Devotion

              Imagine, for a moment, asking God what He wants from you. Not sarcastically or angrily. I mean genuinely seeking what the Master and Creator of the universe expects from you. This is a healthy exercise that can produce fruitful results if you are honest with yourself. Now imagine that, not only were you asking God what he wanted from you, but He was in the flesh, right in front of you. One man had this opportunity. Throughout the three gospel accounts of this interaction, (Matthew 19: 16-30, Mark 10:17-31 and Luke 18:18-30) we understand that this man was young, wealthy and a ruler of some sort. This, of course, leading to the unavoidable coining of “The Rich Young Ruler”.

            His exact question was “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”. Jesus told the man that he already knew the answer to that (Luke 18:20). They both knew the law of Moses. The young ruler knew he shouldn’t steal or murder. He even knew that he must love his neighbor as he loved himself. The young ruler confirmed this by assuring Jesus that not only did he know these things, he practiced as such. At this point, the common observer may be quite impressed with this young man. After all, he sure did seem to have life figured out. Not only was he uncommonly wealthy and of a high status, he was a faithful man of God. He was a man who managed to obey the commands of God. Jesus, however, was not so swept away. Scripture teaches us that Jesus doesn’t need men to tell Him what they have done. Jesus is a discerner of hearts (John 2: 24-25).

            Jesus’ answer cuts to the root of the problem. “You still lack one thing.” What a sobering thought. One thing could keep you from heaven. One thing could eternally separate you from the Lord of Hosts. What was that one thing? Jesus told him to sell all that he had, give the proceeds to the poor and to follow Him. Is that the one command that the rich young man overlooked? Did he somehow not know that it was imperative that he not own anything if he were to inherit eternal life? Of course not! That wasn’t His point. Remember, Jesus is a discerner of hearts. To fully understand the point of Jesus’ answer we must first look at what the rich young man did next. He “went away sorrowful”. You see, the young man’s problem was not that he didn’t understand. It wasn’t that he could not do what Jesus commanded. It was simply that he would not do it. He lacked willingness. He lacked the true dedication to God. Instead, his dedication was in his own selfishness.

            We are like this young man more often than we care to admit. How often do we know we are wrong or know what we should do and simply aren’t willing to do the right thing? Sometimes, we don’t want to put ourselves out there. It could be embarrassing, after all. It could mean we have to face rejection or ridicule. It may mean drawing unwanted attention to yourself. Sometimes, we don’t want to make a certain sacrifice. We would rather be comfortable and in the wrong than inconvenienced with a clean conscience. Paul said in Romans chapter 7 “For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”. We have all felt this way before. We know what we should do but we don’t do it. Instead, we do what we know we shouldn’t do. What is Paul’s solution? “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1). Paul spends the first portion of Romans chapter 8 urging us to not be carnally minded. Paul tells us we must be spiritually minded. This is no easy task. We are constantly surrounded by carnal things. In our world today, we must do all we can to combat carnal thoughts and actions. This may include starting your day with a prayer. Maybe it would help to sprinkle bible study throughout your day or week.

Paul assures us that, if we stay focused and spiritually minded, the reward will be more than adequate. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:13). Don’t let one thing stop you from spending eternity with your Creator. Next time you get down on your knees or have moment of solitude, ask God “What must I do? What do I still lack?”. Maybe, in a moment of clarity or divine inspiration, your shortcoming will be revealed to you. Most of us, however, probably already have our suspicions as to where we could improve. Maybe that is why we don’t ask the question. We are afraid that those all too familiar flaws of ours will pop their ugly head up. Paul encourages us to deal with those flaws but he also assures us that God understands our innermost inadequacies. “Likewise, the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8: 26). What a comforting thought. We are not alone in our struggles. God Himself, understand us. We must rely on Him to give us strength and guidance as we grow and improve.

