A God Who Goes Before Us

A God Who Goes BeforeIn addition to pastoring, I work for Ford Motor Company. I tell people I work for Ford, but I labor for the Lord. This company has been around for nearly 120 years now. Recently my plant celebrated its 50th anniversary of being in operation having opened its doors in October 1968. Curiously enough, I was hired in October of 1996 and celebrated 22 years with Ford. I say “curiously enough” because as I joined my coworkers in celebrating our plant’s milestone, something powerful dawned on me.

I walked along the wall and observed them breaking ground in October 1966. I was intrigued by the large excavators, hundreds of construction workers, and new walls being poured. I really got emotional in that moment because I realized that even before I was born (1969) and before I was hired (1996), God was preparing a place for me to work and have a career. Sure, thousands of others have worked here, but I had a profound notion that God somehow prepared it just for me. Selfish you may say? Not hardly. God has a way of blessing many people in many ways at different times, but who could have known a little boy was going to be born and that he would work at a Ford plant 20 miles away from where I was born and nearly 50 miles from where I grew up?

Then, I was thinking of the house I now live in which was built in 1989. I graduated from high school in 1988. How could I have known that a family would be building a house 50 miles away for me to one day buy nearly 30 years later and where I would watch all four of my grandchildren take their first steps?

The same with the church I grew up in; the church my wife grew up in; the church I now pastor. All buildings that would have significance in my life. Buildings I did not build, yet had life-changing and long-reaching effects in my life.

I want to encourage someone today that your life is not left to chance. There is a loving and benevolent heavenly Father above who has meticulously prepared a life for you if you’re willing to walk in it. He did this with the children of Israel as He stated in Deuteronomy…

“And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, 12 then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. (Deuteronomy 6:10-12 ESV)

So, as you lay your head down at night, or walk through the doors of your place of employment or worship, pause to give thanks and reflect upon the fact that your life is not an accident and that God has gone before you to ensure you have everything you need in your future to be a success and carry out the beautiful plans He’s tailor-made for you.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

“Serminutes” – Sermon in a Minute.  One Minute Inspirational Sermonettes, Devotionals, and Sermon Ideas for Busy Christians, Pastors, Teachers, and Bible Students!  Visit our ABOUT PAGE  for details on what exactly that is. Thank you for visiting today! May the Lord richly bless you.  ~ RD Mangold

An Audience of ONE

AudienceofONEThere is an incredibly understated theme all throughout biblical history that I’ve recently uncovered. It’s gone virtually unnoticed because we live in a culture that believes if we are not popular, loved, or accepted by everyone, we’re not popular, loved, and accepted by anyone.

We underestimate the impact our influence can have even on a small scale. With celebrities, performers, and athletes drawing crowds of thousands, and having social media followers in the millions, we undervalue the importance of small-scale interactions; the up-close and personal, one-on-one encounters we have almost all of the time. We can tend to feel if we can’t do it on a grand-scale, it’s simply not worth doing.

I’m so glad God never felt this way about us! While we were yet sinners, Christ loved us and gave His life for us. When we had nothing to offer in return, Christ chose the route of making the first move toward our redemption. But, before He died for the world, take note of the interactions Christ had during His earthly ministry.

  • Just Jesus and a woman at the well
  • Just Jesus and a woman caught in adultery, after the crowd scatters
  • Just Jesus and Nicodemus under the cover of night
  • Just Jesus and a little girl healed as they were already mourning her death
  • Just Jesus and Peter walking on the water
  • Just Jesus and Zacchaeus
  • He even faced down Satan one-on-one in the wilderness
  • Mary Magdalene mistakes the risen Christ for the Gardner

This theme is not unique to Jesus’ day. God chose to have these encounters with individuals from the dawn of time:

  • Adam in the cool of the day
  • Enoch walked with God, but God took Him because Enoch pleased God
  • Noah, all by his lonesome found grace in the eyes of the Lord
  • Abraham, called out of the family idol-making business to become the Father of Many Nations
  • Jacob wrestling his “Angel” all night long became the father of the Israelite Nation.
  • Moses met God one-on-one at the burning bush

This theme is important because many of these seemingly small inconsequential interactions resulted in transformational and pivotal moments in people’s lives. I call these encounters, An Audience of ONE.

No large crowds. No big venues. Just a one-on-one, up-close and personal, intimate Audience of ONE that would go on to have a huge ripple effect!

  • Mary had an audience of one with the Angel Gabriel and went on to become the Mother of Christ!
  • Zechariah had an audience of one with the Angel and he and Elizabeth became the elderly parents of John the Baptist, of whom Jesus said there was none greater!
  • Peter’s conversation with Jesus after His resurrection, later resulted in Peter preaching on the Day of Pentecost that saved thousands in one day!
  • Saul on his way to kill Christians was blinded and sent to Damascus where he had an audience of one with Ananias that resulted in Saul becoming Paul, the greatest missionary of the Bible!

