I’ve written in line with this theme many times, but as we advance toward Resurrection Sunday, I was reading Romans 6 again this week.
v5 For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection
Paul talks much in his writings about what is coming for those of us who believe. Ephesians 1 comes to mind that the power of the resurrection is for us who believe or toward us who believe. Chapter 2 tells us we are seated with him in heavenly places. Paul says in Philippians 3 that he will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of his glorious body by the power that enables him to subject everything to himself.
We like the concept of what we WILL BE. Amazingly often even self-proclaimed atheists will speak of deceased family members as “looking down on us.” I heard a prominent sports figure this week talk about his Father as “looking down and watching”. But this person is an atheist, yet we like the concept of a better world to come.
But Paul says IF…
Some folks don’t like conditional statements, but you can’t get around it. You can’t fly, unless you are in an airplane. You can’t breathe underwater, unless you have scuba gear. Conditional is part of our life.
We certainly want the likeness of the resurrection, but it doesn’t come by accident, it comes as we are united with his death
if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death
Paul says in Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection… Oh it would be great to stop there, but he continues …and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death…
Everybody wants the resurrection, but not everybody wants to die. So then, two things must happen. TWO? Yes TWO. “But I only see one pastor, united with him in death. Yes, I must die to self, surrender in faith to the work of Christ, and be united with his death, but THAT WORD, alludes to more.
“united”– symphytoi = united. But the primary definition of that word is congenital. Oh, do you see it taking shape? You know that word right? It means a disease or physical abnormality present from birth; a particular trait from birth. Do you see it? We, because of Adam, have a congenital disease called “sin”, which leads to death. I, you, we are born dying sinners.
v4 says that we were buried with Christ in Baptism in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too walk in newness of life.
So then, the CONDITION is, if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly alsobe in the likeness of his resurrection
What has to happen then is REBIRTH. I need a new birth, and that new birth gives me a new congenital condition called:
The Resurrection Life – Hallelujah! Yes Lord, Thank you for the Cross, The Empty Tomb, and the Opportunity for Salvation by Grace through faith, into LIFE.
John 11 is famous for the death and resurrection of one of Jesus’ close friends, Lazarus. Jesus gets word that Lazarus is sick and dying. But Jesus, in his Omniscience, knows that Lazarus is already dead. He says “this sickness will not end in death, but is for the glory of God”.
The last time they had been in Judea, they had attempted to stone him to death in John 10. So, when Jesus says, “Let’s go to Judea again”, the disciples aren’t keen on the idea. “uh, Teacher, they tried to stone you, and you’re going there again?” I like that “you’re”, meaning, “we’re”.
Has God ever called you to go back to a place where things were hard the last time? Have you been asked to revisit a place where you were attacked before?
I once got invited to come back to a church shortly after being at a camp with them where a person got angry with me over a minor sporting event and things got out of control. “Well Lord, ok”. Then when I got there, the issue hadn’t blown over. While I was speaking the Lord told me to do something. He told me to give my check to that person. You should know at this moment, coming out of a natural break in my schedule as an evangelist, I hadn’t worked in 6 weeks. This was my first check in 6 weeks. Ultimately, I did what God told me to do. The person didn’t want it, but I gave it anyway, publicly, and told them God told me to, and just to pray and ask God what to do with it. Then I had to go home and explain to my wife what I had just done, which of course she said, “maybe he needed it.”
Well the disciples said, “Jesus is this a good idea?” And Jesus response is a bit cryptic at first, v9 “aren’t there twelve hours in a day? If anyone walks during the day, he doesn’t stumble, because he sees the LIGHT OF THE WORLD” (emphasis mine). Later he explains, “Lazarus is dead… let’s go to him” and Thomas replies, “let’s go too so that we may DIE WITH HIM”. Not sure if he was expecting to die with Lazarus or with JESUS. But “let’s go”.
What does it mean to “walk in the day”. I don’t think it means from 06:00 to 18:00. It means to walk in the “light of the world” the “light of God”.
1 John 1:7 says, “if we walk in the light we have fellowship… the blood of Jesus cleanses”
Isaiah 2:5 says “come let us walk in the Lord’s light”
Psalm 56:13 “you rescued me to walk before God in the Light”
Psalm 89:15 “happy are the people who know the joyful shout; Lord they walk in the light of your face” – what is the joyful shout? “Jesus Saves”
Isaiah 9:2 “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light“
John 8:12 “I Am the light of the World”
are you with me? Jesus IS the Light. He doesn’t just contain light, give light, he IS Light. If we walk in HIS revelation, we can trust where we are going. But often he doesn’t “shine” light on everything, just the area he wants obedience, “Let’s go to Judea”. That was the only light he was giving them at first. He didn’t tell them the whole situation, or what he was going to do. Yes, an Amazing thing was going to happen. Perhaps the greatest act, before the Cross and Resurrection, was Jesus raising Lazarus. They were going to see the high point. And yet that High Point was also going to bring about renewed effort to KILL him, which was a LOW point for Him and a HIGH Point for all of us who would receive.
They had no idea what he was going to do, what would happen, maybe they will kill us… but if “failure” is the result of OBEDIENCE, then it is never failure, it is following in faithful obedience, and he will say “well done.”
That Wednesday night, I gave some money to a student, and went home with the satisfaction of obedience, and didn’t give it a second thought. Flash Forward 4 years. I was speaking at a Youth Camp. One Evening outside, I heard a voice say, “Pastor Jim can I talk to you.” The person was shadowed in the night. I came over, and stepped into the light and saw the face of that young man from 4 years before. He looked at me and said “I don’t know if you know who I am…” I said, “Yes I know who you are.” And then he said, “The last 4 years have been for this moment… You were right, I was wrong, I’m sorry, but you should know that God has called me into the ministry and I’m in school studying to be a youth minister.”
I’m not sure what you THINK this is going to be about, but let me say right up front, it is NOT about gossip and other useless whispers. This is about the Whispers of the Spirit of God. This is about the Quiet Words that prepare us for the Loud Battles. This is about the things in the secret, that prepare for the public.
Matthew 10:26-30 – Jesus speaking says therefore, don’t be afraid of them since there is nothing covered that won’t be uncovered… nothing hidden that won’t be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the light, what you hear in a whisper, proclaim on the housetops. Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body… aren’t 2 sparrows sold for a penny? Not one falls without the Father’s consent… Don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.
