Are You Refreshed?

The New Testament book, Philemon, is a book that is written by Paul to Philemon concerning a slave named, Onesimus. The book of Philemon consists of only twenty-five verses. It is interesting to note that the man, Philemon, was renowned for his ministry of refreshing. The word “refreshing” has the idea of “rest” and “restoration”. In verse 20, Paul writes, “Refresh my heart in Christ”. Paul’s refreshing from Philemon was based on Philemon receiving, giving freedom to and ministering to Onesimus.

Let us think about the words, “Refresh my heart in Christ”. How can we refresh our hearts, our spirit? What are you doing to receive refreshment in Christ? Our need for spiritual refreshing can be compared to our need for spring after a hard winter. During the winter months, the weather is cold, brutal, icy, snowy and rainy. During the winter months of our spiritual journey, we can find ourselves lacking spiritually.

Spring is a time for newness, a time for a new kind of weather, new colors and even a new outlook. Let’s consider ways that we can “refresh our spirit”, so that we can experience a time of newness in our lives.

-We should understand that we need Jesus. He is holy and we are sinners. When we are faithful to acknowledge our sinfulness to God, we are able to receive forgiveness and restoration.

-We should be mindful of the words we speak. The spoken word is powerful. Our instinct is too often to speak of everything we know. Talking too much, too quick and too cleverly is destructive to the spirit. When we speak, let us follow the instruction of the Psalmist, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

-We should prepare for each day. We need to be mindful that our days are with purpose. God has a plan and purpose for each of us. Therefore, we should prepare to spend time in His Word, in prayer and in service for Him. We should also prepare to take time to bless those around us.

-We should put our hands to work. We should participate in the common chores around the house. Embrace the simple things in life by taking out the garbage, washing the dishes, working in the flower beds, mowing the lawn, etc. In doing such work, we are able to embrace genuine humility.

-We should get rest. Take time to enjoy your journey. Rather than having every minute planned, give yourself a break. Take a trip, go for a walk, go fishing, go to the park—get some rest. When we are rested, we can be much more attentive in the presence of God.

As we seek to be “refreshed”, take note of the newness of spring in your life. Refresh your heart in Christ!

Woody

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THE GREATEST RESOURCE

He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman, He grew up in another obscure village where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty

He never wrote a book, He never held an office, He never went to college, He never visited a big city, He never travelled more than two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He did none of the things usually associated with greatness. He had no credentials but himself.

He was only thirty three. His friends ran away. One of them denied him. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth.

When he was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen centuries have come and gone and today Jesus is the central figure of the human race and the leader of mankind’s progress. All the armies that have ever marched, all the navies that have ever sailed, all the parliaments that have ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned put together have not affected the life of mankind on earth as powerfully as that one solitary life. (Dr. James Allan Francis, 1926)

We hear a lot about oil reserves, oil fields and gas fields that are all over this great land. And if you will notice as you drive by some of these fields, you will see some capped off. The resource has been tapped into, but capped off, therefore not helping to meet any need at this particular time.

Jesus came, but why? He came to pay a debt that we could not pay. He came so that we might have life, eternal life. So, because of His life, His people are a great resource. Throughout history, God has used His people to accomplish great things for Him. But, what happens if our life is capped? We read in Scripture that God used Peter, Paul, Elijah, Jesus and many others. They were uncapped resources that God used. Uncapped resources have the potential to change the lives of those around them.

Jesus came, not to cap us, but to set us free to be used for Him. It is not about our ability or inability, our power or weakness, but about God and His perfect plan for our life.

Because of Christ, your life is important. As His resource to the world, are you capped or uncapped?

Woody

CHRISTmas is Almost Here

“Christmas is almost here!”  Have you heard that lately or even said those words to yourself? As we celebrate Christmas this year, what do you suppose the celebration will look like in your life? If you are like me, I love the celebration of Christmas, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. However, the Christmas season can bring about many stressors.

In the secular world, Christmas is a celebration that is being attacked on every front. Christmas carols are being changed so that no one’s beliefs will be insulted. Rather than reading the words “Merry Christmas”, we are often confronted with “Happy Holidays”. The celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ is becoming a time to celebrate without Christ.

