Someone once said, “When all the affairs of life are said and done, there is more said than done.” At the end of it all, what we achieve is far more important than what we dream. Good intentions are fine, but proven results are what makes a difference and what lasts. Yes, failure to plan is foolish, but only planning is even worse. This applies to all areas of our lives; our private lives, our professional lives, and our spiritual lives. Too many times we hear a message from God’s word and we think, “I ought to put that into practice.” Sadly, however, that is as far as we get to accomplishing God’s word in our lives. We must take up the charge from James when he tells us, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” – James 1:22 ESV. So don’t be deceived by just thinking about doing good things with your life, get busy doing it!
It’s been said, “It’s never the fall that injures; it’s the sudden stop.” While that is obviously true in the physical life, it is also true in the spiritual life as well. Many times we don’t realize we are falling into temptation and poor choices until it is already harmfully too late. In our present culture, society seems to salivate over the juicy stories of people, particularly Christians, who find themselves injured after a sudden stop with sin. The natural reaction from the world is to point fingers, judge, and ridicule. Yet this is not the ways of our great God. Yes, sin does disappoint and break the heart of God, but like any loving father, our God is there to pick us back up. He wants to lovingly dust off our dirty past and heal our brokenness. While we are prone to run and hide from God when we fall, what we must really do is humbly seek His love and forgiveness. Yes, we may bear scars for the rest of our lives from our sinful actions, but by God amazing grace, He can even use our broken past for His glory. So if you have found yourself in the middle of a sudden stop, let God pick you back up.
A wise man said, “If a man has not been over the road himself, do not accept him as a leader to show you the way.” That’s good advice when it comes to directions, but it is also good advice for leadership as well. We are all leaders in some area of our lives; at church, at work, in social settings, and even at home. One of the lessons I have learned through the years is that a good leader will not ask someone to do something that he has neither done before or is not willing to do it himself. A leader’s job isn’t to do everything, but a good leader doesn’t view any job as beneath him either. Thus it is an issue of humility and respect. If a leader is not too proud to jump in from time to time to help those he leads, it speaks volumes about his character. If a leader can identify with his followers in whatever they are trying to accomplish, he will be more understanding in light of their productivity. Thus, leadership takes more than experience; it also takes willingness and a proper attitude.
A wise person once said, “A liar is not believed even when he speaks the truth.” Oh, how precious honesty really is. To be trusted by your word is one of the highest principles of integrity. The Bible says, “Lips that lie are disgusting to the Lord, but honest people are his delight.” – Proverbs 12:22 (GW). God finds dishonesty as a disgusting and detestable practice. He is not the only one that feels this way. If you look through the headlines each year there are people who lose their jobs, their families, and even their freedom due to dishonesty. Lying is very tempting when we are faced with the deception that it will keep us out of trouble. However, every lie will eventually be reveled. Many times these revelations happen in this life, but rest assured even those that aren’t revealed are known by our Holy God. So dear friends, if you follow Jesus as your Lord and Savior, follow Him with your lips as well. Remember honest people are His delight!
Someone once humorously said, “It’s later than we think and most of us aren’t thinking.” How true that statement is for those realizing the days we live in. Many people and sadly many Christians are living day to day like life will never end. However, we are living closer today to the end of it all than we have ever been before. Jesus left us with this promise: “Surely I am coming quickly” (Rev. 22:20 NKJV). Isn’t that an amazing statement by our Lord? The last recorded message of Jesus to us in the New Testament is that he is coming soon. At any moment, He is going to step out and call us home. Oh, what a day that will be! Yet, why is it that we live day in and day out like He is never going to come? I believe the answer is that we allow ourselves to become distracted. We are distracted with the worries and cares and trinkets that occupy our attention. What we need, though, is to fix our hearts to the times we live in. It is drawing very late and we are running out of time to do the Lord’s service. Let us each get busy about our Master’s work for tomorrow may be too late!
