What is your Legacy?

Have you ever thought about the kind of legacy that you are leaving for your family and your faith? Are you setting the proper example for your family to follow? Are you doing things that build up God’s kingdom here on this earth? For me, I always try to set a good example for my children to follow. I am certainly not perfect, but I want my children to notice beneficial Christian behaviors that they can emulate in their lives. I always try to use those moments when I do not act like I should to teach them a better way to handle life’s problems. Ephesians 6:4: Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. As parents we must train our children in the ways of our faith and we must also set good examples daily for them to follow. Our actions certainly speak louder than words.

Do you let words come out of your mouth that tears down others and does harm to your life as a follower of Christ? Are you so full of anger and bitterness and jealously that it consumes you? Do you judge others and condemn them while professing your faith in Christ? Are you kind and compassionate to others, forgiving them just as Christ has also forgiven you? Ephesians 4:31-32: Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. I want my children and family to focus on living a life that is lived for Christ. If we are trying to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world then we have no time for hate and anger towards others.

I am striving to instruct my children to put their faith and trust in things that are of eternal value instead of the things that the world values. The things of this world will certainly pass away, but the things that are eternal will last forever. Matthew 6:33: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. I want my children to place their trust and faith in God first and foremost and I try to model that for them each day that I live. Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

Deuteronomy 6:6-9: These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. We must always take the time to talk to and teach our children about our faith. Eating together as a family, praying and talking about our walk of faith can have a lasting impact on the faith development of our children. If we model that constantly, and teach our children the concepts of our faith and how to live a godly life, then they will pass that along to their children. Joshua 24:15: But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, calls us as his followers to be a “light” in the world. Matthew 5:14-15: You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In my walk as a follower of Christ, I try every day to let my “light” shine so that my actions, my words, and my behavior reflects the “light” that we are to hold forth as disciples of the risen Christ. That is the legacy that I want to leave behind for my family, my friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ, and also for those that do not know the love, mercy and forgiveness that only Christ can offer. What kind of legacy will you leave behind?

God’s Timing

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-11: There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2     a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3     a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

4     a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

6     a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7     a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8     a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.

9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.[1]

I have been thinking about the concept of “time” lately and how impatient we can be for time to “hurry up” and pass. Of course as we get older, most of us want time to slow down. We realize that there are many things that we have not yet accomplished and we yearn for additional time to finish them. Hopefully, as we mature, we begin to enjoy and treasure each moment that we have. We come to appreciate how important and fulfilling time spent with family and loved ones can be. For me it is recognizing the significance of spending time with my children and enjoying each ordinary and special moment that I can.

Mitch Albom is one of my favorite authors and I have just finished reading his thought provoking book, The Timekeeper. The story is about the inventor of the world’s first clock being punished for trying to measure and control God’s greatest gift – time. [2] I would highly recommend this book for anyone who needs to be reminded of the importance of “time” and how to enjoy each moment that God blesses us with.

I have been struggling a great deal with my call to ministry lately. Some ministry opportunities have presented themselves and I have been forced to ask the question “is it time?”  Is it time to start thinking about putting aside my job of almost 24 years and taking a step of faith in what God is calling me to do? I pray daily for that answer to become clearer. And while I continue to pray and wait for God’s timing, I am continually striving to be alert for other ways that God is calling me to serve His kingdom.

My youngest daughter is very active and she is always asking me to go outside and do something with her. She loves sports so we usually go out in the backyard and throw the football or play baseball. I have been doing a lot of reading for a New Testament class that I am taking this semester and my daughter knows that I am always catching up on my reading. I love seeing the look on her face when I stop what I’m doing and go outside to play with her. I hope that as she grows older, she will remember and cherish those special times that we share.

My second oldest daughter also did something very special this week and I am so proud and thankful for her. My aunt, who is 88 years old, made the comment to her that she would like to go to the Georgia Aquarium before she died. A few days after telling my daughter this, her wish came true. My daughter said that she just continued to think about what my aunt had said and she decided that she would take her to the aquarium. As they were touring the aquarium, my daughter would send me photos of their fun time together. They had a great day and my aunt has not stopped talking about what she saw and how special that day was to her. What a great moment in time that was shared by my daughter and my aunt.

