THE PAINT JOB
Recently a supervisor told me of a conversation he had some time ago with a painter. The painter questioned the importance of his job as a painter. He did not question the importance of the job of repairing the assembly (to be painted), but he did not feel the outside appearance was important because it did not affect the performance of the product. The supervisor informed him that not only is quality very important, but the appearance of quality is very important.
Jesus said in the book of Luke, chapter 6, verse 45:
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (NKJV)
And in the book of Matthew, chapter 7, verse 20:
Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (NKJV)
Just like with the product being repaired and sold, the primary importance is on the inner quality, but if the outer appearance is of poor quality it is a clear sign the inner quality is also poor.
The book of Galatians, chapter 5, verse 22:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…
Our Father, You are majestic in Your holiness, for Your justice is sure.
You are awesome in Your wonder, for Your ways are perfect.
You are glorious in Your grace, for you offered Your only Son.
You are tender in Your mercy, for You offer eternal life.
Help us to live in a way pleasing to You.
Help us to return kindness to the unkind, patience to the impatient, peace to the troubled, love to the hateful,
And so reflect Your image, that others might see our works and glorify You, our Father in Heaven, for the sake of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus. Amen.
Ó 2002 C. E. Briggs
Last month we saw the importance of a good paint job. If the outside looks bad, the product is probably bad inside. If the outside looks good, we imagine the inside will look good. But there is another side to the coin. How many times have we seen a competitor with a great looking product, only to find out the product is defective and not usable? Someone takes an untested product, and blindly slaps a little paint on it and calls it good.
Jesus encountered many people called scribes and Pharisees that were like this concerning their souls, and He bluntly told them:
… you are like whitewashed tombs, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. (Mt 23:27)
In other words, “Boys, the paint job is real good, but the inside will not pass inspection”. These guys were what high-schoolers would call the “Proud Crowd”! They did a lot of religious things so they would look holy, but their hearts were left dark and unchanged, and the Lord Jesus was not going to play games with them. The Bible says God is perfectly holy and perfectly just, and it says we are not.
But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isa 64:6)
So Jesus invited them to come to God through faith in Him, and their sins would be forgiven and their hearts would be cleansed. The inside would be changed and then the outer religious things would begin to happen naturally.
…you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. (Lu 11:42)
Let’s not put the cart before the horse. Come to Jesus. Ask him to do what you cannot do: forgive your sins and cover you with His righteousness.
Prayer: Our Father in Heaven, we come to You in faith with an empty spirit. We thank you for the mercy shown by sending Your Son to stand in our place and receive the justice that we deserve. All the religions of mankind could never think of such a thing. Only a loving God could condescend from Heaven to earth to put on a robe of flesh, to suffer, to die, and to be raised from the dead, to rescue us from eternal separation from His perfect love. Thank you, Jesus for being our Lord and our Savior. Amen.
God bless you all this Easter as you celebrate the resurrection of our Blessed Savior!
Ó 2002 C. E. Briggs
For nearly twenty years I have been climbing these stairs, several times a day. I reach the top and a quick u-turn to the left leaves a long hallway for me to hike to the room where I have served my employer for two decades. The stairs haven’t changed, but I have. My quadriceps struggle more, and the rest of my body sympathizes with them more, every year. The stairs are unique in three ways: they are steep, narrow, and the heights of the steps are inconsistent. Some steps are higher than other steps. This causes more stumbles than the average stairway. People tend to adjust easily to consistency, but it is much harder to adjust to inconsistency. One step requires little effort, the next, a much different effort. Let the mind wander for a second, as I climb the narrow stairway, and the whole office will audibly witness the scope of the calamity. It is very noisy and usually very painful. The damaged pride (and sometimes damaged body) will take some effort to shake off.
It occurred to me that we in the Kingdom of God should learn to be consistent in our obedience to God. New converts follow us, listen and learn from us, depend on our example, and depend on our counsel. Certainly it is our goal, as we teach, counsel, and guide, to point “little ones” in the faith to their Savior; to help them know Christ better each day. May we never cause them to stumble because of an inconsistent commitment to Christ Jesus.
John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (Jn 3:30) As we lead others with words and examples, let us remember, our ministry is only successful if it accurately shows others the ministry of Christ Jesus. He is the Great Servant. While He tells us in Mark 1:38 why He came, “to preach”, we see many other manifestations of His compassion. He fed thousands, spiritually and physically. He healed, delivered, and revived beyond what any quantity of books could contain (Jn 21:25). He washed feet, He spent sleepless nights praying for Peter and you and me, He cancelled vacation time and called off retreats to meet the spiritual needs of the desperately hungry and thirsty, and the list goes on. HE HAD (and has) POWER TO SERVE.
