What’s Your Motivation?

“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'” (Matthew 22:37)

You will recognize this verse from the encounter Jesus had with the lawyer who asked Him which commandment in the law was the greatest. Jesus’ answer to him reminded me today to check my motivation for the things which I do — not just today, but every day. Let me explain.

In his book, Exposition of the Ten Commandments, Dr. Ezekiel Hopkins wrote: “This command has respect to worship, and requires four things: (1) We must have a God, which of course is against atheism. (2) We must have the Lord Jehovah for our God, which is against idolatry. (3) We must have the only true God, the Lord Jehovah alone, and this is against polytheism, or the worshiping of many gods. (4) It requires that all our services and acts of worship to the one and only God be performed with sincerity and true devotion.”

Go back and read that paragraph again. Does that describe your worship of God? When I read that, I was reminded of what the Apostle Paul said in Colossians 3:23 — “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” It doesn’t matter if you are singing in the choir, teaching a Sunday School class, ushering, working in a factory or in an office, or serving at home as a wife and mother — our motivation for EVERYTHING we do is the fact that we love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind.

Dr. Adrian Rogers used to say, “If we please God, it doesn’t matter who we displease; and if we displease God, it doesn’t matter who we please.” My prayer is that everything I say and do is pleasing to the Lord — regardless of what others may say or think.

Far too often we throw a “pity party” for ourselves because we are unappreciated and unnoticed by others, when in reality, we shouldn’t concern ourselves with the opinions of others. Whatever we do, we are doing it for the Lord. 

How does that apply practically? If your boss comes in today and gives you a job that you really don’t want to do — don’t do it for him or her — do it for the Lord. When your children or your spouse aren’t appreciative of what you are doing at home — remember you are keeping those home fires burning for the Lord. 

I believe that when we do things God’s way, for God’s glory — we get God’s blessing. In Ecclesiastes 9, Solomon said, “whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” Whatever God has given you to do today — do it well and do it with the right motivation — because you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.

Have a great day.

Patiently Waiting…?

“I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.” (Psalm 40:1)

I probably don’t have to tell you this, but there is a tremendous difference between “waiting” and “waiting patiently.” Those of you who know me know that I don’t wait very well. I can mark time for a little while, but I’m one who hasn’t always believed that “waiting” and “patiently” should even be used in the same sentence. Waiting patiently requires great faith and trust that God is faithful. That is a lesson I have had to learn (and am still learning) through years of experience. Let me fill you in on a little secret — God doesn’t always move on my time table! In fact, I’ve noticed that God moves at an entirely different rate of speed than I do.

In his book about Abraham, F.B. Meyer said something that has made an indelible impression in my life. “God has His set times. It is not for us to know them. Indeed, we cannot know them. We must wait for them. If God had told Abraham in Haran that he must wait all those years until he pressed the promised child to his bosom, his heart would have failed him. So, in gracious love, the length of the weary years was hidden. And only as they were nearly spent and there were only a few more months to wait, God told him, according to the time of life, ‘Sarah shall have a son.'”

You may need to read that paragraph again…and again…and again. If God told you on the front end how long you would wait to find the fulfillment of your desire or pleasure or dream, you’d lose heart. You’d grow weary in well doing. I know I would! But God doesn’t tell us. He just says, “Wait. I keep My Word. I’m in no hurry. I’ve got all the time in the world! In the process of time, I’m developing you and growing you so that you will be ready for the promise to be fulfilled.”

We never learn to be patient until we have to wait. Someone said, “Patience is the ability to keep your motor idling when you feel like stripping your gears.” That’s a great picture! Waiting for God to move is never easy, but if you continue reading Psalm 40, you will discover that David received great benefits from “patiently waiting” on God. God delivered him from his despair, set his feet on a rock, gave him a firm place to stand, and put a new song in his mouth.

Remember…be patient and wait! (I’m talking to myself.) In God’s time, He WILL fulfill all His promises and it will definitely be worth the wait.

Have a great day.

