Monthly Archives: October 2019
Pastors seem to do it better than others. Maybe that is because their profession should be the meshing of their faith with their life’s work. But what about the rest of us? What does it mean to mesh our faith with our everyday life? The answer, as usual, is found in God’s Word.
Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge:
“Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously. Matthew 10:5-8 The Message
Take away #1 – We are called in the moment we are in, in the place we are in and with the tools that we have been given. Don’t make it complicated.
“Don’t think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start. You don’t need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment, and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day. Travel light. Matthew 10:9-10 The Message
Take away #2 – As followers of Jesus, we are already equipped with all we need to meet the day we are in. Although some of us are being called to get formal training, most of us are being called to minister to the people who God has placed in our path with the experience and knowledge we have already gained in our lives.
“When you enter a town or village, don’t insist on staying in a luxury inn. Get a modest place with some modest people, and be content there until you leave. Matthew 10:11 The Message
Take away #3 – We are not in competition. This is not a popularity contest. We do not need or should we take on “airs”. Be genuine and honest. Refrain from being pompous and a know-it-all. Be content.
“When you knock on a door, be courteous in your greeting. If they welcome you, be gentle in your conversation. If they don’t welcome you, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way. You can be sure that on Judgment Day they’ll be mighty sorry—but it’s no concern of yours now. Matthew 10:12-15 The Message
Take away #4 – In the day we are in, we need to be gentle in our conversations with others. Sometimes, we are called to plant seeds. Sometimes, we are called to cultivate seeds already planted by others. Sometimes, we are called to participate in the harvest that has already been planted and cultivated. We don’t always know what our role is in the process but we can be obedient to God by following His directive – be gentle in conversation and if what you say is not received, let it go and quietly move on. God has it. We don’t have to worry about it.
…. To be continued next week!
“Come follow me and I will show you how to fish for people.” Matthew 4:19 NLT
As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. Mark 2:14 NIV and Luke 5:27
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. Mathew 9:9 NIV
The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” John 1:43 NIV
He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Luke 9:59 NIV and Matthew 8:22
Why does Jesus keep repeating, “follow me”? Why is it so important that we be “followers” of Jesus? The call of Jesus always entails the words: “Follow me”. Following is an act of obedience. Following requires an active step on our part to accept that Jesus is our Leader. Following requires a humble heart and a setting aside of one’s self. It requires listening which means taking time to be in God’s presence. Following means Jesus always goes before us – for if we forge ahead, we block Jesus from others – Like Peter.
You remember . . . Peter . . . so like many of us. In the course of 24 hours, Peter went from joyful worshipper to determined protector to complete denier. Jesus reinstated Peter by describing how he should “act” towards others. “Feed my lambs”, “Take care of my sheep” and “Feed my sheep”. His final reinstatement words to Peter were, “You must follow me!” John 21:22 NIV
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27 NIV
“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:38 NIV
“Following”, by definition, means that someone else is leading. We cannot call ourselves Disciples of Jesus unless we submit to following Him. Jesus leads us by example and we strive to imitate him.
“Following” is an action. It is not a stationary position. Following means seeking Jesus moment by moment . . . being quiet when we need to be quiet . . . encouraging when we need to encourage . . . standing when we need to stand . . . walking when we need to walk . . . serving when we need to serve . . . veering right when we need to go right . . . running when we need to run and . . . standing firm when we need to stand firm.
“Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” John 12:26 NIV
Are you a follower of Jesus?
Now listen to God’s Message, you scoffers,
you who rule this people in Jerusalem.
You say, “We’ve taken out good life insurance.
We’ve hedged all our bets, covered all our bases.
No disaster can touch us. We’ve thought of everything.
We’re advised by the experts. We’re set.”
But the Master, God, has something to say to this:
“Watch closely. I’m laying a foundation in Zion,
a solid granite foundation, squared and true.
And this is the meaning of the stone:
a trusting life won’t topple.
I’ll make justice the measuring stick
and righteousness the plumb line for the building.
Isaiah 28:14-17 The Message
Isaiah (name meaning “The Lord Saves”) began his ministry about 2,759 years ago. He has a message for God’s people which transcends time and place. His message from God is for us.
