Patiently Waiting

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief…
2 Peter 3:9‭-‬10 ESV

Motivation. It’s the driving force behind everything we say and do as well as everything we do not say and do not do. Great motivation can can propel a person into marvelous feats of strength, endurance, and success. Lack of motivation will stunt the growth of its owner. The right motivation will often guide us into good, while the wrong motivation will often cause harm to us or to others.

No one acts without a motive, even if it is as simple as eating because we’re hungry. Furthermore, the how and the why behind everything we say and do, although it may be hidden from those around us most of the time, is always in view of our omniscient God. Yes, God knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts. Nothing is hidden from Him.

Nevertheless, we do not always know God’s thoughts and intents. As finite beings, our view of the events of this life is limited. We are not privy to the thoughts and intentions of those around us, and we are definitely unable to grasp the infinite wisdom of our God and our Lord. This is what makes passages like the one above so special, for it gives us a glimpse into God’s intentions.

Typically, when someone is slow in doing something, it is either because he is unmotivated, unable, or unskilled. My kids are slow in picking up their toys. A student will be slow in completing work he does not understand.  A new employee will be slow as he learns all the new procedures.

Yet human slow and God slow are not the same. God is not slow because He’s unable or unwilling; He’s slow because He’s patient. Yes, God is patiently waiting. He’s providing the time and opportunity necessary for all to have the chance to choose Him, for what God doesn’t want is that anyone should go to Hell. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. So He’s waiting. That’s His motive. It’s not that he can’t move but that he won’t move until it’s time. Yet when the time comes, it will come as a thief–purposeful, surprising, and efficient.

God is the great promise keeper. This means Christ is returning. He will come back. He is just not doing it on our timetable–because His love longs for all to choose Him. Yes, all.

Therefore, let this encourage you today. First, be reminded that God always keeps His promises. Always. What God has promised will come to pass, so no matter what your current life situation may look like, you never have to wonder if God will do what He says He will do. You may just have to patiently wait for the when. Second, be ready for His return. He is coming. There is no doubt about that.  So be ready and redeem the time. Speak the truth. Share the truth. Be a willing vessel God can use to reach those He’s patiently waiting to call His own.

God is not slow, my friend; He’s patient. And He’s always on time. So run to Him today. Run to Him and then be still. Be still and know He is God. He will be exalted. He will come back. He will come through. He’s just waiting—patiently waiting because He loves you.

 

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Put It Away

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator Colossians 3:1‭-‬10 ESV

If you have kids, then you have toys. Lots of toys. You have trains, you have blocks, you have dolls, art supplies, puzzles, games, and a variety of gadgets. And if you have all of the above, you’ve also probably tripped over and stepped on them multiple times because, well, not many kids naturally clean up their things on their own. They must be told to do so. This is why “Put it all away,” is a common direction in my household.  “Put the Legos back on the Lego table.” “Put the markers back in the marker drawer.” “Put those dirty clothes in the laundry basket.” “Put the toys back in the appropriate bins.” “Put it all away!”

And it is this daily reminder to put it all away that came to mind as I read the above passage from Colossians 3. In the passage Paul reminds us we must put away what we no longer need: we must put away the old self with all of its sinful desires.

If you are in Christ, you are a new creation. The old has gone; the new has come. Yet even though the new has come, we as believers often forget to or neglect to put the old away. We no longer want those sinful qualities, but we also don’t take the time to put them all away either. And what happens when the unused and unwanted things are left out?  We trip over them, others get hurt by them, or we become stressed at the sight of the clutter.

So like Paul, I exhort you today to put away the old you–put away the person you were before knowing Jesus. You are not the same person anymore. You are now hidden with Christ in God. You no longer need those worldly traits, for those behaviors and attitudes no longer fit who you are.

Who you are is a child of the King. So get rid of the rags you once wore. Let them go. Put them all away. Stop holding on to what you will never and should never wear again.

Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice so you could be clean. He purchased you a whole new wardrobe–He clothed you with righteousness. Therefore, as Paul encourages us all, set your mind on what’s above, where Christ is, today. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:2-3). For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5). Therefore today and every day, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).

Do It Afraid

as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
1 Peter 3:6 ESV

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
Ephesians 5:22 ESV

And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.
Genesis 20:2

I couldn’t imagine being in Sarah’s position as she walked out the events we read about in Genesis 20.  I wonder if she was thinking back to the events in Egypt.  They had been traveling because of a famine.  As they had entered Egypt, Abraham, afraid of the people, had Sarah tell everyone she was his sister, not his wife. Talk about a backhanded compliment!  “Honey, you are the most beautiful woman on earth–so beautiful my life is in danger because of you!  Now lie for me so that they don’t kill me.”  Not sure we could find that one on a Hallmark card.

