Friday, September 28, 2012

Lazy Is NOT Cool

Proverbs 24:30-34 (NIV) “I went past the field of a sluggard, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins.  I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw:  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest– and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.”

I grew up with parents who taught me not to be lazy.  In fact, everyone in our household had jobs to do.  When I was just a little girl, my mother had me helping with the laundry, dusting furniture, washing dishes and taking care of our pets.  As I grew older, my tasks expanded, according to my abilities.  When we moved to a small farm, I began helping my dad with outside chores, cutting grass, trimming hedges, caring for the farm animals and working in the vegetable garden.  As most children, I complained at times, but in all honesty, I truly enjoyed staying busy and experiencing the results of my work.  As an adult, I have never been without a job when one was needed and I still enjoy the results of a job well done.

This scripture speaks about the writer seeing someone’s vineyard that had been left untended.  He calls the person a sluggard.  Webster’s Dictionary uses these synonyms to describe a sluggard: couch potato, deadbeat, do-nothing, drone, idler, layabout, loafer, slouch, lazybones.  Because the owner of the vineyard was lazy, it had gone to waste and had become worthless.

Proverbs 13:4 (NLT) says it best, “Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.”

Very few things in life come without effort.  Sadly, there’s some people who put a lot of effort into getting things through fraud or crime, but be assured, just as a seed is sown into the ground, it will bring forth a crop.  Galatians 6:7 (NIV) “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.”

It is best to sow diligence and hard work, you will surely reap its rewards and benefits!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Something New

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV) “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!”

Everybody likes new things!  At the moment, I am shopping for something new to give my grandchildren for their birthday.  They are triplets and will be two years old.  Needless to say, they will be excited to receive a new toy from their grandmother and I will be excited too!  That’s the way it is with something new… exciting! 

God encourages us with this scripture to look forward to new, exciting things that He is going to do.  When we dwell in the past, especially our failures, shortcomings, losses, misfortunes, disappointments and such, we are robbed of joy, peace and happiness.  There’s nothing more depressing than to spend time thinking on all these types of things.  But Isaiah says to forget these things and to not live in the past.

Micah 7:19 (NIV) “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” 

If God throws our sins into the sea, who are we to drag them up again?  If we’ve asked His forgiveness, He forgives AND forgets!  We actually block the new and exciting things God wants to do in our lives by holding onto our failures. 

Have you ever tried to walk somewhere while you’re looking behind?  You probably stumbled off the path if you did.  We need to keep our eyes looking ahead, not behind.  Whatever we have our focus set upon is exactly where we set our life to go.

Heavenly Father, help us find
Joy in thinking
Of Your love.
Help us lose
Thoughts of our sins,
And leave them in
The sea of forgetfulness.
Heavenly Father, help us rest
On Your promises,
They are best
Suited for life’s every test.
Help us expect something new
Straight from heaven
Straight from You!   

Monday, September 10, 2012

Baa Or But?

Matthew 25:31-33 (NRSVB)  "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

As I was I in prayer this week over a dear sister who has befallen into dire physical complications, already spending many weeks in the hospital, with seemingly more weeks yet to come, I was not only distraught about her condition, but also about the growing indifference of believers who declare they are too busy to visit her or even give her a call.  This sister has been a member of our church for twenty years, so it’s not that she is new and relatively unknown, and sadly, this is not the only case that I’ve noticed this growing dilemma.  When asked if they’ve called or been able to drop by, they excuse themselves because their lives are so busy; jobs, children, grandchildren, etc.  If anyone understands busy, I do, and I must admit my own shortcomings, too, that I haven’t always been as outreaching either.

As I was praying over this matter, this scripture in Matthew came to my mind.  I looked it up and even though I remembered basically what it said, I was quite taken aback for the distinction it made between the sheep and the goats.  Let’s read on.

