Monthly Archives: August 2015

Monday Motivator – August 31

I remember meeting Robby from Uganda when he came to Ohio University in the 1980’s. I met him when he came up to introduce himself while I was doing some 2×2 evangelism on the main center of campus. We met soon after and got to know one another better. He mentioned how different the idea of “fellowship” was from his country (amidst civil war at the time) and America. He described the activity of fellowship he and other Christians practiced as meeting to discuss the Word of God and the activity of the Holy Spirit in their lives rather than just bowling, pizza, and hanging out. He added that he didn’t think it had to be either-or, but circumstances do affect how we perceive and handle life, its outcomes and consequences.

Read Psalm 145:8-13a.

Psalm 145 is a hymn of praise to the Lord, the great King, for His mighty acts and benevolent virtues, which are reflections and examples of his kingly rule. Between the two-line introduction (v 1-2) and the one-line conclusion (v 21), four poetic paragraphs develop themes of praise, each introduced with a thematic line (v 3, 8, 13b, 17). Consider the second of the four paragraphs.

Verses 8-13a describe the praise of God’s benevolent virtues, which moves all creatures to celebrate the glory of His Kingdom. What virtues? How about His grace, mercy, compassion, impartiality, providence…as a start?

The Lord’s gracious benevolence is reviewed in v 8-9; how His nature expresses itself in kindness. His specific goodness to his covenant people is accompanied by flat out universal goodness (v 9). For this, His saints owe him thanks (v 10-16).

God’s grace = unmerited favor. It’s freely given. It empowers people for service. It enables people to live a simple life. It’s not given for selfish use. It’s promised to the humble. God’s mercy is eternal and boundless. It prolongs life, and encourages us to penitence. His mercy forgives our sins, and makes salvation possible. God’s compassion is benevolent, helpful, burden bearing, and shows a concern for the unfortunate. To God’s people belongs a testimony of His might (11), and to the glory of His kingly rule (12). God is impartial. Peter says in Acts 10:34-35 that, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts men and women from every nation who fear him and do what is right.” One of God’s names is Jehovah Jireh, “our Provider.”

What is the divine King’s true greatness? (His character – 8). How does God treat His subjects? (He is good to all – 9). How do His subjects treat God? (All will praise Him- 10). Do all the subjects respond equally? (10-13) …”All you have made will praise you, O Lord, your saints will extol you. They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.”

Did you hear the topic of conversation? It centers on God’s virtue and His Kingdom. Do you speak this way about the LORD with your friends? Not just at church, but on a regular basis? Is it part of your holy habits to praise the Lord with like-minded followers of the One True God? Do you talk about and tell of the glory of His rule in your life and academic and professional service? Live communally. Learn from Robby and his pals and practice war-time conversation.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – August 24

“Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course He isn’t safe. But He’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Read Psalm 145.

Psalm 145 is a hymn of praise to the Lord, the great King, for His mighty acts and benevolent virtues, which are reflections and examples of his kingly rule. Between the two-line introduction (v 1-2) and the one-line conclusion (v 21), four poetic paragraphs develop themes of praise, each introduced with a thematic line (v 3, 8, 13b, 17). Consider the first of the four paragraphs.

Verses 3-7 read: Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They tell of the power of your awesome works—and I will proclaim your great deeds. They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

Verses 3-7 are comprised of praise for God’s mighty acts, which display his greatness (v 3) and his goodness (v 7). His greatness is described as limitless, awe-inspiring, good and reliable. Did you note the connection of general and individual testimony – praising Him for who He is and what He has done? His works are mighty, i.e., in power, are wonderful, supernatural in quality, awesome, striking fear into the witness. Consider His works…in creation, providence, and redemption.

What method will be used to spread the divine King’s fame? (see verses 4-7, 10, 21). List all the reasons you can find in the text given for praising God. Which is the most exciting to you?

Verse 4…One generation…will commend your works to another…will tell of your mighty acts.

