Friday, August 17, 2018

USED AND UNAPPRECIATED


I Was Just Thinking Random Thoughts About – ONE BEING USED AND UNAPPRECIATED.

 A few days ago, I posted a Blog on servanthood and mentioned how some have come to feel (and believe) they are being used and unappreciated (even under-appreciated). I was surprised when I received some responses that indicated their personal reality with those who are always selected and given recognition – those having to be the first among equals. The conglomerated expressed thought was that such an individual should be sensitive to that occurring and be willing to suggest that another person be given the privilege, recognition and honor. Most of the expressed views suggested they have not seen that happen. What they have seen is that they have been passed by and consistently ignored. Is it right or considerate if one is being used, unappreciated or under-appreciated? No! There is no way to avoid or ignore two of the many passages of Scripture that address how person “A” (and others) should respond at all times.

First, Matthew 11:38-30 (NKJV) where Jesus said: “Come to Me…Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart…” What should one learn from Jesus Christ? Answer: His gentleness and lowliness.

Second, Philippians 2:5-8 (NKJV) where Paul reminded fellow believers: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,  who…made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant…He humbled Himself…” What should one learn about Jesus Christ? Answer: To become equivalent to a bondservant and to be consistently humble.

Will the one(s) who desire and have the sense they deserve to be first among equals revisit these verses and modify/change their behavior? Probably – Not!

How should the ones who believe they are being “used” and “unappreciated” or under-appreciated act/react? Matthew 5:5, Jesus said: “Blessed are the meek…” How should the meek face life and the inequities of it? Matthew 5:12, Jesus said and implied that in all of life’s situations, choices  and experiences one should respond: “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven…”

Why should one rejoice? How can one do rejoicing when they feel overlooked and are rarely being positively considered? In Nehemiah 8:10, when people were being mocked, marginalized and threatened while rebuilding Jerusalem, Nehemiah reminded them: “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Will this be easy to do? No! Will it change the attitude and behavior of those who have shown negative behavior and said negative things to and about you? No! Will the one(s) who love being first (Matthew 23:5-6) readily relinquish that place for another? No!  Should you allow yourself the liberty to ‘get even’ or retaliate against those who misuse and abuse you? No! I love the words written by Charles R. Swindoll: “Unlike most influential, celebrity types, Jesus' description of Himself doesn't sound like the popular hype we've grown accustomed to hearing. Jesus was a servant, not a superstar.”

When I have observed these situations and when they occasionally have come my way, the words of a Hymn – Deeper And Deeper -  also come to mind and I remind myself and begin to sing:
Into the joy of Jesus
Deeper and deeper I go,
Rising, with soul enraptured,
Far from the world below;
Joy in the place of sorrow,
Peace in the midst of pain,
Jesus will give, Jesus will give –
He will uphold and sustain.

Let the joy of Jesus Christ fill, uphold, sustain and encourage you. He wants you to know and enjoy His transforming love and the fullness of His joy in you (John 15:10-11).

