Due to safety and environmental concerns, Toyota has recalled 3.37 million cars. The recall involves 2.87 million cars due to faulty emissions control units. Another 1.43 million vehicles are included to repair air bag inflators that could be ineffective. Of the 3.37 million, Toyota thinks 930,00 of them may be affected by both defective units.
Several years ago I witnessed an event that led me to a conclusion: Most defective air bags have faulty emissions control units.
While I was in college, I was a frequent spectator at the Texas Rangers games. At one of these games, a rude air-bag-of-a-man strutted by me, and He was wearing a shirt with an imprint that was much too vulgar to be worn in public. This defective airbag had some real problems with his emissions control system, and he turned the air blue with his profanity.
Before the second inning started the security guards were recalling this air bag. He was ushered out of the stands with blood gushing from a gaping wound that was the result of a frustrated father’s attempts to preserve the innocence of his son.
Defective air bags are characterized as a person who is foolish or boisterous:
- The woman of folly is boisterous, she is naive and knows nothing (Proverbs 9:13).
- A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son, heartache to his mother (Proverbs 10:1).
- The tongue of the wise makes knowledge attractive, but the mouth of fools blurts out foolishness (Proverbs 15:2).
The need for emissions control predates the advent of the auto. Paul admonished the church at Ephesus to manage their manners and to watch their words: “Don’t let even one rotten word seep out of your mouths. Instead, offer only fresh words that build others up when they need it most. That way your good words will communicate grace to those who hear them (Ephesians 4:29).”
I’ll leave you with a thought that might help you with your emissions control: Profanity is the weapon of the witless and a weak device to support an even weaker argument.
While I was fishing a day or two ago, I startled a duck that was sleeping on a boat dock. I smiled at its awkward waddle as it hurried down the ramp and into the lake. I smiled again when I saw how fluid and graceful its movements became as soon as it entered the water.
God created waterfowl to be more at home on the water than on the land. Like that duck, we’re also the creation of God. Paul described God’s creative gifting in an interesting fashion. Depending on which translation you read, the believer is described in Ephesians 2:10 as God’s workmanship (NKJV), masterpiece (NLT), or handiwork (NIV).
In The Voice, it says, “we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in Jesus to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.”
God created you to be you and to be a masterpiece of His creative endeavors. He has gifted you with the talents and abilities you need to accomplish His purpose.
When you live within the framework of His will, you are as graceful as a swan on a pristine pond of water; however, you’re as awkward and clumsy as a waddling duck when you reject the plans He has for you.
As Max Lucado said, “You are the only you God made… God made you and broke the mold.” So, thank God for the uniquely magnificent manner in which He designed you and then dedicate yourself to sharing your gifts with the body of Christ.
I rolled out of bed at 4:30 this morning with the same thoughts that were on my mind when I crawled into it last night—the prayers of Samuel and Paul. Both of these men, one from the Old Testament and the other from the New Testament, were prayer warriors.
One word in particular was on my mind, and it was used by both men. It’s the word “ceasing.”
- I Samuel 12:23: God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way.
- I Thessalonians 5:17: Pray without
When you read the writings of Paul, it’s easy to see that he was a man of prayer:
- Colossians 1:9-10: We have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will…so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects.
- Ephesians 3:16-17: I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
- Philippians 1:9-11: And I pray this, that your love may abound even more and more in knowledge and every kind of insight so that you can decide what is best, and thus be sincere and blameless for the day of Christ filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.
I think the Achilles heel of too many people is that we cease without praying instead of praying without ceasing. Only heaven knows how many lives have benefitted from and were changed by the prayers of Samuel, Paul, and people like you and me.
May we not sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray. . .
Standing in the Need of Prayer
I have never found evidence of the long-sought after fountain of youth, but I do know that Paul wrote to the Ephesians about renewal:
If you have heard Jesus and have been taught by Him according to the truth that is in Him, then you know to take off your former way of life, your crumpled old self—that dark blot of a soul corrupted by deceitful desire and lust— to take a fresh breath and to let God renew your attitude and spirit. Then you are ready to put on your new self, modeled after the very likeness of God: truthful, righteous, and holy. ~Ephesians 2:21-24
Paul says you have the opportunity to get rid of the old, step into a new life, and take a fresh breath of life. Spiritual renewal shapes you into the “likeness of God,” and you begin to realize that you are:
You’re not a crumpled model of this old world; you’ve been freshly fashioned in the likeness of Jesus, and this is why you:
Forget your former way of life, “that dark blot of a soul corrupted by deceitful desire and lust.” Embrace the new you. It’s time to “take a fresh breath and to let God renew your attitude and spirit.”
I heard the sad story of a man who died recently. He had crawled under a house to steal the copper wiring and was electrocuted.
This is sad for a couple of reasons:
- Copper prices are at historic lows, and this man lost his precious life trying to take something so cheap.
