1. What Kind Of Tater Are You?
We are beginning our new devotional theme on 'taters. I like Mater on "Cars", you know, like "tomater" without the "to". Well we are going to look at some taters, like "potater" without the "po". I heard a sermon on part of the Tater Family many years ago and thought we would look at some of these members of our church family. Maybe you will be able to see which Tater you are.
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:" Philippians 2:5
As we begin our look at the Tater family, let's begin with one of the best members of the family, Miss Imi-Tater. She tries her best to follow Jesus. Jesus called the disciples to follow Him. "And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." (Matthew 4:19) Paul also encouraged the believers to imitate, or be like Christ. Corinthians 11:1 "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." (I Corinthians 11:1) The disciples of the early church were so much like Christ the people began calling them Christians. "And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." (Acts 11:26) Does your life imitate Christ? Do you live a life in such a way that others around you would call you a Christian? Our verse above says, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:" (Philippians 2:5) If we strive to be like-minded as Christ our lives will imitate the Lord Jesus and we can be witnesses for His glory.
"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:" I Peter 3:15
I am afraid that I am sometimes a Hesi-Tater. I regret to say that there have been times in my life that I passed up opportunities to tell others about the wonderful love of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Sometimes I want to be a witness and I stand there trying to say just the right thing and the opportunity passes. I hesitate and then it is too late. I will have to answer to God for all the times He led me to witness and my hesitation caused me to fail. There is another type of hesitation in our churches and that is by those who have not yet decided to follow Jesus. I believe that there are many people in our churches today who feel that they are ok in God's eyes just because they go to church and live a "good" life. What they don't realize is that they can't get to heaven by their own goodness. We read in Romans 3:10 "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:" and Romans 10:23 "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" If you have never accepted God's gift of salvation, don't hesitate any longer. II Corinthians 6:2 tells us "(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)" We are not promised tomorrow. Don't let your hesitation cost you eternity in heaven.
4. The Ro-Taters
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." I Corinthians 15:58
"Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." Hebrews 10:23-25
Today we have come to a whole family of Taters. They are a very old family, been in church for years. They are the Ro-Taters. They like the idea of going to church, but they just can't seem to find a church that they like to go to. They visit here a while, and they don't like the Sunday school program, or they think the music is too old fashioned, or too contemporary, or loud, and the preacher just keeps preaching the same old messages... or whatever reason. They just can't find a church home and settle down. Paul exhorted the Corinthian believers to "be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." May I also encourage you to find a church home and get busy in the work of the Lord? Be faithful to the Lord. Paul also told the Corinthian believers, "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." (I Corinthians 4:2) Sometimes things change in a church and you feel that you can't worship freely there anymore. If that is the case, then don't stop going to church, visit around and ask the Lord to show you where He can use you. Then, be faithful in your attendance and work for the Lord. Just as our verse above states, He's soon coming back! "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."
"I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not." III John 9
This verse was written by John to the early church, yet it could be true of many people today. It is sad that some people love to have the preeminence, be in charge, be in control; however you say it, they act like dictators. They think that their way is the only way. I think a common phrase used today is, "we never did it that way before..." We don't need dictators in our churches today. We need to all work together and worship together in unity. Let's look at the beginning of the church in Acts 2:1-2 "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting." The Holy Spirit came on the believers when they were all in one accord. We need leaders in our churches, but we don't need dictators. We need to all serve together in unity, following the Lord, our Good Shepherd.
"Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD." Leviticus 19:16
"He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips." Proverbs 20:19
"Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife. The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly." Proverbs 26:20-22
I have an agitator in my washing machine. It goes round and round and up and down and stirs up the dirt. It is sad to say that there are some in the church who do the same thing, they go round and round and up and down to stir up the dirt. In the verses above they are called talebearers, going up and down among the people, throwing wood on the fires of strife. In the New Testament they are called busybodies, as we see in II Thessalonians 3:11 "For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies." Also in
I Timothy 5:13 "And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not." God's Word is very clear that we are not to be agitators, stirring up dirt. I have heard it said that it's not gossip if it is true. This is the wrong attitude to take. The Bible is clear that we should not speak things which we ought not. Don't be an agitator in the church.
