A few years back while working in Commercial Sales for TruGreen. I had a fairly tight knit group of guys I worked with. When one of us had a particularly good sales week and/or month it was generally brought up by our VP of Sales. The others would then “dog pile” on the acclaimed Sales Manager. One of our favorite jabs was the phrase, “look at me”. As in, “look at me, I’m the sales king”, parading around so that everyone knows it. It was all in good fun but it brings up the subject of our motivation for doing what we do. Is it nice to be recognized for doing a good job? You betcha! But if your only motivation is being recognized, you’re probably not going to be content on a regular basis.
Such was the subject of Paul’s discussion on speaking in tongues in 1 Corinthians 14. It seems that the Corinthians loved to hear them selves babble on with seemingly no other purpose than being recognized for having this spiritual gift. Paul clearly states that such a gift should be revered and used in public worship when appropriate but generally speaking, this is something reserved for time alone with God. Here he points out much the same thing Jesus did with the Pharisees in Matthew 23, “if you’re doing this for show, you might as well not be doing it.”
So how does this relate to us? In terms of your time with God are you earnest in your worship or is God your safety net when all else fails? Are you attending church to be seen or are you truly seeking a lasting relationship with God? Our only motivation, our greatest hope in our time with God should be that when people do, “look at me”, they see and want to know Him.
1 Corinthians 14:19 – Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.
We recently received the news that another entertainer apparently thought ending their life was the only option left. I can’t pretend to understand the depths of such a decision but one thing that I am sure of is that it was void of love. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul goes to great lengths to put love in its proper perspective. This is a love that requires nothing in return. This is a love that moves us to put others before ourselves. It is sacrificial love born of God and exampled by Jesus in order that we may live. Spurgeon delivers an amazing relative comparison: “I would, my brothers and sisters, that we could all imitate the pearl oyster. A hurtful particle intrudes itself into its shell, and this vexes and grieves it. It cannot eject the evil, and what does it do but cover it with a precious substance extracted out of its own life, by which it turns the intruder into a pearl. Oh, that we could do so with the provocations we receive from our fellow Christians, so that pearls of patience, gentleness, long-suffering, and forgiveness might be bred within us by that which has harmed us.”
Love in this form allows us to see people as Jesus saw those who nailed him to the cross and asked God to forgive them. It cannot exist in us unless we exist in Him!
1 Corinthians 13:7 – Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
We all have gone through times in our lives when we have felt insignificant. There could be a myriad of reasons to feel this way, regardless, it is not of God. There is nothing insignificant to God, everything has a purpose, especially his children. Regardless of your view of your place in this world, God wants you to know that you matter. Matthew 6:26 – Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
God has put you here for a reason, you are vital to his bigger story. I invite you to rest knowing his love for you usurps any set back you may be facing. You matter to him and my guess is you also matter to whole bunch of people here too.
1 Corinthians 12:18 (ESV) But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.
I was blessed to grow up in a neighborhood full of children. When we played hide and seek it was not uncommon to have 20 or more kids. During this period things were different. We were all over the place from one house to another. Because of this, It was also not uncommon for me to be disciplined by another parent or my parents to another kid. Mr Wilson was a fairly large man with an even larger presence. He was not to be messed with and it would be safe to say that I had a healthy fear of him. We were taught to respect authority, from our parents, to coaches, teachers and yes, other parents.
In 1 Corinthians 11 Paul makes it clear that God has established principles of order, authority, and accountability. For whatever reason, these have diminished from our society. Children ignore their parents, defy their teachers and thumb their nose at just about any authority. I have stated before that children learn much more from our actions than our words, so while we sit and ponder why kids are so defiant, need we look further than ourselves? Our ultimate authority is God. Everyday our society defies what he has laid out for us. We resist everything from the laws of the land to an expectation from our boss. Exacting discipline is not fun but it’s clear that without it, we are quickly approaching a state of anarchy. We must get back to establishing this order to our children but first we must respect and submit to it as well. 1 Corinthians 11:3 – But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.
When we were young much of what happened to us was closely monitored by our parents. There was an inherent feeling of comfort with Mom & Dad nearby. When we fell and skinned a knee or some other life shattering event happened, we could run to our parents and they would make it “all better”. As we grew older and started venturing out on our own who was always there to rescue us or prevent us from making huge mistakes? . . . Our parents.
Whether you know or accept this to be true, God is watching over everything that goes on in your life. Think about a time when you were about to, or actually did something stupid and/or wrong and for whatever reason you emerged unscathed. There are way too many of those in my past! However, I can look back on those moments now and know that even though I wasn’t looking out for my self or my friends God was watching over us just as he did with you. This happened because God has a plan for YOUR life.
Now just as your parents did, God might have a little repercussion planned for you, if you blatantly ignore him and live for yourself and your needs.
When you put your life in God’s hands and trust in him implicitly, then you are freed to live life to fullest. When you veer off the “right path”, God will be there to catch you when you fall, just as your parents did when you were a child. PSA 121:7-8 – The Lord will keep you from all harm– he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore
Memorial Day, Like most things in life we tend to take this day for granted. It’s a day where we get together with friends and “kick-off” the summer by firing up the grill. I sat behind a young couple in church this morning. As is customary in our church, the pastor recognized any serving military personnel along with their families and last, but not least, the families that have lost loved ones while serving in the armed forces. The young man and his wife were obviously very affected by the latter recognition. I’d like to think I’m about as patriotic as the next guy, but when I saw this unfold in front of me, it really sank into what this day means to those who have lost a parent, spouse or sibling. Then I thought that this person that they were mourning also fought for me. Every person killed in action since the Revolutionary War died for you and me. They died to give me the right to sit here and write this. They died for you to have the right to read this and hit delete if you don’t like it. An American Soldier dies almost every day and we just go about our business taking the freedom that
he or she was fighting for, for granted. It’s almost shameful that we only honor them once a year.
