Today, as in the first century, there are strong pressures to live with a “partial” commitment to God. One religious man was always going around averaging his morality. He said, “I am doing pretty good on an average. I sometimes swear, but I am an honest person. I do not attend worship services, but I do not get drunk.” This same man hired a fellow to build a fence around his pasture. Upon completion he was asked, “Is the fence built tight and strong?” The fence builder replied, “I can’t say it is all tight and strong, but on an average, it is a pretty good fence. I may have left a gap a yard wide or so here and there, but then I made up for it by doubling the rails in other places.” The irreligious man said, “You mean to tell me that you have built a fence around my pasture where my animals can get out in spots? Do you not understand that a fence must be tight and consistent or it is worthless?” The worker implied, “I used to think so until I heard you talking about averaging matters with the Lord. I thought, if it works with the Lord it would seem it would work with a few cows.”
Tom Landry once observed concerning football, “Super Bowl’s never stay won.” Every year when Super Bowl Sunday comes to an end and the champions receive their Super Bowl ring it all starts over for next year. Last year’s victory does not assure this year’s victory. Each year the process starts over again, through work, sweat, and tears. Built into the football championship victory is the struggle to win again.
Christians are promised victory year after year. Those who follow Christ are winners and are assured their heavenly prize because of Jesus’ sacrifice. While we are winners in Christ, we still have to face struggles. Your Christian victories of yesterday are past tense. Every day we get up to face a new day and a new challenge as we press on in our journey with Christ Jesus. May you realize that Christianity is not simply a state, it is a process. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Only in the fairy book tales is life smooth sailing. Yet, “in Christ” we are promised we can overcome through the blood of the Lamb (see Revelation 12:11).
We live in a world where we depend heavily on automobiles as our mode of transportation. No doubt most of us come to the church building in an automobile. Automobiles engines are powerful, but that power is of no value to us until we turn on the engine. Therefore, the little piece of metal we call a “key” becomes important to us. When you get in your car to come to a church assembly you would not get in your care and expect it to start without a key. In essence, the key becomes the instrument through which the engine’s power becomes available to you.
As our car keys are the instrument through which the engine’s power becomes available to us in the physical realm, our “faith” is the key through which God’s power becomes available to us in the spiritual realm. The Bible reads, “Without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). We place our faith in many things, but the key to a victorious life in Jesus, is a God centered faith.
Jesus invites you to get to know Him, as did His early disciples. The invitation is far more that an opportunity to learn about Him, it is a bold call to experience Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). We are beckoned not just to consider, but also to taste and experience God working in us to will and to act according to His good purpose (Philippians 2:13). We are called to encounter God’s presence and power within us. The teaching of the gospel is more than a record of information about Jesus’ life, it is an invitation to experience transformation. The story of His life and ministry is a message of the incredible opportunity for a life changing relationship with Jesus, the Lord.
When I reflect on the awesomeness of the Creator and Sustainer of life there are several things that do not surprise me. I am not surprised to find God expects me to worship Him. It makes sense that the God whose hands positioned the planets in order, deserves the worship of one whose hands often struggle to get my garage in order. It also does not catch me off guard to discover the Lord God has left us a roadmap and extended to us an invitation to know the way to eternal life. I encourage you to embrace God’s call for you to “Let Your Light Be Seen in 2019.
If we understand the importance of needing a friend, it will help us to be a better friend. Sometimes a kind word or deed from a friend helps us keep going when we feel like giving up. A wise man once said, “A person is rich if he has one true friend.” It is easy to have a host of friends to laugh with us, but a friend who will stand by us in adversity is not so easy to find. May we never be guilty of treating our friends like a heating pad, meaning we keep them stored away until the pain comes.
Jesus told His followers they were His friends. How wonderful it must have been for the early disciples to hear Jesus refer to them as His friends. Jesus is never so busy that He does not have time to listen to our challenges. And after He listens to us, He has the power to help us with our needs. He is the friend who is closer than a brother. Each of us can have a “True Friend.” He is the friend that will never let you down. Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14).