Sunday, January 27, 2013

Andrew Invited

Andrew Invited
January 28, 2012
John 1:42  "And he brought him to Jesus."

When you look at the time-line of Jesus calling His disciples, you'll see that Andrew was one of His first followers.  In fact, Andrew was one of the first to believe Jesus was the Christ.  And the very first thing Andrew did was to invite His brother, Peter, to come and meet Jesus who was/is the Messiah.  Andrew is not mentioned in the Bible very often but his brother, Peter, is probably the most famous disciple.  Peter's contributions to Christianity were significant.  The church would not be what it is today without Peter's work thousands of years ago.  But Peter couldn't have done a thing for Christ if he had never come to know Him.  Andrew was credited for bringing Peter to Christ and I'm thankful he did.

Had Andrew not invited his brother to meet the Savior our world would be a different place.  While Peter is not necessarily more important than Andrew, if Andrew had not invited his brother to meet Jesus, then Peter might not have ever come to know the Lord.  This goes to show how important one person's work is for the Lord.  Andrew's work was critical and I'm thankful he brought his brother to the Lord.  Every great man or woman of God was invited or brought to the Lord by someone else.  You possibly have a similar story of someone else bringing you to the Lord.  Or maybe you grew up in the church, in which case you should thank your parents for bringing you to the Lord.  Either way, none of us would know the Savior if someone else had not invited us to meet Him.

Understanding what Andrew did for his brother, Peter, is critical to our Christian walk.  We are to be like Andrew and invite others to the Lord.  It is not your job to force Jesus upon someone, but it IS your job to invite them, especially if they have never been invited before.  If you invite someone to church or invite someone to understand your Christianity, it does not mean he or she will accept the invitation.  It is not your job to force that.  People will come to the Lord when they are ready, but they CAN NOT come to the Lord if they have never been invited.  Peter would never have come to the Savior if Andrew had not invited him.

When you invite people to the Lord, you are helping to fulfill the Lord's design for their lives.  You might be inviting the next "Peter" to church.  Consequently, I wonder how many people have never met the Lord, people who would have gone on to do great exploits for the Lord like Peter, simply because they were never invited.  I shudder to think of the people I could have brought to the Lord over the years but simply didn't.  You and I have no excuse.  It is complete laziness, apathy, and selfishness if we don't invite others to know the one who can give eternal life.  The number one reason why people never go to church is a sad reason: because they have never been invited.  While you may be introverted and feel intimidated, surely there is at least one person in your life that you could invite to the Lord.  Here is a great motivator for you: just imagine what your own life would be like if you had never met Jesus.  Andrew invited his brother to the Lord, what did you do this week?

Don't take my word for it; look it up:   Matthew 4:19, Matthew 28:18-20, John 1:40-48

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Future Thankful

Future Thankful
Jan 21, 2013
Hebrews 12:28  "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. . ."

In the Bible, the idea of being thankful or having thankfulness in our hearts is usually in response to something.  Either we should be thankful because we have been given something or we should be thankful because we are appreciative of the outcome for a given circumstance.  Thankfulness is therefore the result of a previous action.  I am thankful I have been forgiven of my sins and have received free salvation.  This thankfulness is in response to the forgiveness already poured out upon my life.  It is easy to be thankful in response to a good situation.  We've all experienced a void in our lives at one point or another and when that void was filled we were also filled with thanksgiving.

The Lord is glad when we have thankfulness in our hearts based upon a response to a past situation, but He also wants us to be thankful for what we do not have yet, for what has not yet been given.  He has promised us so much in life, to be received at some point while still on this earth and to be given in eternity.  He wants us to be so excited about the future that we have thankfulness in our hearts about what is still to come.  We need to be thankful for the future; though we don't know what's coming, we do know it will be praiseworthy.

If you do not have thankfulness in your heart on a daily basis, take a look around and heed the instructions given by the writer of the book of Hebrews.  He said that we should be thankful we will be receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.  Often our world seems to be crumbling apart, tearing at the seams.  Situations look bleak and we walk down darkened paths in life.  You may be headed down a rough road right now, where stability has been removed and the foundation seems shaky.  The Lord would suggest to you to be thankful through it all.  This is counter intuitive to us humans, trying to be thankful while walking down a dark and scary road.  But the Lord said that while looking at the unsure footing, we should be thankful our feet will one day walk around on the solid ground of Heaven, in a kingdom where there is perfection and fullness and peace.  The uncertainty we are experiencing today should give us excitement about tomorrow.

The Lord has good things in store for your life while on this earth and in your distant future, despite moments of discomfort.  Be thankful for that, your future.  If you are not thankful, this can and will cause disrespect in your life toward the Lord by not allowing Him to work as He sees fit.  By coming into agreement with the thankfulness that should be in your heart regarding your future, it will allow you to receive that future.  If you do not have anticipation, then your disgruntled attitude will not result in proper praise toward Him, which might actually lead to the Lord's discipline in your life.  The full verse in Hebrews reads, "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire."  Notice that if we do not demonstrate thankfulness for the future, and therefore acceptable respect, the Lord is described as a fire ready to consume.  Don't be caught off guard by the Lord's consuming fire of discipline, be thankful now for what the Lord wants to bring about for your life.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:   Lk 7:41-50, Heb 12:18-29

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Seeing is Overrated

Seeing is Overrated
Jan 14, 2013
2 Corinthians 5:7  "For we live by faith, not by sight."

