Gideon’s Influence Upon His Father

On Monday, we asked the question, “Can you be courageous and afraid at the same time?” We looked at an event in the life of Gideon when God called him to confront the idolatry of his father and to destroy his father’s idols (Baal and Asherah).

For today, please read the same excerpt from Judges 6, but this time, read it from the perspective of Gideon’s father. But then go back and re-read it and think about it as if YOU were the father. How would you respond if your son directly confronted your religion/worship and destroyed your idols?

Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and called it, The LORD Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites. That night the LORD said to him, “Take your father’s bull, and the second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of the stronghold here, with stones laid in due order. Then take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah that you shall cut down.” So Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the LORD had told him. But because he was too afraid of his family and the men of the town to do it by day, he did it by night. When the men of the town rose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built. And they said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” And after they had searched and inquired, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.” Then the men of the town said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has broken down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah beside it.” But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Will you contend for Baal? Or will you save him? Whoever contends for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because his altar has been broken down.” Therefore on that day Gideon was called Jerubbaal, that is to say, “Let Baal contend against him,” because he broke down his altar.
(Judges 6:24-32)

We can look at Gideon’s father and stay in the shallow water thinking of him merely as an idolater. But there is something deeper here to consider, Gideon’s father was awakened and led to truth by the faith, courage and conviction of his son.

I know for me that there have been times that whether it was the brilliant, inspired comments of my four-year old or the courage and faith shown by one of my teenagers, that I have been humbled, taught, convicted and encouraged.

Don’t assume as a father that teaching only goes one way. It certainly did not for Gideon’s dad. His father showed amazing humility, did he not? Instead of trying to save face among his neighbors and fellow Israelites, he stood up for his son who “showed him up.”

Today, take a lesson from Gideon’s dad, and put it in your toolbox as a father. Be ready to accept that your children have wisdom, insight, faith and courage that just may expose an area in your life where you need to grow. Praise God and thank Him that He gave us these young evangelists to show us how to draw closer to God.

With All Who Had Separated Themselves

Then the children of Israel who had returned from the captivity ate together (the Passover) with all who had separated themselves from the filth of the nations of the land in order to seek the LORD God of Israel (Ezra 6:21).

Imagine how awesome and exciting it must have been for the Jewish exiles to come home to Jerusalem from captivity! Even more so, now the temple has been rebuilt, and they are keeping the Passover feast. What a joyous time of celebration. The Passover feast was a memorial feast that served as a reminder of how God delivered them from Egyptian bondage.

Please take note in the above passage, it was not just the Jews who ate the Passover. There were apparently Gentiles who became proselytes to the Jewish faith and sought the God of Israel. They “separated themselves from the filth of the nations of the land in order to seek the Lord God of Israel.” If you think about it, that is such an encouraging and powerful statement. These Gentiles left their pagan ways, they saw their ways as “filth” and wanted to get as far away from it as possible. They repented. God became first in their lives. If you go back to Moses’ law, it also required that the Gentile males had to be circumcised before keeping the Passover (Exodus 12:47-49). Now they are eating “together” with the Jews in this feast.

This is like the book of Ephesians. Jews and Gentiles both are united under one Lord. Together (Ephesians 1:10; 2:5,6,21,22; 4:16 – New King James Version).

In order to be together, both Jews and Gentiles had to separate themselves from the filth of the world. Here is a point about influence, men. The Gentiles were led to God because the Jews were living for God. The Jews had first left behind the ways of the world and the filth of the nations, and it became an example and a light for the Gentiles to follow.

We see other examples in Ezra and Nehemiah of God’s people doing the exact opposite. Instead of separating from the filth of the nations, they married into that filth and raised kids in it. Their kids became pagan instead of godly (Nehemiah 13). So here in Ezra 6 is a positive and powerful witness of what your influence can do for God. But you must first separate from the dirty-ness of the world.

