A fish out of water. That is what you will often feel like, O Soul, as you engage people in the world and live among them. How must Jesus have felt among publicans and prostitutes? Be sure you never become accustomed to worldly ways and thoughts. Remember always your purpose in being among them. You are not there to participate in their evil and immoral deeds, but to put before them the truth of the gospel. You have been sent as light and salt, to bring knowledge of God and transformation by the Holy Spirit. You were sent by the Lord Jesus as his personal representative. A foreigner are you, so do not adapt your life in ways that conflict with God’s holiness. Feel the awkwardness, and let love reach out to pull sinners from the fire.
What concerns us most? If you look at church bulletins, it’s physical health. They’re chock full of notices of sicknesses, surgeries, and accidents. Where are the notices about spiritual weaknesses, failures to obey the Lord, prayers of repentance, confessions of weakness?
Why are we squeamish about spiritual needs?
Are we pretending to be a house of sinless saints, rather than a hospital for struggling people? Are we not missing something here? Are we failing to be honest about sin in our midst? Are we accommodating to a culture that refuses to acknowledge sin? Have we lost our mission of getting ourselves and others to heaven, so that sin is taken seriously and its influence duly dealt with?
The context of Luke 12.7 is persecution while fulfilling our mission.
Jesus said we were “worth more” than many sparrows, Luke 12:7. The root meaning of “worth more” is “to differ,” Romans 12:6a; I Corinthians 12:4-6; 15:41. By implication, Jesus declared that humans surpass birds in value, Matthew 6:26.
Ed M. reminds us today that God cares and sees.
What reasons do you have today to rejoice, even in the midst of pain and suffering, as you do God’s will and work?
This one. Not many, probably. Not many Americans, anyway.
The Lord is going to get his will done. With or without our help.
There’s not much said in the NT about church planting. Plenty is said about proclaiming the gospel. So how did people know how to gather together in community? Reckon the saints said something about the church in their message? Something like,
“God formed a people centered in his love. He brings the followers of Christ together. The new life is lived in community, nothing like you’ve ever seen before. His people are not Jews or pagans, it’s not philosophy or pleasure-seeking, but what we’ve all been looking for. God assembles them now as they wait for the Great Assembly in heaven when the Lord returns for them.”
Reckon? The kingdom message implies a chosen people. Contrary to some who want to leave the church out of their message.
A tweet affirmed that the goal of missions is to plant churches that plant other churches. I have no beef with the general idea. The gospel ought to spread to every place. But the wording doesn’t get much support from the NT. The church is a product of proclaiming the gospel. The emphasis is on the latter. The tweet puts forth a humanly based activity. It sets aside the activity of God. It probably reflects denominational bias. When the gospel is preached in its fullness and truth, God adds the converts to his church and they begin to meet together. Quite simple, is it not?
The flame of God’s service, from 2 Timothy 1.6, is the focus of today’s devotional by Ed M. The call must ever be heard. (“Ministry” in today’s religious language has been co-opted by professionals. We are all ministers, only some of us serve in different functions.) God calls all his people to serve his mission. The church is about souls. We must never lose sight of that. We must constantly fan the flames of this privilege of participating with God in the rescue of mankind. Whatever our drawbacks or disadvantages — and Timothy had plenty of them — we are not exempt. No woman or man can run from it and be faithful to the calling.
Focus question: What do I need to do to keep the fire of zeal hot for serving God?
Ed M. considers our calling, based on Isaiah 6.8:
God calls. The Lord is not dead. He has not retired. He is not silent. He actively invites us to enter His service, to deliver His message. When He calls, we should immediately jump to our feet and do what He says, Mark 10:49,50.
In 1984 I was explaining in a Bible class about how great was the need for workers in the world and how few we were sending. A brother asked, “What can we do? How can we reverse this situation?” I paused, looked at him, and said, “Send your children.” The silence was deafening.
Focus question: How am I reacting to God’s call today?
The experience of the prophet Jonah serves as a negative example to Christians, who ought to know that God is concerned about sinners and wants their repentance. In his devotional, Ed wrote,
He was disgusted with God. He quarreled with the Almighty. Rather than accept the repentance of pagans, he preferred to die, Jonah 4:3. If the prophet had made any spiritual progress, it was difficult to see.
Focus question: Do any of God’s attitudes disgust me? Do I measure spiritual progress in terms of helping others to come to God?
Friends know I’m not a fan of the word leadership. In spite that that, Ed’s full devotional thought for today merits close reading. It hits home.
Moses was a “servant,” Numbers 11:11; Joshua 1:2,7,13,15b; Hebrews 3:5. Every Church leader is a servant. Their job is to copy the Master. The burden of guiding belongs to God. The task of following belongs to man. The Lord commissions the work, II Corinthians 5:18,19. He also provides the competence to lead, II Corinthians 3:5. Still, we can be certain, the task will be challenging. Courage will be needed. Trials will come. Decisions must be made. Discipline will be necessary. And doubt will hover nearby in all situations.
Focus question: How to urge people to follow the Lord and obey the will of God without compulsion, force, or manipulation?