Burn the Plows
Our granddaughter was jumping off the arm of the couch into a pile of pillows . . . over and over again. We watched her and bragged on her bravery and grace as she made each leap. If we looked away for even a few seconds, she would admonish us, Pay attention! ”Look at me! You’re not watching me! She would accept nothing less than our full and complete attention. God is like that. He wants our total commitment in every aspect of our lives. The Bible is full of examples where God demanded his people to totally surrender to him, to reevaluate priorities, attitudes, values, and pursuits. He demands to be the source of our faith, and He is all we need. When the rich young ruler asked Christ what he must do to have eternal life, Christ answered, If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. (Matthew 19:21) God will not “settle”. Good enough is not good enough for God. God has called us to a greater life that may even require some drastic action on our part. Christ said, If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26-27)
Hebrews 11 tells of several heroes of faith and what they did. It includes: Noah, who, by faith, built an ark to save his family after being warned about things “not yet seen.” By faith, the Israelites watched Moses raise his staff to part the Red Sea and then they walked through it on dry land. Abraham who, by faith, left his home and went to a place he would later receive as an inheritance even when he didn’t know where that place was. By faith, the people marched around the city walls of Jericho for seven days because God told them He would bring the walls down if they had faith. What is your faith asking you to do? Is it to help in the children’s or youth ministries or in guest relations or with the worship team? Is it to participate in a mission trip? Is it to serve in any one of the many community action activities such as Warm Blessings, Clarity, Helping Hand or Habitat for Humanity? Is it to invite a neighbor to church or take someone who can’t drive to the doctor or the grocery store? Noah, the Israelites, Abraham, and the people marching around Jericho took their faith beyond just believing and put it into action. James 2:17 NLT tells us “faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” How have you put your faith into action lately?
Upon Further Review
The quarterback drops back, trailing by a field goal as the clock runs down. He passes deep into the end zone. The receiver makes a great catch and tumbles out of bounds as the referee signals touchdown. It’s the right call. The refs and 80,000 fans agree. But wait. The play is under review. It’s being watched from every angle, using slow motion and stop action. Hearts pound. The referee slowly walks onto the field and turns on his microphone. “Upon further review, the ruling on the field is reversed. The receiver’s foot was out of bounds.” In a moment, the thrill of victory changes to the agony of defeat. Life happens that way. You try your hardest. You pray in faith. Everyone agrees what should happen. But your child doesn’t get well. Your relationship falls apart. Your business fails. And you wonder why God let this happen to you. We can’t give you an answer. To try would be foolish. But we can give you a plan. When things are far from good, trust God. He sees your situation from every angle. When you can’t understand, trust God. He knows your past, your future, and the eternal impact of today’s struggle. When you think God has quit listening, trust Him. Your faith will not be wasted. Trust Him. Be confident that He will use your faith in a greater way than you can know or see. Think about these words: “Sometimes He calms the storm and other times He calms His child” (Kevin Stokes and Tony Wood – Universal Music Publishing Group).
Getting Back Your Edge
2 Kings 6:1-7 shows us an obscure miracle involving an axe head. While cutting down a tree, one of the young prophets was chopping away when the axe head flew off the handle into the Jordan River and sank to the bottom. This was a borrowed axe, so the young prophet was very upset and cried to Elisha for help. Elisha told the prophet to go back to the place where he lost it and then he performed the miracle. Elisha made the axe head float to the surface of the water. Let’s imagine that the axe head is the power of God in our lives; a sharp spiritual edge. Often, we lose that “edge” but continue swinging away, hoping that no one will notice that something is wrong. If we seem to have lost the power of God, we should go back to the place where we lost it. God specializes in restoration. Maybe we lost our focus when we entered into a bad relationship? Maybe it was when we decided not to forgive someone? Maybe it was that we simply stopped spending personal time with God? Have we lost our sharp spiritual edge? Have we lost our effectiveness and enthusiasm for doing the work God has called us to do? The good news is that God wants to restore His power in our lives. He wants us to simply go back to the place where we lost our focus and begin the process of obedience again.