Your friends and co-workers will see that change. Pray that they like these Gentiles will also want to come and seek the Lord God. May they be united and together with us at Christ’s table as we celebrate Jesus as our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7).

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).

 

What Will Be Said of You?

Someone sent me a bulletin article they found online, and the title was “What will be said of us when we die?” In that article the author listed several very good things that can be said of the person who walks with God and dies in Christ.

I thought this would be appropriate to consider for today. You could even consider using these thoughts to talk with your kids about what really matters. People in life will say all kinds of things about you, some true some not true, but what matters is what God says about you.

Will this be said of you and me when we pass from this life?

  • “He walked with God (Genesis 5:24; Genesis 6:9; cf. 2 Kings 20:3 ).
  • “He was the Lord‘s friend” (John 15:14).
  • “He fought a good fight, he finished his course, he kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
  • “He declared the whole counsel of God to others” (Acts 20:27).
  • “He went about doing good” (Acts 10:38).
  • “His death is gain” (Philippians 1:21,23).
  • “His death is precious” (Psalm 116:15).
  • “His death is a blessing, because he died in the Lord” (Revelation 14:13)
  • “He died in a good old age, full of days and riches and honor” (1 Chronicles 29:28).
  • “He has gone to be with the Lord” (Philippians 1:23).
  • “He is in a better place now” (Luke 16:22; John 14:1-3; Hebrews 11:16).
  • “He left us a godly example” (1 Timothy 4:12; cf. Titus 2:7-8).
  • “He was faithful unto death” (Revelation 2:10).
  • “By his righteous life, he still speaks (Hebrews 11:4).
  • “He is now among the heroes of faith” (Hebrews 11).
  • “He is now gathered to his people” (Genesis 25:8; 35:29; 49:33).

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:23-24).

It Has Been Fully Reported

And Boaz answered and said to her, “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. The LORD repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge” (Ruth 2:11-12).

Ruth was from Moab; she was an outsider, a Gentile. When she was shown such great kindness and generosity by Boaz, she was overwhelmed with gratitude. But she was also puzzled…why me?

So she fell on her face, bowed down to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” (Ruth 2:10).

Ruth’s humility here is evident. Her whole mindset was to serve God and work hard to take care of Naomi and herself. She didn’t expect a parade for her service, nor did she expect this bountiful treatment from Boaz. Ruth was perfectly content to get dirty and sweaty working in the fields to get just enough for two widows to survive.

However, Boaz kindly reminds her of why she was being so treated.

“It has been fully reported to me…”

The behavior of Ruth got people talking. Ruth’s commitment first and foremost was to serve the Lord God. She left Moab, her family in Moab and her gods in Moab to come under the sheltering wings of the great I AM. Secondly, her life was but to serve Naomi and to make sure Naomi was provided for.

Ruth’s manner of life got the attention of the people of Israel, and word eventually came to Boaz. He was greatly impressed and I believe he was encouraged by such behavior. It seems like Boaz saw himself as one of God’s instruments in helping provide for Ruth and Naomi. Boaz knew full well that God was pleased with the commitment of Ruth, and he was convinced that the Lord would repay her for her work (Ruth 2:12).

The same is true for us today as God’s people. If our mindset is the praise of men, we will get our reward, Jesus said. When our heart is all about the reward and the material goods, we will get our reward (Matthew 6:1-4). But when our hearts are set on heaven as was the heart of Ruth, heaven takes notice.

Jesus Himself observed this kind of behavior in a poor widow. He watched how the rich people were giving large sums to the temple treasury, but what really grabbed His attention was the two coins given by a widow who gave all she had. Those two coins didn’t make much of a sound when they dropped in the container, but they thundered in heaven (Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4). Ruth’s service was just like that…God took notice of her and used Boaz to take care of her.

Let us reflect on our own service to God. If our hearts are like the heart of Ruth, then heaven will take notice. And really, it doesn’t matter if anyone else notices if God is the one who sees it.

For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister (Hebrews 6:10).

