In just the past week, two tragedies have befallen families known to my family.
From April, 1998 - September, 2000 I served as the minister for the church of Christ in Leedey, OK. While we were in Leedey, the church had a family with a young man who was 15-16 years old named Adam Ferrell attending. I don’t know the circumstances, but on Monday, October 26, Adam passed away.
From October, 2003 - August, 2013 I served as the pulpit minister for the Northside church of Christ in Bonham, TX. On Tuesday we learned that a girl who had been friends with Rachel throughout our time in Bonham had passed away.
She and Rachel had attended pre-school together, were in Girl Scouts together, had been in classes together in school, and many other things. They had drifted apart a little over the last couple of years we were in Bonham, but were still friends.
Two young people: one almost 32 years old (yes, that is still young) and the other only 16 years old. Both with so much to look forward to; both taken from their loved ones way too soon.
In Job 14:1-2, Job says, “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure.”
Psalms 144:4 informs us, “Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.”
James tells us, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14).
My point is that life is far too short (even if “long” by human standards) and our “appointed time” far to near not to be busy about the Father’s business.
Please keep the Ferrell and Glaser families in your prayers during this difficult time.
Last Wednesday night in Bible class, I told you that I had been mistaken for a Wal-mart employee earlier in the day. I was in Wal-mart, wearing a navy polo shirt and khaki pants and, I guess, appeared to be at work.
We’ve all heard of cases of mistaken identity. Perhaps you’ve even approached someone, only to find out that it was not the someone that you thought it was. It can be embarrassing.
But despite the embarrassment, there can always be some good that comes from this sort of mistaken identity. You can meet someone new and, perhaps, walk away with a new friend.
There is another type of mistaken identity, though, that is far more serious. Think for a moment about how you behave through the course of a day: the words you say, the actions you do, the manner in which you conduct your business.
Just think about how you normally behave and then answer this question: would someone mistake you for a citizen of the world?
You see we are called to shine like stars in a crooked and depraved generation (Philippians 2:15). We are called to be aliens and strangers in this world (1 Peter 2:11-12).
We are not called to be on our “best” behavior on Sunday morning for one hour, then spend the rest of our time each week blending in to the world.
We are called to be Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). Ambassadors don’t just represent their home country when “on the job.” They represent their home country 24/7/365.
Ambassadors must faithfully represent the one who called them. If an ambassador is not found to be faithful, he or she will likely lose their position.
When people look at you, do they mistakenly identify you as just another citizen of the world? You talk like the world; you act like the world; you dress like the world; you walk like the world...you are at home in the world.
If people look at you and mistake you for a citizen of the world, maybe the case of “mistaken identity” is in who you claim to be on Sunday morning.
Borrowed from someone, somewhere...
There once was an old farmer who grew award-winning corn. Every year he entered his corn into the state fair and won the blue ribbon.
One year, after winning yet another competition, a young newspaper reporter requested an interview with the farmer to try and uncover the farmer secrets to his prize-winning corn. Although he expected to be turned down, the farmer welcomed the interview. He asked the old farmer several questions about his techniques and then discovered something interesting about how he grew it: the reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbors!
“How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering their corn into the same competition with yours every year?” the reporter asked.
“Why sir,” said the farmer, “didn’t you know? I can’t afford not to! The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it around from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn as well. It’s one of my secrets to success.”
The moral of the story is simple: If we are to grow “good corn” in our businesses, we must be willing to help our fellow business owners grow “good corn” too. When times are tough, it affects us all.
No longer borrowed...
The same is true of our faith. If we are to grow “good faith,” we must be willing to help others grow “good faith” as well. We must set a good example...not just every once-in-a-while, but ALL the time; and not just in a few areas of life, but ALL areas of life. Only then will we be faithful farmers of the faith.
Wednesday morning, I was doing my usual routine when I come to the office. Part of that routine is to look at Facebook. As I was perusing the posts that had been posted, my eye was caught by one of those “suggested posts.” The headline read, “13 life hacks that everyone should try at least once.”
As I mentioned, I was intrigued by this, so I opened the “story.” Essentially, they were telling you how to cheat the system by doing things that, while not ethical or moral, you likely would not be “caught.”
Let me share a couple of examples.
The article said that if you are in line at Target and question the price of an item that is less than $20, the cashier has been instructed to just give it to you for whatever price you say it is supposed to be. Target, apparently, feels this is more cost efficient then holding up the line for something of “so little value.”
Another one suggested that if you want a free breakfast, simply walk confidently into a hotel that serves a free breakfast and help yourself.
I never actually made it through the entire list...to many advertisements. But most of the other things I did read were similar to these...try being just a little dishonest...no one will really care and it could net you a profit (or at least a bit of a thrill). When I tried to go back and look for other examples, I could not find the post...it seemed to have been removed: imagine that!
The world says is that it is OK to tell a “little white lie, after all, Target makes billions of dollars so if you tell the cashier that the shoes that rang up for $19.99 were marked on the shelf as $9.99 the only one getting hurt is Target.”
The problem is that Jesus would tend to disagree with you. Jesus tells us, in Luke 16:10-11, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?”
That “free” breakfast may not be costing the hotel much, but that is not the point. The point is that everything we do is to be done for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31) and anything we do that is dishonest brings, not glory and honor, but shame and dishonor to God.
So, is it really worth it?
Tonight, Wednesday, September 30, 2015 is one of my most favorite nights of the year. Actually the date is not that important...but it is the last Wednesday night of September which means we will be spending our mid-week service singing praises to God.
In my sermon on Sunday morning, September 20, I mentioned that we were averaging 73 people attending our Wednesday night services for 2015 (it’s actually 72.5, but we always round up when it comes to attendance!). What I did not mention is that if we removed our singing nights from the tally, our average drops by 1¼ people (to 71.25) and if you average just our singing nights, we are averaging 75 in attendance.
You probably are aware of this, but the Bible commands us to sing (Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16). Then there is James 5:13, “Is anyone of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone of you happy? Let him sing songs of praise.”
For a Christian, singing should be as natural of a response to joy/happiness as prayer is in times of trouble and tribulation.
I know that some people may not like to sing. They may feel like if they sing, they sound so “bad” that they distract others. When approached, they might laugh it off with the old, “Well, preacher, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket!”
Isn’t it wonderful that God did not command us to carry a tune in a bucket...He commanded us to sing!
Some might feel having a singing service takes away valuable teaching time. But what if we decided to have a Wednesday night prayer meeting, where all we did was ask several of our men to lead us in prayer. Would feelings be the same about a prayer service?
The afore mentioned Colossians 3:16 says: “Let the word of God dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”
So tonight, as we teach and admonish one another as we sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in our hearts to God remember that it is not the person next to you that is your audience...that you are singing for God. “Sing and make music in your heart to Lord” (Eph5:19). But also remember Jesus tells us, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34).
God has done so many good things for us. Let the joy of your heart flow out of your mouth as we praise Him for all He has done and He will be pleased, which is all that matters.