How Can We Repay the Lord?

How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to me? Psalm 116:12, NIV

One of my favorite Norman Peale stories is about a man who came to him one day, completely broken and dejected. He declared that he had lost "everything". Dr. Peale asked him a series of questions: What about your wife, your family, your friends, your country? The man responded that his wife and children were wonderful - that without them he could have never made it. His friends, too, had been there for him offering their support wherever he might need it. He felt that the U.S.A. was the greatest nation on earth. "How about your faith?" The man said that he could not have survived without having relied upon God.

So, what was it that caused the man to feel that he had lost everything? He had suffered a severe financial setback and felt that he had lost everything that he had worked and struggled for. He thought that he had lost his life's work. When questioned about what he still had, the man realized that he had not lost anything that could not be replaced. His problem was one of priority - of understanding what was truly important.

Try this exercise: List the ten most important things in your life, starting with the most important. If you have a fine mind then you won't have to write it down. (I will use pen and paper - you can draw your own conclusions.) Now, look at your list. If your first item does not pertain to God and Christ , then you lose. You must start over. If the next several items do not include your family and friends then, again, you lose and must start over. In fact, if your list of things most important to you are, in fact, things, then you are going to be disappointed in life.

On the other hand, if the most important areas of your life are those items that cause you to fall on your knees, thanking the Lord for His blessings and causing you to ask yourself, "How can I repay the Lord for His goodness to me?", then you win. Now help someone else to do the same! It is, after all, precisely what we are here for in the first place.

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. 

Psalm 125:1, NIV

 

Hope Does not Disappoint

People will often let us down. God never has, and He never will. This is the foundation for our hope.

Have you ever been let down by a loved one? If you are old enough, you have experienced such betrayals on more than one occasion. The effects of such an event is a mixture of confusion, hurt and disappointment. If these things happen too often, we might even find ourselves losing faith in our fellow man. Worse, still, we sometimes lose hope.

One of the benefits that I treasure the most in being a Christian is that of hope. We have hope for the future, hope for our fellow man, hope for our nation and hope for our families. More than anything else, we have a hope for a better place: A place where there is no fear, or pain, or sorrow... or disappointment. 

I'm looking forward to Heaven, but I am also looking forward to the rest of my life here on earth. I know that as long as God gives me breath there will be pain from disappointment, but I also know that this disappointment will never come from God. I know this from His word, which I trust, but I also know this from experience. You see, I am over 50 years of age and I can honestly say that God has never let me down - not one single time in my entire life... and He never will. And, I have the hope of Heaven someday - a hope that was given to me by God. This hope is what keeps me going. How about you?

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts... Romans 5:5, NIV

So regardless of the fact that men will let me down, sometimes bringing me to my knees from the pain of their disappointing acts, I know that God will lead me through. I will win the victory, some day,

 

Heroes Among Us

True bravery is shown by performing without witness what one might be capable of doing before all the world. 

LaRochefocauld

We are quick to celebrate those who have publicly saved others at the risk of their own lives, and rightfully so. There are, however, heroes among us who are risking their safety every day, but who receive little recognition for doing so. Take for example the men and women who serve in the field of law enforcement. Their motto is to protect and serve, and that is precisely what they do. While we occasionally honor those whose acts of heroism have become public, we rarely acknowledge the courage they display each time they knock on a door or approach a stopped vehicle in the everyday performance of their duty.

We have firemen who literally may have to risk their lives with every call. While we do honor those who rescue a child from a burning building, how often do we pause to consider the same courage that is present each time they answer a call? They rarely know in advance just what is at the other end of the alarm, but they respond to each one with a determined willingness to lay their lives on the line should the situation demand it.

Then there are our military men and women who serve 24 hours a day under the most extreme and hostile of circumstances. They do not expect to die on any given day, but they know that death is always  a very real possibility. They serve and they come home, often to people who do appreciate their effort, but rarely to those who truly understand the actual depth of the courage needed to be a soldier in hostile regions.

And then... we have our Lord. Though He knew for a fact of the torture and type of death that awaited Him, Jesus prayed in private that God's will be done, rather than His own. While the Christian world looks with adoration upon the courage of Christ as He was publicly ridiculed, publicly beaten, publicly spat upon, and then publicly crucified, how often do we consider His incredible heroism that night that He prayed alone?

We do have heroes among us  and we ought to thank them at every opportunity. But the greatest Hero who ever was and who ever will be, walks among us yet today. And, He deserves our humble thanksgiving with every breath we take.

Going a little farther, He fell on His face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will. 

Matthew 26:39, NIV

 

Heirloom Religion

Norman Vincent Peale tells of a young couple that came to the church where he preached to be married. They were excited because the groom's grandparents and parents had both been married at that very place. Dr. Peale asked the couple where they attended. With an embarrassed laugh they explained to him that they really didn't worship anywhere but, they quickly reminded him, that his grandparents were very faithful Christians. They even had grandfather's high silk hat that he had wore during the wedding ceremony at this very location.

Dr. Peale later reflected that their religion was very much like the grandfather's hat: It was an heirloom from the past that someone else had worn at one time, but that really wasn't put to use anymore. I wonder how many people are like that today. They worship (at least occasionally) at the same place that their ancestors did, but for no real reason other than that's where their family has always gone. In other words, they are not worshiping out of a studied understanding of God's word - they just go where they go because that's where their people have always gone.

And, unfortunately, their religion does them about as much good as Grandfather's hat did for that young couple.

How about you? Are you worshiping where you worship because of a conviction that you have found the church described in the Bible, or are you practicing "heirloom religion"? Are you serving God in the way that you are convinced the Bible teaches, or are you even aware of what the Bible teaches? In short, are you being faithful to God, or to the beliefs of your forefathers? The answer to those questions may well determine your dwelling place for all eternity.

These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men. You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men. Mark 7:6-8, NIV

 

Have You Read Your Bible Today?

Have you read your Bible today? I hope you did!

Jack Carter

I heard this question from a Gospel preacher about 29 years ago. Carolyn and I were newlyweds and I was early in my career as a residential appraiser. We had both attended a Christian college, went to church three times a week and both taught Bible classes at church, but something was missing - it was a daily walk with God.

When I first heard this question, I was a busy man. I ran a business. I was setting up a household. I was already giving as much time to God as was humanly possible - maybe more! You know the reasoning - perhaps you have fooled yourself, from time to time, with the same type of logic. But, the more I tried to excuse myself from this type of service, the more I realized how hollow my arguments were. So one day, I sat on the couch of my fancy office and let the Bible open where it may... and I started reading.

Rather than bore you with all of the details, let me just say that this has been one of the best decisions of my entire life. Through the years, I have developed a pattern for my day that has made all of the difference. When I first get up in the morning, I read a Psalm. It takes about a minute or two, but the benefits last throughout the day. Later in the day, I try to read several chapters from other places in the Bible, but it is this initial reading that sets the tone for my day.

Now, let me ask you this question: Could your day possibly be enhanced by starting it with instruction from the mouth of God? What would it be like to begin anew each day with a word of encouragement from the Creator of the Universe? May I suggest that, should you try this concept of laying aside your busy schedule for just a few moments at the beginning of each day, that it will change your entire life in ways that you will not believe. It has been said that if you do something everyday for three straight weeks that it will become a habit. Can you think of of more beautiful habit for your own life?

Have you read your Bible today?

I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands.

Psalm 119:131