Tag Archives: living for Jesus

December 8; New Life, New Hope

Romans 15-16; Acts 20:7-38

Our family grew by one yesterday. My niece in California gave birth to a daughter. Isn’t the birth of a child a precious, hopeful event? That tiny, totally dependent human entrusted to her parents to nurture, instruct, mold into the person she will become. Those tiny fingers and toes, that little body houses an eternal soul. What a responsibility! What a blessing!

Some people think this world is too evil, and think we shouldn’t be having children. I am not one of them. I rejoice at the birth of my newest great-niece. I see hope in her arrival.

As I read these chapters this morning I thought of baby Keaton. I pray that she will give her heart to Jesus at an early age and be the servant of the Lord Paul talks about. I pray her life will be a testament to the goodness of God, and will inspire others to want Jesus in their lives, too.

I know life won’t always be easy for her. But I pray that she will be grounded in the Truth of Scripture and know the strength that comes from a relationship with God Himself. So, using Paul’s words, let me say to our precious Keaton…

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Your Aunt Connie is praying for you, sweetheart.

October 26; Second Fiddle

John 11:17-57; Mark 10:32-52; Luke 18:31-34; Matthew 20:17-28

Do you ever read something in the Bible and think, “Wow. This is totally opposite of the wisdom of the day?” That’s what happened to me today.

We in the 21st Century are told to look out for number one, to tell ourselves we are strong and powerful and capable and perfect just the way we are. And we are teaching our children to believe they are those things, too.

On the surface that might sound like wisdom. But in God’s economy, it’s foolishness. In the passages we read today, God explains His economy and you might not like what He says:

“The last will be first.”

“Whoever wants to become great, must be a slave to all.”

(I don’t see those slogans on many t-shirts these days)

I went to my cousin’s funeral yesterday, and heard the account of a servant, a woman who was a selfless friend, whose house was always open and throw-together meals were commonplace (and she often used her gold-trimmed china for impromptu entertaining). She could sit for hours with a hurting neighbor without thought for her own comfort.

She’d taught music for nearly 60 years, and especially loved teaching young children how to play the violin. We heard of incidents when Beth Joy would go out of her way to take a student home after lessons, or drive them to performances, or how she would provide violins for children who couldn’t afford one.

But what impressed me most about my cousin was something I hadn’t realized. I knew she played in two large symphony orchestras, one in Ohio then one in Charlotte, NC when she and her husband moved there. But what I didn’t realize is that for over 40 years, Beth Joy played second violin.

As a musician myself, that speaks to me. And I was reminded of it today as I read what Jesus said to His disciples about “number one.”

The great orchestral conductor, Leonard Bernstein when asked what the most difficult instrument was to play said, “The second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find someone who can play the second fiddle with enthusiasm – that’s a problem, and if we have no second fiddle, we have no harmony.”

Beth Joy played second fiddle with enthusiasm. She was the harmony in the life of her family, friends, and students. Why? Because she was a tireless servant of her Lord, Jesus Christ. At 80 years of age, she was still teaching children how to play the violin up to six weeks before she died.

I am challenged today to enthusiastically play the position of second fiddle for Jesus’ sake and for His glory. One thing people kept saying yesterday was that Beth always pointed people to her Savior. It was never about her. It was always about Jesus.

What a privilege it is to play second fiddle in God’s economy, His orchestra called the Church. It’s not about me. It is always about Jesus.

December 20 – Action!

I Peter

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. ( 1:3)

Peter’s first letter is full of action verbs. This Christian life is to be lived, played out in what we do rather than sitting comfortably in a pew once a week.

I was born into the Zehner family. I didn’t do anything to become a Zehner. And nothing I did made me more or less a Zehner. But there were some things I did, some choices I made, to get me to the Zehner woman I am today.

I learned. To walk and talk, to add and subtract, to do the dishes and dust, to care about others. Oh I had help along the way. Parents and teachers and friends helped to mold me as I yielded myself to their instruction. But even that had nothing to do with the fact that I am a Zehner. It does have a bearing on the kind of Zehner I am.

I was born into the family of God. I didn’t do anything to earn that privilege. I simply asked God to forgive me, and accepted His gift of grace that HE bought for me. But there are some choices I made to get me to the Christian woman I am today.

Let’s look at some of the action words Peter used to describe our walk:

prepare your minds, be holy, conduct yourselves in fear, fervently love, put aside malice, long for the word, grow, taste, come, believe, abstain, submit, honor. Be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, humble. Bless, suffer, rejoice, glorify God.

In my walk with the Lord I have chosen to read His Word every day, to pray, to worship with other believers, to use the gifts He gave me in service to Him and others. I choose to live a lifestyle that honors Him. I choose to resist the devil by staying close to my Savior.

I don’t do these things to become a Christian. I do them because I am a Christian.

Dear ones, people all over the world are celebrating the birth of Jesus, whether they want to believe it or not. It’s Christmas. It’s a great time of year to put our faith into action. I pray that you will read 1 Peter today and let God speak to your heart about what you could be DOING to demonstrate Jesus in your life. Many hearts are ready to hear about what the birth of this Baby really means.

Let’s show them by our own actions that what we have in Jesus is so much better than what they have without Him.

 

August 18 – Participation Trophies

Jeremiah 32-34

When I was first given the responsibility of assigning the Presidential Academic Fitness Award at the school where I was the Guidance Counselor, the qualifications were rigorous. Students needed to keep a high GPA through Middle School as well as score consistently high on standardized tests. There were no subjective qualifiers. And, as hard as it sometimes was, a 3.2 GPA didn’t qualify if 3.3 was the standard.

But receiving that award was a great accomplishment for those who earned it. Soon, someone decided that the feelings of kids who didn’t meet the mark outweighed the feeling of pride and success of those who did. More subjective benchmarks were included. It changed the whole picture of what that award had been.

Many schools have eliminated Valedictorian and Salutatorian honors for the same reason. And how many of you have “participation” trophies sitting on your shelves? We’ve taken away competition at the same time we are trying to compete with other countries around the world. That’s a soap box I could stand on. But God wasn’t really speaking to me about competition this morning. He was, however, speaking to me about participation.

God told the Jews to free their Hebrew slaves. “And all the officials and all the people obeyed…” (34:10) They all participated.

But then they enslaved their brothers once again. Did they obey or disobey? Shouldn’t they get credit for participating? Here’s what God says about that:

Therefore thus says the Lord, You have not obeyed Me in proclaiming release each man to his brother and each man to his neighbor. Behold, I am proclaiming a release to you, declares the Lord, to the sword, to the pestilence and to the famine; and I will make you a terror to all the kingdoms of the earth. (34:17)

God goes on to say they will be given into the hand of their enemies. Their dead bodies will be food for the birds and the beasts.

Friends, there are no Participation Trophy Rooms in heaven. There is no less heat in hell for those who kind of obey. God has set the standard, He’s spelled out His demands. He’s set the bar pretty high – ALL!

It’s not good enough to go to church and read your Bible occasionally. It’s not enough to refrain from alcohol or to be faithful to your wife. It’s not enough to be a good neighbor, an honest person, thoughtful and kind.

God’s standards are these: Give Him 100%. Confess your sins AND repent. Accept Jesus as your Savior. Lay at His feet your life, your dreams, your health, your family. Trust Him. Seek Him with all your heart. Love Him above all. Obey Him.

No one said it’s easy. Nothing worth having is. But understand this: God is not going to change His standards for fear you’ll get your feelings hurt. If you’re hoping for a participation trophy, look at the cross. Does anything you’ve done compare to what Jesus did for you?