Stand Firm

Isaiah 7:9b – If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all

Either we believe God is who He said He is, and that He does what He says He will do, or we don’t. This is the foundation of our belief system. Isaiah tells it like it is. If our foundation is not strong…we fall.

Jeremy looked at the crack forming along the south wall of his new home. I just bought this place, he thought to himself. I bought new so I wouldn’t have to go through any major repairs so soon. Now look at that.

His wife started down the stairs leading to the lower level of their home. Before she had time to say anything, Jeremy interjected, “Don’t say a word. I’m not ready to hear ‘I told you so’…at least not yet. We’ll have to get the contractor out here and assess what he needs to do. Thank goodness, the home is still only a year old. It’s under warranty.”

She chuckled as she headed back up stairs. Jeremy knew her pretty well. She’d been about to remind him that she’d wanted an outside inspector to look at how the place was constructed before they signed the contract. Oh well, I guess it’s a learning experience.

Jeremy walked into their sunny kitchen, stepped up to the coffee maker and poured himself a hot cup of the steaming brew. He looked out the window. They’d been so excited about owning their first home. They were out in the country surrounded by lots of trees. Every once in a while, a deer or a fox would venture onto their yard, looking for food. Jeremy had built a wooden feed trough that the animals used a lot…mostly during the early dawn hours when there were few people to disturb them.

He sighed. His wife rubbed his back in support as she walked to the tiny room she called her office. Jeremy continued to look across the fields that were visible where the trees were less dense. I’ll call that guy later. The boys want to go for a bike ride and the weather is perfect.

“Jen, I’m going for a ride. The guys are waiting for me. I’ll be back later, probably in time for dinner.”

“What about the basement wall. What if…”

“It’ll be fine. That crack didn’t just appear now. It’s been coming for a few days already. Another day won’t hurt any.”

You know where I’m heading with this. If the foundation of a house is not solid, bad things happen. Sometimes, depending on the footings that the contractor placed under the house, a house could collapse. It’s the same with our faith. A weak foundation causes us to slip into temptation or to fall away from God altogether. We backslide because we don’t have a solid, impenetrable belief that God is and God does.

Take the time to examine where you got your beliefs from. The most reliable source is the Bible and the world that God created for us to shine in. And we do shine, as Christians, in the dark places, when we have a solid faith that exudes from our pores toward the people we see before us…the ones God has placed in our path.

Father help us shine, to reflect your light to those around us. Help us light the dark places in people’s lives but most of all, grow our faith. Move us out of our circumstances so we can learn reliance on You instead of self-reliance. Amen.

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Faith Upheld

What we see are Satan’s attacks in the form of insults, setbacks, and temptations. But the shield of faith protects us from Satan’s flaming arrows. With God’s perspective, we can see beyond our circumstances and know that ultimate victory is ours.

             Faith (reliance, loyalty, or complete trust in God)

2 Chron 20:20b – Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem. Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in the prophets and you will be successful.”

During the time when Abraham walked this earth, God considered him righteous, not because he was a flawless human, but because of his faith. David was called a man after God’s own heart, not because he didn’t fail time and time again, but because his faith in God was unwavering. Nothing pleases God more than the faith we display toward His ability to do what He says He can do.

Faith is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. When a person receives Jesus as their personal Savior, the Holy Spirit becomes our interpreter, comforter, and so much more. He also brings to us His personality traits and faith is one of them. In the verse here from 2 Chronicles, we are reminded that God will uphold us when we believe (have faith in) the Lord.

Diana sat beside her husband. She squirmed trying, without success, to get comfortable. This church pew is always so hard and cold. I wish I were anywhere but here. To make her husband happy, she came every Sunday. She watched his face as he worshipped this God that he couldn’t see. Well I need to see someone before I can just arbitrarily place my faith in them.

The pastor stood at the front of the church. Here we go, a long boring sermon, she thought. A story about Abraham unfolded. A question the pastor asked caught her attention. He wanted the congregation to think about faith but not in God. He asked them why they found it so easy to believe that the airplane they’d last flew in could stay up in the air? It was big, bulky, and heavy. Yet every time one of them stepped onto that plane, they believed it could fly.