It’s my sincerest belief friends that Jesus still desires these one-on-one intimate conversations with His followers. I believe He still invites us to have an Audience of ONE with Him on a daily basis. Without these small interactions, this Audience of ONE, how can we ever expect to have the monumental impact our predecessors did? It’s just not possible.

Before David ever strummed a calming note on his harp for a tormented King Saul, David had an Audience of ONE with God while tending his father’s sheep.

Before David slew the giant in front of thousands in the Valley of Elah, David had an Audience of ONE with a lion and another with a bear!

Today, do not underestimate the impact your Audience of ONE can have with God. It’s like to become the most transformational moment of your entire life and could potentially have an impact upon you, your family, and those you lead, for generations to come.

“Serminutes” – Sermon in a Minute.  One Minute Inspirational Sermonettes, Devotionals, and Sermon Ideas for Busy Christians, Pastors, Teachers, and Bible Students!  Visit our ABOUT PAGE  for details on what exactly that is. Thank you for visiting today! May the Lord richly bless you.  ~ RD Mangold

“Calling” All Bricklayers

CallingBricklayersThis following fable could be considered a modern day parable of sorts. I’ve attempted to source it to no avail. Many in modern self-help and inspirational circles have picked it up, and for good reason. Your perspective on what you do, and for that matter, how you view what you do, makes all of the difference as you pursue your purpose in life, and with what, if any passion you pursue that purpose.

I will attempt to tell it as best as possible while maintaining what I believe to be its original intent…

A inquisitive local business owner couldn’t help but take notice of the new grand edifice that was being built across the street from his humble bakery. The building began to take shape, and it was evident that something beautiful was being erected. One day he mustered the courage to visit the job site and asked one of the busy masons what he was doing.

Almost exasperated, he bluntly stated, “I’m a bricklayer.”

In similar fashion, the persistent baker hoping for a little more detail, asked a second mason, “What are you doing?” To which this bricklayer a little more enthusiastically replied, “I’m building a church.”

Lastly, having had most of his curiosity satisfied, the baker asked the third bricklayer nearby, the same question, but was amazed at the answer he received. The mason’s eyes lit up with life, and his tone took on a hushed and humble reverence, “I’m building the house of God.”

It’s been said the first bricklayer considered what he did for a living, a job, the second, a career. While the third viewed what he did as a calling.

You can look at what you do daily as simply a job or a career path, but what if you began to view your work as a tribute to the One who gifted you with that ability or talent?

The ESV (English Standard Version) Bible translates the words of Paul to the Colossians regarding work, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (3:23-24)

You may think it’s just a spreadsheet. You may feel like they’re just another annoying customer. You may feel this is just another sick patient. You may think it’s just another meal, service, or construction project. But, what if we started to view what we do as work for the Lord, and for the Glory of God? What if we started to view what we do as less of a job or a career, and more of a calling?

We may feel like because we can’t teach like Christ, preach like Paul, or sing like an angel that we have little to contribute to the Kingdom of God. You’d be wrong my friend. We need more architects to view what they do as a higher calling. We need more attorneys to view what they do with passion. We need more designers, more creatives, more writers, more mechanics, construction workers, IT professionals, and members of the medical community to transition from simply a job to being in hot pursuit of your true calling and purpose.

I challenge you today to begin to take an entirely different view of what you do, and live with intention. Seek to Do what you do as unto God, not unto men, not for accolades, not for a paycheck or a pension. Because you know you were created for more than just to live out the day-to-day grind.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.Colossians 3:17

“Serminutes” – Sermon in a Minute.  One Minute Spiritual Sermonettes, Devotionals, and Sermon Ideas  for Busy Christians, Pastors, Teachers, and Bible Students!  Visit our ABOUT PAGE  for details on what exactly that is. Thank you for visiting today! May the Lord richly bless you.  RD Mangold

Digging Wells of the Past – Special Dedication

And Isaac dug again the wells of water, which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them. Genesis 26:18

The legacy we leave to our children is of utmost importance. A prime example was Abraham. Even God said, “I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment (Gen. 18:19).” Abraham’s legacy went beyond wealth and prestige, it instituted a perpetual generational blessing. Many times over God described Himself as the “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” What a testament to the integrity and longevity of Abraham’s dynasty!

As important however, was Isaac’s continuation of that dynasty. When the malevolent Philistines filled the wells Isaac dug with his father, Isaac never hesitated, he dug them again. Yes, water in Isaac’s day was paramount, but his purpose for unearthing those wells “ran much deeper.” You see, Isaac was a pivotal figure in the propagation of God’s purpose. He was the inescapable link between the past of his father Abraham, and the future of his son Jacob (later named Israel).

