Archive for February, 2024

Are You Reliable?

Blessed is “He who swears to his own hurt and does not change…” Psalm 15:4 NKJV

A different translation expresses the same message in different words: “… who keeps his word whatever the cost….” Psalm 15: 4 HCSB

Are you known for keeping your word, are you known for being punctual, do you have the reputation for being reliable, always doing what you say you will do, and performing on time?

You are personally responsible for your reputation. Your lifestyle is a living performance dramatizing your reputation. You are responsible for what people think of you.

Check yourself out on these character traits. Don’t be reluctant to blame yourself when appropriate.

My wife and I were shopping on Canal Street in New Orleans. We had different needs and agreed to go our special ways and later meet. I was there a bit ahead of time. I checked my watch and thought negatively about her not being there. I reflected on the fact we were to rendezvous under the big clock at ***. Finally it dawned on me that I was on the wrong street corner. I then went to meet her under the clock where she was thinking critically of my lack of punctuality. My lack of timelessness was based on a mistake and didn’t become a lifestyle.

What do you do when you fail to perform punctually? You apologize and are determined to not let it become a lifestyle.

Sometimes we fail to perform as promised because changing circumstances make it impossible. Always consider all possible variables before promising.

A misunderstanding often keeps us from performing on time. Be clear before promising.

We have a plumber friend who promised several times he would fix a leaky faucet. Every time I called him about it he never apologized, he just made another promise, but didn’t perform. I checked with others about it and found he had done that to so many others he was known as “Later, lying, lazy Larry.” How did he get that reputation? He earned it.

I have a friend who as a D1 football coach won two national championships in a row. We were walking and taking on the grounds of a retreat center when he opened up. He had promised an assistant coach that if he would stay with him the next five years he would retire and encourage the school to hire him. He then said, “I had just won two National Championships in a row, had my best recruited class coming, and didn’t want to retire.” Then he quoted the above verse regarding “He who swears to his own hurt and does not change…” He did keep his word and retired. He had a very good reputation. How did he get it? He earned it.

What reputation have you earned?

Get Along

A high school cheerleader was chosen to be her team’s chaplain. When asked what she was going to tell them at their first meeting she said, “I’m going to tell them to get along.” The Lord has been telling all of that from the dawn of time.

It is difficult for a group or even a couple to get along without conflicts at some points. The crux of the matter is found in a quote attributed to the Apostle John. In his latter days word got around that he was coming back to Ephesus and would address the church. Expectantly a large crowd gathered to hear the spiritual giant. He stood and said, “Little children love one another,” and sat down. His brief timely message reverberates with truth applicable today.

For God to achieve anything worthwhile through a group of people, they must love Him and one another.

Philip Melanghthon, considered by many to be the brains of the Great Awakening in the 16th Century, defined admirable attributes for group harmony:

“In essentials unity,
In nonessentials diversity,
In all things charity (love).”

Resolve to maintain each of these attributes in your personal life. Much confusion as well as conflicts can be avoided by doing so.

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4: 11

John Wesley, an Armenian, and John Whitfield, a Calvinist, had strong disagreements regarding many issues. Wesley was asked, “Do you expect to see Mr. Whitfield in Heaven?”  Immediately he answered, “No, he will be so near the throne of God that men like me will never even get a glimpse of him.” That kind of regard for our spiritually kin can enable us to be agreeable, that is not hostile, even when disagreeing.

There is a story of two Jews, two Catholics, and two Baptists being stranded on a remote island. The two Jews immediately started building a synagogue. The two Catholics started organizing a Catholic church. The two Baptists started at once to organize the First and Second Baptist Churches.

We are by nature egoists. “For all seek their own” (Philippians 2:21). The soul of God’s whole activity, from the creation to the new creation, is love. Proper love for self yes, but love for others guided by love for Him. God did not put you on Earth just to live for yourself. He wants you to make the world a better place! It is done by being your best self and helping others do the same.

Remember the message, “Get along.”

To Overcome Go All Out – Part Two

God has never been late yet – but clearly from the world’s point of view, and even logical point of view it looks that way many times, but in the end God comes through! Often not in the way or time of our expectation, but He is always on time.

Was He late when Jonah was thrown over the side of the boat to die!? Those who threw him over believed God was too late to rescue him.

Was He late when Lazarus was sick… Jesus deliberately stayed away until Lazarus had died… then only did he go, even days after he was dead and buried!  But He wasn’t late by His timing, just by Martha’s schedule! (John 11)

Those following Moses thought He was late when Pharaoh’s army had them cornered between the Red Sea and the soldiers… but He wasn’t late at all!

