THE LOST AND LONELY

When was the last time that you felt truly lost or alone? Do you remember what that feels like? Maybe you feel that way right now. Maybe you’re not physically lost, but you feel like you’re lost in your life without any direction.

It happens to all of us at some point in time or another along our Christian walk; we lose sight of Jesus and we feel lost and alone and it is a horrible feeling. There is a feeling of helplessness that overwhelms us when this happens and we wonder what went wrong or how did we get so far away from God that we can’t seem to hear His voice anymore.

Now try to think back to before you knew Jesus and how you felt. Chances are that if you really think about it you can remember feeling utterly lost in life and completely alone; like you had no purpose in life. Or maybe you found your complete purpose in your job, or family, friends, or whatever else we turn to instead of God and still you felt empty.

This feeling of desperation and being lost is something that people go through every day all around us. There are possibly times in which they feel like things are coming together for them if only they can maintain what they are doing, but then…BAM…something happens again that puts them right back where they started if not even further back and the cycle starts over again.

Yesterday I posted a poem that I felt like God placed on my heart after finishing reading the book “Exposed: True Stories of Messy Survivals from Rolla, MO.” It is a book of seven stories from seven people who were saved by Jesus and how they came to know Him. It was written by people from Christian Life Center in Rolla, Missouri and it shows just how messy life really is and it reminded me how it feels to not know God.

It is a book of pain, desperation, fear, addiction, etc… But it is also a book of hope and life in Jesus Christ. It is a book of reality. It is a book about the people who Jesus gave His life for. He came to heal the sick and to help the lost find their way home. Jesus said that it is not the healthy who need a doctor, it is the sick (Mk. 2:17). Often times we tend to forget what being a Christian is really about, we forget that Jesus came to heal the sick.

After Jesus’ death and burial He arose and appeared to many people before He ascended into heaven and before He left He Commissioned all who would answer the call to follow Him when He said,

Matthew 28:18-20 (New Living Translation)

I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Being a Christian does not mean going to church on Sunday, or singing in the choir or on the praise team, it does not mean reading your Bible, it doesn’t even mean living a moral life. Although all of these things are a part of being a Christian they alone do not bring life. Being a Christian means doing the things that Jesus did and answering the call of the Great Commission. It means that we must not raise ourselves up above others and think that we are better than them. It does not mean that we must have everything together. It does not mean that we should preach to people about their sin, rather we should walk alongside them in their struggles in prayer and encouragement that God desires more for their life.

Being a Christian means that we must love God first and foremost. We must love Him more than anything else in our life. This takes time and faithfully following Him, but when we start with loving God above all else He changes our hearts for others. He helps us to see the hurting people all around us. He gives us compassion and love for our neighbors, people on the street, our friends, and our family.

If you call yourself a Christian you have been given a portion of the light of the world and it is your job to let it shine so that others can find their way. It is your job to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit in your heart to humbly follow Him wherever He would call you to go and to do whatever He would call you to do.

There are lost and lonely people all around you. There are people hurting and in despair in which you have influence. You have a responsibility to share the love of Jesus with them. Don’t worry about what you know or don’t know. People don’t really care what you know until they know that you care about them. So love on people and be in prayer for them especially when you are with them. And when you feel the Holy Spirit prompting you to share your story about how God redeemed you; about how God changed your life when you started following Him, then share it in love and listen to your friend. Listen to what they are saying and how they are feeling and trust in God to do the rest.

There is nothing that any of us are going to say in our own power that will convince someone that they need Jesus, only God can do that. All we can do is to come along side what God is already doing in that person’s life and share how God has changed our life and then when they give you permission and are ready to listen we can tell them all about Jesus and maybe even have a chance to lead them to the Lord. But, even if that chance to lead them to Christ never comes for you stand strong in knowing that God is leading them and desires for them to know Jesus even more than you do.

You cannot fail if you share your faith in love. The only way you can fail is by keeping silent. The only way you can fail is by not loving and by trying to convince someone by your vast understanding of the Bible. Just like you needed to be ready to hear the Word of God spoken in truth and love they must also be ready and until God brings that time to pass they will reject everything that you try to tell them. So relax and trust that God has everything in His hands and that He wants to use you and then pray, pray, pray, and when you sense that God wants you to act then act and understand that He is doing all the work, but He is allowing you to join in with what He is doing so that He can deepen His relationship with you and show more of Himself to you.

We have a glorious God who wants to bring people to Him. He wants to reveal the love that He has for His people and He has given us the opportunity to join in with Him to share that love. The choice is yours and the choice is mine to follow Jesus’ example and to love the people around us, even those who may seem hard to love. What will you chose to do?

The Cold Hard Truth

Sin separates us from God. Deliberate, intentional sin separates us from God, even if we call ourselves a Christian. Jesus came and died to save those who really choose to follow Him, not those who simply say that they follow Him. You cannot fool God, He knows if you have really chosen to follow Him or not. If you have been lying to yourself and to God, then it’s time to stop because the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). It is true that we all are sinners and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), but there is a huge difference between intentionally choosing to sin and falling into temptation. The first is a deliberate choice not to follow God while the second is an inadvertent choice not to follow God. Both are choices and both are forgiveable, but to be forgiven requires a sincere repentance of sin of which the deliberate sinner cannot rightly do unless they have a change of heart and see the error of their ways.

