THINKING ABOUT HEAVEN (2)

His servants will serve him .. .and they will reign for ever.  Revelation 22:3-5 NIV

Heaven is pictured in the Bible as a garden, a city, and a home. All 3 require skill, work and maintenance. Is that why we’re told we’ll serve God in heaven? Service is active, not passive. Seems like heaven will involve lasting accomplishment, unhindered by decay and fatigue, enhanced by unlimited resources. The Bible says we’ll reign with Christ, exercising leadership, making important decisions. (See Lk 19:17-19). That means we’ll set goals, devise plans and

share ideas. Actually, our best workdays on earth are just a foretaste of the joy our work will bring us in heaven. Indeed,

our service to Christ now, will determine our position then. Jobs that depend on aspects of our fallen world probably won’t exist-such as dentists (decay), police officers (crime), funeral directors (death), and many others. But that doesn’t mean we’ll be unemployed. What’s an interest or hobby now, may become our main vocation then. Others however may continue with work similar to what they do now, whether it’s gardeners, engineers, builders, artists, animal trainers, teachers, musicians, scientists, crafts people, or hundreds of other vocations. The difference is, we’ll work without the hindrances of toil, pain, corruption and sin (Rev 21:4-5).

Author Victor Hugo spoke of anticipating his work in heaven: “I haven’t given utterance to the thousandth part of what lies within me. When I go to the grave I can say, ‘my day’s work is done.’ But I cannot say, ‘my life is done.’ My work will

recommence the next morning. The tomb is not a blind alley; it is a thoroughfare. It closes upon the twilight, but it opens

upon dawn.”

From the Best of Word for Today, 2007



GRIT, NOT GLAMOUR!

Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled. 1 Peter 1:13 NIV

Today there seems to be greater emphasis on the glamour of achievement than the grittiness of it. Jamie Clark writes about the grit that’s required in preparing to climb Mount Everest: “In order to get yourself up for the climb, you spend several hours a day walking on a treadmill with a heavy back-pack. You look goofy, you smell. It’s an ugly scene. That’s always true. The road to success is not pretty:’ The winners in life know this and it doesn’t alarm them. They understand the words of Peter, “Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled.” And Paul adds: “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training” (l Co 9:25 NIV). Note the word “strict.” If you’re not strict with yourself you won’t make it.

The prize is great, but the process can be grueling. Gratification and achievement are usually postponed for a long time. The disciplined person doesn’t pursue ways that are likely to make him or her popular. It’s only after the season of discipline is over and the payoff comes, that the world offers applause. The

runner, the wrestler, the swimmer all push their bodies to heightened levels of performance by demanding of themselves longer, faster, and stronger episodes of physical output. They don’t stop because there’s a feeling of fatigue or even pain.

They understand that these are mental barriers that must be overcome. They insist that their bodies behave in accordance with their commitment, not their comfort level. And the same is true of the follower of Christ who responds to a can from heaven to undertake a great task.

From the Best of Word for Today. 2007



THE GYMNASIUM OF THE SOUL (1)

Training yourself for spiritual fitness. 1 Timothy 4:7 NLT

When Dallas Cowboys’ coach, Tom Landry, was asked how to build a winning team he said: “My job is to get men to do what they don’t want to do, in order to achieve what they’ve always wanted to achieve.” What did those football players want to achieve? Victory at the Super Bowl. What did they not want to do? The hard work necessary to get there! Achieving greatness requires discipline-determined, deliberate, daily, definable actions with a clear goal in mind. Paul coached Timothy, saying: “Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness.” Timothy was the Pastor of the Church in Ephesus, a Las Vegas sort of city. It was a busy, rich, sensual place to be a Christian. Paul knew that succeeding there wouldn’t be easy, so he used the Greek term from which we get our word gymnasium. In other words, becoming Christ- like requires a daily workout. So Paul writes, “Training yourself

for spiritual fitness.” Notice two words: (l) Training= which calls for repetitive exercises so that your mind and appropriate muscle groups work together reflexively and automatically. It combines endurance and skill. It’s what turns game-winning abilities into habits. (2) Yourself -Nobody else can do it for you. Look through the telephone directory; you don’t find “Lease-a- Dieter,” or “Rent-a-Runner.” No, it’s up to you! So, why train yourself? To become like Christ! By living life as He lived it, allowing the Holy Spirit to shape you by His disciplines from the inside out, you’ll become more like Him. In other words, spend time each day in the gymnasium of the soul.

