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I Corinthians 15:58 - "Therefore my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
We gathered in the shade of an old oak tree that stood sentinel over the neatly placed markers that signified the lives of ten or twelve souls whose earthly remains were interred beneath its shadows. We joined hands as we sang together, “God be with you till we meet again … till we meet at Jesus’ feet.”
Minnie had labored hard for many years in God’s vineyard. It was time to say goodbye and consign her to that sacred place of memory that occupies such precious real estate in every person’s heart. Her soul was safe. She had committed that decades before to the care of a redeeming Savior. Her body
Her body, beyond our care, we committed to the earth.
I opened her well worn Bible to a passage she loved. “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.”
Thoughts of her unsung heroism passed from one person to the next with memories of kind words and deeds, encouraging notes, and humble service. Minnie had achieved neither fame nor fortune in this life. She had written no books, created no fine art, or founded any great institutions. She had simply loved those who came across her path and lived a life of quiet devotion to God and others. This was her life’s work; this was her great contribution and even now, it was bearing fruit in the lives of those who would carry forth her legacy from this place.
God loses nothing. He wastes no effort, no labor, no tear. Not one moment of our lives. We who honored Minnie that day were reminded, by her example, to be steadfast, consistent, and abounding in God’s work.
He labor in the Lord was not in vain; nor is yours.
3I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 7It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. – Philippians 1:3-7
We return to Philippians 1 today and note that Paul’s attitude of gratitude is spilling over into his prayer life. He prays for his friends joyfully, regularly, and confidently. Every time he thinks of them, he prays for them. Now that is a good pattern. How many times in a day do you think of people? What would it take for you to lift up a simple prayer on their behalf with a joyful and confident heart?
Many of us have control issues. We are most confident when
we call all the shots. But do you have confidence in God for His ability to
“get the job done” in the lives of your fellow believers? – even in your own
absence when you can do nothing or little to promote their growth? That is a
liberating attitude: believing that God cares more about people than we do and
that He is able and willing and to accomplish His ends.
Now God is patient and persistent and He has all the time He
needs to work out His purposes in peoples’ lives. Don’t kid yourself with false
urgency. God is on schedule.
The people we think of as our people are really God’s
people. It does not cause us to love them less, but more. In fact, Paul affirms
that it is right for him to be so affectionate toward and confident in the
believers at Philippi
Philippi. It is right because they have taken a place in his heart and nothing can alter that reality.
How do people get in your heart? It wasn’t that there was a
“love-at-first-sight” experience or good chemistry, or even common interests,
tastes or laughs that bonded these folks. No doubt they all shared meals, funny
stories, and long talks into the wee hours of the morning. But the bond was
deeper and continues to be so among people of God.
It is the bond of a shared life, mission, purpose, and
grace. The Philippians had shared in Paul’s bonds. They, though separated by
the miles, were prayerfully identified with his hardships. That had shared in
his defense of the gospel and labor of love. They had been “joined at the hip”
in the work to which God had called each of them.
Do you deeply long for this kind of fellowship and camaraderie? It is available. In God’s church, all servant/saints drink from the same fountain of grace as we spend and are spent for the sake of the gospel mission. If you want real fellowship where you live in the hearts of your fellow believers and they live in yours, get involved in ministry and mission. Loving fellowship is a four-letter word spelled: W-O-R-K. As we work together, our love, affection, and mutual respect grow. It’s part of God’s hope connection for our lives.
Last night I looked at our assemblage of Vacation Bible School graduates and I thought, "cute kids."
They really were - donned with their cowboy hats, encouraged by an impressive staff of workers, and admired by parents and siblings. By the time it was my turn to fulfill my only responsibility of the entire week, to give a five minute wrap message, they were wiggling beyond their ability to contain themselves.
I had to think fast. What was the first and most important thing I could say at that moment and very quickly? I remembered something that their wiggles brought to the forefront of my mind. I remembered and it spoke to where I have been living with a combination of exhilaration and frustration.
First things first.
