“The Call to Preach the Good News”

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I was recently asked the question, “How did you know you were being called to preach the Good News?” This thought was triggered by a discussion of what is a calling or more specifically what is a Call to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Most certainly to be called to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ is a great honor. Isaiah 52 verse 7 states, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” This verse describes Jesus, the Messiah, who gives peace and salvation. It is also further extended to those who in Jesus Name preach the Good News inviting others to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and enjoy the peace of living a life in Jesus Christ.

Romans 10: 14-15 expands on the Isaiah 52:7 verse by stating in Romans 10, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

So, from the Romans 10 verse a question arises, “who is sending or extending the call to preach the Good News?” And, “how can you know you are being called to preach the Good News?”

Let’s take a look at “The Call to Preach the Good News?”

Theme: “The Call to Preach the Good News”

Read Scriptures:

Isaiah 52:7 and Romans 10:14 – 15

Well, from the scripture readings, it is evident that God calls people into the preaching ministry.

You cannot call yourself into the preaching ministry. Also, the Call is not something that you can “franchise” or pass from one person to another. The Call is not passed down from one family member to another. The Call is personally and individually sent and received from God. The experience is a little different for each person, but the general characteristics or commonalities of the Call are consistent. It is divine, personal, clear, and powerful.

Just in humor to answer the question about who is called to preach the Good News, we can’t take a literal interpretation of Romans 10: 15, the person who is called has nothing to do with the physical appearance of their feet. Trinity College professor, Paul Fritz, describes those with ‘beautiful feet’ as:

  • The gospel givers because they take on the identity of Jesus Christ.
  • The gospel givers because they bring a message of peace, hope and eternal life.
  • The gospel preachers because of the nature of the gospel or good news of Jesus Christ because the gospel sets people free from sin, destruction and eternal judgment.

If we examine God’s Call in the Bible, we notice that while the Call is unique there are some commonalities as God calls a person to the preaching ministry and equips that person. The commonalities are that the Call has:

  • A supernatural aspect. (Acts 9:1-9 and Exodus 3:1-5)
  • A compelling desire/motivation to serve Christ by sharing the Good News. (1 Corinthians 9:16 and Romans 1:15-16)
  • The witness of wise counsel of other believers such as a Pastor. (Acts 9:10-18)
  • Evidence of accepting opportunities to learn more about God. (2 Timothy 2:15)
  • An acceptance that it is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:25)
  • A questioning affirmation of a body of believers such as a Church congregation or denomination. (Acts 9:19 – 22)

Some Biblical examples of the Call and its commonalities are:

  • A supernatural aspect: Moses sees the burning bush that was not consumed. Also, Paul on the road to Damascus sees a bright light and hears the voice of God the Son, Jesus. (Exodus 3:1-5 and Acts 9:1-9).
  • A compelling desire/motivation to serve Christ by sharing the Good News: Jeremiah says, “God’s Word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” (Jeremiah 20:9).
  • The witness of wise counsel of other believers such as a Pastor: Jesus calls the disciples. (Matthew 4:18-22). Samuel with Eli as God calls Samuel. (1 Samuel 3:1-21). Also, Isaiah hearing the call and saying, “Here am I Lord, send me.” (Isaiah 6:8).
  • Evidence of accepting opportunities to learn more about God: Timothy accepting instruction from Paul. (2 Timothy 2:15).
  • Respecting those God has given charge over you:  A Call is validated by honor. The person that is called honors the authority that God has provided to guide and nurture them. They trust the person God has given to direct them. (Romans 13:1).
  • Counting the Costs of Discipleship: There is a cost to following Jesus Christ and the decision to follow Him in the preaching and teaching ministry should be considered carefully. (James 3: 1 and Luke 14:28)
  • Accepting that it is more blessed to give than to receive: Abraham giving a tenth of all he had to the high priest, Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:2)
  • A questioning affirmation of a body of believers such as a Church congregation or denomination: Priests were confirmed by lay on of hands. (Numbers 8:10).

