Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Heart of Ministry

"But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd". (Matthew 9:36)

The compassion Jesus exhibits here is a primary characteristic of God. Jesus came to earth and died and rose again because of the Father's love. In fact 1st John 4:6 tells us that God is love!

The outworking of love ought to be love. As Jesus had compassion so should we. Sometimes, unfortunately, we draw the wrong conclusions. Love is not an acceptance of human narcissism and self involvement. Love is not the setting of humanity on the throne. The outworking of this kind of love ought to be  a heart that wants to love the Lord, even if the struggle to do that is imperfectly carried out. 

The sheep need a shepherd to lead and guide them. Left to their own devices sheep will not last very long. The shepherd cares for the sheep and the sheep follow after him. Jesus said, My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me" (John 10:27). There lies the troublesome part. Jesus calls us to follow Him by faith. We sometimes fall down and get up and press on. But what about those who resolutely refuse to follow?

God won't make them. Universalists try to deal with this issue by proclaiming that it doesn't matter. Unfortunately, from any honest reading of scripture it does. Judgment for the unbeliever is very real. I think it comes back to love. Love ought to produce love, but what happens if it doesn't? God doesn't force anyone into relationship. If you don't want a relationship with Him He want make you. People get offended when believers talk about judgment, which I find interesting. God loves people so much, and yet, we want to wallow in our own narcissism and rejection of Him until it becomes inconvenient for us. Then we want a free pass. 

My theory is this. If the love of God won't change us now it won't change us then. That kind of rebellion and hatred so permeates our being that even if the Lord were to give a free pass to those who rejected Him in this life that it would rear its ugly head again. He already had one rebellion in the heavens. He doesn't need another one.

As for us. That's why love matters. We need to love the lost and have compassion on them. Love motivated Jesus' earthly walk and ministry and ought to be the prime motivation for each of us every day. It will literally change how we live our lives. It will open doors to share the love of Jesus. As always, they won't always follow after Him, but some will. 

There are people out there who will absolutely fall in love with Jesus because of you. Go out with eyes of compassion and let the Lord use you!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Dare to Ask!

"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!"  (Matthew 7:11)

We serve an awesome God. One of the great blessings we have is relationship with the Lord. Out of that relationship we now receive the benefits of being His children. We can approach Him with boldness and confidence. Hebrews 4:16 tells us "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Sometimes we can get to the place that we think the Lord is tired of our asking, but He never is. We don't want our needs to be all we ever talk to the Lord about, but we need not hesitate to approach Him either.  
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." (Matthew 7:7)
"Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him." (Mark 11:23)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Reconciled Enemies

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Romans 5:10)
 The love of God is an incredible thing! It is interesting how two people can look at the same circumstances and come to different conclusions. The atheist looks at the world with all of its suffering and pain and concludes that there cannot be a God. The believer looks at the world with all its suffering and pain and  see the desperate need for God.

We were God's enemies and yet He made it possible for us to enter into His kingdom. The humanist worldview (which has infiltrated the church to some extent) is that man is good. History brutally lays waste to this notion. The reality is that Jesus died for us, not because we are good, but because God is good. That's a truth that will set you free!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Words of Life

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." (Proverbs 16:24)

Your words can be powerfully used for ministry. I've always found it interesting how so many people's conversation tends toward the negative.  A little of that goes a long way. It drags on your soul and weighs you down. It's the people who live Proverbs 16:24 that I enjoy being around. We all have people like this in our lives -- those people who, after you have spent some time with them, leave you feeling encouraged and built up. You too can be that person just by making some changes to you conversation and being quick to offer up a word of encouragement.

This is not about vain flattery or an exercise in self-esteem. It's about speaking the truth according to God's Word. We are inundated with negative talkers and naysayers all day long. Don't be one yourself!