My life has been about some pretty major ministry projects these last few weeks - really since early June. As a result, I have gotten far behind in my writing, blogging, and correspondence. I have about a week left in the planned frenzy and then I can settle back into something that somewhat resembles a routine. I will be leaving shortly for the small city of Earlimart to conduct a block party and food distribution. It is the thing of the moment and I am leaning into it. Camp, Vacation Bible School (just being there), and "Feeding Those Who feed Us" projects have dominated my time, energy, and focus.
First things first.
It is not how I want to live my life every week. I am ready for some serious study and writing, some concentrated quiet and some "think time."
Our grandkids will arrive Monday night unless there is some precipitating crisis that necessitates early arrival. It will be 3 and a half days of kid focus with cute kids that I dearly love and they will be the first things on my schedule. I love being around when they wake up in the morning and I enjoy reading our six year old a bedtime story at night. last week, he read one to me and it was full of expression and inflection. Cute kid. First things first.
People often call and open with, "Are you busy?" I chuckle and snort, "Of course I'm busy. I am always busy. Busy is good. What do you want me to be? idle?"
Then I quickly add, "But I always have time for you and I need a break."
At least I think that.
First things first - the moment and the movement of God in the moment.
I have several businesses and they have fallen into neglect. I have a number of serious long term projects and books in the making, but they are on hold. When it comes to a choice between making money and hearing God for my next sermon, I am going to prepare my sermon. I am not complaining. Like Jesus said about the poor, the businesses and projects will always be with us. We must always be working toward our goals and focusing on our vision, but we do so at our own rhythm and we sense the rhythm of God in our lives and go with his flow putting first things first.
Cute Kids! What is that all about and how does that relate?
As I looked over the hats of those kids last night and thought those two words, a story from the life of Jesus came bouncing into my consciousness. He was teaching, probably a well considered, but spontaneous lesson on living when the children of the villages started jumping in his lap, pleading for tickles, and giggling over the questions of the grown up seekers. Jesus may have appeared to be distracted, but he went on teaching as he played with the children. They were no doubt yanking on His beard, asking Him silly questions, and vying for His attention - which He gave them, eventually turning all His focus to them.
They saw things in Jesus that the grownups failed to see. The adults reveled in intellectual discourse. The children had come to a grace party.
At least that is the way I see it playing out until the disciples decided that someone had to do something and they started breaking up the party.
After all, the Master had important things to do, vital lessons to teach, and adults upon whom to focus. Besides all of that, it was beneath the dignity of the rabbi to be tormented by little kids. Sure they were cute kids, but first things first.
First things first indeed.
The problem was that the disciples had not yet learned what things came first, but they were about to be taught.
FIRST - Cute Kids Are the Core of the Kingdom!
"Don't stop them! Let them come to me!" Jesus demanded, "This is what my Kingdom is all about. They are what constitute the Kingdom of God. If you want to be part of my Kingdom, you must become like them!"
Yes, they are cute, but they are also CORE.
Yes, they are kids, but they are also KINGDOM kids.
They are CUTE because they are:
They are CORE because of some qualities that they alone can teach us, which reside in us in some sort of repressed state waiting be be released by grace:
- Curious about the mysteries of life, including the vast and wonderful mysteries of God.
- Open to what is fresh, new, awesome, and undiscovered - open to God.
- Responsive to God's love, grace, and "tickles," whereby He directs us into new adventures and calls us to grow beyond who and what we are now.
- Energized by expectancy and expressive of the love and wonder that they experience as they discover God in new ways.
This is the stuff of the kingdom, the cute part and the core part. Our calling is to live on tiptoe, to welcome interruptions, and to go with God's flow. If that means that we sometimes feel out of control and off-course, so be it. It comes with the call and it calls forth the kid in all of us.
To those who are so gracious, faithful, and kind in reading my small offerings, I apologize for my absence, but I will soon be back here at the Dream Factory. For now, I've just been putting some first things first.
The only thing that is consistently predictable in the universe is the consistent persistence of chaos...
And in that, we behold the emergence of divine order at a magnitude that stretches our minds ...