Diana thought about that for a minute. I’m not a mechanic or engineer. I don’t understand the dynamics of air travel and yet…I do believe it will fly. Then the pastor asked his congregation to remember the last time they’d seen a new born baby. Only a powerful God could have created a baby…from scratch. Even more, God created billions of galaxies and only one of them had all the qualities to sustain human life.

“We see him all around us, in the things he’s created on this planet, and yet we choose not to believe because we say we can’t see Him.” The pastor looked with intense wisdom down on his congregation but not to anyone in particular.

But he’s speaking to me. Diana’s thought seemed a little muddled. I believe in something I know nothing about…but, according to the pastor…I make the choice not to believe in God, who’s creation we see and enjoy all the time. WOW.

Faith is believing God. Period. He is either who He says He is or a crackpot. Over the centuries, no one has ever spoken about Christ as a crackpot including all the other religions in the world. They all acknowledge that Jesus was a great prophet, believable. We need to decide that God is believable too. Our faith then needs to be displayed as we step out of the boat (our comfort Zone) and put our faith into action.

Father, thank You for giving us so much evidence that You are who You say You are, and that You can do what You say You can do. Expand our faith. Take away our unbelief and help us to be a pleasing offering to You. Amen.

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Not Ashamed

2 Timothy 1:8 – Do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord …..

Paul, in this verse, tells believers not to be ashamed to tell people about Jesus Christ. In Mark 8:38, Christ Himself says that if we are ashamed of Him and His Words, He will be ashamed of us when He comes in His Father’s glory with the Holy angels. It’s amazing how we’ve lost our shame when it comes to adulterous sex and yet we show our shame with regards to our faith.

Bethany wrapped her arms around her stomach. She turned sideways to look at her protruding belly. Not too long now. I can hardly wait to hold you. I wonder if my friends will throw me a huge baby shower. She grinned. I love all this attention.

She slipped her legs into a pair of skinny jeans, the kind designed for pregnant women. Then she slipped a t-shirt over her head. The garment hugged her body making it seem even larger than it was. Bethany surveyed the look, sighed with satisfaction, and then proceeded to brush her teeth and add some gel to her hair.

She glanced at her watch. Gotta hurry. Glen will be mad if I’m late. Of course, I practically had to drag an invitation out of him. Bethany remembered the conversation she’d had with her live-in boyfriend just last night. “Why can’t I come with you to the club? We used to go there together all the time. Now you just want to go alone.”

Glen had looked contrite at first but then he’d gotten defensive. “What are you….my puppy dog? You gotta go wherever I go? I need my space.” He’d continued to watch TV, trying hard not to look at her, it seemed.

“A-a-w, Glenny.” She used her pet name for him. “I just wanta get out for a while, that’s all. Can’t I come…huh?”

“Oh for cryin’ out loud…if it’ll get you off my back. You’d better not be late…or else.” He continued to watch his show but Bethany had snuggled down on the sofa beside him.

She grinned, reflecting on the power she had over the man in her life. She’d rewarded him later that night…in bed. Glen can’t get enough of me, she thought, as she shoved her arm into the sleeve of her jacket. She couldn’t zip it up but the bar was only two blocks away.

Bethany practically skipped out the door, her cumbersome frame getting in the way of her exuberance. She walked as quickly as she could to her destination and marched triumphantly through the door. Letting her eyes adjust to the dim lights, she stood there for a few minutes. Several heads turned in her direction.

Bethany spotted Glen sitting with some of his buddies. She moved in his direction but he stood, walked toward a table in the darkest corner of the room. One of Bethany’s favorite songs was playing. She grinned once she reached him as she began to peel off her coat.

“Leave that on, will ya. I don’t want the guys ta see ya like that” He glanced surreptitiously toward the table where his friends sat drinking their third beer.

Bethany’s eyes filled with tears. “You’re ashamed of me. You don’t want those guys to know you’re gonna be a daddy soon.”

