Faith is to our spirit as air is to our body. We can’t live without it! In Hebrews 11, the Word gives us examples of those who lived by faith. Moses is prominent in the list. Let’s see what Moses teaches us about “living by faith.” “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward” (Hebrews 11:24-26). Don’t be deceived…you can’t have it all. Moses could not carouse as a “playboy prince” and still walk with God. He could not live for the pleasures of sin and experience the joy of the Lord. Life is full of trade-offs. Moses understood that true faith requires saying “no” to what displeases God and “yes” to His will. Moses’ fellow Egyptians, no doubt, thought he was crazy to throw away the pleasure, power, and perks of being the adopted son of the Pharaoh himself. But Moses chose to view life through the lens of faith. He chose to love and serve the eternal God rather than indulge his carnal cravings. He paid a price for his faith, but the sacrifice was nothing compared to the reward! You get to “vote” on what you pursue as your reward. Faith says, “Look ahead. See through the eyes of faith.” The flesh says, “Who cares about God? Sell your soul for the passing moment.” How will you cast your vote? Faith requires the discipline of right choices and the focus of purpose. Though faith sometimes causes present difficulties, you will discover that the rewards of faith eternally exceed anything the world can offer! Keep the faith…it’s worth it all!
“If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” (Romans 14:8).
For the past two months, Terry and I were privileged to care for our stepfather, Anthony Sorbo. We became commuters back and forth to Souderton, PA…about 30 miles outside Philadelphia. I will never forget the moment Terry and I were praying together before we made the commitment to go live with him. The Holy Spirit met us there in the kitchen, urging us to go. I brought the request to live in Souderton before the Deacon Board, and they graciously allowed us to follow the leading of the Spirit. We set up an office there and took turns traveling back and forth to Philadelphia…and watching over Anthony. As you know, the fall season is known for “Homecoming” events at colleges and universities. This past Monday, around 2:45 in the afternoon, Anthony experienced “Homegoing” as he exhaled his last earthly breath, and inhaled God’s eternal breath! While being around Anthony, I was reminded of the importance of Jesus’ ministry to individuals. The Lord is not just into crowds; He loves the individual and goes out of His way for the least. In the eyes of most people, Anthony had little to offer. He lacked what our culture idolizes: strength, beauty, and ability. However, the Lord’s values are not man’s values and, in the end, only His opinion matters! As a young man, Anthony dedicated himself to go wherever Jesus led him. For almost 40 years, he served God halfway around the world as a missionary to the people of Indonesia. On Monday afternoon when he died (“promoted” is a better word), we were playing a hymns CD beside his bed. Just before his last breath, these are the words Anthony heard: “So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown.” My “big picture” philosophy of life is quite simple: Live for Jesus every day…die and go to heaven with Him. You can’t beat that! If you’re reading this, you’re still alive. Before your homegoing, make the most of every day by “living to the Lord” (Romans 14:8). While you’re at it, look for ways to honor and serve someone who is older.
My wife, Terry, and I felt the Holy Spirit leading us to help our stepfather, Anthony, by living part-time in his house in Souderton, PA. We also took our cat, Dusty, to live there. Last Wednesday night Dusty slipped out the garage door into the darkness. We did not discover his absence until Thursday morning (he’s never late for breakfast!). After looking through every spot in the house, I started searching outside…but with no success. As a house cat, Dusty would perish quickly in the wild. He wouldn’t know how to find food or water, and the cold nights would get to him. After looking for a while, I realized I needed help. So I passed out some papers to others in the development (describing our lost cat and putting my phone number on the bottom). During the day, I tried not to think too much about Dusty, but I felt this dull pain deep inside as I wondered how he was doing. I tried my best to trust God, but sometimes my mind struggled with the possibility that we would never see him again. During this time, the Lord spoke to my heart. He reminded me of how He feels about lost people. I was convicted. Here I am anxious about Dusty, but do I feel that way about lost people? Do I go out of my way to look for ways to help lost people find the love and salvation of Jesus. Dusty had it so well with plenty of food and surrounded by people who loved and cared for him. From the Bible, we get a glimpse of how God the Father feels for His lost children (read the parable of the lost son in Luke 15). Jesus also described His ministry in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” When I arrived home from Bible study on Thursday night, I immediately got a flashlight and started looking around the development. As I pointed the flashlight behind some shrubs on the side of the building, there he was! It didn’t take Dusty long to jump over the bush and follow me into the safety and warmth of the house…a happy ending indeed! May the Lord burden our heart to pray and search for those who are lost. The stakes are high! They need people—you and me—to show them the way home. Jesus loves the lost. Do we?
What comes to your mind first when you hear “missionary”? Many Christians think of missions as something for “elite” Christians…sort of like the Navy Seals. Having been around missionaries and traveled on many mission trips, I would like to unwrap some of the “mystique” about being a missionary. In John 9 we read the amazing account of Jesus healing a man blind from birth. Jesus said of this act of compassion and power, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4). Simply defined, the mission of Jesus was participation in the daily work planned and assigned by God. As the great missionary, Jesus allowed the Spirit to lead Him to do actions which brought glory to the Father and enhanced the kingdom of God. Where am I going with this? Every believer is called to do the work of God. A “missionary” is more than just someone who speaks at special services, travels a long distance and raises funds for the mission. God has no “unemployment office;” there is a mission for your life. If you are sensitive to the Holy Spirit, you too can do the work of God. As you love one another, speak words of truth, do your work with excellence, and care for those in need, you are doing the same work as a missionary. You may not be called to move to another country, but you can participate in the work of God right where you are today. You are a “one-of-a-kind” missionary because only you can live your life. Do what God calls you to do today—no matter how simple or mundane it may seem. And, remember, the window of ministry doesn’t always stay open. Jesus reminds us, “Night is coming, when no one can work” (v. 4b). My prayer is that our emphasis on missions stirs you to do God’s mission for you!
Does morality matter? In the Bible we read about Judah, with its capital Jerusalem, becoming a great nation for many years. But, the people forgot the source of their greatness. The last chapter of 2 Chronicles (36) records the pitiful end of Judah as a nation. King Zedekiah and the people were warned again and again, but they refused to humble themselves. Of Zedekiah, the Bible says, “He became stiff-necked and hardened his heart and would not turn to the Lord, the God of Israel. Furthermore, all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful, following all the detestable practices of the nations…” (vv. 13-14). The people slid backward with their leaders. “[T]hey mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy” (v. 16). The Word of God is clear. God deals with nations according to their morality. Proverbs 14:34 declares, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people.” Let’s make no mistake here. The United States is a blessed and prosperous country. Yet, we continue to free fall in our rebellion against God. The greatest danger is for His people, the church, just to sit by with no concern. If we really love our country and the people around us, let us cry out to God for forgiveness and restoration. There is still time! God provides an open door of repentance. Our Lord Jesus gave himself as the “once for all” remedy for sin and our hardened hearts. Will we humble ourselves and pray…or just slide into sin and compromise? Believe that your prayers affect the future! Let God give you a sensitive and broken heart over the evil in our hearts and our nation. Perhaps, our nation will be healed. Are you part of the problem or the solution?