In The World… Matthew 9:9-13

Jesus Came To Call Sinners, Not The Righteous

9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Particular Pattern

Jesus, in His ministry, sets up an interesting pattern:

  1. He first calls us to follow Him
  2. He then eats and dwells with us
  3. He then teaches us
  4. He sets us free to replicate His success.

First, Follow

In another shocking event in the ministry of Jesus, He calls Matthew, a Jewish Tax Collector for the Roman Empire, to follow Him.  It was one thing for Jesus to call fishermen and other Jews to follow Him.  But to call a Tax Collector?  Stop the presses!

The Jews who became Tax Collectors were among the most despised people of the Jews.  They were considered traitors by most Jews who believed that they threw their lot in with the oppressive Roman government rather than stand against such villainy by uniting with the financially, socially, and otherwise persecuted Jews.

The Romans had inflicted terrible rules upon the Jews, including (among others) a forced census every fourteen years (the Roman Census forced all of the Jews [as well as the rest of the world] to return to their hometowns to register, imposing travel expenses and losses of revenue from their occupations due to the time (and goods) lost while they and their families [and their workers if they were employers] were off complying with the Roman dictates…), forced servitude (a Roman soldier could conscript a person to carry their possessions up to one mile),  and humiliation (the Roman soldier was permitted to slap a Jew on his/her face).

With this in mind, imagine the shock of all of the Jews (Matthew included!) when Jesus called out to Matthew to “follow me”.  Note that Matthew IMMEDIATELY got up and followed Jesus.  We too should have the same frame of mind, and constantly seek to follow Jesus in all that He said for us to do (and continues to tell us to do through the Holy Spirit within us and the word of God).

Second, Sup

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

After we begin to follow Jesus, we are to sup with him.  Jesus (God the Son), God the Father, and the Holy Spirit (God the Spirit) take up residence within us.  They make Their home in us.  The Holy Spirit is our down-deposit on our inheritance provided to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as heirs to the Kingdom of God.

Since He dwells within us, we can partake of the food which others do not know, and drink of the spring of Living Water that flows within each of us.  As we yield ourselves to God, we are able to partake of His character and know Him better.

Third, Teach

As we grow in our spiritual life, we begin to get a foothold on the truths of the word of God.  We then begin to overcome, then mature into adulthood.  When we mature, we should be seeking to handle the Word of God correctly.  When we handle the word of God correctly, we will then be able to teach others the word of God.

Fourth, Free

14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

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.”

It is time to free the captives.  Those who know they are sinners and are torn over what they should do about it know that they are slaves to their sin.  It is time for God’s people to get out and proclaim freedom for the captives.  It is time to remember our great calling, and to do what our Lord has commanded us to do.  Is is time to yield everything that we have and are to God, and let Him take care of the rest.  It is time to be proper examples to the lost – Light on top of a hill, and Salt to a culture that needs the savory flavor of freedom when everyone seems to be in bondage.  Let us not be lacking in compassion to those who are in a spiritual prison, but rather, let us be the ones who seek their release and rehabilitation back into the world of spiritual life.  For Christ has come to give us life, and abundantly so.  Let us finish His good work, so that we may claim our reward.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I prepared to be a productive worker in the kingdom of God?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have given me Your Son that I may be free.  And if the Son has freed me, then I am free indeed.  Help me to extend this freedom to all who would hear.  Help me to remember that I am just the messenger.  Father, prepare my heart for rejection, and my spirit for persecution, for I am not greater than Jesus, and should expect this when I step out for Him.  Give me the same passion and drive that You gave the Apostles and Paul.  Help prepare me so that I may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.  Help me to learn and know Your word, and how to handle it correctly.  Then help me to remember that in the time of challenge, that it will be Your Spirit who speaks through me so that I will be vindicated, for this is my heritage.  This I ask in the precious and holy name of Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Called to Suffering – Acts 9:16

Can God Trust You With Suffering?

“I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

Carefully Called

We can rejoice that God does not do things at random:

Like an archer who wounds at random is one who hires a fool or any passer-by.

God, omniscient, knows all things, and has a plan that is coming to fruition.  He carefully selects people for what He wants them to do.  He said the following of King David:

“After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.'”