So what can we do to honor them 24/7/365? Paul wrote in Galations 5:13 – You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. It is only fitting that we honor our fallen heroes by using the liberty, first granted to us by God himself, to serve others. If we would all give just one hour a week to serve I’m confident our world would dramatically change. So did you put out your Flag today? Great start . . . . now find a cause you can wrap your heart around and truly honor those who have given everything for YOU . . . . by serving! John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
Mother’s Day . . . . domestically speaking, there is no other day in our society that is more revered, and deservedly so. From the minute we are brought into this world our Mothers provide for us in so many ways. When asked who do you trust more than anyone else? most people answer, “my Mother”. This is no surprise, as most of us have a deep personal relationship with our Mothers.
Believe it or not, Jesus knows who you are and wants to have the same kind of relationship with you, that you have experienced with your Mother. In the same way that your Mother has been there for you, Jesus can be there too. He can provide, comfort in times of despair; . . . . assurance, when there seems to be no reason for any; . . . . sound advice, if you’ll only ask; . . . . and greater joy than you have ever experienced. Other than baking cookies, he can be all that your Mother is, and so much more.
It’s only natural that we trust our Mothers, for they brought us into this world. So why is it that we can’t trust Jesus? It’s hard to trust someone that you don’t know, isn’t it? The good news is that he his waiting for you right now and a relationship with Jesus will do wonders for every aspect of your life. Your Mother has undoubtedly come to your rescue one or twice, but I urge you to take some time to get to know the only one that can truly SAVE you, Jesus Christ.
PSA 9:10 – Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.
For me, reading the above verses a few years ago would have caused me to just scratch my head. Our Pastor read and explained these verses sometime last year and they really stuck in my head. I say this partially because I have never really had a great relationship with my brother, we’re not at odds or estranged, we’re just not “close”. Why am I saying this here . . . .”they say” the first step in fixing a problem is admitting to it . . .
This is exactly what Jesus is telling the disciples in the Sermon on the Mount. God wants to have a relationship with each of his children, that would be you and I. There are multiple references in the Bible where we are told to put God first. However, here we have the Son of God telling us that before we come to worship he wants us to resolve our petty differences with our fellow man. When you think about it, most of our disagreements with others are petty, yet we let them fester until we can’t even remember why we were initially mad, we just know we were mad. Can you think of an old friend, co-worker or family member that you have a disagreement with. Maybe it’s that very issue that is keeping you from having a better relationship with God, not to mention the person involved. I think Luke put it very concisely in Luk 6:37 – “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” God wants to be close to you, but he knows if your heart is weighted it can not be fully open to him. Settle your differences and you’ll be in a much better place to receive God’s word.
Mat 5:22 – But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ (aka, you vain fellow) is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
I sent this out to our sales staff a couple days ago. However it applies to just about everyone. You might not be in sales but most everyday we are all faced with some degree of defeat or rejection. Hope you find it useful . . . . .
As I was reading Acts 13 over the last few days I came upon what I consider a direct correlation to one of our key functions here, Sales calls . . .
Acts 13 tells of the first real missionary effort. It was led by Paul and Barnabas but John Mark accompanied them for a short time as well.
It tells of their great success in many regions but the chapter ends in their expulsion from the city of Pisidian Antioch. They were utterly rejected by those in power for telling of the same message that many before believed and came to Christ by. The message was the same but those who received it were in a decidedly different frame of mind. The chapter ends with these two verses, Acts 13:51-52 but they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went down to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with the joy and with the Holy Spirit.
We are blessed to work for a company that I know we all believe in. We honor and glorify God in all we do. We offer a product that is a benefit for all who choose to utilize it. However, when we call on a prospect many times we are met with resistance and rejected. Our nature or maybe the enemy takes that event and attempts to bring us down. Casting a shadow over us and creating a fear that the next call will end the same way. We truly can’t control how people receive what we are offering. If we call prospect A and they say Yes and then turn right around and call prospect B that says No, was it the message or the one who received it? The next time you get discouraged making calls, do as Paul and Barnabas did, shake the dust of your feet and proceed to the next opportunity, knowing that with every defeat God will use it to make you stronger.
Prayer a word and frankly an activity, that we tend to take for granted. If you’re anything like me your prayer life has taken many differing forms. For me I have found myself praying at night only to fall fast asleep. At other times right in the middle of a prayer my mind has wandered to something not closely relevant to my prayer.
About a year ago I did offer up a prayer asking God to help me in this area. He answered that prayer by my church asking me to be their prayer director. Tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor. Not only did I need to get my own prayer life together now I was given the responsibility of praying for others. While I’m still hit and miss in this area, hopefully more hit, I now see it as the privilege that it is.
When Peter was imprisoned by King Herod his fate was all but sealed. James had just been captured and beheaded by the very same man, who saw this as an opportunity for political gain (some things never change). Upon Peter’s capture the church prayed for him. The commentary on this verse describes the prayer of being of the most earnest kind. In fact the Greek word Ektenos was used here. It means the stretching of muscles to their limits. The same word Luke uses to describe Jesus’ prayer in the Garden. So that’s some serious prayer. Peter was then rescued by an Angel right out from under heavy guard.
I guess my point here is when we go through the motion of prayer, treating it like any other menial task, God responds in kind. However, when are earnest in our petitions, he is earnest in helping us through and or with our prayers. Use your time of prayer to speak to God. Give him and your prayers the time and consideration that they warrant and see how he begins to respond.
Acts 12:5 – So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.