Friday, November 30, 2012

Missionaries Need To Share Their Vision

"Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it."
Habakkuk 2:2 (NKJV)
Raising support is a part of missionary life.  This support can be in many different forms, such as: financial support, prayer, donations of materials and so on.  For missionaries to be successful in connecting with people to help raise this support it is necessary for a missionary to be able to share with others what God has called them to do, their vision.  There may be people who are interested in supporting some work that a missionary is doing, but if those people do not know the missionary or understand their vision they won't get involved.  Unless a relationship is built between the missionary and the potential supporter the thing that the potential supporter has will not get to the missionary.

The vision God has given to me is to teach God's Word and to help people learn how to put it into practice in their own life. This may sound like a very general thing because every minister should be able to teach God's Word.  But some missionaries are more focused on evangelism, some missionaries are more focused on establishing churches, some missionaries are helping to meet the natural needs of people while also evangelizing or teaching people.  Whatever area it may be the missionary needs to find a way to share their vision and make it clear so that anyone who is interested in helping the missionary can make the necessary connection and give their support.

Every missionary needs to stay with the work that God has called them to do and trust God to supply all of their needs.  If missionaries get away from their primary calling and spend an undue amount of time raising support or getting involved in projects just trying to get people to support them it can be a negative thing because the missionary is getting away from the direction that God has given them.  Our part is to make our vision plain and easy for others to hook up with and get involved with in the area of support.  Whatever God has called a missionary to do is what the missionary needs to focus on and then find a way to make the vision clear to give people a way to become a partner with them in the work that God has called them to do.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

What Did You Bring?

"How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification."
1 Corinthians 14:26 (NKJV)

When Paul wrote his first letter to the church at Corinth he had to correct some things that were out of order there.  Paul said several times that everything in the church needs to be done for edification, to build up others.  Here in 1 Corinthians 14:26 Paul mentioned that everyone in the church at Corinth came with something to contribute to the meeting but even then everything had to work together for the good of the whole group.  It would be like being invited to a party where each person is asked to bring something to eat so everyone can enjoy the evening.

If Paul was writing to churches today he might say that when everyone came together it would be nice if someone besides the pastor had something to contribute or maybe Paul would say that everyone came with a big need.  Although there were some problems in the church in Corinth, people having something to contribute was not one of them. What is really interesting is if you go back to 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 you see that Paul said these were not spiritual people but they were carnal!  A group of carnal people, who had problems, but they still came with something to give!

How about us today, do we come together ready to give something?  Do we have something to bring that will contribute to the edification of others? We do of course come to church to receive something edifying from God, and that will come through other people, but shouldn't we be able to give something as well?  There are plenty of places to get involved in the local church and share the things that God has given us.  How can we come ready to give?  Spend regular time with God in His Word and by talking with Him in prayer.  If we do this we will have something in us that God can use to help edify others through us.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

If You Don't Work (Spiritually) You Won't Eat (Spiritually)

"For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat."
2 Thessalonians 3:10 (NKJV)
When Paul wrote his second letter to the Thessalonians he encouraged them in several areas including personal responsibility, which is what he was talking about in 2 Thessalonians 3:10.  Some people did not have their own food to eat and they had to depend on others.  While there is a good natural principle here what I want to look at is a spiritual application for this verse.  The reason some people don't have much to eat spiritually is because they are not doing much spiritually.

If a person only eats and never does anything physically that person will soon be in a sad physical condition, the same is true spiritually.  I have met people who say that they go to church and read the Bible but they never seem to get anything.  Sometimes these people start looking for a new church or they get caught up in the latest spiritual fad thinking that is the answer.  The real problem could be that while they are taking in spiritual food they are not doing anything with it.  If a person is not working naturally, why should they just keep on eating and eating?  If a person is not involved in any spiritual work, why would they need more and more spiritual food?

God wants to bless us and teach us from His Word but not so we can just sit around and get more and more.  When God teaches us through something we hear in church, or a home group, or somewhere else or when God blesses us it is not just for our benefit, God wants us to do something with what He gives us.  If you are in a place where there does not seem to be much spiritual food coming your way don't just point a finger at your pastor or someone else.  Take an honest look at yourself to see what you have been doing with the knowledge and ability God has given you.  Get involved in your church and where ever else God leads you.  As you give out the good things that God has given you watch how He will continue to teach you and help you so that have even more to give!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Style And Substance

"Therefore let no one sit in judgment on you in matters of food and drink, or with regard to a feast day or a New Moon or a Sabbath.  Such things are only the shadow of things that are to come, and they have only a symbolic value.  But the reality (the substance, the solid fact of what is foreshadowed, the body of it) belongs to Christ"
Colossians 2:16, 17 (Amplified)

One thing I have noticed over the years is the difference between style and substance in regard to someone's personal relationship with God and the teaching and preaching of God's Word.  For example, many of my friends are fellow ministers of some kind and they all have different styles.  But they all have the same goal of getting people connected to God through a relationship with Jesus Christ and helping people grow and develop spiritually.  While the substance is the same the style used is different depending on the person and the situation.

The style of how people serve God may be different too, but if the substance is based on God and His Word then we don't need to be too concerned about the style.  Usually we like our own style and view anything different as wrong, but that is not necessarily the case.  Our goal should not be to find things we disagree about based on a certain style but to find ways to help and encourage each other.  We need to learn to appreciate the differences and find ways to blend the variety we have in the Body of Christ to work together and become as effective as possible.

Colossians 2:16, 17 says we should not be worried about people who would judge us because of what we are eating and drinking or how we celebrate a certain day because these things are about style and not substance.  If there is a problem with the substance of something, if there are some doctrinal problems, then that certainly needs to be addressed; we do not sacrifice substance in favor of style.  Also, we should not just accept a person or teaching because of the style involved without checking the substance.  Each of us need to make sure that our style stems from the truth of God's Word, that way what we are doing will really produce fruit for God and His Kingdom, no matter what the style may be.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Spiritual Identification

"Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle, set apart to proclaim God's Good News,"
Romans 1:1 (Weymouth)

In his letter to the Romans Paul begins by introducing himself to the Christians in Rome; Paul wanted to introduce himself and tell the Romans about the things he was teaching because Paul had not yet been to Rome.  As Paul introduces himself he goes from the general to the specific.  Paul starts out by talking about his relationship with God through Jesus, a bondservant, and then Paul talks about his calling, an apostle.  After this Paul says that as an apostle he was set apart to proclaim the Gospel.  In other words, in his calling as an apostle there was something specific Paul was called to do.

Paul understood that his identity began with his relationship with God and went on from there.  If Paul was more focused on his calling from God than his relationship with God he would not have been able to do what he did.  Everything we do for God starts with our relationship with God; if we are not a good bondservant, a good Christian, then we will never accomplish the things that God has called us to do.  We must first and foremost develop our relationship with God because everything we do for God comes out of our relationship with God.  Then once we find the thing that God has called us to do there will be some specifics in that calling.

If Paul was like some people today he would have started by talking about his calling as an apostle and then listing all of the things he had accomplished, but that is not what Paul did and it is something we can learn from.  We must put our spiritual identity first and not base our identity on anything that we have done.  Over and over again in his letters Paul talks about his relationship with God and refrains from listing his accomplishments as a way to identify himself.  We need to base our identity on who we are in Christ, that is our spiritual identity.  From who we are in Christ, God will lead us into the specific thing He is calling us to do.  It all starts with our relationship with God so get to know who you are in Christ and let God lead you into the specific plan He has for your life.