Our Essential Calling

An essential part of the call Jesus places on the life of every one of his followers is the call to make him known to the lost and share the Gospel with a world that desperately needs it. We are all called to take part in this important work. But today it seems that fewer and fewer Christians are actually living this call out. So often, though we believe that the Gospel is life-changing, and have experienced that life-change ourselves,
we stay silent about our faith when we’re around non-Christians. Why is that?

I think a lot of it comes down to fear. We’re afraid of how they’ll react or what they’ll say in response. Maybe we’re afraid of what they’ll think of us or that they’ll reject us. All too often, we don’t share our faith
because of fear. But look at what Jesus said when he called his disciples to proclaim the things he taught them.

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).

See, when we allow our fear of how people will respond deter us from sharing our faith, we fail to realize that if that person does not come to a saving faith in Jesus they will experience the wrath of the God who can destroy body and soul in hell. I’m convinced that our fear for the lost should FAR outweigh our fear of them. Don’t let fear stop you from doing what you’re called to do, let it drive you!


Keep Your Eyes On Jesus

In Matthew 14, after feeding the five thousand, Jesus sent his disciples on a boat across the Sea of Galilee, and Jesus went up a mountain alone to pray. In the middle of the night, the disciples were struggling in their
journey across the Sea of Galilee. The waves were beating the boat and the wind was against them. Much to their surprise, Jesus came to them walking on the water. At first, they were terrified, thinking he was a
ghost. But Jesus told them, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

At this point in the story, Peter did something incredible. Peter asked Jesus to command him to go to him walking on the water too. When Jesus told him to come to him, Peter stepped out of the boat and walked
on the water. The problem came when he took his eyes off Jesus. Peter saw the wind and the waves and got scared, and so he began to sink.When he called out to Jesus for help, Jesus pulled him up and said,
“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:31).

We see in this story just how important it is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus rather than on our circumstances. With his eyes on Jesus, Peter was able to do something no one but Jesus had ever done before. But, when he focused on the waves and the wind, he began to doubt, and found himself sinking. Whatever storms come your way in this life, don’t focus on the storm, keep your eyes on Jesus, and he’ll see you through.


Let Your Light Shine

We face the reality every day of living in a world that looks nothing like what God would want it to be. The world we live in does not value the things God would want us to value, and it lives in ways that are contrary to God’s plan and purpose. And it’s into this world that we have been sent to share the good news and make Jesus known.
The problem is that many Christians today don’t seem all that different from the rest of the world. They talk like the world, act like the world, value what the world values, and chase after the things of this world. Far too many professing Christians keep their faith to themselves, and if you look at their lives, it’s not all that obvious they’re Christians at all. How can we expect to reach lost people if we look just like them? Look at what Jesus said to his followers. 

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and
put it under a basket, but on a stand and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your
light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father
who is in heaven. –Matthew 5:14-16
We are the light of the world, church. Don’t put your light under a basket. The world needs the light you have. Let it shine!


Our Spiritual Food

After Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit led him out into the wilderness where he was tempted by the devil for 40 days. One way Satan tempted Jesus was that he told him to command stones to
become bread so he would have something to eat. Look at how Jesus responded. 

But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – Matthew 4:4

To Jesus, God’s word was more important than physical food! Even when he’d gone a long time without food, it was more important to him to have the word of God than bread.

Unfortunately, we often have a very different view on the importance of God’s word in our lives. We’re very intentional about eating physical food, usually 3 times a day. But for many Christians, spending time in
God’s word is not seen as being on the same level. God’s word is often seen as a nice addition to our lives if we can find the time. Once everything else is done, then maybe we’ll spend a few minutes in God’s
word. The result? Christians all over are starving spiritually.
Maybe that’s where you are. You only get into God’s word when it’s convenient, and you’re starving. We can’t expect to be Spiritually without spending time hearing from God through his word on a regular basis. I hope you’ll take what Jesus said seriously, because it’s true! Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.


Seeking God’s Presence

The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us or forsake us, that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules which he commanded our fathers. – 1 Kings 8:57-58

These words were spoken by Solomon, King of Israel, shortly after he completed building the Temple. After the Temple was finished, and the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the temple, Solomon prayed to
God and then he turned to the people and spoke a benediction that included the verses above.

We see in this passage that Solomon doesn’t want the people of Israel to fail in the same ways they had so many times before. He wanted them to be obedient to God, stay on the path he had set them on, and live in line with his commands. Basically, Solomon wanted Israel to please God. But, he knew that for that to happen, they needed God’s help. Only if He inclined their hearts to walk in his ways would they be able to please him.

There’s an important lesson here for Christians. Now, we all know we need to obey God, but all too often we try to do so on our own strength. This may seem harsh, but you can’t obey God and walk in his ways on your own strength. It’s impossible. Like Israel, you and I need God’s help, we need him to incline our hearts to him to help us walk in his ways. If you’re not seeking God’s presence, I challenge you to start.


