Monday, February 25, 2008

Taking Ownership of the Gospel

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel,. . . -- 2 Timothy 2:8

This past Sunday, my 10 year old grandson decided that he wanted to use my camera to take the photograph of two of our church ladies. He didn't ask; he just grabbed the camera. And then when the picture was done, he wanted to make a copy of the picture. And, not only a 4x6 inch picture, but also an 8 x 10 picture as well. He can be very forceful sometimes.
I thought about his insistence for a moment and then I realized why it was so important to him to finish that picture and deliver it in just exactly what he thought was the right way. It is for the same reason that Paul uses the next to the last word above; that word is "my"!
It is so important in our day and age for people to take ownership in what they are doing. My grandson saw it as his purpose in life to bless the two ladies with the picture. Paul thought it was significant to share the gospel and he emphasized that he believed it was necessary by calling it "my" gospel -- not about Paul but rather what he took ownership of.
Here is the point: when we are willing to take ownership in what is happening in our churches and we have it in our heart and in our actions to make our service for the kingdom of God the most important thing, then things will happen for the kingdom. And so we close this devotion with this thought: what is important to you, so important you would do it above all else? What a difference can you make in your community and your church if you take ownership of the gospel and touch of the lives of people for Jesus?
Dear God, sometimes I get so preoccupied when I see the barricades the devil puts before me. Help me to decide what is the most important things I should be doing. Give me a vision and a challenge and help me to take ownership of the gospel and desire to serve others for the kingdom. In Jesus' name, Amen!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

What Offends You?

Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? -- John 6:61
Just a few years ago, on one of our last trips to Six Flags Amusement Park in St. Louis, an astounding, somewhat amusing, almost ridiculous thing happened to us. My wife was wearing a witness t-shirt that talked about the love of Jesus. A young person, somewhere between 9 and 13 I would say, walked right up to her, looked her in the face, and said, "Your shirt offends me; I am Jewish!" Then the young lady seemed to disappear.
It would almost be laughable if that weren't a major problem in the world today. Everybody is offened by everybody else, both from within and without the church. You don't think so? Consider this. How many church people are offended by the music of the church, both traditional and contemporary, if we might use those labels? How many people are offened by the Bible version we use? How many people are offended when they don't get their way in some happening in the church family? How many people are offened if they are forgotten accidentally during some thank you or sharing time? The list goes on! And on! And on!
In the scripture passage in John 6, which I cited above, the disciples of Jesus were offened because Jesus was teaching about his body being food indeed and his blood drink indeed. Most people, at least, understand this to be a pre-direction for the Lord's Supper. But they looked at it as cannibalism -- how could anyone eat Jesus' body. And so, they left--offended!
Jesus' question to the rest of disciples is one we need to answer today as well. Are we offened by Jesus' expecation for us as His people? Are we offened by our brothers and sisters? Are we big enough to forgive and press on and not miss the importance of obeying and following as the scriptures suggestion?
I can only ask the questions? The answer must come from you!!
Father, it is human nature to be offened when things don't go our way. You have called us to a life of self-disciple which includes learning how to handle offenses. Help us not to be offened by you or by another. Especially, help us not to be offened by the cross! Help us to pursue each day as important for the you and the Kingdom. Help us to realize we are servants on a unique mission to help the world see you. Help us to realize that offense builds up walls against kingdom work and we should be doing everything in our power to tear them down and build unity by being of the same mind. In Jesus name, Amen!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Finding Answers in Prayer

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." -- Matthew 7:7-8
"A little girl, dressed in her Sunday best, was running as fast as she could, trying not to be late for Bible class. As she ran she prayed, "Dear Lord, please don't let me be late! Dear Lord, please don't let me be late!"While she was running and praying, she tripped on a curb and fell, getting her clothes dirty and tearing her dress. She got up, brushed herself off, and started running again! As she ran she once again began to pray, "Dear Lord, please don't let me be late...But please don't shove me either!" -- source unknown
Recently our church faced a short fall on being able to pay a major bill. In a phone conversation with a new Christian friend I was making, I sought his prayer for this need. He readily agreed to pray and I later found out prayed several more times. He sought the answer by continually asking; he took time to bring it before God and wasn't afraid to knock on God's door and was allowed into God's presence; he asked knowing God could meet the need. He said he would pray for more money than was needed for the bill. And sure enough, within three days, a check for the money came in with over $100 more than the bill was for. Together, we rejoiced in God's goodness over the phone -- and the hope of searching for answers to this life God gives us. For me, I confess the whole situation was a growing experience as I saw Jesus' words in action and looked at how situations can turn us away from keeping our eyes on Jesus and his principles. Sometimes, I think I need a shove -- and I got it. Do you need a shove?
Dear Father, when I am weakest, I need your strength. Oddly enough, when I am strong in myself, I am weak in my relationship to you. I need you. I thank you for the answers to prayer and the promise that I can ask, seek, and knock to find out the answers to the needs in my life. Thank you most of all for Jesus, the one person I need most, to deal with the things in my life that keep me from fully knowing you. It is in his name I pray! Amen!

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Danger of Pride; The Need for Humility

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Many of you readers may not have heard of K. P. Yohannan. K. P. is the founder and president of Gospel for Asia. I have not met the man, but I love what I see coming from his heart in his writings.
Would you take a moment and explore something he wrote that strikes a chord with me? In SEND magazine, First quarter 2008, volume 28, number 1 on page 23 he writes: "If there is no greater glory than being a servant of all, then much of our 21st century church is miles away from the pattern Christ left us. Our worldly view of glory is precisely where we need to get our understanding set straight." He goes on to explain that when we picture ourselves as humble, we feel like we are going to be trampled on. But indeed, he notes, that it is a positive thing and wonderful to be humble because it is the nature of Christ.
In this month of "love" would join me in calling for God's people to put their heads on straight and to start loving the Lord again as we should. Would you join me in praying that we can begin to change the world for Christ by being more like our master instead of exploring what H. P calls "fantastic plans, schemes, committee meetings or mega-Madison Avenue strategies"? Let's simply be Christians and continue to change our community by humble (honestly humble) hearts.

Father: In the simple humility of the carpenter of Nazareth, may I please be a simple servant as well. Please help people to know my love and to realize that I know it is not all about me. Help it to always be about Jesus. In His name, Amen!