Monday, November 10, 2014

Monday Morning 11/10/2014

“And of some have compassion, making a difference” (Jude 22)

I see a huge problem in “church” today. I’m sure I’m not the only one. I’m not the first and I certainly will not be the last. I’m not an expert. I don’t know everything. It's not every church but I am starting to see this attitude pop up more.

Church is not the name on the sign in front.
Church is not the building in which people gather.
Church is not our position in the church, our favorite seat, the music, or the decorations.

The work of Jesus Christ in the world is in the hands of those who belong to Him. In that sense, He has no hands but our hands, no feet but our feet.

Did you ever notice in the Matthew, Mark, Luke and John perspectives on Jesus He never asked a person which church they go to? He didn’t ask about their sins, their past, or their position in the church?

My question is, “Why do we?”

Mark 1:32-34 is an example of this. It’s the Sabbath. Jesus had gone to church. After church He went to Peter and Andrew’s house for lunch. Peter’s mother-in-law was sick. Jesus healed her. Word got out and when the Sabbath ended at sundown, People were lined up at the door. They were lined up to see Jesus. TO SEE JESUS.

There were no doubt all kinds of people were in this crowd. Fishermen, carpenters, farmers and shepherds, and craftsmen and likely as in other crowds who came to see Jesus there were Roman soldiers, domestic servants and masters with slaves, religious leaders from the temples, and there were probably prostitutes, and thieves and pick pockets, and beggars, and there were the diseased, the sick and dying. People of all ages, race, color, national origin. People of all walks of life. The wealthy, the working class, the poor, the least of the least. It may have looked like Best Buy or Walmart the night before Black Friday!

In the end there were really only two groups.

There are the “Bringers” who brought people with a sense of urgency. It MUST be done. We MUST see Jesus. And the bringers were willing to lay down whatever they were doing to bring someone to Jesus.

Then there are the “Watchers.” They are curious enough to get up and check out what is going on but yet they are distant enough to not get involved.

God commands us to go to the world to make the watchers into bringers. The problem is that sometimes between the front door of the church and the pulpit of the church where the word of God is preached, the “Watchers” are judged. The “Bringers” bring and invite people, but those who are watching or searching feel the pressure of other “watchers” when they come into the church. The person is labeled as soon as they come in the door.

I’m not saying this is every church but let’s be real. We do it. And it needs to stop. Writers and experts try to figure out why a church is not growing or not prospering. Let’s get back to the example of Jesus. Jesus only knew the people came to Him or He went to the people. He never assigned a label. He only knew the love of His Father, the Word of His Father, and the Power of His Father. That’s what He shared.

We are not called to sit and do nothing. We are ALL called to be an active part in God’s church. God has gifted EVERY ONE of His children with a gift that is to be used in the operation of His church.

In order for us to all work together in God’s church we must all have the proper attitude of humility, we must have the proper relationship in unity and we must all properly exercise the gifts we have been blessed with.

That day at Peter and Andrew’s house, many in the crowd took Jesus back to their homes. The bringers took home the blessing of having brought someone to Jesus. They took home the joy of knowing they had helped make a difference and be part of the healing and changing of someone’s life.

A seed was planted in the eyes of the watchers. They saw the hospitality. They saw the healing. They saw the love and forgiveness, and the mercy and the grace. That made them think about what was missing in their own life.

Are you going to be a “labeler?” How long will you be able to stay a “watcher?” Or are you willing to take a step of faith and make a difference in someone’s life? Are you willing to tell someone how Jesus will make a difference in their life? My challenge is for all of us to get up and do something instead of waiting for someone else to do it.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Monday Morning 11/3/2014

“And of some have compassion, making a difference” (Jude 22)

In our everyday life we tend to take things for granted. We just pass things by and don’t appreciate their value or their worth.

Let me ask you a question. Is God faithful with you? Has God been faithful with you? Before you answer, remember it’s a two-way street. It goes both ways. Let me now ask you, “Are you faithful with God?”

The easy answer is yes, but I encourage you to take a closer look. I had occasion to look up what the word “faithful” means. I was surprised by some of the answers. It means “dependable;” “honest;” “true;” “trustworthy;” “keep going;” and “promise.”

A closely related word is “endure.” Many people assume this to mean the same as patience. But consider this: Patience is part of endurance, but to endure is to be brave; to stand firm; and to meet resistance.

Faithful endurance makes a difference.

Faithful endurance makes a difference to us because when we face situations of faith, times when our faith is tested, times when God seems far away. God’s faithfulness to us in His Son Jesus will make us stronger.

Paul, in his letter to the church at Corinth confronted their faithfulness. Paul was relating all he had experienced in his preaching Jesus Christ. He met resistance on many fronts, both public and religious. And he responds in 2 Corinthians 12:9: “Each time he [God] said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”

Do we face resistance in today’s world? Can we have faithful endurance to stand up bravely for what we believe? We should not stand up as one church better than another or one denomination has a better chance at salvation. Those are prideful competitive attitudes. We should stand up for Jesus Christ as Messiah [promised one], as Savior, and as Lord of Lords.