 

 

 

 

Now for what a Call is Not:

  • A Call is not a FRANCHISE to be passed from person to person or amongst family members.
  • It is not a REACTION TO GUILT. In other words, some people believe they will/are accepting a Call because God has delivered them from some tragedy or horrendous sin. So, guilt leads them to say they are called to the preaching ministry.
  • It is not for someone that does not have a desire to attend every opportunity to hear, study, or LEARN GOD’S WORD first in the vineyard to which they are assigned. In other words making a priority to learn or study at opportunities of the church in which you are a member.
  •  It is not for someone that won’t HONOR THE AUTHORITY of their Pastor that God has used to direct their Christian journey of the Call.
  •  It is not for someone that refuses to TITHE THEIR FINANCIAL RESOURCES. That person is not willing to invest their finances in the building of God’s people and edifices of worship. That person does not believe God will provide for them.
  •  It is not for someone that is LOOKING FOR A SHORTCUT TO PREPARATION for ministry. That person does not want to invest in God’s timing and preparation for the people they will serve and Good News they will share.
  •  It is not for someone who believes the Call is an opportunity TO BE HELD IN HIGH ESTEEM BY OTHERS. That person has wrong motives for ministry. Proverbs 16:2 states, “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD.”

I hope this God the Holy Spirit inspired writing will help you know/recognize the Call to Preach the Good News of Jesus Christ and not mistake it for selfish personal motives, ambitions or misunderstandings about a life event or circumstance.

“Insensitivity to Vulnerability”

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Compassion is a virtue that seems to be in short supply in today’s society. But, perhaps it has always been in short supply because of unbridled ambition and a desire to obtain worldly success. With Mother’s Day recently passed, I was drawn to the story of Salome and her two sons, James and John. Their interaction and conversation with Jesus demonstrates that “compassion”, as well as, its counterpart “insensitivity” are only a circumstance apart.

Insensitivity is the neglect of compassion when a circumstance calls for it. Insensitivity preys on vulnerabilities or areas in which danger is a strong possibility and weakness in the circumstance creeps in. We can see this occurring in Matthew 20 when Jesus predicts His death a third time and the reaction to Jesus’ announcement rather than compassion among His disciples is an insensitive request for power and position. The request came from Jesus’ disciples, brothers James and John, and their mother, Salome.

Let’s take a look at “Insensitivity to Vulnerability” as demonstrated in the reading of Matthew 20 versus 17 – 23.

Theme: “Insensitivity to Vulnerability”

Read Scriptures:

Matthew 20:17 – 23

17 Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve [disciples] aside and said to them, 18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man [Jesus and/or the name for the Messiah] will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law [Sanhedrin]. They will condemn him to death 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles [Roman government and soldiers] to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he [Jesus] will be raised to life!”

20 Then the mother [Salome] of Zebedee’s sons [James and John] came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. 21 “What is it you want?” he [Jesus] asked. She [Salome] said, “Grant that one of these two sons [James and John] of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” 22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup [cup of suffering] I am going to drink?” “We [James and John] can,” they answered. 23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup [cup of suffering], but to sit at my right or left [positions of great honor] is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father [God].

NOTE: [ ] added for explanation and clarity

From the Matthew 20 scriptures we learn that at a time when Jesus was telling the disciples that He would undergo a terrible death and he was at a most vulnerable physical and emotional state, his disciples, James and John, and their mother, Salome, requested a favor from Jesus. The favor demonstrated an enormous insensitivity concerning Jesus’ impending circumstance. Jesus would be killed, but the thoughts on the mind of James, John, and Salome were selfish and shallow. They wanted power and position in Jesus’ kingdom. Their request demonstrated a lack of compassion and a lack of understanding. It also demonstrated that grown men, James and John, were still relying on their mother to speak for them.

It would be similar to telling a good friend or family member that you were dying from a terrible disease, and the friend/family member saying, “When you die can I have your clothes and car?” Such a statement indicates only an interest in appearance, comfort, mobility, and wanting something for free at someone else’s expense, rather than care and compassion.

