So be careful how you live. Don't live like ignorant people, but like wise people. Make good use of every opportunity you have, because these are evil days. (Ephesians 5:15-16)
A few weeks ago I was doing a study with the residents in Teen Challenge about being a manager for God. I told them that I was going to give them each £525,600. They had 24 hours to spend every penny of the money; they couldn’t keep any of it or save any of it. Every penny had to go. What would they do with it?
Interestingly, each of them wanted to help others with at least some, if not all of their £525,600. One man wanted to open a homeless shelter while another wanted to provide for his family. None of them wasted any of their cash. I was pleasantly surprised at their genuine thoughtfulness.
However, I wasn’t actually trying to teach them the importance of managing money, I was trying to show them the importance of managing time. You see, every day in life, God gives us 525,600 seconds. It’s ours to manage. It’s our to decide how we will use every one of these seconds. As Nicky Gumble says; “Time is your most valuable possession. You can get more money but you cannot get more time.” I agree.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
When I was out walking this weekend, I noticed a family out flying two kites. The father, with his two younger daughters in tow, was holding firmly on to his kite as he let the line out. Up, up and up, the kite went. Fifty feet, one hundred feet, one hundred and fifty feet, two hundred feet!! Would it ever stop? I’d never seen a kite soar so high. It was an awesome sight.
My eyes then turned to his eldest daughter who clutched the second kite, her mother by her side. But this kite never made it more than about forty feet off the ground. I watched and wondered why the girl wasn’t unravelling her line. Why was the kite still earthbound? Then I noticed that her line was full of tangles. She began to try to untangle the knots with the help of her mother. I sat on a fence watching this operation, willing them to succeed; I was longing to see that kite soar alongside the other.
Alas, it wasn’t to be. I got up from the fence, watching the second kite struggle to keep at forty feet while the other was soaring high above all the trees, reaching for the clouds.
I couldn’t help thinking that God’s will for each of us is to soar. When we are born again, the new life in us has the potential to ‘soar high on wings like eagles’. So what keeps some Christians earthbound while others take spiritual flight?
Getting entangled in sin is the obvious answer, but there can be other reasons. One of these is that your mind gets entangled in worry.
In Matthew 6:25-27, we read these words,
That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
Worries are like the knots and tangles in the kite’s string; they hold you back from rising to the heights of God that beckon you. They keep pulling you back to earth. As long as you allow your mind to get over burdened by cares and worries, you will never be free to soar.
Charles Spurgeon said:
‘Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.’
You need to unravel these tangles in your mind and then you will be free to steadily move upwards where you can ‘soar high on wings like eagles’.
Pauline Ann Anderson
Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will." (Matthew 26:39)
Around 786 BC, we read of a man named Jonah who God chose to send on a mission to preach to a vast, Gentile city. In Jonah’s mind they were Pagans, not even fit to pollute the good earth by living on it. They were the “untouchables”. How could God show any interest in them?
He sets off from Joppa, once the oldest sea port in the world, but, instead of running towards his mission, he is fleeing from it. This famous account sees the reluctant prophet spending three days in the belly of a whale before he is convicted to obey God and complete his mission. That message saw that vast city repent of their sins and turn to God.
Fast forward almost 800 years and we see another reluctant servant of God in Joppa; this time it’s Peter, one of Jesus’ apostles.
Peter had been told by the resurrected Jesus to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ but, reluctant to preach to Gentiles, Peter needed a vision from God, on a rooftop in Joppa, to send him north along the coast to Caesarea. This historic journey results in the first Gentiles receiving the gospel of Jesus Christ and being baptised in the Holy Spirit. This was the first, of what would become billions of Gentiles following Jesus Christ down through the millennia.
Sometime between AD 30 and AD 33, we see a man, late at night, praying in agony in a garden, facing a commission more momentous than that of Jonah or Peter. He didn’t run in the opposite direction like Jonah, or stall reluctantly like Peter; He accepted His commission, in spite of our sinfulness, and gladly went on to save humanity from its sin.
Aren’t you glad that Jesus didn’t flee in a ship like Jonah or procrastinate like Peter? Aren’t you glad beyond words that He willingly shouldered the cross for all mankind?
Like Jesus, let us not be slow to say “Yet not as I will, but as you will” when we face our Ninevehs, Caesareas and and Gethsemanes.
Pauline Ann Anderson
Foul, I to the fountain fly,
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
(Rock of Ages: Augustus Montague Toplady)
Recently, while reading Billy Graham’s book ‘Nearing Home’, I came across a section where he mentions Bible verses about ‘fountains’ For example,
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life.
For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see. (Psalm 36:9)
As I pondered on this, there came to mind another fountain, spoken about in William Cowper’s hymn;
There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains
It brought back to my memory something that I experienced many years ago.
I had acted a little unwisely in a situation; it was nothing major, and in fact, most people wouldn’t even have thought it could be called sin. But deep inside me I knew I had not reflected Christ in the situation. Very quickly, I felt the forgiveness of God but, for months, I couldn’t shake off the feeling of guilt. If I could have turned the clock back to that moment, I would have done so, but life doesn’t work that way.
Then one day, very sweetly, I felt Christ come and wash away the guilt. He had forgiven the sin and now I ‘lost all (my) guilty stains’. It was overwhelming. I felt as though a weight had been lifted off me. I was free, not just free from the sin, but free from the guilt!
What a blessed fountain that is; the fountain that cleanses us, not just from sin, but from guilt, remorse and shame.
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Save me from its guilt and power’
(Augustus Montague Toplady)
And after such a cleansing comes the drinking from another fountain that He has prepared for us;
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts (Revelation 21:6-7)
A fountain that cleanses from sin and guilt, and a fountain that satisfies our thirst. Let’s not waste any time in running to both these fountains this week.
But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. (2 Corinthians 2:14)
In Republican Rome, exceptional military achievement merited the highest possible honours. This took the form of The Roman Triumph which was both a civil and religious ceremony held to publicly celebrate and sanctify the success of a military commander.
The Commander was paraded through the city in a four-horse chariot, under the gaze of his peers and an applauding crowd. He wore a crown of laurel and the all-purple, gold-embroidered triumphal toga. He was accompanied by the spoils and captives of his victory. It may have been a happy day for the mighty military leader but it was a day of despair for his captives.
Picture the wounded faces covered in sweat and blood. Picture the despair and hopelessness in their eyes as they faced a future of hunger, torture and agony. Picture the heavy chains they dragged along behind them, chains that bound them to cruel captors and no hope of liberty. Picture those who were chained to the chariot wheels; the only hope of escape is death.
Consider now the triumphal procession of Jesus Christ. Picture the faces of the captives; these are not stained in their own blood but have been washed in the blood of the mighty Commander. They shine now, reflecting the light of the glory of that Commander.
‘And the Lord-who is the Spirit-makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image’. (2 Cor 3:18)
There are no chains on these captives because ‘you were called to freedom’ (Galatians 5:13). They are bound solely by chords of love. Each captive has a future which is overseen by the Commander Himself.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
And this procession ends in eternal life. Two triumphal processions. One that speaks of despair and death: the other of hope and life. I thank God that it’s the latter one to which we are called.
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