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An Amazing Calling

We began a new sermon series yesterday – Called To Be Missional.  The idea is that as believers we are called to live our lives to please God – to know God and make him known.  We are part of something so much bigger than ourselves.  We are part of a movement that began with Jesus building his church over 2000 years ago – and this movement actually began with a relationship that stretches back to the very beginning.

There is more going on all around us than we can possibly comprehend.  God is at work all the time – but do we see his hand at work?  There are needs we pass by everyday but has the constant sight of those needs caused us to become numb?  Have we allowed the need around us to blend into the backdrop of our daily, busy lives and thus go unnoticed?

It can be overwhelming!  When we are sensitive to seeing needs and God’s movement around us, we can become overwhelmed to the point of paralysis.  But remember this:

You cannot do everything – – but you must do something.

God created you to meet a need that only you can meet.

What an amazing calling!

Live into that calling today!

Breaking Free

There are so many things that hold us back in this world – fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, poor decisions that lead to consequences.  In a fallen world it is hard to truly live the life God truly wants for us.  In fact, on our own, it is impossible to have the life God created us to live.

The biggest barrier to experiencing God’s best for us is sin.  Because of our sin we are enslaved and held back from all that God has for us.  But God created a way for us to have the life he wants for us.Bonds Broken

In John 8:31-32 we find that Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jesus came to teach truth and live that truth so that we could be free.

What is holding you back today?

Jesus offers truth and that truth brings freedom.

Healthy Bread

One of our favorite Monday night rituals is to frequent a local Italian restaurant because of their half-price deals.  But once there, one of the perks is their amazing bread.  I am not one to go seeking bread everyday – in fact, my doctor tells me I should limit my bread intake for health reasons.  But their bread is almost addictive.  So observing this Monday night ritual comes with a down-side as well.  For many, bread is a real temptation.Loaf of Bread

But what if I told you that there is a bread that provides tremendous health benefits with no long-term negative effects?  What if there were a type of bread that offered all the daily nutrients needed to sustain life?

Would you be excited?

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never go hungry.” (John 6:35)  The bread Jesus offers sustains life – full, meaningful life.

When we trust in the nourishment that Jesus offers, we realize we don’t need all the filler foods we tend to stuff into our lives.  The empty calories provided by the distractions of the world cannot compare to the life-giving food Jesus offers.

What kind of diet will you follow today?

Always At Work

This morning I found myself at my usual place at my usual time at my usual table.  I like to arrive early at the Town and Country Cafe on Thursdays – before the rest of the group gets there.  It gives me time to read, think and pray.  As I sat and read from the Gospel of John, I could not help but notice the routine activity going on around me.

One of my readings this morning was the last chapter of the Gospel of John.  The last verse of the chapter (and book) states that Jesus did many things that were not recorded.  In fact, if everything he did while on earth were recorded, “even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”  The author of the Gospel was making the point that Jesus was extremely active.

I was reminded that Jesus is still active today.  Maybe his activity is not as obvious as it was when he physically walked the earth – but he is at work in the hearts and lives of people all around us.  We can see him in an encouraging smile.  We can hear him in the comforting words of friends.  We can experience his presence in the humble service others provide for us.

Just as I noticed activity in the cafe this morning, when we stop and look for him, we will see him at work.

Father, give us eyes to see you today!

Last night I got home from work and knowing it would be my only evening at home this week, I decided to mow the lawn.  As I wrapped up the work in the lawn, Kristi got a text that one of our church members was headed to the hospital with a possible heart attack.

As gross as it sounds, I didn’t even take time to shower.  I changed my clothes and headed to the hospital.  I had sent a text to the wife of the church member before leaving the house to find out where he was being taken and so I jumped in the car and headed out.

I got to the hospital and went straight to the ER.  I didn’t see anyone I knew anywhere and no one could tell me anything.  I walked back to the waiting room – no one.  I then walked to the other end of the hospital to another waiting room – not there either.

At that point, I pulled my phone out and re-read the text message . . . I was at the wrong hospital!

In my haste to get to the hospital, knowing that the issue was a possible heart attack, my mind jumped to the conclusion he was headed to the Heart Hospital so even though she had given me the name of the hospital, my pre-conceived idea of what was happening overshadowed it.

How often to do we approach God and God’s word with pre-conceived ideas – or even worse, personal agendas?  Do we ever go to God with our own expectations not really interested in HEARING what God might want to say to us?  Refuse to Listen

Today, I challenge each of us to go to God with a humble heart and a listening ear.  God is present and active in our lives and he has a plan for you for this day.  Will you listen to what he has to say?

By the way, I did get to the right hospital (across town) – but think about the time I would have saved and the frustration I could have avoided had I just listened.

Be blessed today!

A New Kingdom

I was reminded this morning while reading from the Gospel of John, that Jesus came to usher in a new kingdom.  When he was questioned by Pilot during the mock trial he received, his response was that his kingdom is not of this world.

As I have thought about those words, I have reflected on the fact that what Jesus came to do was so revolutionary – so counter-intuitive that it could only be described as something not of this world.

This world would teach us that success is the ultimate goal and success only comes to those who work for it.  And by “work for it” this world would acknowledge that obtaining success by any means necessary is acceptable – even applauded.  The only rule that one must follow is “there are no rules.”

So people are celebrated when they achieve “success,” regardless of how it was achieved.

Jesus, on the other hand, taught that what is truly important in this life is pleasing the father.  What sets an individual apart and makes them stand out is not fighting to get ahead but rather, putting others needs before his or her own.  Jesus illustrated a different kingdom.

He calls us tsurrendero live in this kingdom – to take on this counter-cultural, counter-intuitive lifestyle.  We are to love our enemies.  We are to put others first.  We are to surrender our lives to him.

We spend our lives striving for meaning and fulfillment, peace and happiness.  But my experience has taught me that these things can only be found by following Jesus’ teaching and living in his kingdom.

Live into that meaning and peace today!

Yesterday, I shared my thoughts on what a model church should look like based on 1 Thessalonians 1. The picture painted there is a body of Jesus followers who allow their faith to produce work that is characterized by love and carried out with hope in Christ.

But what is the work? If our faith is to produce work, what should that work entail?

Book shelves are easily filled with books talking about the work of the church. Seminars and conferences draw attendees looking for that next big plan that will push their churches to the “next level.”

We spend hours crafting mission statements and strategies.  We evaluate and plan, we research, investigate and develop ideas.

All of those things are extremely important.  And each ministry setting is unique.  But I think the work of the church can be defined universally, at its core, as making disciples.  ThChurch Line Drawinge church that is making disciples who in turn make disciples is living out the Great Commission – the church’s marching orders.

With this understanding then, our faith should lead us to lovingly make disciples, placing our hope not in our own efforts but rather in the savior we serve.

Lord Jesus, may you find us faithful!