Monday Motivator – March 12

A friend of mine told me once that when he was preparing to speak to a congregation overseas, something happened that he never experienced before.

Before the Sunday morning services, the pastor and elders of the church asked him to hand over his Bible. They explained that they were responsible for the biblical clarity and reliability of the material presented to the parishioners. They also wished to see his sermon notes for a quick review.

They would return the Bible and his sermon notes to him in front of the congregation. It was a tangible way of showing the parishioners that the leadership team was serious about its responsibility of entrusting the ministry of the Word of God to someone they could rely on to deliver the Word of the Lord.

It was a sobering and encouraging reminder about the sacredness of handling the Scriptures well. My friend commented on how it stirred him to consider the privilege of presenting the truths of the Bible to people. It was a heaven-sent task that was not to be taken too lightly.

It also was encouraging to see the depth to which the church elders would go to model their care for the flock of the people under their care.

Read Acts 20:27-32.

In Acts 20, we read that the apostle Paul met with the elders of the church at Ephesus. In his charge to these leaders, Paul warned them of the danger of false teaching (v 28-29), and the responsibility of the church leadership to help the congregation grow in the Word of God (v 32).

Paul added that the overseers of God’s people must be vigilant and watch out for those within and without their churches who are not earnestly committed to the teachings of Jesus. The leaders must “be on their guard” (v 31) to promote the faith by feeding and teaching people the Word of the Lord and protect them from enemies inside and out.

Church and ministry leaders must be united with the Holy Spirit as they carefully and diligently watch over their people, never ceasing day and night to warn the flock about the danger facing them. They need to be constantly pointing them to the only sure foundation – Jesus Christ and His Word.

Has the day to day tasks of ministry ever caused you to miss out on loving people? Who makes up “the flock” for whom you are responsible? In what specific way can you shepherd them? Finish the sentence: One thing I must accomplish at any cost to care for those under my care is to…?

Live communally. No matter what our calling is, let’s handle the Word of God with care. When we do, God’s people will grow. Ask God for His help to study it, live it, and proclaim it clearly. The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to change the people of God.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz


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Monday Motivator – March 5

One skill we need to develop as Jesus followers is to ask good questions of the Biblical text(s). “How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth” by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart is a great reference book I suggest you add to your library to help you in this life-long task. One thing this book will supply are the ground rules for reading and interpreting various genres (i.e., historical, prophetic, gospels, etc.) of the Old and New Testaments.

Here are some questions for our text today: When have you felt like you were at the end of your rope, facing circumstances you thought were insurmountable? Have you ever felt that the Lord let you down? If so, what would He need to do to show you that He cares?

Read 1 Kings 17:1-24.

The nation of Israel is led by Ahab, the most evil king they have ever had. That is quite a historical marker, since Israel suffered through the ungodly leadership of eighteen almost equally as bad kings.

In such a time, the prophet Elijah appears on the scene. Before much happens, God instructs Elijah to go first to the Kerith Ravine, and then to Zarephath, which is the heart of the land from which the idolatrous worship of Baal has come.

Let’s see what we can learn from the text by asking some observational questions:

  • Why did Elijah announce the coming of a drought to King Ahab?
  • Why did God send Elijah out of country to a Gentile in neighboring Zarephath?
  • What is noteworthy about how Elijah responded?
  • How would Elijah be feeling about being cared for by birds and an older widow?
  • If you were the widow, what would you have thought about Elijah’s words in verses 13-14?
  • Why did God perform a miracle with the flour and the oil?
  • What do you think the widow was feeling when her son stopped breathing?
  • What do you think why Elijah was feeling when her son stopped breathing?
  • How was the widow changed after God gave her son back to her?

Now let’s shift our questions to what we might learn from the text:

  • How has God showed Himself strong to you when you were weak?
  • What “jars and jugs” of yours are running dry? What can you learn from the widow and her son that will help you hold steady in difficult times?
  • How has God asked you to trust and obey Him, even without much clarity about what He is asking you to do?
  • What qualities does Elijah model that are attractive to you? How risky is it to obey the Lord?

Think theologically. If your faith is weak, if you don’t have an Elijah around, if you lack confidence in the Lord, and if you have not seen any miracles lately, how can this Old Testament story of Elijah and the widow still build your faith?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – February 26

I have learned the value of standing on the promises and character of God my King. The Old and New Testaments call believers to sing songs of adoration to the One True God. One reason is we become more aware of the Lord’s presence when we sing to Him. It takes our eyes off of our worldly needs and circumstances for the moment as we focus on Him.

Read 2 Chronicles 20:1-30.

This is an account of King Jehoshaphat responding to threats of war from neighboring nations. He inquired of the Lord as to what to do, and the Lord instructed him. He and the people of Judah and Jerusalem obeyed the Lord and a great victory was won that day. The Lord caused His people to find rest that day from their enemies, without having anything to do except to honor Him with their worship. Rest from enemies is part of God’s blessing for obedience.

