By Doug Harrell
Each day of our lives is a new beginning. We get out of bed and prepare to face the day and its rewards and challenges. When I got out of bed about 3:30 this morning the first thing that I saw was my dog Taz lying at the very foot of my bed. Now he has a Serta dog mattress with blankets all at the other end of the room that he is usually on but this morning it was as if he was saying “I want to be close to my master”. Rather than just seeking the comforts, he wanted the closeness! Man, that is the making of a sermon for sure and the making of pure joy in our lives. We need only to heed the message.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33 KJV
The song “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” came into my mind as I thought about this. The song includes these words:
“I am weak but Thou art strong
Jesus keep me from all wrong
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee
Just a closer walk with Thee
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea
Daily walking close to Thee
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be”
The Scriptures tell us that our God is jealous and we cannot serve two masters, a little paraphrase by Harrell here this morning, but that is so true. Our first love needs to be our Lord God Almighty, not things of this world. Get a grip today, draw your mind and soul a little closer to your Master, and feel His presence. Leave the stress and enjoy the restfulness that only a personal relationship with our Lord and Creator can provide!
How do you obtain joy in your life? Are you focused on work and attaining big houses, nice cars, fancy clothes, and a big bank account? We are told in the scriptures that we cannot serve two masters and we cannot serve God and money. We will learn to love one and hate the other.
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Matthew 6:19-21 KJV
God wants us to be contributors to society and to use our talents to the best of our abilities. Just constantly focusing on things on this earth never gives us true happiness. We are told over and over to put the Lord first in our lives, to give freely and joyfully of our riches to our church, and those around us in need. The Lord knows our needs and I do feel that he provides in wonderful ways if we only put Him first.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
Matthew 6:33-34 KJV
Strive today to be a joyful giver. Be willing to give of yourself, your love, your time, and your money to those around you. We often put too much emphasis on the money.
In the twinkling of an eye, we can become a new person. That sounds like a crazy notion and in many cases that is a crazy thought. The truth is that with God all things are possible. I have seen people that have made changes overnight and become different people. It was amazing to watch. I have never felt that I had a complete transformation such as this but wish that I had at times. God works in different ways in each of us, in my case, even though the day I gave my life to the Lord was an emotional day, I still remember the day well. Growth has been a process of years and events, exciting events, and lots of hard knocks along the way. Some days I feel like I have gone backwards rather than forward and I have no doubt that most of you have traveled and are traveling that same road.
“Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”
Ezekiel 36:25-27 KJV
This passage made me really think of what our profession of faith does for us! Being Baptized in the power of the Spirit affects our hearts and minds. A new heart, a new spirit, wow what a blessing! Many of us have had new replacement parts installed in our bodies, new knees, new shoulders, new hips, new lungs, and even new hearts and heart parts, and what a difference it has made in our physical lives. As amazing as medical science is, the changes made in our lives when we come to know Jesus are even greater.
Give thanks today for God’s unlimited love and grace that watches over us. Give thanks that you were washed in the blood. Give thanks for the renewing of your mind and heart, even though that is important, giving of self is even more important. Just focus on putting Jesus first, the rest will fall in line.
In the society of today, where if it feels good just do it, we need to really think about where we are going and what we are doing. Every one of us, if we are honest with ourselves, have sinful thoughts, if not actions. We have earthly desires and lusts that would be frowned upon by our Lord, at least I freely admit that I do! So many preach from the pulpit that God is just a loving God who forgives and forgets our sins and shortcomings. We tend to use God’s Grace as a coverall for our want to do all kinds of things. The Bible is clear that God is a just God. Proverbs states clearly that the fear of God is the beginning of all wisdom. While Grace is sufficient, we must confess our sins and turn our eyes on Jesus, not use Grace as an excuse to live any way we want. We must become a new person in Christ.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
2 Corinthians 5:10 KJV
Be careful what you say and what you do, and be conscious of how you act around your children, as the saying goes, little pitchers have big ears. Strive to set the right example in all that you do. Give thanks that God’s grace is sufficient when you do fall short, but let your faith be shown by your works. Realize the greatest gift you ever received was God’s grace given freely, that that is your ticket into heaven if you truly believe and get on board the train of faith and repentance.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;”
Romans 3:23-25 KJV
Doug Harrell is a lifelong resident of Mitchell County, Owner of Harrell Hill Farms, a member of Bear Creek Baptist Church, and former publisher of Blue Ridge Christian News. You can find him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/doug.harrell.77
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