This story, perhaps you have heard before, is one of my favorites and one even I’ve shared before. This story, whether true or simply legend, is, I believe, a great lesson of a truly mature perspective on life and priorities.
There was a Native American visiting New York City and he went walking, escorted by a friend who lived there. As they were walking and talking in the busiest section of Manhattan, the Indian stopped and told his friend that he could hear a cricket. His friend, of course, thought the idea of hearing a cricket in downtown Manhattan was crazy and he asked his Indian friend how he could possibly be hearing a cricket. The Indian insisted that he could really hear a cricket and that, given a minute, or so, he could find it. Again, the Native American was challenged by his friend who identified the subways passing underneath, the taxis roaring and honking, the throngs of people talking, and brakes screeching as the conditions that make it impossible to hear a cricket. But the Indian persisted, as he began to walk further and cocked his head. His friend closely observed as the Indian walked to the end of the block and crossed over to the other side of the street and walked up the street before moving on to another. Then, he went over to a cement planter out of which a tree was growing, reached into the mulch, and pulled up the cricket. “I told you there was a cricket around here someplace!” he exclaimed as his friend looked on in amazement. His friend asked how he could hear the sound of a cricket with all of the big city noises that were around, to which the Indian replied “It’s all a matter of what you listen for.” Then he said, “Watch this.” as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a number of coins, held them up high, and then dropped them so that the noise of the change could be heard. Immediately, everyone within the block stopped in their tracks and turned to look for the money. “I told you it’s all a matter of what you listen for – what’s important to you,” the Indian said to his friend.
The questions that we need to answer and the lesson for all of us is “What do we “listen” for?” and “What’s really important in our lives?”. Do we heed the things of this world and our culture? Is that what our priority or strongest influence is? And, it isn’t always about money or materialism. Sometimes it’s about things or activities that occupy our time and minds. We need to ask the question about what we listen for because of the prevailing atmosphere of our society and culture, where self-satisfaction, glamour, and attainment of wealth and fame – earthly treasures - are the priorities. “No one can serve two masters…you cannot serve God and mammon (wealth - NASB/money- ESV).” (Luke 16:13) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…but…in heaven…For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:19-21) “Do not love the world or the things in the world... the world is passing away…but he who does the will of God lives (abides) forever.” (1 John 2:15-17).
We should try to make sure that God’s Word shapes our perspective and that we strive, daily, to learn His Truth and live by His Will. HIS PROMISES SHOULD CONTINUOUSLY BE OUR HOPE AND TREASURE. Together, God will continue to bless us as we strive and grow toward true spiritual maturity!
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew. 28:19-20)
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; (Romans 12:10-11)
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart… (2 Cor. 9:6-7)
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer…And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common;…with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people… (Acts 2:42-47)
This commission is to all of us who are children of God. Each of us must decide how we will answer that “calling”. Will we respond as Isaiah did? “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8) Yes, it is a BIG mission and a BIG task! But, it’s been done before (Col. 1:5-6 & Jude 3) We have a BIG GOD and with us working together and sharing a common BIG faith, what seems like an impossible task becomes possible – when we keep our trust in GOD. TOGETHER we can do this, because GOD will bless us as we do His will – TOGETHER!
At our jobs many of the things we do, have to be repeated or done again. Some are done daily, some are done weekly, some monthly, and some quarterly. Regardless of how often it is done, it becomes a routine thing you do after time. Like cleaning the house, fixing meals, fueling the car. If you’re a little older like me, taking your meds. All the things we do over and over in our lives usually become very routine after time and we do it without a lot of thought. There it is, the point, doing it without a lot of thought.