I read a great quote the other day that said the following: “A budget plan is one where you tell the money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” The Bible speaks a lot about money and personal finances. We are told that we are to be good stewards or managers of the riches that God provides for us. After all everything that we own really belongs to God in the first place. Therefore, if we are going to claim to manage God’s money well, then we must get in the habit of budgeting. We have a responsibility to know where the money is going. The Bible says, “Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds” – Proverbs 27:23 ESV. In our current culture, there seems to be more talk about borrowing rather than budgeting, but remember if you are a follower of Christ, then He should be Lord of your pocketbook as well.
Someone once noted, “The height of laziness is a fellow who gets up at five in the morning so he can have more time to loaf.” Laziness can affect any of us. There are times for leisure and relaxation. There are appropriate times for rest. Many of us would be quick to deny a habit of taking “time to loaf,” but how many of us would admit that we have a habit of wasting too much time? With the luxuries of TV’s and smart phones productivity can and does become highly hindered. The temptation is to make excuses for the slack in time, but the lack of our results and outcomes prove our guilt. To be honest this principle applies not only at work, but in any area of life. If our home life, our social life, or even our spiritual life is lacking, the real problem may be staring at us in the mirror. The Bible tells us, “If you are too lazy to plow, don’t expect a harvest” – Proverbs 20:4 CEV. Those are not pleasant words by any means, but they are very practical. Life takes work. If we find ourselves wasting certain areas of it, we must repent and get our hands back on the plow. It is very tempting to loaf, but it is far more profitable to actively be about our own business.
We hear a lot these days about how our country is a secular nation and that our forefathers never intended that religion, especially Christianity should have any part in the forming of our government. Yet these statements just don’t add up to history or to the documentations of our founding fathers. Documents and monuments scattered across Washington D.C. and this great nation give credence to a great Divine power. Even in the Declaration of Independence we read these words: “We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions”. So it is quite clear that America was not founded under atheistic intentions, but quite the contrary. While we are indeed not specifically a Christian nation, we were indeed founded upon Christian principles. Freedom is one of the greatest of Christian virtues and one we still cling to as a nation today. Therefore, I encourage you this July 4th to take time to give thanks for this great land that we live in. It may be ever changing and even in many cases for the worse, yet it is truly a wonderful gift to live in America. May we never take for granted the freedoms afforded to us by God through our founding fathers.
It’s been said, “You may not know all the answers, but you probably won’t be asked all the questions either.” How many times have we abstained from speaking for fear we didn’t know all the answers? How many times have we hidden our faith in Jesus, for fear that someone will ask us something we don’t know. Many times we have abstained from witnessing because we were afraid someone would ask us something to hard. Yet how foolish are we acting when we let fear rule our decisions and hide our true identity in Christ. It takes faith to speak up, but for the Christian, we have the resource for the answers living in side us. Jesus warned His disciples that they would face times that would causes them to have hard and life threatening conversations, but the Lord gave them this encouragement: “At that time the Holy Spirit will teach you what you must say.” – Luke 12:12 GW. I believe that the Holy Spirit still works to help us in our times of need. Remember, you may not have all the answers, but the One who does lives inside you. So, let’s speak up in faith and leave the results up to God.
Clint Eastwood once said, “They say marriages are made in Heaven. But so is thunder and lightning.” I have to admit he makes a good point. Marriage is not perfect and it is not for the faint of heart. When you pair a man and a woman together, with different likes, desires, and opinions, you are always going to have the recipe for tension. Yet when marriage is done right and it perseveres through the “thunder and lightning,” it truly can be a wonderful gift from God. In my own marriage I have experienced some of the most wonderful times in all my life. There have been happy and joyful times that I would have missed if I were not married to the love of my life. It had not been easy and honestly there have been many hard and hurtful times, but I can still see the wonderful gift that marriage really is. This is why God inspired King Solomon to say, “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.” – Prov. 18:22 NIV. So yes I agree with Clint that marriage is not always very heavenly, but it truly can be a wonderful adventure that carries with it God’s blessing.