It would be very difficult to go blind, not being able to see for the rest of your life.  Blind people certainly have a disadvantage in life.  Life is more difficult for those without sight.  It is impossible to drive, so going places requires assistance.  Gainful employment is limited to jobs not requiring site (which isn't many).  Most of the amenities in this world are not designed for the unseeing; life requires sight.  Going blind later in life would certainly be a giant obstacle to overcome, after having the luxury of seeing for many years.  It might be easier to be born blind, as the other senses have the opportunity to super develop, in order to overcome the lack of sight.  But either way, it is not something I wish to experience.  I trust my eyes.  I depend on my ability to see; it keeps me independent.

The Lord would say, however, in the spiritual sense, that it would be better not to see with the eyes.  The Christian walk requires faith, not sight.  This is not just a metaphor but a standard for living.  He said that we, as Christians, live by faith.  It wasn't a recommendation, it is a requirement.  Yes, it takes faith to believe in God, but this particular verse wasn't talking about just believing He exists.  It was referring to daily activities and circumstances in life, outside of the Lord's existence.  It was referring to a consideration that all of life's intricacies are not as they appear with the naked eye.  Things are not as they seem.  When the Lord is involved, there is so much more going on than we can understand.  But we get used to our sight; we think we can see clearly and therefore understand what is going on.  We trust in  what our eyes tell us about the situation.

It is dangerous to try and rationalize what is going on based upon how we see things.  We don't see what the Lord sees.  We don't know what the Lord knows.  We don't understand what the Lord understands.  This is why it is critical to live by faith instead of by sight.   It requires trusting in the Lord enough to relinquish having an explanation about what we think is going on based upon our perceptions.  It requires saying to the Lord, "I don't know what or how, but I trust that you've got the situation under control, even though I cannot see a reason why."  This is particularly difficult because we've been blessed (or cursed) with eyesight.  We are so used to trusting in our eyes that we don't like to depend on the Lord.  We don't need assistance in the route we are traveling; we have our own eyes.  We don't need assistance in our employment; we have our own eyes.  We don't need assistance getting through life; we have our own eyes.

If you are a Christian, then seeing things with our own eyes is a disadvantage.  You undoubtedly have a situation in life where you think you've got it under control because you can see clearly with your eyes.  I would submit to you that is a far greater obstacle to overcome, far more difficult than being born blind.  If you think you can see it clearly with your own eyes, then you are not living by faith and will fail to follow the Lord's plan through it all.  If  you try to figure it out based upon your perceptions of the situation, then you will fail to experience the glory that the Lord wants to do through it all.  We don't have all the answers in life; this is why it is necessarily to live by faith.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:   Rom 10:17, Rom 16:26, 1 Tim 1:3-5, Heb 11:1, Heb 11:6

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Plain and Boring

Plain and Boring
Jan 7, 2013
Is 64:8  "Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand."

There are many noble characters found in the Bible and I'm sure we all would consider, Joseph, the human father of Jesus, to be one such person.  After all, Joseph was the carpenter dad of Jesus the Messiah.  He is rather famous.  But I would submit to you that Joseph was quite ordinary, plain and boring.  Little is known about the man except he was a carpenter and that the Bible says he was faithful to the Mosaic law.  Other than that, Joseph was not notable at all.  He was referred to as being from the tribe of Benjamin and the husband of Mary.  Men were never considered or named in association with their wives.  Wives were property and Joseph would not have been named AFTER Mary in the Bible if he had been more important than her.  But together they were referred to as "Mary and Joseph," not the other way around.  Joseph isn't even mentioned in Jesus' adult life.  It is believed Joseph may have passed away before Jesus entered His ministry at age 30.  In short, Joseph didn't actually DO anything, other than carve wood and provide a male role model for his household.  Jesus didn't even claim to be his son.
The Bible says the the Lord creates all of us to accomplish His goals, some for noble purposes and some for common use.  If you were to compare Joseph to Jesus, I would suggest Joseph might be considered "common use" and Jesus would be considered "noble purposes."  While it is not mine to judge, you may have a different perspective.  You may think Joseph, though not a multifaceted hero, was still a man created for "noble purposes," as he was picked to be the earthly dad of Jesus.  Sure, in hind sight this might be true. But if you were to have asked Joseph when he was alive, he might have been frustrated with his lack of fame or notoriety, frustrated that he didn't really do anything outstanding for the Lord.  This possible difference in opinion or point-of-view is the intended point.

You may desire to do great things for the Lord, accomplishments considered noble and awe inspiring by others.  But the Lord might require you to simply be the steadfast father in a household that produces a mighty man like Jesus.  You might be asked to be a carpenter for the rest of your life, poor and mundane in excitement.  But if the Lord has asked it of you, is it really of noble purposes or not?  If the Lord has asked it of you, regardless of the perceived earthly importance, is it any less noble than something else?

If you desire to do great things for the Lord and are serving Him in your plain and boring life, accomplishing what seems to be nothing, then you might be right where the Lord wants you, being used perfectly for His noble purposes.  It is not your perspective that matters, only the Lord's.  Joseph had no idea what the Lord was really doing with his life.  In fact, he was quite embarrassed when his soon-to-be wife was found to be pregnant.  Joseph was probably even ridiculed by outsiders who didn't understand the Lord's design, having taken a wife who was already with child.  But it didn't stop Joseph from waking up every morning and going to work in his blue-collar clothes, performing mundane tasks for a low wage and zero notoriety.  Joseph might have considered his life a very "common use" in all of the Lord's design, but if the Lord ordered it, is it any less important than the role the Lord designed for Jesus?  Your life has purpose and if you are doing what the Lord has set before you, then your life has been designed for "noble purposes."  Only, don't question your life's work as being "noble" or "common," that is for the Lord to decide.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:   Is 29:15-16, Matt 1, Lk 2:16, Lk 3:23, Rom 9:19-21