Ready to Serve

At the age of 19, Kenneth Smith was a proud member of the Army Air Forces. He became a B-24 pilot and served in WWII. Smith was shot down and held captive for five-and-a-half months at a prisoner of war camp in northern Germany. He was finally set free in 1945.

Kenneth Smith continued his career in the military, serving as a pilot for 19 years. He was intensely patriotic, as witnessed by the many photos he displayed that recorded the history of his military service.

Later in his life, Kenneth Smith was living in a nursing home, facing a different type of battle—he had Alzheimer’s disease. On a good day he would be able to recognize his daughter, Merrilinda, when she came to pay him a visit. Most days he did not know her.

One day when Merrilinda went to visit her father, she stayed longer than usual. It was Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Kenneth and Merrilinda spent that day the same way most Americans did—glued to the television set—watching the horrible events of the day unfold as the United States endured a vicious terrorist attack.

Even though he had Alzheimer’s, that patriotic military man understood that his beloved country was under attack. And with clear eyes and a strong voice, he turned to his daughter and said, “Merrilinda, get me my uniform!”

What a heart for his country that old man had! And that is just the kind of heart that Jesus wants you to have for his kingdom!

 

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Finding Food

My wife and I have a couple of bird feeders outside our living room window. It took a while for the birds to figure out that this source of food was available, but once they did, they entertained us with their presence. We like to watch them maneuver into place for their food. We enjoy seeing the colorful birds and the unusual ones that we had not noticed in our area before. We did a little research on some of the birds to see what they are called and where they migrate to in the winter.

One day last week we ran out of birdseed, and it was a few days before we were able to get some more. After a couple of days, the birds quit coming. They weren’t getting fed, so they stopped showing up. We have since replenished the feeders, and some, but not all, of the birds have returned.

Churches that don’t properly feed their people the Word of God may find that some of them will fly off somewhere else, looking for the spiritual meal that they aren’t getting at that particular congregation. We have to ensure that our worship services include a lot of reading and preaching of the Scripture. Our Sunday school classes and other small groups must be more than just sharing our own views and opinions of life—they must give people what they need most, the Word of God!

“…Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.’”—John 21:17.

 

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Now That God Has Our Attention!

“And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”—Romans 13:11.

God doesn’t want us to spiritually sleepwalk through life. He wants us to be alert to the dangers around us. The Lord desires his people to be fully aware of the spiritual warfare that we all are engaged in.

Many Christians are referring to the current coronavirus pandemic as a “wakeup call” from God. Most of us, I think, agree that God is trying to get our attention. Sometimes it takes drastic measures to wake human beings from their spiritual slumber. Throughout Scripture, the Lord has used various methods of getting people’s attention, including plagues.

Now that God has our attention, what might he want us to do? As you might have guessed, I have a few suggestions.

First, maybe God wants you to repent. Twice in Luke 13:1-5, Jesus gives this admonition—“…But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Repentance is a prerequisite for salvation. No one can be saved unless they turn away from their sins. Be honest with yourself. Is there some sin that has become so ingrained in your life that it is causing separation between you and God? If so, you need to repent.

Perhaps God wants you to wake up and re-examine your priorities. Have you gotten so busy with this and that and the other that you are not even close to putting God first in your life? Remember what Jesus says—“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33).

Maybe the Lord wants you to get more serious about worshiping him. That’s what he wants most of all from you. In John 4:23, Jesus says, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” Are you faithfully attending the worship services at your local church on the Lord’s Day? Do you give God the attention he deserves (for that is what worship really is, giving your attention to God) every day of the week?

Our current crisis might be a wakeup call to get serious about evangelism. Is there somebody you have been meaning to talk with about their salvation? Don’t put it off any longer! As Colossians 4:5 says, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.”

Perhaps you can think of some other way that God wants you to wake up and get serious about your faith, now that he has our attention!

 

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We’re Ready!

Many communities have signs along the road advertising that they are a “Storm Ready County” or a “Work Ready Community”. Sometimes both of these signs are displayed at the same location.

I suppose that they want to convey the message that they are prepared to meet the needs of people in the community should a devastating storm blow through. There are teams of first responders who have been well-trained and are ready at a moment’s notice to render any kind of aid that is necessary to people who need help in the aftermath of the storm.

As for the advertisement that they are work ready, I take that to mean that they offer educational opportunities to prepare people in their area for both white collar and blue collar jobs. Perhaps it also indicates that their local government is ready to offer incentives to any company that is willing to bring jobs to their community.

All of this is well and good, but there is another question about readiness that must be posed to any community—Are you ready for the second coming of Jesus?

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”—Matthew 24:42.

 

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Let Us Pray

Today is the National Day of Prayer. While the Bible urges us to “pray continually” (1 Thess.5:17), many of us could use reminders that we need to talk to God more regularly and more meaningfully.

Occasionally I will read a book on prayer in order to re-energize my prayer life. I am currently reading “Vertical with Jesus: A 30-Day Journey to Impact Kingdom Living”, by David and Kim Butts. The premise of the book is that we must keep our vertical relationship with God strong in order to have effective horizontal relationships with those around us. In the introduction, the authors write: “The great crisis for the Christian is that commitment to Christ means an earnest desire to serve others—meeting real needs, and seeing the kingdom advance. Without careful attention to our vertical call in Christ, we can find ourselves consumed by the horizontal. The horizontal focus on even kingdom-centered work can lead to burnout and an unhealthy emphasis on our own efforts and work. Desiring to advance Christ’s kingdom, we instead can find ourselves building our own little kingdoms.”

Of course we all want to have the greatest positive impact on the people around us. However, in order to do that we must first focus on staying connected to God in prayer. We must follow the example of Jesus—“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35).