So much beauty here, but this is our Savior speaking real to us about the struggles of ministry. This is our King and General sending the 12 out into battle and telling them the reality of going on Mission for God.
So, let’s start with the Sparrows first. Matthew tells us that Jesus said, “aren’t 2 sparrows sold for a penny?”. But when Luke tells the story he records, aren’t 5 sparrows sold for 2 pennies? These are NOT conflicting accounts they are 2 tellings of the same event. Can’t you see Jesus walking with his disciples in the market? There a sellers selling little sparrows perhaps for those who can’t afford something better. “2 Sparrows for a penny” “2 Sparrows for a penny”. And then another says “5 sparrows for 2 pennies.” They are just throwing in the 5th one to sweeten the deal. I used to preach a sermon titled, “The Forgotten Sparrow”. Sometimes we feel like that don’t we, and Jesus says, “you are worth more than many sparrows. Oh he loves his sparrows. He does not let one fall without his consent. And so WE know that he loves us MORE than a flock, more than all the flocks of sparrows, so if he cares for them, you, do NOT BE AFRAID, especially out there on the battlefield. You will not fall without his consent.
Don’t be afraid, I cannot control fearful circumstances, but I CAN Combat Fearful Feelings, and Counter Fear with TRUTH.
You perhaps have heard me said, and one day I will finally write this book, but I believe fear is based on a combination of 4 Lies or False Perceptions.
We believe 1) I’m alone 2) I’m Unloved 3) I’m Unable and / or 4) I am Uninformed. In other words, No one knows, No one cares, I can’t, or I don’t know how. All of those assumptions are false for the child of God. You are never alone, always loved, able, and instructed, if you are of Christ.
Don’t be afraid because you think no one knows, or no one cares, or you can’t survive this, don’t know how, because it will be uncovered, revealed.
In the meantime, seek the whispers of your loving God and Savior in the dark. It’s like a parent soothing a child at night, haunted by nightmares. Our God quiets us with singing, he whispers “peace be still”. He tells us, “I know child, I’m here, I care, I love you, you can do this.”
He will give us revelation in the dark, in the quiet place to get us through the battle in the daytime. Are you rising early in the darkness? Are you spending time in the late dark hours? Are you pulling away to spend time listening to the Lord? It’s that only idea of a “quiet time”. I’m NOT telling you when it needs to happen, or even HOW to do it, but it NEEDS to HAPPEN. Are you spending time crying out to him, listening to him, learning from him?
Too many people want to stand and proclaim, but they haven’t spent time with the Savior in the dark so they don’t have anything to say. But if we are listening to the whispers alone, then we are ready to speak in public. We will know what to say, and when to say it.
Then we understand in the hard times that he knows, he has consented though perhaps not caused your circumstances. And we know that YOU are WORTH His Time. You are Worth His Effort. You are Worth the Death of the Son of God. So, don’t be afraid, draw near, listen, then speak boldly, and survive the struggle, and thrive in it.
Why is this important? You go back to v16 and he says “I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves… beware… bear witness… you will be given what to say… the Spirit of your Father is speaking through. Yes, we understand betrayal, and death threatens, but you are NOT above your masters, if it happened to him, guess what may happen to us? But don’t be afraid.
Listen to the Whispers of the Savior and Go on Confident Mission
What would be said about you in Chapter 1 Verse 1 of this book of your life?
The authors of the letters often wrote what I call a “twitter bio” – you know, a short listing of words or descriptions for you at this time in your life, or specific to this current reflection of yourself.
Paul, writing to those Christians in Rome, began his letter:
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God – Romans 1:1
Wow, I love that, as a preacher I see three important words of distinction
A Servant – doulos = a slave, bond servant, What I find interesting often about bond servants is that they were set free but chose to bind themselves in gratitude to their greater master. Paul says, “I’m a slave”. The sense there is that it is someone owned by another, legally, whose entire livelihood and purpose is determined by their owner. Paul says “I belong to God, I am his servant and everything about me is at his discretion.”
Then he says I’m called an apostle. The key word for me is NOT apostle, that was specific to him, but it’s the idea that he was called. That word, kletos– logos bible says “someone whose participation or presence has been officially requested; especially a request to which refusal is NOT AN OPTION. Wow, Hello! I do what I do because there is no option. God has requested my presence, with him, obeying him, serving him, in the field he chooses, and refusal is NOT an option. If it is an option, then it is not a calling.
Do you have a “call” that is from God and of which refusal is not an option?
1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul begins that letter, “Paul, called as an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will”
I am called as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, by God’s will, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul says he is a servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and
Set apart – aphorizo = to be selected and separated for a purpose; to mark off boundaries, to mark one oneself, to appropriate for or to oneself
That word “appropriate” – carries the idea of resources that have come in for some purpose, or by some means, but now has been selected and designated for something else. It means “suitable for the circumstance; devote a resource to a specific purpose; take for one’s own use”
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, and set apart from the gospel.
My twitter handle is jamesgoforthjr – my profile description says – James L Goforth Jr, Christ Follower, Husband, Father, Son, Friend, Preacher, teacher, Golfer, Musician, Songwriter, Thinker, Pastor of FBC Ferguson.
But if i made it even more focused I would say – James Goforth – Called and Set Apart Servant of Christ and the gospel he provides, Husband and Father, Friend to any who will allow, Worshipper of God.
What would verse 1 of this chapter or book of your life say?
Even more focused mine might say,
Jim Goforth – Called and set apart as a Shepherd at FBC Ferguson, a Missionary to the City of Ferguson, a lover of people, an agent of unity
Acts 26:16 – I have appeared to you For This Purpose
Staff meeting devotion for today
God always has a purpose. When he called Paul, he gave him a vision statement from the start. Oh he’d been calling Paul for awhile, “why are you kicking against the goads” that tells us that he had been trying to get Paul’s attention and prod him in the right direction, but when Paul finally listened on the road to Damascus, God cast a vision as he called him into salvation.
God always has a purpose. God doesn’t cause all things; in the way we understand causation, but he is on the throne, Lord of all things. So, as he allows things, or causes things, he has a purpose.
Joseph understood that from Egypt, when he told his brothers, “What you intended for evil, God intended for good.”