They will commend…they will tell of. The Hebrew for this phrase is translated “declare.” The praise of God is rarely a private matter between the psalmist and the Lord. It is usually a public celebration of God’s holy virtues or of His saving acts or His gracious bestowal of blessings. In his praise, the psalmist proclaims to others God’s glorious attributes or His righteous deeds. To this is usually added a call to praise, summoning all who hear to take up the praise – to acknowledge and joyfully celebrate God’s glory, His goodness, and all His righteous acts.

Those of us who are followers of Jesus are called to testify about God…unceasingly, without shame or fear, and to be constantly ready to speak about the greatness and goodness of the LORD. Your testimony should relate to your study of God from the Scriptures, it should retell God’s blessings, it could burst forth from an understanding of the work of God in history, be inspired by the Spirit, come from your personal experience with God, and be a natural outgrowth of your faith journey.

Think theologically. How can you reflect on God’s greatness and/or goodness today? How can you then declare the reality of God’s character like Mr. Beaver did to the children as they encountered the world of Narnia? Will you be part of a generation that tells of His mighty acts?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – August 17

Take a moment and consider why you practice praising God as a regular habit and discipline. Think about why you do what you do when it comes to recognizing and honoring God.

Read Psalm 145, preferably out loud.

Psalm 145 is a hymn of praise to the Lord, the great King, for His mighty acts and benevolent virtues, which are reflections and examples of his kingly rule. Between the two-line introduction (v 1-2) and the one-line conclusion (v 21), four poetic paragraphs develop themes of praise, each introduced with a thematic line (v 3, 8, 13b, 17). Consider this outline of the Psalm.

1-2: An initial commitment to praise

3-7: Praise of God’s mighty acts, which display his greatness (v 3) and his goodness (v 7)

8-13a: Praise of God’s benevolent virtues, which moves all creatures to celebrate the glory of His Kingdom

13b-16: Praise God’s faithfulness

17-20: Praise of God’s righteousness

21: Every creature must take up the praise of God – forever

Let’s examine the first two verses of Psalm 145 today: Verses 1-2 read…”I will exalt you my God the King, I will praise your name forever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.” The Psalmist says, “I will” three times in two lines.

How should you handle God’s name? V 21 says, “Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.” The name of the Lord is a manifestation of his character. Scripture argues that the name of the Lord protects His people. The Lord saves by His name. His acts of care and provision testify that He is near. Based on real-time evidence, the godly “trust” in His name, hope in His name, sing praise to His name, and rejoice in His name. Both the love and fear that belong to God alone are similarly directed toward His name.

The Scriptures speak of glorifying God by the praise of humans (and by rocks if people are negligent), by our response of good works, by bearing fruit, by our spiritual unity, and being entirely consecrated to the LORD. Praise to God is commanded in song, with musical instruments, is to be universal (may the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. Psalm 67:3), and perpetual (through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name. Hebrews 13:15).

Peter, a writer of several New Testament letters, presents a four-fold reason for praising God. In 1 Peter 2:9, Peter says, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, so that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Will you practice unceasing praise? Why would you? Because God is the King. He deserves it because of who He is and what He does. Say with me, “I will praise and exalt you, My King.”

Grow devotionally. Followers of the one true God need to remember who the King of heaven and earth really is. Renew today your commitment to practice praising God as a holy habit.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – August 10

What does it mean for you to stand up courageously for Jesus? Where? When? How? Why? When you make a stand for Jesus, how will you join hands with a few like-minded believers?

Read Daniel 3:24-30.

But as King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace, he was astonished. His soldiers had died as soon as the flames touched them. But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were walking around and someone else seemed to be walking around WITH them. He said the 4th looked like a son of the gods. Who was it? An illusion? An angel? A Son of the gods? THE Son of God?

Nebuchadnezzar recognized the person as being supernatural. Verse 26 records that he ran to the furnace and yelled, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, come here!” What a testimony from the secular head of the government, huh?

Up till now, Nebuchadnezzar believed he was superior to anyone else, because his empire was the world power, he had destroyed Israel and captured the Jews and their treasures. But he could not deliver anyone alive from a furnace. As Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego declared, their God was able to deliver them. But the king didn’t recognize their God as his God.

