Tag Archives: the Great Commission

December 2; An Outpouring of Thanks

2 Corinthians 7-11

God’s timing makes me smile sometimes.

Paul is writing to the Corinthians about financial giving, especially toward missionary endeavors. Now these chapters have been in the Bible for centuries, I have read them multiple of times myself, and even taught a Bible study from them. But today, God directed Paul’s words specifically toward me.

Because yesterday, our pastor introduced the Southern Baptist Mission Board’s annual Lottie Moon offering for the month of December. See what I mean about God’s timing? Our pastor, a former missionary, is passionate about sharing the Gospel with the whole world. His enthusiasm is contagious.

During his sermon he asked us to pray that God would give us each a number, an amount God would have us contribute toward our church’s goal, which by the way, seems a staggering goal compared to what we’ve given in the past. Like I said, his enthusiasm is contagious.

Anyway, as I was reading this morning and realized Paul was talking about financial support of missions, I stopped and asked God to put a dollar amount on my heart. As I read, a number kept coming to mind. “I can do that,” I answered.

I kept reading, and another, larger amount came to mind. “Really? Well, ok. I can do that,” I said. As I continued to read, another, even larger amount came to mind.

I quit reading.

Just kidding. In fact, I find it thrilling that God and I had that personal conversation this morning. Don’t you love reading His Word?

Paul said the poverty in the Macedonian churches “welled up in rich generosity.” Why shouldn’t I express rich generosity, too? I am not in poverty. He challenged me to “excel in this grace of giving.” I think I need to take that challenge.

Then Paul said, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously, will also reap generously.” That was like a dagger to my heart.

I have to ask myself what kind of harvest I am expecting from my financial support of missions. Do I want just a tiny harvest of souls introduced to Jesus through my tiny contribution? Or do I want an extravagant number of souls saved through my extravagant gift?

I wonder how big a check any of us would write if we knew that $1=one eternal soul. Would $10 be sufficient? Is that what we are sowing, hoping for 10 people to come to the Lord?

I believe God has laid a number on my heart, and I will continue to pray and read His Word to be sure that number is truly from Him. I want to write a check equal to what God is asking of me, not because I want to please our new pastor, or to help our church reach it’s goal.

I want to give what God has laid on my heart because, like Paul said in 9:12, it is an “outpouring of thanks to God.”

And, friend, I have lots of reasons to give thanks to God. Lots of reasons! And I am learning that supporting missions is one way I can express my thanks to my generous Lord.

September 24; Keep It Going

Nehemiah 9:38-11:36

The people we read about in the book of Nehemiah weren’t satisfied with building the wall, then putting their feet up and relaxing. What we read in these chapters is their determination to serve the Lord after the job of repairing the wall was complete.

And once again, we see many people chipping in and contributing to the work. They even organized a schedule for people to provide the wood needed for the burnt sacrifices. No detail was too small. They had worked on their individual sections of the wall until it was complete. Now they were going to take on individual responsibilities to keep God’s work going.

Yes, Church. That’s a picture of us, or it should be. Are you doing your part, or are you allowing a faithful few to pull the weight of ministry in your fellowship? You and I are needed to further the Gospel through the body of believers with whom we worship. God has commanded us to go into our communities to tell people about Jesus, and to make disciples. Churches have been doing that work for 2,000 years. Will we keep it going?

June 22; Sitting On A Fortune

2 Kings 11:4-12:16, 13:1-3,22-23; 2 Chronicles 24

Young King Joash gave a directive to the priests. Go and collect the taxes from the people in Judah, and use the money to repair the temple. Then he waited. And waited. Repairs were not being made.

He went again to the priests and asked them why they weren’t using the tax money to repair the temple like he’d told them to. The result of this meeting was the temple repairs.

I’m not sure why it took so long for the priests to get the job done. Maybe they were hoping the stock market would make an upward turn or something. They were sitting on a fortune. Just sitting. I guess the “why” doesn’t matter.

