“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”
It was a great introductory quote to engage all the Fathers in the room for sure, (I know I was…) He went on to say that we need to be intentional in our own spiritual growth, intentional in our instruction/discipline, and intentional in our affection towards our children. He also said that we need to be “Marked by God’s Word!” Now if you’ve been following our blog, you know we’ve been talking a lot about reading the Bible and pursuing God so it should not be a surprise to any of you that this resonated with me; but it also got me thinking about that statement…“Am I really marked?’” I think that it’s a good thing to step back and do an honest self-evaluation when you are given a challenge like that. I love what our 26th president Theodore Roosevelt said in regards to honest self-evaluation…
Amen? I love that so much!! Not only for the sarcasm but also the truth!! How would things be different if we would stop and take a moment to “think” before we “put our foot in our mouths” and make a mess of things?
In two months I will be required by my company to do a task that I absolutely hate…the dreaded self-evaluation. I know that the purpose is to give my supervisor an understanding of what I believe I have accomplished in the past year but it feels so much like “tooting my own horn.” Now don’t get me wrong, I do avail myself of the opportunity but I attempt to be honest in the evaluation which leads me to the muse for this “Thought for the Day”…
Romans 12:3 (NLT) says…
“Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.”
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”
When I think over my life and of all the mistakes I’ve made, the careless words and foolish choices that could have gotten me in much more than some hot water, it’s hard to believe that I am the same person. There is so much I regret, but that makes me also so grateful for the life that I have as a born again believer in Jesus. I truly am a changed man as 2 Corinthians 5:17 says:
But even after walking with the Lord for the past 18 years, I still find myself saying and doing things I wish I wouldn’t. It reminds me of what the Apostle Paul said in Romans 7:15 (ESV)
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”
That unfortunately is the human condition…we are all sinners and fall short of what God desires for our life, (see Romans 3:23). The key is not to give up chasing after God, even after we fail to the right thing. My wife an expression she always says that we need to “strive for progress, not perfection.” The reality is we can never achieve perfection this side of heaven but if we are always striving for progress, our life will be in an upward curve. Even if we stumble, as long as we pick ourselves up and get back on track pursuing God’s desire for us, we will always be improving. And we need to be very careful not to allow the enemy to get a foothold in our minds that we will never change. Romans 3:24 (ESV) piggybacks on the fact that though we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” with this beautiful truth that we…
Of course this is not a license to sin! Too often people try to play the “Grace card” as a way to justify continuing to sin. That is not what Grace is about! Grace is a gift to overcome sin not to justify it!
Going back to my Pastor’s statement about being “Marked by God’s Word,” I was reading Romans 12:9-21 the other morning from the English Stand Version (ESV) Translation and it had this heading…“Marks of the True Christian.” Check it out, it is a powerful list! To paraphrase, a “True Christian” should be genuine in their love for others…Should hate evil and be on fire to serve the Lord even though they may go through trouble. A “Marked Christian’s” mission should be to live in harmony with everyone regardless of what they may do to us! Verse 21 wraps up “The Mark of a True Christian” with this…
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Not what the typical human response is though huh? I know it’s certainly was not mine until I started walking with God in 1998. Before that, I can testify that was not my attitude at all…I was self-centered, egotistical and lived my life with one objective…it was all about me! If you hurt me that was it, I would cut you out of my life, regardless of your attempts to seek forgiveness…you were dead to me. I never thought about helping others, I just wanted my needs met. But everything has changed since accepting Jesus as my savior. Now I look for opportunities to help others, to be an encouragement and look out for those God brings into my life.
There was a man in the early church that I endeavor to be like which Acts 4:36 (NLT) introduces us to…
“For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus.”
What a name! “A Son of Encouragement!” He is described in greater detail in Acts 11:24 (NLT)…
“Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord.”
That is my prayer, to be “A Son of Encouragement and to be a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith,” that many people will come to the Lord as a result!” You see after all the “evaluation” is done and I realize I can never meet God’s standard of Holiness, I step back and realize despite all my shortcomings and failings, God loves me nonetheless!!!!
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”
In Charles Stanley’s Life Principles Bible, he had this life lesson on this verse …
“Despite the Corinthian’s problems, Paul could see their genuine spiritual gifts, their repentance, and their love for God, and he wanted these things to encourage them to further growth. Likewise, we must always make sure we are maturing in our walks with Him by examining whether or not we are expressing His likeness and character in increasing measure (see also 2 Peter 1:3-8).
“We must always make sure we are maturing in our walks with Him!” It’s a command! But something I have realize and I hope you gleam this as well, I can never meet God’s standard of Holiness, I just need to step back and acknowledge that despite all my shortcomings and failings, God loves me nonetheless!!!! I will close with Acts 15:11 (NLT)…
“We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”
You see there is nothing we can do to make God love us anymore or any less! Matt Redman has this beautiful song called “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” that is a beautiful reminder of how important and loved we are regardless of what we do, nothing is beyond God’s ability to forgive, no matter “how unforgivable” we may feel that it is…It is by the undeserved grace of God that we are saved!
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