Do you have power to serve? Consistently? Do you have power to give? Consistently? Jesus battled at Gethsemane. Why? You. Me. He served, consistently. He was obedient to the Father Who sent Him. “Let this mind be in you…” (Ph 2:5). We connect the receiving of power with the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Ac 1:8). Have you been baptized with the Holy Spirit? You have? Then praise God, you have received the power to serve and you have received the power of consistency! You have taken up your cross. While you still may struggle at times with selfish desire, it is that very struggle that tells you, you are not following yourself, you are following the Master. Don’t worry; He will insure the burden is light. Jesus knows your load limit and He will insure that limit is never exceeded. Pray for the power to serve. You will find the Father to be liberal with His gifts.
Last night a cold front came through our neighborhood. This morning as I started the car, I noticed in the darkness, a heavy frost. Later, I had lunch outside, next to a garden in the middle of a concrete jungle in metro America. The flowers were beautiful, a vast array of colors. These flowers were not seasonal. They are what we call perennials. Some flowers come and go, thrive and then fade and then thrive, only to fade again. Other flowers (the perennials) are likely to show their beauty all year round, despite the frost, despite the snow, despite the ice, despite the storms and hardships.
Be consistent and prayerful; be a “perennial”, and you will not be “the step that is tripped on”. God bless you.
Ó 2001 C. E. Briggs
Last month we went to the movies and found that Spiderman allowed a small window into the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This “window” was the Lord’s Prayer. We looked briefly through this window into the mind of God and how He prefers to be approached.
This led me to think about my friends at work. We work together everyday. We talk about our families and share the events of our last weekend, our trips, vacations, etc. We joke, laugh, complain, and argue. We have many of the characteristics of a family, and I would suggest that we are not together by accident. Every negative and every positive, every experience and every difficulty, all come together to expose a community in which we spend nearly a third of our lives. It is not an accident.
You’re probably wondering what this has to do with Lord’s Prayer. Well, I just noticed that it begins with, “Our Father…” and I realize this word “Our” is the gateway to the whole prayer. It did not start with “Father” or “My Father”, but “Our Father”. Jesus began teaching His disciples to pray by grouping all of them (with Him!) into a “family”. Not just any family, but the family of God. He doesn’t say, “Give Me this day, My daily bread…” He says, “Give us this day, our daily bread…”
This really flies in the face of our “ME-centered” culture, in which most are concerned with what “I” can get out of my marriage, what “I” can get out of my employer, what “I” can get out of my country, and yes, even what “I” can get out of God! Instead we should be focusing on what “I” can give. We have all seen people in our lives and even throughout history that professed to be Christians, but revealed attitudes appearing quite different than our impression of Christianity. So, can we know if someone is really a Christian, or not? And if so, how? I would like to leave you with the words of Christ Himself. I hope they help you answer the question.
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35)
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…
So, love other Christians, and love our enemies. Sounds tough, but it really is not. We don’t have to love wrongdoing. I mean we all deserve the wrath of God, but we found God’s mercy through Jesus Christ. So just pray that your enemies might discover the mercy of God.
Our Father in Heaven, when You created Adam, You soon observed, “It is not good that man should be alone…” We are social. You created us that way. You created us to be a team, a community, a family. Dear Lord, help us to accept this reality that is written in our hearts. Make us to be better family members in our homes, better team members in our workplaces, and better servants in our communities, and so reflect Your glory. And may every breath we take acknowledge Your merciful presence through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Ó 2002 C. E. Briggs
One of the most incredible claims Jesus ever made is in the following verse.
If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. (Jn 14:14) ?
I know what you’re thinking. Oh boy! Just what I’ve been waiting for! This is
better than the winning lotto number! I can finally have that new bass boat!
But really folks, I think we all know better than that.
I have raised four children. For the last 2-plus decades, every day has been filled with, “Mom, may I have…” and, “Dad, may I do…”
If my wife and I had answered yes to even half of those requests, we would have been put in prison as the worst parents in the world.
Truth is, if you are a loving parent, the word “no” echoes through the hallways of your house a lot!
So what does Jesus mean when He says,
If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. (Jn 14:14)
Occasionally, I’ll catch a TV preacher giving some “name-it, claim-it, gab-it, grab-it” message. “Want to win the lotto? Just claim it in the name of Jesus,” he essentially says. [And how about some swamp land in Arizona?]
Ok, lets get serious. What is in a name?
The company where I work bears the owner’s name.
There is a benefit from that and a risk. The benefit is that the customer knows that my employer is willing to personally stand behind his products and services with his very reputation. The customer knows this before the salesman ever even opens his mouth.
The risk is that someone will misrepresent his name.
You see his name does not represent letters and syllables. His name represents his complete character, what he stands for, his total plan.
I would suggest “in my name” is synonymous with “in my will.” Even Jesus said, “Not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord’,” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. In the book of Acts the seven sons of Sceva misused the name of Jesus and paid dearly for it.
When a person truly prays in the name of Jesus, that person is surrendered to the will of Jesus, and I can assure you, that person will enjoy eternal results from that prayer.
May God bless you with this and more.
Ó 2002 C. E. Briggs