Thursday, January 28, 2016

Hurting with those that Hurt

I just got off the phone with a dear brother in Christ who has been walking a very difficult path in life.  It has been a long journey and the journey is not over yet--and he is well aware.  The road ahead is filled with all types of caution signs, pain, decisions, and much confusion.  The tone in his voice and the pain in his heart was very difficult to hear.  My heart goes out to him and it causes me to think, "what more can I do to help carry my brother along." How do I help carry my brother's burden?  What can I do to help him walk stronger in Jesus Christ?  I feel a sense of duty, not as a pastor, but as a Christian.

I'm reminded today of the pharisee in Scripture, an expert in the Law of God, who approached Jesus Christ and asked Him what the greatest commandment was.  Jesus answered by saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:34-40).  We are also told by the apostle Paul to, "Carry each others' burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2).  But what does this look like?

Paul’s use of this particular verb (carry or bear) may picture Jesus shouldering (bearing) his cross on the way to Golgotha (John 19:17). As used in this verse, burdens refers to the heavy or oppressive burden that a believer cannot carry alone.  It could be financial burdens; it could be burdens of physical loss. We must help “bear” the loads that others find too heavy to carry alone.  This is truly the intent of the Great Commandment.  As we take on the weight of that burden with others, we are literally fulfilling what is summed up in the book of God's Law.

Is there a hurting individual that you can come alongside of today and help carry their load?  Christ carried a burden for us that we were unable to bear, all the way to the cross of Calvary.  I'm confident that even if we don't know how to support them today that God will give us the answer if we are petitioning Him on their behalf.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Living with a Mission

Several years ago, I took the time to write down my purpose, goals, and mission in life.  I certainly wanted it to be Biblical in scope; however, it wasn't long before I realized that much of my living was built upon my own perspective and dreams.  I had pretty much built a life that kept me comfortable and allowed Christ to be involved.    Most Christians have built a life that fits the American dream and they have included God as part of it.  Today it is my firm conviction that Christians must step back and place God at the center of their lives and then build their lives around Him.  Many countless days and hours are lived pursuing things with very little value--if any.  I have been guilty of this and I certainly wish I could rewind the clock.  God has blessed us with the gift of time to be used for advancing His agenda and Kingdom work--not ours.

Missional living is living life with a purpose. Christ has set all of his followers on a mission to reach the world for Him.  Most church members relegate that responsibility to the pastor or missionaries who receive money for this type of work--the professionals.  I know this is true because I used to think this in the past.  As Christians, if we believe we are really on God's mission then we need to ask ourselves today "when was the last time we told someone about the Gospel of Christ?"  If it has been more than one week or even one month then I would venture to say that we have strayed from our mission.  As Christians, we need to wake up each morning thinking about how we can go further today on God's mission than we did yesterday.

My prayer for Maywood is that each week we (every Christian) would leave the building on a mission to take the light of the Gospel to a hurting and dying community--our neighbors and co-workers.  We certainly want to share the love of Christ through kind deeds and words but the ultimate form of sharing Christ's love is telling them the Good News--there is a Savior who died for their sins.  Without this news, they will die and spend an eternity in Hell.  WE ARE ON A MISSION.  Please, let's re-prioritize our lives to reflect our FIRST LOVE--Jesus Christ and His Great Commission.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Feeling Helpless

Many people walk very lonely lives and they walk in a spirit of helplessness.  It is not because there is no help, but because they fail to look beyond themselves.  For the Christian, this should never have to be the case.  Too often, believers are guilty of trying to squeeze God into their lives versus making God the center of their lives.  What allows a person to drift into a helpless mode?  The answer is multi-faceted; however it stems from failing to keep God the center of each and every day of their lives.  When Christians fail to sit in His presence and listen to God's voice, then they begin to listen to other voices and even lies from the enemy. 

Strength is gained in God's presence and by spending time in His Word.  Talking one-on-one with God will transform a Christian's perspective about everything in life.  It no longer remains a matter of how can I conquer the matters in my own life, but how God works through me to accomplish the things that honor His name.  Jesus is very clear that when we remain in Him, we can accomplish many things.  He says in John 15:5, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." 

Satan has always encouraged believers to question God's sufficiency and His Words.  When we do this it ALWAYS brings spiritual defeat, which will lead to a feeling of helplessness and even depression.  It is amazing how our spiritual state affects so many other areas of our lives.  If we have not been in fellowship with Christ then it should be no surprise why we are feeling helpless and abandoned.  It is not because He has left us but because we have left Him and failed to keep him as the focus of each and every day.  God cannot be an "add-on" to our lives--He must be the CENTER of our lives.