Mordecai told Esther, “Who knows, perhaps you have come to royal position, for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14)
God uses our life experiences for his purposes. Rocks make rapid, moving water faster. Falls increase power. God always has a purpose, as rapids and water falls shape terrain and drive seeds downstream, and power the electric grid. When we believe that God has a purpose, we can trust him with the outcome.
Esther 4:16, after committing to fast for 3 days before she acted, Esther said “If I perish, I perish.” She understood that the Lord is still Sovereign over all we just obey and move.
Back to Acts 26:15-16 – I Am Jesus… in other words, my very name is, Jehovah Saves.
So, Get Up and Stand on your feet … we get knocked down, but we get up, God is in the Knocking down and in the Rising.
“Get Up” – the word means to rise for the purpose of action. Think about that tomorrow morning, Rise for the purpose of Action. Plant your feet and STAND.
I think of Joshua telling the Israelites, consecrate yourselves today for tomorrow the Lord is going to do something amazing. Often God doesn’t work because he spoke but we haven’t moved, we haven’t risen, gotten up, made ready, stood, ready to be used.
Get Up… Stand, “FOR” – that little preposition means into, in, for the purpose of …
God says to appoint you… Oh My, we need to do LESS Giving of Appointments to God, and Let HIM GIVE US Appointments. He is the vine, WE are the Branches.
to appoint you as a Servant and a Witness – that’s a beautiful two-fold ministry, serve and witness. That word for servant is NOT doulos that bondservant. It is hyperetes = officer, assistant. We are an officer under the authority, and mission of King Jesus. to Witness, martys = see and report. We are to serve and witness to what we HAVE SEEN and WILL SEE – Oh there is a past and a future in the work of witnessing the move of God. What have you seen, what will you see God do.
And he tells Paul that he will use him to open the eyes… so that they may turn from darkness to light, from the power of Satan, and receive forgiveness and a share
Oh, praise God our ministry is to tell people the wonder of forgiveness but also that there is a portion for us in the wonderful inheritance of Christ Jesus our Lord
What a message, what a vision God is calling us into.
Last Sunday’s message recording had a glitch and didn’t make it, so let me give you a condensed version
Do you ever wonder if maybe you heard God wrong? Or maybe you were slow in getting started, or unexpected obstacles arose, or uncontrollable circumstances arose. Maybe you’ve gone too far the wrong way. Now, you feel like perhaps you’ve lost your chance? Well Abram knew that feeling.
God gave him a clear call and a clear promise in Genesis 12: The Lord said to Abram: Go from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you 2 “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; … 7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land”…
But a lot had happened since then. Abram had been through famine, war, faced Pharaohs and Kings, he had lied and cheated to protect himself. He had worshipped the Lord, had displeased the Lord. 20 years had passed, and Abram wondered, “Is the Deal still on?” “Have I missed my chance”? “Have I Disqualified myself”?
READ Genesis 15:1-7
The Word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision…Do not be afraid, I am your shield, Your reward will be very great.
There are some important truths for us to consider, First:
1. Don’t Settle for Less than the Vision of God
Don’t Be Afraid
Don’t Let Fear make You impatient
Don’t in impatience make your ownway when the promise seems “slow” in coming to pass. God does not delay, he is not slow, that’s what 2 Peter 3:8-9 teaches. God’s clock runs differently from ours, and it also runs PERFECTLY. Fear is often the issue and is manifested in Lack of Trust
God says, “do not be afraid, I am your shield, and great reward“
We talked about fear a few weeks ago. Fear is based on lies we believe:
I’m alone – no one knows
I’m unable – I can’t
I’m uninformed – I don’t know how
I’m unloved – no one cares
Those are lies, but we think they are true… Yet God says: DO NOT BE AFRAID
God says here: “DON’T be Afraid.” How do we fight fear? With FAITH!
Make Sure the Path Leads you to God’s Vision
God had promised him a “great nation” and “offspring”. Abram thinks that he must have “heard God wrong” or “missed his chance”, so he needed to find another way. I don’t think he was mad at God, but just resigned himself to doing things a different way.
You have given me no children… So a servant … will be my heir
He was going to make Eliezer his “son” and heir. Eliezer was a good man, Abram’s most trusted and faithful servant. This was a “good plan”, but Eliezer, good as he was, was no more than a SUBSTITUTE for God’s Best!!
In his book, “Good to Great“, Jim Collins says “Good is the enemy of great.”
“We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life. The vast majority of companies never become great, precisely because the vast majority become quite good — and that is their main problem.” Collins writes, “That good is the enemy of great is not just a business problem. It is a human problem. If we have cracked the code on the question of good to great, good schools might become great schools. Good newspapers might become great newspapers. Good churches might become great churches.”
God’s path is always GREAT
Be Honest About Your Reservations
Sometimes we get Stuck because we won’t be honest about where we are. We say the right thing. Make appearances of doing the right thing, but aren’t honest with God about our reservations, frustrations, fears, anger, with others and even with God.
V2 – Abram says, Lord God, what can you give me, since I am childless… Look, you have given me no offspring, so a slave born in my house will be my heir.
Abram doubts his ability not God’s ability. “Lord I’ve been willing, I left my hometown, I’ve come with you on this journey, but here we are, 20 years later, and we are past the opportunity. You didn’t give it and I can’t do it.”
If you’ve come to the end of your rope… if you’ve tapped out your resources… if you no longer have anything to offer… Then maybe God has your right where he needs you.
2. Take a Second Look at God’s Vision
I Am Your Shield
15:4 now the word of the Lord came to him… this one will not be your heir; instead, one who comes from your own body will be your heir.
When God gives us a word, it may seem impossible, but if it is God’s word, he’s not looking for our help, or a different plan. He’s not looking for our permission to change the process.
If it seems unbelievable, that’s what God does.
Step Outside The Tent
Sometimes it’s hard to see from INSIDE. It’s hard to see past the “reality”.
Abram looked around the tent and all he could see was no children, no blessing, no fulfillment of the vision. Inside the tent, you can only see so far. Inside the tent our view is limited, our imagination is limited. Inside the tent you are blinded from seeing the beauty of the vision.
God took him outside the Tent
An Unimaginable vision of God.
V5 Look at the Sky.
Stop looking at what is NOT and look at what IS. Look at what God has already done, and imagine what he can do.
