Pay It Forward

Many people have heard or used the term ‘Pay it Forward’ when talking about doing good deeds.  That statement has gotten me thinking on more than one occasion, and I finally sat down and decided to study a little deeper into what paying it forward means.  The term first arose in my mind when the movie “Pay It Forward” was released back in 2000.  In that film a young boy named Trevor uses a class project to devise an idea to change the world.  His idea: to do three acts of kindness, for three different people, who in turn would do the same for three others…a plan that would better Mankind.

Another example that was released around the same time was a song, released by Clay Walker, titled “Chain of Love”.  The lyrics are a powerful story, told in song, about a woman who breaks down with a flat tire, a man who changes the tire, refuses any type of payment by saying, “Don’t let this chain of love end with you.”  The lady is then in a diner and her waitress is around 8 months pregnant; she leaves a large tip with a note on a napkin, stating the same words.  The song then reveals that the pregnant waitress is the man’s wife.

Two stories with the same plot…pay it forward.

Upon further study however, I realized that the Idea has been around since before time began.  God has always used this method to reach His children.  You can see it in the Garden of Eden, when God asks Adam to take care of His creation…with the promise that Adam would be taken care of…pay it forward.

We see it again throughout the Old Testament, with many acts of kindness being offered down through the generations.

But the greatest example of paying it forward took place around two thousand years ago…you might know the story…when a man named Jesus carried out His Father’s will by hanging on a cross.  Throughout Jesus’ ministry we see many accounts of paying it forward.

When Jesus heals the blind man, Jesus tells him to go tell others.  When Jesus heals a paralytic, he tells the man to share the good news.  When he heals the harlot who touches his robe…go and sin no more.  Jesus believed in paying it forward…still having doubts?  Look to the cross!

The story of the cross starts in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prays to his Father, assuring God that His will would be accomplished.  Jesus then prays for the 12 who had followed him faithfully, asking for protection…and then prays for those who would hear their message…Jesus prayed for us.  He then died on a cross, our cross…with our nails in his hands and feet…with our crown of thorns on his head….taking a spear in our place…dying so that we might live.

The price he asks us in return?  To pay it forward.

Matthew 25:40 states, “Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me” – pay it forward…

Matthew 28:18-20 says, “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” – pay it forward…

The idea of paying it forward was central to Jesus ministry…whatever good deed has been done for you…do the same for others.

So the next time you’re faced with a situation in which you have the opportunity to do a good deed for someone, remember the good that has been done for you…and pay it forward.  This world may seem to be a cruel place…but paying it forward offers great reward; because the ultimate gift was given with that in mind.  The cross is the ultimate gift…where Jesus took our sin, paid the price we should have paid…and simply said to each of us, “Pay it forward…tell others about the gift I have given…share the news that their life was saved too…don’t let this chain of love end with you…please, pay it forward.”

Now its your turn…pay it forward!

Advertisements

Closer

I was driving down the road the other day and something that I have seen over and over again struck me for the first time.  I have used my mirrors backing up and changing lanes now for more than 10 years as a licensed driver, and never have I thought of the spiritual aspect of the statement found on the passenger side mirror.  “OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR” are the simple words that are found there…but they are so much more than that to me now.

I was driving home from work and looked in the mirror to see one of the most beautiful sunsets that I have ever seen, and those words directly below this image brought me into a moment of worship with God.  Realizing that God has created everything that we see around us I was brought to a moment of awe that was indescribable.  I realized that God, although we may not feel Him, is closer than He appears.  God is amazing.

In the same way looking in that mirror reminded me that at the times that I am struggling with life, struggling to get by during the times of depression and anger, that He is right there with me…walking beside me, or better yet, riding passenger in my car.

So, to rephrase this, “GOD IS CLOSER THAN HE APPEARS”.  Wow, what an amazing thought…no matter what we’re going through, no matter what struggles are going on in our heads, no matter what we are facing in our lives – GOD IS RIGHT THERE!!!   HE is there when we wake in the morning, HE is there when we are driving down the road, HE is even there when we feel no one is there for us.  HE is the first, HE is the last…meaning HE was there before us, and will be there after us…HE is in charge, HE is in control, HE never changes, HE is the creator of all, and most of all, HE WANTS TO BE OUR FRIEND!

He sees through the muck and the mire, to the depths of our hearts, and loves us the same as if we had never sinned.  He will never leave us hanging, never stand us up, never let us down…

What an amazing God we serve!

objects in mirror

Remember Me

Remembering someone is what many of us do in many situations of our life.  Whether it be because they have gone on before us, or because of something we are doing which makes us think of them, or just a memory that creeps up every once in a while; remembering is something that we all face daily; whether it be a loved one or a lunch date, we all have something to remember.  Scripture talks of two types of remembrance that are key in our lives as Christians; God remembering us, and us remembering Christ.

In Genesis we see one of the first of many instances where God remembers one of His children, in the story of Noah.  God made the decision to destroy the world by flood; but then the scripture says that God remembered Noah.  Does that mean that God had lost touch with Noah?  Never!  What that meant was that God was thinking about Noah, He was looking out for Noah, God was with Noah.  We see again a time where God remembered Noah and his family, after the flood; did that mean that God had forgotten Noah during the storm?  No Way!  He was right there with Noah, through the flood, and brought Noah and his family out of the flood.

