A Missionary Call

Thursday, July 13, 2017, 11:11 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “It All Depends.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read several scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of the call of God on our lives.

Send Me (Isaiah 6:8-9a)

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” And he said, “Go, and say to this people…”

A Christian missionary is called of God, a disciple (follower) of Christ, and a messenger of God in sharing the gospel of our salvation and in teaching the Word of Truth (the Word of God) to the people of the world. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are all called to be missionaries in that we have all been called to be Christ’s witnesses and to make disciples of Christ of people of all nations, and we are all to proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. Also we are the light of the world and the salt of the earth, and we are to let our light – the light of Christ and of his gospel – shine before all people. The light is not to be hidden or kept only to ourselves (Acts 1:8; Matt. 28:18-20; 1 Pet. 2:9; Matt. 5:13-16).

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, and his Holy Spirit comes to live within us, we are gifted of the Spirit of God with spiritual gifts and we are given assignments by God within the body of Christ, his church, which we are to fulfill (See: Ro. 12; 1 Co. 12; Eph. 4). We have all been called to belong to Christ, to be holy, to be his saints, according to God’s purpose, by the will of God, into fellowship with Christ, by his grace, to freedom in Christ, to eternal life, and to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings and for the sake of the gospel (various scriptures). Yet, we are each given specific assignments, as well, which God will reveal to us if we are listening to him (See: Psalm 139:16). So, when God speaks, we should listen, and we should respond, “Here I am, send me.”

God Appointed (Jeremiah 1:4-9a)

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.”
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth.

Before the creation of the world, we were chosen by God to be conformed to the image of Christ. We were called to a holy calling in Christ Jesus. And, we were chosen in Christ to be holy and blameless before him. All the days ordained for us by God were written in his book before one of them came into being (Ro. 8:29; 2 Tim. 1:8-9; Eph. 1:3-4; Ps. 139). God placed us in the wombs of our mothers, which means he placed us in the homes we were brought up in, even knowing the good and the bad that would happen to us. God is completely sovereign over all that he has made. He had a plan and a purpose for our lives even before he created the world. He knew us and he chose us and he called us to something very uniquely designed by God for us to do and to be.

God did not place us here on this earth so we could live life however we want, and so we can entertain ourselves and be entertained continuously by others. He has a mission for each one of us to fulfill. He has a specific assignment for us. He has somewhere he wants us to live and to go, and messages he wants us to give and people to whom he would have us minister the love, grace, and mercy of Christ, and with whom he would have us share the full gospel message of salvation. And, we don’t have to worry about whether or not we can do this, because if God is in it, and if he has called us, he will equip us, and he will give us all we need to do what he has called us to do. He will supply all we need, and he will go before us and prepare the way and guide our steps, and give us the words to speak.

A Servant and Witness (Acts 26:15-18)

“And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’”

Perhaps you have been resisting his call on your life, because you want to live your life how you want, make all your own decisions, live where you want, and go about your day according to your own plans and purposes. Or, perhaps you only serve God on your own terms, and will only follow him if he doesn’t ask you to do anything that would involve much personal sacrifice. Yet, he may ask you to leave friends and loved ones behind to go to the regions beyond. Still, you may be among those who fear that if they listen to the Lord, and if they seek his will for their lives, that God may ask them to do something they don’t want to do, something that would take them into the unknown, or something that may get them majorly rejected, persecuted or even killed for their testimony for Christ and for his gospel.

So, he is calling us to take a stand for him, to not waver back and forth in our commitments, but to be faithful to him in service in being who he has called us to be, going where he wants us to go, and doing what he says. He is calling us to accept his call on our lives and to say “Here I am. Send me.” And, he promises to provide all we need to do the work of the ministry to which he has called us.

Yet, God has not called us to just be nice people and to make people feel good about themselves while they are still dead in their sins. He has called us to open blinded eyes, to turn them from darkness (sin, wickedness) to light (truth, Christ, righteousness) and from the power Satan has over their lives to God to walk in his ways. Then they will receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified (purified) by faith in Jesus Christ. So, we need to tell them the truth, for their eternity depends on it. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars. True faith in Jesus Christ results in being crucified with Christ in death to sin that we might live with Christ in newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

It All Depends
Jerry Nelson / Don Marsh

Would I leave the place
Where I have lived and settled down?
It all depends.
Break with my attachments,
Sentimental though they be?
It all depends.
Would I find myself uprooting
All the stakes I’ve driven down,
Leaving friends and loved ones far behind,
Captive to the call of some far off distant land?
I can only answer, that depends.

It all depends on where He needs me,
For where he leads me my feet must go.
It may be down an unfamiliar pathway
Or cross the mountains so bleak with snow.
His faithful hand will always guide me.
He’ll walk beside me, let come what may.
Why should I dread the night?
My faith has found its sight.
I’ll do his will through the rest of my life.