From the Best of Word for Today, 2007



BE YOURSELF

I have finished my course. 2 Timothy 4:7

Be yourself. Life’s too short to be anything else. Paul said “I have finished my course.” You can only win if you run on the track God gave you. To run any other kind of race is to lose. Perhaps you remember the movie Catch Me If You Can. It’s based on a true story. Frank Abagnale, Jr. lived a wild and crazy life as a doctor, airline pilot, banker, investor, attorney and celebrity. The irony is, he wasn’t any of those. And even though he deserves an academy award for his portrayal of them, he was a fake, a fraud and a pretender. It all began early in his life when he realized he’d the talent to convince people he was “somebody” through his sheer confidence and acting ability. He began to make money at his game and soon found himself addicted to role playing. Before it was over he’d helped perform surgery in an operating room, conned banks out of thousands of dollars, flown an airplane as a pilot, and gone

places most people only dream of going. The problem was-it was all a show. A few years into it he wanted out. The glamour was gone. He was desperate to come clean. But he had created such a web of deceit that it wasn’t easy. The FBI was onto him, and he ended up spending years in prison. Frank had a great talent, but he wasted it pretending to be someone else. God can only bless you when you’re committed to being what He redeemed and called you to be. To live any other way is a lonely, fearful, unfulfilled life. So, be yourself!

From the Best of Word for Today, 2007



LIMITED BY OUR SENSES

We walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7 NAS

The reason many of us aren’t growing spiritually is because our faith doesn’t reach beyond our sight. Real faith begins where our senses end. When we can see something, we usually don’t feel the need to trust God for it. And since we can’t see very far, living by sight keeps us living small. Think of the African impala, a marvelous animal that can soar 10 feet high and 30 feet out with just one jump. But did you know that you can put that impala in a 3-foot cage with no roof and it will not attempt to escape, even though it has more than enough power to clear the cage. That’s because the impala won’t jump if it cannot see where its feet are going to land. The impala lives by sight, so it’s easy to keep it caged. The same goes for you!

But let’s add an all-important truth here. Some children believe in the Tooth Fairy. The problem with that is, their faith is ineffective because the object of their faith isn’t real. Scriptural faith says, “God, I know that whenever You speak You’re telling the truth, and that I can stake my life on it.” Faith

establishes what we believe about God. Too many of us act like we’ve more confidence in ourselves than we do in Him. If faith is the action by which we lay hold of the power and promises of God, then if our faith is lacking we won’t see the supernatural work of God in our Iives-and we’ll live in the natural with all its limitations.

From the Best of Word for Today, 2007



BE A FRIEND WHO PRAYS

When a believing person prays, great things happen. James 5:16 NCV

Mark records: “Four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t get to Jesus through the crowd, so they dug through the clay roof above his head … they lowered the sick man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, My child, your sins are forgiven” (Mk 2:3-5 NLT). The word “prayer” doesn’t show up once in this paragraph. But look closely and you’ll see it in action; four men lowering their sick friend through the roof into the presence of Jesus. He stops preaching, looks at the man and then announces, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” What stirred Jesus? Mark answers, “Seeing their faith.” The faith of 4 friends triggered Christ’s power on his behalf. Notice, he has no movement, no treatment, no answers, and no hope. But what he does have is friends who know how to lift him into the presence of Christ. The paralytic might be gulping (“don’t drop me!”). The homeowner might be groaning (de-roofing is decidedly antisocial). But Christ? He’s smiling! Their faith stirs His strength. He heals the man. The paralytic leaves the house with a clean soul and strong body. Faithful friends carry those they love in prayer, into God’s presence. And when they do God responds. How? When? The four men didn’t know. And we don’t know either, but we know this:

“When a believing person prays, great things happen.” So be that kind of friend. Go ahead, carry your loved ones into the presence of Jesus, then watch what happens!

From the Best of Word for Today, 2007



IS YOUR GIFT BIGGER THAN YOU?

