I Want That One!

I heard a story once about a farmer who had some puppies for sale. He made a sign advertising the pups and nailed it to a post on the edge of his yard. As he was nailing the sign to the post, he felt a tug on his overalls. He looked down to see a little boy with a big grin and something in his hand.

“Mister,” he said, “I want to buy one of your puppies.”

“Well, said the farmer, “these puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal.”

The boy dropped his head for a moment, then looked back up at the farmer and said, “I’ve got thirty-nine cents. Is that enough to take a look?”

“Sure,” said the farmer, and with that he whistled and called out, “Dolly. Here, Dolly!” Out from the doghouse and down the ramp ran Dolly followed by four little balls of fur. The little boy’s eyes danced with delight.

Then out from the doghouse peeked another little ball; this one noticeably smaller. Down the ramp it slid and began hobbling in an unrewarded attempt to catch up with the others. The pup was clearly the runt of the litter.

The little boy pressed his face to the fence and cried out, “I want that one,” pointing to the runt.

The farmer knelt down as said, “Son, you don’t want that puppy. He will never be able to run and play with you the way you would like.”

With that the boy reached down and slowly pulled up one leg of his trousers. In doing so he revealed a steel brace running down both sides of his leg attaching itself to a specially made shoe. Looking up at the farmer, he said, “You see, sir, I don’t run too well myself, and he will need someone who understands.”

As told by Charles Stanley

Why Do I Worship?

Graceway MediaNot long ago I was reading from Matthew 15:7-9. Jesus was addressing the Pharisees and said, “You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men’” (ESV). After reading these verses, I spent most of the day examining my own worship to see if there were any part of me that was merely honoring God with my words, but my heart was far from Him.

When I arrived home from work that evening, the first words out of my wife’s mouth were, “You didn’t call me today!” She was not angry, but surprised. You see, after years of marriage she is accustomed to my calling, emailing, or texting her several times a day to see how she is doing, say “I love you,” and just to talk for a few minutes. So, it was very unusual for me not to contact her in any way for a whole day.

Without any explanation I quickly replied, “Do you want me to call you because I love and miss you, or because I feel guilty for not calling you all day?” Understandably, she was shocked at first, then hurt, and finally a bit concerned. She asked, “Do you ever call me out of guilt and not out of love?” I quickly assured her that it is because of my love that I call her almost every day, and that it had just been one crazy, eventful day at work. Then I talked with her about my Bible study that morning (Matt. 15:7-9). I had asked her the question, not to be a jerk, but to see her reaction to the thought that I might just be honoring her with my lips and not my heart. We want our spouse to love us, long for us, and be honest with us. My comment left her wondering, “Is he faking his love for me, and if so, for how long?”

Shirley’s reaction and the following conversation made both of us stop and reconsider our daily acts of worshipping God. Is my quiet time, which consists of prayer and Bible study, just something I cross off the list each day to feel better about myself spiritually? Do I listen for God during quiet time or just hurry through it? When attending a worship service, am I more concerned about how long it takes, what I have to do after church, or how it affects me more than lifting up praise, adoration, and thanksgiving to the One who died for me? Am I just going through the motions of what is expected? Is my spirituality a mask I put on to play a certain part when I am around my Christian friends or at church?

None of these “spiritual activities” are true worship. Jesus has commanded us, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). Just as we would be offended at someone faking their feelings for us to get something they wanted, so is God! Worship, Bible study, church, living a righteous life, and obeying God’s commands are not things we do to keep from angering God. These good things are not to be practiced so that He will give us everything on our wish list of wants, needs, and desires. Worship is giving to God what He deserves. As the moon reflects the light of the sun, so Christians should reflect the character, attributes, love, and holiness of God. We don’t do it because of what we might get, but because the Spirit of God resides in us and that is who we are in Christ.

I don’t want to live a hypocritical life. I don’t want worship to be out of guilt or something I do for my benefit.  I want my worship driven by an insatiable thirst for God’s glory, honor, and praise. I want my worship to be the direct result of who I am in Christ. I want my worship to be something I live out every minute of every day. I want my worship to be sincere, honest, and from a heart of love!

Take time today to read Matthew 15:7-9 and examine your motives for worship.

God, Can You Hear Me?

Many years ago during a worship service, I noticed William was singing very loudly during the song “At the Cross.” I listened carefully as he sang, “At the cross I bow my knee, where Your blood was shed for me, there’s no greater love than this…” As he stood there with his arm around me singing as loud as he could, the smile on my face could not possibly have been any bigger. There we were, father and son, worshipping our Savior together.

Later that night as I was tucking William into bed, I remarked, “You sure did like the song, ‘At the Cross’ we sang at church this morning.” To which he replied, “Yes, I did, dad, but how did you know?” “Well,” I answered, “I could hear you singing and normally I can’t hear you. What made you decide to sing that song so loudly?” He said, “I was singing loud because I was wondering if God could hear me with so many other people singing.” The depth of his remark surprised me. I never expected a seven year old to think about such things. The unified voices singing praises was so great that William wanted to make sure his voice was heard by Jesus. I reassured him that even if a million people are praying or singing at the same time God is able to hear each and every voice. Everyone is important to God.

