What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains. Ecclesiastes 1: 3-4
II Timothy 2:3-6 speaks of a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer. The soldier is tempted by civilian life, the athlete is tempted not to compete, and the farmer is tempted to sleep in.
“Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.”
Each example speaks of hard choices each one has to make. Each has their battle, but what else do they have? They have a strong hope waiting for them on the other side of their discipline. The soldiers’ hope is to please his commanding officer, the athletes’ hope is to win the prize, the farmers’ hope is a harvest that he can’t get if he sleeps in. Each one has a hope that’s stronger than their desire to give in to self and that helps them win the battle.
Motivation demands hope. If you do not have hope in life, you have no motivation. A good question to ask ourselves is, “what is my hope?”. Is it to get married? Get a new car? Have a rib eye stake? Play golf every day? Ecclesiastes 1:3-4 was written by Solomon, the richest man who ever lived. He had it all, and his words tell the insanity of his efforts. His life reminds us it is impossible to replace the God-shaped vacuum wired in us by performing like a dog chasing his tail. Our only hope is for all God has provided by his perfect love and forgiveness for each of us; the promise of our ultimate satisfaction of living forever with our every desire fulfilled. Life’s battle, as we know it, is over.
Thank you Father. You give true hope, total purpose and meaning for my life.
“If anyone comes after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
In today’s post modern culture our determination and faith fly in the face of a culture that makes feelings and personal beliefs the only true indicators of right and wrong. Today only bigots, terrorists, or political extremists hold to strong beliefs,. But that’s exactly why we thrive in this age and will be successful wherever we land. Our ambitions, focus, and single–minded faith in the Great Commission and the Greatest Commandment come from a grace awakening, not a brainwashing. I want you to stay strong in grace because what saved you will also sustain you as you embark on a pathway of leadership and service to God.
There is a long tradition of God’s leaders encouraging God’s men to live out God’s purposes single–mindedly. Jesus told His men of His upcoming suffering at the cross and then used that reality to motivate them. He was honest and clear. He would have to reject other pursuits, carry the responsibility of a God’s man, and follow Him loyally to the end. He modeled for us how to call men to a mission. The call to the multitudes was different than the charge to His men.
Paul’s style and approach was equally bold with Timothy in his charge, Paul knew he had just dropped a bomb on Timothy that would require some heavy reflection. “Pause” he advised. “Think deeply and continuously on what I have just said.” This is big, Timothy was going to have to take on a single identity, passion, and goal. He would have to train hard, work hard and focus on results. God has much to give a man of God, accept it.
Father, I’m your man, I’m your leader, I’m your God’s man.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6: 10-13
That’s the picture of suiting up. First, I have to put on the helmet of salvation; I need to be protected from my sin, from lies, and from my tendencies that go against God. I need the helmet of salvation.
We must admit our head is a pretty important part of our anatomy; it protects our mind which controls everything in our body. It protects every thought and feeling, every voluntary and involuntary action that takes place in our bodies and, for that matter, our lives. Can we agree that we are very, very vulnerable to defeat by simply not having our mind protected? There is nothing within yourself that can overcome this, except acting on the choice that God has given only to human beings. The choice is to accept or deny His helmet of salvation. As humans in the present and in the ultimate future, His desire is that you say yes to the perfect sacrificial love that He has for you. “Behold I stand at your door and knock.” By faith, take advantage of His desire to protect your thoughts.
Thank you Father, for the faith you have provided me to open the door of my mind, and by faith accept your protection of my thoughts.
“He who walks in integrity walks securely” (Proverbs 10:9)
For God’s man, the payoff is a confident, secure walk with God. With undivided loyalty, his choices are clear. With no duplicity, he has no hangovers of character. When he’s away on business, he is the same person as he is at home. He is the same man on Friday and Saturday night as he is on Sunday mornings. He’s a father who says what he does and does what he says. He is a husband his wife can trust and follow.
God’s man has moved beyond the payoff of instant gratification. Imagine it! Feeling good is replaced with feeling right about yourself. When you feel right about yourself, no matter what your circumstances or your mood, you are content and connected to God, your family, and your purpose as God’s man. Now that’s security without stress.
Our wise King also pointed out that the “integrity of the upright guides them” (Proverbs 11:3). We see this as meaning that if you are not divided inwardly in your heart or character, the voices representing competing loyalties will be muted. Instead, your spiritual focus will work to provide clear direction and guidance. Your intuition will be guided by your spiritual commitments to the point where good decision making becomes second nature.
I once struggled so hard to make good choices that God never intended to be difficult, like my wife comes first, spending time with the family, making an appointment with God every day, putting boundaries on alcohol, sharing God’s love with those he sends my way, and in general following the leading of the Holy Spirit. What I discovered is that an undivided heart will build a spine. We must have more than an undivided heart. We must also have a spine.
Thank you Father for showing me the payoffs of confidence, self-respect and the many blessings along the way. You are awesome!
The good man brings good things of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him” Matthew 12:35
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but babies leak. They also desire close proximity. At times this is a lethal combination for any parent, aunt, brother or sister who happens to be holding one when they — hmm, how can I put this delicately? You know, leak. What’s inside comes out and on to those who are unfortunately in the hot zone. Smells, drools and foods, and don’t forget those numbers one and two. I think God designed it this way to show us exactly how big his love is for us and how it works. His precious wonderful creations that made messes. Out of his love he cleans up and cleans up until we grow up.
In life, what’s inside will eventually come out, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. We do our best to prevent spills and leaks. Diapers, Tupperware and window caulking all prevent undesirable leaking of stuff into the protected spaces of our lives. But, when it comes to our character — that stuff inside that guides critical decision making — there are no controls to stop the leaks. And frequently we leak onto others.
Signals and stimuli inevitably trigger a flood of your character, which spills into your everyday interactions. These spills have a shaping influence on those around us.
The big question is, what kind of character am I leaking?
Thank you for the character that you are building in me. You know the exact tools that will do the job.