“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine” – John Maxwell

           

           Charles Barkley once said “Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train.” We have all experienced times when we have felt hopeful. We have all felt helpless. I can remember a few situations in my life where I have felt hopeless. People commonly pick on teenagers for acting like every negative thing that happens is the end of the world. In reality, the reason children worry so intensely is because they lack perspective. Parents don’t worry about the same things as their children because they have a perspective that comes from years of experience and dealing with problems in their life.

            Children aren’t the only ones that sometimes lack perspective. Crazy and tragic things happen to people of all ages all of the time. Sometimes it’s minor things, like getting a flat tire. Sometimes it’s big things, like sickness or even death of a loved one. Those are not the things that define you. The decisions you make when confronted with those crazy and tragic events in your life are what define you.

            When Benjamin Franklin was 17, he ran away from his Boston home to Philadelphia to start his own life. The only money he had was a Dutch dollar and copper shilling. This, he gave to the owner of the boat that brought him to Philly. Walking into a nearby bakery, Franklin made polite conversation with the store owner and, in return, received three large loaves of bread. Carrying one under each arm and one in his mouth, he happened upon a woman and child in need of food. Despite his current situation, Franklin promptly handed over his two remaining loaves. When we lose hope, we sometimes can let it cloud what is right and wrong. We can’t stop being generous just because we don’t have very much. We must not let desperate times define our morals.

            The Bible says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.” Like I said earlier, we have all felt heart-sick in times of hopelessness. So, what do we do when we feel heart-sick? As always, we can find our answer in scripture. First, we have to remember that “With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26). No matter how hopeless things seem, we can always trust in God’s steadfast love and mercy. We need look no further than Sarah who “By faith… being past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered Him faithful who had made the promise”- (Hebrews 11:11).

            Lastly, we must be willing to do things God’s way. Sometimes, holding to our principles and being honest, generous and meek are not the type of things that always seem to be the best option. Consider the words of David in Psalm 41:1-2, “Blessed is he who considers the poor; the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him and keep him alive, and he will be blessed on the earth; You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies.” God looks out for the people who do His will. This doesn’t mean bad things will never happen to you. It means that God is in control and that He has a perspective that we can’t even imagine.

 

Within four days our nation has been plunged into an unbelievable fear. People are selling little masks for your face. People are talking about what if it comes to this country, and preachers on Tuesday are saying, "It's the scourge of God."

