Monthly Archives: March 2018

Monday Motivator – March 26

I had the chance to be a part of my aunt Arlene’s funeral recently. What a lady she was. She was a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, and friend to so many. She and her late husband Ron were friends of my folks for 65 years. My parents met her when she was sixteen and they maintained friendship until death separated them. My dad is the only one left of the four of them.

Arlene and my mom were such healthy and helpful women. They were always available and looking to help family or friends. Both lived life well and were remembered fondly by those of us who knew and loved them dearly. They prepared their families for life by being women of faith, hard work, cultivating a cheerful attitude, and modeling to their children how to live life well as they got older and the runways of their lives shortened.

In cultures throughout history, women have played a significant role in not only raising and educating children but helping them navigate the ups and downs of life. Part of that cycle was how to handle death.

Read Luke 23:55-56 and 24:1-3.

In many cultures women have played a crucial role in preparing bodies for burial. It seems a pretty natural fit for women. They seem to want to help people at a really important time.

Consider the women who wanted to give Jesus’ body the care it deserved. They watched Him being carried away from the cross and placed in a tomb, then “prepared spices and perfumes” to anoint His body (verse 56). In their preparations, they were not going to let a large boulder obstruct their efforts. They came prepared with their supplies, hoping I presume, that someone would move the stone for them.

As Dr. Luke recorded, the rock was not a problem. It was already moved…and His body was gone. They soon discovered there was no need to care for the dead, because Jesus was alive (see Luke 24:4-6).

Those women did not start caring for Jesus only after He was dead. Their love for Him began when they first met Him, heard Him speak, and believed He was their Savior. They followed Him and cared for His needs (Mark 15:41). They had watched Him connect with crowds with His powerful words, heal the blind and lame, and later die a horrible death. Their desire to care for His body was a last act of devotion. But to their surprise they instead would see Him again. And alive!

The same Savior they saw in resurrected form is our Savior too. He is still alive. Our devotion to Him never has to end. He will never leave us as He promised.

What does the Easter mean to you? Do you believe Jesus is alive? Why or why not? What can you do to show gratitude to God for sending Jesus to earth to die on a cross?

Serve globally. The bottom line is Jesus died, but He’s alive. Come and see. Go and tell.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – March 19

Do you tend to brag about your accomplishments as though they were totally of your own making? Or do you thank God that He gave you gifts that you have cultivated in your life and service? When times are tough, do you still believe God is in control?

I do not watch as much professional sports as I used to. Part of the reason is because so many modern day athletes lean towards self-promotion and individual grandstanding (on and off the field), which is not new, but much more obvious. I can understand the lure of the 24-hour news cycle, but their bragging and demonstrations of self-promotion remind me of the Old Testament story of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar.

Read Daniel 4:26.

Nebuchadnezzar ruled around 600 B.C., and he thought he was way more important than he was. As the story was told, he went out for a walk on the roof of his palace one day to admire the view of his kingdom. He was heard to say something like, “Hey, look at this beautiful city and palace that I have created. What a treasure! I did it all by myself. Isn’t my power and authority awesome?”

Could you see the king doing a little end-zone type dance like football players do after a scoring a touchdown? “Look at me, I’m great!” But while Nebuchadnezzar was still bragging, he was interrupted by God. The One True God, capital G. He was addressing the lower capital king, with a k. God told him that because he claimed for himself what was really God’s blessing, he would go mad and end up living in the field with the livestock, eating grass and straw.

And so it came to be. Within an hour, Nebuchadnezzar was out of his mind and out of the palace. The lesson God wanted him to learn out in the wilderness was simple – “God really rules, not you.” He is the capital R, Ruler, and capital K, King, of the Universe. P.S. The word “awesome” should only be used when referring to God.

To his credit, the king learned his lesson. So God was gracious and restored him to his throne. Listen to the king’s conclusion at his hastily called afternoon press conference about who is truly the Great One (sorry Wayne Gretzky). “At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified Him who lives forever; His dominion is an eternal dominion; His kingdom endures from generation to generation” (Daniel 4:34).

At some time in our lives most of us are or will be tempted to think we are really in control. We’ll get praised for something we did, and we may even do a low or high fist pump of self-congratulations. Being affirmed for good character and behavior is not what I am talking about. I’m thinking about the situation(s) when we’re tempted to start passing out Vistaprint cards that say, “Just ask me how great I am!”

It’s just about that time when God gives us a wilderness experience. He will attempt to teach us what He taught Nebuchadnezzar. He is in control. Not you or me. Walk wisely. Eating crow is not as bad as eating grass, right? Aren’t you glad you have an option?

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2018 by Mike Olejarz

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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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