FOR THE LEAST…

Friday – February 23, 2018

Scripture: Mark 10:43 – 45

9“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:45

Our scripture portion for today comes at the end of the story of James and John. Yes our John the beloved disciple was part of this story and he is not seen in the best light either. It appears they desired to be in positions of honor in Jesus’ Kingdom. This really raised a storm of protest from the rest of the disciples, as you could imagine. Who were they to think they deserved this honor? What did Jesus do? Well, He didn’t throw up His hands and declare that He was ready to start over with another group. He dealt with this situation lovingly and in great wisdom. Even though James and John both declared they could “drink the cup” and the “baptism” of Jesus, He was aware they would drink of those things as He will BUT that it was not His place to give them this honor. That was already dealt with.

Jesus called them all together and counseled them about their attitude. If the servant is not greater than his master then they were about to receive a great lesson from the Master. His point was that even He came to serve and was therefore the example they should follow. (See Mark 10:45.) Basically He told them, “If I, your master, came to serve; then you also are to serve.” Therefore, we have Jesus presenting both a reason for His coming and a reason for their lives also. They are to serve others. Our task as believers is to be servants of Jesus and also of each other. When we read the Bible we will also discover that we are also to serve those who are needy in this world.

Servanthood is a hallmark of the Christian. Others need to see Jesus in us through our actions and our language. It is not good enough to “talk the talk” unless we also “walk the walk.” Can we really grasp this reason for our lives? Do we fully understand what Jesus is asking of us? The disciples struggled with it and they were right there with Jesus in the flesh. I sort of suspect that we will struggle with this concept from time to time. BEING a servant needs to be seen as an honorable thing to BE and not simply a means to a desired end. In this case, the BEING is all important. We are not to think of ourselves as being in any way better than others. We, of all people, should recognize that we are all sinners saved by grace and not worthy in our own selves to enter into God’s Kingdom. Even our being a servant is not sufficient for us to
get into God’s heaven. It is God’s grace, God’s mercy and God’s love that has provided a way through Christ’s substitutionary death on the Cross that has made that possible. All we need do is accept, believe and confess Jesus as the Son of God who takes away the sins of the world (ours, too) and makes us one with God.

How are we doing at BEING servants? Are we letting others hold us accountable in this area of our walk with Christ? Lent is all about preparing our hearts to really understand and acknowledge Jesus as the RISEN Lord. Then, as servants, we will really BE His disciples and His friends!

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“AND THIS GOSPEL…”

Wednesday – February 21, 2018

Scripture: Matthew 24:4 – 14

7“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Matthew 24:14

Couched in these words by Jesus about the end times is an important truth about the reason He came to this sad world in the first place. He came to bring us the “gospel of the kingdom.” I am aware that Jesus is sharing some important information that is essential to our understanding of the end times but it is also important because our reason for being here after receiving Jesus as Savior is involved. Not only did Jesus come to preach the gospel of the kingdom but we also are involved in preaching this gospel until He comes again. It is His coming that ends our preaching of the gospel of the kingdom. If we die before His coming our preaching is done and if we are caught up with Him in the rapture our preaching is also done. If there is any further preaching of the gospel of the kingdom it will be done by others who have not believed until then. The “Left Behind” series of novels about the period after the rapture is interesting conjecture but I am not convinced it is accurate theologically. But it will likely not be my need to know in any case or yours if you are a believer. Our only responsibility until that time is to continue to preach the gospel of the kingdom and stay true to the cause of Christ in His Spirit’s power and spite of all the enemy can do to destroy God’s kingdom.

Jesus also came to inform His followers of all that is to come so we can stand firm until the end. How we will end is unimportant but how we end is very important. Are we faithful BEING His followers? Are we still preaching the gospel of the kingdom? That is our responsibility. That is why we are here on this earth. Are we faithful to His dear cause? It sure seems from my studies of history through the years that every age has involved many of the elements found in end-time pronouncements. This does not mean all that much as the enemy of our souls, the enemy of God’s Kingdom, desires to destroy what God loves and desires for His own. This is something he has done from the beginning and will continue to do right up to the end of time.

