Series 27


Called Out

Marty died of leukemia. 28 years old. A follower of Jesus. Now in heaven.

Church members visited even when hospital treatments were hours away. They called, sent cards, brought meals, babysat, helped financially, provided transportation to doctors, prayed and fasted. 

Andrew died of leukemia. 26 years old. A follower of Jesus. Now in heaven.

Visits by family were few. Two friends made it. Transportation to a distant hospital was difficult. Finances ran out; a few Christians prayed. Andrew never joined a church. 

The Bible tells us in the book of Acts: the believer, the church: “were together .....praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being (born again) saved.

As soon as a person acknowledges Jesus Christ as their Savior, that person is added to God’s church.  In the sight of God, both Andrew and Marty had been added to the church. Yet to most Christians, Marty was added to a church by becoming a member…Andrew was not.

The Greek translation for the word “church” is “ecclesia.” Simply meaning: “an assembly-- gathering of the called out ones.” God has only one church on earth--every follower of Jesus Christ.

Are we acknowledging other Christians, but only really loving and caring for those attending the same place Sunday mornings? Are there called-out-ones not in “your church” who need other Christians to love them? Hospitals, nursing homes, jails, those home-bound; come to mind as very lonely for the born again souls who never joined a church. Yet joined God’s church.

“That you love one another, just like I have loved you”, Jesus said.  “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Who should we love? One another. No qualifiers. One another.


Is This Spiritual?

When Mel said something about God or the Bible, it was worthy. He said a lot one evening, yet a particular phrase etched into my brain. “Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.”

I don’t remember the context and no Scriptures were cited to support truthfulness. Still, for years I embraced his words. They came in handy, justifying some very delightful naps.

Six years later, I quoted Mel while at lunch with my pastor. He was silent for a moment and then said, “I don’t know about that.”

My long held belief being challenged was inconvenient. I enjoyed it, used it to suppress nap-guilt. Even vocalizing the phrase seemed restful. But is it true?

The Bible tells this story. “As they got into a boat…Jesus fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that boat was being swamped. They were in great danger.

Jesus was taking a nap.

They were out in the boat to escape pressing crowds. Jesus had left the scene of significant God-work. In the boat He could have continued teaching the disciples. Or prepared for future ministry. Even helped to man the boat.

No, Jesus chose napping. Should I conclude resting was the most spiritual thing Jesus could do at the time?

Not really. He needed physical rest.

The story continues. “The disciples went and woke Jesus, saying: Master, Master we’re going to drown! Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and raging water. The storm subsided. All was calm.”

Jesus reveals the key to a God-honoring nap. Working for God can be tiring. Jesus eked out some time to rest. But immediately, when called upon, He was right back to spiritual business.

Naps are preparation. Then we can awake refreshed; ready to serve God with renewed vigor and enthusiasm.


Scorched Cornfield Praise

“It would be hard to be standing out in our cornfields and praise God,” Tom said. Extreme lack of rain had parched his crops. He attempted a half-smile: “It’s bad, really bad.”

“How long since it’s been this dry Tom? Ten years?” Every trace of a smile washed from his face: “Maybe a hundred years.”

Tom’s big shoulders were sagging. All of his income is derived from farming. Standing in his scorched cornfields could be depressing. A devoted, faith-filled Christian; Tom admits this challenging struggle.

Another man once told of some of his desperate situations. Apostle Paul said, “To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless…up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth…” 

A few sentences later he writes: “Therefore, I urge you to imitate me.”

What! Imitate a man who has just crowned himself, “Scum of the Earth.”

Apostle Paul also said, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

He then reveals the secret: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Dry seasons will come; the make-it-break-it point will arrive. Is our trust in Jesus Christ? Do we believe He can revive our situation?

Yes. Yes. Yes. Focusing on Jesus turns a scorched cornfield into an opportunity for God to show His power.

Apostle Paul finished the job God had for him. And is now esteemed as one of God’s greatest men of all time. For Tom? His faith held firm. He focused on Jesus. The rains came a few days later.

For you? Imitate their secret. Trust Jesus to give you the strength for the journey through your scorched cornfield.


Is the Revival Train Coming?

“Revival, revival, revival.” I’ve heard the talk regarding an impending, sweeping revival for years. Many highly-respected, well-known Christians have made these proclamations.

One Sunday morning my pastor was all excited. The evening before he had been listening to a favorite song on a repeat loop. A portion of the lyrics say, “I can hear that thunder in the distance. Like a train on the edge of town. I can feel the brooding of Your Spirit. Revive us. Revive us.”

Sunday morning our song leader, unknown to my pastor, had selected the same song. Pastor Gordy referenced the train-on-the-edge-of-town lyrics as a parallel to his sensing that a significant revival was near.

So is there a massive revival arriving in the near future?

There’s a train track twelve miles from my home.  I hear the train early in the morning. It’s on the move.  But it’s never coming to my house.

Like the train, intense passion for God is always on the move somewhere. People who vividly sense God is right there with them everywhere they go, are always alive. Love for God and love for people flows distinctly from some people. The hallmarks of revival are always rumbling.

God says, “Draw near to Me and I will draw near to you.” God desires for you to be vibrantly near Him; much nearer than you’ve ever been. Your desire must be the same towards God.

Hearing revival rumblings in the distance isn’t good enough. Draw near to God. Far, far near than you’ve ever been. Go after God with more tenacity than you ever have. God promised He would then come close-- magnificently close to you. You’ll be revived.

Then you’ll be on board. And this will stir others with a passion to also draw near to God.

It’s your move.


Your Choice—Ten Dollars or Heaven

Class hadn’t even started and Daniel was already asking a question. “If I know how to get “saved” will you give me ten dollars?”

That was the subject of our last class. I include a dose of it often while teaching. And as I teach about salvation, my ultimate objective is for the students to understand salvation and to desire their own experience of committing their lives to following Jesus.

On a white board I had written keywords, explaining the getting-saved process. Listed were: (1) Faith—believing the unseen. (2) Recognize—your sin/separation from God. (3) Repent-with remorse, turning away from your sins. (4) Receive—Jesus’ gift to pay for your sins; His death on the cross. (5) Confess—speak from your mouth what is happening through faith. (6) Lord—make Jesus lord, master, boss of your life.

Now Daniel had made the self-initiated effort to learn each of these keywords. So he figured the effort should be worth ten dollars.

Daniel is not saved. He knows it. He’s told me. As well, his behavior reflects a disinterest in making the commitment. I keep praying for him and thank God he attends church.

To him, getting ten dollars was more valuable. Daniel likes money a lot. Jesus said, “How hard it is for those who trust riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.”

What’s your price? Ten dollars? Ten million dollars? How much will you sell your soul for and miss Heaven. Having money is not evil. Having a love for money is. This is a subtle, alluring, destructive force. And it’s never fully satisfied!

Jesus paid a price. He died on the cross. The cost to you?  Free--it’s a gift waiting for you to accept.