Yet regardless how that conversation may have sounded at the time, Abraham’s plan had eventually backfired.  And now in Genesis 20, Sarah is again faced with a similar situation.   As they enter Gerar, Abraham proclaims Sarah as his sister, and Sarah goes along with it.  She doesn’t contradict him in front of Abimelech.  She doesn’t cry out, “Oh no you don’t, Abe!  I’m not going through this again!  No way am I going to let everyone believe I’m not your wife!  I may be physically beautiful, but in no way am I going to submit to your foolish schemes!”  If she had been thinking it (which I doubt she was), she didn’t speak it. Genesis 20:5 states she specifically responded with “He is my brother.”

Yes, Sarah was willing to be subject to Abraham’s authority, even if the outcome was filled with uncertainty.

And it is this situation that came to mind as I read 1 Peter 3 the other day.  In the section regarding how wives must behave, Peter explains we are to be submissive like Sarah: we are to be submissive even when it is frightening. Yes, even when it is frightening.

Now I must insert here that I am in no way implying we are to submit to abuse.  God does not call us to abuse.  If you are in an abusive situation, please remove yourself from it and get help.

What I am talking about is fear of the unknown, fear of what may happen, and fear of what others may think.  We are not to be afraid of the possible outcomes of submitting to our husbands.  Instead we must trust God’s ability to guide and to protect us with every step.  I am sure Sarah was a bit fearful as King Abimelech brought her into his home as his wife.  The what ifs had to be overwhelming.  Nevertheless, amidst the memories of the past and the uncertainty of the future, Sarah trusted that God knew her heart and God would protect her.  And God did.  God spoke to Abimelech in a dream and prevented the unspeakable from happening.

I am sure you know God calls us to scary places sometimes.  When He does, it is not our responsibility to know how it will all turn out; it is our responsibility to obey His call while trusting in His sovereignty.  In the same way,  we as wives are called to submit to our husbands as to the Lord, even when doing so is frightening.   No, we don’t have to be door mats, but we must be willing to be subject to their authority.  We must be willing to honor our husband’s God-given authority.  We must be willing to follow our husband’s lead knowing God has our backs.  We must go forth each day knowing our protection doesn’t depend upon our ability to call the shots; it resides in our willingness to submit.  As Proverbs 3:25-26 encourages us, “Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.”  In other words, we must trust in God’s sovereignty and protection as we follow God’s command to submit to our husbands as to Him.

I’m not sure what situation you may be faced with today.  Maybe your husband, in your opinion, isn’t making wise choices.  Maybe your husband wants to take a risk you believe unwise.  Maybe your husband feels called to something that requires you to walk way outside of your comfort zone.  Is a move in your future?  Are finances being stretched? Or is there something you desire to do that your husband does not want you to do? Whatever it is that may have you afraid or asking why this morning, I encourage you to go before God and surrender.  Surrender your fears.  Surrender your misgivings.  And then obey what God calls you to do.  Obey God’s voice.  And when God calls you to submit, then submit.  Submit to your husband as to God, even if doing so his scary.  For as you do, you can know that God sees your heart.  God sees your faithfulness.  And the God who sees in secret will one day reward you openly.

Keep on keeping on my friend.  Keep believing. Keep trusting.  Keep obeying.  Keep running the race that it set before you with diligence.  Keep serving our Savior in everything you say and do, even in submission, knowing that one day it will all be worth it as you hear your Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 5:23).

His Mind

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:5‭-‬8 ESV

Yesterday was Mother’s Day–the day set aside to honor those who are the moms in our lives.  If you’re on Facebook, I’m sure you read post after post thanking moms for all they have done and continue to do for their children. Moms all over the world received texts, cards, phone calls and visits from those grateful for their presence in their lives.

But what about those moms who received nothing yesterday—no notes, no visit, no ounce of appreciation? How should they feel? Is the role of mom diminished when appreciation ceases?

Not in the least!

Our value doesn’t rest in the opinion of man. The praises, or lack thereof, of man do not indicate the level of our success. God does. God determines our worth. God determines our value. God is the one we must live to please.

Therefore, whether you wake up today still smiling from the joys of yesterday or you wake up to the same old busy, thankless routine–or even as the accolades of yesterday begin to fade–you must remember this: God not only calls you to but also provides you with the mind of Christ.  Really! Read the first verse in the above passage: Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus… This means regardless what man says or doesn’t say, you can go through life with confidence and assurance that you are God’s child, chosen “for such a time as this.” You can have a mind like His.