Beyond their capacity. - Tom Sims
Sometimes in life, business, and ministry, you encounter people, situations, and attitudes that make your blood boil. Your visceral reaction is to stomp the living daylights out of that raunchy attitude, express your indignation over the unjust situation, and put that person causing you difficulties in his or her place.
Quick, harsh words will do the trick and it will be all over.
Will they? Will it be over?
What do you want? What do you really want?
Do you want your check cashed, your order filled, or your question answered? Or do you want a fleeting moment of carnal pleasure watching someone else suffer discomfort and deflation of ego?
Do you want the problem solved or do you prefer to escalate it to the next level?
Do you want the relationship mended or maimed?
Do you prefer to make an enemy or a friend or client?
Do you want to create a bad memory or a pleasant one?
Do you wish to be destructive or productive?
Do you even like yourself enough to do what is in your own best interest?
Self foot shooting is a national sport among those who would rather bath in the sulfur baths of self-justification and indignation than back up, back off, and win.
Proverbs 15:1 says, "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger."
What is your goal here? Is it the brick wall of wrath that is more like swimming against a current than going with the flow? Is it escalating anger that gets you no where? Do you want to make your adversary angrier or would you prefer to make him or her a partner in reaching your goals?
It is really up to you, but harsh words and unbridled anger will never be your friends on the road to success. They form an attitude that, for many, is the one roadblock to personal progress. Those who possess it find endless excuses for not succeeding and they all involve someone or something that has gotten in their way and impeded them when, in fact, it is this attitude that has been in their way all along.
So, ask yourself and be honest, "What do i really want out of this?"
Once you know, adjust your attitude, soften your response, and go for it!
Tonight as you prepare to rest, just be.
Being is what you were meant for, made for, and are maturing into.
You are, after all a being, human and developing.
Be yourself. Be REAL - Responsible, Evolving, Authentic, and Loving.
Be what you are becoming as in what you will COME to BE (BE -COME). Your future is as real as your past and present. There are just more obvious unknowns.
Be strong, courageous, honest, and full of wonder.
And since it is Saturday night ... Be-HAVE Be-CAUSE there is a new day tomorrow and we need you on the team.
See you in church.
One of the fastest growing shopping centers on the planet is available to many people by taking a few short steps in the pajamas, sitting down at their computers, and logging on to the Internet. More and more people are shopping online for everything from tires to college education, from hardware to nutritional products, and even for groceries. That is right! Groceries. look at this to prove it:
So, why do people shop online? There are several reasons that pop out at me immediately:
1) Convenience. You really can shop in your pajamas. There is no travel, no loading and unloading from the car, and no hassles. A few clicks and you are done.
2) Reduced temptation for impulse buying. It really is a more considered shopping environment. You do not tend to be tricked into getting what you do not need because it smells good and looks good.
3) Bargains. Because there is more direct distribution, you can often get better quality at better prices.
4) Savings in the cost of gasoline and wear and tear on your car.
5) Wider selection. you don't have to drive from store to store, just surf a little for the best prices and selection.
6) Time savings. You are busy and online shopping is quicker.
7) Fun. it really is fun to shop online.
There are other good reasons for online shopping, but these should be enough.
With so many people moving to online malls, there is a great opportunity for online entrepreneurs to get involved in any number of businesses that transact commerce over the Internet. These eliminate the need to prepare invoices, collect debts, and even take orders. It is all automated. It is a win for the consumer and it is a win for the merchant.
Win - Win.
Proverbs 14:22 contrasts the plots of evil with the plans of goodness:
Do not those who plot evil go stray?
But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness. (New International Version)
Realistically, there is not much difference between a plot and a plan, but in this case there is a vast difference and it is in the adjectives. Good and evil are eternal opposites and their contrast is enough to make the plotting of sinister things dark and ugly. Such plotting may be thorough, logical, and brilliant in its intricate design, but it leads the plotter and all of his followers astray.
Not every proposal that comes across your desk is worth the investment of your time, energy, and good name. Examine it. Know who it is that is originating it and what motivations have brought it as far as your attention. Even you can be led astray if the story is good enough.
