Two-a-Days

Two-a-day’s. Boy, do I have vivid memories of two-a-day’s! In grades 8-12 I played football.  Every August we had an early morning practice and a late afternoon practice for two weeks.  We called those grueling, exhausting, get into shape, felt like we were going to die, football practices two-a-days.

Many times I wanted to quit! But the old football coach’s slogan would ring in my head, Quitters never win! Winners never quit!

How many times have you heard someone say, “Don’t give up!”  How many times have you have said it yourself?

How many times have each of us thought about giving up or wanted to give up?

The apostle Paul certainly had many reasons to give up in his life.  He was run out-of-town, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, snake bit, flogged, imprisoned, rejected, chained, starved … well, you get the picture.

Yet in the letter to the Philippians, while he is in prison, he gives one of the greatest pep talks in Scripture!

And then in the letter to the Galatians he tells them, “Don’t give up!”

So, let’s not get tired  of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone – especially to those in the family of faith. Galatians 6:9-10 NLT

Monday, I was on the receiving end of those who didn’t give up. The Disaster Relief Team showed up at my house to cut, haul, trim, and clean up … for four hours!  Thanks Gary Moore, Bill Gibbons, Harry Partlow, Jay Dirksen, Glen Barr, Dave Finton, and David Merkle!

I was humbled to be served by a group of Christian brothers who expected nothing in return.

So, let’s not get tired of doing what is good. Give God the glory in it. God will see to the harvest of the work, so trust Him. Now, don’t give up! I know you will feel like giving-up sometimes, but take each opportunity God puts into your day today, and do something good to someone. Especially do good stuff for your fellow brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ!

Our Father, thank-you for doing good for us by sending Your Son Jesus to die for us and give us grace, forgiveness, and eternal life. Help us today to do good stuff just because we should and expect nothing in return. Thank-you for the promised harvest You will give in Your perfect timing.

Chirping

That cricket on my back porch is chirping loudly and persistently. He doesn’t let up. This has been something I’ve loved about moving to the Village. I can hear the sounds of nature instead of traffic!

Now, back to that cricket. Chir-rup, Chir-rup, Chir-rup, Chir-rup, Chir-rup … The joker’s chirpper just keeps on a-chirping!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12 ESV

I was meditating on that verse when I noticed the little chirpper chirping. What an insight! Our believing, trusting, rejoicing, hanging tough, and praying ought to be persistent just like that chirpper!

Rejoice in hope.

Hope is the confident assurance of our salvation and destiny of heaven! Re-joice, Re-joice, Re-joice, Re-joice, Re-joice, …!

Be patient in tribulation.

Patience is being able to see the big picture and hanging tough till the prize at the end is revealed in spite of the troubles along the way. Pa-tient, Pa-tient, Pa-tient, Pa-tient, Pa-tient, …! (Thanks Polly for the “Hang Tough” Sunday School lesson this past Sunday!)

Be constant in prayer.

Prayer is communication and communion with the Father in such a way He can tell us at any moment what to do and we do it. We mistake prayer often as only trying to get God to do what we want him to do. Pra-y, Pra-y, Pra-y, O-bey, O-bey, Pra-y, O-bey, …!

So, do some spiritual chirping today!

Our Father, we rejoice constantly that you have provided complete hope and confidence in our salvation through Your Son Jesus Christ! We hang tough with patience in the troubled times of life because we know how it all comes out in the end! We commune with you all day ready to obey at a moment’s notice.

What If?

  • What if you knew you could make a difference, would you do it?
  • If you could be certain a particular act of ministry or kindness would be effective, would you act?
  • Would you work differently for the Lord if you were assured God would use it to make an impact in someone’s life?

“Of course I would!” you might say, “but I don’t know what to do.”

Did God create you? “Of course,” you respond.

Did He put IN you a unique set of gifts, likes, abilities, personality, and experiences? “Well, yes He did,” you conclude.

THEN TAKE WHAT YOU LIKE TO DO AND DO IT! Its really that simple. God has already qualified you to work in His kingdom for a specialized task that you can do as well or better than anyone else.