Religious Complaining

This week’s focus has been about complaining and how it affects our various relationships. The previous articles this week centered on complaining about things like the weather, job, bills, etc. Today we will consider “Religious Complaining,” meaning we are complaining about our perceptions of another’s service to God.

To begin, let’s look at Martha the sister of Mary and Lazarus.

But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me” (Luke 10:40).

In other words, Martha said, “I’m all alone in the kitchen, Mary’s not helping, and Jesus You don’t even seem to care.” Jesus had to remind her that Mary was right where Mary needed to be. Mary wasn’t idle or neglecting her duties. It was Martha who was troubled and worried about many things, and it would serve Martha well to follow her sister’s example and sit at Jesus’ feet for awhile (Luke 10:41-42).

Next up, Elijah:

So he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life” (1 Kings 19:10).

Elijah in his genuine discouragement, thought he was all alone. A lot of what Elijah said was true, but he wasn’t alone. God reminded Elijah of His presence and power, and of the fact that there were 7,000 others who faithfully served God (1 Kings 19:10,18).

Elijah was discouraged and Martha was distracted, but both came to the same conclusion: “I’m all alone.” Sometimes we may complain because we look around and perceive that others are not working for the Lord like we are. We set ourselves up, whether out of arrogance or just plain discouragement, as the judge of how others are serving God.

When we begin to make judgments about the quality of another’s service to God, we become the judge instead of God. The disciples of Jesus did this to the woman who poured out the expensive oil upon Jesus. They set themselves up as the arbitrator of how she could have better used her resources for God. Jesus told them to leave her alone because she had done a good work for Him (Mark 14:4-6. We can do good works, like hospitality, and begin to grumble. “Why aren’t others doing the same? I wish others would appreciate what I’m doing!” (1 Peter 4:9).

Our assessment of the reward we should get for all we have sacrificed becomes overblown. We overvalue our service and undervalue the service of others. How much I served gets compared to the “little” someone else has served. Jesus talked about this mentality in the parable of the Landowner (Matthew 20:1-16). The basic lesson there is that the first shall be last and the last shall be first.

Let’s be careful about religious complaining. James wrote, “Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!” (James 5:9).

Religious Complaining

Really, this is ultimately what the disciples were arguing about among themselves. “Who is the greatest?” In the very presence of Jesus, the Son of God, they argued about who was the greatest! When we begin to do our religious complaining, then we are sounding just like the disciples in arguing who the greatest is (Luke 22:23-27).

Finally, take a moment to thank God for all of the faithful people around you who are serving God every day. May we ask the Lord to remind us that there are many things going on in service to God everyday that we have no idea about. There are many great servants of God doing many wonderful things, and they are not sounding a trumpet about it. Only God knows. Let’s continue to pray for humility and a mindset of service simply to do the job God has called us to do…and do it with thankfulness.

The Tongue of the Wise Promotes Health

There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health (Proverbs 12:18).

The focus for this week has been complaining. Words as we all know, have incredible weight and influence. The above proverb provides a great contrast. A stab wound doesn’t promote health, does it? My words can be a sword thrust through someone or I can promote health. Our words at work and school today can promote health: healthy attitudes, healthy dialogue, healthy teamwork, etc. Or, our complaining and criticizing words will just bring everyone down in the dumps.

Here are a couple of examples:

10 of the 12 spies sent by Moses to look over the land of Canaan brought back a bad report. They were faithless and their words discouraged the hearts of the children of Israel (Deuteronomy 1:28). Caleb, one of the 2 faithful spies, said decades later that the discouraging words of those 10 spies “made the heart of the people melt” (Joshua 14:8).

In contrast, consider King Hezekiah. When surrounded by the powerful army of Assyria, Hezekiah took his stand in faith with God. Not only did he prepare the people militarily, he spoke words of faith and encouragement to the people and directed their hearts to God’s power. “And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah” (2 Chronicles 32:6-8).