Many people were called by God for different purposes.  Some were to lead God’s people as judges, prophets, or kings.  Others were called to be intercessors, such as Esther.  Still others were called to discipline the Israelites through conquering them and enslaving them.  In every case, it was God who called them for His specific purpose, in His specific timing, for His greater glory.

Providential Purpose

God has purpose in everything that He does.  God does not waste any opportunity.  What appears to us to be random sequences of events are actually the carefully placed trellis that leads those who climb up it to where God wants and needs them to be.  We are but a mist, here today, and gone tomorrow.  We do not have the luxury of divine perspective with regards to long periods of time, because the average life span of a human being is seventy years, eighty if God is gracious.  We are unable to see the intertwining connectivity of timing and events, and to see the tendrils of connectedness between seemingly unrelated events and how and where they will intersect with one another in a tsunami of repercussions.

In all things, God has specific purposes for what He has called us.  Each of us are to play a part in it.  Paul likens this to being parts in a body, each one with unique features but that are part of a greater whole, contributing to or inhibiting the growth and health of the whole.  In everything, there is purpose.  God places purpose in His creation to reveal to us that He is full of purpose, and that we are to play a part in the purposes of God.

Heavenly Hardship

One of the most difficult, yet needed, purposes for God’s plan is people who have been chosen to be examples.  Some have been chosen by God to be examples of what is good.  Others have been chosen to be examples of what is not good.

For example, Able, the son of Adam and Eve, was chosen as an example of what we should do because he made the right offering before God.  Conversely, Cain, another son of Adam and Eve, was chosen as an example of what we should not do because of his offering before God, and his subsequent actions in regards to his offering’s rejection by God.

We need to keep in mind that the student is not above the teacher.  And Jesus Christ, the very best example that the Lord God Almighty could have sent to us experienced divine hardship on a scale that none of us can even comprehend.  He suffered and experienced great hardship throughout His life, but always with the attitude that God the Father had purpose in His hardship, and that in being yielded to the Holy Spirit, His life would glorify God.

One of the most difficult hardships to be given by God is the hardship of suffering.

Severe Suffering

No one likes to suffer (unless they are mentally deranged).  Suffering produces pain in our lives, and makes our lives so difficult that we can barely function.  At times, suffering can be so severe that we are incapacitated by it, and truly cannot even function.  Ask a person who is recovering from ninety percent of their skin being burned off in a fire if they are able to function.  The answer is obvious – until they are healed, they cannot.

God called His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, to ultimate suffering for us.  As payment for our sins, not only was the burden of our sins – every sin that every human being ever committed past, present, and future – laid upon his shoulders as He hung on the cross at Calvary, God withdrew His presence from Him, and He experienced complete and total separation from the presence, provision, and protection of God in complete and total isolation with that burden placed upon Him in ultimate pain and agony.  Let it never be said that our salvation is free; it is freely given to us, but the cost was unimaginable.

Sometimes people are called to severe emotional suffering.  They have survived rape, torture, abuse, war, and other unspeakable circumstances.  The scars of these events will affect them for ages to come.  But they have been called as witnesses to the power, grace and glory of God as He leads them out of the bondage that such devastation has caused.

Sometimes people are called to severe physical affliction.  Most people have experienced some type of physical affliction, whether it is sickness or a broken bone.  But God has called some to suffer, not for days, months, or even years, but DECADES of life with pain that would cause the average person to curl up into a fetal position in the corner and bemoan their life (take a look at the life of Job for better clarification on this).  Ask people who have trigeminal neuralgia what it is like to live where, possibly every few seconds, or every second, it feels like someone is striking your face with the full swing of a baseball bat.  This particular affliction is also called “the suicide disease” because people would rather take their own life than live with the consequences of it.

In some cases, such as Lyme’s disease, it can not only be a painful, life-sucking, energy-draining, body-wasting disease, it can cause great misery.  Pain can be medicated away, even with morphine drips.  But misery is in an entirely different category.  Being in a state of extreme misery for any extended period of time will have a person begging God to take their life.  And when the pain and the misery go on day after day, year after year, DECADE AFTER DECADE, and the person is a disciple of Jesus Christ, whom it appears God has forsaken in their disease and time of need, what are they to do?

