By: Ethel Chadwick
Bagels & Blessings
I love a good joke. One that I really enjoy goes like this:
“A burglar got into a house one night. Shining his flashlight on the floor in the dark, he heard a voice saying, "Jesus is watching you." He looked around nervously, shook his head, and kept looking for valuables. He again heard, "Jesus is watching you." This time, he shone his light all over, and it rested on a parrot. He asked, "Did you say that?" The parrot admitted that it had. "I'm just trying to warn you, that's all." The burglar said, "Warn me, huh? Who are you? What's your name?" "Moses." "Well, what kind of stupid people would name a parrot 'Moses'?" The bird answered, "I don't know; I guess the same folks who would name a Rottweiler 'Jesus'."
That story makes us laugh, but you know, it reminds us of something important. Jesus, or Yeshua, isn’t a Rottweiler – He’s the Messiah, God’s only son who died for our sins so that we could have eternal life. This is a basic truth that you will hear many times within these walls. But is He watching us? Does God know our thoughts and does He see what we do? Does He hear what we say?
How are we supposed to act?
Col. 3:5-14: Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Wow, this is a pretty tall order. In 11 or so verses we have an amazing outline of how we are expected to live. If you ever wondered how to please God, these scriptures lay it all out for us. If we truly live like this, we won’t give into anger, no matter what. We won’t say bad words anymore. That means no cursing! Even when you are alone and think no one knows, God knows. And no lies. What about white lies? I don’t believe there are any exceptions here. Obviously you don’t want to go out of your way to hurt or offend someone. For example, your wife or girlfriend says – do you like my dress? In your mind you think it makes her look fat, but you don’t have to say that. You can say “to me you always look beautiful.” That is not a lie, because when you love someone, to you they ARE beautiful! So you do have to be careful and choose your words wisely!
I do want to spend a little time on this issue of lying – because I think people do it way too often. Why were you late for work? Oh, my car didn’t start. Really? Are you sure you didn’t just oversleep? Why didn’t you pick up bread at the market? Oh, sorry, there was an accident in front of the store and cops everywhere and I couldn’t park. But that’s not true, is it? There was no accident. You just forgot, didn’t you?
Lev. 19:11 ‘Do not steal.“ ‘Do not lie.“ ‘Do not deceive one another.
It’s not always easy to tell the truth. But it’s the right thing to do. Remember the “Golden Rule?” Treat others as you wish to be treated. If you want people to be honest with you, start being honest with them. Sometimes we don’t tell the truth because we are afraid. But you can’t live your life in fear. Sooner or later you have to take responsibility for your actions. You need to know the truth and your friends and family deserve the same.
Matt. 7:12: So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
As I have said in some of my other messages, it all comes down to choice. Every day we have a choice – we can serve ourselves only, or we can serve the living God of Israel. If we are serving ourselves, we are self-centered. Whatever we do or say must be noticed, we must make a good impression, we must be smarter, prettier and more talented than anyone else and we’ll do whatever it takes to be number 1. We are overly concerned with what others think of us and seek their approval at all times. But, if we are God-centered, then at the start of each day we wake to praise God for a new day. We ask Him “what shall I do for you today?” We seek to do His will at all times. We don’t really care about impressing others because all that we do is for His glory.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible talks about choice.
Joshua 24:15 - But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
This is wonderful, it is exciting! We have it on a plaque in our house! Are you listening? Every day when you wake up, you have a choice – who are you gonna serve? As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord! Let that be a motto for your family! Men, take the spiritual lead in your homes and declare it to your family! As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord! Make that choice today!
When I lead worship I have to make sure my focus is in the right place. When I am self-centered I am worrying about how I look, if my voice is good enough, do I sing better than someone else, am I making a good impression, etc. But when I am God-centered I lose myself in Him. I no longer worry about the opinion of others. My only concern is to please my Father in heaven! It is better to please Him than to please any man.
1 Thess. 2:4 On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.
Gal. 1:10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
I really find that I am so much freer from worry and anxiety when my main goal is to please God. I don’t like being preoccupied with myself. Yet it’s so easy to do. Before you came here today did you wonder if someone would notice your new shirt, your new hairdo, or if someone would pat you on the back and say “well done?” Don’t get me wrong, we all need encouragement and some recognition, but if we are totally preoccupied with making a good impression on others, if we’re starved for applause and attention, then we need to take a step back and ask ourselves – are we being self-centered or God-centered.
Sometimes when I am leading worship or speaking in front of others I imagine that I see Yeshua in the audience. I look into his kind, loving eyes and feel His love and His approval. I want so much to please Him, to be a blessing to Him. In this way I can block out the others in the audience and take my mind off of myself.
A few friends confided in me that they are afraid of public speaking, or of singing in front of others. I have tried to get them to change their focus. Because when we focus on God and He is our audience, then we can’t be afraid. We are only afraid when we become self-centered, when we focus on pleasing man.
In the beginning of this message I told a joke about the Rottweiler named Jesus. The parrot kept saying “Jesus is watching!” Yes my friends, Yeshua IS watching. He sees everything you do, He hears your thoughts and knows your heart. Knowing that He is watching you may influence your behavior, hopefully for the good! Think before you speak and before you act. If you have ungodly thoughts, ask the Lord to help you and change your focus. When you change your focus you change your thoughts. Yes, you control your thoughts – they do not control you.
Yeshua is watching us. But we need not be afraid. He loves us and is always there for us!
1 Pet 5:7 (LB) Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.