See the contrast? I think we all, that means me too, sometimes lose sight of how powerful and influential our speech can be. That’s probably why there is so much in Scripture about our words and their power. Hezekiah strengthened his people while the 10 spies made the hearts of Israel melt into discouragement.

The Tongue of the Wise Promotes Health

I found an interesting passage in Isaiah where the Messiah (Jesus) is speaking in the 1st person about what He is coming to do. In that section there is this statement:

The Lord has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary (Isaiah 50:4).

Jesus, the Messiah, has the tongue of the learned (educated, trained, wise). He knows how to speak a word in season (at the right time) to him who is weary (considering the audience and what is appropriate).

May the Lord give us this same tongue today! Let us train and educate our tongues and hearts. Consider what would be the right thing to say, not what would be the easy thing, or sarcastic thing or funny thing to say.

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones (Proverbs 16:24).

Past articles that might be helpful to you in connection to this topic:

 

Attitude Reflects Leadership

One of my favorite movies is Remember the Titans. There is a scene when the two leaders of the defense, Julias Campbell and Gerry Bertier, are arguing in training camp. Julias is being accused by Gerry of playing selfish football, and Julias responded by saying, “Attitude reflects leadership, captain.”

What a true statement, right? Attitude reflects leadership. The tone of a team, family, church, country or organization is set by the leadership. What notes are we playing as leaders, men?

Please take a minute to read this section of Scripture about David. He is preparing all the resources for the building of the temple that will commence when his son Solomon takes the throne. I want you to notice David’s attitude and generosity in giving and how that influenced the other leaders in Israel.

Moreover, because I have set my affection on the house of my God, I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house, my own special treasure of gold and silver: three thousand talents of gold, of the gold of Ophir, and seven thousand talents of refined silver, to overlay the walls of the houses; the gold for things of gold and the silver for things of silver, and for all kinds of work to be done by the hands of craftsmen. Who then is willing to consecrate himself this day to the LORD?” Then the leaders of the fathers’ houses, leaders of the tribes of Israel, the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the officers over the king’s work, offered willingly. They gave for the work of the house of God five thousand talents and ten thousand darics of gold, ten thousand talents of silver, eighteen thousand talents of bronze, and one hundred thousand talents of iron. And whoever had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the house of the LORD, into the hand of Jehiel the Gershonite. Then the people rejoiced, for they had offered willingly, because with a loyal heart they had offered willingly to the LORD; and King David also rejoiced greatly (1 Chronicles 29:3-9).

Attitude Reflects Leadership

David set his affection on the house of God (the temple), and that reflected in how he gave. His commitment to this great work was evident to all; he had skin in the game. The king led the group in sacrifice, everyone could see what he offered and how he felt about it.

When he asked the question, “Who is willing?”, he first showed that he was willing. The rest followed. See how the other leadership responded? “Then the leaders of the fathers’ houses…offered willingly.”

Take this into consideration today. How is your attitude? Do others see the kind of heart that we just saw in David? What influence is your attitude having upon others?

“Attitude reflects leadership, captain!”

Misplaced Compassion

“When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him.  But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem.  When His disciples James and John saw, they said, ‘Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’  But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.’  And they went on to another village.”  Luke 9:51-56

Do you see the compassion of James and John in this passage?  You think I’m crazy, right?  This passage is all about James and John bringing down judgment and their failure to have compassion.  But consider why they got upset in the first place.  Is there any indication that James and John were violent, spiteful men?  I don’t believe they made a habit of walking around, looking for offense, so they could “justify” human BBQs.  So what caused this strange and irrational response to the Samaritans?  I think there are two prominent elements at work here.

First, we know there is a long history of animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans and the Jews did not hide their feelings of superiority.  But second, and most important, James and John had a deep love, respect and loyalty towards Jesus.  In fact, I believe their fiery reaction is driven by compassion for Jesus.  After all, this is their Teacher, their Lord, the Messiah, and He is being treated with such disrespect.  Who among us wouldn’t feel compelled, even obligated, to defend Jesus from such an insult?  But in their compassion for Jesus they fail to recognize the purpose and motivation of Jesus.

