Saturday, November 12, 2016

Taking a Risk and Praying for Doers

8 Days of Hope workers after a completed project

Jesus did not serve merely as a divine speaker, wrapped in a coat of flesh, preaching to anyone who would listen. He did so much more. Matthew tells us Jesus was "going about all of the cities and the villages, teaching... proclaiming... healing... seeing... feeling compassion." He was on the move and making a difference.

His didn't just feel sorry for people. He did something about it, and He expects us to do something, too. 

"Then He said to His disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore, beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.'" (Matt. 9:37,38 nasb)

This wasn't a friendly suggestion, even if Jesus wrapped it in the softest of words. He meant for us to pray for God to send workers. 

What He didn't mention is that, when we pray, the worker God decides to send might be us. I know that from personal experience. 

After Katrina, I prayed for help and God sent me. After the tornado that hit Tupelo and Louisville, I prayed for workers and God sent me. After I attended the missions conference last year, I prayed quite a bit about workers. As you probably know, God sent me.

My new ministry involves recruiting and coordinating the prayer efforts for our missionaries.  As part of that, of course, I learn about the needs of missionaries and pray for them. 

Just this morning, one of the missionaries emailed, "I need to step back from some of my ministry responsibilities to be more available for my husband and children, but we will need another teacher if I am to do that." 

Once again, I'm praying for workers to help in the harvest. What I've come to realize during the past few weeks is that the harvest truly is plentiful, but the workers are a sparse few. 

Body of Christ, we could work together to get the harvest in, if we would. We could have a worldwide awakening to the truth of God's love and the saving blood of Jesus. It's not too hard for our Lord to accomplish, but He has commanded us to be participants. He's doing His part. Are we doing ours?

We are to pray (Matt 9:38) and to go. (Matt. 28:19,20) 

Today, let's turn our hearts from the political realm and it's concerns. Instead, let's focus on the spiritual realm and the concern of the harvest in the field. 

Jesus described the fields as "white". Ripe and ready. No farmer would leave their harvest in the field. Neither should we. People around the world are perishing without Jesus (including in this country). We can do something about that, and we should. One step at a time. 

It all begins by praying for workers. Not everyone who prays will be sent, but some of us will, and, when we're sent, we'll go. When we go, people will learn about the beautiful love of Christ that sets us free. Some will accept Him and join in the work. Before you know it, the love of God will spread around the world. 

Today, let's make a start. Pray for God to call workers willing to go for both short-term and long-term mission efforts. Get ready, though. The worker He calls may be you. 
Please like and share. It extends my digital reach in ways I can't do alone. Thanks!
If you're interested in short (or long) term missions, comment or message me. There are many opportunities for service.
In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: After the Election: What to Do When It's Hard
If you'd like to help support this ministry outreach, here's the link to give: Global Outreach Acct 4841#mission #Jesus

Friday, November 11, 2016

After the Election: What to Do When It's Hard

The daffodils in the photo are my "better days are coming" flowers. During one of the most difficult times of my life, a friend gave me a pack of bulbs for Christmas. They were to remind me that God is constantly doing things we can't see. 

I planted those bulbs in faith that God was at work. Every spring since then, I've had daffodils in ever-increasing numbers. They're a constant reminder that God doesn't always flaunt His efforts. Sometimes, He brings out His best when life looks the darkest.

That's what He did with the cross. 

When Jesus was arrested, the future looked bleak for His followers. The situation deteriorated that dreadful night. Things went from bad to worse. Jesus was tried, sentenced, beaten. Nothing was enough to satisfy the mob. Nothing but death.

The enemies of God thought they'd won. What they didn't understand was that nothing could defeat Him. God was mere days from revealing the best gift He ever gave.

On the morning of the third day, the stone moved. Jesus arose. The victory over sin and death was won.

And it still is.

When Jesus rose from the dead, He bought our freedom from death and sin. When He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, He assured us of the victory, if we want it.

The problem, I'm afraid, is that we're fond of sin, and we don't always want victory over it. 

Jesus spent His last hours praying for those who would follow Him. He was praying for us. You and me. The thing He most wanted was for us to be unified. To demonstrate to the world that the love of Christ can unify a disparate people and make us one. It would be so attractive to the world, Jesus prayed, that people would be drawn to Him.

Well, that was the plan. 