Christmas is a time for giving, but it seems that is has become a time for consumers to lose all senses of financial responsibility. While being a time of celebrating, spending time with family and friends, sharing gifts, we often wake up after the Christmas season to realize that we now have bills added to our other bills, and they must be paid. Could it be that the evils of consumerism and materialism have stolen the truths of celebrating the birth of our Savior?

Another stressor is simply the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Most likely, your calendar is being adjusted every day, with the addition of another party or gathering. Maybe it’s a school party for your children, a party at your place of business, a Sunday School party, an extended family gathering, and all of this is piled on top of your regular schedule. Just to think about it can make you stressful!

Rather than allowing secularism, consumerism, materialism and busy schedules to steal our celebration of Jesus Christ, why don‘t we make some adjustments? Maybe we should buy gifts with intentionality rather than just buying gifts for the sake of buying gifts. Maybe we should make the time that we spend with family and friends special, rather than a time of forced togetherness. Give more attention to the toddlers, spend time with the teenagers, give appreciation for your parents, and be concerned for your friends. Be mindful that we may be spending time with someone who is lonely due to the death of their spouse or family member. We may be spending time with someone whose health is failing, someone who has lost their job or may be going through a hard time in life.

Jesus Christ is God’s gift to us. In John 14:6, we read these words, “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man can cometh to the Father, but by me”. Remember, Christmas is almost here! Don’t be like the innkeeper who was too busy with the mundane issues, or like the guests who were more concerned with their comforts, or like King Herod who was too absorbed with his dreams of glory.

Guard your hearts and lives so that Christ will be the focus of your celebration!

Woody

I.D. Please

Do you remember the last time that someone asked for your personal identification? Maybe it was when you were in the airport, at the bank, checking in at the hotel or maybe when the police officer asked to see it. If you are like me, when I am asked for my I.D, I use my driver’s license. Have you ever stopped to look at the information on your driver’s license? The actual license number, expiration date, issue date, date of birth, weight, height, sex and your address. Also, the class of the license is noted along with any restrictions, if you have any. And then comes the biggie—your picture. That one little card contains a lot of information about us. The key to our driver’s license is the position, privileges and power that it gives us.

What about our identification in Christ? 1 John 4:17b reminds us that “as He is, so are we in this world”. As a Christian, we are identified with Christ in His crucifixion, death and judgment. We are identified with Christ in His resurrection. We are identified with Christ at His coming. Identification is Christ’s becoming one with us that we may be one with Him. As our driver’s license gives us position, privileges and power, think about what our identification with Christ gives to us. In Christ, we have forgiveness, we have hope, our past is forgiven, and our future is fixed. In other words, our identification in Christ gives us a life of victory.

One key component to our driver’s license is the expiration date. I don’t know about you, but it is easy for me to forget about that date. I remember one time that I forgot about the expiration date and my license expired. I had to retake the test to get an updated license. Our identification in Christ is not just about being saved, but it is also a process to be continued.

Would you check you I.D. in Christ today? Is your life up to-date with Christ? Are you living in victory knowing that your identity is hidden in Christ and that Christ lives in you?

Again, I urge you to check your I.D.

Woody

Where Did You Get That?

I recently had a conversation with a school principal. We discussed life in general, the culture and challenges that students are faced with each day. The principal made an interesting statement that has stuck with me. He said, “the schools are a reflection of the homes.” As I have thought about that statement, I think that our schools are not only a reflection of our homes, but our entire culture is a reflection of our homes. Think about this for a moment…

Children learn more from their parents than from all other teachers combined. They learn the language from their par­ents. They learn to walk, eat, work, and think as their fathers and mothers do.

Our children watch us as we live out our marriages and our parenting. Our little boys are hoping to grow and be just like dad and our little girls will be focused on finding a husband just like dad. Our little girls will have the same desires concerning their mom. In our homes, we also teach them how to deal with the daily challenges of life. Parents will also be the ones to teach the importance of seeking and following Christ and living a life that pleases Him.

