As you get to know your Shepherd, you will come to realize that when He calls you, it is always worth obeying. When He says something, it is for your benefit. If He says, "Go this way," it's because He has green pastures and still waters for you.
It's a funny thing how we find sleep more and more appealing as we get older. When I was a kid, I hated to go to sleep. I still remember kindergarten, with the lukewarm milk in little cartons and having to lie down and take naps in the middle of the day. Interestingly, the Bible describes death for a believer as sleep.
When I was eighteen and a new believer, I quickly came to understand where the phrase starving artist came from. All I knew how to do was draw cartoons, so I was doing that as well as some freelance graphics on the side. I was trying to make ends meet, but most of all, I longed to be used by God. So I would hang around Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, waiting for an opportunity just to do something.
In many ways, we have lost the meaning of the word hero. We throw it around so casually. If you can put a ball through a hoop, you're a sports hero. If you can play eight chords on a guitar, you're a rock and roll hero. If you can pretend to be something you're not, you're a Hollywood hero. We have a strange concept as to who our heroes really are.
You remember how God fed the Israelites with manna. Every morning they would wake up, step out of their tents, and there would be the manna just waiting for them. But this "bread from heaven" had one limiting characteristic: it wouldn't keep overnight. God didn't want His people to live off yesterday's manna. The Lord wanted them to be dependent on Him on a regular basis and gather it fresh each day.
I have discovered that I never will find happiness by chasing it. But what we will find is that as we chase God, if we will, as we pursue God and walk with Him, then one day we will realize we became happy people.
Only humanity has a longing for meaning in life. I can assure you that my dog doesn't sit around pondering the reason for his existence. He won't be looking back on his life and saying, "You know, I tried it all as a dog. I chased cats. I drank toilet water. I tried bones. But deep inside of me, there was a void." Dogs don't think that way. They mainly think, Food . . . sleep.
When I travel, I take my laptop with me to work on my messages. But often I must work off the battery, so whenever I have the opportunity, I will plug in to the nearest electrical outlet. Why? Because my battery runs down and needs a recharge.
Sometimes the Lord will step in and say no to even the most loving and carefully considered of our plans. There are many ways, of course, that God can stop or redirect us. Sometimes it's through the warning of a respected friend.
There are some events in the Olympics that don't interest me at all. When it comes to track and field, however, I really sit up and take notice. I love to watch the runners—whether it's relay races, long distance runs, or the short sprints. (Probably because I ran track in high school.)
It would be nice if we could see the trials in our lives as options, as electives. It would be convenient if we could say, "I'm going to skip the trials course." But the fact is, we don't have that option. Trials will come into the lives of every believer.
When two people have been married for a while, they start becoming like each other. This has happened with my wife and me. We know each other so well that I can start a sentence, and she can finish it. She knows what I'm thinking, even when I'm not saying it. I'm just amazed at her intuition. Having been married for more than three decades now, we've spent a long time together. This is even more the case when we have been spending time with Jesus Christ.
Someone who really does love you very much deposits into your bank of time 86,400 seconds every single day. That someone is God. And the condition is that you must spend it. You can't save up time today and apply it toward tomorrow—there's no such thing as a twenty-seven-hour day.
I'm so glad that God will overrule my prayers at times, because I have prayed for things fervently, believing they were the will of God, and they were flat-out wrong. I am so thankful that God said no to those prayers.
We live in a culture in which everything happens fast. We don't have to wait for much of anything anymore. So when we're told to wait for the Lord's return, it can be difficult for us. We look around at our world and say, "Lord, come on. Look how bad it's getting! Have You forgotten? When are You coming back?"
One of the first things I remember about the day I put my faith in Christ was the sense of peace filling my heart. It was as though someone had lifted a heavy burden from me. It wasn't until later, when I read the Bible, that I learned about God's promise of peace to every believer.
Maybe you've been abandoned—perhaps it was by your parents, your spouse, or your children. Or maybe you even feel that you've been abandoned by God Himself. There are many people who feel estranged and alienated from God. Even if they have everything they want in life, they may still face a deep, inner loneliness.
Can you picture yourself sitting down for lunch with Abraham and Isaac—or the apostle Paul or C. S. Lewis or C. H. Spurgeon? Heaven will be amazing beyond description. And that's why the Bible tells us we should all be a lot more heavenly minded.
Everyone who has run a race knows that you can break your stride by looking over your shoulder to check out how your opponents are doing. Many races have been lost when the leader looked back. When you see that finish line, that is the time to give it everything you've got . . . because sometimes it's mere inches that separate one runner from another. You must stay focused.
David wrote, "One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek . . ." (emphasis added). In other words, the one thing that really excited him was spending time in the presence of God.
The word walking speaks of regularity, of moving at a certain pace. The Bible tells us in Genesis 5 about Enoch, who walked with God. But what does it mean to "walk with God?" Is it just a religious cliche?
Are you discouraged today? Afraid of an uncertain future? The Bible tells the story of a time when Jesus' disciples were not only discouraged, but they were actually in terror for their very lives.
It's hard to explain when someone's life has been cut short, dying at a relatively young age. We expected that person to live a much longer life. But who is to say that it wasn't his or her appointed time to go? Who is to say that it wasn't the exact length of life that God had preordained for that man or woman from the very beginning?
It is my firm conviction that some Christians today don't have God's provision, healing, or blessing in their lives simply because they haven't asked for it.