It would work, if we would do our part. People will never be drawn to Christ if we take offense at the words of others, if we fight back, if we indulge in backbiting and arguing. So let's stop it. 

Just stop.

It's not necessary to respond to every hard word that's said, to every mean thing that's done. It's not necessary to respond to every hateful thing that's posted on Facebook.

What about turning the other cheek is hard to understand? 

When someone does something that stings, let it go. Don't respond. Don't hold on to it. Forgive. Move past it.

Act like Jesus. Love like Jesus. Choose what Jesus wanted... unity in the body of Christ. Love that astounds the world.

Opinions don't matter. Even opinions about our recent election. Love does.

When His people behave the way Jesus said to behave, He will take those actions and make something beautiful. 

It may take a while. It may not be evident for a long time, but, like my daffodil bulbs, He will bring something good from this very hard time. 

Choose love.

"...for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one, even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me. John 17:20, 21 nasb
Like and share this post to help extend my digital reach. Thanks!
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: Waiting For the Invitation to Change
If you'd like to help support this ministry outreach, here's the link to give: Global Outreach Acct 4841
#Jesus #love

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Waiting for the Invitation to Change

Matthew was sitting at his tax collector booth, taking up the tax money, and likely gathering a bit more for himself, when Jesus and His disciples came by.

Jesus paused long enough to look at Matthew and say, "Follow me."

That isn't the most compelling invitation I've ever heard, but it was enough for Matthew. He got up, left his tax collector booth, and his steady stream of income, and followed Jesus.

Matthew wasn't collecting money hand-over-fist with a happy, contented heart before he walked away from it. That's not how people make life-altering decisions. If you've ever made a major life change, you know. First there's dissatisfaction, discontent. It grows, and you begin to consider your options. You ponder what else you could do. Eventually, you realize a change is imperative. 

When the change you think you've been looking for comes along, you take it.

As a physician, there was more than one night on call when my fellow physicians and I, weary beyond words, would talk about what we would become if we could just leave medicine. Painter. Writer. Long-haul truck driver. Pizza maker. Most of them stayed. I didn't. 

It's likely Matthew had been doing some soul-searching before Jesus called Him. He'd heard of Jesus, probably seen Him walk by with His disciples. That group of friends, laughing together as they walked along, must have been very attractive to a man who was an outcast because of his job.

Before the call came, Matthew probably looked just the same to those who knew him, but Jesus knew. Matthew was ripe for change. He was ready.

How many people we meet every day are dissatisfied and ready for a change, ready to respond to the call of Jesus? Probably more than we think. 

How many of those discontented people are watching those who claim to be Christians to see if we have something attractive to offer? Again, probably more than we think. 

Judging by the response to the election over the last day or so, there are unhappy, discontented people all around us, both in and out of the body of Christ. 

I have good news. We don't have to stay discontented, because Jesus is calling to all of us, and He's still King, no matter who is president. When we follow Him, it won't always be easy, but it can bring a precious kind of contentment, regardless of our circumstances. 

Today, let's choose to live as if we have something wonderful to share because, in Jesus, we do. Let's offer a ready smile, a kind word, a helping hand. When the opportunity arises, let's share the good news of a risen Savior who cares about us, loves us, and is coming back to take us home. 

You never know who's been waiting for someone to say, Come. Follow Jesus." 

And Jesus said to him, "Follow Me." And he rose, and followed Him. Matthew 9:9 nasb
the photo above is of a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee
In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: We Have a New President. Now What?

If you'd like to help support this ministry outreach, here's the link to give: Global Outreach Acct 4841
#change #Jesus

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

We Have a New President. Now What?

We have a new president today, one who promises major, radical change. 

The really hard part has just begun.

Our president-elect has a little over two months to prepare for a job that is too big for anyone brave enough to try it. 

This is not a time for gloating or boasting. This is a time for Mr. Trump to settle down to the hard work of learning the law, getting to know the people with whom he will be working, and choosing wise people to surround and help him.

I don't want to discourage anyone in their time of celebration, but there are a few things we, and he, need to remember. 

We are a nation governed by laws

Some of those laws are not good. As law-abiding citizens, we, and Mr. Trump, still have to obey those laws until they are changed. There is a way, and a process, to change and repeal bad laws. That process, for the most part, rests in the hands of the congress, not the president. 