There is a time for every season under heaven. God has appointed the time that you were born and he has already appointed the time when you will die. And if you believe in Christ, you are promised an eternity with our Father in heaven.  While we journey on this earth we must make the best use of our time. I hope that this will cause you to pause and think and pray about how you are spending your time upon this earth, the precious gift of time that God has given you.



 

 



[1] http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ecc%203&version=NIV

[2] The Timekeeper, Mitch Albom, 2012, Hyperion Books, New York, New York

Worry or Praise?

Matthew 6:25-27: Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Are you the type of person that tends to worry? Do you spend more time worrying about what could go wrong that you do enjoying the many wonderful blessings in life. Well, if you do, you are certainly not alone. All of us worry about certain things and we all worry to varying degrees. And many times we are inclined to worry about things that we have little or no control over. Jesus tells us in this passage from Matthew that worry will not “add a single hour to your life.” Modern medicine can certainly confirm that.

I’m the type of person who tends to worry.  And like most people, I usually worry about things that I have little control over.  As a parent, I naturally worry about my children at times but I am absolutely confident that they are also God’s children. So at the beginning of each day, I pray for each of them and ask God to watch over them that day. Through prayer, I am able to give that worry over to God. 1 Peter 5:7: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

I am convinced that the evil one whispers thoughts of doubt and worry in our minds in order to prevent us from being all that God has called us to be. Yesterday, I enjoyed preaching at a church that is looking for a pastor. This church is about an hour and twenty minutes from my home. The service went well and the people were wonderful. They were warm and welcoming and I really felt like this was a place where I could serve God well. But on the drive home, worry and doubt began to creep into my mind. I began to worry about how “I” could make this work if called to this church. After a restless night, I woke up this morning realizing that if God is at work in this situation, everything will work out. There is no need for me to worry. I have turned this worry and anxiety over to God.

When I began to worry I turn to several scripture passages that help me to get in the right frame of mind. Psalms 100:4: Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalms 139:14: I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Philippians 4:4-6: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 1 Thessalonians 5:18: give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Jesus ends the teaching on worry in Matthew chapter six by saying, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6: 33-34).

Give your worry over to God and let Him care for you and lead you into a more fulfilling life, free from worry and doubt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Citizens of Heaven

Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:17-21

“Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live accordingly to the pattern we gave you.  For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame.  Their mind is set on earthly things.  But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

This coming Sunday, I will be preaching on this passage from Philippians. I will be preaching at a church that I have never been to and I always like to use this sermon on “Citizens of Heaven” when going to an unfamiliar place. It is really my favorite and best sermon and I don’t get to use it as often as I would like. So I hope that the congregation that I will deliver this message to on Sunday will be blessed and encouraged by its meaning.

Paul in his letter to the Philippians, called the Christians at Philippi, ‘citizens of heaven’.  Philippi was a prosperous Roman colony and so the citizens of Philippi were also Roman citizens.  But Paul wanted these early Christians to realize that they were first and foremost – citizens of an even greater land – he wanted them to know that they were citizens of heaven.

My grandfather, Cleve Simmons, was a deacon in his church, he was a farmer, and he was a good Christian man.  I spent a lot of time with him as I was growing up, and he always had many stories about his life to share with me.  Although I didn’t realize it at the time, these stories taught me many valuable life lessons that help to guide me even today.  My grandfather was wise in the way that you should live your life in order to please God.

He had so much wisdom that he would pass on to me throughout my teen years.  He believed and had a deep faith in God, and he did not doubt for a second, that God was with him each and every day of his life. He believed in treating other people fairly, helping out those in need, and loving his neighbors as well as his family.  That was the kind of life that he tried to live out in his small farming community in Banks County.

My grandfather lived all of his 89 years in his beloved Banks County.  In fact, he rarely traveled outside of the state of Georgia.  Whenever I would ask him to take a day trip with us to Atlanta or to go on a short vacation with us he would always answer me the same way, he would say, “Son – I haven’t lost anything there – so there’s no need for me to go.”  He was a citizen of Banks County and the United States and he was proud of that.  But more importantly, he knew that he was a citizen of another place, a place that he couldn’t see but he knew that it existed.  He was also a citizen of heaven and that was one journey that he looked forward to.