They may have just been wells to the Philistines, but they represented far more to Isaac. The wells represented a perpetuation of God’s blessings; flowing from the past in which they were promised, to the future in which they would come to fruition.

NOTE: This Serminute is dedicated to my grandson Gavin Rodger Mangold. Born April 21, 2011, weighing 9.15 lbs. and measuring 23″ long. Today Gavin will be dedicated at our church, Grace Apostolic Church of Clawson. May his father, Nathanael Rodger Mangold, continue to allow the flow of God’s perpetual blessings from my generation, to Gavin’s. I’ve carried this legacy as it was handed down to me by my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. To God be the glory!

“Serminutes” – Sermon in a Minute. A one minute spiritual pick-me-up for busy Christians!  Visit this POST for details on what exactly that is. Thank you for visiting today! May the Lord richly bless you. Rodger Mangold

Disposed to Dispose

For there is no respect of persons with God. Romans 2:11

We live in a disposable society. We eat off of paper plates, drink out of plastic cups and use throw away napkins. We shave with disposable razors, take pictures with throw-away cameras, clean our houses and baby’s backsides with disposable wipes and we even have what the accountants call, “disposable income!”

Dare I say, this “throw-away” mentality can even creep into our spiritual walk…

  • We swap churches and faiths like name brands
  • We wait until we’re in a good mood to praise God
  • We don’t like this sermon, so we’ll wait for the next one

 This disposable mentality can have us even feeling that way about people…

  • We avoid praying with people because the look “different”
  • We only share Christ with the “normal” people
  • We only help others when it benefits us

God’s commandments are not based on OUR “personal preferences!” We are to be lead by God’s Love and Mercy! God’s Kingdom is eternal, comprised of the souls of humanity. Don’t cast aside opportunities to share God’s unmerited grace and unfailing love with everyone…not just those we “deem” worthy. No soul is disposable to God – He gave His only begotten Son to save us ALL!

“Serminutes” – Sermon in a Minute. A one minute spiritual pick-me-up for busy Christians!  Visit this POST for details on what exactly that is. Thank you for visiting today! May the Lord richly bless you. Rodger Mangold

Prematurely Pulling the Plug on the Process

I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. 11He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. 12I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. Ecclesiastes 3:10-12

If you’re a collector, or one that loves antiques, you know that some things gain more value with a very important ingredient…TIME. Herein lies the challenge for many of us – while time may add value to antiques, for humans it’s the proverbial “kiss of death.” In a generation that wants instant gratification, the value of growing, maturing, and experience is all too often minimized in favor of a quicker result.

We’d do well to remember, God is in charge of not only the clay, but the wheel on which the clay is spinning. He has in His mind a perfect plan, a defined design, a prescribed purpose for each of our lives. While we’re spinning on the wheel we’re tempted to offer God our “recommendations” AND even go as far as to say when we feel the work is complete!

In order to maximize the “glory that shall be revealed in us” we must trust God with our future. Let God finish what He’s started in you. He’s faithful to complete it. And when given “time” He makes “everything” beautiful. Yes, “everything” – even the flaws, faults, and failures. Let’s not presume to “pull the plug” on God’s process prematurely.

“Serminutes” – Sermon in a Minute. A one minute spiritual pick-me-up for busy Christians!  Visit this POST for details on what exactly that is. Thank you for visiting today! May the Lord richly bless you. Rodger Mangold

STIR IT UP!

In 2 Timothy 1:1-6, Paul tells Timothy, the faith that was in your Grandma, and your Mama….I now see is also in you! So this is a gift…passed down from generations. Someone said, “If you ever see a turtle on a fencepost, you know he didn’t get there by himself”.

None of us started out with our own ‘stuff’! Just like the son of Aaron the High Priest. The only anointing upon him was what soaked into the clothes he now wore…FROM HIS FATHER IN MINISTRY! Only AFTER you walk under HIS anointing, do you get your own anointing! That’s where double portion comes from! Nobody can pray it on you! You receive it by manifesting as a faithful son in ministry!

There are gifts passed from generations, deep inside of you…It was there when you were born! You’ve been studying generational curses; you NEED to study generational BLESSINGS!

As you reach adulthood, all the gifting that was apparent in you as a child, has a tendency to get covered up with A LOT OF STUFF….THAT’S why Paul told Timothy…STIR UP THE GIFT!

STIR IT UP, CHILD OF GOD!

By Rev. J.S. Willoughby – To read other posts by Rev. J.S. Willoughby visit his blog at http://jswilloughby.wordpress.com

“Serminutes” – Sermon in a Minute. A one minute spiritual pick-me-up for busy Christians!  Visit this POST for details on what exactly that is. Thank you for visiting today! May the Lord richly bless you. Rodger Mangold