The Responsibility of Blessing

“…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48

With great blessing comes great responsibility. And who has been more blessed than the children of the Most High God? We, who were once enemies of God but have been brought into His glorious light. We, who were once idolaters, thieves, sexually immoral, adulterers, liars, greedy and drunkards but have been washed and made right with God (1 Corinthians 6). We were orphaned spiritually because of sin and God, by His choice, adopted us into His family so that we can call Him Father. At just the right time, while we were dead in sin, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6).

This old hymn tells our story:

“Grace, grace, God’s grace

Grace that will pardon and cleanse within.

Grace, grace, God’s grace

Grace that is greater than all our sin!”

We will spend eternity praising the Father and His Son Jesus for saving our souls. And yet, if our focus is solely on what God has done for us, we will have missed the point. He has given us the fullness of His love, mercy and grace. And while we do not have to work for salvation, these blessings do carry responsibilities. Ephesians 2:10 says that we have been saved to do good works that God has planned beforehand. This is evidence that our salvation is not for us alone, but also for the sake of others.

We have the amazing opportunity and privilege, as children of God, to participate in His work. We have been granted the authority to carry on the ministry of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). What was Christ’s ministry? It was to bring the message of the gospel. It was to show sinners the way to the Father. Christ has entrusted His message to us. He has given us the authority to share it boldly. He has placed His Spirit within us to lead us and empower us as we do His work. He has given us His Word to equip us for every good work. We have been given everything we need.

So, the question isn’t, “Can I tell others about Jesus?”  The question is, “Will I?”

Dear Father, Thank you for saving Me. I do want to join You in Your work. I can see that You are moving and working all the time. Sometimes I just feel unprepared and inadequate. Sometimes I’m just lazy. Please change my heart make me a bold messenger for You. Help me to remember Your Word, cling to Your Son, walk in Your Spirit, and rely on Your grace.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Famished

“’The days are coming,’ declares the Sovereign LORD, ‘when I will send a famine through the land – not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.’”  Amos 8:11

Poverty is a major world problem, the results of which are far-reaching and complicated.  Disease, starvation, inadequate medical care, crime, and the lack of clean water are just some of its consequences. Yet, there is a famine that is worse than hunger and thirst. It has nothing to do with social status and affects every nation and people group on this planet. Its consequences reach into eternity. The prophet Amos called it, “a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.”

The Bible has much to say about caring for the poor. As Christ followers we are commanded to serve the needy, broken, oppressed and unloved. This is the Father’s heart. But there is a pandemic so far-reaching that no amount of money or effort can make a dent. This disease has spread to every person on the planet and ravages every life it touches. It is the root of all that is evil, unjust, and wrong in the world. This pandemic is sin; and it has left souls famished for the Bread of Life and the Living Water.

The primary problem in our world is not physical. It is spiritual. All injustice, evil, wrongdoing, selfishness, arrogance, pride, and sickness are the result of man’s fall into sin. If every belly was full and every person employed…every child educated and every medical need met, there would still be murder and rape and stealing and cheating. Sin flows from the heart; and there is only one cure for the heart. His name is Jesus. This does not absolve us of the responsibility to love and serve the needy. It means that to do so without the gospel is an even worse injustice.

Faith in Jesus Christ comes through hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Souls are starving for Him and don’t even know it. But we know…those of us who have “tasted and seen that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). We can say, with Christ, “man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). May our lives demonstrate this truth.

Dear Jesus, When my soul was starving and without hope You rescued me with Your love.  And now I can see the famine surrounding me. Please use me, Lord, to bring Your Word to a lost and dying people. I have nothing to offer of any value except for You and Your power in me. Make me bold and effective for Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Excuses

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”  Romans 1:18-20

“The dog ate my homework.” “I just lost track of time.”  “I’m too busy.”  “It’s just too hard.”  “The devil made me do it.”  We live in a world of excuses. Personal responsibility is at an all-time low. Criminals get released on technicalities and the court dockets are clogged with frivolous lawsuits. Excuses, excuses, excuses. Where does it end?

There is one place that excuses will not stand. Every argument will be silenced and the buck will not be passed. The blame will be placed squarely on the shoulders of the offender. That place is at the judgment seat of Almighty God. Romans 1:16-32 is all the motivation any Christ-follower should need to share the gospel with others. In this passage God makes one thing clear – every person on this planet will stand before Him without excuse. Whether you grew up in the Bible belt or in a tribal village you will stand before God without excuse.