Mr. Trump will not have the authority, nor the power, to repeal the ACA or laws concerning abortion, physician-assisted suicide, or term-limits. He can veto new laws, but congress can still override his veto.

If he wants change in law, he will have to work together with congress to accomplish it.

Our constitution provides for checks and balances in the three branches of government: executive, judicial, and legislative

Our forefathers had experience with too-powerful government. They wisely chose to limit the powers of each branch so that one person could not "reign" unchecked. Mr. Trump will be head of the executive branch. He will not be the boss of the judicial or legislative branches. 

He will need to work together with the other branches to accomplishes change.

It is God who establishes the authority over us, and He has established Mr. Trump

We don't need to forget that, nor should he. There will be times when we disagree with what our new president does or says. We are to honor his authority. We are not to write scathing posts on social media. We are not to call him names or speak against him. We are to honor the office as that of God-given authority. Because it is. Period. 

Christians are directed to pray for their leaders, and this new leader needs our prayers more than he knows. 

He will experience temptation to a degree he's never experienced before. Pray he can resist. 

He will experience spiritual warfare to a degree he's never experienced before. Pray he can stand firm. 

He will need to make decisions he's never made before. Pray he will be wise. 

He will need to hold his tongue and bide his time in a way he's never done before. Pray he will tame his speech. 

He claims to be a new believer in Christ. He will need to grow in faith, in knowledge of Scripture, in relationship with God. Pray he does.

Christians need to do their part. 

It's time we stop grumbling and start living as we are called to do. We've said we want change. If that is true, we need to be change agents. Get involved in the world outside the doors of our churches. Get involved in the lives of those who are hurting, who are making bad choices, who need the redemptive power of Jesus. 

The "church" was never meant to be a social club. We are to be a family who worships together, learns together, and works together to take the good news of Jesus to the ends of the earth. Worshipping and learning are only a part of the mission of the church. 

We need to live like the people Jesus died to save. 

In this country, the ones who have the greatest power to create change are those willing to relentlessly pursue it. Know the law. Learn about the issues. Talk to legislators. Vote. Volunteer. Get involved. Make a difference.

We can have real, substantive change, but only if we, the people, change first. 

We must give up our sense of entitlement. Stop asking, "What do I deserve?" and start asking, "What can I do to help?" Be willing to tackle the hard issues of national overspending. Tighten our belts. Pay our debts. Tackle the issues of runaway health care. Stop saying, "Do all you can do." Start saying, "Do what's best." Start taking responsibility for our own health and quit relying on medicine to do what we should do. Exercise. Eat right. Give up the habits that are killing us.

For all his bluster and bravado, Mr. Trump is not "the change" we most needed. We are. So, body of Christ, we have a fresh start. A new chance. A better day.

 Let's be the change we say we want. Let's be the people of God we say we are.

If we want to make America great again, it takes more than a new president. It takes repentance, humility, and prayer. 

This time, let's do what it takes. Let's make America great again.

"Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God." Romans 13:1 nasb
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: Do More Than Vote Your Beliefs, Live Them 
#Trump #election2016

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Do More Than Vote Your Beliefs: Live Them

Today is election day, and I'm praying that the citizens of this country go to the polls and vote their convictions. 

I'm praying that God will not give us what we deserve. 

Judging by the two candidates, I don't know how He will avoid that, but we will get what we have chosen, one way or the other.

Tomorrow, we will have a new president-elect. (If there is not a hanging chad or other crazy problem.) Fellow Christians, whichever candidate wins the election, WE will have a new president. Not for some of the people, but for ALL of the people. 

It will be the candidate God has allowed. If you don't believe me on that, read Romans 13:1.

Regardless of who is elected, I'm going to do what Christians are supposed to do. Pray for those in authority. Whether they are my choice or not. I'm going to be subject to the governing authority, just as Bible-believers are supposed to do. I'll be careful about what I say, because I understand how much damage my tongue can do, just as James tells us.

I hope we'll all do the same.

If we want to change this country, and I hope we do, fellow Christians, we will not change it with grumbling or name-calling or spiteful posts on social media. We will change it by getting on our knees, humbling ourselves, repenting of our sin, and praying, then getting involved and working for good and not evil.

After we vote our beliefs, let's be sure we live them, too.

"Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God." Romans 13:1 nasb
In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: Is Your Faith Big Enough to Receive a Miracle 
#Election2016 #liveit

Monday, November 7, 2016

Is Your Faith Big Enough to Receive a Miracle?

Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead as He walked along His way. One day, two blind men joined the crowd and began to follow Him. As they walked, they cried out, "Have mercy on us, Son of David." 0ver and over again.

Jesus kept walking. The blind men followed Him all the way to His next destination, calling for mercy as they went. When Jesus finally stopped, the blind men approached Him. 

Jesus didn't ask them what they wanted. He knew. Instead, He asked a question He probably still asks today. "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" (Matt. 9:28)

They did.

His response was to touch their eyes and speak words that frighten me with their implication. "Be it done to you according to your faith." (Matt. 9:29) 

I don't really want God to respond to my prayers in proportion to my faith. I want Him to respond in proportion to His Majesty, His greatness. To do something big in response to my smallness.

Jesus' words to the blind men make me wonder if my lack of faith has limited the answers to my prayers. I'm pretty sure the answer to that is yes, but I want to be done with small-faith-limited answers to my prayers. 

I want God to respond with answers as big as He is big. As profound as He is profound.

If I want big answers, this passage suggests I'll need bigger faith. 

I'm very concerned about the election tomorrow. I want God to do something bigger than I've ever seen before. 

I'm very concerned about my ministry, its direction, God's provision. I want God to do something bigger than I've ever seen before.  

I'm very concerned about family members who are far from their faith. I want God to do something bigger than I've ever seen before.

If I want God to do bigger, I'll need bigger faith.

If you're in need of a God-sized answer to prayer, why not do what I'm doing?

I'm asking God to enlarge my faith. It's as simple as that. Make my faith big enough to expectantly believe for a miracle in our nation, a miracle in my ministry, a miracle in my family. I want faith big enough to receive it.

Our nation is like a runaway train, roaring down the tracks straight into the abyss. We need God to intervene. Stop us. Turn us around. Bring a great awakening. A revival. 

It will take a God-sized miracle, and we need a God-sized faith, so let's ask for both. Faith to pray, and faith to receive. 

We need a miracle that we do not deserve. A miracle of mercy and grace. We serve a God who abounds in mercy and grace. 

So children of God, let's pray big, ask big, believe big.
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: What We Should Do If We Want Answered Prayers
#faith #miracle 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

What We Should Do if We Want Answered Prayers

I love the "ask and it shall be given you" verse. Lots of people love it, claim it, depend upon it. It's like a shiny gold coin on the sidewalk. We want to grab it and keep it safe, to pull it out when it's most needed.

"Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you " Matthew 7:7

As I read those words today, I realized they were spoken toward the end of the Sermon on the Mount. There's a good bit that comes before the asking and receiving. 

The "part that comes before" is not an accident. Jesus spoke as He did intentionally, so we'd do well to take a closer look, just in case we want to do any asking.

The Sermon on the Mount begins with the Beatitudes, then "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matt. 5:16

There's also the call to right living with right motives, in "... unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 5:20

Jesus talked about our thought life and the sins we commit in our minds. He addressed how we respond to our enemies and those who are unkind to us, our relationship with our Heavenly Father, our prayer life, fasting, generosity, and worry. 

Just before He talked about asking and finding, He covered the issue of judgmental, critical spirits. "First take the log out of your own eye," He demanded. Matt. 7:5

After all the other issues were addressed, Jesus moved to the topic of answered prayer. It was "after" for a reason. If we want the kind of answered prayers Jesus promised, we have to take to care of those issues covered in the first part of the Sermon on the Mount.

I'm not saying that God refuses to answer the prayers of those with unconfessed sin. If He waited for sinless people to pray, He'd never get to answer any prayers. 

The truth is that our relationship with our Heavenly Father matters. Prayer is a two-way conversation. If we're estranged from our Lord, because of ongoing sin, we can't expect to have a compelling conversation with our Heavenly Father. 

If we want a vibrant intercessory prayer experience, we need to focus first on relationship. 

Seek His face, not just His hand.

Today, let's ask God to do a heart-check and show us anything that needs to  change, then allow Him to heal our "log-eye" disease, clean up our lamp so light can shine, and transform us into the image of Christ.

Let's seek His face, not His hand. When we do, many of those "problems" will fade into insignificance and we will be able to ask for those things He most desires to give.
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The Sure-Fire, No-Fail Cure for Whining.