Category Archives: ANSWER THE CALL

WOMAN AT THE WELL.103016

Padua - Jesus and the Samaritan woman metal reliefJohn 4: 5-42 tells the story of what happened when Jesus met the woman at the well.  You know the story, noontime in Samaria, the disciples have gone to town to get food, Jesus is waiting by the well, and here comes a woman to get water.  It was a telling visit.  Jesus says, “Give me a drink of water.”  The woman says, “You are a Jewish man; I am a Samaritan woman; why are you even talking to me?”  Jesus, “If you knew who I was, you’d ask me, and I’d give you living water.”  If you’re not familiar already, please read the “rest of the story”.

This story ends up being about discipleship.  Discipleship is about service; service is about sacrifice; no sacrifice, no service, no service, no discipleship.  Service is about sharing what God puts in your heart, like in John 4.  The woman at the well was changed utterly from hearing Jesus tell her the truth about herself, and she was set free (as in: ‘You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ (John 8:31-36)  Freed, miraculously, from guilt and shame and fear, she couldn’t help but tell what she had seen and heard.  (see Acts 4:18-20)

Our job as disciples of Jesus, if we choose to accept it, is to ”1 make disciples, 2 baptize them, and 3 teach them to observe what I [Jesus] have commanded you . . .” Matt. 28:19-20.  ‘ To ‘observe’ what Jesus has commanded means to 1 surrender to His Spirit and do what he tells you on a minute by minute basis.  Not just to adhere to the rules and customs of the faith but to be one with Him in immediate response to His immediate commands.  It’s that kind of teaching that is required to make disciples.

Some of us, maybe secretly all of us, long to see the miracles of Jesus in our own day; the healings, the deliverances, the raising people from the dead.  But miracles are happening all around us and we just aren’t seeing them.  In fact, the miracle that happened in this passage, of Jesus telling the truth to the Samaritan woman about “everything she ever did, and her being delivered, set free, from guilt and shame, fear and anger, truly a miracle, was just the kind of supernatural event that goes on right here, right now, in our own time and place, when someone surrenders to Jesus and is set free from the bondage of alcohol, drugs, porn or slavery, or from their own fears, anger, resentment, shame and guilt. Continue reading

BIBLICAL CONNECTIONS (REINFORCEMENTS).080916

Young Boy With DogHave you heard that line, “If you want to teach a dog or a kid, you’ve got to say it over and over.”  I just made that up.  But it’s true.  Whatever it is you want ’em to learn; if you say it enough, if you demonstrate it enough, it will finally soak in. You create those neural links in their heads and their bodies. You can bet on it.  I think God had that same policy in mind when He dictated the Bible to the writers.  One subject I’ve noticed lately (over and over) is about HEARING AND DOING.  I don’t know how many times my momma said it, but I finally got it, “YOU’VE GOT TO DO WHAT I SAY!”  (whether you like it or not; if you want to live long and do good.)

Jesus said it almost that loud and that strong in Matthew 7:24-26, when He said, “If you hear My words and do what I say, I’ll think you’re a wise man . . . but if you hear My words and you don’t do them, you’re a fool. . .” (my paraphrase).  And in James 1:22, God says, through James, “Be a DOER of the Word, and not just a hearer; deceiving yourselves.”  If we don’t do what Jesus says, we’re fools, and we’re lying to ourselves.  In Luke 11:27-28, a woman said, “Blessed is the woman who gave birth to you . . .” and Jesus said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep (guard, defend) it.”

And it’s not just about “don’t do this and don’t do that”.  It’s about what you DO as a positive act, an act of your will.  It’s like in John 5:24, He says, “If you pay attention (heed, do) what I say, and trust Him who sent Me, you have eternal life.”  Trusting in God is not easy; but it’s the only thing that works in this life.  You have to DO IT as an act of your will.  Over and over, until it starts to feel easy (or at least easier.)  That’s the only way you’re ever going to have the peace that passes understanding is when you trust Jesus as an act of your will.

That’s what He’s talking about when He says, “If you follow God’s commands, you will live!”  See Luke 10:28.

“The Gospel is not about making bad people good, it’s about making dead people alive!” David Crowder

PRESENT YOUR BODIES (as a living sacrifice).051016

Salt and LightRomans 12:1 says, “I beg you, brothers and sisters, to present you bodies as a living sacrifice ….”

Romans 12 is a great message about “If you’re going to claim to be a Christian, act like it.”  For me, ‘present your body’ means to show up, be available, be willing to be obedient to serve and to do what God tells you to, one moment at a time.

