Helping the One

This week was a busy week for me. I recently learned of an older gentleman from my church who had the place he was staying burn down. In the fire, he lost pretty much everything he owned including his glasses, his dentures, and his Bible. So I spent a good portion of this week making phone calls, setting up appointments and doing everything I could to help him get these essentials replaced.

Years ago I read a quote from Andy Stanley that said, “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.” The truth is, as a pastor I’m still only one person and I can’t put the kind of time I put in this week with everyone in my church. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Thankfully we have an amazing group of people in our church who volunteer and help us take care of stuff like this on a regular basis. But it’s interesting because there are those specific times when God tells me to do for the one what I wish I could do for all.

We may not have the capacity to help the masses, but we do have the capacity to help the one. Who is the one in your life that God is calling you to reach out to? I know for me that one has changed at times. Different seasons have brought different people that God has called me to love on and take extra time with. My encouragement for all of us is that we keep our heart and eyes open to see those that God has put in front of us to love and care for in the way we wish we could love and care for everyone. We each are only one person and we may not be able to help everyone, but we can help the one!

He’s Doing A New Thing

“Because that’s how we’ve always done it!” This is a phrase we hear a lot in the church and in our world. We are people of tradition and we often cling to what is comfortable. It’s why the Jews who became followers of Jesus tried to force the Gentile believers to follow the Laws of Moses. Because after all…That’s what followers of God had always done.

Hebrews 13:8 tells us that: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Jesus doesn’t change, because He is perfect and He always has been. From the beginning of time through eternity, he was, is, and always shall be. You can’t make perfect more perfect, because it’s already perfect!

Now we, on the other hand, are a totally different story. We are imperfect people and from the beginning of humanity and our fall on this earth, God has been working to transform each of us from the inside out. By the renewing of our minds He is seeking to transform us into the men and women that He is calling us to be.

In order for that to happen, though, we have to be open to change. We have to be willing to admit that we are imperfect and we don’t have all the answers. Oftentimes our perspective is skewed and we need to be willing to let God change our thoughts and our view. Which means “that’s how we’ve always done it!” doesn’t work anymore.

The disciples’ lives were turned upside down as they began to realize that this Kingdom they had heard about for so many years was nothing like they imagined. Are we allowing God to turn our world upside down? Or are we clinging to the familiar and comfortable things that for years have actually held us back? Isaiah 43:18-19 tells us, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” God wants to do a new thing in all of our lives. The question is…are we willing to change?

Set Apart for His Work

In Acts 13:2, as the church in Antioch was praying and seeking the Lord, the Holy Spirit spoke to them saying: “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 

Those words, “set apart for me Barnabas and Saul” are powerful words. God had a plan for those two men and he used them to take the Gospel to many Gentile cities. Who knows the number of lives that were changed because of this call?

God had a plan for their lives and the truth is He has a plan for all of ours. He has set each of us apart to do His work. This could entail a specific course of action, like leading a Bible study or teaching in a Sunday school class. It could be a matter of the heart, like loving our neighbors or showing grace and forgiveness to someone who wronged us.

That calling is going to look different for each of us. The key is that we are seeking to live it out, whatever it is. What is it that Jesus is calling us to do right now in this season of our life? Are we allowing ourselves to be set apart for the work God has for us?

We may never be called to go to other nations and cities like Paul and Barnabas, but we can’t deny that we are all called. The Lord sets us apart for His work and—whether that’s going to a foreign country as a missionary, letting our light shine at work, or being a Godly influence to our kids—it’s all important, because it’s all about loving God, loving others and seeing His Kingdom extended. I encourage you to take some time to seek the Lord and allow Him to speak to you and show you how He wants to set you apart!

Our Perfect Redeemer

In Matthew 4, after fasting for 40 days and 40 nights, Jesus is hungry and the devil comes and tempts Him to turn a stone into bread. Jesus rebukes him, in verse 4, saying “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Jesus was actually quoting scripture from Deuteronomy 8:3, reminding the devil that we are to obey God, and trust in Him—that God is actually our answer when it comes to satisfying the needs of the flesh.

The truth is, bread contains carbohydrates that our body needs for energy. And after a 40 day fast, bread would be a welcomed delight for almost anyone. But Jesus was reminding us that life goes far beyond the physical. He is referring to the needs we all have as a whole—body, soul, and spirit.