Everybody Can’t Be Right…

“Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)

The picture attached to today’s devotion is of Buddah Point on the island of Hawaii. When I saw this statue and noticed the people having their picture made with it and the attention being paid to it, I was reminded of a song by The Imperials from back in the 1970s. It was called “Oh Buddah.” Here are some of the words…

Well, Old Buddha was a man and I’m sure that he meant well
But I pray for his disciples lest they wind up in hell
And I’m sure that old Mohammed thought he knew the way
But it won’t be Hare Krishna we stand before on The Judgment Day.

No, it won’t be old Buddha that’s sitting on the throne
And it won’t be old Mohammed that’s calling us Home
And it won’t be Hare Krishna that plays that trumpet tune
And we’re going to see The Son not Reverend Moon! 

Well, I don’t hate anybody so please don’t take me wrong
But there really is a message to this simple song
You see there’s only one way Jesus if eternal life is your goal
Meditation of the mind won’t save your soul.

We live in a world today that seems to believe that EVERYBODY possess truth. If you think about that, it is logically impossible. EVERYBODY can’t be right. By definition, if something is right, then something else must be wrong. For example, 2+2=4 — always has been, always will be. I don’t care how you feel about that or if you have an aversion to the number 4 or if you believe that 2+2=5 — it’s 4 — accept it.

Please make sure you understand this…while TRUTH may be offensive, YOU don’t have to be offensive in sharing the truth. Here’s what I mean. Jesus didn’t say, “I am A way.” He said, “I am THE way.” That is a statement of FACT. It is either true or it’s not true. It can’t be partially true. So don’t back down when making the statement of fact — but also don’t get arrogant in sharing that fact. 

In America, everybody has the right to believe what they want to believe, but they don’t have the right to say that what they believe is TRUE. Truth has to be demonstratively provable — remember 2+2=4. Jesus proved Himself to be exactly who He claimed to be — so I don’t have to make excuses and I certainly don’t have to say, “Well, Jesus is the way FOR ME, but YOU may have a different way.” That’s not possible. Jesus is either THE way or He is NO way.

I understand the desire to be liked and accepted by people — and I certainly don’t want to express my faith in an arrogant and prideful way. I want people to understand this wonderful TRUTH so they can have the assurance of salvation through Christ alone by grace alone through faith alone. I’m not helping anyone by allowing them to go through life thinking there are many truths. I only help others when I am able to help them understand the TRUTH of the Gospel.

So…people will continue to take their picture with Buddah at Buddah Point and people will continue to worship Buddah or Mohammed or whoever they choose — they are free to do that. But they are WRONG. Jesus clearly said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Don’t apologize for believing that…because it’s the TRUTH.

Have a great day.

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A Proper Receiver

First, let me thank you for the prayers and kind words I’ve received over the last 2 weeks. We celebrated the wedding of our son Dustin to Emily and then Edna and I traveled to Hawaii for a 10 day trip. Both the wedding and the trip were wonderful and we appreciate the love and support of so many of our friends — many who traveled great distances — in order to celebrate with us. Now, it’s back to reality.

“But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” (I Corinthians 2:14)

Just a few months after color television had been introduced into a certain rural area, one fellow wrote a letter to his local TV station complaining that the pictures were still coming to him in black and white. Accusing the management of deliberately misleading the public, he demanded an apology. The TV officials finally were able to explain to this disgruntled man that the color picture could not be picked up by his ordinary black and white TV set. The difficulty, they explained, was not in their transmission but in his receiver.

That reminds me of many people who fail to fully appreciate the Bible. They constantly claim that the Bible falls short of the claims it makes for itself. I’ve concluded that such criticism too often comes from people who simply have bad “receivers.” I Corinthians 2:14 refers to them as “a natural man.” People like this may well appreciate the history of the Bible, the literature of the Bible and even the moral teachings of the Bible, but that’s it. Since they haven’t been properly “tuned in”, it is impossible for them to get the true picture.

