A famous preacher visited a nursing home and greeted the people who were very glad to see him. Many recognized him and called him by name. One lady did not, and seemed unimpressed with the man. He smiled at her warmly and asked, “Do you know who I am?” She patted his hand and said, “No, honey, but if you go to the Front Desk, they can tell you who you are.”
I share that story because I want to tell you three things I learned this year in my studies. And though these may be familiar to you, let’s be honest with ourselves: Our memories are not getting stronger with age. We need constant reminders.
Be strong and courageous.
That’s the word I heard God speak to my heart last Jan. 12 as I prepared to preach in a church in Bocachica, Colombia. I knew that was from Joshua 1, so I turned there and read this: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” I was prepared to challenge the men that morning to take the God-given initiative to disciple their children, but at the moment I was having all kinds of doubts and fears. ‘Is this the right message?’ That’s what was whirling around in my mind until God cut through it all with the Sword of the Spirit and said, “Be strong and courageous.” As I pondered that word, I believe He was saying to me, “This is the message that I have been and will be speaking through you to men.” I got up in the strength of that encouragement and preached the message of Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” When I finished the message I gave an invitation to all who wanted to be ‘Ephesians 6 men’ to come forward for a time of prayer. By God’s grace, the front of the church was filled with those who responded.
Power comes from God.
On March 7 this year, we lost power at our house, along with about 50,000 others in Alamance County. I was thankful for a generator that kept the lights and the freezer on for the
60 hours the power was off. But mostly I was thankful for Daisy Pace and her strong encouragement from the Lord. This 7-year-old marched right up to me that Sunday morning, when we were still waiting for power, and said, “Papa said we didn’t lose power. That comes from God. We just lost electricity.” Her wise Papa taught her that, and then she taught it to me.
Pursue the Lord.
Oswald Chambers said, “A life of intimacy with God is characterized by joy.” Not having much joy? Check your closeness to God. Not sure why you don’t feel close to Him? J. Oswald Sanders wrote, “We are at this moment as close to God as we really choose to be. Both Scripture and experience teach that it is we, not God, who determines the degree of intimacy with Him that we enjoy.” The Lord reminded me that the means of grace He has given us to pursue Him include reading the Bible, prayer, and loving the body of Christ in a local church. Most of all, we are to pursue Him the way we first pursued our wives, or our husbands.
I pray these reminders fill you with encouragement as you enter 2015!