Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Are You Ready?

“The young preacher rose to give his first sermon. Since the title of the lesson was ‘Behold I Come Quickly’, he decided to demonstrate it as he announced it. Standing some four paces behind the pulpit, he rushed forward and, at the same time, announced in kind of an eerie voice, “Behold, I come quickly!” When he couldn’t remember the first point in his introduction, he repeated the process and rushed forward announcing his subject, this time with more enthusiasm. Again, he was still adrift from his first major point, so, backing away, he rushed forward saying, “Behold, I come quickly!” Tripping over a small throw rug, he knocked the pulpit over, did a flip and landed right in an older lady’s lap, and they both went to the floor. He was embarrassed beyond words and, trying to help her up, offered his apology. “That’s alright, sonny boy,” she said. “You’d done warned me three times and I should of had enough sense to have moved” (Jack Exum, “The Art of Illustrating,” pp. 145-146).

Be ready. It is a common refrain in the pages of Scripture. “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed” (1 Timothy 6:18-19). “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). “Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed” (Titus 3:1). “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15).

It has been said that “...heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.” Are you ready?

God loves you!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Unfailing Words

"Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the LORD your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed. It shall come about that just as all the good words which the LORD your God spoke to you have come upon you, so the LORD will bring upon you all the threats, until He has destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God has given you” (Joshua 23:14-15).

In chapter 23, Joshua is sharing some final words with the leaders of Israel as the time for his passing draws near. He reminds them of all that had been accomplished because God had been fighting for them. He encourages them to remain true to God and to avoid the tempting allure of pagan influences. He clearly warns them of the consequences of disobeying God. And, according to Joshua, all of his reminders, encouragements, and warnings are rooted in a foundational fact: God keeps His word.

A God who keeps His word can be a mixed blessing, depending on one’s relationship with Him. If I am seeking to love God and cling to Him in my life, I have nothing to fear from a God Who keeps His word. But if I choose to cling to the world and reject His instructions, I have every reason to dread a God Who keeps His word. The same God who speaks words of blessing and comfort to the faithful also speaks words of threat and warning to the unfaithful. And rest assured that He will keep every word -- good or bad. God issues no idle blessings or idle threats.

Lord, please help me to live my life in such a way that I will never have to live in fear of any word You speak. Thank You for being a God who honors His Word.

God loves you!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Good Looks

“Most people assume being good-looking gives you a career boost. But just how much does it help? A lot. Good-looking people charm interviewers, get hired faster, are more likely to make more sales and get more raises. Daniel Hamermesh, an economics professor at the University of Texas in Austin, measures out the benefits in his book, "Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful." According to his research, attractive people are likely to earn an average of 3% to 4% more than a person with below-average looks. That adds up to $230,000 more over a lifetime for the typical good-looking person, Dr. Hamermesh estimates. Even an average-looking worker is likely to make $140,000 more over a lifetime than an ugly worker” (Sue Shellenbarger, “On the Job, Beauty Is More Than Skin-Deep,” wsj.com, 10-27-11).

This research is not surprising to me. We live in an image-conscious society. We want our movie stars and athletes to be good-looking. Supermodels are used more often in advertising than those with average looks. Some factor in attractiveness as they choose a candidate for political office. Gone are the days when grandfatherly types like Walter Cronkite could get a job as a news anchor for a major network. Now we demand those who can deliver the news and look good doing it. The toxic message were are sending to our young people is that, unless they are good-looking, they can never be popular or financially secure. They are being convinced that if they aren’t one of the “beautiful” people, they will always be second rate.

How thankful I am that my relationship with God does not depend on my physical appearance. How grateful I am that God doesn’t see as the world sees (1 Samuel 16:7). Apparently there was nothing physically attractive about Jesus (Isaiah 53:2) and He still changed the world. That means there is hope for me! With God’s help, I can make a difference in my little corner of the world even if I don’t look like a movie star.

God loves you!