I attended a pastor’s conference in Dayton, Ohio earlier this week. The teaching was some of the best I’ve heard in a long time. Very inspiration to me.
One of the speakers was Dr. Marva Mitchell. She is a strong Christian activist in the black inner city area of Kettering. She told her story of bringing street kids in after school for a Christian program. Her workers came back to her and said, “These kids can’t read. How we teach them about the Bible when they can’t read?” So, they changed directions and began a literacy program with those kids, to teach them to read.
The program became so effective the United Way of Dayton contacted her and asked her to submit a grant request so they could support her work. Knowing the government always has strings attached, and that she had no idea how to answer all those application questions, she just set it back. Finally, the United Way Director came down to Dr. Mitchell’s office, and filled the grant application out for her. She was awarded $35,000 the first year to fund their program. Her conclusion: If you will do it, God will send someone to finance it. That inspired me to stay active doing ministry.
Everyone that God uses has a ‘moment of surrender’ when we relinquish control of our lives over to God. You can’t be free without it. Jesus had one of those moments in Matthew 26. In anguish over His future, He prayed, “O my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not my will, but yours be done” (v. 39). After He finished that prayer, He awoke His disciples and said, “Rise, let us be going” (v. 46).
From that instant, Jesus was a changed man – fully released, fully understanding His mission. Never again did He refer to the weakness of the flesh of His disciples or ask for His own way. With authority and purpose, and the peace of God, He went forward. He could do this because He was released from Himself and His personal drive for that illusive ‘happiness’.
I have had several of those surrender moments when I finally resolved within myself to give a situation over to God. It is renewing and refreshing to finally let go of control and let God fly my plane. And a deep settled peace sweeps over. Now I can say with resolve, “Self, Rise and let us be going.”
There is an ancient Greek legend of a warrior named Achilles. His mother had dipped him as an infant in the river Styx. That was supposed to make him invincible. But she held him by one heel which the protective waters didn’t cover. And it was through that heel that he received his fatal wound. From that story we get our concept of an Achilles’ heel, a weakness that really cannot be seen. To get to a mighty warrior, you have to find his Achilles’ Heel.
Each of us must ask, ‘What is my Achilles heel? We need to know our weaknesses, where we could easily be wounded spiritually. Then, as we rely on the Lord for his help, we will be protected from “the fiery darts of the wicked one” (Ephesians 6:16).
King Abdullah II of Jordan is a down to earth guy. When visiting New York City, he was mobbed by the paparazzi whenever he left his hotel. So, he put on a disguise and sunglasses and walked around town freely. New Yorkers treated him like an average Joe. He took that idea back home with him to Jordan.
He periodically dressed like a commoner and wore those sunglasses out into public places, where he interviewed people and learned much about attitudes of his people. He also checked up on government employees to see how they were treating people and what kind of service they were giving. When word got out that the king was doing this, civil service and hospital employees began treating people like kings.
When Jesus comes as King, He will judge the nations (Matthew 25:31-46). He said the basis for that judgment will be how people treated Him when He was hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick, or imprisoned. Those being judged will ask when they saw Him in these situations, and Jesus will say, “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (v. 40).
Perhaps you’ll be tested today by a visitor in disguise. Just treat everyone like he/she were Jesus.
My Dad was very musical, and was an excellent guitarist. But most people didn’t know he could also play the mandolin, ukelele, harmonica, and even fiddled a little with a violin. I did not inherit his musical talent. I fumbled through flutophone in elementary school and strummed some on a guitar in my 20s. I was never very good.
What do you think is the most difficult instrument to play? Someone once asked a famous conductor of a great symphony orchestra which instrument he considered the most difficult to play. He thought for a moment, then said, “Second fiddle. I can get plenty of violinists, but to find one who can play second fiddle with enthusiasm – that’s the problem.”
If you can be faithful in the number two position, then perhaps you can one day sit in First Chair, the lead position. But if you can’t be faithful in that which is your neighbor’s, who will give you that which is your own? Jesus said, “You have been faithful over a few things…enter into the joy of the Lord” (Matthew 25:21).
President Eisenhower was loved by people. He had established a reputation of caring when he led the successful Normandy Invasion that opened the door to an allied victory in Europe. During his administration as President, he made an impulsive human gesture when he decided to visit a little boy who was ill with a fatal disease. Someone had informed the President that the child wanted to see “Ike” more than anything else in the world. Without warning, the presidential limousine drove up to the house, accompanied by several reporters, and the President knocked on the door.
The surprised father opened it. The boy was jubilant! But his father was horrified! There he stood…dressed in an undershirt! He remembered the wonderful occasion only with regret. He said, “If only I had been ready!”
How many Bible verses are there that predict the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. And yet people are not ready. The Bible emphatically teaches it, yet it does not tell us when! His coming will be unannounced and unexpected. So we must stay ready.
“Watch therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord comes” (Matthew 24:42).
Years ago, Anita and I lived in an old farmhouse just out of Waterloo. We lived back a lane that drifted badly every winter. On one such blizzardy day I called a guy to plow our drive out. He got his truck stuck in the deep snow. It was bitter cold and the snow and wind were incessant. The driver walked up to the house, which was locked. So he broke in through the back door to call for help (no cell phones back then).
By the time I got home at the end of the day, my drive was nicely cleaned out but my back door had serious damage to the door frame. It was several days before we could lock the back door again, not to mention money out of my pocket. But, I can’t blame the guy who was locked out.
How desperate he must have been. How desperate people will one day be when Jesus finally appears and the door gets locked. There will be no breaking in. The lost world has a fair chance to get in while its still day. When He returns the door will be closed and locked. Today is the day of salvation.
“Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut” (Matthew 25:10).