Courage to Care, Contact, Confront

In Luke 10 and Matthew 25, Jesus told his followers to be concerned with the physical and emotional needs of their neighbors. Then in Luke 19:10, he stated that the main purpose for his incarnation was to meet the spiritual needs of the human race. In Matthew 28:19-20, he directed us to have the same priority – the spiritual needs of others.

Before we can successfully carry out this Great Commission we must have the

Courage to Care

We must allow the Holy Spirit to created within us a sincere attitude of concern. We must allow the joys, sorrows, dreams and disappointments of others to become important to us. Until we have a true, heart-felt caring attitude we will not be successful “Great Commission” Christians.

Courage to Contact

The boldness of first century Christians caused them to go to public places and intentionally meet non-Christians so they could witness to them about Jesus. They were not content to form a holy huddle and hide their light inside the walls of a church building. We, too, must be willing to meet and interact with lost people so we can tell them the Good News.

Courage to Confront

In our live-and-let-live society, most of us avoid confrontations because they make us uncomfortable. The gospel of Jesus Christ is, by its very nature, confrontational. This is what Jesus taught in Matthew 10:34-37. Every person is either lost or saved, serving God or serving Satan, condemned or forgiven. The Great Commission will never be carried out until we confront the world with this knowledge.

We must allow the Holy Spirit to make us brave enough to care, contact and confront.

He Forgave

He said "Don't," but I did.
He said "Do,", but I didn't.

He said "Stop," but I kept going.
He said "Keep going," but I stopped.

He said "Give," but I kept.
He said "Keep," but I spent.

He said "Go," but I stayed.
He said "Stay," but I went.

He said "Louder," but I stayed silent.
He said "Be quiet," but I shouted.

He said "Now," but I waited.
He said "Wait," but I did it anyway.

Over and over I sinned.
Over and over He forgave.

And that is "Good News"!

The Great He Is

At the burning bush Moses asked God to identify Himself. God replied, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14) In that same verse he directed Moses to tell the Hebrew people the “I AM” sent him. Our assignment as God’s children and servants is to tell people HE IS!

HE IS the truth.
HE IS the one who forgives sin.
HE IS the only path to eternal life in heaven.
HE IS the wisdom we need to succeed in this life.
HE IS  the final victor in the battle between good and evil.
HE IS the creator and sustainer of the universe.
HE IS  the one who gives us joy and peace.
HE IS our protector from temptation.
HE IS our refuge. 

HE IS
and it is our privilege to tell everyone we meet!

The Disciples’ Easter Weekend

JESUS DIED TODAY  (Friday)
          Nailed to a cross, held up in the air
          So his enemies could see Him there.
          Beaten and tortured, bleeding and bare
          Jesus died today.

          He did not cry out, did not complain.
          Like a lamb at the altar He was slain,
          So my sins with me would not remain.
          Jesus died today.

          He chose to die...the time and the place.
          He did it for the human race,
          the example of God's loving grace.
          Jesus died today.

JESUS IS BURIED TODAY  (Saturday)
          His place is a tomb, cold and alone,
          A borrowed grave instead of a throne
          To pay for sins like my very own.
          Jesus is buried today.

          There is no marker, no special way
          To see where Jesus lays today
          Because He said "Father, I obey."
          Jesus is buried today.

          Draped with cloth from his head to his feet
          The great sacrifice is now complete.
          Proudly all his enemies repeat
          Jesus is buried today.

JESUS ROSE TODAY  (Sunday)
          Women were first to see it was true.
          They went to the tomb while day was new.
          They told others. Soon everyone knew
          Jesus rose today.

          He left the tomb so cold and so bare.
          No need to look, Jesus is not there.
          The news is joy to men everywhere.
          Jesus rose today.

          Death is defeated. Jesus has won.
          This is the proof that He is God's son.
          He's the Messiah, the Promised One.
          Jesus rose today.

Becoming Christlike

My growth as a Christian will not be complete until I love every person in my life all the time.
My growth as a Christian will not be complete until I want to help every person I love.
My growth as a Christian will not be complete until I learn how to express my love to people as individuals, not just as a group.
None of this growth will take place until I yield to the influence and power of the Holy Spirit.
     God sends us into the world with a trunk full of love to give to others. We are to dip into that trunk and scatter love to everyone we meet. That love takes the form of listening, sharing, teaching, patience and forgiving. (That short list is not exhaustive.)
     That trunk has compartments that contain all the forms of love. He also gives us the wisdom to use the most effective form of love with each individual we meet.
     When I find myself running low on the motivational drive to be a "love scatterer" I must remember how empty my trunk was before He filled it, how small my qualification was to be a receiver of that love, and how much better my life is now because of that love.
     The best, most effective, most accurate way I can glorify God is to let the Holy Spirit make me like Jesus. "God...decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son." (Romans 8:29, The Message Bible)
     The Holy Spirit will do the shaping of the way I am. My role is to allow such changes to happen and then behave in ways that exhibit my new shape.
     Do we Christians spend more time, money and energy trying to change our physical "shape" into the way the world says it should be than we do allowing the Spirit to alter our spiritual shape into the way God wants it to be?

