Called And Equipped 

Luke 9:1 “Then He called His twelve disciples . . .”

When the Lord calls us to serve Him there seems to be a universal response. Our hearts cry out, “I can’t.” This was the same response of Moses, Saul and Gideon. We feel this way because the Lord always seems to call us to do what is beyond our capacities. A young woman with small children senses a call to teach in children’s church, or a retired couple hears the call to the mission field, or a young man has a burning in his heart to become a pastor, and the voice in our head cries out, “I can’t.”

I think there is something encouraging here as Jesus calls the twelve. He is sending them out to serve Him. They will encounter many with needs beyond their capabilities to handle. They will cross paths with the sick, who will look to them for the answer, the demoniacs, who are held under by the powers of the devil, and some will oppose the work of God. For their journey they are told to take nothing: no money, no provisions, no extra stuff, for these things will not equip them for the ministry. Jesus wants them to understand, those are not the things that enable them, nor will a lack of those things restrict them. Instead, Jesus provides everything that is necessary. We read,

“. . . He gave them power and authority. . . “

All of their objections, and ours, should be silenced by these six words. Whatever reasons they had for objecting to the call, whatever lack they may have felt, must be silenced when Jesus declares, “I have given you power and authority.” Just as their objections are silenced by His promise, so must ours be silenced. Whatever objections you have to the call of God on your life, understand that what He calls us to, He equips us for. As He said to Gideon (Judges 6:12, 14), He says to you “Mighty man of valor… Go in this might of yours.”

Will you go?

Pastor Jim

Fully Charged 

Micah 3:8
“But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord, aneed of justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.”

Two things caused Micah to stand out from the false prophets who filled the pulpits of ancient Israel. First, he had received a message from God and second he was energized by the Spirit of God. These are as necessary today as they have ever been. If we want to effectively serve the Lord, we need a message from God and the power to deliver it. The question to ask is, where will I find these things?

Micah’s message came from two places. First, it was found in the pages of God’s Word. He could scan the scrolls and see what was being proclaimed in the pulpits and practiced by the people, were a violation to God’s written Word. Second, his message came by direct revelation, requiring him to learn to hear the voice of God. We will not hear new messages from God, but we do need to learn to sit quietly and hear Him apply His Word to our lives and circumstances. Jesus said His sheep will hear His voice (John 10:27).

Under the old covenant, God was very selective as to who received the power of the Spirit. Certain individuals, for limited times, were filled with the Spirit. We know both Samson and Saul had the Spirit for a while, and then it was taken from them. In contrast, Joel promised, under the new covenant, the Spirit would be poured out on all flesh without distinction (Joel 2:28). The Spirit is received when you trust Christ for Salvation, but there remains a need for the continual filling with the Spirit of God. Jesus explained that we would receive the Spirit when we ask with persistence.

It is important that we see the need to be used by God to deliver His message to the world. Paul declared that people cannot hear without a preacher (Romans 10:14). Its also critical that we take the time to ask God to give us a message, an opportunity, and the gifting of the Spirit to share Christ with others.

Pastor Jim

 

Get To Work 

Colossians 4:17
“And say to Archippus, ‘Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.'”

Paul closes out his letter to the Colossians by referring to the ministries of a number of believers. Luke, Mark and Barnabas are very well-known, while others, like Tychicus and Epaphras, are a little less familiar to some of us. In each case, Paul is referring to them in a positive light, and speaking of the effectiveness of their ministries. Tychicus was the faithful traveler who delivered this letter, and others, to its recipients. Aristarchus, Mark, and Justus are mentioned as fellow prisoners and fellow workers for the Kingdom, while Epaphras is called a bondservant, and described as one who labors fervently for the salvation of others. Tucked away in this list of giants, men who had a significant impact upon this world for God’s Kingdom, is reference to a man named Archipuss. While we know very little about him, (he is mentioned only here and in Philemon), we do find him the subject of an important exhortation.