“Count the Stars“
– you can only get a glimpse, the gist, an idea, but you can’t even understand it. It’s imagined that IF he COULD count the stars visible they would number more than 4000, but in reality the stars in the field of vision would be more than 50,000.
If you are able to count them… your offspring will be that numerous
Abraham’s offspring included those who would be his by family birth. But they also included those spiritually who would follow his way. Those who would become “sons of Abraham”, Paul called them.
If you are able to count them…
You can count the apples in a tree. And you can count the seeds in an apple. But who can count the apples in a seed? Until the story of life is over, you never can count the apples in that one seed.
God’sways truly are higher than ours
Isaiah 55:8–9 (CSB)
8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.” This is the Lord’s declaration. 9“For as heaven is higher than earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
The Vision of God will be glorious and beautiful
His Vision will inspire others who view it displayed in You
3. You Can Believe The Promise of God
Your Reward Will Be Great
The only thing that God required of Abram was
Believe and Walk in the Promise
The “currency” that Heaven recognizes is FAITH
Hebrews 11:1 (CSB)
1Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.
Then Hebrews 11, lists the “Hall of Fame of Faith”. It tells the story of those Saints of Old who were faithful to follow God. None of them were perfect, but they were full of Faith. Not full of excellence, not full of strength, not full of talent, or so many things we might list. But they had FAITH.
And then Hebrews 12 continues
Hebrews 12:1–2 (CSB)
1Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
How do we join the Hall of Fame of Faith? Were they “SUPER-SPIRITUAL”? No, they were real, they struggled, they waivered, they fell down.
“Abraham believed and it was credited to him as righteousness”
believed – means confirm/trust
credited – parallel to a bookkeeping transfer, like an item is moved from one column to another. Abraham’s faith is moved into the column of Righteousness
Romans 4:17–21 (CSB)
17As it is written: I have made you the father of many nations— in the presence of the God in whom he believed, the one who gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist. 18He believed, hoping against hope, so that he became the father of many nations according to what had been spoken: So will your descendants be. 19He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body to be already dead (since he was about a hundred years old) and also the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21because he was fully convinced that what God had promised, he was also able to do.
He believed based on the Power and Faithfulness of the One making the promise
See it as alreadycompleted
Paul speaks of us as believers in Romans 8 and says that those he “foreknew, he predestined, called, justified and glorified” All of those things are in the Past Tense, COMPLETED. Before we ever knew, it was already true in God’s mind.
Live in it untilGod brings it to fulfillment
Abraham so fully believed here; that years later when he was called to Sacrifice Isaac, he carried on without even a doubt because he believed God was going to fulfill his promise, and it wasn’t hinging on Isaac, but on God.
Before Faith flowered, Abraham saw God’s promise based on his own ability, but AFTER Faith was credited as Righteousness, he lived ACCORDING to it, then he knew That the promise wasn’t based on him, it wasn’t on Isaac, the Promise was Based ON GOD the Giver of the Promise.
Faith is what pleases God.
Everything else is a byproduct of the fact that you believe him.
John 6:27–29 (CSB)
27Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set his seal of approval on him.” 28“What can we do to perform the works of God?” they asked. 29Jesus replied, “This is the work of God—that you believe in the one he has sent.”
If you’re current situation doesn’t seem to fit the vision, trust the God of the vision in spite of the nature of the circumstance.
Remember what he’s alreadydone for you
Abram had to become a NOBODY before God could work through him.
“I brought you From…”
Oh my don’t forget where you have been, from wince you come
Ur was a place of false worshipers, idol worshipers, it was the area of Nimrods people.
I brought –
You didn’t get to God by anything you have done
I brought you
You didn’t leave because you thought of it
I brought – yatsa = to come, to go forth
I brought you FROM
– The heart of the message of the Gospel is “REPENT” – come FROM where you are …
I the Lord brought you from Ur… TO GIVE you this land to possess
Oh yes, Lord. The call of God is based on HIS Promise, on His Power, Based on his GRACE
To give you this land to POSSESS
Nehemiah 9:7–8 (CSB)
7You, the Lord, are the God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, and changed his name to Abraham. 8You found his heart faithful in your sight, and made a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites…
God says, “I wanted to save you because I had a plan that included YOU
God says, “because of my power I delivered and continue to deliver you”
He didn’t have to do anything, but it was his GRACE, working in Abram’s life that gave him what he didn’t deserve. He brought him to a place of promise and blessed him over and over.
WillyougoOutside the Tent with God?
Jeremiah 31:16–17 (CSB)
16This is what the Lord says: Keep your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for the reward for your work will come— this is the Lord’s declaration— and your children will return from the enemy’s land. 17There is hope for your future— this is the Lord’s declaration— and your children will return to their own territory.
Will You Believe?
Walk in Faith?
Don’t Be Afraid – BELIEVE
I Am Your Shield – Rest In Me
Your Reward Will Be Great –– I Have Your Reward – I Am Your Reward – Your Reward is GREAT
I was reading again this morning a favorite encounter with God in Genesis 28
Jacob came from that wonderfully dysfunctional family in Abraham’s line. They certainly put the fun in dysfunction didn’t they? Well they aren’t so much different than we are, are they? Jacob had tried to arrange his future, even though God had already declared that he would be the lead, even before he was born, but he tried to “work it out” for himself. Hmm, I wonder where he learned that from? (Abram). But after he stole his brother’s birthright, Isaac sent him to find a wife among his family relatives in Paddan-aram. Along the way to Haran, he stopped to spend the night. Genesis 28:11 says he took one of the stones from the place, put it there at his head, and lay down in that place.
On my desk, I have a little collection of stones. They are from different places where I have been, reminding me of things I have done places I have gone. There is a piece of coral I got with my wife in Tulum, Mexico, there is a stone from the place where Paul met Lydia, outside of Philippi, there is a piece of volcanic rock from a hike with my wife in Guatemala to the top of an active volcano, there is a little piece of tile from near the Inn where the Samaritan brought the man injured by thieves, and several others, even a piece of salt rock from the Dead Sea. They remind me of things that have happened in life. When our sons were little we collected a rock from ever state we’d been to, every significant place, and we would carry them home and place them in the rock garden in front of our house.
