Render Unto God the Things that are God’s

Coins

This week, I  read the account of the Jewish leaders trying to entrap Jesus with their questions. One question has to do with paying taxes to Caesar. Jesus responds by asking for a coin. He than asks whose inscription is on the coin. His questioners answer Caesar’s. Jesus than surprises them all with His answer: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21)

When I read this account, God convicted me about my life. I had always read these words with the understanding that we are to pay our taxes, but I never paid much attention to the second part of Jesus’ statement. God wants me to give all things unto Him because I belong to Him.

One question that comes to my mind: “Have I rendered unto God the things that belong to Him?” I realize that my answer is “no”.  I still am dealing with selfishness in several areas of my life. I often don’t recognize in my heart that belonging to God means I surrender every area of my life to Him. Surrender is the true essence of defining what it means to be a servant (bond-slave) of Jesus Christ.

“What are the things that I need to render unto God?” First of all, I need to render my life unto God. I often grab hold of my life and try to take it back from God. I can do this as I make decisions concerning my future, or the use of my time. I also have the tendency to allow my worries and anxieties to remain in my heart instead of giving them over to the Lord as He desires: “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

My reputation is an area in my life that I need to give unto God. It is difficult not to defend oneself when others may not agree with you or even worse when they oppose you or try to tear you down. Jesus Christ is the great example of one who surrendered His reputation to His Heavenly Father. God’s reputation is more important than my reputation.

A second area of my life that I need to render to God is my family. Marriage can easily bring out my selfish bent.  Instead of looking at my wife in the same way as Christ loved the church. I seek to please myself. A marriage surrendered to God demonstrates a selfless love that seeks the best for one’s spouse.

Also, I am grateful for the three children that God has given to us. Our two sons are serving the Lord in Portugal and our daughter and her husband are making plans to minister in England. When we give our children unto God, it is difficult when the Lord takes them to distant place to live. This is a great reminder that our children ultimately belong to God.  They are his gift to us to raise them to honor and glorify Him.

A third area of my life that I need to render to God is the church.  As a pastor of a church, I need to remind myself that Christ is the Head of the church. I am His servant, who needs to minister to those that God brings into our local church. Patience is a necessity in dealing with people.  The Bible reminds me: “that it is God who worketh in you both to will and do of His good pleasure.”  In myself I can’t make anyone grow spiritually.  I can’t  make anyone confess and forsake their sin. I need to constantly “turn my eyes upon Jesus.”

Almost every day, the Lord reminds me of some area of my life that I need to surrender to Him. He is my Lord and Master. He knows what is best for me. What keeps me from surrendering every area to my Loving Lord?

“Dear Lord, thank you for using your Word to show me my need to give every area of my life to you. I know that I attempt to grab from you some part of my life that belongs to you. Help me to see those areas of my life, my family and the church that I have yet delivered unto you.  Sometimes transferring the ownership of some area of my life is difficult, but I know that your peace, guidance and wisdom come when I render everything to you.  Thank you that I belong to you because your Son took my place on the cross, Amen.”

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Invisible People

“Right Through The Invisible Man,” by eshplagami @ flickr.com Creative Commons – Some rights reserved

“Right Through The Invisible Man,” by eshplagami @ flickr.com Creative Commons – Some rights reserved

When I was a child, I would wonder what life would be like if I could become invisible.  As I grew older, I soon found the answer. I had experienced being invisible to people around me.

There are invisible people everywhere. They are in our churches, in our schools, in our workplaces, in our hospitals, in our nursing homes, in our shopping centers, and even in our homes. Who are these invisible people?  They are people who are ignored by those around them as though they were invisible.

For example people can come to a church. They sit alone. A few people may say “hello” to them, but they are virtually invisible to the people around them. Perhaps, we are too preoccupied with our lives to open up our eyes and see other people around us. The greatest danger in the church today isn’t empty pews, but having people sit in pews who are invisible to those around them.

There are invisible people not only in our churches, but in all walks of life.  We may go to a restaurant and our server may be invisible to us.  We are only interested in getting served and we never make direct eye contact with the server.

People who are in nursing homes or who are shut-ins are also invisible to many in our society.  We are too busy with our lives to see the needs of these people who are lonely and invisible.  They are in a place that we never have to enter unless we make the choice to seek out these invisible people

Many children and young people are invisible to us.  We don’t understand them and we feel awkward communicating with them. We would rather stick with people our own age and with our own interest.  For this reason, many of our young people feel rejected by adults.

Being invisible is not a pleasant experience, no matter what age you are  It is difficult to have people walk by you without a word of greeting or a smile.  It is difficult to be alone for days without end and have nobody to speak with you.  It is hard to come to a church and seek love and find that you are invisible to the people in the church.

The Lord Jesus Christ understood people who were invisible.  To Jesus nobody is invisible!  He died for every person who walked upon this earth.  He knows the heart of each person.

When Jesus walked upon the earth, he paid special attention to those who were invisible to those around them.  He healed the lepers and the blind.  He paid special attention to Zacchaeus, who was a small man whom the crowd ignored. Jesus talked to the Samaritan woman at the well, who was shunned by her community.  He gave forgiveness to the repentant thief on the cross.

How did Jesus see and minister to these invisible people?  He looked beyond Himself and learned to share His love and compassion with those around Him.  Do we have this same love and compassion to see those who are invisible in our churches, nursing homes, hospitals and many other places?

“Dear Lord, I thank you that I am not invisible to you. You know everything about me. You love me with an everlasting love. When I am invisible to others, I know that I can still enjoy communion with you. Help me to look beyond myself and see those people who are invisible to others.  Amen”

Going Home-Maria Teresa Standridge’s Testimony

Maria Teresa Standridge-A woman who loves God and others.