“You strut around like it’s an accomplishment or something. We’re not married. That’s not any way to bring a baby into the world.” His voice remained hushed as Bethany thumped her body wearily into the nearest chair.

The joy had left her body. She’d never thought about what was right and what wasn’t. “So…you’d rather I’d gotten an abortion?”

Glen winced. “No. That’s not what I said. I just wish we’d waited until after we were married. That’s all. I’m ashamed of myself for doing things so backwards.”

Glen’s conscience bothered him. He felt shame. Is that what we do to God’s message?  Glen’s shame was justified but how can we attribute that feeling to Christ? Christ suffered and died for us. Is that something to be ashamed of?

Our shame should be that He had to die at all. But instead, we close our lips on the most important information we have to share. If your best friend was pronounced innocent because somebody else paid the penalty for the law he broke, wouldn’t you tell him? Christ paid the penalty a just God pronounced because we sin…all the time, every day. Tell your friend, your neighbor, your brother. They can be free.

Father Your gospel spread throughout the world because someone told somebody else about You. Help us be unashamed of the work Jesus did on the cross for us. Give us Your footgear of willingness to share with those we come in contact with. Amen.

 

 

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Belief = Forgiveness

Acts 10:43 – All the prophets testify about Him that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.

Besides the apostles, Dr. Luke tells us in this verse that the prophets also testify about Jesus. They tell people that they can be forgiven through Jesus’ name if they believe in Him. Isn’t that the same thing, the rest of the Bible tells us, we are to say when we share our faith with people. We simply tell them our story, how Jesus forgave and continues to forgive our sins, how that knowledge changed our lives, and how we rely on Him for each day. We testify.

Benny strode into the bar, letting the door slam behind him as he walked into the dim interior. He took a look around to see if he recognized anyone, and when no familiar face caught his attention, he sauntered over to a long counter flanked by several stools. A couple were unoccupied so he chose the one closest to him.

“What can I get you?” The young man behind the counter polished another glass as he waited for Benny to order his usual. He knew the man in front of him had been coming here for several years and always ordered a Bud Light.

“I’ll have a diet coke.” Benny grinned at the look of astonishment that passed swiftly over the face of the bartender. It disappeared as quickly as it had appeared, the man’s professionalism taking over.

Benny smiled. His look of contentment spoke louder than any words. He reached for the can of soda as soon as it was placed in front of him, took a long swig, and then set it down on the counter again.

Hey Bud.” The man on the stool next to him spoke. His loud belligerent tone caused several people nearby to glance in his direction. “How come you…,” he hiccupped, “…order a soft drink at a bar?”

Benny looked at the drink in front of him. He remembered a different time. “I didn’t used to order this kind of drink. More nights than I care to remember, I left here plastered…falling down drunk. Now I drink only soda and I don’t wake up with a headache.”

The man on the next stool harrumphed. “You’re no man. I can stop drinking if I want to but I see no reason. I can hold my liquor.”

“So men…real men…don’t drink soda? You’re wrong, my friend. I thought I could stop too…if I wanted to…just like you. Then I met Jesus Christ. He took the desire to drink away from me. I don’t need it anymore but I like coming here, so…I order a soft drink instead.”

The bartender looked at Benny. “You look more peaceful than I remember you. This Jesus give you that too?”

“He did and He does…every day. He’s my friend…a true friend…who cares more for me than anyone else ever could. He died so that one day I would be worthy enough to go to heaven. He paid the price God requires because I’ve ignored Him for most of my life. That’s called sin.” Benny pointed to his gray hair. “I’ve lived a long time but I’ve never felt so full of joy before.”

The man on the next stool dropped his head. At the same time, the bartender displayed a pensive expression. Neither criticized Benny’s choice. Instead, each in their own way was envious. Benny had something they wanted.

Benny testified. When he accepted Christ as his personal Savior, made Jesus the Lord of his life, he received the Holy Spirit and all the personality traits of the Spirit. Benny also clothed himself with the armor of God, making it possible for him to share his faith with whomever he met each day.

