Proverbs 16:3 (ESV)
Proverbs 16:3 (ESV)
Its that season again! During cold and flu season the bugs are out and about, have they caught up with you? I visit several communities and schools through the week and it is the same story in most of them – lots of students and staff are sick. There always seems to be some sort of cold or virus making the rounds in the community, so what determines whether you get sick or not? Does any amount of hand washing, non hand shaking, or hospital mask wearing keep us from getting sick? Not always. Even within some families, not everyone comes down with whatever is going through a household. And when you do get sick, how do you treat it, and what can you do to get over it quickly? Does prayer help?
Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases. Psalm 103:2-3
When Jesus was preaching the good news of salvation, he often healed all kinds of sickness. But even more profound, he also forgave sins, which was an even greater need than their physical healing. Why would he forgive sins when all they asked for was physical healing? Because He knows what we need better than we do? Or maybe sin is the greatest sickness and need for healing that each of us has, regardless of our physical well-being. We live in a fallen world and there will always be sickness, disease and death that come to the righteous and the unrighteous. Yet God provides a way to overcome each of these through our faith in Christ.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10
So, if you do fall ill or catch the flu over the next few months, do what works best to get over it quickly. And while we are taught to share, this is something that is best kept to ourselves. Be kind and avoid going out in public if you can, or cover your cough and keep from touching much if you do. Doing what you can to keep someone from getting sick is definitely an act of love. And when your loved ones do fall ill, do what you can to comfort them and help in recovery. Pray for healing as well. Remember that sharing the good news of salvation in Christ is the best remedy for everyone, regardless of our afflictions. There are many ways to treat our illnesses, but the only remedy for our sin is through Christ.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. I Peter 2:24
Abundance in Christ,
This week, I read where Abraham took Isaac to the mountain to be sacrificed. Abraham had everything. He had land, silver, cattle, camels, servants, and God’s blessing that multiplied his wealth over and over. You would think God would want Abraham to sacrifice some of his best animals to follow God’s sacrificial system for the forgiveness of sin. Sacrificing Isaac a person seems evil and wrong. Why would God call Abraham to murder his son?
First, God never intended for Isaac to be sacrificed. God knew something… Abraham’s wealth did not even begin to compare to the value of Isaac. Isaac was not only his son, but so much more. God had promised that His descendants would be as numerous as the stars, kings would be among them, and the whole world would be blessed through Him. Isaac was the promise of God and God asked Abraham to kill the promise. I can only imagine the inner turmoil in Abraham.
Genesis 22:3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.
Abraham had a lot of stuff but the stuff did not own him. Abraham had a promise from God and God wanted to know if the promise owned him.
God has asked me to give amounts of money I did not think I could afford. He asked me to give up scholarships to a sport I loved to play. He has asked me to give away a vehicle when I did not have money to replace it (I rode my bike for months). He has asked me to let single moms live in our home rent free. All of those were not easy to do, but when God asked me to lay down the dream He put in my heart I was crushed. I had laid down everything, but God knew there was something that owned me heart. With tear filled eyes I laid it down and told God I wanted to know and walk with Him more than I wanted the dream to be fulfilled.
God does not want to rival for our hearts. He wants to sit in the place pf highest value in our lives and does not want to share. He is a jealous God and worthy of our hearts. Jesus asked men to leave their homes, jobs, sell everything and give money to the poor, and some to lay down their very lives.
So what owns your heart? What would you not lay down? Cars? house? Money? Job? Dream? Social media? Status? God does not want to rival for your heart and has more for you in sacrifice than this world has to offer. I challenge you to go to prayer right now and ask God what owns your heart! If it is money go give some away. If it is social media take an extended break. If it is a car sell it or give it away. Go let Jesus show you who He is. Abraham received a promised due to his faithfulness to God. God wants to bless you!
Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus
I’m typically not a costume guy, but this year I got asked to portray Darth Vader in a program at church. The day of the dress rehearsal I put the Darth Vader costume on for the first time, including the trademark ominous black mask, it was as if I was transformed into someone else. I spent the morning running around seemingly uninhibited, scaring people, being silly, doing weird voices, and having way too much fun. That silly $30 costume seemed to transform me into someone completely different for a few hours.
This got me to thinking about the “costumes” we put on in life. We often pretend to be something we really are not. As men we often embellish our athletic accomplishments, trump up our finances, and exaggerate our successes (unless you all really do have an 18 point buck and a 118 pound bass hanging in your living room). At the very least I think most of us try to portray ourselves in way that are not necessarily who we are. I’ll admit that I sometimes fall into portraying myself as someone who has his family, personal, and spiritual lives substantially more together then he really does. It’s a costume I put on to both impress others and to hide from some of the imperfections of my life.
A great example of this practice can be seen in the life of Jacob. Jacob was always obsessed with having the rights of the first born son. Even in the womb he was wrestling with his brother Esau for the honor. As they grew older he conspired to steal his brother’s birthright and inheritance by dressing up as him to fool their aging father. He succeeded in stealing the birthright, but did not get to enjoy it. Instead, he spent the next 20 years on a panicked run from his brother. He thought his disguise had gotten him the worldly thing he so desperately wanted, but in the end it did not bring him the joy or happiness he was looking for.
Let me be rather blunt. God cannot bless who we pretend to be, He can only bless who we truly are. We can spend a major chunk of our lives trying to impress others by projecting a certain image of who we are. In the end, however, thats all just a fancy costume that God sees right through. It’s not who God made us to be and who he wants to use to impact the world. Paul tells us this in Ephesians 2:10: For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. We need to stop putting on costumes to try to impress the world with some fake version of us. Instead, we simply need to embrace the masterpiece God created us to be, trusting that God will work in us and through us.
16 And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.
Vital Men Event: Saturday, January 14, 2017
Where: The Well Resource Center, Pella, Iowa
Time: 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
What to Bring: Screw Guns, Extension Ladders, 6′ Ladders, Tape Measurers
What Are We Doing: Building Walls and Placing Metal Fire Blocking
FOOD: Yes, Lunch Is Being Provided
Men, do not miss out on this time of fellowship. We will be working inside. Bring your son or bring a friend. Many hands make light work. Coffee and Donuts will be at 8:00 a.m. Then we will get to work. Hope to see you there!!
Strength and Courage