On the other hand, there are people with grand and noble motives and a desire to do good and live with integrity. These folks also plan and they do so carefully. They may be clever and detailed as well. But they are different. They lead to love and faithfulness for they are rooted in these qualities.
Proposals of such a sort are worthy of your consideration. You may not choose all of them, but you can safely consider them .
By their fruits you shall know them." - Jesus
Here is a good article for people toying with the idea of developing a home based business from AllBusiness.Com and Yahoo Finance. Look it up as The Top 25 Home-Based Business Ideas first published April 11.
Of those listed, several might be of interest to network marketers or those who market primarily over the Internet. All of them have some overlap, but I will highlight a few that were mentioned in the article.
# 1. Personal trainer. If you are marketing health and wellness products, energy drinks, or vitamins, one of your best resources is the army of personal trainers who exercise great influence over highly motivated clients several times a week. Recruit these folks as distributors and third party their sales for them. Be sure to find a reputable company for which to distribute quality products.
# 3. Tutoring. There are several tutoring companies that are headquartered online. Using SKYPE you can tutor remotely all over the world.
# 4. Business coaching and # 5 Consulting. Network marketing is an industry that is built on the concept of everyone having a coach/mentor with the "system" as the support and curriculum. In network marketing, your coach comes with the package and this is a tremendous selling point as you recruit people. They will have the opportunity to learn from successful winners in the industry.
10. Desktop publishing. This is one business that can be developed remotely over the Internet. Begin to develop some templates that will enable you to customize clients' work while expediting your own assignment.
# 16. Gift baskets and # 17. Wedding planner. I am no longer an IBO with Quixtar, but they have a wonderful specialty business that, until recently, was called "The Gift Incentive Program." This is a wonderful, lucrative, and attractive product that includes many specialty items ideal for weddings and gift baskets as well as so many other applications.
# 18. Personal shopper. This is an ideal fit for Quixtar IBOs as well as people who have developed a sophisticated index/catalog of affiliate shops. You can shop from your own stores for the best bargain and right fit for your clients.
There are other good suggestions in the article as well as some excellent opportunities not mentioned. Read it and learn. Then come back for some other recommendations for profitable, turn-key, home-based businesses with built-in coaching and support.
See also: Income Opportunities
- Tom Sims, The Dream Factory
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Projection often requires rejection. If I take up one project, let me interject for conjecture sake, I must reject another, at least for a juncture of time.
If I inject, into my schedule a new project, something is ejected from the slot where I have placed the new variable.
What I am saying is that I am involved in something out of the ordinary and temporary and it causes me to reevaluate my schedule and put other things on hold - like being prolific and terrific in my blogging.
I never was very good with balances.
But I am getting better and things are coming together.
The key for me is not to let go of the momentum created by progress while at the same time, relaxing in the Spirit and rejecting the notion that I ought to play God, even with the unknowns in my own personal schedule.
I have a project here and another there and one is calling at the moment but there are several that are consistently active no matter what else is happening. Whatever I am doing, the REASON I was born dominates my driving and striving toward the big prize for which i press on.
So, when one of you is encouraged or blessed and I find out, there is a moment of suspended animation where everything stops to celebrate. You and your success become the primary project in that moment and I am energized for the piddly little tasks on my desk that so predictably overwhelm me.
That core calling of my life is the one thing that cannot be rejected or ejected whatever else is projected.
Forgive my rambling stream of consciousness and find that ONE thing that you are always doing no matter what else you are doing and let your best energy and commitment gather around that core calling. You can do many things in life as long as you are fully consecrated to ONE great thing.
Multiple focus comes out of singular focus. Find it with God's direction and live it.
Can you make a decision right now, without mulling it over, without agonizing, without gathering a stack of research or consulting a room full of advisers? It is a simple decision, perhaps a "no-brainer." It is a decision to live, really live this moment for all it is worth and all it is meant to be. It is a decision to stand up where you are, reach out your hands, and draw them back toward yourself in an embrace of the sacred NOW.