That is what the disciples and prophets in the Bible did, and what Jesus commanded us to do before He ascended into heaven. Our protection from Satan’s attempts to dissuade us, is the armor of God. Gird, clothe yourself, for the day to come, with God’s armor so you, like Benny, will be ready to tell others about Jesus.

Father, You are the supplier of all our needs as we need them. You give us Your Spirit so we can have peace and joy and You also provide supernatural power to walk where You want us to walk with the protection we need to fulfill Your Great Commission. Keep us mindful of You step by step, day by day. Work in our hearts and help us walk the talk of Your gospel. Amen.

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Witnesses For Jesus

Acts 1:8 – But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Dr. Luke, a gentile physician, records Jesus’ words here. The Lord tells the Christians in the early church that they will receive power. That power, according to the concordance in the NIV, includes courage, boldness, confidence, insight, ability, and authority. This power is accessible to today’s Christians as well, and, I believe, is all part of the readiness and willingness to share the gospel.

This verse is the key verse of the book of Acts. The Christians were being persecuted tremendously so they scattered to the countryside, sharing their faith with many who would not have access to the disciples teaching otherwise…like the gentiles and the Samaritans. So the gospel spread, not unlike it does today when Christians come under persecution.

But do we need to rely on persecution to share our faith. Jesus wants us to remember our neighbors, our family, and our friends, all who we come in contact with. We are to be ready to give an account at all times. That readiness is part of God’s armor.

Derek sat, half leaning, on his Chrome encrusted blue Kawasaki. He watched several bikers pass around a cigarette. Probably marijuana. His heart ached for the damage these buddies of his were doing to their bodies. They were living as if there was no tomorrow. But Derek knew better.

Tomorrow encompassed eternity and, if they didn’t ask Jesus to be their guide through this life on earth, He wouldn’t be with them for eternity either. An eternity without Christ was unimaginable for Derek. Should be for those guys too.

Derek bowed his head. Lord, I need Your boldness. Please empower me to share my faith today…before one of those boys has an accident or something. Don’t take them until I’ve had a chance to tell them about You, please. Amen. He raised his head, stood, and walked toward the party-hardy segment of the club.

Derek had a clear vision of where his friends were headed. Love motivated him…love for Christ and love for his friends. He accessed the armor of God to equip him and to shield him from the enemy’s darts of doubt, trepidation, and timidity. With the Holy Spirit’s help, he accessed courage, boldness, and all the other tributes he’d need to fulfill his mission.

When was the last time you looked to God before sharing Your faith, if you ever shared Your faith? We, in our western culture, wear our independence like a suit of armor instead of taking on the armor of God, the very tools we need to be successful.

Father, thank You for giving us exactly what we need, when we need it. All we have to do is ask. Fill us with Your Spirit who brings with Him, courage, boldness and all the other tools of power so we can share You with those who do not know You. Amen.

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Honest Testimony

Proverbs 12:17 – A truthful witness gives honest testimony ….

King Solomon, the writer of the book of Proverbs, supplies us with wisdom, a gift he received from the Lord. He tells us here that we need to be truthful when we share our testimony with people. People who exaggerate will soon find that they quickly lose their audience.

Teri sat quietly, listening to the testimony being given. She folded her hands and leaned back. The defense council, on rebuttal, soon squelched the man’s credibility. Teri smirked. The man was obviously lying. His body language gave him away.

She watched the man fidget. He even stuttered a few times. She wondered why he was lying. Probably has a grudge against the defendant. Teri smoothed her hand over a pleat in her skirt. This had already been a long day.

The truth was so important. Teri had listened as each witness had sworn an oath to tell the truth. She had grown up to believe that little white lies were okay. Not here, she thought. I guess they aren’t good at any time.

She remembered when she’d told that lie about her sister. Her parents had believed her but her relationship with her sister had been strained ever since. Even as adults, they didn’t have the closeness that sisters should. Teri’s focus returned to the trial. Thank goodness. That man is finished. It’s hard to listen to someone when you know that every word coming from them could be a lie.