The real question dealt with here is not so much about the end of time as it is about how we, as believers, are to BE at that point in time. No punches are pulled as to how difficult those days will be. It is just as true concerning these days we live in. Anything can happen to God’s people but the fact is that it is necessary for us to be spiritually ready for those times and not faint-hearted because of them. Many will fall away but do not be one of them. Stand fast in the power of the Spirit and God will see you through. In other words, keep on BEING a follower of God and part of His kingdom through Jesus Christ His Son.

MADE DEAD TO SIN BUT ALIVE IN CHRIST

Tuesday – February 20, 2018

Scripture: Romans 6:1 – 14

6“For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”

Romans 6:14

“In the same way” – Just four words but they hold the key to understanding this passage. Now, I want you to read the scripture for today, or re-read it if you already read it, and take note of how what is taught here is actually applied for each of us. (Read Romans 6:1 – 14)

We are relating each scripture portion to our overall theme that, JESUS CAME FOR A REASON, so we need to discover some of that reason here. Romans 6, focuses on the sin problem of mankind and makes it very clear that it really is a problem. Romans 7, focuses on the relationship between the Law and sin with an emphasis on what Christ did to free us from the Law and bring us into the age of grace. Romans 8, focuses on what it means to live in the Spirit so that we live in the will of God. The emphasis of The Wesleyan Church this quadrennium is “Made New.” That is, we as believers are “Made New” through our relationship with Jesus Christ and thus have a message to share. We call that simply “telling our story” rather than using words like witnessing, sharing, evangelizing, etc.

While Paul is focusing on sin here, the overall thrust is to show that there is a way to escape sin since through Christ by His death on our behalf, has also on our behalf destroyed the power of sin. Paul speaks of baptism as showing what Christ has done for us in a symbolic way. While we are not “saved” through baptism, it is considered an essential part of our acceptance of what Christ did for us on the Cross of Calvary. When we accept what Christ did we also show that acceptance through the sacrament of Baptism as a visual reminder of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ – which He did on our behalf – thus we were involved in those actions as well. We were buried with Christ. We were made alive in Him. He did all this on our behalf so it is all covered when we accept Him as the Son of God and our Savior. Sin no longer has power over us. I mentioned four words at the beginning of this devotional that cement this in my mind and heart and I trust they do the same for you – “In the same way…” – so it is by believing that we accept the death of Christ as our own with regard to sin and its power just as we do to receive new life in Christ. Go back and re-read verses 1 through 10. That is what Christ’s death on the Cross accomplished and that is why we now have power over sin because it no longer has power over us. The secret, if you will, is being in Christ. Our lives are to show others (believers and non-believers alike) that we belong to Christ because we do not give sin any power over us. Understanding Romans 8 then is essential for this to be true. You belong to Christ so turn up your nose at sin because it has no power over you. Jesus came that we might be dead to sin but alive in Him and that has an impact on the story we share with others who may be outside of the community of faith in Christ Jesus. Live then, like a son/daughter of God.

SEEKING GOD’S WILL

Monday – February 19, 2018

Scripture: Matthew 18:19 – 20

5For where two or three gather together because they are mine, I will be right there among them.”

Matthew 18:20

Whenever I need to make a big decision, or need some extra wisdom with a problem I am facing, the first place I usually go to is prayer with the One who knows all things, my heavenly Father. I try to sense what He is saying as I present my need and lay out what I see as my options. Generally I feel fairly sure of His desires at the end of the conversation, and then plan accordingly. In some cases, though, it is helpful to have one or more trusted friends or family members to share with and see if they have some knowledge, skill, or experiences that will help clarify everything before I make any real decisions. Usually, these steps are enough to help me make sound choices and I proceed confidently. There are several bible passages that attest to the usefulness and the spiritual soundness of this kind of practice. So the first move should always be private prayer, followed by trusted counsel.

