day, and enjoy a lovely meal.

But we were mean parents. We packed a picnic lunch and left it in an ice chest in the car. At lunch time we had sandwiches, chips, Kool-Aid, iced tea, and fruit!

At the time I was a seminary student in Fort Worth. We didn’t have the money to afford the expensive Six Flags fare. Our kids had to suffer a picnic lunch in the parking lot.

How could we be so cruel to our preschoolers? We had the long term perspective which our preschool son and daughter did not understand at the time. (Now they have their own preschoolers! Hee-Hee.)

We knew we had to eat tomorrow, next week, and next month. That $100 would go a long way to put food on the table for many days to come.

So have you taken the long view or the short view to life? Is this life all there is to it? If so, then go for the spiral straw and expensive burgers. But if everyone lives forever either in heaven or hell, then that changes everything!

The Bible says,

 “For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and the pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from the world.”

1 John 2:16 NLT

The short-term view is centered on self. The long-term view in centered on the Father in heaven and eternal life in His Son Jesus Christ our Savior. I’m committed to the eternal view!

Father, forgive us for looking only to the stuff of right-now. Keep us refocused on eternal objectives which please You.

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Amen.

The Big Lie

He had it all. Wealthy, he rarely denied himself whatever he wanted. Young, the vitality and vigor of young-adulthood had not escaped him. Leader, people respected his opinion and looked to him to provide visionary goals.

Something was missing. He ran and fell on his knees in front of Jesus asking:

“Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”

Luke 18:18-19 ESV

He wanted to live forever in a wonderful place where the evils of this world are absent!

But, the young man believed the big lie … that humans are basically good.

Yes, people can do good things. We can always find someone to compare ourselves to and look good.

But in an absolute sense no one is good.

“All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

Romans 3:12 ESV

Jesus told the young man that only God is good. Jesus was not questioning His own goodness, for indeed Jesus is God in the flesh and lived a perfect life. Jesus was questioning the big lie that so many believe, that a person can be good in an absolute sense.

The second big lie is that God will not send a good person to hell. That is, a good person by our definition. If a person existed who was good in an absolute sense, then of course God would not allow him to go to hell. But that good person is God alone revealed in Jesus Christ. No other person meets that standard.

Jesus said of Satan,

“He is a liar and the father of lies.”

John 8:44 ESV

So if no person is good in an absolute sense, then how can one have eternal life?

Jesus said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

Luke 18:27 ESV

It is impossible for any person to have eternal life based on goodness or religion.

Eternal life is available by receiving Jesus Christ as the sacrifice for your lack of goodness.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

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Trust Jesus today for salvation!

 

How to Plow

“If you tell Trigger to ‘Gee’ he will go right. Tell him to ‘Ha’ then he will go left. Keep your eyes on that fence post up there. Keep ole’ Trigger headed toward it and plow a straight line.”

Even with the modern conveniences of tillers and tractors available to him, my grandfather chose to plow his gardens with a big plow horse named ‘Trigger.’

Papa Cooper, my mother’s Dad, owned 40 acres out in the country. He harnessed Trigger to the plow one spring day to break up his gardens.

“Hey, Denny, come on out here and help me.” He gave me the instructions to plow, put the reins over my shoulder, and I did it! I didn’t like the idea at the time because it seemed like work. Like most preteens, I was allergic. But today it is one my most precious memories!

Hands on the plow, watching the fence post, remembering to say ‘Gee’ and ‘Ha,’ not stumbling on the freshly broken ground, and listening to Papa’s instructions. Plowing with Trigger required a lot concentration.

Looking backwards with all that going on did not enter my mind. But if I had looked back, everything would have gone awry!

“Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’”

Luke 9:62

Jesus gives his disciples the command, “Follow Me.” He is uncompromising when it comes to having Him as our first loyalty before everything else in life. But the potential disciple said he ‘first’ needed to go say goodbye to family and friends.

Jesus knew it wasn’t a simple goodbye, but something that would be an ongoing distraction. The potential follower would continually look back in regret or nostalgia instead of relentlessly following Him.

To put one’s hand to the plow is an action that takes place in an instant. Looking back is an action that happens over and over again. You cannot follow Jesus always looking back wondering what might have been if you did something else.

The word ‘fit’ means to be useful in a practical way. To be a disciple of Jesus requires a focus, that is laser sharp. To decide to follow Jesus, yet continuously wondering about all the ‘shoulda’s,’ ‘coulda’s,’ and ‘woulda’s’ makes you practically useless to God’s kingdom.

Get to plowin’!

“Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’”

Luke 9:62

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Stay focused on Jesus!