What Day Is It??????????
I bet you know the answer to this question. Just a pic of a camel will bring the complete ad to mind for most people. Advertising in the United States works really well for several reasons. First of all the commercials are played repeatedly on television until they are seared into our brains. Secondly, there are always catch phrases that are at the center of the advertising. This is how items and brands become popular many times. It doesn't matter whether or not the product is actually as great as it is being advertised, it's just that when we think of that type of product, this particular brand comes to mind first. C'mon, admit it. How many times have you asked for someone to pass you a Kleenex, even though it may have been a Puffs Plus box that they pulled it from. What you really wanted was a facial tissue. But we don't call them that. That is what the retailers are hoping for. They want you to think of their brand first and not even consider any of the other choices.
So, in case you haven't seen this commercial (as we have a lot of readers in Europe, both Western and Eastern, especially Russia), it is a commercial for an insurance company here in the US. The camel is seen in different scenarios walking around going, " (persons name), do you know what day it is?," or "guess what day it is?" The joke being that Wednesday is called "Hump Day" and with the camel bearing 2 of them, he thinks it is all about him. I've attached a YouTube video to watch in case you are not familiar with it.
Geico Camel Commercial
But for me, this picture also takes me to another time and place. It wasn't a commercial. There may have been camels around the area, and most likely there were. Jesus had just left Galilee and went to Judea, trying to escape the large crowds. They followed anyway, and once everyone was settled, there were Pharisees who wanted to test Jesus and his theories. They asked questions about divorce (This was dealt with back in a much earlier blog) and then Jesus spent time with the children of the families who followed Jesus. Jesus started on the move again and a man came up to him and asked Jesus how to gain eternal life. Jesus quoted some of the scriptures from the Ten Commandments, but this still did not satisfy the man. He asked Jesus what else he could do, as he felt there was so much more that was still required of him. Here is Jesus' answer:
(Matthew 19: 21-24 NIV)
21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
This man had the same problem as many of the others that came into contact with Jesus and heard his words. For many people who live today, they still cannot accept this part in their lives. People want security in their lives. A safe home, a family to surround them, and financial security so that they don't have to worry about how to pay the bills. They don't want to have to worry each day how they will survive until the next day comes around. Yet, this is exactly what Jesus asked the disciples to do. And they did. They stopped doing their profession, many of them fishermen who dropped their nets and left their boats, and they followed Jesus for 3 1/2 years around the land. At times we see a glimpse of worry in the disciples, though not usually for themselves. The feeding of the 5000 (yep, you heard it right, that's a lot of people to cook for!) is one case in point. But Jesus never showed concern. He simply gave instructions to the disciples, they followed them, and there was food left over. From the human perspective it would have been impossible to do what he did. But for Jesus, he knew what God was capable of and therefore he never flinched.
I do not know if this is true for all of those who are sent as missionaries to foreign lands, but many here in the US will sell all of their possessions and they will use those funds and other monies raised from churches and Christians who want to support them, and they will go to foreign countries to preach the gospel. I do my best to keep my faith and to show others how to gain and maintain theirs, but this is one point that if asked of me, I do have to admit it would be hard. First of all, by the time we sold our belongings and paid our debtors, there would be little left to go on, which really makes the idea scary. I wouldn't say no if I truly felt that it was from God, but I'm human, and I would definitely be freaking out while I was preparing for it. I have lived overseas and Europe, though much of it is English speaking and a beautiful paradise to behold, it is still a different culture. The thing I love best about it is how much snow and cold they get. My wife and I are truly avid winter fans, especially in areas where the summers are a lot milder than here. We also love adventure and it would definitely be an adventure. But to see people being brought to salvation through Christ Jesus (yep, Him and Him alone, I can't do anything for you except preach the word) would thrill my heart! Many of the modern day disciples are asked to go to places not so far away. Sometimes it is only a state or two a way, and sometimes it is to the other end of the country. While I am not a big fan of anywhere that has temps above 80 in the summer, I will still accept His calling to go anywhere that He leads.
So now I'll get to the part as to how this ties in to a camel. Jesus continued his speech to the disciples after the man had walked off.
Matthew 19: 23-24 NIV
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Now, I love to cross stitch. I haven't had the chance to do much over the last few years, but it is a favorite past-time for me. There are different size needles that you use, depending on the cloth. But I have NEVER used one that would let a camel fit through the eye of the needle (that's the part where I ran the thread through). As a matter of a fact, whether it is a knitting, crocheting or a sewing needle, I've never heard of one that has an eye that big. So, basically, Jesus is saying that it is impossible. The people could understand this part because they didn't have fancy retail stores where everything was made for them which caused many of them to make their own garments, and camels were a very popular method of transportation in that day and age. So this impracticality was visible in their minds. I can only imagine the amount of head shrugging that occurred when Jesus spoke that. But it did get the disciples to thinking, as shown in this next part of scripture that follows.
Matthew 19: 25-29 NIV
25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.
In other words, quit worrying about what you can obtain here in life. In eternity, it will only get you a life in Hell, burning in a lake of fire, with never a chance to have even a drop of water to cool your tongue. But if you follow Jesus and do His will, you will be rewarded where it really matters. In Heaven!! For Eternity!!! Sure sounds better than being a smoldering heap for the rest of forever!
My heart once again burns for Jesus and to spread His word. That is why I have started this blog once again, hoping that I can change someone's life for the better. I want to show them how to have the best outcome from their lives, and not the worst, even if the "here and now" seems like the best that they can get.
My wife and I have prayed for quite a while to be used by God, and we have as yet to receive an answer on what to do next. Will I be scared if asked to sell all and go wherever? Poop Yeah! Who wouldn't?!?!? But in the end, if that is asked of me, I will. I would much rather be used by God there, even if it meant a harder life than staying put where we are now, and gain so much more from God, plus the knowledge that I helped a lot more people to do the same, once I reached heaven!
So we eagerly await the instructions of God as to where the next journey in my life will take us. We have tried our best to prepare our hearts and minds and to be ready when He calls. No, we're not saints or perfect. Nope! Far from it. We screw up daily. But we ask His forgiveness and we both know that there is a calling on our lives, and God has a purpose and a plan to use us.
Please pray along with us for several things:
1 The strength and courage to follow His will, no matter what is asked.
2. The wisdom to discern what is from God and what is from Satan, who would love to trick us and lead us down the wrong path.
3. The ability to lead others to Christ and show that it is Him, not us, who get the glory and all of the credit for what has been done.
Keith & Sheri