Another example of God remembering one of His own is the story of Lot, Abraham’s brother who was living in Sodom; but God remembered him, allowing him to run from the town under the instruction to never look back.  Or the story of Abraham himself, when we see that God remembered Abraham and Sarah who were in their old age but wanted a child.  Did that mean that God had forgotten about Abraham or Lot?  Not at all!

God over and over through scripture is seen remembering His children; He is over and over showing compassion on those He loves.  He is always in their midst, always there in the tough times…Always right on time.  Look at the story of Job…Job’s friends thought God had forgotten him…but Job knew that God would remember him in his time of need.  We also see that Satan had to ask God’s permission to test Job.  So not only do we see that God remembers us, God has to allow Satan to test us!  God knows what we can handle, and if the test will be too much, God won’t allow Satan to bring it against us.

Probably the greatest example of God’s remembrance is seen on the cross, where Jesus hung for our sins.  Let’s take a look at the scene:  Three crosses, with Jesus hanging in the middle; a sign above Jesus’ head that stated, “King of the Jews” and a thief to either side of him.  Why is it important to mention the two hanging on his right and his left?  Because that is where we see the love of God reflected…in a man hanging on a cross, between two others…dying for their sins as well.

The cross was the site of the greatest message of Jesus’ ministry…remembrance.

In Luke 23 we see this story…we see where those on the ground were ridiculing Jesus; calling him names, laughing at his claims, making a spectacle out of the one who came to save them.  Then we see the central message of Jesus’ life played out in a few short statements.  We see the first thief join in with the crowd…something many of us do daily; joining with the ones who are around, because we’re afraid to go against the flow.

We join the first thief in his failure to understand what is going on right before his eyes…

Enter the second thief…the one we should be like…the one hanging on a cross of his own doing, dying because of the sin he has committed.  The one who turns to the other and says to him, “Don’t you see what is happening here? Don’t you get what is going on?  Don’t you understand that we’re dying for what we’ve done, and this man has done nothing?”

The second thief came to a realization…that he was hanging on a cross next to a man who was dying for his sins.  Dying on a cross, putting his sin on two crosses…the man was bearing his own cross, right next to the one who was bearing his sin.  This thief not only understood who Jesus was, he also understood the message of remembrance.  He finished scolding the other thief, turned to the one who was bearing his sin, and simply said, “Remember me.”

The thief repented of his sin, realized why he was hanging on a cross, and then asked a question that many of us need to ask, “Jesus, will you remember me?”   To which Jesus responded, “You bet!”

The thief knew that he needed to be remembered by the Lord, by the God of the Universe, by the King of Kings; and God remembered him…just as He does each of us.

But that is only half of the equation…the other half is our remembrance of Christ.  Why is that important?  Because He remembered us!  John 17 tells us that, he remembered each of us in His prayer to His father…asking for a blessing on our lives…the least we could do is remember Him.  It is also important because He is the central focus to the life of a Christian; at least He is supposed to be.

The name Christian is used too lightly in this day and time…

People use the name of Christ, because it makes them feel good about themselves…but too many times we are too blind to see that we are not focused on Him, but on ourselves…too many times we use Him as a crutch, rather than using Him as an example.  Why in our lives do we want to use the cover of Christian?  How does that cover sometimes make us feel that we are better people?  Especially when our lives don’t reflect the life that Christ Himself lived.

Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things together for good for those that love Him…not those that claim to love Him…those that DO love Him.  He knows your heart…He knows the true feelings…He knows where you stand…even if the world doesn’t.  Remembering Christ doesn’t mean that we remember the story…it means we remember the reason for the story – that we are all sinners and without His death and resurrection, our lives mean nothing.

Remembering Christ starts in our hearts…it starts when we realize that because we love God, that he has formed us into the image of His Son.  It means that because we love God, He has made us pure…that if we could see ourselves the way that He sees us, we would be tempted to worship ourselves (not because of being self-centered, but because of the purity and the glory that He sees us in).  But too often we only remember Christ when it is convenient…we only remember Christ when we feel we can no longer strive through it ourselves…why?  Because we didn’t remember Him from the beginning, because we forgot to remember the one who died for our sins.

But Jesus also instructed us to remember him…think about communion; “Do this in remembrance of Me; every time you drink the cup, every time you eat the bread…Remember Me.”

But He is also speaking to us today…not only in the emblems of communion, but in our everyday life.  He is telling each one of us, “Remember me when the day doesn’t go your way, because I remember you.  Remember me when you seem to be at your rope’s end, because I’m hanging right there with you.

“Remember me when you get that good news you’ve been waiting for, because I’m rejoicing right there with you.  Remember me when you get that promotion, remember me when you get fired; remember me when you meet that person you can’t live without, remember me when you are looking up from the depths of despair; remember me when you feel like nothing could get any better, remember me when you think nothing could get any worse; remember me in everything, because I promise you…I remember you….I think of you daily.

“I’m right there beside you when you get life altering news, I’m right there when you don’t want me to be…and because of that…I’ll be right there when you’re finally ready to talk.  I’ll be there through thick and thin, when the going gets tough…when life gets you down…when you feel like you can’t go on…because I know what you’re going through…I feel it too!  All I ask, don’t forget me in the good times…because I’m always there…I remember you…do you remember me?”

Isn’t it great that God remembers us?  The question is…do you remember Him?