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Old But Not Cold

One stimulant to my faith is the fiery faith of old believers. I am immediately encouraged when I come across believers who are on fire for the Lord in spite of their old age. I sometimes catch myself thinking, “When I get old I want to have a faith like this man or this woman.”

The reason I am encouraged by the faith of the older folks is because most often people start of their Christian lives on all six cylinders. They have all the turbos on and of they race to capture every “trophy” Christianity has to offer. I have found it frequently true that many people start of their Christian life with a spark and end with a sputter. For some of them even a kick-start or a boost just doesn’t work.

At The Phoenix Fellowship, where I pastor, there are a few old folks who are great at stimulating my faith through theirs. I thank the Lord for these godly men and women. They remind me of another old person in the Bible. His name is Caleb. Caleb’s contagious faith is revealed to us in Numbers 14:6-15. Let me remind you of Caleb’s faith. Caleb is reminding Joshua of his allegiance to the Lord when he was a young man, an allegiance which prompted Moses to make a promise that Caleb would one day be a recipient of a piece of the Promised Land (verses 8-9).

Caleb declares this about himself, “Joshua 14:10-11   10 “Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old!  11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.” Here’s an eighty five year old man who’s still got what it takes! This is Christian maturity at its finest. Spiritual growth and intimacy with God should never wane with the onset of physical advancement, if anything, it should grow with physical advancement. At eighty five years of age “old man Caleb” is still flexing his spiritual muscles. What a picture of faith!

I suppose it’s one thing to flex our spiritual muscles but it’s quiet another matter altogether to put those muscles to good use. Caleb does what most old folks don’t do. In coming to Joshua to claim his “prize” he says this, “Joshua 14:11-12   11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.  12 Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.” Wow! Forty five years later and Caleb is still in peak spiritual condition. Wow! At the age when most people have gone passed the age of retirement and are watering a garden somewhere in their back yard, “old man Caleb”, at that age is ready to take on a mountain. Caleb does not choose an easy, cushy task. He chooses something that will challenge him because he knows who is God is. It is very clear that Caleb knows God in a very personal way. When the frailty of physical advancement should bring doubt and create a barrier for growth and spiritual advancement, Caleb breaks that barrier down by displaying a resolute faith in God.

Here’s what you can learn from the life of “Old Man Caleb”

  1. You must do a spiritual diagnostic of your spiritual life right now. Do you have a sputter after starting of with a spark?
  2. Is your faith, like Caleb’s, a growing one? Look back on your life and check if you have grown.
  3. Are you a mountain conqueror? Do you have such a radical faith in God that you demand the challenging stuff from the Lord?
  4. Notice that Caleb followed the Lord wholeheartedly. With what percentage of your heart are you following the Lord? If God does not own all of your heart then you won’t be courageous to be a mountain conqueror. You most likely will be satisfied even if you didn’t have a prize.
  5. When I look at the life of Caleb there is one characteristic in common about him whether he was young or old. In his youth (forty years) he stood out of the crowd. He felt they could take the Promised Land in spite of opposition. Now, forty five years later he still stands outside the crowd. When the average Christian person would go for the easy victory, Caleb chooses the difficult one. Life will be this way for you too. The question is, “Will you be constant (standing outside the crowd) as you grow older?

Many people today are “old” Christians, but many of those “old” Christians are “cold” Christians. Will it be said of you, that you’re old but not cold?

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2012 in General Blog

 

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Fearless

Whether we like to admit it or not, we are all fearful people. Every one of us fears something. Moreover every one of us are so paralyzed by certain fears that it hinders our responsibility to the Kingdom of God and it prevents us from doing his will. I’ve been on boards and in meeting long enough now to realize that what people call strategy and sensible thinking is really a paralysis brought about by fear. From the time we are born, fear has been planted in us, especially by our cautious parents. If you have children you may be familiar with these words, “Tommy, don’t climb the tree!”, or “Jon, stop playing in the sand, you’ll get germs.” or “Lisa, don’t speak to black people, they’re dangerous.” Fear has been planted in us by overly cautious parents, equally cautions friends who supposedly have our best interests at heart and some of our teachers. Fear has been planted so subtely in us that we don’t even recognize its control and influence over us. We’re fearful of speaking out. Why? Perhaps because we’ve been taught at home that outspokenness is a form of disrespect. We’re fearful of making friends outside of our current circle. Why? Perhaps we’ve been taught that people outside of this circle are dangerous and harmful. We’re fearful of helping the poor or sharing our possessions. Why? Perhaps we’ve been taught that what we’ve worked for belongs to us and us alone and that sharing would deplete our resources. If we were to take a mental walk back toward our childhood we will discover how much we’ve been programmed to be fearful instead of fearless.

Even after we’ve become Christians we still carry the baggage of fear into our new life. We may proclaim that we are fearful in doing the will of the Lord and I don’t question your integrity. However I would ask, “What does it really mean to be a fearless Christian?” To be a fearless Christian means that you make right EVERY area that you’ve wronged God in. Do you take drugs and alcohol? Make it right! Do you have relationships that are displeasing to God? Make it right! If you are not spending enough time with your family, make it right! If you are not reaching people with the Gospel, make it right! If you are not reading your bible daily, make it right! If you are not praying daily and regularly, make it right! Are you hanging out with the wrong crowd? Make it right!

In the book of Numbers chapter 13 and verses 26-33 we see two types of people. In the persons of Joshua and Caleb we see FEARLESS people and in the people of Israel and the other ten spies we see FEARFUL people. This is Joshua and Caleb’s response after the exploration, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” and the people respond in this way, “We can’t attack those people, they are stronger than we are..we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes and we looked the same to them.”

In 2012 and beyond would you like to be living inside the land of God’s promises or outside? If your answer is inside then you must be fearless. Only fearless people experience the blessings of God. Only fearless people live in the land of God and enjoy its fruits. Only fearless people survive. What kind of person are you, fearful or fearless? Today, you can choose to be fearless!

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2011 in General Blog

 

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