WHAT TO DO?

In his Christian classic, The Practice of His Presence, Father Lawrence teaches that God is found in the ordinary things of our everyday lives. According to Father Lawrence, we should do everything we do, regardless of whether it is some great endeavor or some menial task, as though we are doing it for Christ and for the glory of God. Such a philosophy of life did not originate with Father Lawrence. It was introduced long ago by the Apostle Paul.

  • “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” (Colossians 3:23)
  • “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Like Father Lawrence, Elizabeth Barrett Browning also understood the Christ of the common place; that is, she too understood that the resurrected Christ is most often found in life’s common things. This explains why she penned the following poem.

Earth’s crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God,

But only he who sees takes off his shoes;

The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.

Don’t be a “blackberry picker.” Don’t go through your ordinary daily life failing to see the resurrected Christ in common things. Instead, take off your shoes, realizing that common places are sacred places when you are aware of Christ’s presence and that ordinary tasks are extraordinarily significant when performed by you for the glory of God.

WHAT TO DO?

Not only can little things lead to ruin, as we saw in yesterday’s devotion, but they can also lead to reward. Our Lord taught that giving a little “cup of cold water” to “little ones” would not go unrewarded by Him (Matthew 10:42). Furthermore, He taught that faithfulness “in a very little” would result in no little reward (Luke 19:17).

A large oak comes from a little acorn. All the music heard in the world today comes from twelve little notes. And all the masterpieces seen in the world today come from six little colors.

You never know what spiritual significance or eternal consequence may come out of your faithfulness to God in small things. Whereas we can count the number of seeds in an apple, only God can count the number of apples in a little seed.

In 1858, a Sunday School teacher named Edward Kimball led a young Boston shoe clerk to Jesus Christ. The young shoe clerk, Dwight L. Moody, became a famous evangelist. In England in 1879, Moody awakened evangelistic zeal in the heart of Fredrick B. Meyer, pastor of a small church. Meyer came to America and while preaching on an American college campus, won a student to Christ named J. Wilbur Chapman. Chapman, while engaged in YMCA work, employed a former baseball player named Billy Sunday to do evangelistic work. Sunday, after becoming a famous evangelist, held a successful revival in Charlotte, North Carolina. Afterward, a group of businessmen were so enthusiastic that they planned another evangelistic campaign, bringing to Charlotte the well-known Jewish evangelist, Mordecai Hamm. During Hamm’s revival in Charlotte, a young man came forward and gave his life to Jesus Christ. The young man’s name was Billy Graham.

All of this came from a Sunday School teacher’s faithfulness to witness to a young man he was burdened for in his Sunday School class. It may have appeared at the time to be a very small thing, but it turned out to be of immense importance. When he went that fateful day long ago to share his faith with a young Boston shoe clerk, Edward Kimball had no idea of how God was about to use him to impact our world for Jesus Christ.

The Bible teaches us that Christ is often found in small and ordinary things rather than in spectacular and extraordinary things! For instance, it was not in the mighty wind, earthquake or fire that the Prophet Elijah found God, but in the still small voice (1 Kings 19:11-13). Likewise, it was not in Jerusalem, the celebrated place, but in Galilee, the common place, where the disciples were told they would find the resurrected Christ (Matthew 28:7).

WHAT TO DO?

As we said at the commencement of this series of devotions, they were instigated by a frequently posed question. Many Christians are asking today, “What are we to do?” In light of the fact that we have entered into the biblically predicted perilous times of the last days, many want to know what they and their families should do.

In this series of devotions, we’ve covered priorities we ought to focus on as we enter into the twilight of time. The list we’ve provided is by no means comprehensive, but the things we’ve listed are critical. While there are other things we should do; none are more important than the things we have enumerated.

With today’s devotion we will begin to conclude our series of devotions. We’ve been looking in our last few devotions at the importance of focusing on small things. We’ve talked about cutting the world down to our size and about living simple lives of devotion to Christ. Now, in conclusion, we want to turn our attention to the importance of being faithful to Christ in small things.

