What is the work of God? Is the church the work of God? Is what we do on the weekend the work of God? Is it preaching or teaching the Bible? Is it soul-winning or feeding the poor? What, exactly, is the work of God?
Jesus pretty clearly defined it in John 6:29. A group of people had pursued Jesus into a remote area. They asked him point blank: “What must we do to do the works of God?” Jesus replied, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent“. The greatest work anyone can do for God is to believe in Jesus. Believing means trusting him. The word ‘believe‘ means ‘faith’.
All the stuff we do is meaningless if it doesn’t spring from faith in Jesus, whom the Father sent. Can it be that we’ve missed God because we’ve been so busy doing things for Him, we forgot what it is to believe? Let’s stir our minds and souls to believe what we say we believe. Let’s wake up.
There is a lot of fear out there regarding Ebola in America. Ebola is a rather new thing in our country. I can remember my grandmother dying of Tuberculosis in 1955. She spent her last days in an Iron Lung at a Butler Nursing Home. I can also remember signs on houses declaring ‘Quarantine’. The resident was to stay inside and everyone else stay away.
Some of my classmates in school, as well as an uncle, had contracted Polio. This disease paralyzed parts of your body. On a Sunday afternoon in 1962, my entire family went to the Butler Elementary School to drink the new Salk Polio Vaccine. It was a massive community project that ended the fear of Polio in our town.
Its been awhile since we’ve had a health care scare in our country. AIDS was scarey, but people didn’t fear because they knew how it spread. Ebola has caught us by surprise.
The only worse thing I can imagine is to be infected with sin and not take the handy antidote that is in plenteous supply: Jesus. Sin is 100% deadly. And it slowly kills those it infects. Their dreams die, their hopes die, their relationships die, and finally they die with no hope. Come to the Community Center this weekend and take your vaccine. Its the only way to live.
The Bible is big into family history. How a man connected with his ancestors affected his role in society and often, his trade in life.
I have spent many years studying the unknowns of my ancestors, long before Ancestry.com made it so easy (and sometimes, deceptive). I had to research each family so I could reconstruct the family links in the correct order. If you have misinformation, you go on a wild goose chase for generations. So, for a genealogist, accuracy is everything. We cannot guess, but must prove every source.
Genealogy is much easier when you’ve been adopted into the family of God. Everyone has the same father, and everyone knows we are brothers and sisters in the same family. We have much in common, generation after generation. And the lessons learned about previous faith generations can be appropriated for my generation, as well.
Whether your ancestors were wonderful or weird, you now have a new spiritual family. Join the Reunion this weekend.
There are two action steps the church must be actively doing if we are to survive: Resuscitation and Resurrection.
Resuscitation is that CPR we give to dying people while its not too late. We help those who are suffocating from overwhelming defeat to breathe in new life. We give hope to the hopeless and sight to the blind. This is a major call God has given the church. Since Jesus has promised us abundant life, we work hard to give that quality of spiritual life to everyone around. That’s Resuscitation.
The second church activity is Resurrection. These are action steps we take when someone is already dead spiritually. They have NO hope. They have NOTHING to believe in anymore. They are dead dead dead. I used to be there. I had some head knowledge of Christ and the Bible, but no faith knowledge. My hope was in myself, and that was dashed. I considered suicide but was too afraid of death to do that. There was nothing to Resuscitate; I needed Resurrected. That’s when I opened my heart to Jesus and my life was changed.
Let’s all find our place in ministry to Resuscitate and Resurrect.
Psalm 22 is a Messianic Psalm. Messianic means it is a prophetic representation of the Messiah’s coming, a prediction of what messiah will be like. Does this sound familiar:
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me? Why are you so far from saving Me, so far from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent” (Psalm 22:1-2).
Jesus prayed this very prayer (the first part) in Matthew 27:46 while dying upon the cross. The message is clear. As Jesus was upon the cross, in His suffering, He felt abandoned by God and all alone. He felt like His prayers were not heard, although He continually cried out. God had turned His back upon Him. At that very moment, Jesus was carrying the burden of all the sins in the world upon His shoulders. And God cannot look upon sin. Jesus was all alone on that cross. Jesus felt the pain of loneliness and abandonment.
No other Psalm is referred to in the New Testament more than Psalm 22. You can check it out at Matthew 27:35, 39, 43; John 19:23-24 & 28, and Hebrews 2:12.
“Elisha replied to her, ‘How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?’ ‘Your servant has nothing at all,’ she said, ‘except a little oil‘ (2 Kings 4:2).
This lady had a couple of problems. First, she was a widow of one of the prophets that Elisha teamed up with. This prophet was loyal to the Lord, and now he is dead. She is grieving his loss, questioning God, about to lose her two sons to a creditor, and is flat broke. She came to Elisha because she saw him as the main prophet of God. Is there anything Elisha can do?
He wisely turned it back on herself. “What do you have in your house?” He begins by asking what resources she currently has. Does she have something to sell or work with? God can make something from nothing, but with us humans, He needs some kind of seed to start with.
She replied, “Nothing at all, except a little oil“. The grieving widow was hopeless. Even though she had a little oil, yet she saw that as nothing at all. God only needs something small that He can work with. She obeyed the advice of the prophet, and that little oil turned into multiple jars of oil, enough to pay off her debt and get a fresh start.
Jesus paid your debt when He died on the cross (past tense). You are redeemed and must start a new life now. Take what little you have and make it grow with God’s help. Stop whining and go to work.
In the early 1980s Anita and I went on a missions trip to visit Dr Paul and Eileen Allyn in the Dominican Republic. We both spoke at a pastor’s conference in the city of LaVega. We both addressed breakout sessions and I spoke to the group of assembled pastors (about 100 in attendance). The snag was that the airlines lost our luggage. Our one set of clothing smelled like sweat. Our carry-on bags supplied all our toiletries, but we had no clothes for the first day of the conference, when we made our first impressions on everyone.
Eileen loaned a dress to Anita, but I had to wear some surgical scrubs from Dr. Allyn. And they were too big for me! Not the first impression you want to make to a bunch of pastors dressed in white shirts and ties. But we made a joke out of it and had everyone laughing.
You know, when Jesus comes back he won’t be checking how well we’re dressed. We came into this world naked and will leave it naked. Our clothing may make impressions on people, but God looks at our soul, the inner man. So, dress humbly and modestly, because God is looking at your heart.