In our scripture today Jesus was giving some specific instructions to the crowd, and the disciples, on how to handle certain situations, and also, how to make sure they are right with God so that He hears them. When we get to verse 20, we find Him saying that if two or more are gathered together in His name, He will be right there in the midst of them. So we see that if we expect God’s help in this decision-making we have to be sure to invite Him in on the decision. (Ask in Jesus’ name, and if it is in His will, we have what we ask for.) If we are all in agreement (fellowship) and are prepared to bend our will to His (put Him first) we have forged a strong chain that will produce the victory needed. Have you ever had the privilege of participating in the process of selecting a new pastor for your local church? If so, you surely remember what an important and serious task this is! First, there are inquiries made about possible prospects. You find out all you can about each one, and then much prayer precedes a phone call inviting him/her to come and speak so you can get to know one another. After the church service, there will be a fellowship time with opportunity for questions and observations on all sides. Eventually, hopefully after much more prayer, a vote will be taken and all concerned will have ample time for more deep prayer and soul-searching. By the time a final decision has been made by all parties involved, we can assume that God’s will has been made clear so that further plans can be made. You will have met the criteria for a satisfactory conclusion and God’s blessings can be received all around! This is how it is when God’s people gather in His name and invite Him into their midst. The joy and celebration of a decision well-made is our reward for including Jesus in every aspect of our lives. Thank God for His help in every area! So many lives are changed when God is our guide!

The Great Co-Mission

SundayFebruary 18, 2018

Scripture: Matthew 28:18-20

The Great Co-Mission - Logo - Large18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Christian pastor, author and speaker Dr. Tony Evans shared this thought at a conference back in 1986: “In football they have a huddle, the goal of the huddle is to give you thirty seconds to call the play, that is why they give you a huddle. At a professional football game there may be sixty thousand people watching you huddle, they don’t mind you taking thirty seconds to call the play. They understand that you have to get organized, you have to know where you are going to go, the ends need to know where they are going to go, the quarterback needs to know where he is going to go, the backs need to know where they are going to go. A huddle is a necessary part of playing the game. But let me inform you, if you do not already know, sixty thousand people do not pay $20 a ticket to watch you huddle. See, people don’t come to football games to watch the huddle. They want to see if their team can overcome the opposition who is daring them to snap the ball and move down the field to score. What they want to know is does your practice work? Now what Christians often do is get high on their huddles. We gather together on Sunday morning and Sunday nights and Wednesday nights and we go nuts over the huddle! We say, “Boy did we have a huddle!! My quarterback can call plays better than your quarterback. And boy do we go off on the huddle. But what people don’t seem to understand is that the huddle is so that we can play the game. The effectiveness of your church cannot be measured by how well you do on Sunday morning. … The test of the church is what it does in the marketplace. What we need today are churches that are representative of Jesus Christ not only when gathered but when disseminated.”

Who are we? What are we doing? As a church, and as THE Church, what is our purpose, our mission? Are we here to have a really good huddle or is there some higher purpose in what we gather for? Furthermore, how did we get from the death and resurrection of Jesus, around 2000 years ago, to around 41,000 denominations of churches, world-wide, today? For that matter, does it really take 41,000 denominations to accomplish the basic task Jesus set out for us? Oh, and one more thing: basic task you say?

Wouldn’t it be nice if Jesus had simply left us some guidance on what it means to be the Church and the kinds of tasks we should be focusing on? Well . . . it turns out that He did. There are all kinds of verses in the Bible to get us from the huddle to the end-zone but, perhaps the most important, is what we commonly refer to as The Great Commission.

The Great Commission comes as the closing to Matthew’s gospel. Chapter 28 begins with the resurrection of Jesus and ends with His final words to the 11 remaining disciples. Matthew’s resurrection account is dramatic: “There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes where white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. (Matthew 28:2-4)” Next, Matthew debunks what was, apparently, a common myth regarding what really happened. The chief priests, upon hearing what happened from the guards, made up a story and paid off the guards to circulate it. I imagine the story was embarrassing to the guards but there were other witnesses of this event, Mary Magdalene and another Mary, who had gone to look at the tomb. Finally, the 11 disciples gather in Galilee where Jesus meets them and delivers this important commission to the disciples and, through them, all believers to come.

The commissioning from Jesus has 4 action elements to it altogether: Go, Make Disciples, Baptize in the Name and Teach to Obey. This commission is then sealed with a promise at the end – that Jesus will be with us every step of the way. Let’s take a moment to think more about these action elements.