I believe that you can do it, whether physically or symbolically. Do it NOW and then repeat it in the next moment and the next until it becomes a part of the fabric of your day.
All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other until you learn and internalize the pattern of walking a new way of faith and expectancy. In this very moment you will make the crucial choice to live and overcome.
Can you make that decision?
I am cheering for you!
In the interest of some sort of organization, I have posted a separate page of links to articles posted before June 2. CLICK TO READ
A little bird fell to the ground, but it was not harmed. Soon, a larger bird swooped down and picked the little one up, carrying it back to the place where it would try again. After several attempts, the little bird began to fly and then, to soar. You have witnessed a miracle, the kind that happens every day.
The little creature didn't know any better than to keep at it.
Here is an acronym to remind you to SOAR above the circumstances of your life, the babbling murmurs of your critics, and the nagging indictments of your sinister accuser who slivered through the garden and now creeps into your consciousness to keep you earthbound.
- Your circumstances are real, but it is not their purpose or prerogative to determine the course of your life or drive your direction.
- Your critics are real as well, but they don't know what you know and they don't have your heart. They are stuck and would like for you to stay stuck with them.
- Your accuser is Satan and he will do everything he can to demoralize and debilitate you so that you will not achieve your potential or live your God-given call.
You can and must soar above these.
Soar above it all and remember four words today that will launch you from the pad where you have anchored yourself:
S = SUCCESS - Success is movement toward a goal or objective that is worthy of your time, effort, energy, and commitment. It is taking more steps forward than backward. It is seeing the vision and moving resolutely toward it. It is progress. Progress makes us soar. As long as you are moving forward, you will catch a current that moves you more decisively toward success. Psalm 118:25 says, "O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success." You have a powerful ally in your quest for success.
- Pray for it.
- Believe it is possible.
- Celebrate it in increments, small victories and large.
O = OBJECTIVE - Your objective, goal, or vision is that picture of an outcome that dominates, motivates, and even aggravates. it demands your time and attention and gets you up and going in the morning. Paul talked about forgetting everything else except the goal of the prize set before him. He wrote about having a goal of pleasing God, a goal of love, and a goal that is too big for human effort alone. There is an objective on your heart that will cause you to soar if you allow it to. No plane takes off without a destination in mind. What is yours?
There are seven instances of the word, "goal" in the scripture (New International Version):
- Luke 13:32 - He replied, "Go tell that fox, 'I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.'
- 2 Corinthians 5:9 - So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
- Galatians 3:3 - Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
- Philippians 3:12 - [ Pressing on Toward the Goal ] Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
- Philippians 3:14 - I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
- 1 Timothy 1:5 - The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
- 1 Peter 1:9 - for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
- Make it your primary objective to please God. Then seek His vision/dream/goals for your life.
- Keep love at the center of all your objectives - love for God and love for others.
- Make sure your objectives are always greater than your ability to accomplish them without God. Set yourself up so that you must depend upon the Holy Spirit.
A = ACTION - Actions follow attitudes, but they are ultimately indispensable. You must take action to move yourself toward your objectives. Progress depends. on doing something to move yourself along. You cannot measure a good thought or a positive attitude, but you can tell if one is present by the behaviors that result. Do something measurable today, something that is visible and positive and directly related to what you are trying to accomplish. Actions propel you to flight and in flight, you will soar.
- Create a set of action plans.
- Write them down.
- Read them.
- Divide them into incremental tasks.
- Check them off as you do them.
- Reward yourself for actions with a pat on the back.
- Do something every day to move toward your goals even if you don't feel like it - at least something!
R = REJOICE - There is a thrill in flying that makes the heart sing. The heart soars before anything else. Anticipate the thrill of success. Live the wonder of soaring before you leave the ground. Rejoice in the prospects that your future holds. Laugh before you hear the joke; smile before anyone else does; sing before the orchestra receives the downbeat; rejoice for the daybreak while it is still dark. Let your rejoicing precede your reality and help shape that reality.
Rejoicing is more than just a positive attitude. It is a witness of faith in the One who is real even when we cannot see Him working. He is faithful and He is the One for whom we are living, dreaming, and moving toward success. Our soaring is an act of worship toward Him.