I know there have been times in my life when I didn’t feel like my prayers were making it past the ceiling, much less up to God in heaven. Nevertheless, our Father in heaven is always ready to talk with us; all we have to do is call out to Him. The Bible tells us that one of Jesus’ roles in heaven is as our intercessor between us and the Father. There are times we want to shout, to whisper, to cry, to sigh, and other times to sit in silence not knowing what to say. Regardless of how we approach Him, God hears us. He hears the pain, fear, sorrow, anxiety, concern, passion, longing, hope, joy, excitement, curiosity, and trust in our prayers. He loves us and longs to not only hear from us, but to share His plan for our lives. He loves to spend time with us—He created us to fellowship with Him. Don’t let the noise around you keep you from the most important conversation of the day. God can hear you, so take time to sit down with Him to talk, listen, and enjoy the familial relationship you have with your Father in Heaven!

Can You See Me Now? (Part 3)

Over the last few days we have seen how God reveals Himself through creation as well as through His Holy Word. Today, we are going to look at a few ways God not only revealed His personal nature to us but how He demonstrated it for all to see.

In Hebrews 1:1 we are told “God…has in these last days spoken to us by His Son [Jesus].” It is in the life of Jesus that we get a perfect picture of what God the Father is like. Colossians 1:3 says Jesus “is the image of the invisible God,” while Hebrews 1:3 tells us Jesus is the “brightness of [God’s] glory and the express image of His person.” Jesus made it clear in John 14:9 that anyone who has seen Him has seen the Father. Therefore, when reading the Gospel accounts of Jesus, we are getting a perfect representation of the Father in heaven.

When we examine the life of Jesus, we are immediately drawn to His concern for all people. It didn’t matter if He was approached by a Roman centurion, Samaritan, tax collector, lawyer, a rich or poor person, He always had time to answer their questions and share with them their deepest need. He didn’t let someone’s social standing or checkbook balance determine their importance. Every person counted regardless of their ethnic background.

He was also concerned for people who were considered dirty by first century standards. Jesus wasn’t afraid to touch a leper, heal those that were sick from various diseases, give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to those who were mute, restore the strength of those who were crippled, provide food for the poor, and love those considered to be unlovely. He didn’t recoil from anyone regardless of their condition. He reached out past their affliction, all the way to their heart, and healed them from the inside out. After all, it is the sick who need a doctor, and Jesus came as the great Physician to heal the hearts of the spiritually sick.

Jesus also came to teach us God’s expectations. He taught us that all of life is to be lived by loving the LORD our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. He set the example of loving others and putting them first.  He told us He did not come to be served but to serve and give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). We demonstrate our love for our Father in heaven, whom we have not seen, by loving our neighbor who we have seen. As we have already said, Jesus demonstrated this kind of love.

In Jesus we see the Father. We see His compassion, unconditional love, passion to know us and be known by us, forgiveness for even the most vile human being. In Jesus, God reveals His nature, character, integrity, righteousness, and holiness. Jesus is the exact representation of the Father in heaven.

For some, God seems like an uncaring creator who allows us to suffer way too often. For others, God is our grandfather in the sky who spoils us by giving us everything we want. Neither of these views of God are true. He loves you and came to earth in the form of Jesus so that we could know exactly what He is like. If you really want to know more about God, then start reading one chapter a day from the Gospels. Work your way through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the New Testament over the next ninety days. While you are reading, pay careful attention to Jesus. Ask Him to reveal His nature that you might know Him better.

“Can you See Me Now” Part 1

“Can You See Me Now” Part 2

Can You See Me Now? (Part 2)

The Bible is the best-selling book of all time. It has been translated into more than 2,000 languages. You can find it on cell phones, computers, coffee tables, fireplace mantles, as well as a microfilm copy which was taken to the moon on Apollo 14. It has been carved in stone, written on animal hide, papyrus, paper, and I have even seen a chapter tattooed on someone’s back. Needless to say, the Bible is a very popular book to people all around the world.

Unlike other popular books, people do not purchase a Bible to be entertained. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to humanity. It is within the pages of the 66 books of the Bible that we find out about God–His love, mercy, compassion, patience, grace, forgiveness, power, beauty, majesty, and so much more. Page after page we see the Creator reaching out to draw His creation into a loving relationship with Him. The Bible teaches us the commands of God, not that we can live up to them, but that we might see His holiness and righteousness and realize our need for His forgiveness. We see His hand of provision, protection, and providence constantly before us tenderly caring for His precious children.

Too often in my life I have performed my daily Bible readings and crossed that off my list of things to do for that day.  I have been so busy reading the book of God that I have missed the God of the book. Through a series of events this became crystal clear to me, so I decided I needed to change. Now, before I begin reading the Bible I ask Jesus to reveal Himself to me in Scripture. As I read I want to see more of Christ that I might know Him more.

As you take time to read your Bible today, please ask Jesus to reveal Himself to you.  Ask to see His character, integrity, honesty, holiness, righteousness, mercy, compassion, grace and other attributes. Don’t read the Bible to see if you are measuring up. Read the Bible to see Christ and then worship Him!

“Can You See Me Now” Part 1

“Can You See Me Now” Part 3