Verbal histories from our elderly family members give us insight into just where we come from. Those precious stories are filled with important events, human struggles, and surprising accounts of things we had no prior knowledge of. Within those verbal histories, we hear bits of wisdom, sage advice, personal warnings, and lots of humor. With our own ears we listen as important information is given to us about the past. But have you ever thought about how important it is to give a “verbal history” to your children or grandchildren about God’s influence in your life? A once I was… but now I am… testimony showing the Lord’s redemptive power over sin in your life is more important than any other story you could share with them.
The Apostle Paul was encouraging Timothy to stand up for himself as a Pastor, even though he was considered young for the position. Paul admonished him to behave in such an exemplary way, with integrity and confidence, that no one within the Church would question his assignment. Timothy was to lead by example…his way of life on constant display for others to imitate and follow. I would then challenge all of you who are also considered “young”…don’t think being youthful is an excuse to not set a good example. Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you can’t influence others for Christ while modeling God’s love to the world.
This verse is referred to as the “Shema,” which is how the first word in the Hebrew text is pronounced. This word means “to heed, listen, and obey.” Moses stressed the priority of belief in only one God as the people encountered countless foreign gods around them. And the next verse showed them, and us, the way to perpetuate and foster this belief of only one God, for it states in verse 5, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” It tells us in proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…” To know God is to love Him, and the more we love Him, the more we desire to listen and obey Him.
There I was a few nights ago…lying in bed, awake and worrying about medical tests I had just completed. Mentally, I was taking myself through every worst-case scenario, when God stopped me mid-thought with, “Haven’t I had your life in My hands all these years, and won’t I continue?” For the next few minutes it was like a video ran in my head of past situations where God had literally saved my life…some I had been immediately aware of at the time, but some I had totally forgotten about. By the time this “Video” was done, I was seeking forgiveness for my lack of faith and declaring with new-found confidence, “My life was in Your hands then, and it’s in Your hands now…my faith and trust is in You, Lord, regardless of what happens.”
God really does know who you are. To Him you’re not just a number or face in the crowd. Consider this Scripture in Psalms… “He determines the number of stars and calls them each by name.” (Psalm 147:4) Tonight go stand outside and look up…can you even begin to count the stars? So if this verse tells us God can name each one of those stars…how could you believe He doesn’t know your name? But it goes so much farther than that… for God not only knows who you are but is aware of every detail in your life, for nothing escapes Him.
As a Believer, you have been given the Spirit of adoption and strength. No longer are you an orphan, fearful of tomorrow. No longer are you a slave to anxiety or dread, for you have been embraced by your Heavenly Father…taken in as family and becoming a joint heir with Jesus.
God had instructed Gideon to tear down his father’s false idols…and Gideon had obeyed, in a fashion. Instead of doing it in broad daylight though, he did it under cover of darkness, …all because of fear. He was afraid of what others would think. Fearful of retaliation, Gideon wanted to obey God, but also wanted to please people. It’s impossible to be a people pleaser and obey God at the same time…for you end up compromising yourself and your integrity.