Well this stone, was just a place to lay his head. And yet v12 says and he dreamed…
Oh my my my, do you take time to dream? You should dream, we should dream more. We should imagine the things that God can do because of what Ephesians 3:20-21 reminds us. Paul said, “now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us – 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.(CSB)
We need to dream more, we need to imagine what God CAN do because he CAN do MORE than we can ask or think, dream or imagine, exceedingly abundantly, immeasurably more than … so we need to dream.
But THIS dream was more than just thinking, or imagining, but God was at work revealing himself to Jacob. Jacob needed to begin to understand who God was, and what he could do. And he saw, in his dream, a stairway from the earth reaching to heaven. And there were angels of God, that is messengers of God, and they were coming down and they were going up. Messengers of God and Messages of God, come FROM God, do his work, and Isaiah 55:10-11 tell us that things from God, do what GOD plans, and then they return to God. God is both the source and the destination. The messengers and messages of God are also for God’s intentions, that passage in Isaiah says that God’s word DOES what God INTENDS, what he purposes, what pleases him.
And seeing this amazing scene, v13 says, there above it stood the Lord (NIV) or The Lord was standing there beside him. Oh wow things are more than they seem. This is a Christophany, a Theophany. This is an appearance of God, God the Son, because John tells us John 1:18 no one has seen God (the Father). So if we see “God” in the Old Testament, it’s Jesus. So there is this beautiful revelation of the working of God, but it’s NOT about the working, it’s about The LORD! And his message for Jacob is, I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham, and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your offspring the land on which you are lying. Your offspring will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out toward the west, the east, the north, and the south. All the peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. Look, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go. I will bring you back to this land, for you I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised.
Wow, if you look back Isaac had sent Jacob to find a wife and told him he would receive “the Promise of Abraham.” And now, here is the LORD himself confirming that this promise is an eternal promise to the offspring of Abraham through Jacob.
And Jacob Woke up
Oh we should dream, but we have to wake up and come back to the world in which we live. And Jacob woke up and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it… What an awesome place this is! This is none other than the house of God… the gate of heaven.
Oh folks. Do you realize the door to heaven, is right beside you? The place where you are IS the House of the LORD. That’s not just a church thing, it’s a world thing. What makes it so? The recognized presence of God. We need to recognize that God is right here. Jesus said, My father is always at work, and I too am working. When we walk into work, walk the streets of our neighborhood, we need to recognize that God is HERE, and he is Working, this is the house of the Lord, the Gate of Heaven, this is a HOLY PLACE. Our question needs to be, not, “is God working”? But, “Lord, what are you doing here, and how can I join you?”
Let’s get with God and ask him to open our eyes to see what he is doing. Ask him what he is saying about you, and what he is inviting, and then commit to join the messengers of God, coming and going From God, To GOD, FOR GOD.
And when God speaks, and when we join, and when God moves, REMEMBER. V18 Jacob took the stone that was near his head and set it up as a marker. He poured oil on top of it and named the place Bethel (House of the Lord)
Make note of the revealed presence of God in your life. Make a memory.
Then REMEMBER what God says, and speak it back as Truth – v20 If God will be with me and watch over me… That’s exactly what God had just promised to do… if he provides… if I return safely… then the Lord will be my God.
Oh we don’t have to make God prove himself, but when God gives us a promise, and we abide by the promise, and God does what he says, we need to be READY TO GO and to DO, according to his Word.
V22 this stone that I have set up as a marker will be God’s house, and I will give to you a tenth of all that you give me
Hear, Commit, Obey, and Give – Surely the Lord is in this place, and it is AWESOME!
Let’s be honest we sometimes are thinking, “what’s the least I can do to be acceptable here”? Or we will say, ”well, that’s the least I can do.”
So, here’s a study I will teach tomorrow, it’ll be up on YouTube, but I’ll give you the basics for those that prefer to read versus watch.
In Romans 11:33-36 Paul talks about the depths of the riches of the wisdom of God and that from him and through him and to him are all things
and then he says therefore… in view of God’s Mercy… present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you will discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God (Romans 12:1-2)
Because of God’s Mercy, Greatness, Wonder, Riches; because everything is from him, through him, and to him…
Paul says this is URGENT, when we view it according to the mercy that’s poured out on us.
And we present ourselves as LIVING SACRIFICES. Tie this into God’s mercy and we recognize there are Two Types of Sacrifices, 1) sacrifice of atonement 2) sacrifice of acknowledgement. God’s Mercy and Grace are revealed in that Christ offered the Sacrifice FOR Sin and so we Offer a Sacrifice of Praise. The Death Sacrifice is DONE, once and for all offered in Christ. What is holy and pleasing to God is when we offer our lives to him daily and moment by moment acknowledging and praise him for what he has done for us. That is TRUE WORSHIP
That is the LEAST I can Do
So, How do we do that? 2 Things
2. Do Not Be Conformed
Gene Peterson renders it don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit in without even thinking
we do that by NOT being Conformed. When you break down that original word it means to assume the outward expression that does not come from within. Assuming the pattern of a thing. It’s talking about putting on the special dress or costume of an occasion or office. So Paul is saying stop putting on a worldly costume, because that’s not who you are on the inside.
Then he says
3. Be Transformed
Yes, Supernaturally when we receive Christ we are a New Creation 2 Corinthians 5:17 – but that’s talking Justification, the inside. But here we are talking about Sanctification, letting our Outside start to look like our Inside.
The word is where we get the word metamorphosis. The same word is used in 2 Corinthians 3:18 when is says we are being transformed Day by Day with ever increasing likeness.
We do that then by Renewing Your Mind. We allow God to renew our thinking, our desires, and that affects our actions.
God’s Spirit – lives in us, reminds us of what God has said, intercedes for us, encourages us, and empowers us
God’s Word – 1 Peter 1:23 has birthed something new in us and 2 Peter 1:3-4 has given us everything we need for life and godliness so that we can be participants in the divine nature of God and escape this corruption
Man’s Surrender – As we humble ourselves, admit our need and inability, we drop the costume of the world at the door to our prayer closet. From that same prayer closet we put on the armor of God, living according to his holiness, we operate in the fruit of the spirit, by the gifts of the spirit in us, and find that we are being transformed. Oh that’s beautiful
Then You will KNOW God’s will
This closes the “circle” – can you see the cycle? God’s mercy is displayed to us, we offer ourselves to Him, that pleases God, in worship we take off the costume of the world, we are transformed toward his likeness, we understand his will, and that is even more pleasing, and we understand his mercy more, and we offer more of ourselves, and he is further pleased, and the circle continues.
