Go and Preach

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2020 Bible Reading Calendar.

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? ~ Romans 10:13-14

In a way, salvation is easy to obtain. In some ways it is hard. Our own pride and arrogance get in the way. We’d rather cling to our traditions than to recognize our need for change. We stubbornly hold onto our idols. Those things can make it hard, but if we are willing to let go, then salvation is easy to obtain.

Jesus will not turn away any who trust in him. This is why Paul said, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

But, as Paul went on to say, they won’t call on Jesus if they have never heard of Jesus. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6) but people cannot know the way, the truth, and the life unless they’re told.

So, who is to tell them? Who are the preachers who are sent?

Every follower of Jesus. We are all called to be everyday preachers.

But wait? Isn’t preaching a task of pastors? Yes, pastors are to “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2) but they also equip “the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:11-12). Telling others the good news about Jesus is not limited to the pastors.

But don’t we send missionaries? Yes, missionaries go with the gospel. The reason we send them is we can’t all be everywhere at once. Missionaries are trained and equipped to go to places with the good news of Jesus, where we can’t ordinarily go due to personal constraints. Telling others the good news about Jesus is not limited to missionaries.

In the Great Commission of Matthew 28, Jesus told his disciples to go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey all that he commanded. If you are a follower of Jesus, you are a disciple; and as a disciple you are charged to obey all that Jesus commanded, which includes going and making disciples.

That is the call to all of us to be everyday preachers. The world needs Jesus. Our neighbors need Jesus. Our coworkers and classmates need Jesus. Our families need Jesus. As followers of Jesus, we have the message of hope and joy, so let us tell them so they can hear and so they can believe.

All Scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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Praying the Bible ~ Romans 8:18

Praying through verses or passages of the Bible is a great way to help you pray according to the will and desires of God. Below is a passage of Scripture and a sample prayer. I would encourage you to pray that prayer, or, even better, read the passage and pray as God leads you.

Text: Romans 8:18
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. (Christian Standard Bible)

Prayer
Father, it is easy for our hearts to be distracted by the moment, especially when the moment runs high or low. In the low points, the pain and suffering we face, we can easily take our eyes off you. We can drift into self-pity and sadness. Yet, beyond the moment, you have intended something greater. Beyond the pain, you are designing for us great beauty and joy. The day will come, standing in your presence, flooded by your joy, that we will not think upon all that we suffered. Father, help us to remember that there is more to life than the moment. Help us to remember the great Tomorrow–the grand eternal pleasures you have promised us through Jesus. Amen.

Scripture verses taken from our Daily Bible Reading Calendar which you can find here.

Courage in the Midst of Darkness

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2020 Bible Reading Calendar.

Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. ~ Psalm 23:5

Fear.

We try to be brave. We try to teach our children to be brave. Yet, we each have our fears.

We fear change. We fear the unknown and uncertainty. We fear for our health and safety. We fear for our children. We fear losing our job. We fear losing our freedom. We fear death.

In many ways, such fear is rooted in our finitude. We recognize that no matter how strong we are, there is someone or something stronger. No matter how prepared we are, there are unknowns we could encounter. No matter how healthy we are, death can come in a blink. We do not have total control over any situation.

But when we trust in Jesus as our Good Shepherd, we walk with someone who does.

There is a story in the gospels where Jesus and his disciples cross the sea in a boat. Jesus is asleep when a storm arises suddenly. The disciples, scared, wake Jesus and he, collected, clams the sea.

You see, that is the power of the Son of God. “For everything was created by him… all things have been created through him and for him,” Paul wrote in Colossians 1:16.

In Psalm 23, David said that with the Lord as his Shepherd, he has nothing to fear. The dark valleys of life are those times where fear wants to take hold. Personal failures or uncontrollable circumstances threaten our well-being or that of those we love. The light seems distant. We’re unsure of what will happen.

And where is God? Walking through the midst of it with us. The All-Powerful One, Creator of all things, will not leave our side. His rod and staff, the tools of the shepherd, nudge and guide us. They also fight off enemies that would try to steal us from his grasp.

This is where courage exists. Courage is not found in the absence of things that cause fear. Courage also is not found by looking inward at ourselves. Courage is found by looking outward, upward, to the God who is bigger, infinitely bigger, than all.

All Scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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Image credit: Photo by LoboStudio Hamburg on Unsplash

Sunday 2.16.20 (Gospel of Luke: Be Ready)

This Sunday, we’ll continue our journey through the Gospel of Luke with a look at what Jesus says about being ready for his return by pursing his mission in the world. Then on Sunday Evening, we’ll continue our video study The Insanity of Obedience. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Obedience video study

Sermon Notes
Be Ready ~ Luke 12:35-13:9

The sermon in one sentence: We should make ourselves ready for the return of Jesus by working to fulfill his mission.

