Henry Blackaby wrote, “He will lead you to do things that are absolutely impossible in your own strength. But God will grant you victory, step by step, as you obey Him.” Have you seen God do the impossible in your life? Unfortunately, I believe many Christians never experience this wonderful reality, because they are afraid to be totally sold out to God. They love Him, they worship Him, they are fine with going to church, but they let fear keep them from being totally faithful and obedient to Him. Statistics show that the vast majority of Christians have never shared their faith. Many don’t see their faith as much more than just another category in the vast list of other responsibilities they carry in life. But what an awful tragedy this really is. If we have truly trusted in Jesus and given Him our lives, then we have committed to a grand adventure. No, it is not an adventure that the world would think of, but it is a grand adventure nonetheless. We are called to a life that has a grand purpose, to bring God glory. When we are driven to live a life that gives God glory, we will see amazing things happen. Through our abandonment of self, we will see God change other people’s lives. Through our faithfulness, God will save souls, bring healing to the sink, and provide hope for the broken. It truly is an adventure that can go beyond anything we could expect to do on our own. But it requires a willingness from us. A willingness to not put ourselves first, but to do what Jesus would want us to do first. This is the life we truly have been called to, but so few really experience. So friend, let me ask are you seeing the impossible happen in your life or are you just trying to get by?
Mothers are truly a blessing. That might sound a little cliché, but in my case it really is true. While we all have mothers, we don’t all have moms; especially godly moms. Looking back on my life I have been so blessed to have just that, a godly mom. As a child, she nurtured me and provided the love and care I so desperately needed, even when I didn’t realize it. Mom led a clean safe home and she modeled for me what a faithful wife looks like. She worked tirelessly at her job and then came home to help me with my homework. But as good as all of that was, the most important value Mom shared with me was her love for God. We went to church faithfully three times a week. We prayed over every meal and she would openly teach me godly morals. She with faithful to the Lord before and after my Dad came to a saving relationship with Christ. She was not perfect, but God used her to mold my life to become the man I am today. He has always been there for me. When I gave my life to Christ, Mom was there. When I decided to leave home for college, Mom was there. When I surrendered to the ministry, Mom was there. When I married the love of my life, Lachelle, Mom was there. And when God blessed us with our 3 beautiful children, again Mom was there. To all of this, all I can say is thank you. Thank you, Mom, for all the sacrifices, late nights, tears, prayers, and encouraging words that you have given to me all these years. I love you and Happy Mother’s Day!
The basketball legend Michael Jordan once said, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeeded.” All of us know what it is like to fail in life, but not all of us know the value of failure. The truth is we have a lot to learn from our mistake, bad calls, missed opportunities, and even our sins. When the negative comes in our lives we need to take time to seek how God is going to shape our lives through it. It is at these times that we need to cling to Him and seek what He wants to show us through the pain. Remember we must live like Paul, who said: “when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I read the other day a statement that said, “Formula for failure: Try to please everybody.” To be totally honest, I struggle with being a people pleaser. I do realize that it is not wrong to be friendly with people or to want to make a positive influence on everyone you come into to contact with. However, to be totally motivated to do everything so that people will like you is futile. It’s not possible. No one, especially in the role of leadership, has had a 100% approval rating. The danger of being a people pleaser is that it can quickly harm our walk with Christ. When we are motivated to please people we will be tempted to compromise the truth of God’s Word over the feelings of those we are dealing with. And when we compromise, condone, or remain silent in areas that contradict the Word we are not being faithful servants of our Lord. Instead, we must commit to follow Jesus, even when it is not popular. We must develop attitudes like Paul had when he said, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” – Galatians 1:10 ESV. So again, it is not wrong to be warm and approachable to those we come our way, but we must at the same time guard our hearts against the allurement of being a people pleaser.
It’s been said, “Men sometimes credit themselves with success, and God with their failures.” I have not only witnessed that behavior in others, I must confess that I have been guilty of doing that at times myself. It is so easy to want to take the credit for success in life and then turn right around and blame others, even God when we experience failure. While there are times when troubles come and we didn’t have any direct cause for them to happen, but we mustn’t be quick to point fingers at God. We must remember that we live in a fallen sinful world. Sin’s curse has touched everything we face here on earth. Therefore, we must remember failures come because we live in a failing world. However, probably more times than not, the real person to blame for our failures is the one staring at us in the mirror. Bad choices, impulsiveness, and lack of knowledge get us all in a heap of trouble. The best practice we can have is to see all “success” as gifts from God. We need to remember the words of John the Baptist, “No one can receive anything unless it has been given to him from heaven.” – Jn. 3:27 CSB. When we live with that type of attitude we will become more humble with our successes and less fault finding with our failures.
