Sunday, November 25, 2012

In His Name

In His Name
Nov 26, 2012
John 10:25-26  ". . . The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep."

Jesus was very clear that we should do our works of service in His Name.  This means we are to represent Him in all that we do and be clear we are doing it In His Name, making it obvious we are  Christians.  This requires a figurative "name badge" or declaration that we are serving others BECAUSE of Jesus, FOR Jesus.  Jesus was the first example of this, declaring everything He did was in His Father's name.  We are to do likewise.  We are to welcome "the least of these" in His name.  We are to serve others, in doing so we will be serving Him.  If you simply do good things for others, but not in His Name, however, will they count?  This creates a difference between humanitarian efforts and Christian service.  If it isn't clear to the one being served that Jesus is the reason behind the generous act of kindness, then it is simply a humanitarian effort, with no Heavenly benefit.

I have an acquaintance who demonstrates the most amazing acts of service.  She is a wonderfully generous woman who sacrifices much to meet the needs of others less fortunate than herself.  She delivers meals to elderly shut-ins several times a week; she spends time visiting people in nursing homes who have no family; she serves meals to the homeless; she gives generously to help meet the financial needs of those who are struggling financially.  For years she opened her home to children whose families were unable to provide them with all they needed.  For all apparent purposes, she appears to be a wonderful representation of all Christ commanded us to do in the New Testament—take care of His sheep.  She leaves one thing out, however.  Though it is all wonderful, none of it is done IN HIS NAME.  The people she serves have never heard the name of Jesus coupled with her work.

It is not enough to do good works of service or perform valiant, humanitarian-type efforts.  Jesus wanted the work that we do to point to the Lord.  In this world, there are many who do good things for others but if they do so only out of the kindness of their heart, then it does not point toward the Lord.  We are supposed to do our acts of service, making it clear that the Lord is behind it all.  If you are a Christian and you do good works, then make it clear you are doing so because of the Lord.  It is all supposed to point toward Heaven.  Everything is supposed to be done "In His Name."  This means we are to share the Love of Jesus in a verbal manner during or immediately after the act of generosity.  If the circumstance doesn't allow you to discuss Christ, it should still be clear it is because of the name of Jesus that you do such nice things.  Christian acts of service should be our number one witnessing tool.

The reason for this is two-fold.  First, the Lord does not want you to get praise or glory when the act of service is appreciated.  The glory needs to go to Him alone.  Secondly, the Lord wants there to be spiritual fruit involved for the person being served.  In meeting the physical needs of others, there is limited spiritual benefit to them unless they know the "who" and "why" behind the generosity.  Jesus was the first example of this hundreds of times over in the Bible. Before He would speak to their spiritual needs, He met their physical needs.  However, EVERYONE knew the generosity of Jesus came from above.  This is what brought people to the Lord.  In doing our acts of kindness, it is critical to be leading them toward the Lord with every opportunity.  It is not enough to serve them, it MUST be done IN HIS NAME.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:   Matthew 25:39-41, Matthew 25:44-46, Mark 9:36-37, Mark 9:40-42, Luke 9:47-48

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Go Back

Go Back
Nov 19, 2012
Luke 15:18  "I will set out and go back to my father. . ."

While driving in the car recently with all my children, we took a brand new route that was unfamiliar to me.  It was an interesting new drive and it certainly appeared to the children that we were lost, as the surroundings were new and different.  We had arrived at our destination successfully when one my children spoke up with what can only be described as a "Captain Obvious" type statement.  He said that if we wanted to go home, we should just go back and travel the opposite of the route we had just taken.  At first I ignored his comment because I knew the way home, but after a moment I realized the wisdom in what he said.  It was similar to what Jesus said in the parable of the Lost Son.  Jesus said that if we should wander away we could go back home by simply returning to the father.

In the famous parable, the Prodigal Son realized he didn't like his destination, where he had arrived.  He had regret and longed to be back where he was before.  The Prodigal Son came to the same epiphany that my own child declared, regarding finding the way home: Go Back.  To "go back" means to return in the opposite manner, to travel in the reverse direction of the original path.  The Prodigal Son did just that.  He returned back home taking the opposite direction he had traveled.  It was a forsaking of his current destination and returning to the original state or place.

While you may not be a million miles from where you once were in life, having walked completely away from the Lord, there is still daily application to you and me in this story.  All of us get off track in life; we veer in a direction that takes us away from home, slightly away from a perfect relationship with the Lord.  Maybe we simply take on a few bad habits that don't exemplify the righteous life we once lived.  Maybe we allow coarse relationships or unforgiveness in our lives.  Maybe we partake in activities that we once shunned.  Whatever the infraction, there is always the opportunity to go back and return to the original state.  I know you have regret over actions and routes you've taken in life.  You might even regret the person you have allowed yourself to become lately.  But there is always the opportunity to go back.  Jesus said the Father would always welcome us home.

Sadly, however, I write this because you may find yourself in a unique place a few years from now.  You might be far from where you are today in your relationship with the Lord.  Mark these words and remember them carefully.  Though you may not intend it, your decisions might lead you away, on a road far from home.  I write this to you and beg you to remember that the Lord will always take you back.  All you have to do is turn around and go back home.  You don't need a map; all you have to do is go the reverse of where you currently find yourself.  The opposite route will be the way.  And when you get there, the Lord will have His arms open wide.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:   2 Chron 7:14, Neh 1:9, Zech 1:3, Mal 3:7, Luke 15:10-32

Sunday, November 11, 2012


November 12, 2012
Mark 7:24  ". . .  He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret."