Total Trust

God has called these particular people to suffering as example to others.  Suffering (and the hardship that comes with it) produces character, and character produces hope.  Hope, in the sense that the Bible uses the word, is not wishful thinking, but rather a reasoned and sound expectation that some future event will occur.  In this, disciples of Christ have hope that God will work all things to good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  The purpose is to trust that Almighty God is sovereign, that He has a plan, that He has not forsaken those who suffer hardship, and be an example to others that in their pain and hardship, God is real and is able to get them through their trials as well.

When these great saints of God are called to severe suffering, and show complete and total trust through it, it is a powerful message to those who do not believe in God that there must be something that is helping those who are suffering to believe.  It is evident to most people who, in light of this type of suffering, there is no circumstance in the world that can force a person to believe that their suffering has purpose and is worth enduring apart from the sovereign grace and power of Almighty God.

Total trust in God yields great fruit, both in the life of the one suffering, and in the example provided to those who need an example to continue on in their own difficulties.  God loves it when we trust Him through these difficulties.  David spoke of this in Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

The trust goes two ways.  We are to trust God, because He and He alone is completely trustworthy.  But God also trusts us.  To those whom He has placed the terrible burden of suffering, He trusts them to properly display that trust right back at Him.  The more hardship God brings into your life – and that which is NOT caused by your own sin, actions, or as consequences of your life choices – the more that he is trusting you for something great.

There is a story that goes something like this:

A man was at a lumberyard watching the lumberjacks move mighty trees from the forest down the river to where they would be sawn for wood.  At a junction in the river, there was a lumberjack who, every now and then, would direct one of the large trees floating in the water down a smaller path of the river.  There appeared to be no difference in the appearance of the trees, so this seemed odd to the man.  The man then asked the lumberjack directing these trees down the river what he was doing.

The lumberjack told the man the trees he was directing down the smaller path were from the very top of the mountain.  They received the most abuse from the weather, and they were constantly buffeted by the wind, rain, and snow.  These mighty trees looked like the others, but because of the abuse they took, along with the fact that they had not broken in the process, were of exceptional quality.  The wood had a much finer grain, and when used by carpenters, made the very finest furniture and brought the highest price on the market.  They were destined to be used by the most skilled artisans in the land for the most sought after projects, and were to be displayed in the most coveted of places because of the beauty that grew in them due to the hardship of the weather.

And just as the trees in this story brought praise to the artisans that used them with their great skill, so will the hardship in our lives be used by God to bring Him the maximum amount of glory, and be useful for displaying His craftsmanship and character.

Glorifying God

The end result of everything that God has done in the past, is doing now, and will do in the future, is to bring glory to Himself.  He and He alone is worthy of all glory, honor, praise, power, dominion, and strength.  He alone is The Great I AM, providing for our every need, displaying His love and infinite power to all who would take notice.

When a person is willing to be used by God for this purpose, God will use them mightily in ministry and to display His glory.  There is no greater honor than to be used by God in this way, as Jesus Christ demonstrated to us on the cross at Calvary.  But are we willing to go through the difficulty and hardship that is required to bring about the changes necessary to properly display what God has planned in His heart for us to show the world?

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I willing to allow God to bring hardship and suffering in my life to fulfill His plans and purposes for me?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Your word is perfect, and Your will and character are perfect as well.  You have shown throughout Your word that You can be trusted with everything, for You are perfect in every way.  Father, help me to endure suffering and hardship as discipline.  Help me to gain Your perspective on my circumstances so that I may be willing to be used by You for the calling that You have placed upon my life.  Help me to be faithful to You throughout the process so that during the trials, and when I come out on the other side, You will be shown rightly to all who watch.  Guard my heart against bitterness through the process, and fill me with Your peace and power that all things You have planned would come to pass.  This I ask in the precious name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

 

The Calling of God – Exodus 3:1-10

God First Calls You, And THEN He Equips You For Your Calling

1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

7 The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

Anointed Announcement

Many times when God calls someone in the Bible, He either makes a personal appearance, or sends an angel to announce the calling.  One notable exception is Esther.  Yet, even in her calling to be the Queen so that she could save her people from the evil schemes of Haman, God’s call upon her life was very evident. Other examples of people who were called by God include (but are not limited to) Gideon, Elizabeth, and Mary.

