God has perfect timing

Written by: Tim Wood

God does everything just right and on time, but people can never completely understand what he is doing. Ecclesiastes 3:11b (NCV)

The Bible tells us that God does everything just right and on time.  Let’s break this into two parts.  First, God knows how to answer your prayers just right.  He knows how to mend broken relationships, bring peace and joy into your life, and provide answers to your toughest questions.  He has enough wisdom, knowledge and power to fully and completely answer our prayers.  The problem is that we often confuse our role and God’s role in prayer.  Look at it from this perspective.  How God answers your prayers is not your responsibility.  Your responsibility when you have a prayer request is to simply ask Him and have faith.  God is the one who will figure out how to bring that request into your life.  He knows how to answer your prayers just right. He does everything just right.

Next, the Bible tells us that God is always on time.  It does not say that God moves according to your time or your calendar, but His timing in our lives is always perfect.  Here is the point – God’s timing will probably never align with your perceived timing.  Why?  Because God sees all and understands all.  He knows the best time for things to happen in our lives.  In contrast, we don’t see all and know all.  We only see a very narrow slice of the big picture which can be deceiving.  So, while it may seem that God is taking a long time to answer a prayer, in reality, it is happening at the right time.  We must trust that God is able to meet our needs just right and on time.

God is never late. God is never early. God’s timing is always perfect. So trust him and thank him. God makes everything beautiful in its time.

Make the most of today

Written by: Tim Wood

That is why I can never stop praising you; I declare your glory all day long. Psalm 71:8

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

 God determines the number of your days, but you determine how they are spent.  Both of these Psalms tell us to spend time praising God during our day.  Yesterday is a cancelled check, tomorrow is a promissory note, today is all you’ve got.  Worry will keep us from praising God. Someone said there are two days in every week that you should never worry about – yesterday and tomorrow. John Boykin wrote, “Yesterday was for learning; tomorrow will be a consequence of what I do today. Today I will face life with the conviction that this day will never return, that it may be the last opportunity I’ll have to contribute because there’s no guarantee I’ll see tomorrow. Today I will be courageous enough not to let opportunity pass me by; my only alternative will be to succeed. Today I will invest my most valuable resource, my time, into my most important possession, the life God has given me. I’ll spend each minute purposefully, making today a unique opportunity. I’ll tackle each obstacle knowing that with God’s help I can overcome it. Today I will resist doubt and pessimism and warm my world with a smile. I’ll maintain a strong faith, expect nothing but the best, take time to be happy, see every task as an opportunity to honor the Lord, and endeavor to leave His footprints on the hearts of those I meet.” Time is your life—nothing more, nothing less. The way you spend your hours and your days, is the way you spend your life.”

So pray, “Lord, help me to make the most of this day.”

Three Principles for Helping People

Written by: Tim Wood

There’s a great story in Acts 3 about Peter and John helping a crippled man. This crippled man was brought to the Temple every day to beg for money. He saw Peter and John approaching the Temple at the time of prayer and this is what happened: When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money.4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!”5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. (Acts 3:3-8).

First, if we’re really going to help people we have to be prepared.  Prayer is standard operating procedure to being prepared. Praying for God to use us. Praying for God to give us eyes to see people in need. Praying that we would have courage to extend our hands to help them. 

Second, it’s important to know what you don’t have.  Peter said, “We don’t have money but what we have we’re willing to give you.” If we’re going to help others we must be comfortable in our own skin and in our own calling from God.  I like what Romans 12: 6-9 says in The Message.  Paul writes, “Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t. If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.”

Third, learn to recognize the difference between what people want and what they really need. Sometimes people need to be strengthened. Other times people need to be stretched. Sometimes people need comfort and other times they need to be confronted or corrected. This crippled person didn’t need a hand out he needed a hand up. That’s exactly what Peter and John gave to him. In order to help people we must love them and recognize what they need.  We have to know what we can offer them and ultimately connect them to Jesus the One who offers eternal help.

Nicodemus: Was he born again?

Written by: Tim Wood

 In John 3, Jesus and Nicodemus have the conversation of the ages. Jesus tells Nicodemus that the way to see and enter the kingdom of God is by being born again. Nothing in John 3 indicates to us that Nicodemus became a believer that day. So the big question is did Nicodemus become a follower of Jesus? And the answer to that question is yes. The proof is in John 19: 38-42. Here’s what it says, “After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. 39 Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. 40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.”

Joseph and Nicodemus do two things that demonstrate they are born again.

The first thing is they go right to Pilate, right to the Roman governor, right to a man who has just permitted the execution of Jesus for treason, the kind of governor who will be suspicious of any sympathizers and who might actually arrest his sympathizers on the spot, and say, “Give us the body.” That’s a display of incredible boldness and courage. They don’t care. They know the danger. They don’t care. This is probably the manliest thing that Joseph and Nicodemus have ever done.

Secondly, they personally anoint the body. They take the bloody and beaten cadaver and anoint it and wrap it for burial. Nicodemus brings the myrrh and aloes. Seventy five pounds! That had to be expensive. To anoint a body and to prepare it for burial was culturally considered to be woman’s work. Remember, it was women who were going to the tomb on Sunday to anoint the body. Why? Because that’s what women in this time period did. Yet, something has happened to Joseph and Nicodemus that they’re not embarrassed to do this. This is probably the most feminine thing they’ve ever done. But they don’t care anymore about their class or station. They don’t care about their macho pride. They love the One who died on the cross for them. There’s a boldness and a humility they never had before. They’re far more bold and far more humble, far more confident and far more tender and intimate than they’ve ever been before. Why?  They’ve been born again.

Only the Gospel can give you confidence and humility at the same time. Confidence because you realize you are more loved by God than you ever dreamed possible. And humility because you realize your more sinful than you ever realized. Jesus’ death on the cross shows us how much God loves us and how terrible sin is, at the same time. Religion can never do that. Ask Nicodemus.

 

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Written by: Tim Wood

 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant.” (Mark 10:42-43)

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. entered the Christian ministry and was ordained in February 1948 at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta at the age of 19. In 1954, upon completion of graduate studies at Boston University, he accepted a call to serve at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. While there, Dr. King was an instrumental leader in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, made famous by the nonviolent resistance and arrest of Rosa Parks. He resigned from Dexter Avenue Baptist in 1959 to move back to Atlanta to direct the activities of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. From 1960 until his death in 1968, he also served as co-pastor with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

On February 4, 1968, MLK delivered his last sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church. The title of the sermon was, “The Drum Major Instinct” inspired by the words of Jesus from Mark 10:43.  Jesus said, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant.”  In his sermon, Dr. King preached:

  “If you want to be important, wonderful. If you want to be recognized, wonderful. If you want to be great, wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That’s a new definition of greatness. And this morning, the thing that I like about it, by giving us that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love and you can be that servant.”

There are a lot of things we can remember about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But the greatest thing to remember is that he was a servant of Christ and he served his fellow man. May we all be inspired to do likewise.