Let us pray.

 

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BLESS People

If you are like many people, you sometimes need a little help in organizing your prayers. Someone once came up with the acronym B.L.E.S.S. as a method of praying for people. It goes like this.

“B” stands for body. You can start out by praying for the health concerns of the person you want to pray for. James 5:16 says “…pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Most churches have a quite extensive prayer list that is comprised mostly of people who have health issues. Prayers for health are much needed and usually much appreciated.

“L” is for labor. You can pray for the work of the person you want to bless. Many are currently out of work and are hoping to be called back soon. You can pray for them to have harmony in the workplace. You can ask God to keep them safe, especially if they work in a dangerous environment. There are many ways that you can pray for people in regards to their employment.

“E” stands for emotions. Pray for the mental well-being of the person who is on your mind. There are countless issues which can be very upsetting, and some people are susceptible to being anxious and worried. Pray for them to trust in the Lord and have the peace that he promises, a peace that passes all understanding.

The first “S” is for social issues. Pray for their relationships. Pray for their marriage to be strengthened, or their bond with their children to become stronger. Pray for their friendships. Pray for them to be reconciled with anyone they may be having problems with.

The second “S” is for spiritual needs. Pray that they come to know Jesus as their Savior. If they already know Christ, pray that their relationship with him will grow even stronger. 3 John 2 says, “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.”

I hope that this helps you to pray in an effective way. Perhaps you can share this little exercise with someone else who could benefit from this method of prayer. No matter how you choose to do it, just pray!

 

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Traveling Man

There was a man who had lived in the Midwest all of his life. He lived in the same small town, in the same neighborhood, on the same street, in the same house. He was satisfied with small town living. His community had everything that he needed or wanted, so why move?

Then one day, all of a sudden, the man sold his house and moved into another one—right next door!

His friends were surprised that he had done this and asked him for the reason. He replied, “Oh, I guess I just gave in to wanderlust.”

Whether we stay in one place all of our lives or travel the world, we Christians have the same purpose—to live our lives as an example to others that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world!

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”—Acts 1:8.

 

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How to Succeed In a Crisis

One of my favorite books of the Bible is Nehemiah. There we see several principles of how to succeed in a crisis. The Israelites had been exiled for many years. The walls of Jerusalem had been torn down and there was a desperate need to rebuild the walls. There was indeed a crisis. How would the people respond?

Nehemiah heard about the condition of the broken down walls of Jerusalem, and Neh.1:4 says, “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.”

In many ways, our nation is broken down because of the coronavirus pandemic. People are hurting physically, emotionally and economically. It should be enough to cause us sorrow and lead us to prayer.

After Nehemiah prayed, he went to work. He asked the king for permission to go and rebuild the walls. The king said, “Yes”. He then asked some Jewish leaders for their help. Neh.2:17-18 says, “Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” “…They replied, “let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.”

After we pray, we need to get to work. And, if we really hope to accomplish anything significant, we have to get other people to help us. We need to recruit others to join us in the Lord’s work. With so many people in America hurting in so many ways, there is plenty of the Lord’s work to be done!

So they started rebuilding the wall. Section by section, often working together as family units, they tackled this important project. Neh.3:8 points out that even goldsmiths and perfume-makers helped with the construction. I’ll bet those guys got blisters where they had never had them before!

It is interesting to see those who are working outside their field of expertise to battle the coronavirus. Automobile makers started producing ventilators for those who were seriously ill. A pillow manufacturer started making masks. Distilleries are producing hand sanitizer. Maybe you will have a chance to do something important that you have never done before!

There was opposition to the building project. (See chapters 4 and 6). Any time you are doing something important for the Lord, you can expect opposition. But the Israelites succeeded. They finished the project. The walls of Jerusalem were completely restored.

Someday this pandemic will be behind us. We will defeat it! But in the meantime, there is still a lot to be done. So let’s pray and get to work!

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Led By Moses

Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley had a celebrated college basketball career playing for Auburn. However, in his rookie season for the Philadelphia 76ers, Barkley was frustrated because he wasn’t getting much playing time. He turned to teammate Moses Malone, a veteran all-star, for advice.

“Moses, why am I not getting to play?”

Malone’s answer was very straightforward—“Because you’re fat and lazy. You can play at 300 pounds at Auburn. You can’t do that in the NBA.”

Rather than feeling hurt and resorting to moping, Barkley took his teammate’s words to heart. With Malone’s help, Charles lost about 50 pounds and went on to become one of the NBA’s best players.

We need more of this kind of mentoring and disciple-making in God’s kingdom. Sometimes some tough love from someone you trust is just what you need to get motivated to turn your life into something much more productive than it ever was before.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”—2 Timothy 3:16-17.

 

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A Time to Live and a Time to Die

John Grisham

The following story was told by best-selling novelist John Grisham:

“One of my best friends in college died when he was 25, just a few years after we had finished Mississippi State University. I was in law school, and he called me one day and wanted to get together. So we had lunch, and he told me he had terminal cancer.

I couldn’t believe it. I asked him, “What do you do when you realize that you are about to die?”

He said, “It’s real simple. You get things right with God, and you spend as much time with those you love as you can. Then you settle up with everybody else.” Then he said, “You know, really you ought to live every day like you have only a few more days to live.”

Grisham says, “That left an impression on me.”

What impressed Grisham should have an impact on us all. Few things impart more wisdom than to face up to the fact that we will all die sooner or later.

The deadly coronavirus pandemic is still infecting many people and taking many lives every day. This tragic calamity should cause us all to consider the brevity of life and the finality of life on earth. And it should cause us to want to live every day to the fullest, loving God and loving people to the best of our ability.

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”—Psalm 90:12.

 

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