Sign of Selection

In the case of Moses, God used a sign to draw Moses closer so that he could learn the fuller message.  A burning bush that was not consumed by fire drew Moses closer to God.  Moses had been chosen long ago, as evidenced through his birth and upbringing among the Egyptians.  God will make His calling evident by three things:

  1. God will first call you
  2. God will then equip you
  3. God will then use you

Calling Confirmation

Most people are under the assumption that God will give them the capability to do what He wants for them to do, and THEN He will call them to do it.  However, God does the opposite.  He first calls us, THEN he equips us.

In the case of Moses, God had to get forty years of Egypt out of him so that Moses would be ready for the calling God had prepared for His life.  We must remember that everything is dependent upon God’s timing, and not ours.  Patience is the key to ensuring that we are not jumping ahead of God, but rather walking alongside God in His time and in His way.

Gideon was a prime example of this.  God found Gideon threshing grain in a wine-press to keep it from being seized by the Midianites.  God hails Gideon with, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”  How ironic!  God calls Gideon a mighty warrior, yet he is found cowering in a wine-press threshing his grain!  Gideon, greatly desiring to see the deliverance of his people, cautiously and humbly asked God to verify his calling with three signs.  He was willing to submit to the will of God, and wanted to make absolutely sure that it was God who was calling him.

The angel Gabriel appeared to both Elizabeth and Mary to announce the unlikely births of two of the most important people in the Bible – John the Baptist, and his cousin, The Lord Jesus Christ.  In both cases, biology would normally dictate that their pregnancies are unlikely.  Yet they believed God, and He honored them first through their calling, and then equipping them for the calling.  It is wise when approached with a calling from God to accept it.  Elizabeth’s husband, possibly discouraged by circumstances, did not accept Gabriel’s announcement and asked for sign.  Gabriel, in response to his uncharacteristic reproof of the announcement, struck Zechariah speechless until his child was born.

Powerful Provision

After God calls us, and we accept the call in faith, God THEN prepares us for the calling that He has chosen for us.  In the case of Moses, a murderer hiding from the Egyptian authorities, God then prepares him to shepherd His people.  Moses had a speech impediment.  But God told him that He would speak through Him.  Moses did not fully trust that God could use him in that way because of his circumstances, so God appointed his brother Aaron to be his spokesperson.  Imaging how much more effective Moses would have been he trusted the Lord God Almighty to speak through him!

Gideon was first given a simple act of obedience – tear down his father’s altar to Baal and the Asherah pole beside it.  In that simple act of faith, God was preparing him for the next big challenge – defeating the enemies of Israel.  God then equipped Gideon with three hundred men who would be used in the attack against their enemies.  To help Gideon have courage, God then gave Gideon the opportunity to go down and listen at the tents of his enemies, where he learned that they already knew his name, and were in great fear, for the dread of the Lord had come upon them.

In the case of Elizabeth and Mary, the barren woman well outside of the age of childbirth and the virgin both became pregnant.  As simple as this was, it was the supernatural provision of the Lord God Almighty to make possible the impossible.

Mighty Manifestation

Once Moses was equipped with Aaron as his spokesperson, a staff that could turn into a snake, and other signs, He was ready for his confrontation with the Pharaoh of Egypt.  God used Moses in a mighty way.  He delivered the Israelites from Egypt through the Red Sea, and led them for forty years in the desert.  Moses had the opportunity to get so close with God for so long, his face glowed.  And Moses, along with Elijah, appeared with Jesus Christ on the mount of transfiguration.

Gideon successfully led the attack on his enemies, giving his three hundred warriors torches that were simultaneously made visible using pottery, invoking God’s name and his own.  And God Himself routed the enemies of the Israelites.  God used Gideon mightily after preparing him.

With the birth of John the Baptist and The Lord Jesus Christ, the teaching, nurturing, education, and encouragement of these women helped these two men to achieve their God-given roles.  Of John the Baptist, it is said of those born by women, no greater man was born than him.  And Jesus Christ fulfilled His preordained life, fulfilling all scripture about Him and providing the way that men might be reconciled to the Father through His shed blood and resurrection.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  What has God called me to do?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You call each and every one of us according to Your plan and purpose.  Help me to accept Your calling, even if it seems impossible, for You will equip me to do all that You have called me to do.  Help me to yield myself to You so that You can properly prepare me for what is to come.  And I ask, Father, that You do as You please with me, that everything You desire to be done is accomplished in order that Your name would be glorified, magnified, and exalted for all eternity.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

Commission of God – Luke 10:8-12

Proclaim The Gospel!