Love

     God sends us into the world with a trunk full of love to give to others. We are to dip into that trunk and scatter love to everyone we meet. That love takes the form of listening, sharing, caring, forgiving and some occasional foot-washing.
     Our trunk has compartments that contain an inexhaustible amount of all forms of love. He also gives us the wisdom to use the most effective form of love with each individual we meet. With the help of the Holy Spirit we can match each recipient with the proper form of love at the appropriate time. 
     When I find myself running low on the motivational drive to be a "love scatterer" I must remember how empty my trunk was before He filled it, how small was (is) my qualification to be a receiver of such love and how much better my life is now because of that love.

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     The Bible is a love story...not a romance, but a love story none-the-less. It is a story of love freely offered, but often rejected. In the cases where that love was accepted the result was wonderful loyalty, joy and power in each individual's life.
     It is a love story featuring you and me, just as much as Biblical characters.

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     I have grown up with the idea that as Christians we should "Love the things God loves and hate the things God hates."  I think "...and with the same intensity" should be added. This may be an accurate summary statement of being and living as a Christian.
     It seems lately that the intensity of our hating is much greater than the intensity of our loving.

Loving Others ?!?!?!

Loving other people is dangerous. Loving other people can cost us time and money. Loving other people can cause us to travel to frightening places and spend time with frightening people. Loving other people can result in us being with “others” when we would rather be with “our own.”

For children of God, is loving other people a command or an option? Mark 12:31 answers that question for us. And that love for others is to be demonstrated by doing  and sharing,  not just talking and preaching. It expects us to love individuals, as well as groups.

Such love is impossible for us to achieve and maintain unless we are Spirit-filled and Spirit-led. The “filling” will provide us with the desire to love and the “led” will  show us how to love. When we feel we are unable to do either of these we need to emulate the love of Jesus and daily choose the life-style described in I Corinthians 13:4-7.

If, for some reason, we want to measure the extent of our love, we need to go to that passage and substitute our own name for the word “love.”  (Go ahead and try it. I’ll wait.) Isn’t it wonderful to know that even though we don’t yet love like Jesus does, He loves us anyway and the Holy Spirit will continue to teach us.

 

 

Jesus Sinless On The Cross

Mark 15:23 records that Jesus refused to drink a mixture of wine and myrrh that would have reduced the pain of his crucifixion.

Why? Was there a certain level of physical pain He had to suffer in order to accomplish the purpose of his death? Did the Father require a minimum amount of physical trauma before salvation’s plan would be complete? I don’t think so. For Jesus the physical aspect of the cross, with all its horror, was not the worst part of his sacrifice.

Jesus refused the myrrh because He still had work to do, even after the nails had been driven through his hands and feet. He needed a clear head to to stay sinless until his death.

For thirty-three years He had lived a life of sinless perfection, always obedient to his Father’s will. Even though the crucifixion had begun He still had six hours during which He had to continue to resist temptation. To sin at this late stage would have been to negate all previous acts of service and obedience. He had to remain the perfect Lamb right up to the moment of his death.

The myrrh might have clouded his determination. (He was, after all, still fully man.) By refusing it, He was choosing spiritual purity as a higher priority than the relief of pain and placing obedience to the Father’s assignment above comfort. He could not allow a chemical crutch to interfere with his most important task.

The temptations of those six hours on the cross must have been greater than all the other temptations of his entire life. Truly He was a man among men, masculine, heroic and courageous in every sense of the terms.

When Strangers Visit My Church

They don't want to know about our preacher.
They don't really care about our teachers.
They're not concerned about our parking lot.
They don't care how many elders we've got.
The don't care about the size of our choir.
They don't ask "How tall is your spire?"
They just want to know, "Do you love me?"

They don't care about our preacher's degree,
Or if the donuts and coffee are free.
They don't care about our building's size,
Or if our deacons are gals or guys.
They don't care about our recreation,
Or our theology of creation.
They just want to know, "Do you love me?"

So when they come to visit us here
We must meet them with a smile or a tear.
Quietly, sincerely without a fuss,
Let them know they're important to us.
A pat on the back. A "We're glad you're here."
Will help us make it completely clear,
That without any doubt, we love them.

Love All Others

It was early in the morning. The day was clear and clean and new and fresh. I was alone with God.

I asked Him, "Father, what do you want me to do today?"

He answered, "Love others."

I thought for a minute and then said, "OK. Which others?"

"All others," He replied.

"Wait a minute," I said. "You don't really mean 'ALL others,' do you?"

"All others," He repeated.

"But Father, there are a lot of 'others' in my life that aren't very loveable. Some of them don't deserve being loved."

"All others," He said again.

"But Father, I don't even like some of the people I'll be with today."

He answered, "I didn't say like them, I said LOVE them."

"But Father, some of them certainly don't love me. Can I wait until they love me first?"

"No, my child. Love them first. Show them that you love them. All of them. Starting today."

"But Father, they are really not worth loving. No one can love all of them."

"I do," came the reply.

At that point I had no more objections. I left my devotional time still unsure I could love as He was demanding, but I knew I had to try.