There are certain people who enter a room and you definitely know it.  They have a personality that cannot be hidden; it is clear upon arrival.  They may be bubbly people who get noticed for their outgoing personality, or they may be obnoxious and loud and difficult to ignore.  People like this are hard to conceal in a room.  They MUST be made known.  Jesus, though, didn't have that kind of personality.  He wasn't a loud and boisterous person.  His demeanor wasn't gregarious or obnoxious.  He wasn't obtuse or ever overbearing.  If Jesus entered a room, however, you would still know it.

Jesus was made known in a room because of His presence, not His personality.  In fact, there were times when Jesus just wanted to be in a room and blend into the walls.  But that wasn't possible; Jesus stuck out because of His presence.  There wasn't anything notable about His personality, at least as far as we can tell from Scripture, but His presence was the Presence of the Lord Almighty.  If you consider what we know of Jesus: an even tempered, mild mannered person could easily blend in if he tried.  But Jesus couldn't blend in because His presence was strong, since He carried with Him the presence of the Lord.

You and I are supposed to be like Jesus.  Despite your personality, it should not be YOU that is made known in a room; it should be your presence, the presence that exudes through you from Above.  The Lord isn't interested in having you made known; He is interested in revealing Himself through you.  You know what I mean, because you've felt the presence of the Lord through other people, too.  You have noticed something different about them.  You're attracted to their presence, not because they are loud or outgoing or charismatic, but because they carry the presence of the Lord with them; the appearance of God is evident in their lives.  If you spent much time alone with the Lord, like Jesus did, you'd always be filled with the Lord's presence.  His presence would be a part of you, and you would carry it with you at all times.

Examine yourself for a moment and consider what other people see and feel when you enter a room.  Do they see and feel your personality, or do they see the Lord living through you?  Is the presence of the Lord strong enough in your life as evidenced by those around you?  Are you Jesus with skin on, or do people cringe when you enter the room because you demand attention?  It is OK to be known in a room, but what are you known for?  The more attention you get, the less attention the Lord gets through your life.

When people were drawn to Jesus, it wasn't because of His personality, it was the Heavenly presence they felt through Him.
Don't take my word for it; look it up:   Luke 2:52, Luke 24:32, John 3:30, John 10:38, John 14:7

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Trustworthy Servants

Trustworthy Servants
November 5, 2012
Nehemiah 1:11  "'. . . Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.'  I was cup-bearer to the king."

Nehemiah was a boy when his country was invaded by an evil king; he was subsequently exiled from his homeland, from his home in Israel.  He grew up away from familiar and was forced into servitude to other rulers who were foreign and hostile to his people and religion.  Years later, another king invaded and took Nehemiah into yet another place of exile, this time to Persia.  Nehemiah eventually found himself in the position of cup-bearer to the king of Persia.  Nehemiah, a Jew, was in a position of influence to the king of Persia (Persia, which would one day become modern day Iran).

It is interesting that the king of Persia would trust a Jew into such a high position.  Being a cup-bearer was a position of honor and trust.  It was the chief butler position and Nehemiah had to risk his life often for the job.  Because kings were a high target for assassination attempts, one couldn't be too careful.  A cup-bearer was responsible for drinking from the king's cup first, proving it didn't contain poison.  Nehemiah performed his duties with the utmost of responsibility and honor.  You'd think he might have disliked the ruler whom he served.  Yet he did his job in a respectful, trustworthy manner for a king who was not a known friend to the children of Israel, a nation of Jews.

Nehemiah teaches us a lot about being a true servant and later an effective leader.  Eventually Nehemiah would lead his people into rebuilding their country and becoming a governor.  But before that, he was a cup-bearer to a hostile king.  He had to serve another man who did not uphold the same values that were dear to Nehemiah.  He had to risk his life for another man who did not respect the Lord or His people.  If you read the first few lines from the book of Nehemiah, you'll see that he prayed fervently that the Lord would grant him favor with this foreign king.  Nehemiah didn't try to assassinate the king, he served him as if he was serving the Lord.  Nehemiah, before he proved he could be a leader, proved he was trustworthy as a servant in a world where character didn't matter.  Nehemiah knew that character was important to the Lord and so he lived his life in such a way as to prove that character every day during his service.  Nehemiah proved that everyone, even a hostile king, could trust him with their lives.

Today, there are very few political leaders that I would suggest we could trust with our lives.  But the question is, can they trust you and me with THEIR lives.  Would we serve them like Nehemiah did for the king?  Are we servants of the same caliber as Nehemiah?  If a modern day king, who was not a fan of your values, asked you for your trustworthy service, would you grant it?  Would you serve him like you serve the Lord?  The Bible says that we are to respect those in authority over us and serve them as trustworthy servants of the Lord.  Being a trustworthy servant is the first step to becoming a noble leader.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:   Nehemiah 1, Romans 13:1-4, 1 Tim 2:1-3,  Heb 13:7, Peter 2:13