When we come together at the assembly we should not be here to just do things routinely without thought. We should be excited to join together and build one another up and sing praises to our God. Not just singing but thinking of the words we sing with melody in our hearts. Listening to the words spoken by the preacher and meditate on them, applying them in our daily life. When we commune together for the Lord’s supper to remember the sacrifice of Jesus for all our sins, shall we never allow it to just become routine in our minds. I write this to show the importance of doing all these things we are told to do by God’s word with meaningful purpose and very deep thought. Think of all the things that the Lord, whom had all the power of God while on earth, allowed man to do to Him.
Read in Mark’s account, in Mark 15:13-ff, of all that our Lord had to endure for us to be forgiven, the unjust trial, the mocking and being spat on. The crown of thorns being pressed down piercing His skin. Then being beaten and scourged until you could see the bone through the deep cuts on His back. Then He was turned over to the crowd to be led to Golgotha to be crucified. Nailed to a cross to die a death that He chose to die for you and me. A debt we can in no way repay but a sacrifice that we can remember. How can we as the beneficiaries of such love and sacrifice ever let our remembrance of His love become routine.
I hope and pray that each of us every Lord’s day think deeply on the love poured out on that cross. The sacrifice, the empty tomb and the ascension to heaven so we too may be with Him someday on His return. Never allow such an important part of our service to become routine. Love Him as He Loved you with all your mind and all your heart.
In Him, Chuck
There are many times in our lives that we will be challenged to try to not be angry and sin. We have people do things that may be unkind or say things that are not true and are hurtful. Some may cause sinful, hurtful or physical harm to you or someone you love. How do we handle these people when the time comes that it happens to you? We can't return evil for evil. We must treat an enemy as a lost soul, as hard as that may be. Maybe you can tell them how their actions have made you angry and you are working very hard to not sin due to anger. Being humble is not always the easy thing to do. It may be easier to show your anger and strike out at a person that wronged you. It won't help you feel better and will not help bring them to Christ. Let's look to the scriptures to help us with this.
1 Peter 3:8-12 (To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For, "The one who desires life, to love and see good days, Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. He must turn away from evil and do good; He must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.")
Being what we should be, doesn't come easy or everyone would do it folks. Life as a Christian is a wonderful and challenging life to pursue but what a reward. There will be bumps in your road as there are for us all. If you need help, reach out for it but strive to be angry and not sin no matter how much you are tempted. Surround yourself with those who love you and bury yourself in the word for strength.
1 Peter 3:15-16 (but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.)
Humble yourself, for the world watches. Remember so does the Lord. Pray for me and I'll pray for you.
In Him, Chuck
It's an old saying in the sports world but in many cases it is very untrue. Pain is something that can last a lifetime here on earth due to injuries or illness. Great way for a coach to push his team a little harder and motivate them to work harder to win the game. If they win they get some bragging rights and stories of glorious wins for many years. I still remember how good the 1976 Ripon High football team was and how far they went with their wins in the state playoffs. Those kind of stories will be remembered a long time here by some and may seem like a glory that lasts forever, but what happens here is very temporary but can determine whether the pain or the glory lasts forever.
Life here on earth can seem like a long time to our mind, at least when we are young. It seems the older you get the faster it goes. For our mind to understand forever is hard for some minds very hard to fathom. To live in pain and torment forever, even if that were just your time here, should frighten anyone.
We can choose, yes it’s our choice, to spend our forever in glory or pain. 1 John 2:17 (The world is passing away, and also it's lust; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.) Hebrews 7:24-25 (but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.) Jude 1:20-21 (But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.) Living forever with God sounds like a glorious loving way to go.
What if we choose to not live for God or not have Jesus to intercede for us because we separate ourselves from God. Revelation 14:9-11 (then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a load voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives the mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night.) This kind of torment certainly does not sound like the way to spend forever.
Pain is temporary, and glory last forever. Or does it? It is our choice on our forever. Live for God forever in glory or in His wrath forever in pain. I pray you choose to have glory last forever and if you’re not sure how, let us help you find your way. Please don't choose pain forever for some temporary glory in this short life here.
In Him, Chuck
600 West Milgeo - Ripon California 95366