Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Right Place at the Right Time

by Tim Howard

Have you ever felt like you just didn’t have enough? I feel it often! I don’t think I have enough time, patience, money, energy and the list could continue.

One reason God allows us to reach moments of need and even desperation is because it reminds us that we are not self-sufficient. We are dependent and our reliance is to ultimately be upon Him. These defining moments are calling us to God.

In the Bible, I Kings chapter 17 records a very moving story that involves a single parent who’s reached a point of desperation. She has so little food in the house that she and her son are planning to eat their last meal together and then die. Due to a severe famine in the land their resources had run out.

It still happens today. According to World Hunger Statistics the total number of children that die every year from hunger is 1.5 million. That’s one death every 3.6 seconds. Maybe that’s why the Bible doesn’t give us her specific name. She represents so many who face similar circumstances.

 Not every story concludes with a ‘happily ever after’ ending but for this woman, it did. Her needs were provided for in a miraculous way, primarily because she was at the ‘right place at the right time.’

She hadn’t planned it. She didn’t have a long-range strategy nor did she comprehend what was about to happen. She was simply doing her best with what she had. 

Have you ever been in the right place at the right time?  When you are; positive things happened! Not because of your shrewd dealings or great intellect but because you happened to be positioned properly at the correct time. Eccl. 9:11 … “The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. NIV

Listen: God is in the business of strategically positioning you and me in the right place at the right time. A sense of destiny is the birthright for those who choose to follow Christ. God is awfully good at getting us where He wants us to go…

But here’s the catch: The right place often seems like the wrong place and the right time often seems like the wrong time!

Is it possible for me to understate the obvious? Being a widow with a dependent child with no food and no resources is typically a bad thing. A really bad thing! Finding yourself in a famine, without food, with a child and no one to help qualifies as a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Few would see this as the right place at the right time.

As it turns out, however, it was the right place and right time for her. I admire this widow because she did what was right to do and not what was easy to do. 

When you reach moments of desperation, it’s easy to forego what’s right and justify your actions on the basis of your need. When you cling to God, however, and follow His directives as this woman did, heaven can come to your aid. 

Could it be that you are right now in the right place at the right time even though it may feel like the wrong place and wrong time?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Standing Alone

by Andrew Cromwell

Almost everyone will find themselves standing alone in the crowd at some time or another. You know the experience. You are sure you are in the “right” on an issue and that there are others who will stand with you when the chips are down. But suddenly you look around and you are the only one standing there!

This is sure to happen to us at some point (and for some of us this happens pretty frequently). The real question is whether we are standing alone for the right reasons! Altogether too often, people call themselves “mavericks” when they are actually just stuck in the past and unwilling to change. Or worse, people stand alone because they are simply too full of pride to go and ask forgiveness for that thing they said or did that they shouldn’t have.

But when you stand alone because of principles like truth, justice and love, you can do so with confidence. For although you might be standing alone, you know you are planted in the right place. If you are mocked, persecuted and maligned, you can be assured you are in good company.  Men and women throughout history have unwaveringly stood for what is right, true and just and they have even given their lives for that cause.

If there is anyone in our history books that experienced this to its fullest, it was a man who was misunderstood by everyone. Those closest to him liked him but just couldn’t buy into the tough parts of his message. Those who were in positions of power rejected him because they saw him as a threat to their institutions. And his own father rejected him at the very moment of his greatest isolation.

And yet because Jesus Christ, the One and only God-man, stood alone, we never have to stand alone. Because He faced rejection from all, we never have to fear ultimate rejection. The Psalms say, “Though father and mother reject me, the Lord will receive me.” Hebrews says, “I [God] will never leave you, I will never forsake you.” And Romans says, “anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

They key to standing alone is standing for the right reasons and standing with the right Person. The idea is not to invite God into your fight; it is to join His fight! If we stand with Him, then we can be assured that we stand secure even if everything and everyone else in the world seems to be against us.

If you don’t have this kind of assurance, then either you have picked the wrong battle or you haven’t picked the right side! Maybe it’s time to do a heart evaluation and make sure that you have given your destiny over to the only Person who can really handle it - Father God.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Checkup Time

by Andrew Cromwell

Everything in our world needs care. Engines that are regularly serviced often run for years without a breakdown. Relationships that are cared for usually stay healthy and vibrant. Houses that are maintained and not neglected require far less attention than those that are ignored for even a short time (think of the state of the vacant foreclosures in your neighborhood). 

All things tend towards breakdown and decay. The second law of thermodynamics states that all systems, unless they have constant energy input, will eventually run down and stop. Beautiful bodies break down, marvelously manicured yards go to seed and even the most state of the art structures slide inexorably toward decrepitude.
This is the reason why we are encouraged to go to the doctor at least once a year. Those that are disciplined submit to this annual poking and prodding so that they can catch problems early and avoid major breakdowns. But those of us that do not often suffer the consequences of years of neglected maintenance. 

Your spiritual life is no different. Without regular maintenance and care, it tends towards disrepair. Perhaps once upon a time you were sensitive to the things of God and your ears were attuned to that which was just and right, but if you are not careful, the busyness of life keeps you from doing the basic maintenance. This is especially easy to do because your spiritual life is largely invisible. It is only seen through your actions and your speech and the state of your heart.  

So we find ourselves putting off those essential activities that would maintain our spiritual flame. We stop talking to God because there is no time. We stop reading His Word because we are too tired. We stop bowing our knee to His soft corrective call. And before we know it, we are far down the road, headed for a breakdown.

Hearts that are neglected have attacks. Homes that are neglected cost you an arm and a leg. Spouses that are neglected will destroy your family and your finances. A neglected spiritual life will cost you your soul.