Two Powerful Words

followTwo words changed the lives of two men, and they gave birth to a spiritual revolution that changed the world. The two words were spoken by Jesus when He called out to Peter and Andrew, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men (Matthew 4:19).”

The best way to follow Jesus, is to walk in His footsteps.  To make sure you’re on the right path, you can ask yourself a few questions:

  • Am I walking in love?
  • Am I walking in the light?
  • Am I walking with wisdom?
  • Am walking or living my life in a way that is pleasing to God?

Before I was tall enough to see over the corn stalks and heads of milo that filled the fields where my dad would take me hunting, I never got lost; all I had to do was step where Dad stepped.  The same is true as you journey through life, simply walk like Jesus.

The apostle Peter said, Jesus suffered for us and left us His example so that we could follow in His steps (I Peter 2:21).

I encourage you to follow Jesus and to walk in His steps.  You can use the words of Psalm 119:133 as a prayer, and simply as God to, Direct my steps by your word!

 

From Zilch to Zero

zilchAfter watching the evening news, I wonder what the prophet Jeremiah would say about the world in which we live?  In his own day, he summarized the condition of mankind by saying the heart of man was full of deceit and wickedness.  I think the news confirms the prophet’s prognosis.

Like Jeremiah, Saint Augustine voiced his concerns regarding the plight of mankind.  Even though he was a theologian, and not a heart doctor, he was concerned with healthy hearts.  He thought a vibrant heart would manifest itself when a person showed love for:

  • the right thing
  • in the right degree
  • in the right way
  • with the right kind of love

Augustine’s focus on the importance of love may have come from his study of the Apostle Paul, who said:  “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2).”

If your life is void of any expression of love, you have a zilch to zero chance of doing “the right thing, in the right degree in the right way, with the right kind of love.”

The “right kind of love,” is a genuine love of obedience: “Everyone who really believes that Jesus is the Christ proves himself one of God’s family. The man who loves the Father cannot help loving the Father’s own Son. The test of the genuineness of our love for God’s family lies in this question—do we love God himself and do we obey his commands? For loving God means obeying his commands, and these commands of his are not burdensome, for God’s “heredity” within us will always conquer the world outside us. In fact, this faith of ours is the only way in which the world has been conquered. For who could ever be said to conquer the world, in the true sense, except the man who really believes that Jesus is God’s Son (I John 5:1-5)?”

Have you gone from zilch to zero, or are you a conquering hero?  The difference is the capacity to love.

A Compassionate God

psalm34Do you ever have those times when your life looks bleak, and you feel sort of weak?  Seek the Lord is the suggested remedy and advice of Moses for such times:  “You will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him (Deuteronomy 4:29).” How much comfort do you find in these words of Moses?

Before you get to feeling too warm and fuzzy, let me share the rest of the verse: “You will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Just when you think you are about to enjoy life on Easy Street, you have to run into the pothole of obedience.  That’s right:  Obedience is the qualifier to the promise.  According to old Moses, you’ll need to seek God with ALL your heart and ALL your soul if you are going to find God.

Does this remind you of what Jesus said in response to a question about the greatest commandment?  Jesus said it is to, “Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, with ALL your soul, and with ALL your mind.”

None of this half-hearted saccharine sentimentalism will do.  Jesus said obedience is an absolute essential (John 14:23):

“When a man loves me, he follows my teaching. Then my Father will love him, and we will come to that man and make our home within him. The man who does not really love me will not follow my teaching. Indeed, what you are hearing from me now is not really my saying, but comes from the Father who sent me.”

Obedience is tough work, so when you stumble, fail, and fall you might want to know the rest of what Moses said:

“When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, you will return to the Lord your God in later days and obey Him.  He will not leave you, destroy you, or forget the covenant with your fathers that He swore to them by oath, because the Lord your God is a compassionate God.”

To help you get through the day, I encourage to you to keep these last two words on your heart, in your mind, and on the edge of your lips:  “compassionate God.”

Siri: Where Am I?

pigeon-statue-11If you were a statue, you would think of a pigeon about like the kennel boy does a dog.  Not me—I raised pigeons when I was just a kid, and the unique ability of these birds to find their way home has always amazed me.

Evidently Cornell and the University of Pittsburgh share my appreciation for this innate ability of pigeons.  The research from both universities has concluded that pigeons use multiple facilities to help them determine the correct sense of direction.  While the sun is their primary orientation, they also use the earth’s magnetic field as a guide to get them safely home.

After an all-to-common and failed attempt to get directions from Siri (iPhone), I’ve decided I might have better luck finding my way home if I could somehow tether my truck to a pigeon.  Even though I speak clearly, Siri only understands about 10% of what I say when I ask for directions.

As I thought about the proficiency of the pigeons and the sad service of Siri, I was reminded of the words of Jesus:  My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me.

Whenever we are lost or feel alone, we can listen for the Shepherd’s voice and have the comfort of knowing we are never lost when we are with Him.

Building Character

“Because I gave him my word” was the answer to the question I had just asked.  The question was, “How does he know you will pay him?” It was an interesting conversation, and one that I’ve remembered for almost 50 years.

Even though the word “reputation”was not used, it was the subject of the discussion.  Pop finished the conversation with this statement:  “A man is only as good as his word.”

I posted a comment about reputation to my Facebook page yesterday:  People wouldn’t have to spend so many minutes protecting their reputation, if they would pause for 60 seconds to guard their character.

You can read the character-focused Scripture I’ve provided below in less than 60 seconds:

  • Proverbs 22:1:  “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”
  • Ecclesiastes 7:1:  “A good reputation is more valuable than costly perfume.”
  • Hebrews 11:1-2:  “Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see. It was this kind of faith that won their reputation for the saints of old.”

It was Helen Keller who said:  “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

The quote above reminds me of Romans 5:1-5:

Since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory.  Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance, character, and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Do you see the cause and effect links in the verses above?  “Suffering produces endurance,  and endurance, character, and character, hope.”  

 

 


Character_Building (1)
I’m not sure that Paul would agree with Calvin’s dad, but you may have the opportunity to build some character with snow in the forecast for this weekend.

As Sweet As Honey

beeI’m not sure if I like it because of what it says about the Word of God or because of the pleasant memory it brings to my mind, but Psalm 19 is a favorite of mine.

Every time I read Psalm 19, or fix a piece of toast, I think of my Great Aunt Fern. I remember her as a lady who was full of love; gave me big smiles; and, one who wrapped her short arms around me and embraced with warm sticky hugs—Aunt Fern was a bee keeper.

I think her bee keeping is one reason I grew up eating toast slathered in peanut butter and drenched in honey. Whenever I walked into her house, I would look to the left, and her shelves would be lined with jugs of pure raw honey. This was the real stuff—not an anemic imposter of colored water you see on store shelves labeled as honey.

The sweetness of honey is used in Psalm 19 as one of several descriptions of God’s Word. When you read this Psalm, you find the Word of God is:

• Perfect and will convert the soul
• Steadfast and sure
• Able to make the simple wise—boy do I need this!
• Full of God’s statutes and they are right, and they bring rejoicing to your heart
• So pure it will enlighten your eyes
• So precious you should desire its teaching more than gold
• Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb
• The means through which God warns us, and in keeping of them there is great reward

Now that you’ve read this summary of Psalm 19, compare it to the words of Solomon in Proverbs 28: “A discerning son keeps the law, but anyone who turns his ear away from hearing the law—even his prayer is detestable.” Quite a contrast between hearing and obeying on one hand, and neglecting it and refusing to hear it on the other.

Whenever I read Psalm 19, it reminds of Aunt Fern in two ways. It reminds me of her sweet honey, but I am also reminded that we need to be keepers of God’s Word.