Abraham and Sarah thought God was late in giving them a natural born son… but when she was almost 90 and he was almost 100 it happened!

What do you think God has been late in doing for you recently?  Do the examples just given give you any hope now?

If you have committed your way to the Lord and are trusting in Him… He won’t be late! His sense of timing is better than yours!

Those having all of their lives for the coming of the Messiah likely thought He was late in coming, but “In the fullness of time God sent His son…” (Galatians 4: 4). Though thousands of years of Old Testament history went by, God had a right time for the Messiah to come and He wasn’t a moment too late!

His clock and ours are often out of sync.

John Chrysostom, the ancient Church Father, was a beautiful example of true Christian courage. When he stood before the Roman Emperor, he was threatened with banishment if he still remained a Christian. Chrysostom replied, “You cannot, for the world is my Father’s house; you cannot banish me.”

“But I will slay you,” said the Emperor.

“No, but you cannot,” said the noble champion of the faith again, “for my life is hid with Christ in God.”

“I will take away thy treasures.” “No, but you cannot,” was the retort; “in the first place, I have nothing you know anything about. My treasure is in heaven, and my heart is there.”

“But I will drive you away from man, and you shall have no friend left.” “No, and that you cannot,” once more said the faithful witness, “for I have a Friend in heaven from whom you shall not separate me. I defy you; there is nothing you can do to hurt me.”

God has never been late yet – but clearly from the world’s point of view, and even logical point of view it looks that way many times, but in the end God comes through! He always has and always will.

Often we need to rest our clock and in doing so synchronize ours with His.

To Overcome Go All Out – Part One

The Lord wants us to serve Him, rather He gives us the privilege to serve Him. However, man does so with the reserve of the man who prayed, “Lord I want to serve you, use me, but mostly in a consultant capacity.

About the only form of commitment really being upheld today by our society is a deep commitment to one’s self. Little wonder this past generation has been labeled the “me” generation and the current one is focused on “whatever,” that is, anything goes.

Commitment is serious business to God and should be to us.

God has the capacity to shield His own. Approaching His crucifixion Jesus said He could have called twelve legions, that’s 72,000 angels. In one Old Testament incident one angel killed 185,110 people. That means at the moment Jesus had at His command the kill power of 1,332,000,000 (1 billion, 332 million).

God has the power, but He also has the love and power to know how to use it. It is not always as a champion on a white horse always rushing in at the last minute to rescue His servant.

The Apostle Paul, a man who suffered greatly put in perspective how God works. He wrote, “But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel” (Phil. 1: 12). He apparently believed, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” Romans 8:28.

George MacDonald, the man C. S. Lewis described as his “master” wrote: “This is a sane, wholesome, practical, working faith: first, that it is a man’s business to do the will of God; second, that God takes on Himself the special care of that man; and third, that therefore, that man ought never to be afraid of anything”.

There are two elements often linked in Scripture: “trust” and “commitment”.

Once a person trusts Him, commitment comes naturally. Such was Bill Borden, heir to the Borden Company, abandoned his family fortune and spent his young life as a missionary among the Indians. He died an early death. In his diary were these words: “No reserve, no retreat, no regret.” He indeed was all in.

Trust and commitment always leads to action as noted I Philippians 2: 12, “working out our salvation with fear and trembling!” Phil. 2:12

The text does not say “for” your salvation. The term is used in the sense of a math teacher proposing a math problem and telling the class to work it out, meaning carry it to its logical and correct conclusion. Carry your salvation to its logical conclusion by trusting Him and committing your life to Him in service.

What Is a Friend For? Part Two

John 15: 12 – 19

Jesus said, “No longer do I call you servants… but I have called you friends…”  Thus, He paid us a supreme compliment.  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).  An unknown poet expressed it:
“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.”

Jesus perfected the art of friendship; and after patterning it, passed it on to His followers.  By example and expression He answered the question: “What is a friend?”

However, laying down your life involves more than looking into the gray face of death. There is a principle of slow sacrifice folded into the words of the Saviour.

It is as hard at duty’s call,
To lay one’s life down day by day,
As to lay it down once for all.

Friendship motivates one to daily help another.

It means to make joy possible for those who walk in the shadow of sorrow.

It is to make goodness possible for those who stand in the darkness of temptation.

Illustrative of this are mothers who are laying down their lives daily bit-by-bit for their children.

It is to venture into the world day by day to minister and not be ministered unto. It is to let the message of your music become the harmony of your life.

Now read this little poem again and in light of it go out and show yourself as a friend to those around you. You will find there are many in need of your friendship.
“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!”