 34 “Then the king will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

Now I’m sure you have heard this scripture taught many times, just as I have, and it is usually during a mission outreach or missions fundraising effort, reminding us that as we give to send missionaries out, they are doing these things, and there is truth in that.  I can’t go to India and Africa, or to the Amazon, but I can help send someone else and thus, I have a part in it.  But in the next verses, it appears that Christ is talking about something far closer to home.

37 Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' 40 And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

In the King James Version of the Bible, verse 40 says, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”  The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible says, “members of my family”.  It appears that Jesus is speaking about our brothers and sisters in Christ!

So these are the people who are seated at the right hand of Jesus in Glory, the sheep who know the voice of their Shepherd and follow where He leads, John 10:27.  What would Jesus Do?  He would visit the sick, encourage the downtrodden, give to one who has a need, make a stranger feel welcome, visit those in prison.  As Christians (like Christ) we follow our Shepherd and obey His voice when we do these things. 

What are the characteristics of goats?  Well, let me tell you, if you want to deal with something that is exasperating and annoying, deal with a goat!  We have raised a few goats in our time and even used our Billy goat in a couple of church dramas.  That Billy never did what we needed him to do when he was supposed to do it.  In one drama, just as the shepherd character walked in front of the congregation with Billy, he just fell down on the floor and laid there!  The guy finally had to pick him up and drag him to the spot where he was supposed to stand!  Then Billy stood beside the shepherd and tried to eat the scenery and chewed on the shepherd’s robe the entire time.

Our goats would continually press their boundaries, even though we had electrical wire fencing in front of the regular fence.  Eventually they would make a way to get out.  They also climbed trees or anything else that would get them higher than the ground, and there’s nothing worse than the sound of a silly goat who is not a happy camper! 

Goats are "restless" and like to roam. Goats constantly challenge the boundaries set by the Shepherd. (They are never satisfied with where they are) In Jeremiah, God speaks of his sheep being scattered in the mountains like he-goats before the flock.
Goats are very curious, always looking for something to get into. Psalms 104:18 The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats;
 Goats don't like to follow, they like to lead, always have to be out in front. They are always sure "they" know where the flock needs to go.

 “41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' 44 Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?' 45 Then he will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.”

John 13:12 – 17 (NIV)  “When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

So the Great Shepherd is asking us today – which section do we want to be seated in, the Goat Section or the Sheep Section?   I pray that we will be His sheep!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Holy Beauty Pageant

Esther 4:14 (NIV) “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

Esther was one of those girls who happened to be at the right place at the right time with the right looks.  She was obviously very beautiful, young and desirable, however, God had His hand on her, which counted for more than anything she possessed.  She was a Jew and one of many who were a foreign people in the land where King Ahasuerus reigned over 127 provinces, from India to Ethiopia.  She lived with her uncle, Mordecai, because her parents were deceased, and he entered her in a beauty contest which would determine the new queen for King Ahasuerus.

Mordecai instructed Esther to keep her ethnicity secret and tell no one that she was Jewish.  Of all the many, many beautiful young ladies who the king could have picked, Esther stole his heart.  What a Cinderella story!  A young girl who had no royal bloodline, who was a foreigner, who came from a lowly family, who would have normally had no exposure to a king’s consideration of her is now the queen!

Before long, however, it became apparent why God had made this arrangement possible.  There was more at stake than just the ‘dream come true’ life of a young girl.  A plot became plan to annihilate all the Jews from King Ahasuerus’ kingdom.  When Mordecai learned of this evil scheme, he got word to Esther.  She reminded her uncle that she could not approach the king unless he allowed it and that he had no idea that she was a Jew.  That is when Mordecai reminded her with the words in this scripture “and who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this”. 

Esther called for all her people to fast and pray with her for God to give her favor with the king, which he did.  The king ordered the man responsible for the plot to be hanged and wrote a decree which allowed the Jews to be able to defend themselves against anyone who would try to harm them.  God used a young girl from a lowly family to save a nation!

You and I are just as valuable in God’s hands.  Whatever or wherever we may be; our job, our neighborhood, our school, our family, etc., could be a divine appointment – for how do we not know that we have been put there ‘for such a time as this’!