I’m not about to criticize the priests, because I’m not always so quick to get started on things God asks of me, either. “Go into all the world…,” and I can’t even walk across the street. “Love one another…,” and I can hold back from showing love to people I think don’t deserve it. “Be holy…, come out from among them and be separate…, offer your body as a living sacrifice..,” and I continue to blend in with the world.

So many things God has commanded come to mind right now. And I realize I am sitting on a fortune without using it for what it is intended. I have Jesus. I have forgiveness through His precious blood. I have eternity in paradise. I have the Truth, and sometimes I just sit on it.

“Why” doesn’t matter. But now that I realize my sin, what am I going to do? The answer to that question matters a lot!

 

Ezekiel 1-5; Not A Suggestion

Ezekiel’s encounter with the Living God changed him. We find him sitting by a river with the rest of the exiles when “the Lord came expressly” to him. Awesome.

I will say Ezekiel’s encounter with God, with the vision of four creatures, and God Himself, was a bit more dramatic than my encounter with God. That’s why I’m glad God inspired Ezekiel to write it down for me to read. Because that same God who revealed Himself to Ezekiel in a fantastic, over-the-top vision, revealed Himself to me in the fantastic, over-the-top person of His Son Jesus Christ.

No, I haven’t seen His face yet, or heard what His voice sounds like. But that doesn’t mean He’s any less real to me than God was to Ezekiel after his vision.

But what stood out to me today wasn’t in the details of the vision. I understand the vision was to show Ezekiel (and me) that God is real, and we should hear Him. What stood out to me was God’s demand to be obeyed.

Here is the Truth, Ezekiel. Go and tell my people.

That’s what God is still telling us today.

3:17-21 is sobering. We who know the Truth do not have the option of keeping it to ourselves. God tells Ezekiel (and me) to tell the wicked they are wicked and need to turn from their wickedness. Sinners need to repent or die.

Don’t we know that already? If you’ve been a follower of Jesus for more than a minute, you probably know He commanded us to go and preach the Gospel. It wasn’t a suggestion. Here in Ezekiel we hear Him say if we don’t, and wicked people die in their wickedness, we’re to blame. God sounds pretty serious about us sharing the truth with lost souls.

But God pointed a verse out to me today that I wish he hadn’t. 3:20 tells me I have a responsibility to tell a righteous man who turns away from his righteousness to stop sinning, too. If I don’t, and this person dies in his sin, his blood will be on me every bit as much as the blood of the outright wicked man who I neglected to tell.

I think sometimes we think a brother or sister  in the Lord knows they are sinning and what to do about it, so I don’t need to say anything. They’ll figure it out, because you can’t lose your salvation, and if they don’t they were never saved in the first place.

3:20 has me questioning that. It makes me realize I shouldn’t assume anything.  Because if I don’t share what I know to be true with a non-believer OR a believer I will be held responsible if they die without confessing their sin. 

The point God is trying to get me to see is that I have a serious responsibility to share the Gospel with sinners. Sinners in the street and in the pews. We’ve begun to believe that people are entitled to believe what they want to believe and live like they want to live.

God seems to have a different view of that. And He tells us to do something about it.

It’s not a suggestion.

Joshua 11-17; Still Ticking

I retired from public education in 2011. I’d spent 37 years working with kids, parents, and fellow teachers. And I loved it. But during Christmas break in 2010, I knew it was time for me to go. I was tired.

Much has happened in the six years I’ve been retired. And I haven’t regretted my decision to move on from teaching. I will say, though, that this chapter in my life has its own challenges.

Caleb was in his 80’s when the Israelites entered the Promised Land. Now, at 85, he was ready to tackle his own challenge, and take the land God had given him. It meant war, and hardship. But he said he felt as strong at 85 as he did at 40. I’m not close to 85, but I don’t feel as strong as I felt at 40.  I wonder what he ate for breakfast.

I’m reminded that obeying God, and serving Him does not have an age limit. I have a dear friend who’s mother has had several hospital stays the past few months as doctors try to get a sore on her foot to heal. She’s been in a lot of pain.