How can this be? What about places where there is no Christian presence or Bible in the native language? How can they be held accountable before God? Romans 1:18-20 answers that question…because God has clearly revealed Himself (His power and divine nature) in what He has made. Notice that verse 18 says that God’s anger is against men who suppress the truth. Not reject, not ignore, but suppress. Suppress means to hold back or to hinder.

In other words, God has clearly revealed Himself to all men. And yet many continue to hold back that revealed truth. Today, more than ever, we have knowledge of what God has made. We have been to space and to the depths of oceans. With each passing generation we see more and know more. And with each passing generation the truth about the Creator is suppressed even more. The glory is given to a scientific theory instead of to the One who created it all. Just open most school textbooks and you will see the suppression of the truth.

So what does this have to do with the gospel? If all men are without excuse – all men- we must get to work! We have been entrusted with the gospel and it is our responsibility to make sure that every nation, tribe and tongue hear God’s message of forgiveness and grace. It is their only hope.

Dear Jesus, It is scary to know that all men will stand before You without excuse. Please use me to spread Your gospel wherever I am. Thank You for being patient with all of us who have suppressed the truth about You. I know it is Your desire that none would perish in their sin. Please use me to show others the truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Humility

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4

Humility: A deep sense of one’s own moral littleness; having a humble opinion of oneself.

Every move a Christian makes in this life should flow from a spirit of humility – an ever-present understanding that our lives are not about us. We are here for God’s purposes and for God’s glory. Every encounter, every decision, every conversation, and every task should exalt Christ. The Apostle John said it this way in John 3:30: “He must become greater; I must become less.”

Humility isn’t so much about our relationships with other people, but our relationship with Christ. It is impossible to “do nothing out of selfish ambition” or “consider others better than yourselves” if our focus is on other people. Humility comes from a continual focus on the greatness and kindness of God. When we consider Christ’s sacrifice for us, His unconditional love and mercy, it reminds us of whom we are…imperfect, redeemed sinners.

It is in this posture that we should approach others. What does this look like practically?  It means being willing to overlook a wrong. It means a willingness to forgive. It means not being easily angered or offended. A humble life is marked by patience, grace, kindness and gentleness. It does not mean continually allowing others to mistreat, use or abuse us. It doesn’t mean a complete disregard for self. Notice Paul says, “Each of you should look not onlyto your own interests.” It means that our own interests should not be the driving force of every decision we make.

The perfect example of such a person is Jesus Christ. The four gospels give us a front-row seat to humility lived out. In Jesus we see a balance of selflessness, firmness, kindness, forgiveness and righteous anger. Jesus had no reason to be humble. He is, after all, God.  Yet He came to earth, humbling Himself, for the glory of God and the sake of people who didn’t deserve His love.

Dear God, When I think of Your mercy, love and kindness to me, I cannot help but to be humbled. Please help me to live each day in response to this truth. I pray Your love and forgiveness would flow through me so my life will lead others to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A Legacy

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  1 Corinthians 1:17-18

What kind of legacy do you want to leave on this earth? When you are gone, how do you want to be remembered? The Apostle Paul was not married and had no children. Yet he desired to invest in the next generation so that he would leave a legacy in the faith.  Timothy was the closest thing to an heir that Paul had. He loved Timothy dearly and spent much of his Christian life discipling this young man.

Paul wrote two letters to Timothy when he was nearing the end of his life. They read like a final exhortation…as if Paul is carefully sharing the most important truths and advice with young Timothy. The letters are packed with warnings and wisdom that Paul has gained throughout his ministry. But there is one charge given around which all of the warnings, advice and wisdom revolve. It is found in 2 Timothy 4:2, where Paul wrote: “I give you this charge: Preach the Word.”

This was Paul’s legacy…to preach the Word of God. Sharing the gospel was his purpose.  And there was something that Paul understood that many Christians have missed. He knew not to use human wisdom to attempt to persuade others to follow Christ. To do so was futile, and it emptied the cross of its power. Paul knew that only the power of God saves souls. No amount of smooth talk or intelligent arguments would bring a dead soul to life. That is God’s work, not man’s.

And this is Paul’s legacy…to his dear Timothy and to us today. Preach the Word! Share the gospel! It is not our work to persuade or convince…we must simply tell. Leave the conversion work to God, the author and perfector of faith.

Are you prepared to share the gospel with others? Have you hidden God’s Word in your heart so that you are ready when the Spirit prompts you to tell? Are you praying for the lost, and for opportunities to share the truth in love? What an incredible legacy to leave!

Dear Jesus, Thank You for saving me by Your grace. If someone else hadn’t been obedient to share the gospel with me, I wouldn’t know You. Help me to be faithful to share Your Word with others. Give me a heart for the lost, and a passion to make You known in every corner of the earth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.