The day is over, you are driving home. You tune in your radio.You hear a story about a little village in India where some villagers have died suddenly, strangely, of a flu that has never been seen before. It's not influenza, but three or four fellows are dead, and it's kind of interesting. They're sending some doctors over there to investigate it.
You don't think much about it, but on Sunday, coming home from church, you hear another radio spot. Only they say it's not three villagers, it's 30,000 villagers in the back hills of this particular area of India, and it's on TV that night. CNN runs a little blurb; people are heading there from the disease center in Atlanta because this disease strain has never been seen before.
By Monday morning when you get up, it's the lead story. For it's not just India; it's Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and before you know it, you're hearing this story everywhere and they have coined it now as "the mystery flu". The President has made some comment that he and everyone are praying and hoping that all will go well over there. But everyone is wondering, "How are we going to contain it?" That's when the President of France makes an announcement that shocks Europe. He is closing their borders. No flights from India, Pakistan, or any of the countries where this thing has been seen.
That night you are watching a little bit of CNN before going to bed. Your jaw hits your chest when a weeping woman is translated from a French news program into English: "There's a man lying in a hospital in Paris dying of the mystery flu." It has come to Europe. Panic strikes.
As best they can tell, once you get it, you have it for a week and you don't know it. Then you have four days of unbelievable symptoms. Then you die. Britain closes it's borders, but it's too late. South Hampton, Liverpool, North Hampton, and it's Tuesday morning when the President of the United States makes the following announcement: "Due to a national security risk, all flights to and from Europe and Asia have been canceled. If your loved ones are overseas, I'm sorry. They cannot come back until we find a cure for this thing.”
Within four days our nation has been plunged into an unbelievable fear. People are selling little masks for your face. People are talking about what if it comes to this country, and preachers on Tuesday are saying, "It's the scourge of God."
It's Wednesday night and you are at a church prayer meeting when somebody runs in from the parking lot and says, "Turn on a radio, turn on a radio." While the church listens to a little transistor radio with a microphone stuck up to it, the announcement is made, "Two women are lying in a Long Island hospital dying from the mystery flu."
Within hours it seems, this thing just sweeps across the country. People are working around the clock trying to find an antidote. Nothing is working. California, Oregon, Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts. It's as though it's just sweeping in from the borders. Then, all of a sudden the news comes out. The code has been broken. A cure can be found. A vaccine can be made. It's going to take the blood of somebody who hasn't been infected, and so, sure enough, all through the Midwest, through all those channels of emergency broadcasting, everyone is asked to do one simple thing: "Go to your downtown hospital and have your blood tested. That's all we ask of you. When you hear the sirens go off in your neighborhood, please make your way quickly, quietly, and safely to the hospitals."
Sure enough, when you and your family get down there late on that Friday night, there is a long line, and they've got nurses and doctors coming out and pricking fingers and taking blood and putting labels on it. Your wife and your kids are out there, and they take your blood and say, "Wait here in the parking lot and if we call your name, you can be dismissed and go home."
You stand around scared with your neighbors, wondering what in the world is going on, and that this is the end of the world. Suddenly a young man comes running out of the hospital screaming. He's yelling a name and waving a clipboard. What? He yells it again! And your son tugs on your jacket and says, "Daddy, that's me!"
Before you know it, they have grabbed your boy. "Wait a minute, hold it!" And they say, "It's okay, his blood is clean. His blood is pure. We want to make sure he doesn't have the disease. We think he has got the right type."
Five tense minutes later, out come the doctors and nurses, crying and hugging one another some are even laughing. It's the first time you have seen anybody laugh in a week, and an old doctor walks up to you and says, "Thank you, sir. Your son's blood type is perfect. It's clean, it is pure, and we can make the vaccine."
As the word begins to spread all across that parking lot full of folks, people are screaming and praying and laughing and crying. But then the gray-haired doctor pulls you and your wife aside and says, "May we see you for a moment? We didn't realize that the donor would be a minor and we need. . . we need you to sign a consent form." You begin to sign and then you see that the number of pints of blood to be taken is empty. "H-h-h-how many pints?" And that is when the old doctor's smile fades and he says, "We had no idea it would be a little child. We weren't prepared. We need it all!"
"But, but..."
"You don't understand. We are talking about the world here. Please sign. We - we need it all - we need it all!"
"But can't you give him a transfusion?" "If we had clean blood we would. Can you sign? Would you sign?" In numb silence you do.
Then they say, "Would you like to have a moment with him before we begin?" Can you walk back to that room where he sits on a table saying, "Daddy? Mommy? What's going on?" Can you take his hands and say, "Son, your Mommy and I love you, and we would never ever let anything happen to you that didn't just have to be. Do you understand that?"
And when that old doctor comes back in and says, "I'm sorry, we've - we've got to get started. People all over the world are dying." Can you leave? Can you walk out while he is saying, "Dad? Mom? Dad? Why - why have you forsaken me?"
And then next week, when they have the ceremony to honor your son, and some folks sleep through it, and some folks don't even come because they go to the lake, and some folks come with a pretentious smile and just pretend to care; would you want to jump up and say, "MY SON DIED! DON'T YOU CARE?"
Is that what God is saying? "MY SON DIED. DON'T YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I CARE?"
Father, seeing it from your eyes breaks our hearts. Maybe now we begin to comprehend the great love you have for us...

Southwest church of Christ

3900 Pipkin Creek Road
Lakeland, FL 33811
Phone: 863-644-9463

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Southwest Church of Christ

3900 Pipkin Creek Road
Lakeland, FL 33811
Phone: 863-644-9463

Directions Here to my phone



Service Times

Sunday Bible Class:  9:00AM
Sunday Morning Service:  10:00AM
Sunday Evening Service:  5:00PM
Wednesday Bible Study:  7:30PM

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