The first step of action Jesus gives us is to Go. The word for “go” is “poreuthentes (por-euth-ent-es).” Its meaning is rendered well enough but the key is its position in the sentence. When a Greek writer wants to emphasize a word or concept, he does so by putting that word right in the front of the sentence. English sentence construction would find this practice difficult to read but Greek doesn’t have that kind of constraint. In this sentence “poreuthentes” is the very first word. The author is trying to emphasize the word “go” more than all the others. It’s the core concept here. There are tasks to go and do but the main point is the going – the commissioning and authority of Jesus, the One who directs the “going.”

The first step is always the hardest. The one thing that separates those who “do,” and those who “don’t,” is that first step. That’s how “doing” begins. It’s easy to ask a lot of “what if” questions and contemplate failure. It’s also easy to get paralyzed by those “what ifs.” But our “going” is rooted in a commission given us by Jesus. If you ever had doubts about taking that first step in joining the mission of the Church, you need to know how important it is to Jesus. This is His idea and it’s what He has commissioned you to do. It starts by “going.” It starts by putting your faith into action.

So what is it that Jesus wants us to “go” and do? He says, “make disciples of all nations.” “Matheteusate (Math-et-eus-at-e)” is often translated simply as “teach” but it means “make disciples.” How important is this command? This is the second word in the sentence right after “go.” The commissioning is following the life of Jesus. He came and made disciples first of all. He taught the truths of the Kingdom of Heaven to all who would come and listen but, more specifically, he gathered 12 disciples and taught them night and day. In the noun form of this verb (mathetes) the meaning is a “learner” or “imitator of the teacher.” Jesus wants you to imitate your teacher, who imitated their teacher and so on down through time all the way back to the disciples who imitated Jesus. Even more important, those original imitators wrote down stories and teachings from the one they were imitating so we can know what Christ looked like.

Now you and I are the disciplers. It’s more than teaching someone what the Bible says; it’s living it and teaching others to live it by your example. To make a disciple, then, means to lead another to a belief in and relationship with Jesus and then to spiritual maturity right alongside of them. Discipling involves a relationship that is intentional and seeks to pass down and strengthen the faith of another. How are you doing on this one?

The commissioning of the disciples, and all Christians, continues with baptizing the new disciples from the nations “in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” To be baptized into a name indicates a bonding process. This is part of baptism as a ceremony but also, in a spiritual context, a very real spiritual bonding. In ceremonial water baptism, the sense is that the one baptized becomes, as W. E. Vine puts it, “closely bound to” or became “the property of . . . the one into whose name he was ‘baptized.’” As per the commissioning of Jesus we, as Christians, are baptized ceremonially in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – we are announcing to the whole world that we are bonded with God. This is also accomplished, in a spiritual bonding, through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We are spiritually bonded with Him and the water baptism signifies to the world, outside of our spirits, that we are connected with him. You’ve probably heard this description of baptism before: “It is an outward sign of an inward cleansing.” Cleansing is certainly true but the statement would more true if we said, “it is an outward sign of an inward bonding.”

The last step of action in the commission from Jesus is to teach the believers of the nations to obey His commands. The word for “obey” is “terein (tayr-ain),” which seems to require a lot of different words, in English, to convey its meaning. The NIV uses “obey,” the ESV uses “observe” as does the KJV. The same root is translated as “guard,” in Matthew 28:4, in reference to the men guarding the tomb of Jesus. This versatile word means “keep.” So a guard is a “keeper, watcher or preserver.”

There are other words that are more often used to convey the sense of obedience, or observation, so it is interesting that Jesus uses this word here; it is unusual. Obey and Observe are good words to convey the meaning Jesus is getting at here but it’s interesting to note the original sense of the word that makes us “keepers” or “guards” of the commands of Christ. Jesus commissioned the disciples, and all Christians, to teach new believers to keep His commands. There is the sense of teaching the commands so they can be obeyed but also so they can be preserved or kept. Maybe we can better summarize what Jesus is saying in this way: go and teach my commands to new believers so those commands can be obeyed and passed down from generation to generation. This is precisely what the disciples did – they passed along their faith and continually taught the principle teachings of Christ to new believers. We’re talking about spreading the faith and passing it down through the generations. This is how it has reached us today, nearly 2000 years later. We are still keepers of the commands of Christ and the next generation is learning from us through discipling and through teaching.  In Luke 6:40 Jesus says, “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” If the next generation will look like you, what will they look like?

