Central Calling(s)

In Acts 6, the early church is growing so rapidly and the Apostles are being pulled in so many different directions ministering to over 10,000 people at this point that a mini-crisis occurs that causes the disciples to re-evaluate their central calling(s) in their life.  As the Body of Christ grew some widow’s fell through the cracks administratively.  They were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food, and they complained to the leadership that they were being overlooked. 

“So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:2-4).” 

Please notice what the Twelve did here:

First, they let go of what was not central to their calling:  They understood that administering the food ministry was not their central calling; that doesn’t mean it’s not important, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be ran well. But it does mean it wasn’t their central calling, and for the overall health of the ministry it was best if they let it go.

Second, they straighten out what was their central calling.  This needs to happen from time to time.  We need to be reminded of what our central calling is. Thankfully, this situation gave the Apostles an opportunity to step back and think about their central calling and pursue that. 

What about you?  Do you know your central calling(s)?  Often times our lives are shaped so that we have more than one central calling.  How do I even go about finding out my central calling(s)?  Here’s how: Ask yourself, “Which things in my life cannot be delegated to another?”

What might be some central callings in your life?

i.      Your devotional life is one.  Your personal relationship with Jesus Christ cannot be delegated. 

ii.      Your marriage-being a spouse to your partner.

iii.      Your children-Being a parent cannot be delegated.

iv.      Your work-career, job….

We need to lean into where God has called us for this season of life.  Identify your central callings in life, and re-prioritize your time and your energies around these things…which is exactly what the Apostles did.

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The Shaping of Timothy: Challenge and Encouragment

Within the pages of the New Testament a young man appears who quickly grows into a mature Believer, an valued co-laborer alongside the Apostle Paul, and a respected pastor.  His name is Timothy.  As we read through the book that bears his name, and we read brief accounts of Timothy’s life from the book of Acts, we see a picture of a young man who loves the Lord, and is growing in Godliness. 

How did Timothy grow into this type of a man?  By way of application let me bring out a couple of things about Timothy’s life that are good for us to think about.  Timothy’s life is a challenge and an encouragement for every generation of Believers. 

His grandmother, Lois imparted the knowledge of Scripture to Timothy from a young age (2 Timothy 1:5).  This reminds us of the power and influence believing grandparents can have on their grandkids.  If you have grandkids, teach them the Scriptures, spend time with them modeling Christ-like behavior, and teaching them to pray and to worship.

Timothy’s mother, Eunice, was a Jewess married to a nonbelieving husband, but Paul writes in 2 Timothy that she has passed the faith onto Timothy.  It’s a good reminder for women who are married to unbelieving husbands that by your faith, your constant prayer for your kiddos, your modeling of Christ-likeness to your kids will have a huge impact on their souls for eternity.  Continue to trust the Lord with your kids.

For young women the encouragement is that there are young men likeTimothy in the world.  Young guys who love the Lord and want to serve Him with their life.  Maybe not in pastoral ministry, but with their business, with their hands, and with their life they want to bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus.  There are young guys like this, I know them! Look for this type of a guy.

For older men the challenge and the encouragement is this…Timothy was mentored and shaped by an older man, the Apostle Paul.  And his impact on Timothy was profound, and shaped his life.  This is the call to older men to invest some of your time into the lives of young men, who have all sorts of questions about faith, life, love, and about marriage.  If you’re an older guy with some time on your hands, pray about mentoring a young guy. Your impact will be felt for generations to come.

Lastly, for young guys the challenge is to imitate Timothy’s devotion and faithfulness to the Lord Jesus, and to continue to grow in the knowledge of our Lord.

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Missional Christianity by Winfield Bevins

This was posted over at www.theresurgence.com and thought you might enjoy it.

 

Missio Dei

It is impossible to grasp the true heart and soul of Christianity without understanding the mission of the church. Christians have been sent as missionaries to share the gospel in our present culture and to fulfill the Great Commission. The church is rooted in the concept of the Missio Dei, which recognizes that there is one mission: God’s mission. Missio Dei is a Latin theological term that can be translated as “Mission of God.” The church is not an end in itself; the church points beyond itself to fulfill the mission of God. Robert Webber reminds us, “The calling of the church in every culture is to be mission” (The Younger Evangelicals).

Being Missionaries Like Our Missionary God

To understand what it means to be a part of the mission of God begins with understanding that God is a missionary God. The very being of God is the basis for the missionary enterprise. God is a sending God, with a desire to see humankind and creation reconciled, redeemed, and healed (The Shaping of Things to Come). God’s mission can be seen throughout the pages of the Bible and history, and nowhere is the mission of God better understood than in the person and work of Jesus Christ. John 3:16 tells us “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Missionaries To Our Own People

Many Christians and churches teach and preach that missions are something we support or do, such as sending or supporting missionaries in other countries. This was the case 20 to 30 years ago. However, in the 21st century, the mission field has come to us. We live in a post-Christian world where many people simply don’t know the gospel anymore. Therefore we are all called to be missional and share in the mission of God. Ed Stetzer says, “Being missional means actually doing mission right where you are. Missional means adopting the posture of a missionary, learning and adapting to the culture around you while remaining biblically sound” (Planting Missional Churches).