8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you.9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say,11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.”

Contented Consumption

During the time of Christ’s ministry about two thousand years ago, people often sacrificed their foods to idols and false gods.  Jesus, aware of the Jewish dietary concerns of His disciples, indicated to them that it was OK to eat the food that was offered to them.  Paul later gave more insight into this area.  By accepting the food offered, they were able to not offend their hosts and receive the blessings that God had provided to fulfill their needs.

Move in Miracles

It has been said that miracles should follow believers, and that believers should not follow miracles.  God gave these specific men special grace to heal the sick, cast out demons, and perform other miracles.  This verified their calling from God, and opened the hearts of the people to believe the Word of God when preached to them.  When we merely follow miracles, we are not ourselves the bearer of miracles.  When we focus on the mission of God, He will validate His calling upon His people so that the unsaved would recognize the power and glory of God upon His servants, and that His servants would recognize God’s calling upon them as well.

Prudently Proclaim

William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, believed in the Soup -> Soap -> Salvation principle.  He believed that it was very difficult to preach a loving saviors to a person that was starving to death.  Once a person was out of pain and suffering, they were in a better position to be able to listen.  Tending to a person’s physical needs enabled that person to hear the Gospel with more open ears.  And after healing the sick, the disciples mightily proclaimed it.

Witness the Warning

Just a reminder to all of us, as well as them, Jesus implied that we are merely the mail carrier.  Whether or not the person desires their mail, opens it, or even likes it, is up to them.  It is our responsibility to deliver the message, nothing more.  The Holy Spirit is responsible for the preparation of the soil of people’s heart – we merely cast the seed.

And when people refuse the mail, we merely remind them that we delivered the message, and that they have heard the message – “The kingdom of God is near.”  Then they shook the dust from their feet.  This was a symbolic message equivalent to today’s phrase, “I wash my hands of this.”  The disciples had done everything that they could, and even the dust would be a witness against them.  Paul put this into practice when he and Barnabas shook the dust off their feet at Pisidian Antioch.

The Day of Destruction

Jesus gave us something to think about.  Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God for their sin.  Yet the areas that were given the Gospel and refused it will be judged harsher than them, for they have heard the message of salvation and rejected it.  Woe be to any who hear and harden their hearts; for they don’t reject you, they have rejected the One who sent you.  And when the ones who rejected You come before the White Throne Seat of Judgement, God can say, “Did not my faithful servants bring you my message?  Did you not reject it?”  They will have no excuse.  Paul says that even creation itself shows them that they have no excuse.

A Qualifying Question

So let’s ask ourselves a question: Are we faithfully delivering the message?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, it should grieve us to know that many will refuse to acknowledge Your Son as Lord and Savior.  Help me to remember that one reason that You have saved me is to do Your perfect will.  Transform my mind with Your perfect Word under the guidance of the Holy Spirit that I may be positioned to test and approve Your Good, Perfect, and Pleasing Will.  Strengthen me today and remove any hindrances that are keeping me from doing what You have called me to do.  May I be like Abraham and immediately attend to and obey Your commands.  Help me as I transition to being a better message bearer.  Father, all I desire to hear when I am called home is to hear Your Son say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  May my heart so greatly desire to hear those words that anything else I have been doing in my life will seem as insignificant as dust blowing in the wind.  Help me Lord God Almighty to focus on the tasks at hand and to not be distracted by anything.  Guard and guide my heart, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

A Calling of God – John 9:4

As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.

Jesus indicated that we are to work while it is day.  Just as we can see the light fading into dusk, so it is becoming in the world today.  In the Middle East, there is almost no light at all.  It is reported that Jesus is revealing Himself to people in visions and dreams because the people there have effectively put out the light.  It truly is night there – no one can work.

In very rapid succession, countries that were once brightly lit with the light of Christ have become dim.  In England, the cathedrals are being turned into mosques.  There are fewer and fewer people who would darken the doorsteps of a church.  Faith is failing.  And nature abhors a vacuum.  A most egregious evil is now afflicting those people.  When the light is placed under a bowl, it does no one any good.

