“There is no other way to retain continuity with the apostles than to keep on doing what they did.” –Carl E. Braatens
Yesterday morning at CCCJ, I shared how our lives are marked by 3 phases:
- The PROMISE of salvation and a better future through Jesus.
- The PROCESS of being transformed into Christ’s likeness.
- The PAYOFF of being rewarded with eternal life in the presence of God.
But what do you do when it feels like you’ve been locked into the process for far too long and you’ve begun to lose sight of the promised payoff?
What do you do there’s a storm everywhere you look and you can’t help but feel like you’re about to drown?
How do you stay faithful in the middle of THAT process?
As much as I hate to admit it, the process of living with Christ isn’t always sunny. In fact, it often feels stormy and messy and at times, it can be hard to remember the hope that we were originally attracted to. It’s in those moments that we have to remember Jesus’ words when He said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33)
There will be hard times and we will feel overwhelmed, but no matter comes what we have confidence that Jesus has overcome the world! It doesn’t matter if we feel adequate for today or not…we know that Jesus has already walked this way and all we do is have the faith to follow Him.
I believe that God is calling you to walk in His footsteps today and my prayer is that you boldly and bravely step into the darkness, trusting Him to be your light! So today, take heart that you’ve never been alone and you’ll never be alone. Jesus has been with you before and He’ll certainly be with you through this moment and every moment you’ll ever experience!
Anything worth doing is going to demand something from you. Whether time, money or energy, a worthwhile task will demand a sacrifice every time. When the sacrifice is small and the cost is minimal, the choice is easy. Answer the Call. Engage the task. Serve the King.
However, when the sacrifice is large and the cost is significant, we hesitate. We hesitate because of the number of hours it will take to complete. We hesitate because it will be the kind of dirty work we hate. We hesitate because when we’re really, truly honest with ourselves, there’s a part hidden deep within us that is just a little bit lazy.
On the wall over my calendar, I have three words mounted in picture frames…
I’ve written and spoken about it before, but I thank Steven Furtick for this concept that has forever changed the way I approach my Calling. Here is the meaning…
Everything begins with a PROMISE – God promises to love us, protect us, save us and never leave us. He promises that life is better (though not always calmer) with Him than without Him. He promises that if we submit our lives to Him, we will gain an eternal reward.
Everything ends with a PAYOFF – God rewards us with the biggest paycheck we could ever imagine… A home with Him.
But, in between the promise and the payoff is the PROCESS. And the process is the point.
From the moment you hear the promise until the moment you receive the payoff, you are living in the process. This is when God Calls you. This is when you have the opportunity to embrace the purpose for which God created you.
But, make this absolutely clear… God has created you for a purpose and He loves you enough to resource you with what you need for your purpose. But that doesn’t mean your CALLING will be any easier than anyone else’s. Your Calling will demand from you just like Peter’s and Paul’s and Stephen’s and Timothy’s.
As many amazing leaders as the Church has, there are countless more that will never lead because they are too lazy to engage the work and they are unwilling to make the necessary sacrifice.
As you listen for your Calling, remember… Anything worth doing is going to demand something from you.
Don’t miss your Call because it’s “too hard!”
If God has rescued you, then He rescued you for a reason. And that reason is not just so you can live a happy life with a happy family and go to a happy church every Sunday.
God rescued you so you can introduce the people you love to your Rescuer. As Perry Noble says, “Found people find people.”
Here are 3 simple reasons you need to be finding people…
1. You’re living in a family/neighborhood/office/town full of dying people and you can make a difference! Jude 22-23 says, “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them…”
2. God is building momentum in His Church, bringing people into contact who have unique gifts and talents to lead…in areas of worship, art, technology, community, mission. Maybe your neighbor is the next key piece of the Kingdom and God is calling someone to find him/her. And maybe YOU are that someone!
3. If your boss gives you a task and you care anything about your job, you work to complete it on time and with excellence. Well, you’re a part of a Kingdom with a King and He has given you a very clear mission… Matthew 28:19 says, “Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Man or woman, boy or girl, young or old, the King has called you!
God is moving in amazing ways in Brown County! He’s working on hearts and in lives in ways no one ever expected. Hardness is being broken down, sin is being revealed, community is being established and potential is being realized. I have NEVER been more excited about the future of the Kingdom and role that we are playing in that future!
I often tell people that I feel like we’re riding a wave without completely knowing where that wave is going. It would be comforting to see into the future, but that’s not how faith works. So, for now, I’m thrilled to be riding the wave of God’s Will, heading into an unknown future with only one guarantee… “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
If God’s with me on that wave, then that’s the only place I want to be. Jump in and let’s go! If you’re a “found” person, then “find people” to come along and, together, we’ll ride into the future that God has planned!
An angel of the Lord appeared to [Moses] in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses though, “I will go over and see this strange sight – why the bush does not burn up.”