One long standing practice is how I incorporate worship into my holy habits and life of discipline and service. I simply sing to the Lord each day as a way of recognizing his Lordship and presence in my life. I use a rotation of songs in my daily devotions and sing them to the Lord. For example, listed below are the words to a favorite hymn, “In Christ Alone.” I google the lyrics and sing them as best I can. On some days, I might select an artist I enjoy like Natalie Grant and sing along with her. Let’s try it.

In Christ alone my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song

This Cornerstone, this solid ground, Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

What heights of love, what depths of peace, When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All, Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, who took on flesh, Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness, Scorned by the ones He came to save.

‘Til on that cross as Jesus died, The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid, Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay, Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day, Up from the grave He rose again.

And as He stands in victory, Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine, Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death, This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.

No power of hell, no scheme of man, Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home, Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

Grow devotionally. Worship is an act of obedience to the Greatest Ruler of the Universe. It’s also an act of love to my Father. Create and use a list of songs to help you remember the Lord.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – February 19

Many of us have heard stories of heroism resulting from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. It was gut-wrenching to watch the events unfold that day and later learn of how so many died. Yet many were also rescued.

One famous account that bears repeating is how iron-worker Frank Silechhia factored into the tragedy at ground zero. As he was helping in the rescue efforts, he noticed two steel beams in the shape of a cross standing upright in the rubble.

In the days, weeks, and months afterward, Frank often took heart-broken visitors to the site, serving as a sort of tour guide. That cross was and is a striking symbol of God’s love, and has comforted many by its silent testimony of the divine Presence in a place of great suffering. Day after day, Frank led famous people as well as ordinary citizens to the cross, as they paid their respects to the loved one(s) they had lost in the devastation and ruin.

Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-25.

As hard as it seems, the answer to the world’s terrible pain and evil is not a philosophical argument, a politician’s ramblings, or a theological debate on good v.s. evil. The only and all sufficient answer is Calvary’s cross, where in unfathomable grace, Jesus the God who became man, took upon Himself the burden of our sins and shame. The apostle Peter wrote long ago that, “He (Jesus) bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

If you have not been to Calvary’s cross, let me take you there. Jesus died for you and me, and then rose from the dead, victorious. Believe in Him and you shall be saved from the penalty and pain of sin (1 Corinthians 1:21 and Galatians 6:14). Through God’s action, sin is atoned for.

Chi Alpha Campus Ministries takes its name from Paul’s second letter to the first-century Corinthians. In chapter 5, verses 19-20, Paul wrote that, “God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us (His followers) the message of reconciliation. We are therefore, Christ’s ambassadors, as though God was making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God.”

What a privilege for the men and women who follow Jesus as Lord and Savior. God takes the initiative in redemption, which is the restoration and fulfillment of His purposes in creation (v 17), and this takes place in Christ, through which all things were made (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16). We who are the recipients of divine reconciliation now have the privilege and obligation to be heralds to share His message of reconciliation with the rest of the world (v 19-20).

The angel told the women at the empty tomb to “come and see and go and tell” (Matthew 28:6-7). If you put your faith, hope, and trust in the resurrected Jesus, you are His ambassador. What difference should it make in your life to know that God chooses the weak and lowly people of the world to do His work?

Serve globally. God used iron-worker Frank to lead many to the cross. He wants to use you to lead many others to the cross as well. The pathway to heaven begins at the foot of the cross.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – February 12

In your life, where would you like to experience more self-control? Would finances make it onto your list?

Read Hebrews 11:32-40.

The Book of Judges describes the life of Israel in the promised land from the death of Joshua to the rise of the monarchy (Saul, etc.). Twelve judges led Israel during this period. Isn’t it ironic that two of the men mentioned in Hebrews 11 are also mentioned in the Book of Judges?

“I do not have time to tell of…Samson…and…Samuel” (Hebrews 11:32).

Yet while Samson and Samuel are mentioned in the same passage in Hebrews, there are big differences between them. Let’s examine one of them and determine which man we will learn from and possibly imitate. The difference I want to examine is the area of finances.

Samson was greedy and manipulating whereas Samuel practiced integrity. One day Samson bet thirty Philistines that they couldn’t solve his riddle, saying, “If you cannot explain it to me, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothing” (Judges 14:13). Quite a wardrobe, huh?

Samson’s emphasis seemed to be, “you shall give to me.” He is an example of Christians in business that discredit the cause of Christ by unethical practices, and those in ministry who twist the Scriptures and use emotional manipulation to raise money.

Samuel was totally different. After forty years of exemplary leadership, the people of Israel said this about him: “You have not cheated or oppressed us” (1 Samuel 12:4).

When others can say the same about you, you know you did it right!

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). The condition of your heart is revealed in how you handle your finances.

Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship has a motto for college students involved with our campus chapters: We call them to “pray, give, go, and welcome” (i.e., offer hospitality, particularly to international students). Our view of giving, or stewarding what God has given us involves: 1) trusting God for his provision, 2) living within our means, 3) tithing on the first 10% of our income, 4) making a monthly faith promise to missions, 5) giving offerings as requested (and as you are able), 6) saving for the future, and 7) paying off debt as soon as possible.