Once there were two little fish, according to a delightful little tale, and these two little fish noticed that a little crawfish playmate of theirs always swam backward. They tried to teach him to swim as they swam and soon he began to learn. By evening each day he was able to swim almost as well for­ward as the two little fish. But every morning when he re­turned from a night at home, he swam backward again.

This worried the little fish and so they went home with the crawfish. They learned there that their little playmate’s par­ents swam backward.

We learn from our parents and we do as they do. Parents, let us be faithful to teach how to receive, to give unconditional love, how to discipline and leaving our children with good memories.

That is why the Bible teaches us that since parents are the best teachers in the world, they must also teach the first of the commandments, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”

DEUTERONOMY 6:4-9

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (vv. 6-7)

This is Good!!

I recently read a story of a king in Africa who had a close friend with whom he grew up. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) and remarking, “This is good!”

One day the king and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the king. The friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, for after taking the gun from his friend, the king fired it and his thumb was blown off. Examining the situation, the friend remarked as usual,
“This is good!”

To which the king replied, “No, this is not good!” and proceeded to send his friend to jail.

About a year later, the king was hunting in an area that he should have known to stay clear of. Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to the stake.

As they came near to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone who was less than whole. So untying the king, they sent him on his way.

As he returned home, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend.

“You were right,” he said, “it was good that my thumb was blown off.” And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. “And so, I am very sorry for sending you to jail for
so long. It was bad for me to do this.”

“No,” his friend replied, “This is good!”

“What do you mean, ’This is good’? How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?”

“If I had not been in jail, I would have been with you.”

Sometimes in the midst of seemingly terrible circumstances, we may want to give up. But oftentimes when we look back to what God has brought us through, we will see just as the king’s friend did, that we are glad that we were just where God wanted us to be. If he would have been with the king and not in prison, they would have had him for lunch.

We should never give up, but always live with hope. According to scripture, hope is the anchor of the soul (Hebrews 6:19); hope is present in the death of the righteous (Proverbs 14:32); the Christians hope is called a blessed hope (Titus 2:13); hope will lead the Christian to purify himself, as Christ is pure (1 John 3:3); those who hope in the Lord will be happy (Psalm 146:5); and hope in Christ will keep us being put to shame (Romans 5:5).

Don’t give up—keep hoping—trust God. When we live with hope, we will see the “good” in what God is doing in our life.

Woody

What is God about to do?

Have you ever considered that question? I recently shared with our church family this very question, “What is God about to do?” How do we know when to ask such a question? It may be when God presents us with a question that we are to respond to. It may be when we are confronted with a challenge that is bigger than we are. It may be when God instructs us to follow Him on a certain path, simply trusting Him for the outcome.

I recently shared my story of “Ripe Figs”. The story simply focused on the importance of living and waiting for the “due season” to reap the figs. To reap figs prematurely would not be tasteful or to wait too long, they would be either eaten by the birds or maybe too ripe to harvest. Earlier this week, my wife, Julie and I picked a couple of gallons of figs. They were beautiful and very tasty. We didn’t need them, so I called a friend up and asked if they would like to have the raw figs. Their response was “Yes, indeed. I would like to have some to make preserves”. Well, I took the figs to our friend’s house. The same evening, our friend walked up to me and gave me a bag which contained a jar of fig preserves. As you can imagine, I was delighted. My mind immediately went to the thought of having hot biscuits and fresh homemade fig preserves.

In order to make fig preserves, figs are needed. Like the story in John 6, a great company of over 5000 people had been with Jesus. Jesus asked about feeding the crowd. Andrew found a lad who had five loaves and two fishes, but what were they among so many? Jesus had the people sit down, and He took the loaves and fishes and gave thanks to them. The entire crowd was fed and twelve baskets of fragments, leftovers were gathered. In order to feed the multitude, the lad was willing to place his tiny lunch in the hands of Jesus.

Raw figs given—fig preserves received. A lad’s small lunch given–over 5000 people fed.

What is God about to do? We may never know unless we are willing to place before Him whatever we have, totally trusting Him with the outcome.

What is God about to do in your life?

Woody