Friday, March 17, 2017
One thing I take away from this parable is that bringing one sinner to Christ is just as important as bringing a hundred. Not everyone is called to be a Billy Graham, leading masses of people to the Lord. Most of us are called to serve the Lord in our own little ways in our everyday lives. As we go about our daily business we can sow seeds of life wherever this life takes us, one person at a time. With God, it is about quality, not quantity. Serving the Lord should never be a numbers game.
Of course, I want to be as useful as possible in the kingdom and reach my full potential. I also understand that I can plant seeds and water them, but it is God that gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:7). The ultimate miracle of salvation in anybody's life depends on God, not on me. I have to be ready and available to do my part but it is a very small part that I must faithfully do. I was created and designed to reach a specific person or people and have to be in tune with God to do what He has called me to do.
As an individual, I have my quirks. I am a designer original- there's only one like me. Due to my own way of looking at life and doing things, I can relate to certain people better than others. I am more comfortable in certain environments than others. All this adds up to me being crafted by the Lord for a very specific purpose, one He has mapped out for my life ahead of time and saved me for (Ephesians 2:10). I may not relate well to the ninety-nine but I just might jive with the one that God has called me to reach, for this is God's purpose for me.
Today, as we go about our daily routine, let us be on the lookout for the one that we may be able to reach. Whether we be straight-laced conservatives or a little out-there, God will place people in our lives that we can relate to and hold forth the truth and hope of salvation to. Every one of us is an individual part of something much bigger in the kingdom of God, the body of Christ, and every one of us is called and gifted for service unto the Lord. And let us not be afraid to step out in faith today and go after that one sheep that is wandering and alone, for that was us at some point in time.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
In the body of Christ we are created to both give and receive. We all need each other's gifts and the encouragement that comes from fellowship with other believers just as much as we need to be used. It is give and take in a healthy walk with Christ as He supplies our every need through the other believers in our lives. Scripture reminds us to meet together so that we can encourage each other and stir each other up to good works. In this way, we all can find the strength we need to get through whatever we may be dealing with in our lives.
When we isolate ourselves, it is easier for Satan to attack us and bring us down. Just like in the animal kingdom, it is often the weaker brother or sister who is lagging behind that the enemy goes after. There is a strength in numbers that is designed into the body of Christ, a strength that is ours in Christ as we lift one another up in love. Satan would have us in isolation so that he can pick us off more easily, whereas the word of God tells us to get together, to check on one another and to encourage one another in love. We are strongest when we operate as a group, as the body of Christ.
We were created to be part of a community. Jesus doesn't call us to be lone-wolf Christians. Whatever reasons we may have for isolating, we are playing right into Satan's hands by doing so. God has provided richly for us in the body and we should be encouraging and being encouraged daily in our fellowship with other believers. This is the strength for living that is so often needed, whether it comes as a timely word or just a listening ear. We all need the other believers in our lives in order to be who we were created to be. That is part of God's design.
Today, whatever we may be dealing with, let us not isolate ourselves from the influence of others in our lives. Let us allow the believers in our lives to operate in their gifts and let us graciously receive encouragement when it is given. And if we see a brother or sister lagging behind, let us be quick to go to them and help them, offering encouragement and love and whatever they may need to get back on track. We are the body of Christ and we either function as a whole or we don't function at all. Let us love not only in words but in deeds as well (1 John 3:18).
Monday, March 13, 2017
These men were chosen for a mission. They had something they were sent to accomplish and could not afford to get distracted. Hospitality was a big deal in Jesus' day and in stopping to greet people on the road, they ran the risk of being sidetracked from their purpose, a purpose God Himself had called them to. These men were called to preach the kingdom in the towns and villages ahead of Jesus and Satan would use any distraction in his power to pull them aside and inhibit their progress. That is how the devil worked then and that is how he still works in our lives today.
All of us, as believers, are also chosen for a mission. Every one of us has a kingdom purpose we were chosen for, just as these men did. Although not part of the Twelve, these men were sent out with the same instructions to preach the kingdom and heal the sick. And just as they were sent out, so are we sent out in the Great Commission into all the world, wherever life takes us. Wherever we go, we are representatives of Christ, ambassadors of God to a fallen world in need of reconciliation. And just like them, we cannot afford to get distracted.