The Bible teaches us not to “despise the day of small things” (Zechariah 4:10). In the midst of the glitz and glitter of this fallen world we are prone to believe that the only significant things are spectacular things and that little things are unimportant things. However, the Bible teaches us that we can ill-afford to overlook the significance of small things.

Little things can lead to ruin. According to the wise King Solomon, it is “the little foxes” that “spoil the vines” (Song of Solomon 2:15). The Apostle Paul warned us that it only takes “a little leaven” to “leaven the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9). The lest little pinch of impurity is enough to pollute the pure.

It only takes a little leak to sink a large ship. A little infection can grow into something lethal. A little spark can start a large forest fire. A little temptation can lead to the ruin of your reputation. A little lustful thought can lead to the ruin of your marriage and home. A little careless word can lead to the ruin of a lifelong friendship. And a little procrastination can lead to the damnation of your immortal soul.

WHAT TO DO?

I heard a pastor tell a story about a visit to North Carolina’s outer banks. He drove onto a ferryboat to visit some of the outer islands. When he did, a big  tall country boy parked his car on the ferry and returned to him his keys. Afterward, the pastor told how a brand new Cadillac pulled onto the ferry. After a man and woman got out, the big tall country boy parked their car on the ferry as well. However, when he returned the keys to the man, the man went into a public tirade against the boy, unmercifully dressing him down for the way he had driven and parked the Cadillac.

The pastor, feeling sorry for the boy, went up to him and apologized for the Cadillac owner’s unwarranted verbal assault. The boy, much to the surprise of the pastor, assured him that the Cadillac owner had neither embarrassed him nor bothered him. When the pastor enquired how this could possibly be true, the boy pointed up to the ferryboat’s wheelhouse. There, at the helm, stood a man.

The man at the wheel was identified by the boy as the owner of the boat. “I work for him,” the boy said. He then went on to explain to the pastor: “Whenever I park a car on the ferry, I look up to him. If he gives me the okay sign afterward, I know it is good. If not, I know he is unsatisfied and I need to park the car again. When I parked the Cadillac, the man above gave me the okay sign, which was all I needed. It doesn’t matter to me what anybody else thinks or says, because I work for the man up there. He is the only one I have to please, because he is the only one I have answer to.”

As long as Christ above gives us the okay sign, we shouldn’t care what others think or say. After all, as Christians, we’re living our lives for Him. He is the only one we have to please, because He is the only one we have to answer to.

WHAT TO DO?

In our last couple of devotions, we turned our attention to how we should focus on small things in these perilous times of the last days. In particularly, we’ve talked about cutting the world down to our size. Today, we’re going to talk about the importance of streamlining and simplifying our lives in these last days.

In 2 Corinthians 11:13, the Apostle Paul wrote about his fear for his fellow- Christians. He feared that “the serpent” would deceive them, as he had subtly deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden, from a life of simple devotion to Christ. If we have not made complication our god, we have at least made it our goal in these fast moving modern-times. Nothing is simple anymore; everything is complicated.

Many Christians today have been deceived by the devil into the adoption of “world responsibility syndrome.” They feel personally responsible for praying for everyone in the world. They feel personally responsible for ministering to everyone in the world. They feel personally responsible for witnessing to everyone in the world. They feel personally responsible for living up to the expectations of everyone in the world.

When it comes to living up to the expectations of others, many contemporary Christians even feel responsible for living up to the non- Christian’s idea of Christianity. In addition, the contemporary church feels it must live up to the unchurched idea of church if it is to ever reach the unchurched. How could the Christian life become more complicated than by the Christian taking on the responsibility of winning the whole world and living up to the whole world’s expectations?

The only advice you need to live the Christian life is found in the last words of Mary, the mother of Jesus, recorded in Scripture. In John 2:5, Mary says to the servants at the wedding in Cana of Galilee, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” All you need to do to live your Christian life is to do what Jesus tells you to do; that is, what the Scripture commands and the Spirit compels and counsels you to do.