So here’s my revelation for today: If you are a ‘true’ believer in Jesus, one who is steadily focusing on God, trusting Him and obeying Him, seeking His Face, surrendering to Him on a daily basis; you have the Spirit of the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY living in your own personal heart.  That is what it means to ‘be a Christian’.  Now, if you have God’s Holy Spirit in you, and you show up anywhere, work, school, a kid’s soccer game, a band concert, a walk in the park, a flood rescue effort, you are presenting your body as a living sacrifice, for God to use to touch other peoples lives.  You are making yourself available to do and to say exactly what God wants you to do and say.

Are y’all ready for this?  You know where it says, “You are the salt of the earth.”  “You are the light of the world.”  If you have God’s Spirit in your own heart, then you ARE doing what salt does.  You are flavoring and keeping the world from corruption and decay, just like salt flavors food and keeps it from decay.  You ARE God’s shining Light in the world, to show people the way, to comfort them, to keep them safe and sound.  You don’t even have to try; or plan; or prepare; or get a special education; or have a special degree, or ordination, or anointing.  You already ARE anointed.  You have the Spirit of the Living God in your own little heart.  You just can’t get any more anointed than that.  All you have to do is SHOW UP!

So I’ve been reading the whole 12th chapter of Romans, and bringing those things back to the first sentence of the chapter.  In verses 3-8 it talks about how God has given each of us a special gift (or gifts) to help the Body of Christ.  There’s a lot of talk about learning what your gift is, so you can do a better job of using it for God’s honor and glory.  I think it’s great to focus some attention on understanding what God’s plan is for your life, so you can do a better job of serving Him and others; but you know what I really think?  I think if you really trust God, and you surrender your whole self to Him on a regular basis, it doesn’t matter whether you know what your specific gift is or not.  If you SHOW UP when God tells you to, He will use you and your gift(s) in miraculous ways, even if you don’t know exactly what they are. Continue reading

BORN AGAIN: 031716 (John 3:3)

bible

KJ21    Jesus answered and said unto him, “Verily, verily I say unto thee, unless a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

This seems like a relatively simple verse.  It says that you can’t SEE God;  you can’t SEE the kingdom of God (KJV); you can’t GET into the Kingdom of God (TLB); you cannot BE in God’s kingdom (NCV) unless you are born again.  Other expressions for knowing God, such as ‘get saved’, ‘have eternal life’, ‘go to heaven’, ‘have righteousness’, ‘be converted’, ‘have a relationship with God’; you can’t do any of those things, unless you are spiritually transformed.  [Changed on the inside]

The word translated as ‘again’ means ‘from above’ in Greek.  ‘From above’ means by God, by Jesus, by the Holy Spirit.

‘Born’ means what you’d think it means; that you’re the child of your father and mother; you have their substance residing in you.  So you can’t be ‘born again’, ‘born from above’, have God as your Father, unless you are spiritually transformed from your natural self to God’s own child.

So ‘Born again’ means ‘spiritually transformed’.

So it IS simple.  Jesus wasn’t making some ethereal, mystic statement.  He was just telling a truth.  He was just stating a fact.  You just CAN’T have a relationship with God unless you die to yourself, trust Him and let His Spirit come to live in you.  As long as you are holding on to control of your life instead of surrendering and letting God run your life, you can’t even SEE the kingdom of God, much less be a part of it.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

ROLES NOT GOALS. PURPOSE.022916

stone faced            “God has a purpose for your life.  All you’ve got to do is figure out what it is.”            [This is from a letter to my ‘young-adult’ kids in 1995]  “I used to wonder what I was doing here.  Sometimes I even wondered what you were doing here.  I finally got the message.  God has a plan for my life.  Actually, I think He has a plan for every person’s life, but some folks never figure out what it is.

“When I was a kid I bought into the idea that goal setting and goal pursuing and goal orientation were the way to achieve everything I wanted in life, and happiness too!  When I was 15 I wanted $1 million by the time I was 30.  I focused a lot of attention on it.  I read the right books and tried to practice what they preached.  But somehow it never worked for me.  I guess I just didn’t want it bad enough.  I just couldn’t get motivated enough.  I had a lot of other things on my mind.  Looking back, maybe God didn’t want me to be a millionaire.

“After I got baptized in the Holy Spirit, I started seeing differently.  I decided that God had a purpose for my life, a destiny.  Somehow, I got the message that God has a role (really a bunch of roles) for me to play in my life.  In fact each of us is given a number of readymade roles to play when we’re born.  Like the role of a son or a daughter, the role of brother or sister.  Then pretty soon you get the role of student, then later employee, then girlfriend or boyfriend, then husband or wife, then father or mother, then maybe employer, or doctor or lawyer, or teacher, or preacher, or seeker or finder.  What fulfills your destiny, and God’s purpose, is for you to be the very best you can at whatever role God has given you for that time.  And what’s really neat is that this will make you happy.  Seems to me that chasing a goal is not very fulfilling, but being best in your role is very fulfilling, and with your role you fit into God’s plan perfectly.  Just remember when you can’t figure out what you’re doing here, or where you’re going, or why; focus on being that person, that character, the very best you possibly can.  You’ll be surprised how happy it will make you.