By the way, did you notice how much talking Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did after getting out of the furnace? Who was doing all the talking? What was King Nebuchadnezzar declaring? The Great God who rescued his servants. Their clothes were not scorched. Their bodies were not harmed. The hair on their heads was not even singed. No smell of smoke.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego trusted God, and Nebuchadnezzar was moved by their devotion to Him. They defied the king’s command to worship an idol. They were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own. The king decreed that the God of these young men was to be held in honor and anyone who dishonored their God would be put to death. Finally, the king then honored Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego by promoting them to positions of higher honor and power in the kingdom.

These Hebrew guys teach us that there are some things worth getting burned for:

1) Refusing to conform to the demands and expectations of culture when it violates God’s Word;

2) Living a life of faith and sharing your story in a very secular place;

3) If you identify with the one true God, it often will get you into trouble and may cause you to suffer;

4) Your convictions will label you as servant of God;

5) We need the help of others to stand in a culture of ruthless competition for our allegiance;

6) If you seek to do right, you may not win, and in fact may get punished, but you will never be alone. Note that God saved Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fire, not from the fire;

7) God can be trusted. He will carry you through.

Whether or not you can see Him, how might God be with you in the heat? What authority figures in your life are you praying for to believe in Jesus? Serve globally. I hope you learn from Daniel’s friends that God will be with you in the toughest place on campus or in the marketplace.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – August 3

How has your faith been tested? Here are four I am aware of. First, an employer asks one of his top department leaders (who is a follower of Jesus) to have an affair with him and he’ll guarantee advancement; Second, a manager was ordered by her supervisor to stop inviting other workers to her lunch time Bible study; Third, Wellesley College (MA) refused to allow our Chi Alpha group to bring a woman speaker to campus to talk about how she changed from practicing a lesbian lifestyle; Fourth, an engineer was refused a promotion and reprimanded when he turned down a bribe from a supervisor and then told company officials he “objected to using substandard materials in a product” because it violated the values by which he governed his life.

Read Daniel 3:19-23.

The King of Babylon made a ninety-foot statue of himself and demanded everyone in his empire bow down and worship him. Yet three Jewish young men named Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood upright and refused to bow down to the image of King Nebuchadnezzar.

In spite of the high regard the King had for his 3 employees, he determined to show his authority by ordering their immediate execution. This would serve as a lesson to anyone else who might consider rebelling against his authority. Did you notice any chance for appeal?

In a fit of anger, Nebuchadnezzar had the furnace heated 7 times hotter than usual. A low fire would have increased their torture by extending their punishment. A hotter fire would kill them instantly. Kind of cruel, isn’t it? Why do you think the king had some of his strongest soldiers tie up the guys? Added persecution? To tie the ropes tighter and make it hurt more?

The furnace was probably constructed with an opening in the top, through which fuel could be poured, and an opening in the lower side, from which ashes could be removed. Soldiers threw or lowered the 3 into the blazing furnace. It was customary to remove the clothing of those being executed (?), but the king wanted his command carried out NOW. The flames were so hot that they killed the soldiers who took the 3 men up to die, and they simply fell into the furnace.

Where are you facing the greatest pressure? Time demands? Living on your own and deciding what kind of person you’ll be? A moral or ethical choice on campus where there’s an endless source of pleasure? Practicing your faith in Jesus? Paying your bills? A tough employer to deal with? Conflict in your marriage or family?

God often demands great sacrifices from his people (Abraham and his son); He often leads people in difficult ways (Israel in the desert); He proposes hard tasks (Jesus told the disciples to feed 5000); and God permits people to suffer (Paul and Silas thrown in jail and beaten). 

Christians are often afraid to speak up about their faith on campus because they know they will almost certainly be laughed at, mocked, or marginalized in class. Christians in the marketplace are often fearful to speak out about their faith because they know their careers could be damaged, and they could even lose their jobs. By the way, if God chose NOT to deliver you from a blazing furnace, would you still honor and obey Him?

Walk wisely. How much are you willing to risk in order to obey a clear command of God?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2015 by Mike Olejarz

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