Friends and brothers, far too often this happens to us.  Our loyalty to a teaching or a political ideology and our disdain for the perversion of the opposing viewpoint can blind us to the purpose and motivation of Jesus.  We can stand firmly on the “truth” of God’s word, calling down fire from heaven to destroy all those who stand in opposition and completely fail to recognize that God intends His word to heal and to save.  I believe most of us are driven by a sincere love for God but we succumb to the temptation to “fight fire with fire” and end up “returning evil for evil”.

If we are truly disciples of Jesus then we will consider how He reacted to the sin and perversion in His world.  Of course He didn’t shy away from the truth and, at times, He was confrontational but it was always driven by His desire and purpose to save men’s lives.  Can we say the same about us?  When I post that political article on FB or I respond to that “ignorant” comment, am I trying to save men’s lives?  When I defend my viewpoint or attack false teaching, is it for the purpose of saving the lost?  To my shame, the answer is often “no”.  We can be “right” and still be so very wrong.

Ultimately, Jesus let the opposition have their way.  He allowed the darkness of mankind to overwhelm the Light of the world.  He endured the most unjust and wicked trial the world has ever seen and He “opened not His mouth”.  When He was confronted with venom and hatred and malice He showed compassion and mercy saying, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”  And what was the result of such selflessness?  What did Jesus hope to accomplish?  “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” (John 12:32)  I submit to you that the “drawing” power of the gospel is the mercy and compassion of our Lord.  The humble submission of Jesus to His accusers and abusers is the very thing that continues to call men out of darkness and into the light.

There will always be a need for bold preaching.  We will always have the opportunity to stand for truth and oppose false ideals and doctrine.  But when we follow the example of our Lord, and we are driven by mercy and compassion, we will experience something amazing; we will see men drawn to Jesus.

Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him

Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him (Genesis 40:23).

Joseph had quite a list of reasons to be angry at God and life. He certainly could have walked around bitterly with a chip on his shoulder.

Think of what happened in 13 years for Joseph. At 17 years old, he was sold to merchants and slave traders by his own brothers. After things in Egypt were starting to look up for him, he was falsely accused of attempted rape and unjustly imprisoned. Again, things were going well for Joseph, even while in prison. After some time in prison, he interpreted dreams for Pharaoh’s butler and baker. He asked the butler to remember him when the butler was restored to his position. Now to add insult to injury, he is forgotten…for two years (Genesis 41:1,9). Hated, betrayed, abandoned, sold, enslaved, framed, imprisoned, forgotten…sure sounds like a raw deal for over a decade, right?

Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him

Personally, I find it simply amazing that Joseph carried himself the way he did in spite of all the adversity. We don’t see Joseph being bitter. Joseph didn’t shake his fist at God and walk away from Him. He didn’t turn inward and self-centered, only concerned with taking care of number one. There is no indication that he lived his life in hatred and bitterness toward those who did him wrong. He wasn’t plotting his revenge.

What we do see in Joseph is a continual understanding and acknowledgement of the Lord’s presence in his life. When tempted to commit adultery with Potiphar’s wife, he knew this sin would be against God (Gen. 39:9). While interpreting dreams, he gave glory to God as the one who gave him the ability (Gen. 40:8; 41:16,25,28,32). As he was working, whether in Potiphar’s house, or in prison or second in command to Pharoah, the “Lord was with him” (Gen. 39:2,21). Joseph worked for God, not for man.

Because of the way Joseph lived and talked, those around him noticed that God was with him. Potiphar knew that the Lord had blessed his house because of Joseph (Gen. 39:3-6). Even the keeper of the prison saw this in Joseph (Gen. 39:21). Pharoah himself witnessed the presence of God in Joseph’s life (Gen. 41:38-39).