The final element to The Great Commission is the promise of Jesus to be with us always and to the end of the age. Someday He’s coming back and we will understand His presence in a completely different way but, for now, we know He has promised to go with us every step of the way. He is working through the hearts of believers to continue reaching the lost until He comes back and makes His presence full with us again. This was His mission and He has commissioned all believers to complete this mission with Him, throughout this age. We are not alone, nor are we powerless. Jesus has promised his presence and we are a part of His Church. He is continuing to build us up in order to reach the lost. His power goes with us as we go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of all three persons of the Trinity, and passing our faith down from generation to generation as we teach fellow believers what Jesus taught.

Jesus wants us to do more than huddle on Sundays. His commissioning of the disciples, and every believer, sets us in motion to continue the mission He started when He walked on this earth. This is His plan. This is His purpose for the Church. As a believer you are commissioned by Jesus to go and make disciples of all the nations, to baptize them in the name of God and to teach them to follow His commands. It’s a mission that moves from the huddle to the end-zone; but it’s not just a mission, it’s a Co-Mission. We are not alone; Jesus is with us every step of the way. We walk in His strength and we are all on this mission together. So let’s huddle right now, but let’s march toward the end-zone when the time to huddle is done.

WHO AM I TO YOU?

Saturday – February 17, 2018

Scripture: Matthew 16:15 – 19

415 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Matthew 16:15 – 16

The verses for today’s devotional are at the core of a portion from Matthew’s Gospel which delves into just Who Jesus is. He asks His disciples just who do people say I am and then goes on to ask them in particular who they say He is. Peter, of course, speaks up for all the disciples and makes a bold statement of fact. Typical Peter – He always seems to act like a first-born child and takes the lead. Oh, the statement? “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Others thought of Him as a prophet of some sort and even named specifically John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or some other prophet. They had their ideas but no consensus. The disciples were apparently in agreement. Evidently they had been talking among themselves about Jesus and had come to a conclusion. Therefore we have Peter’s bold statement. Interestingly Jesus confirms it and reveals that it was a revelation from God that they knew this fact. He then tells them not to share this news with anyone. This indicates that He was very aware how He would be perceived, especially by the religious leaders, and that it would make His further public ministry nearly impossible to perform. Besides, the time was not yet right for this revelation to the people as a whole.

So, why does He raise this question at this juncture in His ministry? He obviously has a reason, don’t you think? That reason is part and parcel of His coming from heaven to live as a man/human among men/humans. All along Jesus came as an example to us of what it means to follow God faithfully and fully in thought, word and deed. He showed us that in the power available to us by the Spirit we can live as He lived and even die as He died with peace and joy because of Who God is in and to us as believers. It is in Him and through Him by the Holy Spirit that we can be the obedient and faithful people of God we are called to be.

At this juncture we come face to face with the same question for each of us. Who do we say Jesus is? What bold statement about Jesus can we make and how can we even make it boldly? How can we be so convinced that Jesus is Who He says He is in Scripture? In truth, it is a revelation from God by His Spirit that makes it possible for us to make that kind of statement. This was true at the time Jesus asked this of His early disciples and is still true today as He asks us that same question. I remember my grandmother asking me about Jesus and salvation when I was a young boy. She didn’t force Him upon me but made it clear she felt it was important. She simply asked us boys and our sister to memorize verses from the Bible. We did that for her. It was mostly out of love because she took us in when we were left bereft by our mother’s death. If it meant so much to her then we were going to pay attention. It took a while for John 3:16, Romans 3:23, John 1:12, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 1:8-9 and other verses to percolate through our minds and hearts into an understanding of Jesus and what He desired of us. But one day it made sense for me so I did pray to ask Jesus into my heart. In the case of one of my brothers it was a bit more dramatic as He asked Jesus into his heart when he felt the tingle of electricity in a barbed-wire fence he was about to cross. This was apparently caused by a lightning strike on or near the fence somewhere further away. It got his attention! He is a solid believer today.

