Friday, February 17, 2012

#104 Outside Looking In

As a young boy I wanted desperately to play peewee baseball for my school. We were the hornets and we wore black, yellow, and white uniforms. Somehow I convinced my parents to take me for tryouts and by stroke of another miracle I made it on the team and was assigned to right field. But even though I made it on the team it was quickly apparent to everyone that baseball was not my sport. Most of the time I did not even go out on the field but stayed in the dugout watching the team lose. I wanted more than anything to be good at baseball. I wanted to be out there playing with my team and I actually wanted to be able to help them win. Looking at the other boys play from behind the chain links was not my idea of a good time in the least.

I know I am not the only one who has ever wished they could be good at a particular sport. Countless millions just like me have wished they were able to be good at sports, but like me they are relegated to the ranks of the spectators. But there came a time when I discovered a venture that does not require me to be athletically inclined. I learned that God calls us all to be soul winners and that He does not put anyone on the bench, so to speak.

When we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord then we are also accepting the call to carry the good news of the Gospel to all people. Just before Jesus left this earth He told His disciples to go to all people in every country; baptizing them and teaching them how to be disciples. And any one of us that will accept His call can and will be used by the Lord to bring others to Him. No one has to sit behind the fence of life watching others engage in soul winning while they hold down the proverbial pews. Jesus wants all of us to be involved in seeking others for Him to save.

But not all of us accept His call. Far too many of us desire to be bench/pew warmers instead of actually getting in the game. I wonder how many people could have been saved if each of us took this call seriously? I wonder how many more would be numbered with the saints of God if all of His people actually desired to share Jesus with the world around them? Friends, this world will not last forever; the Bible makes that clear as a bell. So if time is short--and it is--what will we do to make use of the time that we have?

It is my deep and earnest prayer that each of us who profess the name of Christ will never be content to stand on the outside looking on as others work for the salvation of souls. May each of us partner with the Lord and seek daily for someone to win for Jesus. God does not need your ability friends; He wants your availability. And if you and I give ourselves to the Lord He will put us on the field, He will coach us, He will train us, and ultimately He will empower us. Let today be the day that you choose to partner with the Lord for the salvation of a world in need of the Savior.

Dear Father,
I am so glad that You want to use us to do the work of soul winning on this earth. Angels could do it and would love to do so, but You have called us. You have called fallen, redeemed human beings to be the vehicle by which Your message of salvation reaches other fallen humans. Please give us a love for souls, Lord. Please give us a desire to be more than spectators. Please empower us to do Your will. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.

Friday, February 10, 2012

#103 Storing Up

I recently read a news story that was concerned about the animals that are hibernating. Their concern stemmed from the fact that this winter has been fairly mild across the country, and because of the mild winter there is a fear that hibernating animals will come out of their sleep too soon. I suppose time will tell.

Hibernation occurs in many animals. Bears, prairie dogs, bats, badgers, and some rodents are among those that hibernate. During hibernation the body temperature drops along with the animals metabolism. Breathing also slows during this deep sleep. In order to survive the winter in this state animals must work hard to pack on the pounds in the fall before the onset of winter. It is the stored fat that allows the animal to survive without eating during this time period.

As we look around this world we can quickly see that we are in the autumn of this earth's history and a spiritual winter is coming when God's people will see persecution again. In Matthew 24 Jesus told us that just before His second coming that our world would become like it was in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37). And according to Genesis 6:5 we read how the wickedness of mankind was very great and the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually during Noah's days.

Each newscast, blog, cable news network, and scores of anecdotal stories declare that we are fast approaching a state of affairs in this world such as it was in the days of Noah. No, I am not trying play the alarmist here, but allegiance to the Word of God demands that we take notice of the age in which we live so that those of us who know Christ can help those who don't get to know Him. And now is the time to store up on the Word of God. Now is the time to share the love of Jesus with a dying world. Now is the time to declare the nearness of the coming of Christ.

The Bible speaks of a time when God's people will be persecuted because of their faithfulness (Revelation 13:16). Some have said that history forgotten is history that is destined to be repeated. Let us not forget that there were times when it was illegal to own a personal copy of the Bible. If armed men came to your home and forcibly took away your Bible would you even miss it? Have you committed the Word to your memory so that if your Bible where taken away it would not matter because it's hidden in your heart? Sadly, I think that for too many of us if our Bible were gone we would have no spiritual fat to draw from during the famine for God's holy Word.

Friends, we live in very serious times. I challenge you to consider your priorities. And if spending time in the Word of God is not one of your priorities then I hope you will make a change. Partner with God to help you store up on His Word now so that you can have the assurance and peace that is found in the Word when Bibles are not stacked around you.