Maria Teresa Standridge-A woman who loves God and others.

What does it feel like to hear from the doctor that you have only a few months to live?  Maria Teresa Standridge recently received this news from her doctors in Italy.  Maria Teresa has served the Lord with her husband, Bill, for nearly sixty years in Rome, Italy. Though she is eighty-eight years old, she is still serving the Lord. They have been an inspiration to me because of their faithful service unto the Lord even into their eighties.

I have been given permission to share Maria Teresa’s thoughts about her impending death.  Please take time to read this beautiful testimony of God’s peace in the midst of facing death.

I’M GOING HOME! BY MARIA TERESA STANDRIDGE (ROME, ITALY)

“Mr. Standridge, bring  your wife to the emergency room immediately for a blood transfusion. The levels in her blood are very low. We have already informed your doctor. ”

I had just finished blood tests in a medical center and things seemed really serious. I did not expect anything like this, even though, for a few weeks, I had been feeling pretty weak and with little energy. We went straight to the emergency room of a large hospital in Rome, close to home, and soon I was lying on a bed with a needle stuck in my arm and a nice bag of blood, which was followed by two more, transferring its liquid, drop by drop, into my veins.

Since then I have been on a rollercoaster of news and surprises, hospitalization, other blood tests, and also samples of bone marrow, that led to a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia, to which doctors have added the unpromising  adjective “terminal” .

So today, without any particular pain and, apparently, still in good health and with a good measure of strength, I find myself thinking in a very practical and realistic way, of my “going home with the Lord” when He wills. Perhaps very soon.

How have I reacted to a story like this?  Honestly, surprised and almost in disbelief.  But, even so, with HIS peace.

A few years ago, when I was invited to do Bible studies in a Conference for women, I said with a laugh that, given my age of more than 85, (soon I’m going to be 89), the organizers would do well to also get a “spare  tire” in case I had to decline the invitation. But honestly, given my health that I thought was disease-proof,  I said it jokingly as if I were actually immortal.

Today, the jokes are over and the reality is different. It is a reality of a certain sadness (I’d be lying if I said otherwise), but also very calm.

Sadness because leukemia is a reality that speaks of separation from Bill, the only love of my life, with whom I have spent more than 56 years, and have had the joy of serving the Lord, in a kind of spiritual and also intellectual symbiosis.   I shared a passion for the Word of God, the commitment of raising four children, and the responsibility of helping many to learn and grow in biblical faith.

Bill and Maria Teresa Standridge-Married and serving the Lord together for over 56 years!

Bill and Maria Teresa Standridge- Serving the Lord together for over 56 years in Italy!

I know that after my departure Bill will feel a bit as though he was “mutilated”, but I know that his love for the Lord, His Word, and the Italians, will support him and help him serve as long as he has the strength.

Of course I do not like, either, the idea of ​​leaving our four children, three daughters-in-law and also a son-in-law, who love me and twelve grandchildren (one married) and two great-grandchildren, each one more lovely than the other. But the moment of separation will come.

But my joy is that all have trusted the Lord as their Savior and are therefore in his hands.

But now, let’s talk about the reasons for my peace of mind.

I came to know Jesus as Savior and Lord when I was 20 years old. Since then, the grace of God has surrounded me and the unmerited favor of the Lord has wrapped and protected me.

I know I’m saved, and my faith is based on the promises of God’s Word.  One that comforts me in particular is the letter of the Apostle Paul to Titus: “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:5-7) What more than that could you want or hope for?

Then I had the honor to receive from the Lord a clear call to serve full-time, I went to Bible school, I had teachers of great value, I have experienced the extraordinary time of evangelistic fervor and spiritual growth in Italy after the end of World War II. I was a part of  the beginning of the new period of political freedom in Italy that gave us permission to start youth camps, summer schools, conferences and all kinds of activities that the Lord has blessed. I threw myself headlong into every new evangelistic project.

My university studies prepared me to have a ministry of writing and my heart led me to make available to the Lord every capacity that He had given me.

Over the years I learned to study and nourish myself in the Word of God, I understood the importance of furthering knowledge in His truth, and rooted my faith in obedience to what it says. Without a good supply of this type of knowledge, the Christian life can become very severe and be very flat.

I confess also that I have made many mistakes for which I had to ask forgiveness from the Lord, from my loved ones, brothers and sisters, and I realized that forgiveness is the key to the Christian life.  It is essential in both the human family and that of God.

He who does not forgive others has understood little of the love of God, but those who practice the confession of their sins to God and asking for the pardon of all they have offended, know that the blood of Christ purifies them and allows them to walk in the light (1 John 1:8-10).

After so many years of walking with the Lord, I realized that “in me, in my flesh, Maria Teresa, dwelleth no good thing” (Romans 7:18), but whatever I did that is good is what he has done for me and in me (Isaiah 26:12).

During a conference in Isola del Gran Sasso, Daniel, one of our sons, in a meditation stressed the fact that after the resurrection, Jesus bore in his body the marks of his suffering and death for us. The disciples have seen his scars and know that, with his resurrected human body, Jesus ascended to heaven.

In the vision of Revelation,  John later saw Him as a “lamb, standing, which seemed to have been sacrificed” (5:6) and I, with myriads of believers (and hopefully with you) will behold for all eternity those signs of the price paid by Jesus for our salvation.   Those signs will inspire us to worship Him in perfection.

This wonderful thought humbles me, but also fills me with great gratitude.
With love, Maria Teresa  Rome, March 2013

Do you want to have the same my certainties?
Write to:Association of Evangelical Truth
Via Pozzuoli, 9 – 00182 Rome – Italy
http://www.istitutobiblicobereano.org | assverev@tin.it