Archive for July, 2017
“And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men’” (Luke 5:10).
Life is purposeful only when it is outwardly focused and not inwardly preoccupied. Thus, the faith we live becomes the bait that attracts others. The seeming preoccupation of the masses with finding purpose is more accurately an issue of identity—they don’t know who they are. For those of us who find their identity in Christ Jesus, however, we understand that purpose is to be found at the very place our feet find themselves. Because we believe in the power of the gospel, we believe in the power of influence. At any given place, at any given moment, we are purposeful in the desire to glorify the Father so that others might be drawn to him.
“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13).
Upon conversion, as scripture describes in various ways, we received the gift of the Spirit. We were filled with the Spirit. Baptized by the Spirit. Sealed by the Spirit. Indwelled by the Holy Spirit. Instead of debating these as separate actions to be experienced at different times, they are best understood as reminders of the supernatural phenomenon of salvation that has been and is being accomplished in us. It’s not something that can be manipulated by man or institutionalized by the church but is a miraculous act of God.
“Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart…” (Luke 18:1).
We often thank God for the privilege of prayer. The teachings of Jesus, however, indicate prayer to be much more…it is a responsibility. The word “ought” implies a moral obligation. It’s not something we do when it is convenient or when we “feel” like it. Prayer is the natural breathing pattern of God’s people. It is an unceasing exercise.
“But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, ‘Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man’” (Luke 5:8)!
In the presence of the Holy, we immediately see ourselves in the mirror of accountability. In contrast to a contented self-righteousness, it is this very state of profound brokenness and shameful self-awareness that we find ourselves in a position to be best used by God. While our unworthiness is a fact, it is an unacceptable excuse for being actively engaged in service. The good news is Jesus does not turn his back on sinners. In fact, he seeks them out not only to forgive them but to recruit them into the service of reaching other sinners. Sinless saints will never be as effective in speaking to others as will sinners saved by grace.
“so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink” (Luke 5:7).
The work to which we are called as the body of Christ cannot be done apart from teamwork. Every believer has a unique personality and gift set that comes to bear on the ministry of the church in the world. When participation is withheld, we deprive both the church and the world of someone providentially created and gifted to make a difference, someone who is to be an influence wherever their feet might come to rest. We can do far more together than could ever be done by any one individual.
“Simon answered and said, ‘Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.’ When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break” (Luke 5:5-6).
The abundant haul of fish experienced by Peter, James, and John becomes a metaphor for the bountiful reward that is to be realized in the obedient pursuit of God’s instructive word. God’s people have not been called to wander in a quagmire of speculation as to how shall we then live. For those who have discovered the purpose-filled life offered by Christ Jesus, their lives are framed and informed by the time-tested guidance found in scripture.
“Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which having no chief, officer, or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8).
When something needs to be done it is most likely going to be accomplished by a self-starter, someone needing no supervision. Like the ant, their diligence to the task is not easily distracted. They continue on relentlessly until the project is completed and then move to another. This ant-like mentality recognizes the little things that are key to building big things.
“The gospel must first be preached to all the nations” (Mark 13:10).
If anything is made clear in Mark 13, it’s that Jesus isn’t concerned about offering signs and eliminating our ignorance regarding the end times. Instead, he utilizes some seventeen imperatives to teach us how to cope and respond appropriately in the last days. Each of them offer a common and resounding theme—responsibility. By word and deed our lives are to be a proclamation of gospel grace, mercy, renewal, and redemption.
“Now Saul (better known by us as Paul), still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem” (Acts 9: 1-2).
In the course of our daily lives, it’s not unusual to encounter those who are either uninformed or indifferent to the Christian faith. What’s rare, however, is meeting those who are hostile and avowed enemies of the cross. The conversion of Paul reminds us that the most unlikely prospect can be changed by the power of the Gospel. Each of us carry in our hearts the names of those whose “lostness” burdens us. The life of Paul tells us to never give up. Keep praying!
“When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:28-29).
When it comes to the understanding and practice of our faith, we are not left to wander aimlessly in fog of confusion. As Greenwich Mean Time is the international standard for time, as the North Star is the indisputable reference point for sailing vessels in the northern hemisphere, so are the teachings of Jesus as documented in Scripture. Jesus taught not as one who knew the Book, but as the One who wrote the Book.