But that hasn’t stopped her from sharing Jesus. She talks about her Savior to everyone who comes into her room. She hands out business cards with our church’s address and phone number, and invites them to join us. Doctors, nurses, orderlies, volunteers, janitors, have all received a special invitation from this dear woman. They all know and love Ms Madelyn.

Ms Madelyn’s ministry has changed over the years. She can’t teach Sunday School or work in the nursery or sing in the choir. But even in the midst of her pain, she’s obeying Jesus’ Great Commission. She is still involved in ministry.

Ministry changes with age, as does simple tasks we take for granted. My back isn’t as strong as it used to be, my knee gives me problems from time to time, I don’t have the stamina I once had, and my hands are showing signs of arthritis. But my heart is still ticking, and I have a job to do.

At prayer meeting last Wednesday, we prayed for an especially long list of people with physical needs. Cancer, heart problems, organ failure, the health of our elderly population is getting more precarious all the time. Our pastor told us he’d read that someone once said the aging process is a gift from God, intended to wean us away from this life, and get us looking forward to the next.

It’s kind of like the timing of my decision to retire from teaching. People kept tell me I’d know when it was time for me to retire. I remember saying, “Then I’ll never retire, because I love my job.” And I did. For 36 1/2 years I loved it. But during that particular Christmas break, I realized I was worn out physically, mentally, and emotionally. I didn’t have the same enthusiasm I had when I was first out of college. I didn’t wake up each day eager to get to school to be with my kids. Even my colleagues started getting on my nerves.

I think what the pastor shared about aging being a gift from God, is true. I know the older I get, the more I am aware that this body is wearing out, and the more I think about living in heaven. I just never considered these aches and pains gifts from God, a way a loving God helps us let go of this life, and grasp His hand to lead us into eternity.

So what I take from these chapters today is to be faithful with the abilities God has given me today, in 2017. I may not be able to do the things I once did. But I can do the things God asks me to at this stage of life. If God can help Caleb conquer nations at 85, I’m pretty sure He is going to help me with the battles He wants me to win today, too.

You’re never too old to tell someone about Jesus. Not while your heart is still ticking.

 

December 14 – Get Out There

Acts 27-28

These chapters are the final accounts of Paul’s missionary journies. The man had endured beatings and stonings, imprisonments, shipwrecks, opposition, and rejection. But he also saw many people come to believe in Jesus, he started and supported churches, and he talked to world leaders about the Lord.

Paul had been radically changed after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. He lived the rest of his life with the singular goal of sharing the Gospel with everyone he met.

In our final Beth Moore Bible study yesterday, we talked about Jesus’ commission to us to go into the world and tell people about Him. Our world that consists of people in our homes, neighborhoods, cities, states, countries, and beyond. We are to be as passionate as Paul was to share the only Truth that matters.

May God find us faithful as we get out there and talk about Jesus.

May God find me faithful.

September 6 – It’s Not A Suggestion

Ezekiel 32-34

The last thing Jesus said before ascending into heaven was, “get out there and tell people about Me.” (Matthew 28). The Great Commission, as it is known, is a call to action for all believers.

Ezekiel tells us how important it is to warn people about the consequences for not listening to God. He calls us watchmen, we who see the sword coming to destroy, and who blow the trumpet and warn the people.

Ezekiel says if the people don’t heed the warning, their destruction is on them. But look at 33:6. If the watchman (that’s you and me) knows there is danger ahead and doesn’t warn the people…

that man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. (33:8)

Ezekiel repeats that fact in verse 9. God is that serious about holding us responsible for telling our family, neighbors, friends about the Truth. We have the Good News, that Jesus paid the price for sin and offers forgiveness as a gift.

But the flip side of the Good News is really bad news! That is eternal hell, separated from God, in agony and regret.

The Bible is clear, if we  don’t warn people about the consequences for rejecting God’s grace, the forgiveness of sin, they will die in their sin…

and it will be our fault.