Teri had learned a valuable lesson while she served on that jury. Lying is never right. Our credibility is on the line.  If people can’t trust us to be honest, they will stop listening to us. Friendships are often broken over a little white lie that back fired. Half-truths often come back to haunt us.

People will listen, as we share our faith, if they have been able to trust our words at other times. So while Solomon was talking about being honest when we share our testimony, it is equally important that we are honest at all times. Jesus commanded us to make disciples but we need to be ready when an opportunity presents itself. Our readiness rests on honesty, credibility, and sensitivity to the Spirit’s leading.

Father, help us be ready, our credibility intact, to give an account of Your work in our lives. Help us know You and reflect You with all Your attributes, to the people we come in contact with. Amen.

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Strength for Today

2 Timothy 4:17 – But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. …

By the time Paul wrote this verse, he was mentoring Timothy, a young man who had been raised by a Godly mother and grandmother.  They felt God’s presence and the strength God provided so they could be bold in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with gentiles. I believe that the strength spoken of here was the footgear of the armor of God, that willingness to witness.

How many times have we stepped out in our own strength, left the house that morning, with the intention of speaking to someone that day about Jesus? Our intentions are good but somehow we can always find a reason, as excuse, to keep our mouths shut. We have not appropriated God’s armor of willingness.

Sherrie walked quickly down the street. I can’t miss that bus. I’ll be late if I do. She picked up the pace as she rounded the corner. The bus had just pulled up to the bus stop. Sherrie raced toward the closing door just in time to make her presence known to the driver.

He opened the doors again, scowling toward her. “You’re lucky, lady. I got a schedule to keep. Can’t be waiting for stragglers, you know.”

Sherrie flipped her coins into the container for bus fares. “Sorry.” She mumbled, audibly upset with his attitude, as she walked toward the one empty seat on the bus. “Shesh…you’d think I’d made him wait or something.” She grumbled to no one in particular.

Sherrie folded her arms and stared at the driver who stared back at her from the rear view mirror. Then she looked out the window. Buildings of all sizes and displaying signs for a variety of businesses flashed by before the bus stopped at the next bus stop. I left the house in such a good mood, too.

She watched the door open accepting another passenger. The bus moved on. I planned to tell the first person I met today about Jesus. So much for that idea. She harrumphed, refolded her arms, and settled in for the long trek to work. Maybe the next person, the first person at work.

Sherrie arrived at her destination ten minutes before her shift began. She walked briskly across the street, entered her building, and went straight to her locker. She hung her coat inside, changed her shoes, and then marched toward her work station.

The day was very busy. She had only a fifteen minute break for lunch and then had to head upstairs for some training. Before she knew it, her shift was over and she still had not shared her faith with anyone. Sherrie looked around the locker room. She shrugged into her coat, slipped on her outdoor shoes, and then noticed another woman’s arm as it flashed around the corner.

She strode purposefully toward that arm, rounded the corner of the row of lockers, only to discover the woman talking to someone else. That other woman, tears coursing down her cheeks, stopped talking to stare in Sherrie’s direction. Sherrie stopped, smiled, and then hurried toward the door. They’re busy, she thought.

Each time Sherrie thought about sharing her faith, the enemy stepped in to give her an excuse, some reason why this person or that person didn’t qualify as the one person to share with. Sherrie had not appropriated God’s armor of willingness.

Is that what we do? Does God place people, some grumpy, some carrying a load of hurt, in our paths but we ignore His attempts to love them through us? Grab onto God’s strength before your day begins, like a lifeline, so that when the opportunity presents itself, you’ll be ready to obey the Lord’s command to make disciples.

Father, we try so hard to ignore Your presence in our lives instead of tapping into Your love and Your strength on a daily basis. Please make us aware of how much we fail to do Your will and give us feet of willingness. Amen.

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Where Christ Was Not Known

Romans 15:20 – It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known ……

I reached the age of 27 before I knew that Jesus loved me personally. God used a book to get my attention first so that His word would penetrate my independent spirit. The author of that book made sure the gospel was easy to understand, clear, and accurate.

