Series 39


Stamped on Steel

Wow! A Bible verse referenced on their car’s license plate. This put me at ease somewhat, as I knocked on the door of a stranger.

Stamped on the plate was 1Cor926. I didn’t have it memorized, so I used it as a conversation starter: “What verse is that?”

Todd hesitated, “Let’s see...I’m not sure.” Shifting my question, I asked, “Well what’s the verse about?” Todd looked puzzled: “I don’t remember; we put it on quite a while ago.”

Oh. O.K.

My hope of connecting through what I thought would be a familiar passage fizzled.

Later I looked the verse up: “Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.”

The Apostle Paul, a devoted athlete for Jesus; is conveying a serious, focused, disciplined dedication to preaching the message of Jesus Christ.

A contemporary paraphrase reads: “I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me!”

This must have been pulsating in Todd’s life when he upgraded his plates—his choice verse permanently stamped in steel for the world to see. But then…stamped-on-steel was forgotten.

God offers a solution for this: “Do not be afraid... earnestly remember the Lord and imprint Him on your minds.” Be imprinted by God—bear His indelible and distinguishing mark of influence and effect.

Furthermore, the New Testament declares the help we will receive from God: “This is the agreement...I will imprint My laws upon their hearts and I will inscribe them on their minds.”

A favorite hymn says it best: “On my heart imprint Your image, Blessed Jesus, King of grace. That life’s riches, cares and pleasure never may Your work erase; Let the clear inscription be: Jesus, crucified for me.”


Praying for Gas

Paul was bemoaning gas prices. Who hasn’t?

Paul’s an active Christian teenager. His driving often revolves around church activities and serving in the community. So his concern reaches significantly beyond frivolous.

When Paul’s dilemma reached the ears of his mother, Susie instinctively asked, “Do you pray for your gas to go farther?” And she meant specifically asking God to supernaturally increase the gasoline’s M.P.G qualities or for more gas to miraculously appear in the tank.

Paul gave her a half grin, “Well, no.” “You need to pray every time you put gas in your car,” Susie said. “It works.”

Inspired by Susie, my wife and I immediately started praying for gas. And not just at the pump. Everyday.

Now what does the Bible say about praying for gas?

1 Kings 17:15-16 says: “The widow went and did as Elijah told her and…as the LORD had promised through Elijah, the bowl did not run out of flour nor did the jar run out of oil.”

“The jar did not run out of oil.” God caused the oil to miraculously flow. My simplistic conclusion? God who says, “I change not,” can make oil; in the form of gasoline, go farther.

From the Scriptures, three components for the oil-increase stand out.

1)  Righteous need. The widow was desperate. Without God’s intervention she and her son faced apparent starvation.

2) Immediate obedience. The story in 1 Kings 17 portrays a rather unnerving, radical obedience to God’s directives as relayed by Elijah. The widow complied, opposing any rational thinking. And without hesitation.

3) Faith. She had a Word from God that everything would work out. She had faith in what she heard. The Bible says; “She…did according to the word…”

For me, I’m praying for gas. And agreeing with Susie: “It works.”


Dump Disagreeing 

“Come on Rick, there must be something we disagree on,” Dan said.

He had walked over from the church across the street, inviting me to a special series of services. I’ve known Dan for over twenty years.

We were actually having a nice conversation—mainly about the things of God. But Dan kept gently arm wrestling me down on acceptable differences in our beliefs. I either shifted our subject or squirmed from each potential disagreement.

Standing near my mailbox; glancing right, left, and straight ahead, I could see four churches. And if I turned around, I would have been looking at the location of a house church. So, five churches within sight.

The Bible says, “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel; but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient and in humility…”

I’ve attended four of the churches in our view, including Dan’s. And the fifth, I am familiar with their beliefs. Each is filled with servants of the Lord—followers of Jesus, Christians, part of the Church of Jesus Christ. Yet walls of disagreement between them thwart overall, Jesus-focused effectiveness in the community.

It’s no new revelation, but one of the most significant problems in the church today is a near zealous pursuit of finding fault and quarreling among different churches.

Jesus prayed for us believers hours before going to the Cross. “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their (the Apostle’s) message, that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”

Standing right there by the edge of the road, Jesus’ prayer was answered. Dan suggested: “Let’s pray.” We did.

We became one.


Oozing Money

It was a case of having too large an offering. Essentially way too much money was coming in.

The leader sent his word out: "Men! Women! No more offerings for the building of the Sanctuary!"

The official word on the  project was: “The people were ordered to stop bringing offerings! There was plenty of material for all the work to be done. Enough and more than enough.” Now, how many times has this happened at your church? Your ministry? How about relating to your household finances?

The leader was Moses. He was building the Tabernacle—a place to meet with and worship God. His problem was having too much.

Too much…I’ve been pondering this lately.

A couple weeks ago my wife and I took a nine-mile spin on our bicycles. We kept finding money as we traveled a combination of rural roads and small-town streets. We each found a quarter, she found a dime, and a penny or two and I found at least one more coin. All from different places along the route. And I even found a misplaced dollar coin after our bike ride.

It doesn’t end there. My wife walks to work and also for recreation. She often takes the same route. Yet usually five days a week she spots coins on the ground. And picks them up.

Is the ground oozing money?

Now tracking down each coin’s story is impossible. But may I suggest? This reflects a carelessness regarding money. Sure it’s a tiny amount. Yet simple math shows us; tinys add up to smalls. Smalls add up to modest amounts. On and on. Until it is possible to arrive at: “Too much.”

Jesus said, “Whoever can be trusted with very little, can also be trusted with very much.”

How much do you want God to trust you with?


I’m a Wimp

“I’m an atheist,” Jim said.

I have a great deal of interest in people’s spiritual concepts. So I asked Jim if he would answer just one question.

He was open. I said, “So what is your best evidence that there is no God?”  He told me he believed in God. From there Jim turned into a what-I-believe spout, flowing with an odd potpourri of firm beliefs.

His central theology was the idea of being born, dying, and coming back again. The concept would aim toward an ever-perfecting human who would eventually be worthy to live with God.

I responded, “I’m a wimp.”

I’m too wimpy to climb this million-step ladder, one life at a time, approaching even near-perfection by my own efforts.

Me? I’m a one-steper. One life. One death. One chance to be right enough to spend eternity with God.

The Bible says, “But trusting God to shape the right living in us is a different story--no precarious climb up to heaven to recruit the Messiah (Jesus)…”

Jesus climbed the ladder down to us.

The Bible continues: “The word that saves is right here, as near as the tongue in your mouth, as close as the heart in your chest. It's the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us.”

“Say the welcoming word to God--"Jesus is my Master"--embracing, body and soul, God's work of doing in us what He did in raising Jesus from the dead. That's it. You're not "doing" anything; you're simply calling out to God, trusting Him to do it for you. That's salvation.”

“With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between Him and me!"