A principle which has permeated by soul is the “cup of cold water in Jesus’s name” principle. It only has two simple parts:

  • Whatever it is I’m capable of doing can be used by God, even if its handing someone a cup of water.
  • Whatever I do, do it in “Jesus’ name,” do for Him and literally SPEAK his name in the process of doing it.

For God loves a griping giver, right? Nope! God loves a CHEERFUL giver. So as you give yourself away in Jesus’ name in cups of kindness and service, ATTITUDE makes all the difference in the world.  Be enthusiastic!

Well, brother Paul said it better than I did anyway. Read this verse and see if you get the same thing I did!

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. 1 Cor. 15:58 NLT

Our Father, we praise you that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. You created each of us with a unique set of capabilities. Thank-you for the opportunities you put right in front of us each day to serve you by serving people. Thank-you for the assurance that what we do for the “least of these” we do for your Son Jesus. What a joy to serve you with assurance that nothing we do for You is ever useless!

Oh, What a Day that Will Be!

Oh, what a day that will be! 

Imagine it.  Well, it’s hard to imagine. Every human speaking the name of JESUS in holy reverence. Those who cursed him, those who killed His followers, and those who swore He was just another shyster, will declare Him LORD!

Oh, what a day that will be!

In light of the great false religion of Islam, in light of their violent murders of Christians today, in light of the great deception of Satan in millions of people’s lives, all will declare with reverence the most holy name of JESUS as Lord.

Oh, what a day that will be!

All the wrongs of this world, every misunderstanding, each frayed emotion, all maimed bodies, every broken relationship, will be resolved in a moment when in unison JESUS is declared Lord of the universe.

Oh, what a day that will be! 

It will wash over us in sobering reality when some will instructed to stand to His right and some to His left. The separation will be for an eternity.  Some will hear, “Depart from me for I never knew you.”  Others will hear, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter your Master’s happiness.”

Oh, what a day that will be! 

A day of rejoicing beyond imagination for His followers. A day of unbridled worship like we have never known on this sin-sick earth.  A day of total reconciliation of all things.

Oh, what a day that will be!

As the great hymn says, “When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!” Click here for Hymn

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,

so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:9-11 ESV

 

I Don’t Do Drugs

I have never experimented with illegal drugs.  Of course I take the occasional over-the-counter stuff when needed and my doctor’s prescriptions.  But I have not experienced the drug-induced high of marijuana, cocaine, and the like which sadly, addict many people.

But yesterday, I was on a high.  But what a good one!  Six people, precious in God’s sight, came forward at invitation time. Three of them seeking baptism!  I shared the gospel with two of them yesterday afternoon.  They prayed, believing the Gospel wholeheartedly, and received Christ as Lord & Savior!

Dozens of people encouraged me that the messages are hitting home.  Even in the 2.5 hour Personnel Committee meeting, God gave me a sense that these people are passionate for excellence in serving God in and through this congregation called Balboa Baptist Church!  That’s really amazing, huh!?

Forty years of experience in local church ministry has drilled into me another reality.  Enjoy the emotional high of days like yesterday, but emotions DO subside.  A coming-down always follows.

Jesus led Peter, James, and John to a mountaintop. An amazing meeting with God, Moses, & Elijah unfolds.  The divine Jesus glowed brightly with the shekinah glory of God.  I would have done the same thing as these three disciples wanted to do!  They wanted to build a house and STAY there!

But Jesus immediately took them back down to the valley of reality.  They encounter a demon-possessed man. Jesus healed him.  Jesus confronts the disciples with their small faith.  Wow, what a spiritual gut-check. (Click here to see Mark 9)

Now don’t get me wrong.  I am still rejoicing in the victories!  I am praising the Lord at 4:00 a.m.!  Praise the Lord!  The spiritual high is still real! God is SO good. God’s mercies endure forever.

I believe God took pleasure in His people yesterday.  Many of you invested in these six persons’ lives through Sunday School, ministry, friendship, and love.  You have been doing this for months or years before I ever came on the scene.  I praise the Lord I got to see the fruit of your labor!  You planted, watered, cultivated, and weeded.  Fruit!  Excuse my grammar but, “You done good!” God gave the increase and honored your labor of love.

I believe God adorned your humble acts of kindness with the results of salvation. Committees sort out the nitty-gritty details of church life behind the scenes. But keeping our eyes on THIS prize is why we do it all!  This is the big WHY!  This is the GOAL!  This is the BIG PICTURE that keeps pulling us into the future with faith.  We are to make disciples.  Jesus said He would build His church.

Let’s marinate in what God has done!  And then let’s get back to work.

“For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.” Psalm 149:4

Kid in a Candy Store

He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together. He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything. (‭Colossians ‭1‬:‭17-18‬ HCSB)

Before anything existed HE WAS. Everything that exists now is held together BY HIM. Paul is talking about JESUS! Our Father, our Lord Jesus, and our indwelling Holy Spirit were there before the universe was created.

No matter what we face today, Our Savior was there BEFORE it, He is there IN it, and He will be there WHEN IT IS ALL OVER. We BELIEVE this! This is true! It is true whether we are talking about a minor inconvenience in our life today or worldwide persecution of believers bringing misery and death.

For a few years Jesus walked this earth in a human body. He still walks the earth today as the head of the body called the church. He is the head of the worldwide body of believers as well as each local assembly of called-out followers. HE is the head of Balboa Baptist! HE is walking the earth today IN US!

HE is the beginning. JESUS is the beginning of creation. He is the beginning of the church. He is the beginning of our resurrected lives. He is the first to rise from the dead. He is FIRST!

Your life and my life may seem insignificant in this great big world. But if JESUS is allowed to be FIRST, then each life becomes very significant!

I have been like a kid in a candy store. Balboa Baptist Church is such a praying, generous, talented, experienced, educated, gifted group of Jesus-followers. Multiple ministries put the hands and feet of Jesus into so many places! The potential God has given this congregation boggles my mind.

I also have been like a squirrel on the interstate. But the blissful blur I’m in now is all kept in perspective by keeping Jesus FIRST.

Our Father, You have established Your Son Jesus as FIRST in everything. Today, please live in and through us. Give us willing minds that will obey you. Let us not “cop out” by being unwilling to participate in what you are doing. Please give us eyes that SEE what You are doing and the willing mind to “get in on it.”

My Favorite Things

Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ. (‭Colossians‬ ‭3‬:‭23-24‬ HCSB)

“Rain drops on roses and whiskers on kittens … these are few of my …” You know the Julie Andrews song, right?

What are your favorite things? What do you get enthused about?

Golf. Bridge. Cooking. Eating. Giving. Travel. Grandkids. Something else?

Whatever it is, do it for The Lord with enthusiasm.

Robert was enthused by his joy for giving. He bought frozen apple pies, the deluxe ones, and put them in the freezer at the church kitchen! He spotted visiting families in the worship service each Sunday morning. He baked the pies in the church kitchen while I preached the sermon. He then boxed the hot delicacies and gave them to the guests as they left. He spoke the name of Jesus as he did this.

Teresa loved to sew. She found another lady at the church who loved it too. Monthly they got together and made little stuffed animals. They attached gospel tracts and encouraging notes. They delivered them personally to children in the hospital. They spoke the name of Jesus as they did this.

Joe loved golf. He took a couple of teenage guys to the driving range occasionally. He introduced them to golf and Jesus.

What do you get enthusiastic about? Do IT for The Lord. Make IT your cup of cold water you regularly use to talk about Jesus. Use it “in Jesus’ name.”

When you spend time with people doing your favorite thing, those people will eventually have a crisis of faith, question, difficult circumstance, or diagnosis. Be ready to be enthused!

Enthused? “En” means “in.” Duh! “Thu” comes from “Theos,” the greek word for GOD, as in “theology.” Do it “in God,” “as something done for The Lord.”

So, in a way, you are to be a “theologian” as you do your favorite thing. Everyone has a cup of cold water to give away.

Jesus said:
And whoever gives just a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple—I assure you: He will never lose his reward! ”Matthew 10:42 (HSCB)

Our Father, we gratefully praise you for our salvation in Jesus Your Son! Remind us everyday to give away what we have so freely received as we do our favorite things.