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

THE VOICE

I Was Just Thinking About – THE VOICE.
Isaiah 58:1 states: “Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression …their sins.” There are many things one takes for granted. It is very easy to become matter-of fact and conclude that things will always be as they are, free of limitation. For one who has been called as a Pastor-Teacher, the voice is an important part of one’s ability to preach the Word of God. When I was a student in Seminary and invited to give a sermon in a rural church setting where there was little or no amplification, one older, retired servant of the Lord said to me on more than one occasion: “Thank God for your voice. It is clear and we can hear it.”
For almost 60 years, the Lord has allowed me to use my “voice like a trumpet” for Him. Until, that is, one day in November 2017, when my voice was halting and the “sound like a trumpet” became muffled. Suddenly, I was unable to speak clearly. I was having difficulty swallowing and breathing. After seeing an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, it was determined that I had developed Lymphoma and one of the glands in my throat was causing blockage. One suggested remedy would’ve been radical surgery. A Lymphoma Specialist took over my case and expressed confidence that, even though my Non-Hodgkin’s classification was Stage 4, there was a remedy. After weeks of treatment, the speaking voice returned. The vocal cords are returning to being more normal. The one place where further therapy is needed is in the area of an increasing ability to sing the Hymns of the Church.
I have often marveled how people who could shout loudly and exhibit all kinds of voice-range at a sporting event will not – and do not – use their voice in adoration and praise of the Lord when hymns are being sung in a church worship service. Psalm 100 instructs us: “Make a joyful noise to the Lord.” Psalm 81:1, “Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to God.” Hebrews 13:5, “Let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” Jeremiah 33:11. “The voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord.”
Consider the use of one’s “voice like a trumpet.” The servant of the Lord is mindful of the function assigned to him. Passages such as, Isaiah 58:1 states succinctly how the Lord wants His servant’s voice to sound and what message He wants it to utter: “Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression…their sins.” The use of the “voice like a trumpet” should be heard above the clamor and noise of a given day. It is to sound clearly and sharply. It is to be used to pierce through all other sounds or noise. A cautionary word about the use of the “voice like a trumpet” is given in First Corinthians 14:8 (NASB), “If the bugle (trumpet) produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle?”
Many voices have been raised throughout history and in the contemporary culture that are contrary and something other than the “voice like a trumpet” for the Lord. The Biblical Christian community may mumble and grumble about what is taking place, but how often do they raise their voice with distinctiveness and clarity? How willing are they to stand in the gap and lift up the standard of God’s Word in a culture that is running amuck? If one is to use the trumpet so the sound is clear and heard above the din of the world requires practice and use. The less one uses the trumpet the less clarity of sound will be heard if one begins to blow into the horn – it will be a muffled sound.
In 1916, George W. Kitchin wrote the words to Lift High The Cross. Some of the lyric includes: So shall our song of triumph ever be: Praise to the Crucified for victory. (Refrain) Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim, Till all the world adore His sacred name.
Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

BUT GOD


I Was Just Thinking About – BUT GOD.

One of the powerful and meaningful phrases of Scripture is stated in Ephesians 2:4 (ESV), “But God.” The chapter begins by informing  us of the  condition of a person before the “but God” intervention, namely, being “dead in trespasses and sins.” How vital was/is that divine intervention? What eternal and magnificent difference does “but God” make in one’s life? Verses 4-8 addresses the mercy of God being shown and the grace of God bringing salvation. It includes the inheritance and hope of being with Jesus Christ in the place He has prepared. It is a place where His continuing kindness toward those who have been saved by grace will prevail throughout eternity.

The national news interviewed an Alabama State Representative. David Standridge (R) earlier this morning (Tuesday, August 14, 2018). He has submitted a bill before the State Legislature for consideration of putting “In God We Trust” back into the public schools of the state because he believes the words will provide “comfort” for the children and staff. One can anticipate the clamor of those who championed the removal of Prayer and Bible Reading from the schools, those who will argue for the separation of church and state. Let’s suppose this Bill is successful and “In God We Trust” is submitted back into the public schools. Will these four words actually provide “comfort” if or when there is a traumatic incident occurring in the school environs? Is “comfort” the only purpose in the words of the national motto, In God We Trust? The motto should be of greater import than just the possibility of “comfort.” The words infer much more than that suggested potential or possibility.

On the Internet, someone posed the question: How Can I Learn To Trust That God Is In Control? An unnamed source gives four ways to validate In God We Trust. “Before we can learn to trust that God is in control of all of life’s circumstances, we have to answer four questions: (1) Is God really in control? (2) How much control does He have? (3) If He is not in complete control, then who/what is? (4) How can I learn to trust that He is in control and rest in that?” The supplied answer for question 1 is: “Is God really in control? The concept of the control of God over everything is called the ‘sovereignty’ of God. Nothing gives us strength and confidence like an understanding of the sovereignty of God in our lives…God is in complete control of every molecule in the universe at every moment and everything that happens is either caused or allowed by Him for His own perfect purposes.”

To recognize that God is always in control of all things requires that one must have a comprehensive knowledge of God and His ways, as well as having and maintaining an intimate relationship with Him in our daily lives. We need to know Him and become bold to make Him known. The Biblical instruction and requirement that enables one to proclaim: “In God We Trust” is Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV), “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Another passage that connects to these words is Psalm 37:4-6 (NKJV), “Trust in the Lord…Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

Do our schools need more than a national motto to bring them comfort? Does our nation need to return to the foundational principle of the national motto and truly believe "In God We Trust"? The obvious answer is: Yes! Of equal concern is whether or not the Church  and Christian community is adequately proclaiming and living the reality of “In God We Trust.” The evidence that this is a truth by which one lives and the Church exists is clearly stated in Proverbs 3, “Trust in the Lord with all your heartand lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him…” Is this the witness of your life? In every detail of your life, is “But God” both resident and prominent?

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.