Faithful endurance makes a difference to our communities, those with whom we live every day, those we see at the grocery store, or the restaurant, or the gas station. In the first chapter of the book of Acts Jesus says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere; in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Can you imagine the power to make a difference to the entire world? If we live our life with the power of the Holy Spirit, we will have the power for faithful endurance. We will have the power to stand up, to meet resistance, and to boldly declare, “Jesus Chris is Lord! That faithful endurance is the example many people need to see in you and me to teach them about accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord of their life.

Many people will hide behind the things some people suffer for their faith and say, “I cannot do that;” or “That person has more faith than me;” or “I cannot do what they can do.” STOP LIMITING GOD’S POWER. Faithful endurance says, “For I can do ALL THINGS through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) The word “For” in that verse means “because.” We can do everything, including faithfully endure, bravely meet resistance, and boldly stand up in our world for the name of Jesus Christ.

Will everyone be friendly and accept? Will everyone be nice to us about our faith in Jesus Christ? Sadly no they will not. If we do nothing, then nothing changes. Doing nothing is not rebellion, it is surrender. My friends we have to stop listening to what the world is saying and start reading what the Word of God says.

Some people are discouraged because they don’t know or understand God very well. They are struggling about what to do with different things going on (or going wrong) with their life. Or they are confused and don’t know what they should do. Our faithful endurance to the Gospel of Jesus Christ can bring the answer to each of these.

For faithful endurance to make a difference we must see God’s supreme love and love him above anyone or anything else. We must see God’s suffering love as seen in His Son Jesus Christ and be prepared to “carry our cross” daily. And we must yield or give over authority for our life to His control. That is faithful endurance and that will make a difference.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Monday Morning (okay Tuesday) 10/13/2014

"And of some have compassion, making a difference" (Jude 22)

Last week I talked about being a “WELL” individual and how that would work in our relationship with a “WELL” church. Remember the church is not the building. The church is you and me. Are you “Worshipping (God honoring and Christ exalting),” “Evangelizing” (sharing), “Learning” (watching), and “Loving” (caring)?

All of that comes down to one word: Relationship. What is your relationship with Jesus? What is your relationship with others? If you stop and think about it, if you say you love Jesus or love someone else, it means you do one thing: care. If you say you don’t want anything to do Jesus or someone else because they offend you or something? It means you don’t care.

Acts chapter 3 is an interesting picture of this. A man who could not walk from birth would be carried (Someone cares enough to do this) to the temple every day for him to beg for money to live. People who passed by saw him, knew him by name and probably knew his mom and dad. But who would stop and just encourage this man? Who would stop and just chat with him? NOBODY would stop! People just acted like he was invisible.

How would that make you feel? If you knew he was there would you stop? We will all probably say we would. But in reality, we wouldn’t bother. It’s his problem. He is the government’s problem. He is someone else’s problem.

There are those who ask the question, “What is the opposite of knowledge?” It is NOT “Stupid,” “dumb,” “low functioning,” or “don’t know.” The opposite of knowledge is ignorance. Ignorance can be called “insensitive,” “indifference” “shallow,” or even “don’t care.” Not caring is an attitude. It shows coldness and hardness in our hearts.

But look what happens: Peter and John are on their way to temple. They notice the man who cannot walk. How many days had they passed by and NOT noticed him even though he was there every day and Peter and John probably went to temple every day too! Peter "fixed his eyes on" the man. No-one else would have anything to do with him. You see the Jews believed that such a man must be a sinner (or perhaps his parents were) to not be able to walk from birth. Some even thought this was a punishment of God. But as Peter saw him perhaps he remembered what Jesus had said another time and place, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him." (John 9:3)

And so Peter reaches out and heals the man. It is immediate. It is total healing. The man jumps up and leaves jumping dancing and praising God! Tell me - is the hand that reaches out Peter’s or God’s? The answer is: YES! Yes, it’s Peter’s - because WE ARE HIS HANDS AND FEET - it’s also God’s. What does Colossians 1:27 say - "CHRIST IN YOU THE HOPE OF GLORY!"

The lame man was healed because GOD’S POWER FLOWS WHEREVER HE IS. If we would see the power we must secure the presence of Jesus. Jesus wants relationship with us because HE CARES! We should share Jesus’ heart and reach out to those around us that we pass everyday but do not see.

Ignorance is blindness. Do you care enough to open the eyes of your heart and care enough to look around you and see other's needs before your own? That is caring.

Someone once said that the only thing worse than hell is when you find out that no one is looking for you. Jesus said he came to seek and save what was lost. Jesus also said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21) Whatever is important to you is where your heart is. If wanting people to have life in Jesus is important to you then caring enough to make a difference in someone else’s life is where your heart is. And if your heart is there you really do care.

Remember, if you have faith to make a difference to someone else. You have more than enough faith to care. You have more than enough faith to care.