Oh Lord … who may dwell on your holy hill? He who walks with integrity.  Psalm 15:1-2 NAS

You wouldn’t give your 5-year-old a 12-gauge shotgun or a big Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Shotguns and motorcycles are for adults. You need maturity to handle them. Giving such gifts to your child would endanger them, and everybody else around them. The gifts just don’t fit the person. Perhaps you’re a talented individual. God’s given you some large gifts like the ability to speak well, or organize things, or

create and design. But we sabotage ourselves when our gift becomes bigger than we are. How does this happen? When we begin to lean on the talents God gave us and don’t mature emotionally and spiritually, we ruin our chance to use those talents as God designed them. When our character doesn’t keep up with our talent, we learn to “wing it” through life. We live on the surface but lack real strength underneath. And it shows up when the crisis hits, the storm comes, or we are under pressure. You can’t “wing it” when it comes to character building. The greater the size of your gifts, the more you must dedicate time to developing your character. Eugene Peterson paraphrases the Psalmist in The Message: “God, who gets invited to dinner at your place? How do we get on your guest list? Walk straight, act right, tell the truth. Don’t hurt your friend, don’t blame your neighbor; despise the despicable. Keep your word even when it costs you, make an honest living, never take a bribe. You’ll never get blacklisted if you live like this” (Ps ] 5: 1-5 1M). So, do you live that way’?

From the Best of Word for Today, 2007



THE PRESENCE OF LOVE

How much of what is done within your organization is motivated by love? Who will pray the leader’s prayer? Who will invite the Holy Spirit to lead the way and the day?

Revivalist A. W. Tozer wrote, “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference.” What would we say about our organizations if we knew the Holy Spirit, who is love, was not invited in? Would things be different around the office? Would lives be changed in a meaningful way? Would the business of the organization operate any differently? Would people from outside of the organization think. “Something has changed around here”?

The Holy Spirit’s presence in our organizations should be observable. We demonstrate His leadership in the way we treat one another, how we approach our work, and how we seek God. It is a simple sermon to preach concerning what should be happening within our organizations. If we are led by the Holy Spirit, everyone will notice His presence in how we do what we do. We seek direction from the Holy Spirit in our personal lives. Shouldn’t leaders also seek direction from the Holy Spirit for leading an organization?

When leaders rise from their daily prayers, they should know that they’ve done their best to hear from God. There is no need to worry about what others think or do. The psalmist said, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God” (Ps 20:7). All a leader needs is to follow the Holy Spirit.

From Love Leads, by Dr. Steve Greene, 2017



WHAT ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT?

Paul wrote in his letter to the church at Philippi, “Finally, brothers, what?ever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things” (Phil 4:8).

Leaders often need to help their teams with “right thinking”. When Paul exhorted the Philippians to “think on these things,” his coaching, demonstrated good love-driven leadership. Paul’s list of what to think about included things that are true, honest, lovely, just, of good report, praiseworthy, and virtuous. The apostle’s suggested thinking list is a good guide for a healthy mind-set in the workplace.

My guess is we’ve all been in offices in which one could observe the antonym of every word on Paul’s list. Some workers assume the worst in all cases, and workers are sure to maintain a constant flow of words to describe their gloom and despair.

Love-motivated leaders create an environment for right thinking to stimulate growth. Healthy thinking is a catalyst for high energy and productivity. How often have you seen highly productive negative Nellys” The goal for leaders is to create an atmosphere conducive to an abundance mentality. Believing that God is in control and that His favor will prevail is a learned mentality.

From Love Leads, by Dr. Steve Greene, 2017



TEACH THOSE WHO CAN TEACH OTHERS

The effect we have on others is our greatest currency as leaders. Beginning a work is not enough. Highly effective leaders – love-driven leaders – will nurture a team until it is mature and producing offspring. Love inspired leaders replicate. Paul told his spiritual son Timothy, “Share the things that you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses with faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). It’s not always easy, but leader love doesn’t give up easily.

My wife and I watched a sandhill crane on her nest for several weeks on the golf course we frequent. We drove by on our golf cart at various times. She was always there and ready to pose for my camera. Most of the shots look the same because she didn’t appear to move much. Then the rains came. A band of storms dumped over five inches of rain on the nest in just a few hours.

When we went out to check on our crane, we saw only the egg on the nest. The water from a nearby pond came up high enough to threaten mama crane, and she abandoned her nest. Storms do that to people “Thunder,” “Lightning”, and “Rain” can make us leave a project we’ve spent weeks, months, or years nurturing. Some leaders are simply not willing to die to self for the good of a project or a team in development.

It’s not fair to judge the crane. Her instincts are to survive the day and lay another egg. But what about a leader who walks away when the going gets tough? Sometimes the flesh is week and the storms are strong. Led us, Holy Spirit, to finish the race. Help us hatch our eggs and raise up a generation of powerfully equipped leaders to follow our example. Influence has a generational impact.

From Love Leads, by Dr. Steve Greene, 2017




 

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