Dear Father God,
You have told us that today is the day of salvation. We know this truth because You have shared it through Your Word. Teach us to treasure the Word, Lord. Please teach us to store up now while time is our friend. Place within us a desire to save souls for Your kingdom, and fill us with Your Spirit. We praise You and ask these things in Jesus' mighty name, Amen.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

#102 High Octane Fuel

When you join the military they control your life. This truth became quickly apparent when I went to basic combat training (BCT). One of the goals of BCT is to get you in good physical condition.

I can recall the drill sergeants telling us that it was their job to make sure that we were in good shape before BCT was over. One of the drill sergeants stood before us and told us that he thought of our bodies as sports cars. He said that no one in their right mind would put bad fuel into an expensive sports car. And he saw part of his job as helping us to see that our bodies were like those sports cars he spoke of. With that in mind he said we should be careful what we put into our bodies when we went through line at the chow hall or dining facility. They were not allowed by Army regulations to tell us what we could eat, but they had the right to exercise any harmful foods out of us if they felt it was necessary.

No doubt the drill sergeants were right to tell us that putting garbage into our bodies was not a decision that set us up for success in our physical training program, but the Bible gives us a better reason that goes beyond mere physical fitness.

The Bible teaches us that we were created in the image of our loving God (Genesis 1:27) and I believe the Bible when it outlines what happened during that creation week. We are told that God spoke things into existence all that week, but when it came time to create man, the Lord formed us out of the dust of the earth, blew into our nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7). I submit to you that since God created us it's only reasonable to assume that He knows best what should go into our bodies by way of food. That's why the Lord gave guidelines from the very beginning as to what we should or should not be eating.

The very first diet given to mankind was a plant-based vegan diet. This is spelled out in Genesis 1:29 where God said, "See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food." Meat did not become a part of the diet until after the flood (Genesis 9:3). But even when meat entered the diet there were some things that were allowed and others that were not.

Some think that the distinction between clean and unclean meats came along as a special law for the Jews, but the truth is that the distinction was always there long before there were any Jews. We see this when Noah was instructed by the Lord Himself regarding the number of animals to bring into the ark. Noah was to bring seven of every clean beast and only two of the unclean (Genesis 7:2). But some would ask, "If people were not eating meat prior to the flood, why did clean and unclean matter?" That's a great question and the answer is really simple. They were only allowed to use the clean beasts for the sacrifices for sin. Had they brought only two of a particular clean animal and then sacrificed one to the Lord the species would have died out.

But the Old Testament is not the only portion of the Bible that concerns itself with our diet. Paul taught us in 1 Corinthians 10: 31 that everything we eat or drink should be done to God's glory, not for our own selfish indulgence. Some think though that the distinction of meats being clean and unclean was done away with in the New Testament. Many look to Peter's dream in Acts 10 where Peter is commanded to arise and eat various unclean animals as evidence that we can now simply eat anything we want as God's people. The truth is that the dream was not about food at all really. The food was simply a metaphor for people. In Peter's mind--as with all other Jews--if you were not Jewish then you were unclean. But Peter realized through his dream he was to call no man unclean (Acts 10:28). The dream was simply to prepare Peter to share the gospel with the Gentiles.

In short friends, we still exist in the image of God. Yes, that image has been marred by thousands of years of sinful living by all humanity, but we still bear God's image to some degree none the less. And the fact has not changed that God wants us to be healthy and happy (3 John 1:2). He still knows what's best for our bodies. We still should eat and drink only to glorify God. I have people tell me that Jesus nailed the distinction between clean and unclean meats to the cross. But as I read the Bible I discover that Jesus died to cleanse sinners, not hogs or any other meats that the Lord calls an abomination.(1 John 1:9).

Some may see this posting as a call for wide-spread vegetarianism, but that is not the case. My goal is to cause you to stop and think about what you put into your body because as a Christian it is not really your body at all. Paul gave us other counsel in 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 that reminds us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and that is because we were bought with a price. We were first bought through creation, and were repurchased through the blood of Jesus. That is why Paul said "therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's"

So my question to us all today is, "Are we glorifying God with our bodies, or are we living however we want eating and drinking whatever we want?" May we all purpose to glorify God in the bodies He has so graciously given us.

Dear Father in Heaven,
Thank You for caring so much about us that You did not leave our diet up to chance. Thank You for guiding us even in our diet. We realize that You only want us to be happy and healthy so please teach us to embrace Your teaching as it relates to our diet. We give You thanks and praise in Jesus' name, Amen.