We can plan all we like. We can take out life insurance to protect our loved ones. We can build up our 401(k)’s and choose jobs with pensions and good medical insurance. We can meet with our financial advisors to provide for our children’s education and our comfy retirement. We can “think” we are set.
But the truth is the only way to prevent our life from toppling is to trust in the foundation set by God – Jesus Christ. We must trust in Him and Him alone. This does not mean we do not plan, but we plan knowing that our trust is not in worldly financial products. Our trust is in the living God who measures our plans by justice and righteousness.
A hailstorm will knock down the shantytown of lies,
and a flash flood will wash out the rubble.
“Then you’ll see that your precious life insurance policy
wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.
Your careful precautions against death
were a pack of illusions and lies.
When the disaster happens,
you’ll be crushed by it.
Every time disaster comes, you’ll be in on it—
disaster in the morning, disaster at night.”
Every report of disaster
will send you cowering in terror.
There will be no place where you can rest,
nothing to hide under.
Isaiah 28:17-20 The Message
How do we know if we are “trusting in Jesus”. We know by our reaction to the disasters that come upon us and they do come upon us at one time or another. Are we crushed by them? Are we cowering in terror? Is there no place to rest or hide? If so, we need to turn to the one who can give us rest and peace – Jesus. Extreme trials can perfect our trust in Him and Him alone.
God will rise to full stature,
raging as he did long ago on Mount Perazim
And in the valley of Gibeon against the Philistines.
But this time it’s against you.
Hard to believe, but true.
Not what you’d expect, but it’s coming.
Sober up, friends, and don’t scoff.
Scoffing will just make it worse.
I’ve heard the orders issued for destruction, orders from
God-of-the-Angel-Armies—ending up in an international disaster.
Listen to me now.
Give me your closest attention.
Do farmers plow and plow and do nothing but plow?
Or harrow and harrow and do nothing but harrow?
After they’ve prepared the ground, don’t they plant?
Don’t they scatter dill and spread cumin,
Plant wheat and barley in the fields
and raspberries along the borders?
They know exactly what to do and when to do it.
Their God is their teacher.
And at the harvest, the delicate herbs and spices,
the dill and cumin, are treated delicately.
On the other hand, wheat is threshed and milled, but still not endlessly.
The farmer knows how to treat each kind of grain.
He’s learned it all from God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
who knows everything about when and how and where.
Isaiah 28:21-29 The Message
REMEMBER . . . Believe in Jesus. Trust that He has saved you. Your extreme trial can perfect your trust in Him. Today, do the next right thing . . . keeping your eyes focused on justice and righteousness . . . seeking God who knows everything about when and how and where . . . a trusting life won’t topple.
Oswald Chambers shares this description of sin and its relationship to reconciliation: “Sin is a fundamental relationship – it is not wrong doing, but wrong being – It is deliberate and determined independence from God.” My Utmost For His Highest, Oct 7.
Jesus died to overcome the heredity of sin – sin that entered the world at the beginning – the sin of disobeying God and separating ourselves from Him – the collective sin of generation upon generation.
Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.
Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore.
Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. 2 Corinthians 5:14-19
We tend to look at our individual sin. For instance, the gossip we passed on to a friend yesterday about an acquaintance. Gossip is a sin but the “sin” we need to focus on was our choice to separate ourselves from God and follow our own desire to have “power” over the delivery of such information or the selfish glee we experienced from seeing someone else’s failure or whatever else our thought process was stirring up. The sin was our failure to seek God in the moment – asking Him if the information was something that should be shared for His Glory or if it was better to quash it and end the ripple effect of the sin.
What we should be focused on is our relationship with God – are we seeking Him in the moment we are in – are we acting in a way that brings Glory to Him? If we are focused on our relationship with him and not our individual actions, we will not only “do” the right things but more importantly be in the “right” relationship with God. If we are in the right relationship with God we will be in the right relationship with others.
God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.
How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God. 2 Corinthians 5:20-21
Remember . . . in this day you have been given a fresh start because of Jesus. Seek Him first. Be His representative. Enter God’s work of reconciliation wherever you are and in whatever you are doing. Why? So we are in the “right” relationship with Him who created us.