When you don’t receive the full communication from God — don’t blame Him. Check your receiver. Admit where the problem really lies. I know that the Bible came directly from God. Occasionally, I’ll have someone say, “Pastor, how can you make that statement?” My answer is pretty simple — Jesus told me. It is on the authority of His word, as the God of the universe, that I am sure that the Bible is the absolute Word of God. Get the proper “receiver” and the picture become crystal clear — and IN COLOR!

Have a great Monday.

 

No Excitement — but Still Usable

“Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did.” (Acts 9:36)

If you ask most people, if they know anything at all about Acts 9, they will say it records the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. I don’t intend in this little piece to in any way minimize that great event. But there are two other people in Acts 9 who are often overlooked but who deserve some attention. One is the disciple Ananias (vv. 10-19) and then there is the subject of our verse for today — Dorcas (vv. 36-43).

When I read about Dorcas, I am reminded of God’s priorities. Here in the United States, we tend to get too caught up in public visibility and celebrity. Even in religious life, if you watch much in the way of “Christian” television, you see mega churches and syndicated television broadcasts. The most “popular” preachers are now beamed into satellite campuses often hundreds of miles away from their “main” church campus. Modern pastors have little contact with their congregation and therefore little real influence in the lives of the people who listen to their sermons. 

In our culture today, we forget about those faithful little churches and pastors in out of the way places who have proclaimed the Gospel message not to crowds of thousands, but many time to crowds of less than 100. Those pastors are my heroes!

The point of the story of Dorcas (in my mind) is that God loves and uses ordinary Christians whose lives may seem to reflect no excitement, no travel, and no fame. They simply are faithful where God has placed them. Dorcas had a wonderful ministry in service to our Lord. Acts 9:39 suggests that Dorcas’ ministry was to the widows.

If you continue in that story, you see that Dorcas got sick and died. Normally, they wouldn’t let the corpse lay overnight between death and burial, but in this case, they washed Dorcas’ body and placed her in a room. The Holy Spirit was already arranging events that would further the growth of the church. Dorcas’ death just provided her with another opportunity to model Christian dignity. They called for Peter to come.

Everything about this brief story in the Scripture shows just how great the Dorcas’ life was. She had a tremendous impact on the people around her. The fact that they called for Peter to come shows just how grief stricken these people were. I believe that by raising her from the dead, God also showed them how valuable Dorcas was to Him. Raising people from the dead was not something you did in ministry every day.

The results? Believers rejoiced and lost people got saved. What more could you desire from your life than to cause revival to break out in your community?

The Apostle Paul certainly had a great impact on the world for Jesus Christ — no argument there. But I contend that Dorcas — faithful even in death — also made an impact that only eternity will measure. I pray I will surrender myself to God in that same way. I’ll probably never preach to thousands around the world, but I sure can be faithful in the place where God places me. At the end of the day, the only words that will matter are the ones spoken by God — “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Vacation Time!

This will be the last devotion I will write for a few weeks. All the planning is complete, the bride and groom are excited and Edna and I leave tomorrow (Thursday) for Knoxville, Tennessee to join with family and friends at Dustin and Emily’s wedding on Saturday. Pray for them as they begin their life together. We are all so very excited for them.

On Monday, June 10 — Ms. Edna and I are headed to HAWAII! From the first day I met her, Edna has always wanted to go to Hawaii. Finally, after 30 years of marriage, we are headed to the islands. I don’t know what to expect, but I know when you take two country people and send them anywhere — adventure and comedy are sure to follow!

I’ll see you in about 2 weeks! Until then, thank you so much for your continued support of this daily blog. Just in the last week, we have had visitors from the United Kingdom, Russian Federation and the Philippines. I am so thankful for the way God is using these messages to encourage Christians around the world. Your prayers, love and encouragement are a blessing to me!

See you in a few weeks. Have a great Wednesday.

Continual Consistency

“Hold me up, and I shall be safe, and I shall observe Your statues continually.” (Psalm 119:117)

There is an old story about a Christian monk who always drank from a glass with a broken stem. There were perfectly good glasses that he could have used, but he always used the one with the broken stem. With the broken stem, the monk was unable to put the glass down and he said it reminded him of the absolute weakness of the Christian.

