My spouse and I went on a whale watching tour boat one day. We were excited at the thought of the possibility of being able to see one of God’s largest creatures swimming freely. We had heard so many great stories about others who had gone out to do the same. We eagerly waited in line to get on the boat and then once let on found what we would hope would be a great place to watch from. There was a storm coming in and the wind was blowing strongly very icy air at our bare skinned faces. We buttoned up our coats and put on gloves to try to fight the cold. The gray skies almost blended with the ocean. We diligently kept watch. We had our camera ready. We waited for ripples on the water that were different from the sea’s stormy waves. We were seeking sight of a spout of water to appear. The Captain kept on seeking signs from the watchers on his boat. He would seek those who would raise their hands and point. He would listen for gasps of awe and words like, “I see a spout!”. He would count the minutes between appearances of the whales. So he could forewarn us of the next appearance. He would point the boat in the right direction and chase after the whale. I don’t think I had ever done so much vigilent seeking in all my life. I was excited, alert and watchful with my eye on the horizon. The time, energy and money spent was all well worth it. My diligence paid off. I was rewarded by being able to spot multiple whales multiple times.
Thankfully, Jesus views the people of this earth the same way. He is excited and eager to spot those who would come to know Him. He diligently seeks the lost sheep to bring them home to safety in Him.
Luke 15: 1- 7
1 All the tax collectors and sinners were approaching to listen to Him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!” 3 So He told them this parable: 4 “What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them,does not leave the 99 in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it? 5 When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, 6 and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’ 7 I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance.
It is just common sense to realize that if Jesus was willing to suffer and die for us, that He would seek us out at whatever place we might be at in our lives. We may be the most extremely wicked people around, but God loves us and is looking for us. He doesn’t want us to be perfect when we come to Him as Savior. He wants us to come to Him as soon as He calls. He will help us to make our lives right once we have accepted Him as Savior. Our sins will be forgiven and we will start a new life being protected and provided for by our Shepherd. If we let Him, He will fight off the wolves that will come against us and He will make sure we have everything we need for life that fits His plans for our life.
Once Jesus becomes our Savior, then we are to grow and mature in our relationship with Him. We are to endeavor to be like our Savior. Just as He sought the lost sheep, we, too, are to seek the lost sheep. We are to keep a watchful eye out. We are to endure the cold wind of life that may come against us as we seek His sheep. We are to be diligent as we seek. It takes time, energy and money sometimes to seek His sheep. We are to be eager and excited to spot those who will be saved from eternal separation from God. We are to be as loving and caring about everyone as Jesus was for us. We are to meet them where they are at in life and show them God’s love. Who are you seeking for?
How many times has there been a friend or family member that you would have done anything for to help them out of a trial or problem they were going through? Parents hate to see their kids get in to trouble and try to get them out of whatever situation they have gotten themselves in to. Friends are hurting and we try to do something to make them feel better. Out of love for others, our protective mode clicks on. Sometimes even to our own detriment. We offer our time, money or assistance sometimes at great sacrifice. We feel the sacrifice of ourselves is more important than seeing others suffer. One of those classic scenes of self-sacrifice for others was played out by Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The Warp drive is damaged and to save the crew Spock enters the radiation contaminated chamber and repairs the warp drive. One of his final lines is “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.”
Moses loved the people of God so much that he, too, offered himself in their place. Even with all the rebellion (Exodus 32), he still loved them enough to be erased from God’s book. Read Exodus 32: 31 – 35.
31 So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, these people have committed a grave sin; they have made a god of gold for themselves. 32 Now if You would only forgive their sin. But if not, please erase me from the book You have written.” 33 The Lord replied to Moses: “I will erase whoever has sinned against Me from My book. 34 Now go, lead the people to the place I told you about; see, My angel will go before you. But on the day I settle accounts, I will hold them accountable for their sin.” 35 And the Lord inflicted a plague on the people for what they did with the calf Aaron had made.