That’s the Least We Can Do
he was offered a PERFECT Sacrifice For Our Sin, Once and For All, Died, Rose, Ascended to the Father, there he intercedes for us. And SO, I want to present myself as a living sacrifice to him, holy, pleasing, not conformed to the world but transformed by renewed thinking, an act of true worship to the object of our affection
Every year after I attend the SBC Annual Meeting I bring a message reporting what we are doing in the Southern Baptist Convention, based on the inspiration of the messages I heard, and the reports about our primary ministries.
Here is my message, it’s sort of long, but maybe NOT as controversial as you might think.
Convention Inspiration 2021
Matthew 28:18-20; Revelation 7:9
From Commission to Culmination
IN December of 1975, two weeks before my 11th, birthday God called me to preach. I heard it in my heart as clear as can be. But I waited. I didn’t tell anyone, not because I didn’t want to respond, not because I wasn’t sure, but because my dad was called to preach when he was 11 and I had heard that all my life, and when I heard that voice, I waited because I wanted to be 11. So, I waited two weeks and I felt guilty for two weeks because I wanted to be 11.,,
That call has shaped my life. It has taken me to 4 continents, it has taken me to concerts, and preaching engagements, revivals, church staff positions. But it has also had me share my faith one on one with people on planes, and over lunch, and on street corners, in coffee shops. That call was to preach the Gospel. But that is NOT the first call for the Christian. The first call of a Christian is to share their faith, meet Jesus, share Jesus. It will be different for different people, but it is still an expectation.
What then is the Commission of the Church and When is the Culmination of that Mission
Mission should be measurable and attainable, so what is our mission and how do we know how we are doing and when we are finished?
The Southern Baptist Convention is 175 Years old. We didn’t start for ALL the right reasons. We split from Northern Baptists primarily over slavery. We have confessed that sin as a convention. But our focus has always been on people meeting Jesus.
What was Our Commission? – Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8
Read Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8
Why Does Jesus have the Right to Commission Us? 28:18
Because he has the Authority. All the Authority has been given to him.
Why? Because Philippians 2 tells us he emptied himself of glory, took up the nature of a servant, was obedient to death on the cross. So that passage says
Philippians 2:9–10 (CSB)
9For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow— in heaven and on earth and under the earth—
Ephesians 1:20–22 (CSB)
20He exercised this power in Christ by raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens—21far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22And he subjected everything under his feet and appointed him as head over everything for the church,
The Father has given EVERYTHING to the Son. The Spirit is pointing everyone TO the Son. It is ALL his … and he says;
– We are commissioned because he is the Boss. Because it is HIS Kingdom, not OUR Kingdom. It is his plan not our plan.
Because HE HAS ALL AUTHORITY. And Dr. Tony Evans preached from this passage and several speakers referred to it. Why because it is where we start. It is why we are here. It is why he left us on earth. He hasn’t left us here because he needs 2000 years to get Heaven Ready. He can SPEAK IT READY. But he left us here because he has a commission for us. Tony Evans reminded us that he has Authorityekousia = power in legitimate hands – authorized authority.
So, the authority IS his, legitimized by Father’s Will, and Spirit’s Power, but by HIS Obedience and Faithfulness to the Cross.
Evans called that process a transformation of worldviews
Certainly, before we can disciple people from being lovers of self into being lovers of God, we have to lead them to Christ through Evangelism. But discipling is copying the Master. But not just discipling THE ONES WE LIKE or the ones like us…
OF the Nations – ethnos
That’s the Kingdom work that Evans has been focusing on all of his books recently, Kingdom People, transformation of the people, the structures, the systems. Yes, we want to see worlds change, but that happens as we change people, and people engage with structures and systems and we change systems – discipling the nations
And right here we need to be careful. Because the question I asked myself in my notes was, “how can we do this without being trapped by Politics?” and I believe the answer is in WHOM we seek to glorify and WHY. It’s not about the Church being Political. It’s about the People of God sharing Jesus, Engaging in Society, Transforming Systems, with the Good News that though we are sinners, there is transformation and LIFE in Jesus Christ.
Our hope is NOT in ANY Political System – One speaker this week reminded us that Christ is “not riding any donkeys or elephants.”
And our Outgoing President J.D. Greer, Pastor of The Summit Church Durham, happens to be sending Pastor to our Children now on the Mission Field, he said, when the Church gets into bed with Politics it always gets pregnant and the offspring never looks like our Heavenly Father”
But we are to Go and Disciple the Nations
How? By going to where they are!
Dr. Evans had been using a football game as a metaphor and said there three teams in every conflict, home, away, and the kingdom representative, the referees. But he said, that the offense gets into the Huddle … but no one came to watch the Huddle. You don’t MIND the Huddle, but you came to watch them break the Huddle and play the game. The question is DID THEY SCORE? Or Did they Stop them? So, we have to GO. And honestly if you go to the book of Acts, they had been commissioned, and they had been given clear instructions. And the instructions weren’t to build a Huge Jerusalem Church. It was to GO, empowered, to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the Church.
And so, what happened?
Before Saul became Paul. Before he became the great Preacher of the Gospel, I think you could say he became the greatest SENDER of the Gospel. Because there he is at the stoning of the deacon Stephen. And in the CHAOS of Persecution, the Church is forced to DO what they were called to.
Go – Baptist, Teach to Observe
Baptizing them, who, the Nations
Baptism is how we identify with Christ and with the Church
And Tony Evans said that our Identity as a Christian is MORE than any other identifier we have. He said God went to SAVE the NATIONS and commissioned us to do that. He says God is NOT Colorblind. Still in Heaven they were every race, tribe, color, and tongue – God is NOT Color Blind, but he is also not Blinded by Color.
Baptizing the Nations in the name of Father, Son, and Spirit
Teaching Them (the nations) to OBSERVE
It is NOT in the Knowing but in the Doing that we truly identify AS Christians. Doing doesn’t MAKE us Christians, but it DOES Identify us as Christians.
It’s about Transformation. Our job is to evangelize but to share the accountability to BE Like Christ. And if WE will Observe all that he is Commanded … THEN as Kingdom People, we can see Kingdom Impact in the World.
