I was supposed to get a delivery yesterday, but the scheduled delivery never happened. The post office marked the reason as “business is closed.” I never knew that I was running a business at my home. If we are, there are no employees, no services provided, and no profits so we are failing miserably. The non-existent business may need to close its doors soon.
I’m assuming that this reasoning was a simple technical glitch or possibly someone wanting to push through their Sunday deliveries. It is possible that someone would assume a business-like order would actually be delivered to a business. By a quick review of the deliveries that often come to my home, one would assume there was a business here. I can understand the confusion.
Today, consider what people would say about you when they look at you. Could they tell that you are a Christian? Would they see some fruit in your life that would point them to Jesus? Do you look like everyone else? Would your actions give them a false assumption? Or is it possible the assumption isn’t false at all? Reflect inward today. Ask God to open your eyes. Are you shining His light? Are you living life on the narrow path? Has your religious routine neglected to impact your heart for Jesus?
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2 [NIV]
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light — for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth — discerning what is pleasing to the Lord. Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret. Everything exposed by the light is made clear, for what makes everything clear is light. Therefore it is said: Get up, sleeper and rise up from the dead, and the Messiah will shine on you. Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk — not as unwise people but as wise — making the most of the time, because the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5:8-16 [HCSB]
A few weeks ago, I bought my daughter some Cross Country spikes as recommended by her coach. As she’s now on the varsity team, I wanted to be sure she was equipped with the equipment that would help her get to the next level. Like her mom, she likes to keep her shoes loose. During her latest run, another runner stepped on the back of her shoe. As a result, her spike flew off. My daughter ended up with only one shoe. I couldn’t imagine running with only one shoe. Even more so, I couldn’t imagine running a few miles without a shoe. Despite the pain, my daughter continued to press forward. She didn’t let another runner disrupt her race. She actually ran faster and more focused. She finished with a personal record. Yes, her foot was a bit sore, but she finished the race and she finished it well.
We are each running a race. The Apostle Paul talks about this race. Remember, we are to run so that we win the race (1 Corinthians 9:24). There are people out there who will step on our shoes. We often think it’s the people who don’t believe that step on our shoes. We make non-believers out to be the enemy. Stop doing that! They are lost people, just like you and I were once lost.
Oftentimes, the reason our race is slowed down is because of the other runners—our brothers and sisters in Christ. The Bible speaks again and again about unity, about harmony with the body of Christ. Jesus Christ is the Head and we all are the body. Yet, we have a terrible time at getting along. We argue over doctrine. We tear each other down, instead of building each other up. We promote our own agenda, even if it means sacrificing what God is doing through the ministry of others. We are divisive. We are judgmental. We live by our opinions and emotions rather than God’s truth. Our human nature leads us off course. We get in the way of what God is doing through others because we want to be control happy.
Today, look at your feet. Are you running the race? Are you running to win? Are you encouraging the other runners, or are you stepping on their shoes? Are you running alongside your brothers and sisters in love, or are you slowing them down as a stumbling block? Live in harmony. “Be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.”
“I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.” – 1 Corinthians 1:10 [NLT]
There are different types of love. Phileo is often looked at as brotherly love. Eros is the sexual kind of love. Agape is the highest form of love, an unconditional love; this is the love that God has for us.
Many of us have a broken understanding of love. Our definition of love has been corrupted by abuse and worldly definitions. Maybe too many Hallmark and Lifetime movies have caused us to cross the line. The truth is we cannot truly love others, until we first grasp the love of God. When we begin to understand His love, and we walk with Him, we begin to grow in love and overflow in love. We then “love each other because He loved us first.”
Today, embrace the love of God. God loves you so much that He sent His one and only Son to pay for your sins so that if you believe in Him, you are given the free gift of eternal life. He loves you so much, He continues to reach out to you. He desires a relationship with you. It is by His example and through the Spirit that we can love others. We love each other because He loved us first.
“We love each other because He loved us first.” -1 John 4:19 [NLT]
I love a good shortcut. It has been a difficult few months as my favorite shortcut has been shut down due to construction. I save 5-10 minutes on my drive with that shortcut. But in life, there are not always shortcuts. You really cannot learn in life if everything is a shortcut.
God desires an investment from us. If we are going to walk with Him, the walk includes turns and rest stops. The walk includes going the long way until we grasp what He is trying to teach us or until we allow Him to chip away at something that isn’t meant to be in our lives.
When God led His people the long way to freedom, it was not to keep His people from the freedom, but to help them grow to truly experience the freedom He had for them. If they went the short way, they would have turned back. They weren’t ready. He led them the long way so they could be ready—so they could experience the best He had for them.
Today, don’t look for the shortcuts to God. Don’t look for shortcuts in life. Appreciate the long road God has you on, because it is the road that will lead you to God’s best for you. Take some time today to thank Him for not letting you alone on the road.
“When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, ‘If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’” – Exodus 13:17 [NLT]