- His attempt to steal was evidence of a steel less and easily tempted character
This copper incident reminds me of the judgment discussion that Paul had with the Christians at Corinth:
“You are God’s building. As a skilled and experienced builder, I used the gift that God gave me to lay the foundation for that building. However, someone else is building on it. Each person must be careful how he builds on it. After all, no one can lay any other foundation than the one that is already laid, and that foundation is Jesus Christ. People may build on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw. The day will make what each one does clearly visible because fire will reveal it. That fire will determine what kind of work each person has done. If what a person has built survives, he will receive a reward. If his work is burned up, he will suffer the loss. However, he will be saved, though it will be like going through a fire.” ~I Corinthians 3:9-15
In the verses above Paul offers a Double M Lesson:
- The first M is Metal or the gold and silver.
- The second M is Meddle or the wood, hay, and straw.
- Paul uses these objects to frame his argument in the context of a quality of life versus a quantity of life perspective.
The metal and meddle aspects of your life will be judged by fire which “will determine what kind of work each person has done.” The difference between your metal and meddle may be your mettle or the manner in which you confront the challenges of life and faithfully persevere.
When Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy he engaged in a little heavy mettle discussion: “When the going gets rough, take it on the chin with the rest of us, the way Jesus did. A soldier on duty doesn’t get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders. An athlete who refuses to play by the rules will never get anywhere. It’s the diligent farmer who gets the produce. Think it over. God will make it all plain.” ~2 Timothy 2:3-5
I encourage you to do what Paul admonished Timothy to do in the verses above: “Think it over.”
Some people think maturity comes with age; however, being a certain age does not make you a wise old sage. You really have no choice when it comes to aging; however, it takes some effort to wisely mature.
Growth of this kind is a common topic in the Bible:
- Peter reminded Christians to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).”
- In what he thought would be his last communication with the elders from Ephesus, Paul said: “I commit you to God and to the message of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all who are sanctified (Acts 20:32).”
- Solomon offered this word of advice in the Proverbs: “You gullible people, learn how to be sensible. You fools, get a heart that has understanding (8:5).”
While I was reading in Philippians yesterday, I noticed something interesting. Paul gives a clear indicator of maturity: “Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Therefore, all who are mature should think this way (Philippians 3:13-15).”
According to this verse, you show signs of maturity when:
- You are not bound by the chains of the past.
- You choose to invest in the future
- You pursue a relationship with Jesus.
- You discipline yourself to control your thoughts so you can “think this way.”
I hope this mature thought from Paul will keep you thinking:
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”
Philippians 4:8-9 ~The Message
Even though he was in prison, Paul was not imprisoned by his circumstances. In Philippians 4:4, he said: Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
As I thought of the remarkable attitude of this wonderful servant of God, I thought of several places in the Psalms where you are encouraged to rejoice:
- In Psalm 9:14 the writer said that salvation is a reason to rejoice: I will rejoice in Your salvation.
- Mercy is the subject of rejoicing in Psalm 31:7: I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy.
- The faithfulness of God is another reason to rejoice. Psalm 33:21: For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name.
- The writer of Psalm 119:14 said the promises of God’s
- Word were a source of joy to him: I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches.
As Paul closes his first letter to the Thessalonians, he instructs them to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
To embrace the will of God for your life, I encourage you to consider how Paul made a connection between rejoicing and giving thanks. He did it in the verse above as well as Romans 12:12: “…rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer…
How can “rejoicing always” can make a difference in how you you pray and how you give thanks?
A person’s concept of Christ often undergoes a dramatic change from the first time he thinks about Him to the time he trusts Him as Savior. This was the case with the Apostle Paul. He started his life as Saul of Tarsus and sought out Christians with a raging hatred similar to that of mad dog infected with rabies. When Saul first heard of the “hope of the resurrection,” it sounded like empty rhetoric and a powerless promise. After he encountered Jesus on the Damascus road, he experienced the transforming power of Christ’s salvation and his name was changed to Paul.
By developing a dynamic relationship with God, Paul came to know Him in several dimensions. When he wrote to the Hebrews, Paul said God “is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Paul also spoke of this in 2 Timothy 4:
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time for my departure is close. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. There is reserved for me in the future the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved His appearing.
To know God as a rewarder, you must first know Him as a redrawer. Paul had been the rising star of Judaism, but he walked away from the Law to a life of grace:
As far as keeping the Law is concerned I was a Pharisee, and you can judge my enthusiasm for the Jewish faith by my active persecution of the Church. As far as the Law’s righteousness is concerned, I don’t think anyone could have found fault with me. Yet every advantage that I had gained I considered lost for Christ’s sake . . . I considered it useless rubbish compared with being able to win Christ. God has given me that genuine righteousness which comes from faith in Christ. How changed are my ambitions!
For whom have you lived—Devil or Jesus? You will be known for either the good way you live or evil will define you.
When you meet the Gateman will you be wearing his nametag? If so, you just might hear Him say: “You have fought the good fight; you have finished the race; and you have kept the faith.”
Note: I enjoy playing with the English language. Go back and find the single words I have italicized in a couple of sentences. Forwards and backwards, what do you see?