In summary, anyone at any time can let ambition and selfishness over-rule compassion. So, listen intently and let a caring heart be your first reaction to other’s circumstances rather than “how will I be affected?” by the message you are receiving. But, as Jesus stated in Matthew 20, James and John would have their own time of vulnerability [cup of suffering] and also Salome who painfully accompanied Mary (mother of Jesus) to Jesus’ horrific crucifixion and sorrowful preparation for burial. So, let wisdom be your guide, keeping in mind that as you extend compassion to others, there will be a time when you likewise will desire to be the recipient of compassion.

Amen.

“Fatherless Nation”

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“A Fatherless Nation”

In the Christian faith community an important Bible scripture is Matthew 6:9 which says, “”This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name”. An interpretation of this scripture is that a request is being made for instruction on how to pray, wherein prayer is talking to God. Also, the Matthew 6:9 scripture says that prayer to God should begin by acknowledging God’s identity as being above us (heavenly Father) and as being hallowed or holy.

It is this same “Father” being named as “God” that is mentioned in many of the government documents and inscriptions. The United States currency began to include the motto, “In God We Trust” initially in 1873 and over many years this inscription has appeared and been removed from many United States currency denominations.

The Pledge of Allegiance’s 1954 rendition states, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

These are just two examples of the commitment and trust our nation has historically placed in God. But, today our nation has been referred to as a “Fatherless Nation” by clergy and some activists. This reference acknowledges that we are lacking the presence and oversight of a father; a Father, God.

Statistics differ but trend towards the literal number of fatherless homes has increased. But, also figuratively as our nation moves away from any acknowledgement or recognition of “our Father, God, in heaven”, we are described as and have become a “Fatherless Nation”.

So, if our country’s history of acknowledging and trusting in God can repeat itself in a positive way and outcome; then may our nation pray that we begin again to trust in God and pray to Him that our nation would be united and work to ensure liberty and justice for all.

“The World to Come: Olam Ha-Ba”

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Writing a “blog” can be sporadic when you have a message that is developing over a period of time. This particular message has been developing over a few months. But, I decided to write it now even though it is not fully developed with the hope that those of you that follow my blog will incubate it and bring it to full development.

Scripture inspiration along with the daily manna of life has birthed this message about prophetic revelation of “The World to Come” which in Hebrew, an original language of the Bible, is “Olam Ha-Ba”. This Hebrew word is also known as “the age to come”, which is the period of time following the Millennium; a time after the world is perfected under the rulership of Messiah, Jesus. So, after the 1000 year (Millennium) reign of Jesus here on earth, the Olam Ha-Ba or “World to Come” is realized. To learn more about it read Revelations chapters 20 and 21.

Let’s view the progress of the “World to Come: Olam Ha-Ba” using symbolism and prophetic insight, perhaps even revelation.

Theme: “The World to Come: Olam Ha-Ba”

Read Scripture: Revelations 20 and 21 NIV

The ushering in of the Millennium is in its pre-natal stages. Scripture Romans 8:22 says “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

Now, here is where the symbolism comes in. If we view the language of today or the Olam Ha-Za, Hebrew word which means “the present world”. We have descriptors of:

The Millennials – Millennials are the generation born between 1982 and sometime in the early 2000’s. A generation is typically defined as a group of people born around the same time (roughly a twenty year span) who display a common persona. When distinguishing the generation types there are:

Four archetypes (archetype is a typical example) are represented by the Silent Generation (1925-1942) as the Artist archetype, the Baby Boomers (1943-1960) as the Prophet archetype, Generation X (1961-1981) as the Nomad archetype, and Millennials (1982-200?) known as the Hero archetype. The Millennials as the Hero archetype are the focus of this blog. The millennials have the following characteristics:

  • They are nurtured with increasing protection by pessimistic adults in an insecure environment. The Millennials believe their elders are overly protective because of the elder’s pessimism based on the unstable environment that is being presently experienced in the world.
  • Millennials challenge the political failure of elder-led crusades, fueling a society-wide secular crisis. The Millennials believe the failure of the political system rests on their elders and because of this failure there is a crisis in society and the world they have inherited.
  • Millennials establish an upbeat, constructive ethic of social discipline. The Millennials work to reshape and reconstruct a more positive society through personal social discipline aiming to right societal wrongs.
  • Millennials orchestrate ever-grander secular constructions. The Millennials believe that a better world is possible, if only individuals would stand up to make a more just society by re-making the world systems.