Philippians 4:4 says: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Today, you may soar if you believe you can. First, you must be grounded in a purpose that defines your success and move toward it in faith, hope, and commitment. Second, you must define and dedicate yourself to certain objectives that are part of the BIG DREAM for your life that the "Dream Giver" has planted in your heart. Then you must takes positive, daily actions that are calculated to advance those objectives. Finally, and actually,m first. you must rejoice in the unrealized reality of flight. Shout for joy as if the soaring had already begun and you were flying over all of your trials, critics, and accusers.
You are ready to soar!
This is for all to whom it applies. I just jotted it down for my MySpace friends with birthdays and decided to share it:
It’s time to say, “Happy Birthday!”
Happy Birthday to You.
I need to say something new.
I’m glad you were born here
And you’re going somewhere too,
OK! That was corny.
How about …
As you face the anniversary of your birth, I know the mixed emotions that gather around such a day:
The perplexing poles of gratitude and regret,
Pictures in the mind we cannot forget,
Unwritten sonnets, unsung songs,
Unfulfilled wishes, un-righted wrongs.
Tempered and enveloped by words aptly spoken,
Mended hearts which once were broken,
Loves requited, love extended,
Hearts united, truth defended.
All of life is blended in a stew
Of all and everything that comes to you.
Blended and seasoned by all you believe,
Life is all your heart will receive …
By faith, willing, hopeful, and eager.
All that is impressive and all that is meager
Is life, and life is very, very good.
Have a happy, happy birthday. You should.
- Tom Sims
What is that on your heart?
Is it just another attachment,
Or is it part of the whole?
Can it be severed as part?
An incidental detachment ?
Or must it remain as your very soul?
I think it is more than you know
More than you suspect
More than you can part with.
I think it is ebb and flow,
Something you must protect,
That which you must daily start with.
It is - Is it not, your dream?
It is that essence you embrace,
That core of being driving you on.
It is the radiant, pulsating beam
That neither time nor trouble can erase.
It is what keeps you striving when hope's gone..
You are a dreamer, fashioned with purpose.
You are a schemer, designed for greatness.
You are a believer, infused with boundless hoping.
Live your dreams surrounded by the circus,
Under the big top with crowds predicting a fate less
Wonderful than what you know as groundless coping.
Reality is what you dream.
Activated by what you do.
Empowered by who you are.
You are far more than what you seem.
Your reach extends beyond your view.
Do it now and you will go far.
God be with you as you dream and do.
Just a thought to encourage you to embrace your God-given dreams with your God-given resolve, passion, and love and go for it.
I am cheering for you today.
When I was a young man, I used to hear the local "Up With People" choir singing a song that has stuck with me for decades.
It went like this:
"Freedom isn't free. Freedom isn't free.
You've got to pay the price; you've got to sacrifice
For your liberty."
Everything comes with a price. Today we give thanks for those who have paid the price with blood, sweat, tears, words, and years of steady vigilance. Furthermore, we recommit to the principles of liberty and government of, by, and for the people that have made us strong.
There is an ongoing price to pay for freedom and we must pay it or lose the blessing.
God helps us to highly value what we have received and to pass it on to our children as well.
MrLogic on AnswerBag.COm asked an important question: "How do you make the ,so called impossible in your life, possible?" That made me think for a moment:
First, you make a decision and follow it with a commitment.
Then, you devote time to the dream you have to study, plan, and saturate yourself with knowledge.
You make a plan, set goals with deadlines, set mileposts called objectives for each goal and action items for each objective.
You make a daily habit of reviewing your goals (reading them aloud daily) and taking daily actions.
You visit your dream daily.
You surround yourself with can-do people and mentors who encourage you.
You read only positive literature, listen only to positive audios, and watch only positive videos. Feed your dreams with positive thinking and starve out your fears and negative thoughts. Whatever you feed with grow.
Anticipate set-backs, failures, and discouragement and determine to fail forward, learn from your mistakes, and ignore your self-doubts.