[The Lord said], “So now, go, I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
Isn’t it great to see God show up to invite a fugitive murderer living in exile back into His Kingdom? Doesn’t it give you hope to know that if God can use a man hiding from justice, He can surely use you?
That’s a great thought, but don’t get so hung up on it that you miss this rather major point…
God called Moses to confront the most powerful man in the world and He actually expected him to go. Moses hesitated just a little, comparing his own importance to that of Pharaoh. But God was right there, ready with a promise. I will be with you. AND… I have a sign for you.
Signs are always great, aren’t they? Signs give us confidence that God’s really speaking to us. Signs are physically visible markers of God’s Will. People have asked God for signs since the very beginning of time. In fact, in the Old Testament, Gideon wanted not just one, but two signs that God was calling him to fight the Midianites. In the New Testament, crowds of people were always wanting signs from Jesus.
It’s always easier to answer God’s Call when you can prove He’s actually behind what you think is a Call. But what do you do when the sign won’t come until after you’ve obeyed?
God told Moses this would be His sign… “When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
He didn’t say, “When you have worshiped God on this mountain, you will bring the people out of Egypt.” Although that would have been a lot simpler, wouldn’t it?
God called Moses and promised to send a sign so that he could be certain it was God sending him. But, the sign wouldn’t come until after the people had left Egypt. Moses was supposed to confront Pharaoh and send plagues and rally the people and outrun armies and win battles and THEN he would stand on a mountain and get a sign that he wasn’t just completely crazy after all.
If Moses had waited for the mountaintop experience, the Israelites would have continued to die in slavery. Sometimes you have to step up to the plate and answer God’s Call without any “proof” you can show anyone else.
Your mountaintop experience is coming…
But obedience comes before the sign.
If you’re just joining us, we’re in the middle of a 21 day journey through Ephesians. This first week, we’re reading a chapter a day, through the lens of, “What is God saying to me?” You can catch the first three days here, here or here. And you can find the Reading Plan outlined here. The daily posts are intentionally short, simple and to the point, merely reflecting my answer to that question. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have been!
Reading Ephesians 4 several times, I keep catching myself on verse 3, “As a prisoner of the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” So often, it is so tempting to drop that ball, to just close my eyes and forget that I ever recognized a call from God. I’ve been reminded over and over that God created me for a purpose and called me toward that goal. I was made to thrive in that role and I love exercising my gifts, but it can be so overwhelming at times. Then I’m reminded that Paul wrote “as a prisoner of the Lord” and I realize that the struggles I face aren’t really that overwhelming after all.
What is God saying to me? I hear, “Be worthy of the investment He made in me.”
So… What’s God saying to you?
Several months ago, I posted “3 Thoughts On Disciples” and, after much thought and discussion, have added to my original list. Here’s “6 Thoughts On Disciples.” I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
1. Disciples answer the call on Jesus’ terms, not their own. Jesus has always offered the same simple call to His disciples… “Come, follow me. Right now. Leave your stuff. Leave your comfort. Leave your past. And follow ME.” You can’t offer Jesus a deal, Christianity is not – and never has been – a negotiation. It’s Jesus’ terms, take it or leave it!
2. It is impossible to be a disciple without being plugged into a church. A loner can believe in Jesus, but a loner can’t be a disciple. Jesus didn’t personalize discipleship training, He called 12 men to live together, learn together and work together. Disciples go to church, they don’t watch it on tv!
3. A disciple’s default setting is love, no matter what the situation. When surrounded by jerks, disciples show love. When surrounded by “sinners,” disciples show love. When surrounded by uncomfortable situations, disciples show love. And the world knows they’re following Jesus because of their love!
4. Disciples make disciples. It’s not an option. Jesus never gathered His disciples together and said, “Now that you know all about me and have a good feel for what heaven is, go ahead and tell somebody else about it…you know, if you want to…if it fits your schedule.” THAT NEVER HAPPENED! Jesus said, “Go make disciples.” It’s a core part of what a disciple does. Calling yourself a disciple without making more disciples is like saying, “I’m on the basketball team…but I don’t really like making baskets.”
5. People can’t imitate your intentions. No matter what you say or how eloquently you say it, they won’t imitate what they can’t see. That means… If disciples love people, you have to be loving people! If disciples are generous, you have to be intentionally blessing people! People will not follow you if they don’t actually see you doing what you’re talking about doing.
6. Disciple-making is messy. If you’re serious about making disciples, you can’t do it from a distance. Disciple-making is only done when you pull back the curtains on your life and let people peak inside who you really are. It’s inconvenient, it’s messy and it’s going to cost you something. You’ll invest time, money and energy without seeing obvious, immediate results. It’ll wear you out and make you question your commitment…that’s the moment you need to step back and gain perspective – your momentary mess is just an investment in someone’s eternity.