In summary, the Millennials are an example of the archetype Heroes which are classified as “dominant and outer-fixated,” meaning that they are a dominant generation that is more concerned with the needs of society as a whole over the needs of themselves or of individuals. They won’t take “no” as answer and are convinced that their generation will not “put up” with what they consider injustices that have perpetuated through past generations and social systems.

The Millennials will “march” for justice and fight injustice whenever and wherever is appears. They will put their lives, reputations, and resources on the line to achieve through their own efforts a world and society of love for all people, removal of corrupt systems; leveling of economic enterprises; separation from fearful people and systems; and peace and harmony amongst diverse people.

Could this be the ushering in of the Millennium that is spoken about in Revelations 20 and 21? Could the actions of the Millennials be the ushering in of the Olam Ha-Ba, “The World to Come” where Jesus will come to Earth and reign for 1,000 years? Then, after the thousand years the “Judgement” (Matthew 25:31 – 46) will occur, and the “New Heaven and New Earth (Revelations 21) reveal itself?

Amen

 

Ref #1: http://themillenniallegacy.com/the-millennial-generation/#.V6xfkWZTGPs

Ref #2: http://themillenniallegacy.com/generational-archetypes/#.V6xgdmZTGPs

“What Can I Order?”

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My husband and I have lots of opportunity to go to lunch and dinner and to invite others out to eat.

Since, I notice patterns of behavior, I have over the years noticed that when we invite people out to eat and agree that we will pay for the meal there are certain questions and reactions that occur by the invitees. When we arrive at the agreed upon restaurant these questions and behavioral patterns occur.

The behaviors are that all of the invitees take the menu and then questioning or reactions begin. The invitees seem to follow three patterns of questions or reactions. The questions are:

  1. An invitee takes the menu and then asks, “What Can I Order?”
  2. An invitee takes the menu and immediately searches out the most expensive items on the menu and says, “I’ll Have The…. (most expensive meal item)”
  3. An invitee takes the menu and asks, “Have you eaten here before? … What’s good on the Menu?”

I wondered what those questions or reactions meant. So, no better place to get questions of life answered then the Bible. Let’s take a look at “What Can I Order?”

 

Theme: “What Can I Order?”

Read Scripture: Luke 22:14-23 NIV

14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. 21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22 The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!”23 They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.”

 

If we think about the meal invitations I mentioned in reference and comparison to “An Invitation to God’s Great Banquet” and the “Last Supper” there is comparisons that can be made.

Prior to eating at the “Last Supper” Jesus took the opportunity to teach the Disciples about the manifestation or the outward expression of a humble heart.  Jesus was telling the Disciples that they were too proud.  They needed to humble themselves if they ever wanted to end up at the resurrection of the righteous enjoying God’s Great Banquet”.

So, the patterns I observed in the invitee three responses to reviewing the meal menu seem to infer the motives of the invitee’s heart. Let’s ponder the following:

#1 Invitee question scenario: An invitee takes the menu and then asks, “What Can I Order?”

What is inferred from the invitee question: “I am thankful for the invitation and for your graciousness in paying, so I don’t want to go over your budget – “HUMILITY””

#2 Invitee question scenario: An invitee takes the menu and immediately searches out the most expensive items on the menu and says, “I’ll Have The…. (most expensive meal item)”

What is inferred from the invitee behavior: “I got over on you because you are paying and not me… anyway you shouldn’t have agreed to pay if you couldn’t afford it. Only the best of everything for me –“PRIDE – the predecessor of GREED””

#3 Invitee question scenario: An invitee takes the menu and asks, “Have you eaten here before? … What’s good on the Menu?”