You only need to pray for those Jesus tells you to pray for. You only need to minister to those Jesus tells you to minister to. You only need to witness to those Jesus tells you to witness to. And as far as living up to other people’s expectations, the only expectations you need to live up to are Christ’s expectations, since it is to Christ alone that you will ultimately give an account.

WHAT TO DO?

I recently experienced a good example of what we talked about in yesterday’s devotion; namely, cutting the world down to our size. Following a recent sermon I preached against abortion, two women shared stories with me about how they had personally intervened to prevent a threatened abortion in their immediate families. Afterward, these two women shared how they had raised or helped to raise the saved child, who today is living a life that is both honoring to Christ and glorifying to God.

The truth is; neither of these two ladies could have prevented the millions of abortions that have been performed in our world. What they could do and did, however, was step in and prevent an abortion from being performed in their own personal world. Likewise, you and I cannot stop worldwide abortions. What we can do, however, is attempt to save children from abortions in our own personal world, as well as personally do whatever it takes afterward to help raise these saved children into Christian adults who will live Christian lives that are glorifying to God.

Too often today Christians get caught up in some grandiose scheme to change the whole world. Unfortunately, by doing so, we overlook the real potential God has afforded us to personally make some change in the world. We often make the tragic mistake of overlooking the earthlings God could use us to change by straining to see a way to change the whole earth.

In order for the church of Jesus Christ to change the world, each Christian must focus on the little change in the world Christ can use him/her to make. If each Christian did this, then, and only then, could Christ use us all to change the world Himself. On the other hand, as long as we’re trying to do by ourselves what only Christ can do through us, all the world will never be changed.

An old man noticed a small boy walking along the seashore one morning throwing starfish back into the sea. Hundreds of starfish had been washed up on the shore by a storm the night before. The man approached the boy and asked what good he thought he was really doing since there was no way in the world he could possibly save all the starfish that had washed up on the shore. In response, while picking up another starfish and throwing it back into the sea, the boy said, “I just made all the difference in the world to that one right there.”

The question for you to ask yourself is not how you can win the world to Christ. Obviously, you can’t. The question for you to ask yourself is who in your personal world could Christ use you to win to Himself. Stop looking for a way to make a difference in the whole wide world and start looking for people in your daily life for whom Christ could use you to make all the difference in the world.

WHAT TO DO?

We’ve talked about the importance of focusing on spiritual things in these biblically predicted perilous times of the last days. We’ve talked about focusing on our relationship with Christ in the here and now and about focusing on our being rewarded by Christ in the hereafter. Let’s turn our attention now to the importance of focusing on small things.

The Bible predicts an incredible “increase” in “knowledge” at the end of time (Daniel 12:4). Knowledge is increasing today at such a phenomenal speed that it doubles every other year. There is more knowledge posted on the Internet in every 48 hours than was recorded from the beginning of history till the year 2003. Your cellphone not only gives you access to more information than is stored in the Library of Congress, but it also has more computing capacity than the Apollo 13 spacecraft.

In this incredible information age, events occurring on the other side of the world can be communicated to us on our cellphones in an instant. It is as though we hold the whole world in the palm of our hand. As a result, we not only feel enabled to interface with the whole world, but empowered to impact the whole world as well.

Despite the grandiose potential we perceive ourselves to possess in today’s high tech Information Age, the actual sphere of influence for the average person is a small place consisting of a few people. It is pretty much confined to our home, church, workplace, and neighborhood. It is pretty much restricted to our family, friends, and acquaintances.

Rather than taking in the whole world—25,000 miles around—our life really boils down to this place, this time, and the people immediately around us right here and now. It’s important, therefore, that we understand this and cut the world down to our size. Otherwise, we’ll be constantly disappointed by our failure to influence and change the whole world.

WHAT TO DO?