Who do you say Jesus is? Do you live like it makes a difference? Do you act like one of God’s children? Read His Word, believe and follow it faithfully.

Ah! Rest, Sweet Rest

Friday – February 16, 2018

Scripture: Matthew 11:28 – 30

3Come to me and I will give you rest—all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke. Wear my yoke—for it fits perfectly—and let me teach you; for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls; for I give you only light burdens.”

Matthew 11:28 (TLB)

I had wanted to teach school for a long time before I finally settled it in my mind that it really was the best choice of jobs for me. And it was a perfect fit from day one. I loved those little ones and I loved watching their tremendous growth as I taught them their reading, writing, and arithmetic. In those days, it was pure joy! As the years went on and my personal family and church lives got ever busier and more complicated, I began to long for rest. I wanted to stay home and concentrate on what were becoming my more important things. It became clear that I needed to stop and re-focus. I needed time to “BE” and not just “DO”.

I believe the Father God looked down on His people, the Israelites, at one point in time and said, “My loved ones are weary! They’ve been sacrificing and trying to please me and it is not working out. They need a new rest and a new vision.” So, He sent Jesus down to teach them how to find relief from the heavy burden of their life. He taught them of the love of their Creator and Provider. He healed them of their diseases, and He told them just what to do to be free from their burden of sin. What a loving and caring savior! And He still asks us today to come to Him and give Him our cares and trials, and our whole hearts – Not just those who know Him, but also our friends and neighbors who are still trying to “do” life on their own. Let’s remember, this year, what it was like when we were first made new. Let’s pray and discover ways to tell others our story and invite them to seek it for themselves. His yoke truly is easy and His burden is light – just what we all need!

He Went About . . .

Thursday – February 15, 2018

Scripture: Matthew 9:35 – 38

2“Jesus traveled around through all the cities and villages of that area, teaching in the Jewish synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And wherever he went he healed people of every sort of illness.”

Matthew 9:35 (TLB)

Jesus spent a lot of time traveling through all the cities and villages, healing, teaching and telling the good news of the Kingdom of God and that it was now here among them. He was methodically doing what He had come to do. As I read this portion of Matthew today, though, I was struck by verse 36 where it states that He had pity on the crowds because their problems were so great and they had nowhere to turn! Now that is a statement we can all relate to! Every day, everywhere we go, we are among people who have great burdens and are not sure where to turn! This is what Jesus sends us to do, really – to teach and share that we know the One who will be their biggest help in life. We know the Healer, Comforter, Friend and Savior and are longing to introduce Jesus to them. That is, how we may be one of the harvesters He mentions in verse 38. Not all harvesters have to go far away – many of us are called to work here at home, and we should be doing that.

Sometimes I used to get frustrated (maybe impatient?) over someone or something not being done right. I would say, “For crying out loud!” I am sure Jesus does not say that, but He could! He has shown us what to do and yet we are not doing it! And just as He actually cried (or wept) over these sheep without a shepherd, so He wants us to care so much that we do something about it. I am often convicted of my seeming lack of tears over the lost ones. Our church body must cry out loud (or quietly) but also be moved to action, announcing and living out the good news about the Kingdom!

I recall a specific time in the ‘90’s when I became so angry at Satan for “stealing” the joy and love that should have been the birthright of several young ladies we were meeting daily in our local coffee shop time. We began to love those young people and wanted them to experience the excitement and hope that 20-something women usually did – looking forward to finding a true love, and so on. But every day we would see their lives falling apart as boyfriends/husbands cheated on them, abused them, or in other ways failed to treasure them. I often spoke aloud to Satan and told him to back off and leave them alone! As the days went by, we had several opportunities to counsel them, pray with them, even helping them to find a new and better life. God was helping us to BE and to DO what he had called us to do. They were like sheep without a shepherd and we did our best to help them. It is my prayer that God may re-kindle these times of tears and action in me, and in each of His Red Cloud Wesleyans – that we will enter a new time of love in action in Christ’s name.