That is a point I need to be reminded of often myself. I know that it is only through the undergirding power of the Holy Spirit of God that I am able to survive in this world of trials and temptations.

I’m amazed at the number of people who don’t believe what I am about to say. Today, you and I are engaged in a battle. This is not a battle that involves terrorist cells or armies that can be seem, but this is a spiritual war. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” That verse reminds me that as a Christian, I am opposed by hostile, evil forces that want to do all they can to cause me to stumble. And while I alone am responsible for my own actions, these wicked forces will do everything they can to facilitate my doing the wrong things.

Write this statement down somewhere so you can see it often.

God’s love for you is the great eternal constant in the midst of all the inconsistencies of your daily walk.

That’s some good news! In order for you and me to be successful in this spiritual war, we must be sensitive to and fully aware of our human weaknesses and our utter dependence on God. In Psalm 119:115, the Psalmist said, “Depart from me, you evildoers. For I will keep the commandments of my God!” He recognizes that in order to get through this life, we must be upheld by the very hand of God. We cannot fight this war in our own strength. 

If we are going to live victoriously, we must consistently and continually immerse ourselves in God’s Word so that we can be reminded of our utter dependence on God for everything. I can’t fight the devil in my power — but when I fight in the power of God — I am invincible!

I don’t know any Christian who deliberately gets up in the morning and says, “I believe I will disobey God and compromise my faith today.” Nobody in his/her right mind would ever do that. But I do know many Christians, who, in times of temptation and trial, become diluted and begin to think that they have the power to overcome the devil all by themselves.

In our verse today (Psalm 119:117), the Psalmist asks God to help him be continually consistent in all his actions. “Hold me up, and I shall be safe.” Remember the illustration of the broken glass? You and I cannot lean on our own understanding or our own human power. We must continually and consistently look to God and His Word for our help and our support.

When we do that — we can live in victory over the evil that sees to ensnare us.

Have a great Tuesday.

Put to the Integrity Test

“He who walks in integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will be found out.” (Proverbs 10:9)

What comes to mind when you think of the word INTEGRITY? The dictionary says that integrity is “soundness; adherence to a code of values; utter sincerity, honesty and candor; completeness.”

There is an old story about a preacher in a certain small Southern city. He was riding the bus downtown one morning. When he got on, he paid the driver his fare, and the driver gave him his change. When the preacher got to his seat, he realized that the driver had given him too much change. You know the routine — “WOW. God has really blessed me today. It must be my lucky day!” The preacher realized things were a little tight that day and he thought it really wouldn’t make any difference if he returned that extra change or not. He wrestled with his dilemma throughout the ride. Finally, as he came to his stop, he went to the driver and said, “Sir, you gave me too much change earlier. You made a mistake.” The driver smiled and said, “No, it wasn’t a mistake. You see, I attended your church yesterday and heard you preach about honesty and integrity. I just thought I would put you to the test.”

In his book Come Before Winter, Dr. Chuck Swindoll gives a very simple test to see if you have integrity…

*When you promise to pray for someone, do you?

*When you promise to arrive at a particular time, do you?

*When you promise to pay a debt, do you?

The Bible says that integrity is a constant and consistent lifestyle. Integrity is character, credibility and consistency. Lack of integrity sows seeds of self-destruction. Each “little white lie,” “moral compromise”or “ethical failure” eats away at our integrity. While it may seem unimportant at the time, you will discover that even a “little white lie” makes it easier to tell the next one.

The greatest piece of advice I ever received was this — your name and your reputation are all you really have. What takes a lifetime to build can be destroyed in less than five minutes. When you think about it, that’s true. Remember Jim Bakker? Richard Nixon? and the list could go on and on and on.

Proverbs 13:6 says, “Righteousness guards the one whose way is blameless, but wickedness subverts the sinner.”

Let’s protect our integrity this week by simply keeping the promises we have made — little or big.

Have a great day.