The Christian, according to the Apostle Paul, is to let his or her “moderation be known unto all men,” because “the Lord is at hand.” In light of the fact that “the Lord is at hand”—JESUS IS COMING—why should we get carried away with any of the temporal things of this world?

  • How important will earthy possessions be, if Jesus should come today?
  • How important will earthy pleasures be, if Jesus should come today?
  • How important will earthy positions be, if Jesus should come today?

This world is passing away and we Christians are only passing through it!

Abraham, the Father of the Faith, as well as all the Jewish patriarchs, lived in tents, never settling down in this world. As Hebrews 11:9-10 (ESV) teaches: “By faith [Abraham] went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.”

Christians, like the Father of our Faith, Abraham, are also to see ourselves as mere pilgrims just passing through this world on our way to our eternal home in that “city…whose designer and builder is God.” As the Apostle Peter admonishes in 1 Peter 2:11 (TLB): “Dear brothers, you are only visitors here. Since your real home is in heaven, I beg you to keep away from the evil pleasures of this world; they are not for you, for they fight against your very souls.”

I’m kind of homesick for a country

To which I’ve never been before.

No sad goodbyes will there be spoken

For time won’t matter anymore.

 

I’m looking now, just across the river

To where my faith, shall end in sight.

There’s just a few more days to labor.

Then I will take my heavenly flight.

 

Beulah Land I’m longing for you.

And some day on thee I’ll stand.

There my home shall be eternal.

Beulah Land, sweet Beulah Land.

WHAT TO DO?

Another reason for us to rejoice at suffering injustice at the hands of this fallen world is that it serves as proof positive of our faithfulness to Christ. As Jesus admonishes us in Matthew 5:11-12: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

When it comes to our temporal sufferings for Christ’s sake in this fleeting fallen world, the Apostle Paul teaches us that they are incomparable with the eternal reward waiting on us in Heaven. In 2 Corinthians 4:17, Paul writes, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

When it comes to what Paul perceived as “light” and “momentary afflictions,” he enumerates them for us in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 (NIV).

“I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine l lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches.”

When it comes to the “exceeding and eternal weight of glory” awaiting us in Heaven, Paul describes it for us in 1 Corinthians 2:9. According to the great Apostle, no human eyes have ever seen, no human ears have ever heard, and no man could possibly imagine, even in his wildest imagination, the things that “God has prepared for them that love him.”

In light of all of this, why should we be overly concerned with a little temporal persecution in this world when we have such an unimaginable eternal reward waiting on us in Heaven? Why should we be overly concerned with a little suffering at the hands of man in the here-and-now when we shall spend the hereafter in the presence of our Savior where there are joys for evermore?

WHAT TO DO?

As we talked about in the last few devotions, Christians, now, more than ever, need to focus on spiritual things. In these biblically predicted perilous times of the last days, it is more important than ever for us to avoid being distracted from things of eternal consequence by things without lasting spiritual significance. Having talked about concentrating on our personal relationship with Jesus Christ in the here and now, which is the Christian’s number one priority in life, we will turn our attention now to the importance of being rewarded by Christ in the hereafter.

In Philippians 4:5, the Apostle Paul teaches us to “let [our] moderation be known unto all men,” for “the Lord is at hand.” The Greek word Paul uses for “moderation” in this verse means “to suffer to be done wrong.” As Christ was willing to suffer being done wrong for us, Paul is saying that we should be willing to suffer to be done wrong for Christ. As the Bible clearly teaches, all who live faithfully for Christ will suffer unjustly at the hands of this Christ-rejecting world.

  • “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15:20)
  • “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12)

This explains why the Bible also teaches us that we should rejoice whenever we suffer unjustly at the hands of this fallen world. We should count it a privilege to suffer injustice for our Savior who suffered the ultimate injustice for us on the cross of Calvary. As Paul teaches in Colossians 1:24 (NIV), “I am glad when I suffer… for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ.”