Make today count. In Luke chapter 12 we read of a wealthy man and his plan to tear down his old barns and build new barns to hold his abundant harvest. The wealthy man thinks he will be able to live easy the rest of his days from these storehouses. However, the man perished that very night and all his plans never come to fruition. There is not one day promised to anyone and therefore, we need to prioritize our days to ensure we are putting first things first. As Christians we have a duty to spread the gospel and to participate in kingdom building. Today is a opportunity to do just this, and we have no way of knowing how many opportunities we have.
In Luke chapter 11, a clear warning is presented to those who were dining with Jesus. The heart response determines the worth of our actions. It is not enough to do good deeds or obey commands of scripture because we think this will grant us the favor of a God. We must have a true love of God in us, if our hearts are right with God then the motivation of our actions will be pure and no part of us will be in darkness. I pray today we all grow in our faith and our light shines bright as a testimony of a Jesus Christ.
There is a question posed by non believers and even believers that goes something like this, “if God is real why does he not come down and make his existence known”? They argue that God should clear the air and make his existence known to everyone, especially if salvation hinges on the correct belief in God.
Today I was reading Psalms chapter 10 and found this same question was being asked by a believer. David asks why does God allow immoral people to live without consequences. David asks “Lord, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide in times of trouble?” Psalms 10:1
David mentions immoral men who do not fear God act as they wish because they do not think God exists. The thoughts of David are clear, God will you please make your existence more obvious to these men.
This question on the “hiddenness” of God has occupied theologians and apologist as well as atheistic philosophers for centuries. There are some good answers to this question which make sense in a Christian worldview.
I will be posting a follow up blog to address this important question asked not only by skeptics but by believers. Please note this is not a apologetics blog but a pastoral blog. There are many great apologetic blogs that deal at length with objections to Christianity.
Therefore, my response to this question will be pastoral. I will be answering this question using scripture to encourage the Christian or seeker onward in the faith.
In Luke 10, we read of the 72 being sent out by Jesus Christ to preach the gospel. Jesus did not send them out by themselves, but sent them out in pairs. Ministry work is best done with the assistance of others. It is important to understand that the Christian walk is not meant to be a walk of isolation, but a faith lived within the church community. There is something to be said for strength in numbers.
Luke chapter 9 finishes with Christ instructing on exactly the cost of being his disciple. We are told that the cost of discipleship is to forsake desires of self for the cause of the Kingdom.A man approaches Christ and says he wants to follow him, but first he needs to bury his father. He is told by Christ to let the “dead bury the dead”. This can appear stunning to those not familiar with the cultural time in which Jesus lived. However, the statement is far more stunning to someone who has researched the culture of 1st century Israel.
It was the duty of a son to see that his parents were properly buried. It was viewed as the ultimate fulfillment of honoring mother and father. The process could take months and require multiple grave sites. However, no matter what, it was imperative an individual see to the final affairs of their parents.
Therefore, what Christ was indicating was it was more important to honor the heavenly father by proclaiming the Gospel. One must be willing to forsake everything for Christ. Luke 9 draws to a close with this verse ” But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). What this means is a person cannot serve God if they are still holding on to the old. One cannot be a new creation but yet operate in old ways. The plow could represent a legalistic approach “Law”, but now that Christ has came a new covenant is now in place.
In Luke chapter 9 we find speculation as to who Jesus Christ really is. Some people think John the Baptist, maybe Elijah, others think possibly an older prophet. Peter when questioned directly by Jesus answers “messiah”. This question as to whom Jesus Christ really is, is the most important question each of us will ever have to answer. Today,people are still trying to answer this question and have developed theories that Christ was a political revolutionary, or Christ was a great moral teacher. These people present various arguments as to why they think this to be the case. However, the question still stands, who is Jesus Christ? Was he just a prophet or teacher, or was he who he said he was, is he God incarnate, is he the messiah, this question can only be answered by you.
The Role of the Christian is to be a missionary. This does not mean you need to travel to remote areas of the world in order to serve in a missionary role. In fact most Christians will never serve in a far away country. The vast majority will serve locally in their home communities.
The influence of the church is rapidly decreasing in the USA. With the decline in church attendance comes a natural decline in workers who are able to engage the local community for the cause of Christ. If this trend continues the church in America will be a fringe group within the next two generations.
A reason for the decline is not due solely to sweeping secular influences. No, we as Christians share the blame for the decline because we have not worked diligently to advance the gospel in our own neighborhoods. We have failed to advance the gospel as we were called to do in a real meaningful way.
Perhaps it is time to look at successful missionaries and the methods they use to engage the cultures in the area they are serving. This means stepping back to square one and attempt to build trust with the communities that we reside in. We must not assume the people we interact with know anything about Christianity.
We must be willing to start all over. The churches that are left need more cooperation and less competition with each other. Programs built from sound preaching should highlight the command to spread the gospel. Mature Christians need to lead by example and train up newer Christians in how to engage a community. Workshops from seasoned missionaries need greater promotion to help train up Christians in community engagement.
All of this of course is dependent on how many churches are willing to allocate a significant amount of their resources for community missionary activities. If we cant get people into the church, lets take the church to the people.
“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)
There are people in the pews today that profess Jesus as their savior but they know him not as their Lord. There is a distinction that must be made between savior and lord. To profess Jesus is your savior is to understand the redemption brought forth by the sacrifice that was made by Christ on Calvary. To profess Jesus as your Lord is to allow him to be the sovereign king in your life. When Jesus is lord it is his will be done in your life and not your own. Undoubtedly, many people say Jesus is their savior but know him not as their lord but the reality is Christ the redeemer, Christ the savior is only this to you if he is your lord.
“He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it away by nailing it to the cross “Colossians 2:14
What do we mean when we say that God has forgiven our sins. We must be careful to communicate to those inquiring about the Christian faith what we mean when we say God forgives sins. It is true that as Christians we believe God has forgiven our sins. However, God has not simply decided to forget about the transgressions of those who believe in Jesus Christ. The sin debt of a christian was paid by Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary. It was on this cross that God brought judgement of sins to Jesus Christ. Those who believe in Jesus Christ and profess Him as their savior do not merely have their sins forgotten, it is their sins were paid for by Jesus Christ on the cross.