Friday, September 4, 2015

The Highest Praise

 Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true. - III John 1:12

It's always nice to hear a compliment, isn't it?  Whether it be praise for your new clothes, for a task you completed or for your kind heart, a word of good report is always welcome. Admit it.  We love it.  We bask in it.  It makes our hearts happy and our smiles wider.  And as long as we don't let it go to our heads, it's not really a bad thing.

This fellow, Demetrius, is not mentioned much in the Bible, but evidently he was a pretty good man.  In fact, John said he had a good report of all men.  All men?  Really?  It seems he was such an upright character that even those who didn't like him couldn't deny that he was good.  No one could find anything bad to say about him.  What a compliment!  But it gets even better.

John went on to say that not only did Demetrius have a good report of all men, but also of the truth itself.  If you recall, John tells us in John 14:6, Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  Jesus is the truth.  So if Demetrius had a good report of the truth itself, doesn't that mean that Demetrius had a good report from Christ?   Not only could the men not find grounds to complain about Demetrius, but Jesus couldn't either.  Is there any higher praise?

It makes you wonder how we're living our lives?  Are we living in such a way that others can't help but declare a good report about us?  Are we living lives so holy that Christ Himself puts His stamp of approval on our thoughts and actions?  It's an eye-opening, soul-thumping thought, isn't it?

I don't know about you, but I want to live a life of good report in the eyes of men, but more importantly in the eyes of Christ.  I know that my sins are forgiven because of the blood of Christ, but that doesn't mean that I shouldn't strive to live a holy, acceptable life.  After all, according to the Bible, it is my reasonable service.  Christ died for me; it's only reasonable that I live for Him.  

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Are You an Intercessor?

We constantly hear about the patience of Job.  Yes, his courage and steadfastness in the face of adversity is known around the world by believers and non-believers alike.  And while I don't begrudge Job the acknowledgment, I often wonder if Moses doesn't deserve the same.  After all, he didn't only have to put up with difficult trials but also with difficult people. . . a lot of difficult people.  I imagine that for Moses, the 40-year trek through the wilderness was like the world's longest family car ride.

We're tired.  We're hungry.  We're thirsty.  We don't want to eat that.  Why did we have to come this way?  Are we there yet?  Complaint after complaint after complaint.  It makes you wonder how many times Moses longed for the good old days of herding sheep.  Sure, they were stupid, but at least they didn't complain every step of the way.

But amidst all the chaos and complaints, Moses remained patient (well, mostly patient).  But what amazes me even more than his patience is his intercession on behalf of the whiny lot he was leading.  In Exodus 32, when the children of Israel decided that they had waited on God long enough and took it into their own hands to build an idol of gold, God was ready to be rid of them.  He was tired of their complaints and their disobedience and was preparing to wipe them out.  But Moses talked him out of it.  You would think Moses would be ready for the people to be destroyed.  After all, if they were gone, he could go back home.  But Moses cared enough about the people and about God's reputation to intercede and convince God to spare the people.  And God did.

But once again, in Numbers 14, we read how the people refused to take on the inhabitants of the land of Canaan even though God promised them a victory.  Instead, they, once again, whined and complained about God's lack of care and concern for them.  And, once again, God had had enough! And the Lord said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they. (Numbers 14:11-12)

Moses again interceded and begged God to change His mind.  Despite the Israelites temper-tantrums and the fact that they had tried to overthrow and kill Moses during this long journey, the man of God still saw fit to intercede for them.  He went to God on their behalf and pleaded for their lives.  Talk about patience!

In our daily walk, we each have to deal with people that simply rub us the wrong way.  Maybe they're pessimistic and always complaining.  Or perhaps they're arrogant and cocky.  Or maybe there's just something about them that drives us crazy.  So, what do we do?  Well, according to this example of Moses, we should pray for them.  No matter how much they annoy or anger us, they are still people, and possibly people who won't go to God for themselves.  Whether they realize it or not, they need someone to intercede.  They need someone to pray for them.  They need someone to beg God to give them another chance.

