Are you pressing “on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called [you]” (Philippians 3:14 NIV 2011 Edition), or have you “settled” along the way? God made a pact with Abraham – one that continues to influence the modern world. A lesser known fact is that years earlier, Abraham’s father, Terah, “set out … to go to Canaan”, the land of abundance where God later called Abraham. But Terah never made it: “When they came to Haran, they settled there.” No question, it couldn’t have been easy travelling hundreds of miles across rough terrain with flocks, herds, children and servants. Can you imagine the sheer logistics? Remember there were no professional movers to pack and load your stuff! Finally Terah decided they couldn’t go any further, so they settled where they were comfortable.
One pastor adds: I wonder how many times we do the same thing? We have a big dream … to excel in our careers … as parents … and in our walk with God. We get started but things get difficult and achieving our goal doesn’t happen as quickly as we hoped. Perhaps similar to Abraham’s father we say “Let’s just settle here. It’s not really what we wanted but it’s good enough.”
Don’t fall into that trap. You were made for more than “good enough” … Don’t settle for a little love and joy, a bit of peace and contentment, or a small helping of happiness. … Pull up the stakes, pack your tents, get your belongings and start moving forward. Enlarge your vision. You may have had a delay but … you can begin again.
Copyright UCB Word for Today (19 January 2017)
A group of animals got together in the forest one day and decided to start a school. There was a rabbit, a bird, a squirrel, a fish, and an eel. They formed a board of education and tried to create a curriculum. The rabbit insisted that burrowing in the ground be in the curriculum. The fish insisted on swimming. The squirrel insisted that perpendicular tree climbing be included, and the bird wanted flying. They put all these courses together and wrote a curriculum guide. Then they insisted that all of the animals take all of the subjects. Although the rabbit was getting an A in burrowing, perpendicular tree climbing was a real problem for him; he kept falling over backwards. Pretty soon he became brain damaged from these falls, and he couldn’t burrow well any more. He found that instead of making an A in burrowing, he was making a C. And, of course, he always made an F in perpendicular climbing. The bird was really beautiful at flying, but when it came to burrowing in the ground, he couldn’t do it so well. He kept breaking his beak and wings. Pretty soon he was making a C in flying as well as an F in burrowing. And he had a very bad time with perpendicular tree climbing. The squirrel was terrific at perpendicular tree climbing, but was so afraid of the water that he failed swimming altogether. The fish was easily the best in swimming class, but he wouldn’t get out of the water to come to any of the other classes. The valedictorian of the class was a mentally retarded eel who did everything in a halfway fashion. But the teachers were happy because everybody was taking all the subjects in their broad-based educational curriculum. Have you ever felt like the animals in that school? Have you ever been in situation where you are supposed to do things that you are not equipped to do? The Body of Christ, the church, was designed by God to include everyone, but God never intended for everyone to do everything. You don’t have to be like your pastor, or like your youth minister, or like anyone else. God gave you specific abilities-called spiritual gifts-which are to be used in the church and in the world by you and you alone. No one else is gifted quite the way you are, and there are many jobs that only you can do. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12) The call to follow Christ is the call to discover our unique giftedness and then to use our God-given gifts and abilities to bring glory and honour to Him.
On Easter Sunday little Johnny listened as his Sunday school teacher told the class that the lesson would be about the meaning of Easter. “Can anyone tell the Easter story?” she asked. When no one volunteered to speak, she called on Frank.
“Umm, I don’t think I know,” Frank said. The teacher reassured him that was okay and moved on to Betty.
Finally, little Johnny decided to raise his hand. He said he would tell the Easter story. The teacher was pleasantly surprised at his willingness, since he was usually the class clown.