“The thing that separates the exceptional people in the world, the 2-3%, and the rest of the folks, is that the 2-3% have realized that God has a grand design for their lives.  (Here again, a lot of people call it a lifetime goal, which is OK with me.)  Many people spend all their time just living from day to day, so they never have time to fulfill that grand design.  Eating and sleeping, working and raising kids may be enough for most folks, but it’s not enough for me.  I may never amount to a hill of beans, but it won’t be because I didn’t try.  Oh, and by the way, I still think that grand design is about the role you play in your life with other people; not so much about making a million dollars, or being the President, or climbing the highest mountain, or building the biggest building, even though those are perfectly OK things to aspire to.  (Heck, if you don’t aspire to something, you’ll never amount to anything.)

“But in the end, the best way to help other people is to get in tune with God’s purpose for our lives, and focus our attention on fulfilling His grand design for us. In the meantime we will still have time to eat and sleep and play and have fun and raise kids, just like everybody else. And we may do something truly memorable.”

JUST SAY YES.012516

Yes Pink Squares Burst             I was inspired by a devotional I read last week (01.21.16) by Charles Stanley.  He said, in part, “When we encounter opportunities to serve God, we don’t always respond in the way He desires.” Maybe “our schedule is too busy or we don’t feel qualified.” . . . “You probably never thought of a refusal to serve God as a type of idolatry, but that’s what it is—bowing down to self instead of submitting to Him.” . . . “when we’ve already decided what we can’t do, won’t do, or are ill-equipped to do, then we’re acting by our own will.  That doesn’t work.” . . .”Laying down our excuses is the wisest thing to do when serving the Lord.”  . . . “All He asks is that you say ‘Yes’.”

I say “Glory Hallelujah!!!” to that.  The reason I was so inspired by this message from Rev. Stanley is that it made me think about my experience with a couple of ‘extra-church’ ministries I’m involved with.  In both of these ministries, one called “Walk to Emmaus” and the other called “Kairos Prison Ministry”, the characteristic that is most remarkable, I mean really REMARKABLE, is the willingness of the participants (that is the workers/servants/team-members) to say “Yes!” in serving in whatever way they are called upon to serve.  I’ve worked at several different levels in each of those ministries, and I’ve been truly astounded at how humble, how self-deprecating, the members are.

Whether it’s to lead a meeting, or give a talk, or counsel, or teach, or prepare or serve food, or wash dishes, or carry out the trash, or clean toilets and make beds; or pray; they’re ready to go. And they’re ready to do it voluntarily and with a good attitude.  Makes me think of that line in Phlippians 2:5, “Let this attitude be in you that was also in Christ Jesus!”  They’re “humble and obedient, kind and gentle, never jealous or boastful or proud or rude, never demanding their own way.” (Right out of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7) When you ask them if they’d be willing to do _____; their answer is always “Yes!” with no qualifications.  It really “rang my bell” when I heard Rev. Stanley say that same thing about our attitude about service to, with and for Jesus.  I can truly say that for me, people saying “Yes” to Jesus is the best evidence of the presence of His Holy Spirit in our brothers and sisters in Christ.

ORPHANS AND WIDOWS.122815

Male hands with baby - parental love and careJames 1:27: “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

What is this message?  Take care of those who can’t take care of themselves.  If you take care of the orphans and the widows, God will take care of you.  How do you do it?  There are several ways.  You can make their needs your needs.  You can give them food, shelter and money; and that is very important, considering that so many of them really don’t have enough. You can do what it says in this verse.  You can visit them.  You can become involved in their lives.  You can let them into your heart.  If you open the door just a little, they’ll come in, and your life will be changed. (forever)

Some people actually adopt children.  It’s a hard process, but so fulfilling if you just persevere.  There are many people out there who are actually called to be foster parents (like preachers are called to the ministry).  Some of them start out doing it for what little it pays; but more often than not, they too are changed.  It’s because of that love that God puts in our hearts.  But many kids stay in foster care until they ‘age out’, without ever being adopted.  Often it’s because of behavioral issues; or learning disabilities; or prenatal drug addiction.  Sometimes four or five kids from one family become orphans in one fateful accident.  CPS just can’t keep them all together, and they become ‘lost in the system’. (one by one)  There’s a group called ‘Foundation for Christian Adoptions’ whose mission is to find and help families who are willing to adopt sibling groups.  They do it in all kinds of ways; from making connections between the kids and the parents, to providing housing for such families.

The world is full of ways to help.  Get on the ‘Net and see. God is calling us all to come to the aid of our brothers and sisters in need, especially those who need a momma and a daddy to love them.