Chances are, they'll never thank us for our intercession, but that doesn't really matter, does it?  What matters is that we are reaching out to God for the sake of those who won't reach out for themselves. . . at least, not yet.  But who knows?  Our intercession could make the difference, but we'll never know until we try.  Let's put on some patience and get on our knees.  We all have some praying to do!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Sleepdriving?

I would like to share with you a comical conversation Jason and I had on our way home from church Sunday morning.

Jason (the driver), laying his head back against the headrest:  "Wake me up when we get home."

Me (the passenger):  "Um, no!  Sorry, I don't like that arrangement."

Jason (in his pitiful voice):  "But I'm sleepy."

Me:  "Then pull over and let me drive."

Jason:  "But you don't like to drive."

Me:  "But I'd rather drive than be the passenger whose driver is asleep at the wheel."

After a few giggles (we were both really tired from the long, busy weekend), the conversation ended, but my thoughts did not.  Over and over again the last phrase I uttered came back to me, and I wondered if perhaps that's why I keep trying to "take the wheel" in my spiritual life.  Could it be that I'm always trying to take control because I feel that the Lord is asleep at the wheel?

Psalm 121:4 makes it clear, Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.  So, deep down, I know that God isn't asleep.  I know in my heart that He has never fallen asleep on the job.  But sometimes He seems so very far away and so quiet that I find myself doubting what I know to be true.  And in those times, I have the same reaction that I had with Jason on Sunday.  No, I don't really want to drive, but I'd rather drive than be the passenger when the driver is asleep at the wheel.  So, I take control and immediately drive myself into a ditch.  Much better, huh?

My dear friend, if I could leave you with a single thought today, it is this:  Let God do the driving!  He is not asleep at the wheel even though it may seem like it.  He is not veering out of control even though the evidence may say otherwise.  He is not lost even though nothing around you looks familiar.  Please, just sit back and trust the Driver.  He will get you where you need to go.

Monday, August 31, 2015

For the Sake of the One Inside You

A few nights ago I was having trouble sleeping, so my mind wandered hither and yon to a variety of crazy thoughts.  One such thought was the memory of a show I had watched several weeks ago.  One of the female characters had just discovered she was going to have a baby, but she didn't want anyone to know yet.  On two different occasions, she picked up a glass of wine, took a sip, then comically dribbled the wine back into the glass when she realized what she was doing.

Obviously, the woman was concerned about the effects the wine would have on her unborn child, and for that, I applaud her.  But isn't it funny that she wasn't equally concerned about the effects the wine would have on her own body?  From the way she grabbed the glass and sipped on the liquid, it was obvious that she had no problems drinking wine normally.  But things were different now, and she had to change her entire way of thinking and living because of the one living inside of her.

All of us who are Christians have Someone living inside of us too, and that Someone should cause us to live and think differently.  Things that we would normally do no longer seem appropriate.  Things that used to come naturally to us now don't seem like such a good idea after all.  In a sense, we've made changes for the One inside of us--changes that we wouldn't have normally made for ourselves.  At least, that's how it should be.

Unfortunately, there are too many people in the world today that are walking around claiming the name of Christ, but nothing about them seems to have changed.  They still hang around the same crowd and tell the same dirty jokes.  They cling to unhealthy habits that are destroying the temple of the Holy Ghost.  They don't go to church on any regular basis.  They spend far more time talking about their favorite sport or their weekend at the lake than they do talking about things of any spiritual importance.  We can't judge the heart, mind you, but on the surface, everything looks "normal."  But it shouldn't!

Please understand, I'm not saying that we should all go around quoting Scripture to everyone we meet and putting on a show so that others will think we're spiritual.  That's what the Pharisees did, and Jesus didn't care much for their approach.  That's not what I'm saying here.  All I'm saying is that things change when the Holy Spirit moves in, and if you're living the same life that you did before you got saved, you may want to check up on that.  If nothing is different, then there's definitely a problem.  You see, just like the pregnant woman in the show, you may not be doing things differently for you, but you should have a longing to live differently for the sake of the One inside you.  If you're not, why not?

And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. - Ezekiel 36:27