“On Easter,” said Johnny, “Jesus and his disciples were eating the Jewish Passover at the Last Supper, but later Jesus was deceived and turned over to the Romans by one of his disciples. He was accused of teaching he was the Messiah and when he confessed it, the Romans made him wear a crown of thorns, took him to be crucified, and he was hung on a cross with nails through his hands and feet. He said ‘It is finished’ which means ‘Debt paid in full’ and died. He was definitely dead because the water was separated from his blood when they stabbed his side. So they buried him in a nearby cave on Friday which was sealed off by a large boulder.”
“Very good, Johnny!” the teacher gasped excitedly. “And what else happened that we celebrate on Easter?”
Johnny thought for a moment before continuing. “Now, on Easter Sunday each year, we move the boulder aside so that Jesus can come out. And if he sees his shadow, then we know there will be six more weeks of winter!”
Johnny got a little bit confused about the Easter story!
How would you tell the Easter Story? According to Scripture, the Resurrection of Christ is the centrepiece of our faith. There are many people who believe in Jesus – who believe that he died on the Cross for our sins – but who have a hard time believing in the Resurrection. Paul clearly teaches that without a risen Christ, we have no Gospel at all. Unless you believe in the risen Christ, our religion is pointless. But because he was raised from the dead, we will also be raised to eternal life. Now that’s good news! (1 Corinthians 15:13-14)
1 Corinthians 15:3-4: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
He is Risen! Happy Easter!
Our verse for 2015 as a fellowship is…
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” ~ Ephesians 3:20
As believers and as a local Church as we stand at the beginning of 2015 we should have GREAT EXPECTATIONS because we have a GREAT GOD: a God who is able. If you have not got your fridge magnet yet please ask for one.
One of God’s names tells us that He is able to do whatever He pleases, a name fist revealed to Abraham. He had promised to make Abraham the Father of a great nation, and naturally Abraham needed a son in order for that promise to come true. He thought Hagar’s child, Ishmael, was to be that son, but God told him that Sarah would bear a son named Isaac through whom the promise would be fulfilled. The whole idea was preposterous. Abraham was ninety nine years old and Sarah was ninety, and humanly speaking there was no possible way they could have a son. But God helped them to believe it by the way he introduced Himself that day: Genesis 17:3 “Now when Abraham was ninety nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him: ‘I am God almighty; walk before me and be blameless.’”
El-Shaddai is God Almighty, the God who can do anything He wants to do. He is almighty, all-powerful. That name is used 47 more times in the Old Testament and never of anyone but God. It has a New Testament equivalent, used ten times, which means literally “to hold all things in one’s power.”
Throughout the Bible we are told over and over again of God’s omnipotence:
- He is the Lord strong and mighty (Psalm 24:8)
- Power belongs to him (Psalm 62:11)
- Great is our Lord, and abundant in strength (Psalm 147:5)
- He is able (Eph 3:20)
Do you believe that today? Most of us have had disillusioning experiences with people who have promised more than they have been able to deliver. Consequently, we have a tendency to transfer our scepticism to God. Does He really care? Is He really in control? Does He really have the power to bring good out of adversity? Is He really able?
I remember on one occasion at the age of 18, God called me to serve for three months with Operation Mobilisation in Russia, during my holidays from University. As it got closer to the time to go I began to get more anxious about what lay ahead. I felt out of my depth and doubted that God could use me.
It was at this time when I received a letter from a friend. I still have the letter and it inspired me and confirmed to me afresh that God was able. Part of it said: “Rae, God has called you. He will equip you.” And then quoting Scripture it said: “Do not be afraid, only believing. For He is able.”
There is a song that we sometimes sing that confirms this wonderful truth:
- He is able, more than able, to accomplish what concerns me today.
- He is able, more than able to handle anything that comes my way.
- He is able, more than able, to do much more than I could ever dream.
- He is able, more than able, to make me what he wants me to be.
So this year let us remember that He is able, more than able. Ephesians 3:20 HE IS ABLE to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we ask, think or imagine.
This year, as William Carey once said, let us as a fellowship of believers in Lossie Baptist Church…
“Expect great things from God; Attempt great things for God.”