“And say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”

While we are not given great detail, we can surmise from what Paul writes, that Archippus had been called and equipped by God for a certain ministry and he was neglecting to fulfill it. It may have been during a Bible study, that Archippus was first stirred with the sense that God might want to use him. He may have contacted the leadership of his church and received prayer and instruction on the matter. However he received the call of God, it is quite apparent he was not doing that which God had called him. Paul’s exhortation might be paraphrased as “Archippus, get busy.”

I think his story is an all too common one. I believe, many of us have sensed the call of God on our lives as it relates to serving the Lord in our homes, churches and community, only to be discouraged by our own weaknesses or by the greatness of the task. Some have taken the initial steps to fulfill the call of God, only to be disheartened, and find themselves on the sidelines, watching. Paul’s exhortation to us is “take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.” Get busy and get to work! While there may be a long list of excuses justifying why we are not currently serving the Lord, these are all trumped by the fact that God has called you, and He will always equip those whom He calls. If you do not sense that you are equipped, it may be because you are not doing what He asks. There was no reason for Peter to be buoyant until his feet touched the water. (Matthew 14:25-30)

It is encouraging to note, there is one further reference to Archippus in Scripture. He is mentioned in Paul’s letter to Philemon, where he is called a fellow soldier. It seems he took the exhortation seriously. He got busy doing what God had called him to do, the kingdom was furthered, and he was honored. If you are not sure what God has called you to do, simply sit before Him and make yourself available. Jesus said we should pray for more laborers for the harvest is awaiting.

Pastor Jim

 

Armed And Dangerous 

2 Kings 11:12
“And he brought out the king’s son, put the crown on him, and gave him the Testimony; they made him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, ‘Long live the king'”

There are times in life when we are required to do things that seem almost impossible. The odds are stacked against us and it looks as though we will never be able to do what is required. That is certainly the case when Joash was crowned as king of Judah. His grandmother killed all other heirs to the throne, and his life was spared only because a priest hid him away in the temple for six years. Now, at the ripe old age of seven, the crown was placed on his head and his reign began. The nation of Judah was in complete disarray: the throne had been stolen by an evil woman who surrounded herself with ungodly men, the people were given over to the worship of Baal, the enemies of Judah were threatening to attack, and the Temple was in need of repair. How in the world could a seven year old king and a handful of priests make a difference with so much stacked against them?

“And he brought out the king’s son, put the crown on him, and gave him the Testimony…”

On the day of his coronation, Joash was not armed with sword, spear or javelin, but with the testimonies of God. Long before this, Moses had written that the kings of Israel were to be given a copy of the Word of God, and read it every day. A grasp on the Scriptures is more valuable to a leader than natural resources or highly trained armed forces. The Word of God was designed to give guidance to rulers, so they can effectively lead the nation in righteousness. Solomon wrote,

Proverbs 14:34
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”

Joash’s success as a leader did not result from his own wisdom, strength, or ingenuity. He did not succeed because he had brilliant plans to bring about change in the nation. Joash was a good leader because he looked to the Word of God for guidance. His successes came from his obedience to God, and his failures were directly related to the times when he ignored the Scriptures.

We are living in challenging times in our nation. Isaiah’s statement that people would call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20)  is an apt description of our world today. It seems as though our moral compass is broken and people are going insane. We are in need of leaders armed with the Scriptures, and willing to stand for what is right in the eyes of God. While we should be praying for those in authority over us, we also want to keep in mind that God might want to use someone who has not yet come on the scene. Time will only tell how the Lord might use us if we give ourselves totally to Him, and devote ourselves to His Word.

Pastor Jim

 

Selective Service

1 Samuel 10:6
Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.

Saul was first chosen by God, then equipped for service. This seems to be a pattern. Saul, along with Moses, Jeremiah, and Peter, all resisted the idea of being selected for service by God. Their objections stemmed from a realization of their own shortcomings. What they failed to realize, was God would equip them for whatever He called them to do.

We often have the same objections. We size ourselves up, and limit the ways God can use us. Then we sense a stirring from the Lord to serve in a capacity in which we have no gifting or experience. Right away we begin to come up with the excuses. “I can’t do that, I am not a …”

It is so important to remember what God did with Saul. After selecting him, God poured His Spirit on Saul and “turned (him) into another man.” Saul, before the call of God, was definitely not qualified for the task. However, after the call, Saul was equipped with everything he would ever need.