Here in the United States of America, we are experiencing the same kind of withdraw by people.  Once our young people reach adulthood, they go off on their own, and reject the teachings of their youth (if they were brought up in the church).  Seeking to validate the claims of Faith by looking at the practical effectiveness of Christian living, they wrongly conclude that because Christians aren’t living out their faith correctly, that faith doesn’t work.

Abandoning their faith, they are drawn by the pleasures and values of the world, the devil, and their own evil desires.  Those that do come back only come to their senses after 15-20 years, and only after great consequences have befallen them.  The Millennials also flock to the preachers that tickle their ears with what they want to hear.  Downplaying sin and righteousness, they receive a weekly dose of psychology that tells them God is Love and Grace (and He is!), but there isn’t mention of transformation and sanctification into the image of Christ.  Believing then only that God loves them just the way they are (very true!), they fail to grasp their need to repent, and go on to live their lives just as the rest of the world does, indistinguishable from those who are perishing.  And others, failing to look in the Bible to see how faith is truly vibrant, real, and effective, even if the outcome here on Earth is unpleasant, conclude that faith is foolishness.

As God slowly withdraws his protection and stabilizing influence from all of us as the world continues to reject Him, night falls and lawlessness increases.  The darkness HATES the light, and will do anything it can to flee it, or extinguish it, so that its wickedness will not be exposed, and permit the continuation of its evil practices.

But fear not!  Jesus has overcome the darknessWalk in the light, let your light shine before men, complete the works that God has given you to do, and let God deal with the consequences of obedience.

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have given us a Light that cannot be extinguished, and shines brightly for all to see.  For Your Son Jesus Christ said that if He was lifted up, He would draw all men to Himself.  Father, I have been drawn, and grow weary today, not of doing what is right, but of wading through the thick molasses of evil and wickedness in the world.  Help me to overcome.  Grant me strength to keep on walking.  And as the path to righteousness grows more narrow every day, help me to not be swept away or held in place.  You have declared that I am an oak of righteousness,  and that no one can snatch me out of Your hand.  Guard me, guide me, try me, prove me.  Help me to be a bright light on a hill.  And whatever you allow to happen, even to the point of death, keep me strong that You may be glorified.  This I ask and pray in the precious and faithful character of Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

A Calling of God – Matthew 5:13

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

Salt, during the time of Jesus’ ministry, was of far greater value than it is today.  Communities were often formed around areas where salt was found, or could be traded.  It was literally worth its weight in gold.  Because Roman legions were paid in it, we get our word “salary”.  We also get the phrase, “worth his salt,” from it.  It was so valuable, wars were fought over it.

Besides being valuable as currency, salt served two very important functions at that time:

  • Salt brought out flavor
  • Salt preserved
    • Prior to modern refrigeration, salt was used to preserve food.  Meats would often go bad in hot, humid environments, but salt helped to extend the time that food would still be edible.
    • Our words and actions should have a preservative effect on culture, to retard the spread and decay of sin and unrighteousness, keeping life palatable for a much longer period of time.

Jesus gives us a caveat, however.  If salt loses its saltiness, or no longer has its intended effect, what good it is anymore?   He warns that it would be thrown out, to be trampled.  Inedible salt was practically worthless.  This is what the Christian Church in the United States of America has become.  No one seems to care anymore for the flavor of Christ, and we have certainly failed in preventing the rapid spread of spiritual decay here.

Who really wants to eat mashed potatoes without a little salt on it?  Would you really want to eat meat with mold on it?  That is what our culture is eating today, because we have failed one of our most important callings – displaying Jesus for all to see.  But God can change that.  Let us live our lives for Jesus, that our words and actions would have the same effect that Jesus had on the culture 2000 years ago when He walked the Earth with His disciples.

So, let’s ask the question:  Am I the salt of the Earth?  Or am I salt thrown out on top of the Earth?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have given us a very high calling, to preserve, display, and enhance righteousness in this world.  We are grateful that You desire to bring glory to Your name through us.  Father, help me today to be salt in this wicked generation.  Remember me – act divinely upon my half – that in everything that I say and do, Jesus would be reflected.  Strengthen me through the trials of today, and may my words and actions have the intended effect that You desire of me.  Guard me against all unrighteousness, and I pray for the opportunity to bring You to a people who are feeding on the rotting trash of culture.  This I ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?