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Dropping Dead In Church!

The story of Ananias and Sapphira is a classic, must read story in the Scriptures.  The story is told in Acts 5:1-11.  After watching Barnabas sell some land and give all of the proceeds to the ministry, Ananias and Sapphira devise a plan to sell some property, and give a portion of it to the ministry, while pretending to give all of it! They were hoping to recieve the acclaim without the sacrifice, and they wanted the comfort without the commitment.  So Ananias comes to where the Apostles are, carrying with him a bag of money and he drops the money at Peter’s feet, and he probably expects Peter to gush over this gift…but Peter says in verse 3, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?  Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal?  What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.”

Immediately following Peter’s statement Ananias drops dead! 3 hours later, his bride, Sapphira comes in and it’s deja vue all over again.  She lies to Peter as well, and she dies right there on the spot! 2 dead within 3 hours. My kind of church service!

But this brief exchange, this amazing story reminds us that Christ-likeness, not churchy-ness is the goal of every Believer!  And it also reminds us that Churchy-ness not Christ-likeness is Satan’s goal.  Peter says in verse 3, “How is it that Stant has so filled your heart…”  Why would Satan encourage this couple to build their identity through decietfulness?  The reason is because it would shift the focus off of Jesus, and His victory over Satan, sin and death, and it would place the focus on Ananias and Sapphira and what they’ve done to to help this growing community.  It would place the focus on us, and what we’ve done, instead of on Christ and what He has accomplished, and this would strip the community of it’s power.

The truth is Satan is crafty and smart and he will use any avenue available to take the focus off of Jesus, off of His kingdom, and off of the spreading of the Gospel, and often times he does it by getting Christians to care more about their position or identity in the church, rather than in their identity in Christ…which is what he does with Ananias and Sapphira.  It’s obvious they wanted to become like Barnabas, and Satan used that as the “in” to lead them down the path, and into sin.

Let me ask you this; are you more concerned with your identity in the church, than you are with your idenity in Christ?  If you are involved at any level of ministry the temptation is there to earn a name, build your reputation, grow your fame, earn a esteemed position within the church, just as Ananias and Sapphira tried….but this is nothing more than self-serving ambition, and opposite of Jesus thinking. The only reason for any type of involvement in ministry is a profound love of the Lord Jesus Christ because of what He has done by cleansing us of our sin, and giving us new life in Him.

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Tough Situation Turned Good

In Acts 4, you can find it here.  Peter and John are arrested, and brought before the Sanhedrin.  The Sanhedrin is composed of the high priest, and seventy of the most powerful people in Peter and John’s world.  The Sanhedrin formed a semi-circle around Peter and John and started firing questions at them.  The situation for Peter and John could not look more bleak.  They probably thought that they were at best going to jail, and at worst, death.  And yet this whole situation that started out looking really bad, turned quite good.  Peter and John were on trial before the same people that sent Jesus to Pilate for crucifixion.  Satan meant all of this for evil, yet before the day was over, look at what the Lord does.

1. Two thousand more men come to faith in Jesus Christ, probably four to six thousand more when you add women and children (4:4).

2. Peter relied upon the Holy Spirit to guide his words before the Sanhedrin (4:8).

3. Peter preaches Jesus to the leaders of the Jews (4:10-12).

4. Peter and John grow bolder for Jesus, than they had been before (4:13).

5. The Sanhedrin (who didn’t believe in the supernatural) actually confirm that a miracle has been done in Jesus’ name (4:14, 16).

6. God is glorified (4:21).

You know we get thrown into tough situations and sometimes we think, “This cannot turn out for the good” and yet if we trust the Lord, rely upon His Spirit, if we tell of Jesus’ work, then God will be glorified, we will be strengthened for the next situation, and the Lord will use all of it for His purposes!

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Passion Week Timeline

Jesus’ Final Week

 

 

Sat.

Sun.

Mon.

Tues.

Anointing in

Bethany

Triumphal

Entry

Temple Cleansing

Fig Tree & Teaching in Temple/Mt. of Olives

John 11:55-12:1, 9-11

Mt. 21:1-11

Mk. 11:1-11

Lk. 19:29-44

Jn. 12:12-19

 

 

Mt. 21:12-22

Mk.11:15-18

Lk.19:45-48

Mk. 11:12-18

 

 

Wed.

Thur.

Fri.