What was the mind of Jesus like? We see it in the above passage. He was humble and obedient to the point of death, but even in death He knew who He was.

When Jesus went to the Cross, no one made a day of it to cheer Him on. No one encouraged Him,”Hey Jesus, You’ve got this. Keep your eyes on the prize. I appreciate you.” Nope. Jesus was despised, rejected, and abandoned. Yet even though man didn’t recognize nor encourage Him, Jesus knew who He was and what He was supposed to do.  The opinions of the men and women at the time of His death did not dissuade Jesus from doing what He was on earth to do. He humbled Himself to the point of death because He knew who He was. He knew the success of His mission was not related to the opinions of the people present to witness it.

What was the result? Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9‭-‬11 ESV).

By choosing God’s plan over the praises of man, Jesus allowed God to do the praising. In the same way, when we live our lives with the mind of Christ, we open the door for God to be glorified. When we walk in humility the way God leads, what man thinks will pale in comparison to knowing God sees everything and what God sees in secret, He will one day reward before all.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all for days of celebration on this Earth. I thoroughly enjoyed the lunch and the ice cream cake and the time with the family yesterday. Nevertheless, even if that had not happened, and even if it never happens again, I can go forth each day in confidence and with joy knowing that I am where I am because God has called me to it. I can be at peace with where I am because I do it for the One who placed me there.

Therefore I encourage you today: take hold of the mind of Christ He’s given you. Walk through this day with the assurance that God sees it all. Know God has called you to walk this life in obedience to Him–even when obedience is mundane. Even when obedience comes without praise. Even when obedience comes with ridicule and rejection.

Christ may have lived on Earth but He lived for Heaven. Join me in having this same mind today. Let’s together commit to take hold of what is ours through Christ Jesus.  Let’s humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord so that He may lift us up. Let’s do all for the glory of God, not for the praises of man.  Let’s “have this mindwhich is yours in Christ Jesus.” Let’s have the mind of Christ.

 

Be the One

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17 ESV

Life’s not fair. This is a principle we learn early and often. Someone will always do more work and get less credit. Someone will always do a poor job and get away with it. Yet regardless of the fairness of this life, God calls each of us to do our part for His glory. For God is not partial. Both the one who on earth seemed to get away with everything and the one who faithfully served without recognition will one day face the God who sees and knows all.

The key to living well is not found in the accolades of man. The key to success comes from the heart–it is birthed in our motives and in our attitude.

The above verses do not say we are to do things for man; rather, we are to do all for God. Nevertheless, when we do all things for the glory of God, we must remember, the glory of God does not equate with the recognition of man. I’ve come across people who do very little when the potential for greatness is well within their reach. They are placed in a position of influence and yet squander the opportunity with mediocrity and indifference. Now I confess, this often bothers me immensely.  I often find myself frustrated and even angry that they, in my opinion, are wasting a great opportunity and responsibility to do unto God’s glory.  And although many times I want to scream at the top of my lungs, “Do the right thing!” or “Stop being lazy!”–although I want to put on a judge’s robe and judge away–I am often confined by God to silence–to keeping my mouth shut for God’s glory–to trusting that God sees all and will hold all accountable. NOT an easy thing to do! And honestly, in recent weeks I have failed at keeping my mouth shut many times.

Yet each time I have caught myself complaining about the choices of others, God has reminded me of the advice I gave my fifth graders the other day after I heard complaints about certain kids not contributing in group work: You do the work. You be the one. If in a group and only one out of four is willing to work, be the one who works. If in a situation where people aren’t following the rules, be the one who does. In a job, when others appear to not put in an honest day’s work, be the one who does. In a world where many consider a commitment something negotiable and where work ethic is almost non-existent, be the one who works well even when no one else is looking. Let each of us do all to the glory of God. Let each of us work as unto God, not unto men. Whether we eat, drink, speak, or keep silent, let each of us be the one who is working for God’s glory and not for man’s. Let each of us glorify God, even when it doesn’t seem fair to do so

As I look back over my life there have been definite times when the opportunity for greatness was within my reach–when the opportunity to be the one to do for God’s glory was within my grasp–but I chose a different way. I chose my way. I chose the easy way. I didn’t do my best but wish I had. And I know I’m not alone. It is not very often you hear people declare that they wish they had not put forth their best effort. Most regrets acompany those who wish they had. Who wish they had put forth the effort that they knew they  were capable of. Who wish they had chosen the way that glorified God.

Therefore, I encourage you today to be the one. Commit to being the one in all situations. Aspire to do all things for the glory of God. For whether you are the highly favored one or the unknown in this world, you are seen and known by God. So work like it today. Walk like it today. Live like it today.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 5:16 KJV