Archive for May, 2023

A Worthy Challenge

Want a challenge? Jesus offered as a challenge His eternal invitation: “Follow me!” Once you give Him permission to lead in your life, then life has purpose and direction. 

There are certain decisions that need not be made but once. For example, a long time ago you decided to wear clothes every day. You don’t have to get up each day and wrestle with the decision, “Shall I wear clothes today or not?” Once that decision was made, then it became simply a matter of what clothes to wear.

Those disciples who decided to follow Christ and never looked back found life most adventurous and exciting. A few failed to honor their role as a disciple. Of one named Demas Paul said, “Demas, in love with the present world has deserted me.”  (II Timothy 4: 10)

Pleasure is vengeful and challenges a commitment to follow Jesus. However, Jesus’ call isn’t simply an appeal to deny yourself things. It is a call to deny yourself the authority to control things in a manner contrary to His desire. He is the God of all good pleasure. He wants us to have pleasure, but the right kind. Some who suffer from “reverse-greed” have difficulty believing Jesus wore what was in His time a Brooks Brothers suit. He had a seamless robe, that was the finest garment of His day.

On an occasion an expensive ointment worth three hundred days wages was poured on his feet. He didn’t rebuke the persons doing it, but said to those who did, “The poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.” (Matthew 26:11)    

What He was teaching is that there is a time to feed the poor, to cloth the needy, to provide shelter for the homeless, BUT there is also a time to celebrate. Hear this clearly: You are under the tyranny of things if you can’t allow yourself to have them without guilt, as much as if you must have them.

Having things is no sin. Not having them under the control and for the use of Christ is.

One of the important truths of our lives is that we must have a purpose and commitment to be vital. Our commitment focuses our lives and energizes us.

The great patriot, Patrick Henry, realized this and in his will wrote this statement: “I have now disposed of all my worldly property to my family: there is one thing more I wish I could give them, and that is the Christian religion. If they have this, and I had not given them a shilling, they would be rich; and if they had it not, and I had given them all the world, they would be poor.”

That attitude puts “things” in perspective. To follow Jesus one must put self and things under His control. He still appeals, “Follow me….”


Friends are some of life’s greatest treasures. The word “friend” in English, as in its Greek equivalent “philos” conveys the idea of loving and being loved.  There is something warm and pleasant about it.

The secret of success in one’s search for friends is found in the wisdom of Solomon who wrote: “A man who has friends must himself be friendly” (Proverbs 18:24).  Simple isn’t it? This concept if found in these lines:
I went out to find a friend,
But could not find one there,
Then I went out to be a friend,
And there were friends everywhere!

An English publication ran a contest seeking the best definition of a friend.  The winner was: “A friend — the one who walks in when the world walks out.”

That is true because. “A friend loves at all times….” (Proverbs 17:17)

A true friend is one who asks you how you are and listens to the answer.

A friend is one who doubles your joy and divides your sorrows.

True friends are like spaghetti, they stick together.

Life is a cookie and friends are the chocolate chips.

A true friend is one who watches as you make a mess of things and doesn’t react as though you have done a permanent job.

There is a little gospel song entitled, “Jesus is a friend of Mine.” That is a wonderful proven truth. Jesus gave insight as to how we can show we are friends of His: “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” (John 15: 14 – 16)

Question, in light of that would Jesus call you His friend?

You can show you are His friend if you:
Make joy possible for those who walk in the shadow of sorrow.
Make goodness possible for those who stand in the darkness of temptation.
If you go forth day by day to minister and not to be ministered too.
If you let the message of your music become the harmony of your life.
If you share with others His love for them as for you.

Reflect,  “A man who has friends must himself be friendly….” The rest of that verse affords elevated thought, “But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24) That friend is Jesus. Develop your friendship with Him by studying His teachings and accepting His invitation to call on Him. That invitation and His phone number is: “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” Jeremiah 33: 3.

Abba Father

Up in the hills of east Tennessee some years ago a young unmarried woman gave birth to her son. It was a previous era in which children born out of wedlock were ostracized and criticized. No one knew who the father of little Ben Hooper was. All his young life he was an outcast. Whenever he was in public people could be heard whispering, “Who do you think his father is?” 

Parents wouldn’t let their children play with him. Adults scolded him in public. In school the teacher set him apart and none of the children would associate with him. As a result he became a virtual recluse.

A new young preacher came to town.  Ben Hooper heard folks talking about the young preacher who was friendly, kind, and loving. Quietly one Sunday Ben slipped in the back door of the church and sat on the last seat in the house. He was encouraged by the pastor’s message and continued to come back. He always slipped out before the end of the service and no one spoke to him.

One Sunday Ben was so caught up in the message and warmed by the pastor’s message on love he didn’t get out quickly enough and got caught in the crowd. He looked up and right in his path was the preacher. The preacher smiled at him and said, “Whose boy are you?”

A hush fell over the crowd. The sensitive minister recovered quickly and said, “Oh, I know whose boy you are. Why, the family resemblance is unmistakable. You are a child of God.”

“That’s quite an inheritance you’ve got there, boy. Now, go and see to it you live up to it.”