Sat.

Sun.

Plot against Jesus

Prep. For Passover, Last Supper & Gethsemane

Trial(s), Sentence, & Execution

 

Resurrection!

Mt.26:14-16

Mk.14:10-11

Lk.22:3-6

Mt.26:17-30

Mk.14:12-25

Lk.22:7-13

Mt.26:47-67

Mk.15:2-15

Mt.27:32-44

 

Mt.28:1-15

Mk.16:1-20

Lk.24:1-12

 

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2 Betrayals & The Cross

 I want to take you back to the last Passover meal that Jesus shared with his disciples. It would have been early April. It’s just after sundown on Thursday evening, Jesus and the disciples were all gathered in the upper room around a table. Two of the disciples, Judas and Peter who were reclining at the table with Jesus would fail him within the next couple of hours. But the reason for their failure and their response to their failure would be decisively different.

As Jesus is sharing the Passover meal with the disciples, He tells them that from that table, one of the twelve would deliver Him up to be crucified. (The Greek word for “betray” and “deliver up” is the same.) Just 24 hours before, on Wednesday evening, Judas using his own wisdom and for his own reasons decides to betray Jesus by handing Him over to the Chief Priests. (If you want the passages, Luke 22:3-6, Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-11)

Skip ahead to Thursday evening after the Last Supper, Jesus and His disciples are together and Jesus looks at Peter and tells him that Peter’s going to deny Jesus three times that night. Peter says, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You (Mt. 26:35).” Peter had already decided to die with the Lord because he truly trusted that Jesus was the Messiah, he just wasn’t as ready as he thought he was! Both of these men failed, both of these men betrayed the Lord Jesus, but just as their actual betrayals were different the word “betrayal” has different meanings and the differences are important. One definition means: “to deliver a person into someone’s hands.” Another definition means: “to fail or desert especially in time of need.” . Judas never really sees Jesus as Lord, and so in his own thinking he doesn’t fully realize the choice he has made. Peter on the other hand, is so in love with Jesus as the Lord that Peter is trying to serve faithfully but is overconfident in his human strength. Both men had betrayed Christ, but their reasons were different and as we shall see their responses are quite different also, which reflects their relationship with Christ.

Matthew records Judas’ response with these details:  “Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death. They bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor. When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood (Matt. 27:1-4).”  Judas felt remorse, and that’s it. The Greek word means to regret a decision, to be sorry afterwards.  In English, the word remorse means: to have a deep torturing sense of guilt felt over a wrong that one has done, and that’s exactly how Judas probably felt.  He felt terrible, for what he had did, and confessed his wrong to the Chief Priests.

I want you to flash back to a couple of hours earlier.  Jesus has been lead away to Caiaphas’ it’s around 3am on Friday morning. Peter is sitting in the courtyard, and a servant girl asks Peter if he was with Jesus and Peter denies it, a little while later another girl asks Peter if he was associated with Jesus and again he denies it, and still later some others come and say, “You have to be one of the disciples, you talk just like them, and for the third time Peter denies Him.  And just then Jesus’ words hit him.  ‘”Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly (Mt. 26:75).”  Peter starts to weep bitterly.  Peter runs off, because he knows that he has betrayed Christ, but he runs off still very much in love with Christ and still trusting Him.  The Apostle Paul, years later would write, “Godly sorrow leads to repentance, which brings salvation, and leaves no regret (2. Cor. 7:10).  Do you see the difference in their responses?

Judas felt “remorse” — the terrible self-condemnation when one realizes that they have done a really bad thing.  But Judas trusted himself all along and when he realized he had sinned, he punished himself for his sin by killing himself.  He never let the Lord actually be the Lord at any point in the transaction.

Peter “repented” — the turning around of mind and life and throwing ones self on the mercy of the Lord.  He trusted the Lord all along, even when he himself failed.  He felt terrible, too, but it was because he knew Jesus is Lord and he had failed to live up to his own knowledge of Christ.

Both men had high standards; both men took responsibility for their sins, both men felt terrible for what they did.  But Judas, who never trusted the Lord, in the first place (John 6:70) let his bad feeling about himself turn him further away from the Lord, committing murder against himself.  Peter was driven by his moral failure to the Lord in humility and sorrow.  Remorse just feels bad for itself.  Repentance runs to the Lord’s grace (John 21:7). 

Their responses and my own failures cause me to think about the Cross of Christ

1.      The Cross reminds us to turn and run to the Lord instead of away from Him when we fail.

2.      The Cross reminds us that the grace we live in is not cheap!  The purchase price for betraying Jesus was cheap, but the purchase prize for your soul was not.  It cost Jesus everything.

3.      The Cross reminds us that we will never be in a state where we do not need grace, and as believer’s we’ll never be in a state where we don’t have it.

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