His Treasured Possession

Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name. “They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured
possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.” – Malachi 3:16-17

The book of Malachi was written, essentially, as a wake-up call for the people of Israel. In a variety of ways, Israel had ceased to serve the LORD the way he deserved to be served. Their worship practices had become relaxed and failed to treat God with fear and reverence. And so, here the prophet reminds the people that the Day of the LORD is coming. That’s a reminder a lot of people today need.

Malachi knew, and we know too, that the day is coming when God will judge the world for the way each of us has lived our life. Those who didn’t fear the LORD, who didn’t serve him the way he deserves to be served will be judged and punished. But those who did fear, revere, and serve the LORD will be spared from the judgment. They’ll be considered God’s treasured possession, and will be with him for eternity.
Will you be God’s treasured possession? How are you serving God with your life?


Serve Him Faithfully

Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done
for you. – 1 Samuel 12:24

This verse comes toward the end of the prophet Samuel’s farewell address to Israel. He’s concerned that the people stay faithful in their service to God. Notice that he doesn’t just want Israel to serve God, he
tells them to serve God faithfully with all their heart. Unfortunately, throughout the story of Israel, their service to God was often halfhearted at best. The reason for Israel’s waywardness, I think, is that they
failed to do the 2nd half of what Samuel told them in verse 24. They didn’t consider the great things God had done for them, and so their service to Him suffered.

Even today, we are called to serve God faithfully with all our hearts. But for many of us, there are times when our service to God is half-hearted at best. We love God, and want to serve him, but we easily find excuses for not serving him with all our hearts. I wonder what would happen if we spent more time considering all the great things he has done for us?

Last week we celebrated Easter, a day when we remember the greatest thing God has ever done for us. He sent his Son Jesus to die in our place and to absorb the punishment we deserve for our sin. Then on the 3rd day, Jesus rose from the dead, conquered sin and death, and made it possible for us to have eternal life with him!

Really think about what that means for you, and then see if it doesn’t make you want to serve him with all your heart!


He Cares For Us!

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? – Psalm 8:3-4

Tonight, after the sun sets, walk outside and look up. If it’s a clear night, you’ll see a sky full of stars, billions of them. Many of them, if not most, are actually so big they make our sun look small. If you had
a telescope, you could aim it at some of those stars, and you’d find they’re actually galaxies so far away they look like stars to the naked eye. There are billions of galaxies out beyond our own, each
containing billions of stars themselves. It is estimated that the universe contains approximately 200 billion trillion stars. Each and every single one of them was created and set in its place by the God
we worship!

David’s remarkable realization in Psalm 8 was that the same God who made all of that is mindful of us! He cares for us! If that’s true, then we have no reason to fear or worry in this life! Any obstacle that comes our way, any trial we face, any difficulty we come up against, is no match for the God we worship. He knows the
obstacles we face, he is bigger than those obstacles, and handling them is no problem for him. All we need to do is trust him!


Relationship With God

And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ
whom you have sent. – John 17:3
We have a lot of ideas about what heaven will be like, don’t we? When we think about eternal life, our minds are filled with all sorts of imagery we’ve seen in paintings and illustrations of heaven. Maybe you think of a staircase leading up to pearly gates, or streets of gold adjacent to a crystal sea. Maybe you think of angels floating on clouds and playing harps. Maybe when you think about eternal life your mind is filled with images of mansions, or of the welcome table filled with every kind of food you can imagine!
Is this what heaven will be like? A lot of the images we find in Scripture may just be the closest earthly equivalent to what the authors’ saw in their visions of heaven. In reality, we don’t exactly know what heaven
will be like.
But, Scripture does tell us what we need to know. It tells us that the primary feature of eternal life will be a relationship with God. That’s what Jesus was saying in John 17. Eternal life is to know God and his Son
Jesus. Ultimately eternal life isn’t about the streets of gold, mansions, or any of that other stuff. It’s about living in eternal relationship with the God who loves you.
The wonderful thing is that we don’t have to wait to go to heaven to get to know him. We can have a relationship with our God right here and now. Do you know him?


Facing Uncertainty

We all know what it is like to feel uncertain about the future. It can be paralyzing, not knowing what the future holds for us. We’ve all been there. We all felt some level of uncertainty when we left home to go out
on our own for the first time. Maybe you felt it when you retired. You may have experienced uncertainty when you lost a job and didn’t know how you’d make ends meet, or when you received a tough medical diagnosis, maybe even when your bills were higher than you expected.
You’ve certainly felt the sting of uncertainty when a loved one passed away. In these situations it can seem like you’re standing on the edge of what’s known, and everything ahead of you is unknown. You don’t know
what the first step holds, let alone what the 10th holds, or the 100th. What do we do when faced with uncertainty? How do we go forward?
In Psalm 119:105, the Psalmist writes, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” We are so blessed that God has given us the gift of his word, especially when dealing with uncertainty. God’s word communicates God’s will to us, it tells us the kinds of things he wants us to do, the kinds of people he wants us to be, how he would have us go about our lives. In that way, God’s word illuminates the way forward for us throughout our lives, including when the way forward is uncertain.
Lean on his word, let it light your path.