"But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?" James 3:8-11
My sister worked in a nursing home for a while and we have often discussed how some people get sweeter as they grow older, while some get bitter. I keep telling her that I want to get sweeter instead of becoming a grouchy old person. In this letter James tells the believers that we should not seem to be sweet to God, while we are bitter to everyone else around us. How can we assure that we will get sweeter and sweeter as we grow older? I believe that we can only be sweeter as we have more of the love of Christ flowing through us. I pray continually that God will give me more love for people. In John 13:34-35 Jesus said that our love for one another is the way people can tell if we are His disciples. "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." Are you a sweet-tater? I want to close with this verse about King David, David who killed the giant Goliath with a sling and a stone, David who fought many battles in his life, King David who ruled over Israel. "Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God." (II Samuel 23:1-3) David was a great ruler over Israel, yet at the end of his life he was also called the "sweet psalmist of Israel". I pray that I can grow sweeter and sweeter as I grow older.
"Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it. To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me." Jeremiah 6:19-20
Yesterday we talked about Sweet-Taters, but today we see Rotten-Taters. In the book of Jeremiah God told the people He would not accept their sweet cane, offerings or sacrifices because they rejected His law. We also remember the verse in I Samuel 15:22, "And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." God warned the Children of Israel back in the laws recorded in Leviticus. "And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you. And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours. And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it." (Leviticus 26:30-32) The message behind all these verses shows us that we can't be sweet and all that we may do for the Lord will not be accepted if we reject the one and only God. All of our verses have been from the Old Testament during the times of sacrifices. But we can find a similar message in the New Testament. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." (I Corinthians 13:1-3)
"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." Psalm 1:1-3
This Psalm tells us how to be blessed by God. First, we are not to follow the counsel of the ungodly. Sometimes our friends or co-workers may try to influence us to go in the wrong direction. Now that it's tax season, they may encourage you to cheat on your taxes and you might be inclined to think that you can do better with your money than the government can, but don't fall to that temptation. Don't ask the ungodly for advice. Next the psalmist tells us not to stand in the way of sinners. People are watching you. Does your life lead them in the right direction to Christ? We also see that we are not to sit in the seat of the scornful. How many times do we criticize, or gripe and complain about the way things are done, even in our churches? After these three things that we are told not to do, we are given the positive. "But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night." If we are saved, and following the Lord, it should be a delight to read God's Word and meditate, or think about what it is saying to us. Last of all in our verses we see the promise. "And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." What a promise! In my own personal life I have found that when I take time to read God's Word in the morning my whole day goes sweeter. May I challenge you to try it? Get up a little earlier and feed on God's Word before the troubles of the day begin and see if you feel the presence of the Lord going with you through the day.
"Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." Colossians 3:13
Irritate means to anger or annoy. Let's face it, there are some people, even in Christian circles, who anger or at least annoy us. Some things that people do just grate on our nerves. They may not even know that they irritate you. You may stand beside someone in your church choir who really can't sing as well as you can and it annoys you. It may irritate you if someone comes in late and asks you to slide down on the pew, because you really wanted to sit on the end. Anger can be deeply rooted, as when one family doesn't associate with another family because of something that Grandpa said to Great-Aunt So-In-So, even though no one really remembers what the quarrel was about. Paul told the Colossians, "But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness." (Colossians 3:8-14) We are to be longsuffering, put up with one another, and forgive one another. Nobody is perfect, and we all do things that irritate each other from time to time. When we let that anger build up we become bitter and cold. If we want Christ to forgive us, then we need to forgive others.