Tony Evans said, we can’t expect God to “Skip the church house, to fix the White House”
And then as Evans closed, he reminded us that the I am with you always – literally I even I am with you always to the end of the age … he was NOT talking about salvation, he was talking about how he is WITH us, accompanies us. And that God only Accompanies us, is with us as we are with HIM. As we are doing what we’ve been told to do, THEN he is WITH Us.
As we are Kingdom people, living with Kingdom Authority, For Kingdom Glory … THEN he is with us. In John 2:21-25 Jesus preached and many believe in his name … Jesus, however would not entrust himself to them,
There is and can be a time, when we believe, have faith, but we are on our own Agenda and he is not WITH us.
2. Why Is Our Commission? – Acts 1:3-8
If Jesus only has 40 days on earth what is going to focus on? What is mostimportant. He taught them about the Kingdom of God
The kingdom of God NOW is in our hearts surrendered to God. The Kingdom of God to COME is the Eternal Rule of God over all things – Heart, Soul, Mind, Strength, in a Unified Universe of Surrendered Creation and Creature. And he had spent 40 days teaching them about the Kingdom of God.
And the commands them NOT TO LEAVE Jerusalem but to WAIT for the Father’s promise … What was the promise? John 14 don’t let your hearts be troubled… believe in me… I am going to prepare a place for you… I will come again and take you to myself… but then he says in v16, I will ask the Father, and he will give you another counselor… I will not leave you as orphans… the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send me my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you. Peace I leave with you… don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful and in John 15:25 he continues, he will testify about me. You also will testify… chapter 16 I came from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father… I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.
So, he has told them he is leaving. Now the time is here. He is leaving. He has also promised them that he will return. But In the Meantime, we have a Person, we have Power, and we have a Purpose. Oh wow that sounds like a sermon doesn’t it.
The Person we have is the representative of Jesus Christ, the Person, 3rd Person of the Trinity, The Holy Spirit. He is NOT the Father, He is NOT the Son, He is the Spirit, and He is GOD! His purpose is to teach us, to convict us, he will encourage us, and he will empower us.
The Power – Jesus says he is leaving. We are going to be wondering what to do. But peace comes in realizing that when Jesus left, he was sending all the power we need. There is power in knowledge. There is power in a message, there is power in purpose.
I have been running 3-4 times a week since I started focusing on running, back in August. It’s been a different thing for me. It has stretched my endurance, my perseverance. There is a trainer that I have been using via video, Tommy Rivers Puzey. And he will be ramping things up and he often says, “come on, you can do anything for a minute”. And so, we would press on and push forward at this new rate, for a minute. We can make it for a minute. And by breaking it down, my endurance increases. What the training is doing is increasing my power, but also increasing my mental, and even spiritual power to continue.
So, Peter said, to the Lord, a day is “like 1000 years.” So, a day is 24 hours right. So, if 1000 years is a day, then 41 years is an hour. So, I’m going to live to 100 at least. That would simply be living 2 ½ HOURS. And if 41 years is an hour then 8 months is a minute, and 4 days is a second. Tommy Rivs says, “you can do anything for a minute”
And Jesus said, “for a little while you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world.” If your whole life is TROUBLE – it’s just a couple of hours. But in those HOURS – we can make it because we have the Power of the Holy Spirit.
But IN THOSE HOURS … let’s focus on the RIGHT THINGS
The Purpose – I’m giving you the Holy Spirit to work on the KINGDOM. Now there in Acts 1 the disciples are trying to get the verbiage right. And He has just again promised them that they would be BAPTIZED with the Holy Spirit with Power for the Purpose, IN A FEW DAYS … and the disciples ask, Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?
Oh my they got the word right, but not the concept. We ARE Kingdom People in Christ Jesus, but it’s NOT that kind of Kingdom. Some of us step into the voting booth trying to bring the Kingdom and that’s NOT the place. OH YES. THAT Kingdom is Coming. And that Promise will be fulfilled, but Jesus isn’t asking for our help with THAT Kingdom, but he DOES want to USE us in the Advancement of the Kingdom of God here on earth IN the Heart of All who Would Believe.
And Jesus gently answers their question by saying, it’s not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority …
… BUT you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
So, if that’s our Commission, WHEN will we know we are finished?
3. When Is the Culmination? – Revelation 7:9
Until we get to Heaven and see Revelation 5:9 and 7:9 become a reality, we have work to do.
What does that look like?
Revelation 7:9 (CSB)
9After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands.
This is the vision that Great Commission Baptists are Committed to. Yes, we are still the Southern Baptist Convention. We are not all “southern”, but we are all Great Commission Baptists. We adopted this moniker 10 years ago as a way to refer to us. That is our Mission, that is our Focus, to fulfill the great commission. And we put our money where our mission is.
SBC Budget 2021/22 – $190,000,000.
We can do that because we are 48,000 churches cooperating together for the Great Commission. Some might expect that to be a bloating of facilitation and administration, but that’s the beautify of the SBC.
Of the $190Million only 2.99% is spent on Facilitating Ministries, that is the Executive Committee which operates for the SBC between Annual Meetings, and the overall Operations of the SBC.
1.65% is spent on the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission which works with Culture and Engagement of Issues. It assists churches in moral and ethical issues, engagement and education. They work with faith-based adoption issues, human rights issues, and religious liberty engagement.
22% is spent on our 6 Seminaries, training the next generation of Pastors and Staff.
Then 73% of our Budget is Spent on World MissionsMinistries!
That includes $43,000,000 on the North American Mission Board. The North American Mission Board is focused in the USA and Canada in Compassion Ministry, Evangelism, Church Planting, and Chaplains (Hospitals and Military)
The IMB and NAMB work together on www.sendrelief.org When there is a tragedy worldwide, if you want to give to a specific need, go to send relief. You can give directly to them and know that in addition to meeting needs they will share the gospel. You can also know that they will work WITH Salvation Army and many others on the field to make the most of the opportunity, not compete.
The NAMB is focused heavily on Church Planting and Replanting of existing churches struggling and ready to reengage. Church planting is the strategy to spread the gospel, respond to brokenness, and bring spiritual, emotional, economic and social healing.
Look at this.
Notice the church plants in 2010.
Now SINCE 2011, look at this.