Am I in God’s place?

Finally, look at Joseph’s attitude toward God and how that affected his attitude toward his brothers.

But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them (Genesis 50:19-21).

How do you and I respond when facing life’s difficulties? We are all dealt a rough hand at times, so let us consider the wonderful example of Joseph. Let us remember that God’s presence is with us. Work for Him, not for man. May we have forgiveness, not bitterness, in our hearts. Remember, like Joseph, that we are not in God’s place. Let’s give glory to Him, and be thankful in all things.

What Now Lord?

Thanks, Andy Harrison, for sharing this article about Ralph, entitled, What Now Lord?

 “Whom have I in heaven but You?  And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Psalm 73:25-26

Over the last few years I’ve gotten to know an old man, let’s call him Ralph.  Don’t worry, he wouldn’t be offended, he’s in his 80s and calls himself an “old man”.  Ralph is really nothing special to look at and in many ways is just your average elderly person.  He’s got white hair and wrinkles and has been in a wheelchair for a number of years.  He is soft spoken and his voice can get a little shaky when he talks.  Ralph lives in a very modest assisted-living facility with a few other elderly people.

But when Ralph was younger…oh man, that was different!  He was a pilot in the Air Force and retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  For those who don’t know that is just a couple ranks away from a Brigadier General.  After his military service he found a home in the financial sector, responsible for significant sums of money.  One of Ralph’s passions in life was raising prize-winning Doberman Pinschers and he has pictures and trophies testifying to his accomplishments.  There was a lot about his life that one could envy.

But, as with all of us, time caught up with Ralph.  His wife got ill and died a number of years ago.  He started to lose muscle control in his legs and was forced to use a walker.  It wasn’t long until he deteriorated to the point of needing a wheelchair.  Because of Ralph’s physical condition, he was no longer able to take care of his dogs and he had to find them new homes.  Speaking of homes, he had to sell his and give up his freedom and space for a single room in a small assisted-living facility.

I suspect Ralph’s story is not that different than a lot of people in their 80s.  If I live long enough, I’m sure my decline will have a number of similarities.  What has impressed me (and humbled me) is his outlook and attitude throughout these stages of life.  So many people meet the loss of status and power and physical health and freedom with anger and bitterness but Ralph has embraced these changes with one simple question, “What now Lord?”  In every situation he sees opportunity to continue working for the Lord.

When he was forced to sell his house he spent time in prayer and decided that if the house sold he would use the money to support the preaching of the gospel.  He has confidently stated, “When I die I don’t want one cent left to my name.  I want it all used up for the Lord!”

When Ralph found himself lying in bed one night, shortly after moving into a small assisted-living facility he went to God in prayer and said, “Here I am.  What now, Lord?”  Shortly after that he realized that there were lonely people in that facility nearing the end of their lives and he could be a comfort and an encouragement to them.  He got busy and he shared Jesus.

After Ralph could no longer support his weight with the walker he was forced to stay in a wheelchair.  Many of us might consider this a greater restriction but Ralph turned it into an opportunity.  At worship he took his seat with him everywhere he went, all over the auditorium.  Instead of sitting in the same place, next to the same people, week after week, Ralph wheels around and sits by different people all the time.

Ralph is the very definition of a servant and he realizes that the Lord’s people don’t “retire”.  Wasn’t Moses 80 years old when God called him to lead Israel out of Egypt?  Ralph is not stuck on “how things should be” or “this wasn’t part of MY plan”, he simply does the work that is in front of him.

Now here is the kicker and a little bonus lesson in humility that I received.  I started my relationship with Ralph thinking, “Now there’s someone that could use some attention and encouragement.  I should be a ‘good Christian’ and help that lonely old man.”  Maybe it didn’t sound just like that in my head but you get the picture.  A few years have gone by and I don’t know if I’ve helped Ralph but one thing I do know:  I have learned a ton from him.

“Whom have I in heaven but You?  And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Psalm 73:25-26