  • Be ready for the return of Jesus (12:35-40)
    • We should anticipate his return (12:35-37)
    • We should long for his return (12:37-40)
    • We should serve for his return (12:37)
  • Be ready for the return of Jesus by working to fulfill the mission of Jesus (12:41-13:9)
    • Be faithful to live for his glory (12:41-46)
    • Do his will (12:47-48)
    • Be on mission: Love God supremely, love others deeply
      • Our mission has risk (12:49-53)
      • Our mission is necessary and urgent (12:54-13:9)

Songs for Worship
We Shall Behold Him
One Day
Victory in Jesus
10,000 Reasons
It Is Well

Luke

Image used and modified with permission from: https://pixabay.com/en/milky-way-night-landscape-1669986/

The Path to Peace

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2020 Bible Reading Calendar.

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Romans 5:1

What is peace?

We might think of it as tranquility, a quiet morning on the back porch while sipping coffee and listening as the birds begin their songs. We might think of it as harmony, two people interacting with kindness and cordiality.

Peace, in the Biblical picture, is about wholeness. When God created humanity we had an unhindered relationship with him and others. Some might say perfect, but that is not quite so. We were meant to grow in our understanding, knowledge, and love for God and others. Though incomplete, the relationships were good. No strain or division existed. Peace.

Yet, when we fell into sin, choosing rebellion over God, our peace was broken. We became the enemies of God (Romans 5:10) with hearts set against him. Strife with others also entered the world. While we experience moments that may seem peaceful, that deep wholeness in relationship between God and people and between person and person was lost.

On our own, we never would have pursued true and lasting peace with God or others. Human history, sadly, is replete with evidence of this. God, however, is the one who carved the path for peace and makes peace a reality in our lives.

Romans 5:1 declares boldly that we have peace with God through faith in Jesus. Romans 5:2 further states, “We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand.” Jesus is the way for our wholeness to be restored.

Righteousness, as Paul described, brings peace. God is righteous, wholly good with no corruption or evil in him. God is opposed to all evil, so to have peace with God we need the same righteousness. When we trust in Jesus as our Savior-King, immediately we are “declared righteous” by God.

And the reason? When Jesus went to the cross, he became our sin and he gave us God’s righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). It was the exchange of unpayable debt for infinite credit.

Having now been declared righteous, with time Jesus will make us fully righteous. If the declaration, theologically speaking, is our justification before God, the work to make us righteous is our sanctification (a life-long process of being shaped to be like Jesus through his Spirit and word) to be complete, in eternity, with our glorification.

This is a wonderful thing. And also wonderful is that the peace we obtain with God also opens the way for true peace with others. Again, something we will experience eternally with our brothers and sisters in Christ, but also something we can begin to experience now as we treat each other with the same grace, patience, and love that God shows us.

All Scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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Praying the Bible ~ Romans 3:23-26

Praying through verses or passages of the Bible is a great way to help you pray according to the will and desires of God. Below is a passage of Scripture and a sample prayer. I would encourage you to pray that prayer, or, even better, read the passage and pray as God leads you.

Text: Romans 3:23-26
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented him as an atoning sacrifice in his blood, received through faith, to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. God presented him to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so that he would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus. (Christian Standard Bible)

Prayer
Father, each of us have sinned. We have rebelled and spurned your truth. We deserve nothing from you. You owe us nothing, but freely you have given us your love. Thank you for Jesus. Without him, we have no hope beyond this world; but with him, we have forever hope. You not only have forgiven us, wiping the slate clean, but you have also declared us righteous with the righteousness of Jesus. Our debt has been replaced with funds that never run out. The gift of your grace. Thank you, Father. Amen.

Praying the Bible ~ Matthew 21:15-16

Praying through verses or passages of the Bible is a great way to help you pray according to the will and desires of God. Below is a passage of Scripture and a sample prayer. I would encourage you to pray that prayer, or, even better, read the passage and pray as God leads you.

Text: Matthew 21:15-16
When the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonders that Jesus did and the children shouting in the temple, “Hosanna to the son of David!” they were indignant and said to him, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” Jesus replied, “Yes, have you never read: You have prepared praise from the mouths of infants and nursing babies?”  (Christian Standard Bible)

Prayer
Father, keep us from pride. Our hearts so often can think ourselves higher than others, better than others, especially those we see as smaller and inferior. Yet, yours is an upside-down kingdom. You chose opposite of what we expected. You have put praise in the mouths of infants for your glory. May we despise no praise offered to you. Instead, may we celebrate your grace with all who lift up your name through Jesus. Amen.

Scripture verses taken from our Daily Bible Reading Calendar which you can find here.