Evaluate your progress regularly. Do it alone and with encouraging mentors.
Build a team of people with whom you collaborate and think together. Meet some new person daily.
Stretch yourself every day and celebrate your victories.
YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!
I just want to be very clear in case you don't want to read a sermon this morning from me. This is one. it is not a motivational message or a business focused inspirational tidbit. It is an extraction of principles from the scripture governing our approach to and use of time as Christians.
So, you can ignore it if you like, but I invite you to read along and be encouraged with me.
I will be preaching this in a couple of hours.
Time Principles from Romans 15:23-33
The Apostle Paul gives us a rare glimpse into his understanding of time as he explains in what may seem to be a routine note, to the Romans, his plan for a visit.
What principles of time are you employing in business, ministry, and life? I would like to suggest seven that we can extract from Paul.
Principle # 1
¬“ (from the NIV) Romans 15:23 - But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to see you,”
Here we catch a glimpse of an unspoken concept – that of free time. Free time is time to do the things that your heart desires but your priorities prevent.
For Paul, his missionary work took priority in his schedule. If he could be useful and busy about his mission, that came first. At the same time, he desired to spend his time in certain places with certain people when and if the opportunity presented itself.
That was free time.
What do you desire to do with your free time? It is a legitimate desire. It is a possibility. Make a list and then work to free some time for doing that very thing. Who will you be with? What will it be like? State it as Paul did.
God has given you a big picture dream and vision which drives your life mission, but it does not erase all of the things that you would like to do when you are free to do them. Life is never primarily about vacations, side trips, and lunch breaks, but these things occupy our longings and give us both incentives and diversions.
Let’s get our work done and then play a bit.
Principle # 2
Passing Through Time
“ (from the NIV) Romans 15: 24¬ - I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to visit you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while.”
So often, our free time is the time we grab when we are passing through on our way from somewhere and to somewhere else. It is an entirely valid pursuit to fit things in to the cracks of our lives. If we didn’t, so many things would never get done.
Businesses would not be built.
Hobbies would not be cultivated.
Friendships would not be nurtured.
Books and music would not be enjoyed or even created.
So much of what is good in life happens when we are passing through life. If we do not take advantage of the opportunities along the way, they will be lost.
Paul had two excellent reasons for stopping by Rome along the way. One was to have the Roman believers assist him on his journey. The other was to simply enjoy their company.
Do not discount either motive.
Principle # 4
“ (from the NIV) Romans 15: 25 - Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there. 26 - For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem.”
The primary reason for Paul being on this upcoming journey is service. Specifically, it is service to God’s people in Jerusalem. They were experiencing a time of need. Perhaps it was because, as Barclay suggests, that they had lost their jobs in the industries that supported Temple worship. These were controlled by a small and select group of men who were particularly opposed to the Christian movement.
Having been excluded from the economy of Jerusalem because of their faithfulness to Jesus Christ, they were hungry. Paul saw it as an obligation and an opportunity to help them.
Another group of poor believers in Macedonia and an Achaia had embraced the opportunity and had freely given of themselves and their limited resources. They understood that whatever had been entrusted to them was a stewardship and that the only way to preserve resources is to give them back to God.
So it is with time. Time spent in service is never time wasted, nor is it lost.
What are you doing with your time to serve other people? Is some part of your day spent, each day, in reaching out to others and touching human need? Is your time filled with significance?
Principle # 4
“ (from the NIV) Romans 15:27 - They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews' spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. “
What made this use of Paul’s time and the other believers’ money and obligation?
Fellowship is the reason.
Fellowship is partnership and sharing. Paul reminds the Romans that they have shared the spiritual heritage and benefits of the Jewish people, the legacy of the law, the rich traditions of the God’s hand at work in the history of Israel, and especially, the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
They owe something to the believers in Jerusalem.
Material and spiritual blessings are sometimes interchangeable. They are not equal, but they are in close communication, one with the other.
Likewise, we are a part of each other and owe each other love, respect, fraternal caring, service, and help. God has molded and melded the church from a conglomeration of people groups and backgrounds and has gathered us into one family.