Make it a point to nurture the regular action of giving generously, not for the reward, but to honor God. Good exercise for the heart and soul is to bend down and help another person up. As a steward, how can you use your financial resources in a responsible manner to build the Lord’s Kingdom and serve others? Cultivate financial practices that put your treasure in right places.

Walk wisely. What can you do this week to be a cheerful giver? How can you practice the seven components of biblical stewardship that we promote in Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – February 5

Are any of your friends endangering your spiritual health and purity before the Lord?

Read Judges 14:3.

Samson’s father and mother said to him, “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or all of our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?” And Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.”

When it came to relationships, Samson was guided by his lower impulses instead of the principles of God’s Word. And he paid dearly for it. Three times we read in Judges 14 that…”Samson went down…” (ex., Judges 14:1, 5, 7). First, he went down to Timnath and married the wrong woman. Second, he went down to Gaza and spent the night with a harlet. Third, he went down to Sorek and ended up in the lap of Delilah, where he lost his strength, his freedom, his reputation, his anointing, his eyes, and ultimately, his life.

There is a lesson here for every redeemed child of God. The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:14 that, “Followers of Jesus should not be yoked together with unbelievers.” In God’s eyes, people are divided into two categories: those who are in Christ and those who are not. Therefore believers must not be in intimate associations or relationships with unbelievers, because such relationships can corrupt their relationship with Christ.

Is God being biased or unloving? No, He is being protective. When you are “yoked together” in a relationship with someone who does not share your faith, your values, your goals, and your priorities, you end up in a tug of war with each pulling in a different direction. When problems arise, which they surely will, what you need is someone by your side who turns to the same source you do for the solution – God.

Jesus and Paul also warned that, “It is God’s will that you avoid sexual immorality. That each of you learn to control his or her own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5).

Why did God say this? Because when there is physical intimacy without true commitment, somebody’s going to get hurt. You need to pay attention to what God says on this issue. And you need to do it before you get into situations where you are tempted to compromise your character and calling to be set apart to God, because by then it is too late.

We all struggle with our sexuality in a culture on campus (and larger society) where “sex sells.” Our sexuality is such a beautiful and integral part of who we are, and guilt about it has a way of making us feel ashamed and separated from God like nothing else can. In order to determine your values and establish some ground rules, you need to think and pray if you are going to allow your impulses to dictate to you your behavior, or sin to separate you from God (and others).

Will you choose to keep and rely on God’s design for your sexuality and expression, and rely on His Spirit each day to give you strength? And if you do sin, will you seek forgiveness, get back up, and move closer to God? That’s a prayer God will answer! Live communally. What would be the best way to tactfully end a relationship with someone who is dragging you down?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – January 29

Do you ever pause to consider how “blessed” you are? How much of our lives have been out of our control? We did not choose to be born. We did not choose who our parents would be. We did not choose the time, date, location, and circumstances of our birth. The first few years of our existence were lived under the care of someone else.

Later on, when we became aware of our need for food and water for survival, others were providing it. Mom and dad did so much for us during our first eighteen years, and continue to offer support and love beyond the time we left home and high school for the next season of our lives.

I enjoy hearing various men and women, when they realize how blessed and gifted they are, and in moments of success, attribute their success to the foundational idea that the Creator made them that way. The lesson they seem to be communicating is God’s gift to them is their opportunity and giftedness, while their gift to God is how they use it.

John Calvin, a French theologian, pastor, and reformer during the Protestant Reformation once wrote to Francis, King of France: “The characteristic of a true sovereign is, to acknowledge that, in the administration of his kingdom, he is a minister of God. He who does not make his reign subservient to the divine glory, acts not the part of a king, but a robber. He moreover, deceives himself who anticipates long prosperity to any kingdom that is not ruled by the scepter of God, that is, by His Divine Word.”

It had to challenging for a citizen of a country ruled by a human king to challenge his authority by admitting, “Yes, you are my king. But if you don’t recognize and submit your life and leadership to the rule of the One True Sovereign King, and His Word, your influence and your country’s present and future destiny is in danger.”

It has been easy for humans though out history to shake their fist at God, and refuse to submit to Him. It started with Lucifer (a created angelic being), spread to Adam and Eve, and further inflicted men, women, kings, queens, emperors, thugs, dictators, movie stars, politicians, scientists, authors, college professors, and even student leaders. Sadly for some of them, it took until their deathbed to admit that without God at the forefront of their life, position, and seemingly prominent influence, they are doomed to failure.

Read Colossians 1:15-23.

The apostle Paul wrote that God is above all things and by His sovereign dictate created and put us in a position of life, health, and a chance to make a difference. Verse 16 says that, “For by Him are all things created; things in heaven and earth, visible and invisible, thrones, powers, rulers, and authorities. All things were created by him and for him.”

Whether you are a student leader, successful entrepreneur, trending public person, or college president, your authority comes from God Himself. Remember that in order to stay humble. Remember that and stay on your knees for divine guidance. Read, study, and obey His Book. History records that without God as our focus, life and leadership ends with calamity. Think theologically. Ultimately, God rules over all of us.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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