He and I talked a lot about heaven.  He would tell me what he imagined heaven to be like and how glad he would be to see his family and friends that had gone on before him. He was dedicated to living a good Christian life while here on this earth and showing kindness and offering help to those less fortunate. He attempted to live out his life here on earth as a citizen of heaven.

The book of Hebrews tells us, “Here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come.” It is that promise of a future home in heaven that should help us to become better people here on this earth.

I was with my grandfather on the night that he passed away and left this earth. He would be conscious one minute and then he would drift out on us the next.

When I walked into his hospital room that night, he opened his eyes and said “Hey son, it’s good to see you.”  He would continue to be in this world for a few minutes and then he would have visions of heaven which he would describe out loud to those of us present.  I knew that he was about to experience that beautiful heaven that he and I had so often talked about and wondered about.

He saw his brothers and he called them by name.  And then he drifted out on us again.   I have often wondered about his arrival in heaven and who was there to greet him among his family that had gone on before him.  I often wonder who was in his welcoming committee in heaven.

His last words to me were, “Son, it’s good to see you”, and I imagine that when he arrived in heaven he was also told, “Son, it’s good to see you, welcome home to the place that I have prepared for you, for eternity.

I can’t wait to tell the story of my grandfather, and how to live as a citizen of heaven, to a different audience of believers this Sunday!

 

 

God is With You

Psalm 139: 1-4: O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.

When I am feeling distance from God, I often go to Psalm 139  in order to draw closer to God. Here in Psalm 139, we are given the promise and the assurance that God is with us. He is there when we wake up each morning and He is still there when we fall asleep at night. Knowing that I have that intimate connection with God helps me to draw closer to Him. It helps me to realize that God is there, He continues to know who I am and He watches over every detail of my life.

This psalm of David is a request for God to examine the heart and even the soul. David is declaring his loyalty to God and is aware that God knows every thought that he has. God even knows what words he will speak before they are formed on his tongue.

Knowing that God perceives our every thought and has knowledge of what lies deep in our hearts can be concerning to most of us. We hold grudges, we judge others, we harbor hate, and we want God to bless us but not necessarily someone that we don’t like.  This psalm tells us that we can’t hide these thoughts from God because God’s presence is everywhere. God is present in the heavens, the depths of the sea, and all across this world that we live in. God knows what we are thinking at this very moment, as He “searches” our hearts.

Psalm 139: 13-17: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

This passage helps me to remember that God continues to “think” about me and about you. The same God that created us continues to watch over us and wants to be intimately involved in each of our lives through His Holy Spirit. Even in those times when we try to run away from God, He is still there and He is thinking about us. I don’t know about you but that gives me hope and encouragement to continue on.

David then concludes this psalm with these last two verses. Psalm 139: 23-24: Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

David is asking God to examine his heart and to make him aware of anything that he needs to correct. The psalmist is declaring his love and devotion to God, while also acknowledging that he continues to have impure thoughts and motives. He is asking God to search his heart for those thoughts and to forgive him.  He then asks God to guide him to the path that leads to eternal life.

When you are feeling that God is distant or if you think that God has forgotten about you, I encourage you to read Psalm 139. Remember that God created each of us and he made us all in different ways. That same creator God wants to be involved in every detail of our lives. God is asking you to seek Him for relief from life’s daily struggles and worry and anxiety. God is with you and He alone can bring some peace and assurance to your life today.

Hear these words of promise and hope from James 4:8: Come near to God and he will come near to you.

 

 

 

My Daily Walk With God

Colossians 1:9-10 (ESV):  And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

January 2013 marks the two year anniversary of my Daily Walk with God blog. It has been very interesting to see how my blog has grown over this two year period. My initial goal was to write about my personal experiences for family, close friends and fellow believers from my church. My sister-in-law in South Georgia told others in her church about my website and encouraged them to read it also. As it turns out, I have heard from people all across the United States and from many countries around the world. I am constantly amazed at how God uses the circumstances of my life and those around me to speak to people in different parts of the world.