What is inferred from the invitee question: “I’m honored at the invitation. I trust your leadership and am willing to follow your wisdom – “RESPECT and HONOR””

What question will you ask the Host -Jesus?; How will you behave? Something to think about, when you reach the “Agapao – Love Feast; the Banquet Feast in Heaven”.

Amen.

“Don’t Hesitate”

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I recently preached a sermon on the story of Zacchaeus found in Luke. The story of Zacchaeus teaches you that no one is beyond the saving grace of God the Son, Jesus Christ.

The story of Zacchaeus reminds us that obedience is preferred to sacrifice. When Jesus made a request, Zacchaeus acted immediately. Zacchaeus did not hesitate.

If you have children, you probably at some point have asked them to wash the dishes, take out the trash, clean their rooms, pick up toys, or some other chore request. Have your children reacted by saying, “OK, I’ll get to it” and then did nothing; or said under their breath and out of your earshot, “I’ll do it when I’m ready”; or perhaps the child began to debate you and give you excuses why he or she could not or should not do the chore at all.

Well we are God’s children and He hears those same comments from us or gets the same reactions from us when God makes a request. Let’s take a look at “Don’t Hesitate”.

Theme: “Don’t Hesitate”

Read Scripture: Luke 19:1-10 NIV; focus verse: 5-6

“5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.”

Upon hearing Jesus’ request for Zacchaeus to come down immediately, Zacchaeus did not hesitate. Zacchaeus immediately obeyed Jesus’ request.

How many times does Jesus tell you to do something and you debate Him about it? Or, you are slow in doing it. Or, you do it when you are ready to do it. Or, you don’t do it at all.

Some of you have been called by Jesus into the ministry of preaching, teaching, missions, evangelism, or some other form of ministry. But, you ignore, debate, or take your time when God makes a request of you.

But then, you expect God to act immediately when you call on Him to take action.

When Zacchaeus acted immediately in obedience to Jesus, his obedience was rewarded. Are you missing a blessing because of your reluctance to act immediately on Jesus’ request? Next time you hear the voice of God speaking to you, get moving…

Amen.

Intent versus Impact

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I recently attended a workshop on “Micro-aggression”. The workshop highlighted that small (micro), seemingly innocent comments and actions can be interpreted to be aggressive and intimidating. The micro-aggressions generally go unnoticed by those that commit them. But, can be very hurtful, harmful, and alarming to those that are the recipients.

Micro-aggression can take on many forms and contexts to include actions and comments made in private situations to actions and comments that in public situations are embarrassing spectacles. The workshop reminded me that there is a difference between “intent and impact”. The “intent” of a micro-aggression can be innocent, but that does not mean that its “impact” isn’t inappropriate and viewed as hostile. The micro-aggressions rob its recipients of self-esteem, respect, and confidence

Let’s examine intent of a word or action versus the strong effect or impact that result.

Theme: “Intent versus Impact”

Read Scriptures:

Proverbs 18:21(a), “The tongue has the power of life and death…”

James 3:6, “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

The first micro-aggression occurred in the “Garden of Eden”. There the serpent spoke to Adam and Eve with a micro-aggressive comment when the serpent said in Genesis 3:1 “Did God really say…” This statement was meant to cast doubt in the minds of Adam and Eve about God’s character and intentions. The serpent’s comments were meant to rob Adam and Eve of their confidence in Christ. The serpent’s covert implication of God’s untrustworthiness was now in the minds and thoughts of Adam and Eve. It was the serpent’s micro-aggressive comment that had a false implied intent of being helpful to Adam and Eve, but it had a devastating impact to all mankind.

In the serpent’s attempt to intentionally deceive Adam and Eve by stating something that was in contrast to what God had stated, the intent of the statement had an impact that led to the death of relationship with God. That exchange between the serpent, and Adam and Eve has had a strong effect or impact that is still being suffered today. So, be careful of what you say and what comments you accept because the tongue, as stated in Proverbs 18:21(a) can indeed bring life and death.

Amen.

For further reflection read scripture Genesis 3:1-4, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman