Published: Monday, 06 August 2018 16:56
Written by Don Goulding
But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice together with all of you. Philippians 2:17 (NETFull)
Looking through earthly lenses, I was made the hero. A congregation of thirty tribal converts in India honored me as a rich foreign pastor who flew all the way from America to set the cornerstone of their new church. They laid a garland of marigolds around my neck and applauded their spiritual patron with devotion.
The same scene viewed with heavenly glasses reveals the real hero. Samuel was a meek evangelist with a warm smile and hunger to serve Jesus. There were many villages within a day’s walk of his home but one burned in his heart, Garepali.
The people of Garepali worshiped tree and river demons. They were illiterate outcastes whose children no school would accept. The name of Jesus had never been spoken in this dry place and the Holy Spirit burdened Samuel to be the first.
“The one true God who created everything became a man named, Jesus, so he could win our trust. Jesus let himself be sacrificed on a cross to take the punishment we deserved for our sins. He wants to forgive you and bring you to eternal life in paradise,” Samuel said.
The village elders decided that Samuel and his God weren’t welcome.
For nine years the Holy Spirit drove Samuel to confront the darkness of Garepali without a single convert. Then one man took interest and accepted Christ as his only God. For another year, Samuel discipled his one convert who finally led another to salvation and then more. They built a church and thatched it with palm leaves.
When the believers could no longer fit inside their worship-hut, they begged for a white pastor to dedicate the cornerstone for a cement-block church. That’s when I showed up, clueless of the history or significance of the work in Garepali, clueless of most everything that really matters in life.
For nine years Samuel returned when his only encouragements were whispers from the Spirit of Jesus. Humans may admire the sacrifices of globetrotting missionaries but heaven sees the real heroes. Before God’s throne in paradise, there is a roar of applause for gentle, faithful Samuel.
Prayer: Saving Jesus, help me quietly pour out my life for you.
Published: Monday, 30 July 2018 16:37
Written by Don Goulding
At the designated time Cain brought some of the fruit of the ground for an offering to the Lord. But Abel brought some of the firstborn of his flock - even the fattest of them. And the Lord was pleased with Abel and his offering, but with Cain and his offering he was not pleased. Genesis 4:3-5 (NETFull)
I fell in love with my second-grade teacher, Ms. Goodrop. She was pretty and kind. She lit up durning show-and-tell as other children exhibited a picture they’d painted or a praying mantis they’d captured.
I so wanted to please Ms. Gooddrop that when she asked if I had anything, I said yes, I wanted to share a poem from the book a classmate read from. There was confusion and embarrassment when the girl handed me the book and I couldn't find a suitable poem. Ms. Goodrop tactfully suggested I come better prepared the next week. The awful feeling of disappointing my pet teacher sticks to me these many years later.
All too often, the heart-sacrifices I bring to God are as hastily prepared as my show-and-tell poem. The Holy Spirit illuminates an area of my character that needs renewal and I easily agree. What actually transpires is that I think briefly about the matter, then move on with nothing truly changed.
When a weakness is exposed, I must get to a quiet place and pray until there is absolute surrender of the stronghold in my heart. Often, multiple sessions are necessary. In fact, it’s a lifelong process but I must not hide behind the idea that I have my whole life to work on it.
Maybe at this time I can only walk halfway to purity. Latter, I will walk half of the remaining distance, then when the Lord gives strength, I’ll walk half again. Eventually the halves become minuscule but I’ll never fully arrive in this life. I’ll always have another half to cover and I can’t ever give up.
Changing who I am is hard work, but then acceptable sacrifices always are. It’s the only way to shamelessly hold up my heart for show-and-tell when we all stand before God’s throne.
Prayer: Patient Jesus, help me make honest offerings of my heart.
Published: Monday, 23 July 2018 16:48
Written by Don Goulding
He made the large basin of bronze and its pedestal of bronze from the mirrors of the women who served at the entrance of the tent of meeting. Exodus 38:8 (NETFull)
“You there, stop. Moses said no more donations,” a tribal leader shouted at his people.
A mound of gold earrings and jewelry stood at the temple site and the people were restrained from giving more. It was a high point in Israel’s devotion. They were caught in a wave of revival and on the crest were the godly women who served as temple concierges. They melted their bronze mirrors to make the basin used for washing in front of the altar. Their hearts were redirected from self-worship to cleansing before God.
Those who spend a lot of time before the mirror miss the point of life. So I asked the Lord to show me what mirrors I have in my heart, where I am more focused on me than on him. A few things surfaced.
I worry about how to make what comes next in my life pleasant. The days I have remaining should be about honoring Jesus, not about staring into my comfort. So that’s a mirror.
Then there are the cravings of my old nature—over-indulgence, distraction, laziness. Surely those are mirrors of self-interest.
Finally there is my work. To the extent that I make my vocation about what I do instead of about what God does through me, it’s another mirror.
To melt these reflectors of vanity I have to do what the women at the temple did. As I redirect into praise of the Holy One—lying facedown, pressing my adoration heavenward—flames melt my concerns about self. Homage generates heat that recasts the object of my devotion into the washbasin of Christ.
Prayer: Beautiful God, melt these mirrors into worship of you.