An interesting commercial caught my attention the other day. It portrayed several shoddy products breaking or failing while the customer was using them. The frustrated people looked totally exasperated with their cheap products. At the end of the commercial the advertisers put on the screen two words: “better matters”. How many times have we tried to save money and bought something that only lasted a very short time? I still remember buying some luggage that didn’t even make it home from the flea market before the cheap metal broke. As we are surrounded by the broken pieces of shoddy workmanship we then realize that better really does matter.
As we are careful to look for the best quality of workmanship in the products we use I wonder if we insist on the best workmanship when it comes to our service to the Lord. I remember an Old Testament passage where God was instructing the Israelites in the construction of the tabernacle. He was giving instructions to His people on what material they were to bring. God told them in Ex. 25:1-4: “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take my offering. And this is the offering which you shall take from them: gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, and goats' hair”. Time after time they were only to bring the best for the Lord. They were to bring the best materials for the Lord’s house and they were to bring the best of the flock for the Lord’s offering. Even the curtains were to be of fine linen.
Are we giving of our best to the Master? Are we offering Him the first of our income, the best of our talents, and the priority of mental, physical and emotional energy? We should never offer our Almighty God leftovers. When it comes to our service to Him, better really does matter.
Another presidential election season is upon us and politics are at the forefront of the news almost on a daily basis. Each of the candidates are asked questions regarding their views on various issues. The public wants to know what political platform they stand upon, they desire to find out what they are all about. Hopefully when the election is over and the smoke clears they will be faithful to live up to what they promised on the campaign trail.
Believers in Christ also have a platform of beliefs that they should not only proudly proclaim but faithfully live. First of all we need to be cross-centered. Paul challenges all of God’s children with his testimony in Gal. 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me”. The cross of Christ is the beginning of our relationship with God. We are to preach the cross, glory in the cross, and take up the cross. Through the cross our sin debt is canceled and our life of faith can be victorious. Followers of Jesus have another platform. We are Spirit-led. God leads His children by the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit. In Gal. 5:16-22 Paul calls us to walk in the Spirit, live in the Spirit, be led by the Spirit and produce the fruit of the Spirit. All of these commands show that the believer is given an inward enabling power to live the Christian life. Christians also are called to be Bible-directed. The scriptures are our compass through the uncharted territory of this world. They are our guidebook to life and our platform for behavior. Finally God’s people are to be praise-filled. When Paul and Silas were imprisoned for their faith they faced their difficulties by singing praises to God at midnight.
God’s people should stand on the platform of being cross-centered, Spirit-led, Bible-directed, and praise-filled. May these realities not be a campaign promise but our daily lifestyle.
I remember when I was the parent of young children that there were certain things you needed to make sure you did not leave behind. If you knew what was good for you, you always made sure you had the little one’s special blanket or their pacifier. Now I have the privilege of being a grandparent. My wife and I took our grandson to McDonalds and enjoyed the time with him. We had hid his pacifier in the McDonalds bag during lunch. When it was time to go we cleaned up and threw away the trash in the garbage. We drove to the splash pad to let our grandson play in the water when panic set in. We realized that we had thrown away that special pacifier. My wife and son hurriedly headed back to McDonalds. They frantically dug through the garbage can with people looking on. They had a “praise the Lord” moment when they recovered the discarded pacifier.
Sometimes we need to lose our pacifiers. There are certain things that we have become dependent on in our lives that we need to be weaned away from. God removed Paul’s health and gave him a thorn in the flesh. Paul learned the vital lesson that God’s grace was sufficient for him (2 Cor. 12:9). God removed the hedge of protection around His servant Job to prove that Job’s faith was not built on the things God gave him but on God Himself. Joseph lost his family, David lost a child, and many in the early church lost their freedom due to imprisonment for the cause of Christ. But God drew them close in dependence upon Him alone.
I wonder if we are substituting other things to give us joy rather than Jesus Christ. Does our self-esteem come from what we own, or what we do? Are we slavishly attached to the pacifiers of our physical appearance, good health, or material possessions? Perhaps it’s time that we grow up a little bit and lose the pacifiers.
For a few years now the golfing world has kept its eyes on Tiger Woods. At one time he was at the top of his game and won so many major tournaments. However he has fallen from that one time greatness. People keep hoping that he will make a comeback. We all love a good comeback story don’t we? Whether it’s in sports or entertainment or even business, somehow we long to identify with those who return to usefulness and even greatness.
I am so glad that our God is the God of second chances. He longs for His children to make comebacks. Jeremiah the prophet displayed the heart of God for His people in Jer. 31:16,17: “Thus says the LORD: Refrain your voice from weeping, And your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says the LORD, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope in your future, says the LORD that your children shall come back to their own border”. All through the Bible we are encouraged by those who have returned from the land of the enemy. I think of Moses who came back from a messy murder. David came back from a moral meltdown to a renewed walk with God. Even Samson found his strength again at the end of his life. The Bible tells us about Jonah who came back from a disobedient departure to preach to the city of Nineveh. In the New Testament we are told about Mark who came back to usefulness after a premature pack up. And of course we remember the story of Peter who came back from a devastating denial. The invitation of Scripture is not just to come to Jesus but also to come back to Jesus.
Have you backslidden in your walk with the Lord? Do you find your heart cold and your feet departing from the path of biblical obedience? Don’t you think you need to come to your senses like the prodigal son and find your way back to the Father? God’s arms are open to His comeback kids.
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation