SPEAK NOW!

We have had several deaths in our church family recently, and their absence from our presence is a heavy burden.  I realize that they no longer have pain and they no longer are suffering from a variety of illnesses and ailments.  I also realize that, as Christians, they are in the presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  What glorious blessings they are experiencing every moment.

David said in Psalm 116:15 “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.”  While we may grieve the loss of friends and family, we have to remember that we are not designed for this world … our death and transfer from this world to the next is precious in the Lord’s sight. 

But, in the here and now, God is with us and leads us as we seek out His will and as we are obedient to His direction.  David said it this way in Psalm 71:17-20:

O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.  So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.  Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you?   You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.

Psalm 71:17-20

David says that God taught him from his youth, and that he is still proclaiming God’s wondrous deeds.  Even when he is old and has gray hair, David is asking God not to forsake him but, rather, to let him tell the next generation about God’s power and the wondrous deeds that He has done.

In Psalm 30, David speaks of death and the reality that one cannot praise God on this earth if they have died.

“What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?”

Psalm 30:9

Of course, the answer to David’s question is “No!”  The time for praise and telling others of God’s faithfulness is NOW. 

We should make this a focal point of our lives, telling others of the goodness, mercy, and faithfulness of God.  Telling others of the wondrous love of the Lord and His sacrifice for us, while we were sinners and His enemies!  Telling others of the salvation that is ours through faith in Jesus Christ, and of the marvelous relief from the power of sin that this salvation works in us. 

Do this in such a way that it is embedded in your actions and speech.  You don’t need to give a sermon!  Fly a kite with your grandson and tell Him of the God that sends the wind at His word.    

Flying a kite, Grandfather and Grandson.

Take care of the animals and tell how God has taken care of you through the years.

Interact with the grandchildren and weave the story of your walk with the Lord into the conversation.  Let your life do the talking and then be ready to answer questions that may arise.

Have gray hair?  Are you aged?  Remember all the times that God preserved your during your youth.  Remember the times that God led you even when you had no idea where you were going.  Remember the times He protected you, aided you, healed you, loved you!  Remember the years gone by, and then thank Him for His faithfulness to you.  Do this by telling others of His great power and love, grace and mercy, and do it NOW!

Father, we get distracted by things in the world and we lose sight of what is truly important.  Help me to tell others of the mighty works that You have done in my life as I tell of Your glory and majesty, Your saving grace and mercy.  Give me boldness as I go about Your business today, so that my voice may be heard to Your glory now!

THE CHALLENGE OF ROADSIDE SIGNS!

Driving down the highway can, at times, provide thought-provoking images.   Going along the interstate, we passed a one‐story building, concrete block, with doors and a few windows. It apparently was the “backside” of the building that was along the interstate because there was no identification of the business or type of activity that went on in the building other than two signs, one on each side of one window.

The sign on the left of the window read “JESUS LOVES YOU” and the sign on the right read “WE BUY GUNS”. At first it tickled me and I laughed out loud  … then I began thinking about the signs and what they were saying.

We live in the so‐called “Bible Belt” of our country, and sometimes the expression of Christianity is more cultural than faithful. Of course the use of the phrase “Jesus Loves You” could well be an attempt to witness to those driving down the highway and to perhaps cause the observer to think about his/her response to Jesus’ love.

Burma Shave sign of yesteryear
Burma Shave sign of yesteryear

After all, God is sovereign and He can use even the static, silent sign along the highway for His purposes. Remember the Burma Shave signs along the highway  and their jingles and thoughts spread across a mile or more?  (I found this picture of the Burma Shave sign on eBay, June 15, 2015)  Certainly, if advertisers could use the power of roadway signs, the Sovereign God certainly could also!

But, there are many other possible reasons that the signs were in such place. Was the business in the building using the camouflage of Christianity to bring in customers for their firearm business? Or, conversely, was the use of Jesus’ name in connection with the purchase of guns a laudable attempt to rid firearms from the community and thereby secure peace?   Or were two businesses sharing the same building with the single entrance at the back along the interstate?

While we cannot, and must not, judge the motive of the owner of those signs, we can use them to consider our own behavior. How do WE use the name of Jesus?

The free, almost flippant and mindless, use of Jesus’ name in conversation in our society has trivialized it so that it seldom actually refers to the God/Man who is the Son of the Sovereign Living God. When it is said in our modern world, it is almost never in homage to the name of the King of Kings.

In contrast, consider how the Scripture refers to Jesus’ name.   The Apostle John says:

“But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:31 (ESV)

Paul, when writing to the Philippians said:

 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11 (ESV)

Clearly, the Biblical writers did not think Jesus’ name was something to be treated casually or in angry outbursts or cursing.

It is the name at which every knee will ultimately bow.  Indeed, Jesus is the Name of our Savior! As one who claims His name as our own, as a Christian, we should be cut to the core when others misuse His name. This is the Person who died for us, who took our place on the cross, who redeemed us from our own sin. This is the Person who voluntarily came from Heaven to live in this sinful world and bear the hatred of those He had created, all for the sole purpose of saving His people from their sins.

Perhaps the signs we saw along the highway:

  • Are a reminder that we should be careful when we use Jesus’ name.
  • Are a reminder that we should use His Name in such a way that our speech would bring honor and glory to Him.
  • Are a reminder that we should use the Name of our Lord in a manner that shows our love for our Savior.
  • Are a reminder that we should use His Name in a way that identifies us as Christians to those who who hear our conversation.

If someone were to follow me down life’s highway, would my conversation and life signs point them to Jesus?

May it be so, my Lord!