Do We Love Him?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017, 7:41 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Lately, the Lord has not been having me read book by book, and chapter by chapter, as usual, so I asked him where he wanted me to read this morning. Then, I sensed he would have me look at what it means to truly love him. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of love for God (for Jesus).

More Than These (Jn. 21:15)

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

Jesus didn’t say what the “these” were, but Peter had gone fishing, and some of the other disciples had gone with him, so Jesus could have been referring to literal fish, or to fishing, or to his friends (the other disciples). The point of what he said, though, is that Jesus was to be loved more. So, the question for us is, “Do we love him more than anything else?” Do we love him more than our possessions, food, friends, hobbies, our time, retirement, social media, TV, sports, etc.? Love for Jesus means to love him above all else, not just to say that we do, but to truly put him first and foremost in our daily lives. Is he truly Lord (owner-master) of our lives?

Peter affirmed that he loved Jesus, so Jesus told him to “Feed my lambs.” Now, he was not speaking of literal sheep, but of Jesus’ followers. And, he was not asking him to give them literal food, though that certainly could have been part of it, but to feed them spiritually with God’s Words, i.e. with what Jesus had taught him. And, our Lord is saying the same thing to us today. If we love him truly, we are to care for, minister to, and share the Word of God with other believers in Jesus Christ for their encouragement, strengthening, and maturity in Christ (See: Rom. 12; 1 Co. 12-13; Eph. 4).

No Love for World (1 Jn. 2:15)

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

If we truly love Jesus, we will not love the world. Now, this word for “love” in the Greek is “agape,” which means: “wish well to, take pleasure in, long for; denotes the love of reason, to prefer, esteem” (biblehub.com). And, to esteem means: reverence, honor, approve, respect, value and admire, etc.

As well, the phrase “the world” is not speaking of human beings, who we are to love, but rather of the things (stuff, possessions), attitudes, values, principles, culture, behaviors and philosophies of the world of sin. These we are NOT to love – prefer, esteem, wish well to, take pleasure in and long for, like we are supposed to do for our Lord. We are to prefer him above all else, “choosing his choices and obeying them through his power; actively doing what the Lord prefers, by his power and direction” (biblehub.com).

Practice Righteousness (1 Jn. 3:10)

“By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”

If we truly love our Lord, we will practice righteousness, i.e. what is approved in the eyes of the Lord. Some people will say that we are made righteous, i.e. that Christ’s righteousness is credited to our accounts when we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This is true! But, these same people often think that is all that is required, but God’s Word teaches us we must put righteousness – morality, decency, uprightness, honesty – into practice in our daily lives, or we are not of God. We not only have to be made righteous in God’s eyes through faith in Jesus Christ, but he also requires that we live righteously. Peter said that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24).

We are also not of God if we do not love our fellow humans. And, this is also agape love, which prefers what God prefers, and which esteems, takes pleasure in and longs for God/Jesus Christ. It means to love others as God loves us, and according to his divine will and purpose. Since this love prefers what God prefers, it is not going to include anything that is against God and against his Word. In other words, we don’t love people by telling them lies to make them feel good, or so that they will like us. We speak the truth in love. We don’t take advantage of them or do harm to them. We don’t lead them into sin, either, by trying to persuade them to do something that is wrong. Loving others in this way will always be centered in God and in his will.

In Deed and Truth (1 Jn. 3:18)

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

Words can be cheap if they are not followed up with action. If we say that we love Jesus, but we do not honor, value, respect, esteem and reverence him in what we do, and if we do not prefer what he prefers, and live our lives accordingly, then we don’t really love him. It is just words.

Obey His Commands (1 Jn. 5:2-3; 2 Jn. 1:6; cf. Jn. 14:15, 21, 23-24)

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”

“And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.”

Jesus said that if we love him, we will obey (guard, preserve) his commands (Jn. 14:15). John reiterated Jesus’ words when he said here that to love God is to keep (obey, observe) his commands. So, what are his commands? They are everything Jesus taught his disciples, which are recorded in scripture, which were NOT specific to one particular situation, or to one specific period of time, or to one particular person or persons. But, they are commands that were intended for his disciples at all times, and in all situations, as general rules of practice. They are also the teachings of the NT apostles with regard to the church, as a whole, present and future, which, again, are to be regarded as general rules of practice for all, and for our daily living.

Yet, this is not absolutely black and white. What I mean by this is that there is not a hammer hanging over our heads which says we must obey 100% or we are not saved. Even though we have been delivered from slavery to sin and from the power Satan had over our lives, at one time, it does not mean we will never sin again (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2). If we could have obeyed with 100%, Jesus would not have had to die for our sins. But, what the law was powerless to do, in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son to die on a cross for our sin, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit (See: Ro. 8:1-14).

So, God’s grace does not demand sinless perfection, yet it does demand that we walk (in lifestyle) no longer according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. This means that we don’t make excuses for willful sin against God, or excuse away sin on the basis of God’s grace to us. His grace is not a free license to continue in sin. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14).

My Jesus, I Love Thee
William R. Featherstone / Adoniram J. Gordon

My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
For thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight;
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.