In 2020 we have truly LIT up the Continent with the gospel. 7,300 churches planted in 10 years. 80% are still thriving after 4 years. 18% of the baptisms in our 48,000 churches come from church plants. And notice a little but exciting thing. Down there on the bottom right in Puerto Rico. 16 New Church Plants. No new churches had been planted there in 25 years previously. That’s Great Commission Baptists at Work. http://www.namb.net
Then our Biggest Focus on Revelation 7:9 is the International Mission Board. And we allocate $95.6 Million or 50% of our budget to the IMB, and that does NOT include the $159Million given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, in spite of COVID, that was the 2nd largest Offering every. And with that investment, there are more than 3,500 missionaries and their 2500 children on the field right now. The world becomes more hostile to the Gospel daily and so they have to be creative and create jobs that allow them to work and connect overseas. Companies like www.kingdomgrowers.com in Forney Texas. I’m not a coffee drinker, but you can order online. Check it out. And you can buy plants that go overseas to farmers in need. The IMB is a Partner for the Gospel with Kingdom Growers so you get great Coffee and people learn about Jesus. I could go on and on. But what happens with that money and those missionaries. And with the thousands of short-term missionaries that partner?
Well, last year in spite of covid 422 new missionaries went to their fields. 18,000 local pastors received training. 127,000 received leadership and theological training. In Healthy Church Formation 35,000 groups are meeting intending to BECOME a church. 15,000 groups were just started with the intention of becoming a church. 18,380 New Churches were formed 57,888 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Generation churches are meeting with only 670 churches that have stopped meeting. Then the Big Winning Numbers. 769,494 people heard a Gospel Witness by our 3552 missionaries and partners. OF those 576,395 had an opportunity to respond to Christ. 144,322 became New Believers. One of those new believers was a young man who met our son and the went through the Gospel of John and He said, “I can’t believe what they did to Jesus”. He is a brother now. Then of those new believers 86,587 baptisms. You realize that is equal to nearly Two Mission Baptism for EACH of our Churches.
That brings us to ONE other Focus. $200,000 has been allocated for a new effort from our Executive Committee President Ronnie Floyd.
We are Great Commission Baptist. The Great Commission Compels us to Go. Why? Because Matthew 25:46 says that without Christ, they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. What’s common, ETERNAL. What’s different is the address. If we want to take the Gospel to the Nations, leading to faith, baptizing for declaration, teaching to live according to the truth of the Kingdom, We have work to do.
So, we have been presented with Vision 2025 with 5 Initiatives. It was amended to include a 6th initiative.
Increase the total number of Missionaries by 500. That will account for 100 lost annually.
Add 5,000 new Church Plants taking us over 50,000 churches.
Calling Out the Call – each church taking their role in calling on students, adults even retirees or career change new Pastors and Staff Ministers.
Turn Around Current Reduction in Baptisms by focusing on children and students between the ages of 5 and 17. The numbers have dropped dramatically in the last 10 years
Increase % giving, and Numbers given to the CP to 500,000,000
Then from the Floor came a recommendation for an addition to this task, of these important things:
Prayerfully Endeavor to eliminate all incidents of sexual abuse, and racial discrimination, in our churches – those two atrocities’ damage people and damage the work of the church. We will seek to END their incidence, and end churches being silent when it happens. We must protect the next church after you put that pastor out. We have a responsibility to protect one another. And there is no place for hatred of any kind in the Church of Jesus Christ.
I read Francis Bacon – he said that what gives rise to Atheism is primarily 3 things, 1) divisions in religions. When we fight, the world doesn’t believe. 2) Scandal among the preachers of the gospel. 3) Profane Scoffing in Holy matters, which he says defaces the reverence for God. He then added a 4) learned times especially in peace and prosperity. When times are GOOD, and we are “smart”, we forget God.
We can combat Atheism, not by ARGUING truth, but by Living the Gospel we Speak of
David Jeremiah says “Preach the Gospel with Word, Picture the Gospel with Life, Practice the Gospel with Love.”
The Prayer is to engage the 331million Americans, and 7.9 Billion worldwide, with the Gospel.
But until we stand around the throne, we have work to do.
What does that mean for us? There is a Message for Everyone. Oh, you might say, “well, there are mostly white people around us.” If that’s TRUE. I would still say the word “mostly”. Reach the rest. But Revelation says, “every tribe and people”. Are there people you don’t reach out to because they are of a different “tribe” or a different “people”? “Oh they aren’t LIKE US”. Praise God … go get them! Different Tribe. Is there a place for Republicans here? How about Democrats? How about Independents? What about other Tribes? You name the divider do they need Jesus? Will we allow Jesus to be the only definer? Will we allow his WORD to be our only Teacher? We still have work to do.
And so, the Call for you and for me is to Go
Go To friends
…To hard places
…To near places
…To far places
Give to facilitate the work of others
Pray for the advancement of the gospel
Cooperate with others on the same mission
You may not be called to be a preacher, or a missionary
But you have a Commission to Share your faith, from home, across the street, into the hard places to the ends of the Earth.
Are you A Great Commission Baptist? I am, We are, There’s room for you.
A martyr complex is a recognized psychological pattern. It’s marked by self-sacrifice and service to others at your own expense. Identifying martyr traits and tendencies can prevent burnout and stress on your relationships
It goes on to make the connection then to a Victim Complex and Victim mentality that doesn’t have to take responsibility for our actions because we are victims.
As Christians sometimes we are busy trying to be martyrs for the cause of Christ, we say, we think, and somehow that excuses our actions that are less than attractive and less than effective in what we are here to do.
I will confess that I am willing to die for Jesus if I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. However God has not called most of us to DIE for him but to LIVE for him. John 15:13 says “greater love has no one than this than he lay down his life for his friends”.
Live Live Live
You remember Jesus saying “you will do greater things than I have done”? Could it be that he is saying that a life Given as a LiViNG Witness for 60, 70, 80, 100 years is a greater thing? Oh yes, not in the soteriological sense, but there is a greatness in living for Jesus, not for my sake but the sake of others. There is a greatness in a LiFE living as a faithful, attractive, useful, loving Witness
Be a living witness today friend, lay your life down for a friend or a friend to be.
We have been given the ministry of reconciliation so be reconciled to your world that they might be reconciled to Christ