There were Christians in my life at the time but not one of them loved me enough to share the most important piece of news they could give me. Paul, in this verse in Romans, says it was always his ambition to share Christ with those who don’t know Him.

We know that Paul, before his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, persecuted Christians. It was Christ who gave him the willingness, the footgear, the desire to make a difference. God supplies us with His whole armor. All we have to do is appropriate it.

Jason backed his motorcycle out of the large shop he’d built at the back of his property. For three weeks, he’d been fine tuning his pride and joy in preparation for the long trip he planned to take that month. Now he was gearing up for a test run.

Jason swung his jean clad leg over the seat of his red beauty. He ran his hand over the smooth paint before inserting the key into the ignition. All gassed up and raring to go. He popped the clutch, and raced down the road, past his house, and onto the street.

Just as he was beginning to enjoy the wind whistling past his ears, a car backed out of a nearby driveway right in front of him. Jason knew that he had no time to brake. He tried to swerve, to miss the inevitable collision, but to no avail. Instead, his evasive action caused the front wheel of his motorcycle to swivel, and down he went.

He missed hitting the car but the asphalt jumped up to meet him. Although he wasn’t traveling highway speeds yet, his body rolled, tumbled, and skidded down the street for about 35 feet. By the time he stopped moving, he was in a world of hurt and not moving.

Jason had several leather jackets, leather chaps, two helmets, boots, and gloves hanging in his shed. This armor would have given his poor beat-up body some protection but he chose not to wear them. God has given us armor, the tools we need to protect us when Satan tries to talk us out of our walk with the Lord. We choose not to wear them.

We walk out of our homes every morning, ready to face our day, vulnerable, almost daring the enemy to try to mess with us. He prowls, seeking those whom he can destroy. But we leave our armor at home.

Take the time to put on your footgear of willingness before you begin your day, as well as the other pieces of God’s armor. Then you’ll be protected from the blinders Satan wants to use to hinder you from seeing the God appointments, those special people He wants you to share with today.

Father, You give us everything we need and yet we walk through our world naked and bleeding from the arrows of our enemy. He’s defeated but we allow him to defeat us because we are vulnerable and unprotected. Forgive us for ignoring Your word and leaving our armor lying by our favorite chair. Help us put on your protection every day. Amen.

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Jesus is the Good News

Acts 5:42 – Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

The apostles, during the days of the early church, proclaimed the Good News of Jesus Christ daily. They went door to door. The apostles had put on the full armor of God, and you see their willingness displayed openly in this verse.

Do people go door to door today? At a recent missionary conference, I heard about Christians in far eastern countries doing just that. They do whatever is necessary, even while being persecuted, to share the gospel with the people they encounter in villages and around the countryside.

Joey settled down in his Lazy Boy rocker. He raised the foot rest and lay his head back against the back of the chair. It had been a long day. Now all he wanted to do was watch TV and talk to no one. He sighed, picked up the remote, and clicked his way to his favorite channel.

Jennifer stuck her head through the kitchen door. She grimaced as she watched her husband adjust the chair to suit his needs. He didn’t even say hello when he came home. She let the door close again as she turned back toward the counter to continue her dinner preparations. Joey seemed to want her in his life less these days. I don’t know how to fix it.

Before long, soft snores could be heard from the other room. I guess he was tired, she thought. He’s always tired. Too tired to spend time with me anyway. Tears seeped from her eyes making it difficult to see what she was doing. Jennifer swiped a hand across her face and then reached for a tissue. She blew her nose loud enough, she hoped, that her husband of two years would hear.

Joey started. He sat up straight. Boy…that was some dream. The TV droned on in the background. He heard none of it as he stood to his feet. Where was Jennifer? He needed to see her. Now. He stalked purposefully toward the kitchen.

Joey pushed the door open. “Jen.” He noticed her tears. “You all right?”

Her tear reddened eyes looked toward him. She sniffed. “I miss you.”

Whatda mean? I’m right here. Anyway, never mind that. Sit down. I need to tell you something.” He sat down on one of the kitchen chairs. “Come, sit beside me.” He pulled out the chair closest to his right side. Joey watched as his wife wiped her eyes. She moved toward him, almost hesitantly.

