Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | January 3, 2016

January 3, 2016 “Passably Proficient”

 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7: 21-23)

Good Morning and Blessed Lord’s Day Sisters and Brothers in Christ!

Have you been feasting on football these past several days? One bowl game after another has filled up this New year’s weekend…and it’s still not over. I confess that once upon a time, many years ago, I had aspirations of one day appearing in a bowl game myself and doing something memorable, In fact, as difficult as it may be to imagine at this time, in my much younger days I was somewhat of an athlete. When I was in 6th and 7th grade, I was a quarterback for a midget football team, the Donegal Braves, and was passably proficient (pun intended) at it as well. Along with this proficiency, however, came an over-inflated ego. I enjoyed being a “star”. I recall one game where very late in the game we were losing 6-0 and pinned deep in our own territory…back on the two yard line, in fact. The coach called me over and suggested I run a trick play, then changed his mind and said “no…kick it yourself”. I misheard him and thought he said “keep it yourself.” So I kept it and ran 98 yards, scoring the tying touchdown! I was so proud of my accomplishment that instead of kicking the extra point for a win, I decided to try running it in. I fumbled! The game ended in a tie instead of a potential win.  My ego got the best of me.

I segue now to my first pastorate. I served a small church in Ohio, and once again, my ego told me I could please God and everyone else by doing everything pretty much on my own. After all, I had graduated with honors from my seminary class. I was ready…or so I imagined. I wasn’t really a man of prayer then. Not long into that pastorate, things were a mess. People were unhappy. I was ready to bail out of ministry. I just wanted to chuck it all. Then I had a talk with the “coach”. This time, and ever since, he let me know who was really in charge. I may indeed have the ball in my hand, but He calls the plays. Apart from Him, I can’t do a thing, no matter how grand things may look. The great Christian reformer John Calvin said,

“If prayer is of no account to us, that is a sure sign that we are unbelievers, however much we claim to believe the gospel.”

We may claim to be Bible-believing saints of God, but If we ignore His directives by failing to communicate with Him in prayer, we prove instead our unbelief. Christ himself sets the example of the importance of prayer. Don’t settle for being “passably proficient” in your own mind. Don’t get benched because of your attitude of self-importance. God is not here to make us look good. We are here to serve Him, so… Let’s Pray!

Mighty Lord; You alone are worthy of all praise and glory. Our deepest desire is to be in fellowship with You, to serve You, to honor You, to lift up Your Name in praise and thanksgiving. Keep us focused on the prize, and bring us into Your eternal presence as we pray this day. hear our prayer, O Lord. Amen!

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