February 2016


Sometimes the hardest part of starting something new is the starting of it. Even so, there are some people who are really good starters. They are able to start this project and that project and can often have five or six started projects at any given time.

Completing the project can be another giant hurdle. “Starters” are occasionally really poor finishers—they have no problem starting the something new, but rarely (if ever) see it through to completion.

Not so with God. He not only starts good projects in the lives of people, He is faithful to see the new work through to its completion. In the 1980s, the Christian group The Imperials sang a song that begged God to “finish what You started in me, Lord.” The good news is that we don’t have to beg God to finish the good work that He has begun in our lives. He can and will always finish that which He began in our lives.

“And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give water as a gift to the thirsty from the spring of life.’” – John, quoting God from a vision (Revelation 21:6)

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Relying on his knowledge of the ancient mythology of Greece, Homer treats the readers of The Odyssey to a most dangerous adventure in which the hero Odysseus leads his men through the narrow passage between a rocky cliff and a turbulent whirlpool. These sea-going dangers are named for the Greek mythological characters Scylla (turned into a whirlpool by the angry gods) and Charybdis (transformed to a multi-headed monster by jealous gods). The adventure leads us to the struggle that people have today of being between “a rock and a hard place.”

While the idiom refers to struggle, we often attach it to those times when we must choose between two equally unpleasant options or outcomes. As believers in Christ, we no longer have to settle for choosing the lesser of two evils. Even though we may find ourselves trudging through the difficulties of the day, we have the only best option when making our choices: God’s way. If we will live our lives making choices that God expects we can rest assured that we will always be exercising the best option.

“Your [God’s] kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” – Jesus, from the Model Prayer (Matthew 6:10)

 

My dad used to stand at the fence row, purse his lips, and let out a high-pitched, very shrill whistle. There was no mistaking that sound, and it could be heard for a country mile—at least by four little people last-named Potter. We knew what that sound meant—Dad was calling. There was only one acceptable response to that whistle: come home. And we did. Without question. Without delay. And without thinking twice.

God stands at the heart’s door and knocks—He calls out with a desire to be heard by His children. For some it is a call to initial belief. For others—those who already know Christ—it is more likely a call to return to the fold, to come home. To this call there is only one acceptable response: come home. Have you heard the calling of God lately? Is it, for you, a call to repentance? Or perhaps it is a call to serve others in the name of Christ. Our encouragement today is to join with Isaiah in His answer to God’s calling with readiness to follow that calling voice. Without question. Without delay. And without thinking twice.

“I heard the voice of the Lord saying: ‘Who should I send? Who will go for Us.’ I said: ‘Here I am. Send me.’” –The Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6:8)

Work. Some people feel like it is a four-letter word. I know, technically it has four letters, but some people do everything they can to avoid work, treating it like the kind of language we don’t want our children to use.

In other instances, we approach work zones with great care—after all these places are marked with warning signs: “Caution: Men at Work,” “Hard hat area,” or the dreaded “hit a worker, face a fine and jail time.” In those cases, the place where the work is to be done is an area of cautious approach.

But what does one do when approaching one of God’s work zones? The ultimate answer is that we should join in the work. And that is what Christ-followers want to do. When we see God at work, though, the best thing to do is to watch for a minute. After all, we don’t want to counteract what He is doing. One of the best approaches to doing any kind of job, is a process that builds responsibility. In some businesses and job areas, workers use the Model – Assist – Observe approach. Here the expert does all the work while the novice watches (perhaps taking notes), then the team moves to doing the same kind of task where the veteran lets the rookie do the work, but steps in to help when necessary. Finally the old hat worker sits back to watch while the newbie takes the reins and does the work. Then they both move on to train more workers.

When we approach God’s task, let us be the apprentice, learning from Him what and how He is accomplishing the work. Then He’ll move us on to the assisting stage. Guess what? He is always going to be there when we attempt great things for His kingdom’s sake!

“The Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things the same way.” –Jesus (John 5:19)