Jennifer took her seat, placed her hands in her lap, and hung her head. Joey watched her posture closely. Why is she upset, he wondered? Maybe my news will help. “Jen, I’ve booked us for a week long cruise in the Caribbean. We haven’t spent much time together lately, what with my new job and all. So I…”

“That’s your news? I thought…” A big smile erupted from her tear stained face. “I thought you didn’t want me anymore.”

Oh Jen. Nothing could be farther from the truth. This job has just been so hectic. I know I’ve not told you anything about it but…” He reached toward her, hugged her close, and then patted the back of her head. “I love you.”

Joey let his tiredness damage the most important relationship in his life…all because he didn’t want to make the effort to communicate. His wife had taken his behavior as rejection and everything escalated out of proportion from there.

Just as it is important for the lines of communication to remain open in our lives with our spouses, it is important that we communicate to those around us the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That relationship, as a matter of fact, is even more crucial than the one with our spouses.

Do we let tiredness take us to the sofa when we get home, or do we take a hot shower and move toward developing our ministry to our family and then to others? Is God placed on the back burner of our lives more often than in the foreground? Take the time to put God first, to tell others about Him and watch what happens to your energy level.

Lord, thank You for dying on the cross for me. Thank You that You didn’t allow tiredness to consume You when You had that last street to walk down. You carried Your cross for me, allow me to carry my cross for you. Amen.

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Approved by God

1 Thess 2:4 – …we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.

To the Thessalonian church, Paul writes that he speaks with God’s approval. He was entrusted with the gospel. Does that mean that God, then, trusted him with a valuable piece of information? It does…and just as Paul was trusted to share the gospel, so are we. God trusts us to be willing, to be ready, and to be accurate in the telling.

Paul also says that he does so only to please God, not men. If we get all puffed up because someone has asked us to share our testimony or because we’ve been privileged to lead someone to Christ, then we are seeking to please man. It’s never about what we do. It’s always about what God did.

Moose sat quietly…thinking. He looked out the window and watched as one biker after another pulled into the parking lot. The sounds of loud pipes filtered through the panes of glass. He smiled. I’ll bet it sounds really loud out there. Sweet.

Today was a yearly event, held in different parts of the country, when bikers from the Diablos got together to party and reconnect with members they only saw once every year or so. The difference this year was that he’d been asked to speak about his faith. Imagine.

Moose felt the responsibility weighing on him. The club had been heading toward a more family friendly atmosphere for years but some of the old diehards were having a hard time corralling their party hardy side. The national president hoped that Moose could make a difference.

Children’s voices gained momentum as the youngsters moved down the hallway outside the door of the room he was in. Their voices faded and Moose thought about how these events used to be before the executive restricted the types of activities allowed here. He shuddered. They’d had a hard time, in those days, finding a town that would let them come in.

For Moose, the lifestyle had changed a long time ago but he’d remained with the club, praying for change. God had answered his prayer and was still working. Today was Moose’s turn to do what God asked him to do.

Moose bowed his head. “Lord help me reflect You today, not take Your place. “ He knew it was not about his life and the changes that had occurred because of Jesus, but it was about Jesus and His work on the cross. “Please touch the hearts, even now, of each person who’s here. Help them be willing to listen, and to take the time to consider my words. Amen.”

Moose felt privileged but overburdened with the responsibility he’d been given. For most of these guys, he was the only Christian they knew. He hoped his nonverbal, consistent walk over the years had made a difference and for some, it had. Now was the time to tell them who it was all about.

Like Paul, Moose wasn’t looking to please men. He wanted to do what God wanted him to do. His willingness was the first step in God being able to use Moose for His honor and glory. Willingness is our footgear, that part of God’s armor that moves us in the direction God would have us go, defeating Satan’s attempts to keep us closet Christians.

Father, thank You for giving us the footgear we need to defeat Satan in our lives. Help us continue to be willing, ready, and close to You, as we seek to reflect You in our world. Amen.

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