Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Jesus said, " I assure you: Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:15. Spend a few minutes with a child at your church and you will get a glimpse of the kingdom of God. Ask the children who Jesus loves and they will tell you with a stronger faith than you will see in all the elders. Ask them what Jesus can do and their faith will tell you in no uncertain terms, "Anything!" Because the childlike mind finds the kingdom and lives in it.
Isn't it a sad thing that as we grow in stature, we "outgrow' childlike faith? We become hardened, bitter, skeptical, and cynical about the world around us. We pick and choose with whom we share ourselves and our Jesus, but a child will walk up to anyone and tell them about Jesus' love and about their faith. Children aren't afraid to say that there are some things they just don't do because it wouldn't please Jesus. A child is ready to pray on the spur of the moment when things look scary or confusing.
One thing that I see that hardens our hearts is that children look to us to confirm their faith. They take it to Jesus, but do they see us do the same? When they realize they are the only ones looking to Jesus, they start to question their faith. Jesus had something to say about that, too! "But whoever causes the downfall of one of these little ones who believe in Me—it would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea!" Matthew 18:6.
I love to be around children! I like to hear them talk about what they are experiencing, what they are playing, how they see the world around them. I always learn something new when I sit with a child! Most of all, when I spend time with a child, my faith is strengthened. They don't question what they are told; they trust that God is there watching over them and taking care of them. As adults, we need to be careful of what we say to and around children. Are we talking down to them, treating them like they do not understand? Jesus says we are to welcome the kingdom of God into our lives like a little child! Trust. Obey. Too simple? Too childlike?
I challenge you to take some time in the very near future to sit and play with and truly LISTEN to a child. You will be amazed at what you learn! Then take that experience and go into YOUR world. Take the kingdom out with childlike faith that God is with you. Be intentional with your Christian walk: the children are!
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
When I bring this up to the 20% that works, I almost always get the answer, "I enjoy doing what needs doing until God brings someone else along who wants to take over." When the 20% person is held back from working because of health or other circumstances, they feel frustrated and can't wait to get back to work. When the 80% are presented with this statistic they usually give these explanations: "I am in a down time in my personal life," "I need to get my spirituality straight first before I can serve," or the biggest answer of all: "I just don't have any spare time right now."
I am afraid the last is the main reason many Christians are not more involved in the work of the Kingdom. We have become so driven to succeed that we fill our Day Runners with activities, meetings, kids' events, family time, and the ever-present work-to-pay-the-bills. A few years ago I was introduced to a book by Richard Swenson titled Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives. Of all the things I read in that book, the one thing that stood out to me was the need to make room for God in my life. The need to have a bit of margin in my time of day to not just be a hearer of the word, but also a doer. If a friend were to call and say they were in crisis and needed me to come over to watch the kids while she dealt with it, would I actually have the margin in my day to do this without stealing time from someone else. If the pastor called and said a water main had broken in the basement at church, would I have the time margin to get over there and help with clean up? Many of us may just take the time from somewhere else and thus rob Peter to pay Paul. Oh yes, that is what it would be: it is akin to paying off my MasterCard with my Visa when I take the time from one committment to give to the other.
My thought today is not whether or not Christians are leading busy lives but what are we busy about? We justify our busy-ness in so many ways:
- I have bills to pay so I need to work--a lot! Evaluate this with God one day. Proverbs 22:7 "The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is a slave to the lender."
- My kids are young and need to be active so they can make educated choices as they grow up. Ephesians 6:4 "And fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Deuteronomy 11:19, "Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." What is the most important thing we can give our children as they grow? Ask God's guidance on this, too.
- I have already done my time in church work. Titus 2:2 - 5 "Older men are to be self-controlled, worthy of respect, sensible, and sound in faith, love, and endurance. 3 In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be sensible, pure, good homemakers, and submissive to their husbands, so that God’s message will not be slandered." We are not released from service until we see Jesus face-to-face.
- When will I be "fed" if I am busy working? Hebrews 5:11-14 "We have a great deal to say about this, and it’s difficult to explain, since you have become slow to understand. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of God’s revelation. You need milk, not solid food. 13 Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature—for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil."
I am thinking the end of Titus 2:5 is where I am camping in my thoughts today: so that God's message will not be slandered.
Dear Christian, what are you busy about? Are you one of the 20% that works hard at the church? Then be encouraged with this Word: Galatians 6:9 "So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up." Listen to the urging of the Holy Spirit when to say YES and when to say NO. Encourage others, new and immature Christians, to work along side of you and teach them what it is to do the work of the kingdom with JOY!
Are you one of the 80% that has been too busy to serve? Do not be fooled by those who would tell you that you will fall into a "works philosophy" if you get busy in the church. James 2:18, "But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works." Learn and embrace the gift that is in you, given by the Holy Spirit at your moment of salvation. Try different places of service until you know you are where God wants you. Pray and do not be discouraged or afraid. God blesses all who walk in righteousness.
Matthew 6:33 is my final encouragement today. "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and HIS righteousness and ALL these things will be added unto you."
Go with God today, dear Christian,