Whatever God calls us to, He equips us for. Don’t resist the call of God out of fear of failure. Instead, trust in the power of God to transform and use you.

Pastor Jim

 

Super Strength 

Judges 16:20
“And she said, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ So he awoke from his sleep, and said, ‘I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!’ But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.”

The story of Samson is both fascinating and tragic. His feats of strength are paralleled only by legendary super heroes. He defeated lions, carried city walls, and fought off platoons of soldiers, with nothing more than skeleton bones. As far as Biblical characters go, he was the most gifted of all. Sadly, those gifts were never really used for the work of God. Each of his feats of strength was only used to get him out of difficult situations that his disobedience got himself into. Instead of reading of Samson leading the nation of Israel back to the Lord, we read only of his selfishness and continual compromise.

Samson had every opportunity to become a great man of God. He grew up in a family that encouraged him to commit himself to the Lord. I can only imagine that he was told over and over again about the visitation of the angel, and the great plans God had for his life. Samson was also uniquely gifted by the Lord. We never read of his physical stature, only that his great strength came from the Spirit of the Lord. Yet with all this opportunity, Samson chose to pursue the desires of his flesh and make relationship compromises that cost him his life, and Israel its deliverer.

It has always fascinated me that Samson is listed along with David, Joshua, and Moses in the record of Hebrew 11. A chapter devoted to men who accomplished great things by trusting the Lord, also includes a man who lived after the desires of his flesh. As far as I can tell, the only heroic act in Samson’s tragic life was his final one. After walking away from the Lord and losing everything, he finally surrenders all. We read that his hair began to grow again, and the strength of the Lord came upon him for one last accomplishment.

While his story is tragic, it ends with a declaration of the grace of God. We learn it is not too late to cry out to God. Perhaps your life has been marked with wandering from the ways of God. Instead of continuing down that path, take a page from Samson’s story and cry out for the mercy of God. Perhaps there remains in your future a great victory for the kingdom of Heaven.

Pastor Jim

 

Fill Me Up

Exodus 31:3
“And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,”

Fuel GaugeWhen the time came to make the articles for the Tabernacle, God selected two men, and filled them with the Spirit of God. Under their leadership, this vast and elaborate project was completed. Normally, we associate the need for the Holy Spirit with intrinsically spiritual tasks, like leading worship, teaching the Bible, or witnessing to the lost. However, here, we discover that the empowering of the Spirit is required for designing the facility and making the building. It seems a pattern develops within Scripture, where God chooses common men, fills them with the Spirit of God, and accomplishes uncommon works. Instead of focussing on what makes us common, we should fix our attention on being filled with the Spirit.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthian church regarding the work of the Holy Spirit, he gave them a series of exhortations. First, he told them to earnestly desire or covet the gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31). It is when we step out of our comfort zone and into ministry that we will begin to covet the gifts. As long as we only serve Jesus where we are comfortable, we will never find ourselves desperate for His work in our lives. If you want to covet the gifts, begin to look for new ways to serve.

Second, he wrote that the desired gifts are received through prayer. He used the example of tongues and interpretation of tongues and wrote “if someone speaks with a tongue, pray that you might interpret”(1 Corinthians 14:13). In other words, the gifts are acquired through prayer. When we step out to serve the Lord, and become aware of our shortcomings, all we need to do is ask for His Spirit. When we do, we will be filled with what is lacking, in order to accomplish the work of ministry.

Third, he wrote that while the gifts are given to individuals, they are designed to build up the entire church. God’s method of reaching the world is through His church. He designed it, built it, and energizes it with His Spirit. The church has its greatest Impact when each member is being filled with the Spirit and stepping into the areas of ministry to which God has called them. We can only imagine what a tremendous impact your local church would have, if each person surrendered completely to the Lord, and stepped out in the power of the Spirit to serve Him.

Jesus exhorts us to pray for laborers to be sent into the harvest (Luke 10:2). Those who will be sent are like Bezalel and Aholiab, who are filled with the Spirit of God, to accomplish the task at hand.

Pastor Jim