Renee and I returned home from Peru last week. We visited my daughter Stephanie, her husband Daniel, and their two daughters Madeline and Macy who are missionaries there. Watching them sacrifice so much of their lives for the sake of the gospel made me so proud of them! It also reminded me of Renee and I when we started out in ministry 35 years ago. We radically surrendered our lives to the cause of Christ and never looked back. We love serving the Lord as much today as when we first started. But, watching my children, refreshed and reminded me of the life we’ve chosen.
I am reminded that the Lord has a plan and purpose for every moment of our lives. It is a plan that He wants each one of us to walk out. If I let the Lord lead me through each day, not only will I be blessed, but I will be able to help others learn of and walk in the blessing that God wants for their life. I watched that in action yesterday.
Renee and I had come home from church and ate lunch. It was a beautiful sunny Minnesota winter day and the temperature had reached 40 degrees—unseasonably warm for us. We decided to take advantage of the weather and go for a walk. We were close to the end of our walk when I noticed an older man in an electric wheelchair coming down the sidewalk from the opposite direction. When he got next to us, he stopped and looked up at me. It appeared he had cerebral palsy. His fingers were all bent and locked in place. He had no mittens or hat on. He looked rough and cold.
As he looked up at me he said, I would like to ask you to do something for me. I asked, What is it I can do for you? He asked me if I would light up a cigarette for him because his hands did not work. I said, Really? You want a cigarette in your health? He said, Why not? What difference is it going to make? He had his cigarettes and a lighter in a pouch on his lap. I pulled out a cigarette and lit it up for him. I then asked him, Now, will you do something for me? He said, What can I do for you? I said, Tell me what is going to happen to you when you die. We are all going to die. What is going to happen to you when you do? He said, I try to be a good person, so I hope I’ll go to Heaven. I shared with Him that Heaven was a gift offered to us freely from Jesus and that He could not earn his way there. I shared the love of Jesus with him and what Jesus did for him. I then led him in a prayer of salvation. He asked Jesus into his heart! I then prayed for his health and well-being. The second we were done praying, he spit out his cigarette! We said our goodbyes and Renee and I finished our walk. It was a great walk! And I know I will see him again. He lives nearby.
Today I am reminded of who I am in Jesus Christ. I am His righteous. What a powerful and mind-boggling truth in light of how flawed I am. But the reason it’s true isn’t because of my own righteousness, but because of the righteousness Jesus gave me by washing my sins away. 2 Cor. 5:21 “God made Him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus paid the price for our sins. He put a robe of righteousness upon each of us who believe. He did that so we’d be clean in His eyes while the Holy Spirit helped us in your makeover—the transformation and development of learning to walk in godly attitude, motivation, and conduct. He wants you to see yourself through His eyes instead of the inadequacy, failure, and condemnation that can come when you think about how flawed and unworthy you are.
Isaiah 61:10 NLT says “I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels.”
The gentleman in the wheelchair I prayed with may have looked old, depleted and beaten down on the outside, but yesterday, God put a robe of righteousness upon Him and prepared Him for Heaven.
These are the truths God has made known to us so that we could be led by Him, be a light for Him, and have the most powerful influence and purpose-filled life there is upon this earth—the power to help someone change their eternal destiny.
Coming home from Peru, I make a renewed decision to finish my life’s course in strong faith fueled by the revelation of God’s love. Yesterday, God let me seal that renewed commitment in a very special way which I am so very thankful for.
God wants us to set our eyes upon Him and be reminded of who we are and the preciousness of having a purpose-filled life. We can move forward with excitement and joy of getting our eyes off ourselves and instead reaching out to those around us. This is where joy and strength comes from and how we will arise again and again. It’s His promise!
Isaiah 42:6 (RSV) “I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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