This year I am praying that God will use me and my devotional blog to reach even more people for Christ. I find that there are many believers who just need a little encouragement in their daily walk with God and I am so delighted that I can provide something for them. There are many others who are struggling with life and have found some words of comfort from my writings. For this, I give all honor, praise, and glory to God. I am not smart enough or talented enough to reach people in that way. God has used me and has put His words upon my heart, in order to reach people for Christ, and so God gets all of the glory!

So I hope in 2013, that God will use me in an even more powerful way to reach even more people for Christ. If you know of someone that would enjoy reading my blog, please let them know about it and send them a link to my site. I am also praying that God will help me to become a better writer and through daily prayer will impress upon my heart the words that He wants me to share with you. And I also ask you to pray for me, that God will continue to use me in the way that He has planned.

Thanks again for reading and I pray that God will be with you and those that you love in this new year.

In Christ,

Rev. Darryl Mathis

When God Is Not Silent – The Bible

Hebrews 4:12: For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Last year I wrote a blog post entitled, When God is Silent. That post continues to be the most read entry on my website almost every day. Many people find their way to my website by searching for the phrase, “When God is Silent.” It’s obvious that many people today are struggling with “hearing” from God. In response to that, I am going to attempt to write a series of posts that try to give some insight into how we can hear from God in the year 2013. Today I am going to focus on God’s Word as one way that God chooses to allow us to hear Him.

It has always been God’s will to speak to and communicate with His creation. In the book of Genesis, we find God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, calling out to Adam and Eve. Then in the Gospel of John, we are told that Jesus, the Word, became flesh. And then later in John 16:7, Jesus tells his disciples that he must go away so that the Holy Spirit can come and “guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). The Holy Trinity wants to communicate with all of God’s creation.

One of the many ways that God speaks to us today is through the Bible. The passage from Hebrews tells us that the word of God is “active.” God revealed the word through Jesus and this “living and active” word of God is being used to accomplish God’s purposes in our lives today. God gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit that guides and illumines this “living and active” word of God for us in the present day. In order to have God fully reveal himself to us, we need to spend quality time, reading and meditating upon God’s word.

Joshua is an excellent example of someone who God chose to communicate with and was used by God in a powerful way. We know that Joshua took over after the death of Moses and he was the one chosen to lead God’s people in the Promised Land. Joshua had spent forty years in the desert and he probably knew God’s Law that was given to Moses better than anyone else alive. And what do we find that God told him to do that was necessary for a deeper communication with God? The Lord tells his servant in Joshua 1:7-8: “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

God is impressing upon Joshua that he is to meditate on his word “day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.” God will reveal himself and his plans for our lives through his written word. Through God’s word you can find direction and balance for living out your own life of faith. God can and will use the Holy Spirit to allow you to hear God by meditating on the scripture on a consistent basis. The Holy Spirit will “speak” to our hearts as we spend time reading and meditating upon God’s Holy Word.

One useful tool that I have found to aid me in this process is to use my prayer journal to write down “impressions” that I am given during my time in the word. I often write down things that don’t make complete sense at the time, but days or even weeks later, I go back to that entry and those scripture texts speak to something that I am struggling with that very day. If you are consistently reading and meditating upon God’s word, the Holy Spirit will use that practice to guide you and speak to your heart.

Jack Deere in his book, Surprised by the Voice of God writes, “In order to experience the power of the Scriptures, our attitude and desire to obey them is crucial. Yet the main reason the Bible is ineffective in the lives of so many Christians is that they simply don’t read it. Make up your mind to set aside a regular time every day to meditate in the Scriptures, so you can hear the voice of God and see the glory of the Lord Jesus. When you do, you fill find that the voice of the Son of God is indescribably sweet, and the face of the Lord Jesus, indescribably lovely (Song of Songs 2:14). Anyone who wants to hear God’s voice on a regular basis will have to become intimately acquainted with the written Word of God.”[1]



[1] Surprised by the Voice of God, Jack Deere, Zondervan Publishing House 1996, page 112