Sin in running rampant, both intentional and unintentional, and the reality is that sin brings about death even unintentional sin. Unintentional sin that has been repented of does not denote an eternal death like unrepentant sin, but it still causes immense damage. There is no such thing as a sin that does not cause damage to us and the more that we sin the more harm we bring upon ourselves and if we are not careful we will wake up one day and realize that we are not really following God at all and have completely surrendered to sin and have chosen to follow Satan. There is no middle ground when it comes to life and death; you are saved or you are not, either you are a child of God or you are a child of Satan (1 Jn. 3:9-10), either you are alive or you are dead.

Now I know that I have been on this whole child of God or child of Satan thing for a little while now, but it is hard pressed on my heart right now and I cannot ignore it. You see Jesus came to lay down His life so that anyone who would call on His name, repent of their sins, and choose to follow Him would have life. Did He lay down His life for nothing? Clearly not, otherwise we would not be here right now. So why did He lay down His life? He did it so that we could have life. He did it so that we could have life in abundance by choosing to follow Him (Jn. 10:10), but that means that we really need to follow Him otherwise what is the point?

I have taken Jesus for granted in the past and I regrettably would say that I still do on occasion and for that I am deeply sorrowed. I long to know how much Jesus loves me and how much He loves you and what I know is that the more closely I follow Him the more I know His love. He loves us so much and longs for us to know it, but He will not force His love upon us. He will not force us to follow Him. He will patiently wait for us and He will be grieved when we choose to follow Satan over Him, but there is hope for us if we simply choose to follow Him. This does not mean that we need to do everything perfectly because that is impossible. What it means is that we must fully acknowledge and realized just how sinful and lost we are without Jesus and how much we need Him to intercede to the Father on our behalf (Rom. 8:34).

There are so many people out there who are basking in sin and so many who have completely given up hope that their life could ever be different than it is and it grieves my soul. I see these people and I am at a loss, I want to help but the only thing that I can do is to share Jesus with them and put the ball in their court; they have to be the ones who choose to follow Jesus and to submit their lives to Him. You and I cannot save the world, but we can help to bring them to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ and then help them to grow in Him and learn to follow all of His commands and to encourage them to share Jesus with others. This is the Great Commission, this is what we are called to do. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age (Mt. 28:19-20).”

You have a choice to make today, right now. Do not put it off for another moment. Do you choose to follow and love God with all of your heart, soul, and mind or do you choose to believe Satan’s lies and follow Him. You are the only one who can make the choice. God does not like lukewarm Christians and He spits them out (Rev. 3:15-16), He wants us to be all in and hot in our faith and obedience. Will you choose to be all in? Will you choose to follow the living God who created all things in heaven and earth or will you choose to succumb to the lies that Satan is shelling out? The choice is yours. Choosing to follow God will make a visible change in your life, if it doesn’t then you need to examine whether or not you have really chosen to follow God. I pray for your sake that you choose to give Him everything that you have. Let’s join together and help to start making a positive difference in a world that is being overrun with sin with no regard for any person. Let’s join together and show and tell the world about what Jesus has done for us and wants to do for them.

Father, thank you so much for your abounding grace and love for us. Father, thank you for your patience. Do not let your patience runout on us Lord! More people are coming to join you that have chosen to follow you with all of their heart. Father bless them and strengthen them. Fill them with your Holy Spirit and empower them to do mighty works in the name of Jesus. Do not turn away from us Lord, there are still men and women who are ready to give you all that they have and to stand up and fight against Satan. Be with us Lord, encourage us, gather us together, show us where you need us. Forgive us for our complacency and help us to do better every day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Learning the Family Business

Dad and Son by Ryan Qiu, on Flickr
Dad and Son by Ryan Qiu, on Flickr
Anyone that has children or has ever thought about having children has probably spent some time thinking about what it is they would like to teach their children and how they hope their children will grow up, what legacy they would like to leave behind through their children. Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, probably had similar thoughts and we know that he taught Jesus in accordance with what was customary in his time. Typically whatever business the father did the son did also, it was the family trade and it was expected that the son would take over the family business. The following passage reflects another business that Jesus learned as his Father in heaven guided his journey so that he would be ready when his time had come. Keep in mind that those hearing this message would have heard things on multiple levels, one of which would have been an understanding that He really was participating in the Father’s business.

John 5:19-23
Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

We too have the opportunity to join in on the family business. We are the sons and daughters of God and likewise we have the honor of learning the family business. God shows us each day how to walk and how to interact with people, sometimes it is easy while other times it is difficult. There are times when he gives us opportunities to instill wisdom, to pray for healing or encouragement, there are even times when God calls us to suffer and act selflessly. As we go through life we glorify the Father by following his leadership and by learning every aspect of what He has called us to do. In the Great Commission we are told to go make disciples, to baptize them, and to teach them to obey all that has been commanded of us. This implies that we already know how to do these things though and that we know what has been commanded of us. We must be eager to learn more about the Father’s business so that we, like Jesus, can bring life to people. We are called into action, to do the stuff, to do what we see the Father doing. Are your eyes open to what God is doing and calling you into or are you focused on yourself? Are you willing to take up the family business or do you have plans of your own? It is your choice what you decide to do, but know that there is only one path that leads to life and all others lead to death.

Father, thank you for taking the time to teach me the family business. Thank you having patience with me as I mess things up and as I get distracted. I know that I have a long way to go still, but I look forward to learning more from you every day. Teach me how to fully embrace being your child. It is so easy for me to get caught up in the world and the things that are going on around me and I often times forget that I am not of this world. Thank you Father for never leaving my side and for guiding me down the path to righteousness as I learn to trust you and to follow you fully. Use me today, show me what you want me to do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.