Years later Ben Hooper said that was the day he first realized he was loved and had self-worth. Yes, it was years later when the outcast Ben Hooper, Governor of Tennessee, said that was the day life took on meaning for him. His awareness of his inheritance gave him a bright new outlook on life.

Ben Hooper was on his way to becoming a new creature in Christ.

An awareness of whose child he was, God the Father, changed the course of his life. The dignity of being a child of the King comes from the royal blood that flows in your veins. His DNA is your DNA. Act in a way becoming of your Father.

God is our Father and we can let His Spirit live through us in a way that is a natural reflection of who is in us. When our lives become aligned with His truth, and this truth naturally expresses itself outwardly, there is a sense of fulfillment.

Jesus prayed, “Abba Father….” (Mark 14: 36) Abba is a term of intimacy and obedience. We know it best as a beautiful term indicating intimacy, but fail to realize it as a term indicating obedience. May we pray it with the understanding of its meaning, “Here I am dear Father committed to obeying you.”

Ben Hooper’s realization that God was his father changed his life. So our lives are changed by it. Pray with a full understanding of gratitude, “Abba Father.”   

A New Beginning

Do you ever feel like you are a failure and you would like to start over? You can’t, but you can begin now and make a wonderful new conclusion.

This journey to “becoming” begins with the first step. You don’t have to see the whole road to start, just take the first step, and that is putting your uncompromising faith in Jesus. You may be one of two people. One is a person who did trust Jesus as Savior, but you failed to grow spiritually and got on the wrong road. Repentance for you is not unto salvation, but to faithfulness.

Billy Sunday, former baseball player and later evangelist said, “Stopping at third adds no more to the score than striking out. It doesn’t matter how well you start if you fail to finish.” Start now and finish well. 

Perhaps the other you is an individual who never put your faith in Jesus, but now you know the potential He offers through salvation and living faith. The Greek word for repentance, “metanoeo,” means a change of mind, thought, or thinking so powerful that it changes one’s very way of life. In summary it means to turn. Make this the turning point in your life by asking Him to forgive your past and give you new life. The operative word is “new.”

Don’t say to yourself, “I have failed,” “I am broken,” “I have issues of trust.” Shout within, “I am a new creature in Christ,” “I am being renewed,” “I am being transformed.” Develop that new you in your thoughts. That was me, this IS me.

Every sunrise is God’s way of saying this is a new day, make it a great day. You can use them one by one to develop your wonderful conclusion. Every new day is your way to build your life like you wish it had always been. 

Keep in mind there is absolutely nothing that can keep you from living by your standard for the new you. Regardless of where you are on the development scale you can be and do better. Forget about past negatives, ponder the new possibilities. Create your new image and flood your mind with what can be.

There is a story of a great flood that drove people to desperate measures. Two persons awaiting a rescue sat on a rooftop and watched as an old hat floated by. To their amazement it reached a certain point where it turned and went back up stream. To their puzzlement this happened several times. Finally, one said, “I know what that is, grandad said he was going to mow the lawn today come hell or high water.” That is the kind of determination needed in becoming all you can be. Grandad had it and so can you.

Here is the empowering enablement: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17)

Your heritage or legacy doesn’t matter. It isn’t important that you be remembered. It’s important that when you stand before the Lord, he says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Aspire to finish strong.

Make your new motto for life: “Semper Crescis,” “Always improving/growing.”

The Fear Factor Foiled

At a critical time in the life of Israel God made them a promise that typifies Him, and gives us hope and help.

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41: 10)

“Fear not,” or “Don’t be afraid” appears 365 times in the Bible. God made His pont. Fear casts a foreboding shadow that is much larger than itself. It often freezes a person into inactivity and leads to defeat. Heed the advice of Babe Ruth, “Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” It is based on “what-ifs.” 

He gives assurance of two things we have no need to do:

“Fear not,” and “be not dismayed.” These two attitudes capriciously rob us of the joy of life. When either or both impose themselves on you, remember the following.

From the middle east comes this fable indicating the power of fear. 

Pestilence met a caravan on its way to Baghdad and asked the Chief why he was going to Baghdad. “To take 5,000 lives” was the answer.

On the way back Pestilence said, “You fooled me, you took 50,000 lives.” “No, said the caravan Chief, “I killed only 5,000 lives. Fear killed the rest.”

When faced with fear may it be said of you, “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed.” (Psalm 34:4-5)

When you do, then the winds of fear are abated and the clouds of dismay dispersed. 

Dismayed is a word meaning don’t give up, don’t quit. When you are inclined to give up, don’t. Perhaps you need to rethink your situation and immerse it in prayer. 

Reasons for not fearing or giving up are noted: “I am with you,” “I am your God, “I will strengthen you,” “I will help you,” and “I will uphold.” Those five factors, like giant reliable marble columns, support us.

Dr. David Livingstone (1813-1873) served as a medical missionary to Africa. For 30 years he suffered hunger, sickness and injuries. “Shall I tell you what sustained me amidst the toils, the hardships, and loneliness of my yielded life?” asked Dr. Livingstone. He continued, “It was the promise, ‘Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end.’” He knew what we each needed to realize, the God who created the Universe is your God.

The last words of an individual are often very important. Among those of Jesus are found these ones of comfort: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled.”