"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." I Timothy 2:1-6
I was just going to use the first two verses of this chapter about praying for our leaders, but I like the following verses so much I included them, too. A potentate is one who possesses great power or authority and there is no greater than the King of Kings, Christ Jesus. He has all power and all authority. We are looking at people in our churches, and I'm sure I don't know any potentates. But that does not diminish my duties to pray for them. Paul exhorts young Timothy to pray for, intercede for, and also give thanks for kings and all those in authority. It is time we got back to that advice and prayed for our leaders. We hear so much about the elections, but how much time do we spend in prayer about them? I am guilty. I don't pray enough for our leaders. When my uncle was serving in Iraq, I prayed for him and those with him every time I saw an American flag. I guess I got out of the habit when he came home safely. This little look at Poten-Taters has reminded me to pray for our leaders and our nation. I will ask the Lord to help me remember to pray every time I see an American flag, "...that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;"
"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." James 1:22-25
In our day and age of sports we all know what spectators are. They are the fans that sit and watch others "do". Race car fans may sit and watch cars going round and round for hours, just to see who is the fastest. Spectators of the ball teams can talk a good game, even if they have never played. We should not be Spec-Taters in our churches. James tells us, "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." You may know Christians who can "talk a good game" in that they talk the talk, but they don't walk the walk. James says they are deceiving their own selves. He compares it to looking in a mirror and not doing anything to correct your image, whether it is comb your hair, wash your face, etc. When we look into God's Holy Word it shows us what is wrong in our lives just as a mirror, and we should be a doer of the Word. Don't sit back and watch everyone else do all the work. Be a doer and you will be blessed.
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." II Timothy 2:15
Just as we saw how spec-taters could be compared to sports, today we are looking at commen-taters who can also be seen in the sports world. The commentators at a basketball game give a play by play account of who has the ball and who makes a foul or a basket. They have to know the game and pay attention to be a good commentator. Do you know the Bible, and look and listen to God with as much enthusiasm as the sports commentators? When I was just a small girl I remember the biggest book my Dad had on the shelf was a Matthew Henry Commentary. When he studied to teach Sunday School he would get that huge book off the shelf. We have sets of commentaries by several different authors on our shelves and on our computers. When I have a question about a verse I pray and ask God for understanding and sometimes I go to one of these great reference books and see how these men of God understood the verse. These books were not written carelessly just to pass the time. I believe they were written through great prayer and study of God's precious Word. If you are a preacher or teacher of God's Holy Word don't take your position lightly. Study the Word, know the Word, pray for wisdom and understanding as you stand as a Commen-tater giving verse by verse instructions to others, "rightly dividing the word of truth".
"Mine eye runneth down with rivers of water for the destruction of the daughter of my people. Mine eye trickleth down, and ceaseth not, without any intermission, Till the LORD look down, and behold from heaven." Lamentations 3:48-50
Jeremiah has been called "The Weeping Prophet" and the book of Lamentations gives us a sad look at the destruction of Jerusalem and the affliction of God's people "for the multitudes of her transgressions". (Lamentations 1:5) Jeremiah knows that God allowed their enemies to destroy them because of their sin. "The Lord was as an enemy: he hath swallowed up Israel, he hath swallowed up all her palaces: he hath destroyed his strong holds, and hath increased in the daughter of Judah mourning and lamentation. And he hath violently taken away his tabernacle, as if it were of a garden: he hath destroyed his places of the assembly: the LORD hath caused the solemn feasts and sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion, and hath despised in the indignation of his anger the king and the priest." (Lamentations 2:5-6) Jeremiah was grieved over the sin of Israel. Are we grieved over the sin of our nation? Do we lament over the disdain of people against God and the Lord Jesus Christ? Do we side with Christians who take a stand for what's right, or fade into the background hoping not to be noticed? There is one voice of hope in this book of Lamentations. "This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him." (Lamentations 3:21-24) Yes, we should be Lamen-Taters over the state of our country, but that should push us to pray and take a stand for righteousness, and not lose hope. For we have a promise in II Chronicles 7:14, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
"And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them." Mark 10:13-16
"At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." Matthew 18:1-6
I hope you have enjoyed meeting all the Taters. We have come to the last members and I could never leave them out, the Tater-Tots. Jesus loves the little children and we should, too. Welcome them into your church. Don't turn them away as the disciples tried to do. Jesus took the little children up into His arms and blessed them. In the next scripture reference we see that Jesus not only blessed them but He also gave a warning to anyone who offends a little child who believes in Him. Remember that our children are watching all that we do. Your younger brothers and sisters or cousins look up to you. Our little ones follow in our footsteps and we need to be extra careful in the example we set for them. One more thing I want to mention is to Sunday School teachers of the children. Don't feel like your job is less important because you teach the children. Teaching little children is a challenge, but it can also be a blessing. You may be the only person in the life of a small child who shows them the love of Christ. And if you are the one person who points them to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, it will be worth it all.
Now that you have met all the Taters, which Tater are YOU?