If nothing else, we need to spend time together and to take the time to meet one anothers’ needs.
Principle # 5
“ (from the NIV) Romans 15:28 - So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this fruit, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. “
The opportunity has arisen, in the mind of Paul, to do to things. The primary thing is to go to Spain, the western frontier of his known civilized world, a place bustling with opportunity and influence where some of the most innovative thinking on earth was taking place in Paul’s time.
It was time for the gospel to go to Spain – at least it seemed that way to Paul.
Paul was always looking for opportunities.
The second opportunity was to stop by Rome on his journey – to visit with friends and share the benefits of fellowship.
Opportunities can sometimes be planned and at other times, simply emerge.
Curiously, this opportunity did not materialize, a fact that we will visit in a moment. However, Paul was ready for it and we need to be ready for the opportunities that come our way.
What opportunities might await you this very day and how will you greet them?
Principle # 6
“ (from the NIV) Romans 15:29 - I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.”
Time spent in cultivating friendships in Christ is precious time, blessed and valuable.
We must cherish such time and see it as part of the full blessing of Christ. Isn’t it wonderful that God, in His love, mercy, and wisdom gave us such wonderful comrades on the journey of faith and service?
I have been sitting over a cup of coffee with dear Christian friends, in the midst of a conversation about deep matters or heart and eternal truth and suddenly realized, “The is holy ground.”
There are sanctified moments in our memories, flashes of time, indelibly etched upon our consciousnesses that nurture us at the core of our being.
Are you allowing time for precious moments in your life? Are you making time for those snapshots of seconds, minutes, and hours that give you great strength and encouragement for how you will use the rest of your time in the service of the master?
So often in our businesses and ministries, we do not value the shorter, precious moments that God affords us. We must appreciate them as we anticipate them, as we participate in them, and as we look back upon them.
Principle # 7
“ (from the NIV) Romans 15: 30 - I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. 31 - Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there,”
Perhaps the most neglected time in the day of any busy Christian is prayer time. It is time spent in the struggle preparing for the struggle. It is time when we can identify closely with the challenges that are faced by our brothers and sisters near and far.
The word used for struggle has the same root as that for “agony.”
This call to pray together is rooted in the very person of Jesus Christ whose entire life was about intercession and in the love of the Holy Spirit.
“Pray for me,” Paul suggests, “and you will be part of me.”
When we pray for someone, we join them. We share in their successes as well as their pain and disappointments.
Paul had two pressing and legitimate concerns:
First, he prayed for deliverance from those who were “gunning for him” in Jerusalem. He was a man with a price on his head and he had many enemies. This was such a legitimate request that it may come as no surprise to learn that God answered this prayer in a funny sort of way. When he did make it to Jerusalem, Paul was arrested and spent four years in prison.
The deliverance came in the fact that those became ironically effective years and productive times. Epistles were written. Influence was shared. Lives were changed. Believers were encouraged.
So the second prayer request was of even greater significance. Paul prayed and requested prayer that his ministry would be effective and acceptable.
God allowed something that seemed to be Him ignoring the first request in order to accomplish the second. In fact, God never stopped answering Paul’s prayer for deliverance, but that is a different story.
Time spent in prayer is never wasted.
“ (from the NIV) Romans 15:32 - so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed. 33 - The God of peace be with you all. Amen.”
What Paul looked forward to most was a time of mutual refreshment with the Roman believers. They needed it and he needed it.
While it would not happen the way he predicted, he relished the thought.
In fact, Paul would come to Rome within a few short years – in chains. Yet, he would also come in joy and his presence would bring refreshment and courage to the church there.
He valued, as must we, the will of God and gladly submitted to that will. He associated it with joy and refreshment.
The most refreshing experience of time is to be found in the will of God, doing what He wants us to do, being where He wants us to be, speaking what he wants us to speak, enjoying the company of those He brings into our paths, and exercising our ministry and influence among them.
So, we see that Paul values time and takes the expenditure of time very seriously. You have today – at least for now and you may have tomorrow. What will you do with it?
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