Before Others

Wednesday – February 14, 2018

 

Scripture: Matthew 5:13 – 16

In the same way, let your light shine before others, 

that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:16

1

Okay, so Jesus came to make us salt. Why? And, Jesus came to make us light. Why? Salt affects anything we use it on. Light illuminates everything that it is shone upon. You can withhold salt and you can hide light but doing those things defeats their purpose, right? That thought is quite clear when you read this passage. Oh, if you haven’t read it yet, please do so now! Only by doing so and keeping your Bible open to that passage can you allow the truth to penetrate deep into your heart and it will also show, glaringly, if the writer “missed the boat” on this one or on anything written by man about the scriptures.

This is part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount which takes three chapters in our Bibles to cover (Matthew 5, 6 and 7).  So, who is Jesus speaking to in this passage? He is speaking to all who heard Him and to all who, over the centuries, have or will read these words. His intent is to indicate that they are to be like salt and light. We have a purpose and that purpose needs to be fulfilled. Jesus, Himself, modeled all these things in His life and ministry while He walked on this earth. Salt, to be effective, must be used (as flavoring or preservative and as an essential element in our diet for good health). If not used or becomes ineffective for whatever reason it is no good and thus must be disposed of. Just a thought here, as far as I know there is no way to re-use salt once it is used, at least not in any direct manner. Light also can only illumine as long as it is present to be used. It can be blocked or hidden but it always has the purpose of illuminating and not making things dark. Darkness is not one of its properties

Like salt and light, we are to be used for our intended purpose. In the Kingdom of God our purpose is to BE salt and BE light. It is in the BEING that we are effective tools in God’s hands. As a boy I often walked to church in the winter months with a flashlight in my hand to illuminate the way. We lived about a mile from the Wesleyan Methodist Church I attended during my pre-teen and teen years. “Shank’s Mare” was the general mode of travel back then. That flashlight always gave a sense of safety as we could then see anything in the road we would not want to stumble over or come against (like a porcupine or skunk) and could then take effective action to guard against those things.

How can we BE salt and/or light? Both salt and light, when used, are very obvious. Salt not only enhances, but often preserves. Light illuminates and guides. These are the simplest uses for these things as I see them. Salt is meant to be, well, salty. And light is meant to shine forth, illuminate and provide a beacon for guidance. So, that is our purpose in God’s economy. Yes, each one of us is to BE salt and light. Now, let’s get back to the question of “how” to BE salt and light. Jesus is here teaching His disciples so it is to His followers that He is giving these words. BEING salt and light, then, are apparently part and parcel of BEING His follower (disciple). Thus it is He who creates in us the characteristics of salt and light. We are “flavor enhancers” in this world we live in. We are also illuminators to this old world. This “goes with the territory” as a follower of Him. How salty are we? How bright a light are we? Are we fulfilling our mission? Jesus came to make us salt and light. Now it is our task to BE salt and light to a needy world. Space prohibits me from enlarging on these things but the basic principles are there for each of us to develop. Why not let the Spirit of God develop these thoughts and turn them into action (BEING) so that an impact for God is made on the world around you, and, me too? Jesus came as salt and light and has by His grace also made us salt and light. Are you salt and light? How so? How does our church (body of believers) accomplish this? Can we do a better job for His sake? Will we let Him do a better job through us?

The Great Co-Mission

The Great Co-Mission - Logo - LargeWelcome to the Lenten Devotional Series for 2018. This year’s theme is The Great Co-Mission and comes out of Matthew 28:18-20. These verses are often called The Great Commission as they are the words of Jesus when he meets with the Disciples following His resurrection. These verses are a commissioning of all Believers, by Jesus, to continue His mission on earth to seek and save the lost.

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20 NIV

Throughout the New Testament we find a lot of guidance on the mission of the Church. The devotionals for this season of Lent are all focused on different verses that invite us to discover the mission Jesus gave us. The Great Commission reminds us that we are not alone in this mission. That’s why this is a Great Co-Mission – Jesus has promised to go with us every step of the way.

As you read each scripture passage, and the devotional that flows from it, our hope is that you will ask yourself two questions: What are we to BE as a church and what are we to DO as a church? See if you can write down whatever the passage says about what the Church is meant to be and do as well.

Take this journey, during the season of Lent, along with many of your brothers and sisters in Christ and discover the mission Jesus has given us as the Church. Along the way, consider your place in your local church and how God wants to use you there.

Pastor Dan