A wise man once said, “There are many people who are not actually liars, but they keep a respectful distance from the truth.” Have you ever met people who are not exactly straightforward liars, but they are dishonest people nonetheless? These are people who are not trustworthy, people who lack integrity. Trust is a precious commodity, in that once it is lost it is very hard to gain it back. As followers of Jesus, we must not be known as dishonest people. We must be honest with our words, our actions, and our motivations. We must aim to live to a higher standard than the world around us; we must seek to live honorably. We must be able to say with Paul, “for we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man” – 2 Cor. 8:21 ESV. Our faith needs to be constant in our dealings with God and with people. We must strive to be more than just “Sunday Christians.” And the best place to start with such constancy is to become trustworthy people.
When you read through the account of Jesus’ arrest in the gospel of Luke, you find a very gripping detail about Jesus and Peter. In chapter 22, Peter denies Christ 3 times, just as Jesus had predicted that he would. But then after the rooster crowed, we read these words, “Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter” (Vs. 61a CSB). What a chilling moment for Peter. Just hours earlier, he had promised to go to prison or even death for the Lord, and now he has been caught cowardly denying ever knowing Jesus. I’m sure when those beautiful piercing eyes of Jesus connected with his, Peter’s heart melted on the spot. He had failed and worse yet he had denied his Lord. As a result, we read that “he went outside and wept bitterly” (Vs. 62 CSB). Yet what amazes me about this account is that the same eyes that brought stabbing conviction also were eyes of compassion. In the gospel of Mark, on resurrection morning, the angel told the women to “tell his disciples and Peter” (16:7a CSB). It is significant that this messenger of the Lord was pointing out Peter. By doing so he was sending a message to Peter. That message was “Jesus still want you.” This message was made real to Peter by the lake shore, when the resurrected Jesus loving restored Peter back to his role as an apostle (See John 21:15-19). So why is all of this supposed to be captivating for us? This same Jesus, who lovingly forgave and restored Peter, will lovingly forgive and restore us. We may think that the Lord’s eyes are piercing us right down to our very sins, but His beautiful eyes long to show us mercy. If you have blown it, don’t think that Jesus has given up on you. He loves you, He died for you, and even when you fail, He still wants you. So get back up my friend, and trust fully in the wonderful love of Jesus. If you have never committed your life to Jesus, then why not do it today? If you are a follower of Christ but have fallen in your walk, take courage. Jesus sees you, but it is through eyes of love.
It’s been said, “Flattery is like perfume; you are supposed to smell it, not swallow it.” The Bible gives us several warnings when it comes to flattery. One great warning is found in the book of Proverbs, which says, “A lying tongue hates its victims, and flattering words cause ruin.” – 26:28 NLT. There are times in our lives when people will use flattery to get an advantage over us. So we must be cautious when someone comes our way heaping loads of praise on us. It may sound very enticing, but we must not let such talk fool us. It just may cause us great ruin in the end. That being said, we do not need to be guilty of flattery either. Just saying things to others just to win their favor is wrong. Yes, there is a definite need for encouraging words, but we must never become manipulative with our speech. We must remember that loving our neighbor involves our motives as well as our actions.
Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining.” Those wise words are still just as true today as they were back then. With the downing of multiple forms of communication, we are bombarded with problem complainers daily. From the news outlets to social media to meetings at the water cooler, we find people complaining about problems. And the sad reality of all of this is that we are people prone to whining. Yet this is not how followers of Christ are called to live. We are told, “In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing” – Philippians 2:14 TLB. That’s right, if we are going to follow Jesus in our everyday lives, we will find there isn’t room for whining. Life isn’t about what is fair, but what is true. Yes, unpleasant circumstances come our way and every day we are faced with hard decisions that come with uncomfortable consequences. But all of our problems don’t give us a license to complain and whine. Instead, we are to be solution finders. So even if the solution is that we can only leave our problems in God’s hands, we still do so with praising, not whining.
The other day I was watching an old episode of Gunsmoke with my Dad. At the close of this particular episode, an old cowboy said to his sons, “I’m prouder of who I am than what I am.” As I heard those words, I thought to myself, “Me too.” Many people work tirelessly to make a name for themselves. They seek to be admired and remembered for their great achievements. But in the end, life is not about all that you did, but who you are. Maybe, you have a life full of wonderful achievements or maybe your life has been filled with endless mistakes. When we all stand before God, it won’t matter much about what we have done, as much as it will matter about who we are. What do I mean by all of this? The Bible makes it clear, that we are all either children of God or children of the devil. To be a child of God requires that we humbly admit to our sin and mistakes, and turn away from that old life. It means that we trust that Jesus Christ died for sins and rose again to provide for our forgiveness and a right standing with God. On the other hand, to be a child of the devil doesn’t require anything from you at all. If you continue down the road of your natural life and ignore the message of Jesus, then all you will have to present to God when you die are all your great achievements. The problem is everything we do is tainted by our sin. And if we stay that course, all we will hear is the Lord saying to us, “I never knew you.” Oh, how tragic of a thought. So like that old cowboy, let me ask, “Are you prouder of who you are than what you are?”