Scripture says that "greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4). The Holy Spirit that indwells and empowers us to be who we were created to be is greater than the devil who comes against us every day. Satan is our enemy and works against us at ever step to oppose our progress, but we are promised in Scripture that God is working in us and He is greater in every way. Satan is hopeless to stop us if we are plugged into the power of the Holy Spirit, so he results to distractions to get us to turn aside from the mission we are on.
In life, distractions are going to come. Satan is going to throw all sorts of things in our paths to try and draw us away from our mission in Christ. These are the things we have to guard against, staying focused on what God has called us to be and do. The devil cannot make us stop, but he will try and trick us into slowing down and stopping with the distractions of the world and of life. Let us look to the Lord today and maintain our focus, fixing our eyes on Him and praying for help as we struggle through whatever we may be dealing with, asking Him to help us to deal with whatever distractions come up and stay the course on the mission we were called to.
Monday, March 6, 2017
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Scripture says that God is an ever-present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1). It seems that trouble is never far away in this life and should be a constant reminder of our need for God and His grace. God is close to the brokenhearted and rescues those who are crushed in spirit, and we can find the mercy and strength we need for getting through our lives in Him. No one has to go it alone. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34) and shows His grace and mercy to all who would call upon Him in faith, believing in His Son.
In my life, I am often overwhelmed by the things I go through. At times, the things I feel and the things I see in the lives of other people are simply too much for me to deal with. I find myself, again and again, throwing myself upon the mercy of God and finding my strength in Him. I simply don't have what it takes to make it on my own. I am weak and ineffectual in myself and my problems are many. I cry out to God and, like David said in Psalm 34:4, "I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears." No matter how many times I have cried out to God, He has never let me down.
Whatever we may be dealing with in our lives, let us take it all to the Lord. Let us come to Him for our strength and the grace and mercy that we need to get through another day. Let us continue to lift up those around us in prayer and seek to meet their needs as much as possible, doing whatever is in our power to relieve the suffering of those around us. Let us rest assured that Christ has not forgotten or abandoned us, but has prepared a place for us where there will be no more pain or suffering or death and He will return to take us there. And let us rely on the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, sent from the Father to dwell in us and guide us into all truth, as He empowers and strengthens us for whatever we may face today.
Saturday, February 18, 2017
And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:17 NLT)
First and foremost, I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. It colors everything else that I do in life, everything else that I am. I write a little bit, but I am a Christian who writes. I have schizoaffective disorder, but I am a Christian with schizoaffective disorder. I am a son and a brother, but I am a Christian above all. The foundation and reality of my life is Jesus Christ and everything else flows out of that, for He is the wellspring of life that I draw on. He is the cause and I am the effect.
Oftentimes in this world we have a divided way of approaching life, a sacred vs. secular way of looking at things. Some things are God's things, while some are not. We tend to categorize and compartmentalize our lives, assigning labels to things and designating some things as "Christian" and other things as not. However, Scripture says that in whatever we do or say, we should do it all as representatives of the Lord Jesus. As believers, we are to be holy, wholly separated unto God in all that we do, whether "church stuff" or otherwise. I believe there should be no separation.
What areas of our lives belong to God? If not all, then what areas are we keeping God out of? If we are not wholly surrendered in every area of our lives, does that leave room for rebellion and sin? Are there certain parts of our lives that we don't welcome God into, preferring to just do it ourselves? This is a dangerous way of thinking, for any area of life not submitted to God is an area where Satan can potentially come in and wreak havoc, doing what he does best. Let us, as believers, not live this way, but let us welcome the Lord into every area of our lives, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God (2 Corinthians 7:1).
When Jesus calls a person to follow Him, He calls the whole person. He doesn't just say, "Follow Me on Sunday mornings", for we are called to be disciples 24/7. The men who followed Jesus were with Him all day every day, eating, sleeping and burping alongside Him in all their broken humanity. God is interested in the whole person, not just the shined-up Sunday School version of who we are. In all our grimy everyday humanness, we are still made in God's image and He wants us to bring our whole life to Him to be renewed and restored. We are called to holiness and it is God who makes our whole lives holy.
Today, let us tear down the walls of the sacred-secular divide, for there is to be no such thing in the lives of believers. Let us open ourselves up to true holiness, allowing God to permeate every area of our lives by His Holy Spirit. Let us pray that He would show us how to be open to Him in all that we do, doing it all for His glory. And let us live lives of dedication unto the Lord, whether at church or at work or at home, holding forth the light of Christ for all the world to see in us, for this is our high calling and purpose in life.