What an offer to make to God for the sake of other’s salvation! Are you as willing to offer yourself up for others to be able to have eternal life? God provides us with some valuable instructions in this account. One, Moses showed us how to sacrificially love others for the sake of their salvation. Two, God showed us that it is important to be willing to offer, but let Him determine what is really best to help the other person. We have to listen to his words of wisdom as we deal with others. Sometimes, we just witness to them, advise them, etc. Other times, God will want us to stand back and let them be accountable for their own choices.
Thankfully, God provided the best offering for everyone through Jesus, who lives as our example.
And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.
It can be really difficult to watch the news these days. We want to stay informed, so we watch. Yet, there can be so much bad news that we can walk away sad, depressed, stressed, or worried. We wonder, “What else can happen?” or “Are there any good people left?” It is so refreshing to see news reports that actually share the goodness of people. Just this week we saw the report of Tim. Tim owns Tim’s Place in Albuquerque. He has Down’s syndrome, but he doesn’t let that stop him. His story aired on mainline news and on the internet. It was good news amongst so much bad. (To watch the video: click here.)
Jesus shared some good news mixed in with some bad news while He was here with us on Earth.
Mark 13: 9 – 13
9 “But you, be on your guard! They will hand you over to sanhedrins, and you will be flogged in the synagogues. You will stand before governors and kings because of Me, as a witness to them. 10 And the good news must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11 So when they arrest you and hand you over, don’t worry beforehand what you will say. On the contrary, whatever is given to you in that hour—say it. For it isn’t you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. 12 Then brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rise up against parents and put them to death. 13 And you will be hated by everyone because of My name. But the one who endures to the end will be delivered.
Did you catch the good news in the midst of the bad? There were two bits of good news. One in verse 10: “And the good news must first be proclaimed to all nations”. The goal will have finally been meant. Everyone will have finally had a chance to receive the good news on Earth. The other bit of good news is found in verse 13: “But the one who endures to the end will be delivered.” Even with all the bad stuff that will happen in the end times, those who remain faithful will be delivered. The devil and all his evil will not prevail.
It is encouraging to hear Jesus’ good news that the gospel will eventually make it to every ear. So as you listen to all the bad news…just remind yourself about Jesus’ good news. With each new bad thing that occurs, the gospel is reaching new ears across the World.
Did you know that you and the Robot off Lost in Space had something in common? Do you remember how the Robot would shout out, “Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!” or something similar depending on who was in the area?
Well, the Robot’s job of warning others of imminent danger is the same job you have. You have been called to warn others of spiritual danger. Ezekiel like many prophets was called to this for his entire purpose.
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman over the house of Israel. When you hear a word from My mouth, give them a warning from Me.
The Lord teaches us things and reveals to us things that we are not necessarily meant to keep to ourselves. We are not to be the holder of great secrets from the Lord. We learn things so we might share them with others and encourage them on in their walk. The Holy Spirit warns us and tries to stop us when we are being tempted to sin. Wisdom tells us that our experiences and knowledge can help others in the same way. Read Ephesians 4: 22 – 25.
22 You took off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires; 23 you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; 24 you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth. 25 Since you put away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another.
We are all part of the same body and we are all trying to achieve the same basic individual and corporate Kingdom goals. We are trying each to become more Christ-like and we are all trying to build the Kingdom of God and glorify His name. If we know someone is about to or is committing a sin, we are to warn them, just like Ezekiel spent his days warning the people of Israel. If we see someone walking towards a cliff, we wouldn’t just let them walk over it to their death. We hold the message of truth in our hearts. We know what can keep those who don’t know the Lord from walking off that cliff of eternal spiritual death. We also know what can help fellow brothers and sisters to grow in the Lord. We would want someone to help or warn us, we should want to do the same for others.
One time my spouse and I were out bowling. As I stepped up to throw my bowling ball down the lane, my spouse yells out, “Put your weight in to it!” Now, both of us had gained some weight over the years, but was there really any reason to say that to me in public? Of course, there was a roaring of laughter behind me. Some good friends I had. Really what my spouse was trying to say was that I would stand a better chance of hitting a strike if I put some force in to my swing. My spouse was right. If I was wimpy about my swing I could end up dropping the ball or tossing it in to the gutter.