When God created Adam, we’re told that He actually breathed life into his nostrils. It was the breath of God that brought life. And since our life comes from the Lord, it takes more than just food, to sustain it. Like Jesus said, we need the Word of God because His words are spirit and life.

Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness for a purpose. As I looked closer at this section of scripture, I realized there were more correlations to Deuteronomy 8 than just the verse that Jesus had quoted.

In Deuteronomy 8, it talks about the Israelites who were led into the desert for 40 years. And there was a purpose for them as well. It was to humble them, it was to test their hearts to see if they would obey, and it was preparing them to enter the Promised Land. And now Jesus, thousands of years later, was led into the desert for 40 days to open the door for all of us to enter the Promised Land. There in the desert, Jesus was tested. And He endured and overcame the enemy, fulfilling what the Israelites could not—which prepared Him to become our perfect redeemer. Jesus redeems our lives fully…body, soul, and spirit.

Being People Who Walk in Obedience

This week my devotions led me to Acts 5, where the disciples were brought before the Sanhedrin and questioned by the high priest. The high priest scolded the disciples because they had been warned not to speak of Jesus, but failed to comply. And in Acts 5:29, Peter responds by saying: “We must obey God rather than human beings!”

In the midst of persecution and even the fear of death, Peter speaks boldly before the high priest. He didn’t let anyone or anything keep him from being obedient to the Lord. This is God’s desire for our lives: that we would be people who walk in obedience.

What does obedience look like for us today? Often times we read this statement from Peter and think, “Yeah, nothing’s going to stop me from speaking my mind.” But is that actually what Jesus is asking of us?

There are times in life when God calls us to take a stand and speak up like Peter. But there are also times when God asks us to be quiet. The key is to be obedient to what God is asking of us in each moment. Are we supposed to speak up or are we supposed to be silent? Are we supposed to take action or are we supposed to be still? The Scriptures are full of times when God called people to action; when He called them to wait; when He called them to speak; and when He had them be silent.

In Acts, the disciples were empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was their guide to hearing and knowing the voice of the Lord. It was through the power of the Spirit that they were able to truly walk in obedience and live the life that God was calling them to live.

I encourage all of us today to allow the Holy Spirit to empower us to walk in obedience. May we seek the Lord and allow Him to help us know how to respond. Every situation is different and our obedience to the Lord ushers in the powerful work of the Holy Spirit to do far more that we could ever hope or imagine in our own strength!

My First Post (Again)

So 10 years ago, I thought I would jump into the world of blogging. I was just a simple minded youth pastor at the time, but everyone else was doing it and I thought, “Why not?” I started off being fairly consistent, but as I transitioned to the role of a Senior Pastor my blogs became few and far between. And I mean far between. My last official post on record was February of 2015.

Needless to say my blogging days didn’t pan out the way I hoped they would. One of the reasons is that I didn’t have anything motivating me or keeping me on track. But during the past year I, like so many, have had to learn to pastor differently in the world of Covid. I started sending out a weekly email to my congregation. I begin each email with a short devotion. Just some simple thoughts from a simple minded pastor.

So I’ve decided to revive my blog, posting that simple devotional that I send out to my congregation each week. I will post that devotion here on my new blog site every Friday. I know for some the question might be: What could an uneducated pastor have to say that is of any significance? Honestly, that thought used to paralyze me, but I had to come to the realization that the answer was “nothing” before realizing it was “everything”.

Maybe I should explain. I know that I’m nothing in myself, but I’m everything in Christ. My favorite book in the Bible is the book of Acts and one of the things that has always stood out to me in that section of Scripture is the change seen in Peter. Here is a guy that earlier in the Gospels was denying that he even knew Jesus and then in Acts 2 he is proclaiming the name of Jesus boldly and we see amazing miracles happen in and through him.

Anyone familiar with this section of Scripture knows that it is the power of the Holy Spirit at work in his life. It is evidence of what Christ himself said would happen, that the disciples would do greater things than He did. Peter was faithful to the Lord and did greater things than Christ himself. Was it because Peter was special? Was it because he went to Seminary and got a Masters in miracles and matters of the Holy Spirit? No. Peter was described as an unschooled, ordinary man. How could an unschooled, ordinary man do greater things than Jesus himself? By operating in he power of the Holy Spirit, instead of his own power. It was Christ that enabled him to speak boldly and see 3,000 added to the Kingdom in one day.

In the same way, it is Christ in me, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27) that gives me anything of significance to say. It is my prayer that I will be faithful to remain in His Word and to speak from His everything as opposed to my nothing.