In the early days of my ministry in Indiana, I often struggled to get a sermon written each week. I’d try to start, but nothing would come. I’d write a sentence or two and wad up the page and toss it in the trash. I wasted tons of paper. (Didn’t have a computer then.)
One particular week, I remember having a terrible time. I didn’t even have an idea on Friday. I was frustrated. I was panicked. People expected me to have something to say come Sunday morning. What would happen if I didn’t have a message?
At some point that Friday, I got up from my desk and headed outside. I was determined to meet with God, to give him a piece of my mind. I stormed through the cemetery that sat behind our house. I climbed the fence that marked its back boundary. I walked into the cornfield beyond. There among the browning stalks, I cried out my fears to God. I told him of my frustration. Then I began to worship him, screaming out my praise. I did not feel like honoring God, but I knew he was worthy of all the blessing I could give him. I kept singing and shouting until the Holy Spirit granted me his peace that passes understanding.
I returned to my office confident that God was with me no matter what happened. If he did not give a message, I would trust him to lead in the service two days away. I don’t recall the topic of the message I finally wrote and preached that week, but I do remember the lesson I learned. I can do nothing without God’s help.
The same is true for every one of you. Not one of you can do anything of eternal value without God. Your good deeds will be worthless. You will accomplish little if anything. Jesus said it would be like this for his disciples.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1-5, NIV)
You and I must remain connected to God. We are dependent upon his power to save us. We are dependent upon his power to overcome every temptation we face. We are dependent upon his power to do the good he created us to do.
I know all this, and yet, in the busyness of my day or my week, I sometimes neglect my time with God in prayer. The fact that I’m easily distracted doesn’t help much. I can sit down to pray and soon find myself occupied in some other aspect of work or, worse, preoccupied with some silly thing. God help me! God help us all!
We will never accomplish what God wants us to accomplish until we get this right. So let’s get it right. Will you join me in making sure that, on a daily basis, you are connecting with God? Will you pray every day? Will you read God’s word? Will you ask for strength to say no to that repetitive sin? Will you seek God’s power to do all he has for you to do?
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