Monday, October 26, 2020

Stay in Your Gap

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

As I write this in October 2020, Florida State football fans are licking their wounds once again, this time after being thrashed by Louisville.  Five times in the first half alone, Louisville busted open huge plays against Florida State’s defense.

After the game senior linebacker Emmett Rice was talking about the Florida State defense.  He said, “We just weren’t doing our jobs.  Like eight of the eleven would do their jobs and the big play would happen.  If all eleven did their jobs, those big plays would not happen.”  He said, “You’ve got to do what the defense is assigned to do.  If you’ve got to stay in your gap, stay in your gap.  You can’t be out there freestyling.”

That’s true for the FSU defense, and wow, it is so true for the body of Christ.

I have said it a hundred times and I’ll keep saying it.  Each of us must fulfill our part in the body of Christ.  God has gifted us and called us, each one of us, to particular things.  We need to diligently seek Him, spend time with Him and learn from Him so that we can each fulfill our Kingdom assignment.

As Emmett Rice said, we can’t be out there freestyling.  When we do, we leave gaps, and that’s a huge problem.

If you make your life’s decisions based on worldly values rather than your Kingdom assignment, you are freestyling and you are leaving gaps.

Think of God as the Coach.  He sees the big picture.  He is drawing up the perfect game plan, and He assigns each player their part.

And then some players start freestyling, leaving their assignment to do something else, and leaving gaps where they were supposed to be.

Have you ever looked at the church and felt like the game plan wasn’t working?  Well, here is a huge reason:  too many players not fulfilling their assignments.

My friend Rodney has a great story.  His church was going through some difficulties, and some people were leaving.  He thought about leaving that church, too, and he prayed about it.  And God laid it on him in very clear language, “Do not abandon your post.”

Rodney’s response was the correct response.  He simply said, “Yes, Sir.”

So Rodney stayed at his post, filling the assigned gap instead of freestyling.

I’m not saying everyone has to stay where they are forever.  I’m saying we all need to take our assignments from the Coach, the real living God who is building His church.

God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, so what should we do?  How can we discern our assignment?  Seek Him.  Diligently seek Him.  Listen and He will let us know, with authority and peace and conviction, what we need to do to fulfill our part in the body of Christ.

And once we have our assignment, we stay in that gap until the Coach gives us another assignment.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Wisdom Is Justified by All Her Children

I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

Jesus made many profound statements, and here’s one He just kind of tosses out there, like a free bonus.

In Luke 7:35, Jesus said, “...wisdom is justified by all her children.”

What does that mean?

It means wisdom proves itself by the long term results.  

People can SAY anything, but how do we know if it’s wise?

Jesus gives us the litmus test.  Wisdom is justified by all her children.  In other words, what are the long term results?  If the long term results are good, it was wise.

In the moment it sounds like fun when someone says, “Eat, drink and be merry!”  Let’s do it all day.  Every day!

Why work?  Why go to school?  Why do anything hard at all? 

But wisdom is justified by all her children.  Look at the long term results for people who never go to work, never go to school, never do anything hard.  

Years ago I met a young man who was gloriously saved by Jesus Christ.  He was a new creation, full of joy.  He really wanted to grow in his faith, and that’s what led him to me.

Part of his plan for getting his life on track included going to college.  There he ran into a professor who was a vocal opponent of Christianity.  I know, it sounds like one of those Christian movies, but it was real.  

And it really attacked the faith of this young man.  He thought a college professor must really know what he’s talking about.

One day he came to me and shared how his faith was slipping because of what he was hearing from the professor.

I said, “You know, by your own words, your life was not good before.  Then you came to Jesus and suddenly you had hope and peace and joy.  Your life was radically changed for the better.  And now I’ve noticed lately that that seems to be slipping away.  So let me ask you, the professor, what is his life like?”

The young man said, “Not good.  I think he’s an alcoholic and divorced.”

I said, “Well, why do you want to take life advice from someone whose life isn’t going the way you want your life to go?”

Wisdom is justified by all her children.  So when people begin babbling on and on about all kinds of ideas, look at the actual long term results.

If someone is telling you how to live, how is that working out for them over the long haul?

If they are telling you how to parent, or handle marriage, or your money or your business or your career, how did that work out for others who did it?

Did it bring joy or sorrow?  Success or failure?  Stability or instability?

We don’t have to wonder.  We have a litmus test for knowing if something is actually wise or not, and Jesus summed it up perfectly and deeply.

Wisdom is justified by all her children.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.