As Christians, we need to put weight in to our witnessing. We need to depend more on the Holy Spirit. He will take our wimpy attempts and make them powerful efforts that are effective. Read Acts 1:8.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Many times we don’t even attempt to witness because we are afraid or think someone else can do it. We don’t like rejection or are worried about what people will think of us. Other times we don’t witness, because we just don’t seem to know who to witness to. We hang out with our closed circle of friends and that is it. All we need to do is ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us who we should witness to. He will open our eyes.
It is just common sense to realize that if God said He was going to give us the power and that we would be witnesses for Him, then we will be. We have nothing to be afraid of. We have all the power and abilities we need to witness. So let’s get out there and put some weight in to it!
Having a great model or a beautiful scene doesn’t necessarily mean you will end up with a great image from your photography. It’s all about composition. Composition entails knowing when and where to put the image on the film. Photographers use certain photography rules to help them get the most out of the image. For example, they will use the “Rule of Thirds” which “makes use of a natural tendency of the human eye to be more strongly drawn towards certain parts of an image” (about.com). A photographer might also use “Depth of Field” which “is the amount of your image before and beyond your focus point that will be in focus. Depth of field tells you whether or not your subject and background can be sharply focused at the same time” (about.com). Other rules about centering your subject, horizontal vs. vertical, point of view, leading lines, natural frames and whether the subject looks in to the camera or not all play apart in a great image being created.
Jesus acts as a great photographer with each of us. He takes our image and makes it better. And much like a great photographer’s assistant brings prospective models in to the photographer, Jesus expects us to bring others to Him. Did you know that half of Jesus’ disciples were brothers; Peter and Andrew, James and John (sons of Zebedee), James and Matthew (sons of Alphaeus)? Andrew is credited with bringing his brother Peter to Jesus. Read John 1: 35-42.
35Again the next day, John was standing with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look! The Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this and followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and noticed them following Him, He asked them, “What are you looking for?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are You staying?” 39 “Come and you’ll see,” He replied. So they went and saw where He was staying, and they stayed with Him that day. It was about 10 in the morning. 40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John and followed Him. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah!” (which means “AnointedOne”), 42 and he brought Simon to Jesus. When Jesus saw him, He said, “You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which means “Rock”).
As a result of Andrew bringing his brother Peter to the Lord, Jesus was able to make the most out of the image of Peter. He brought Peter in to focus and helped others look at him in a new light. He turned Peter in to the “Rock”.
What an encouragement to know that we can help others become a beautiful piece of art. What an incredible encouragement to know that Jesus can develop our image in to an image that is looked at and admired and valued by Him and others throughout our lifetime and after.
Most of us struggle with feeling inadequate. When we were in school we felt inadequate to sing in the high school musical or make a speech. When we were looking for our first job, we felt inadequate to answer the questions during the interview. When we were meeting someone we knew that was not a Christian, we felt inadequate to share the gospel with them. The list could probably go on and on. We try to do things to improve our self-esteem. We take a speech class. We get a book on interviewing. We take an evangelism class at church. Yet, when it comes down to it we still feel inadequate. The truth is we are in adequate for most things in life. After all, we are human. We are imperfect creatures. We are sinners. Yet, with all that knowledge about whom we really are, God who is perfect and holy still asks us to do things for Him. He calls us to serve Him and reach out to others. There is a reason for that. Read Philippians 4:12-13 and I Timothy 1:12-14.
12 I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret [of being content]—whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. 13 I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.(hcsb)
12-14I’m so grateful to Christ Jesus for making me adequate to do this work. He went out on a limb, you know, in trusting me with this ministry. (msg)
God is trying to give us a little bit of wisdom in these verses. He is trying to show us that yes, we are inadequate in ourselves, but He does not expect us to do it on our own. It will be God who is able to do it. Strengthen and adequate are carrying the same meaning in these verses. In a way this is a good thing to know…that we are inadequate. It keeps us from bragging on ourselves and should push us to brag on God. Therefore, we can now glorify God through our inadequacies. What great adequacy there is in being inadequate for God.