Who We Are

title-who-we-areAs we walk together through this season of Lent, it’s very important for us to remember who we are, and whose we are.  We are the people of God.  That’s our identity, that’s our purpose, that’s our calling.

We have to remember that.  We belong to God.  We are His.

Seriously.  We are His.  And that means this.  We are not our own.  We don’t live our lives the way that we want to live (or at least we shouldn’t), we don’t chase after our purposes, our plans, our goals, our stuff.

We are called to chase after God’s.  That’s where life is found.  In Him, and through Him.

But, why are we God’s people?  Is it because of our perfection, our goodness, our righteousness, our stuff?  Is God lucky to have us on His team?  No, in fact, it’s quite the opposite.  Listen to what we are told today in Deuteronomy 7: 6-8:

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Today we are told yes – we belong to God.  But we aren’t God’s because of our worth or our might, but we are God’s so that He can show His power through us.  We are God’s because He wants to use us to show His strength.  In the Old Testament, He didn’t choose Israel because they were the greatest.  He chose them because they were the weakest.  And in their weakness, when they were faithful and did great things, that just shows the power of God.

It’s the same for us today.  You aren’t perfect.  You don’t have it all figured out.  You don’t have it all figured out.

And you know what?

That’s ok.

God still wants you.  He still desires you.  He still desires to be in relationship with you.

Not because of you. Because of Him.

Today, you belong to God.  Live for Him.  Live by His strength.  Live in His power.  Live for His purpose.

And if it goes wrong, remember this.  You aren’t His because you are perfect.  You are His because He is perfect.

Rest in that.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Who Does God Use?

Who does God use?  Well, surly God uses the perfect.  Or the wise.  Or the sinless.  Or those that haven’t made mistakes.   Or those that are prominent.  Or powerful.  Or wealthy.  Or famous.

God would have no need for the imperfect, we think.  He would have no need for the small, or the frail.  Or the ones that are looked down upon.  Or just can’t get it right.  Right?

Who does God use?  Listen to what Peter says today in Acts 2: 17-18:

“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

Friend-of-God1Who does God use?  Everybody!  We see here, Peter preaching on Pentecost, when the Spirit falls down and the church begins, we see that God uses everyone.  He uses our sons and our daughters, young men and old men.  Male and female servants.

Everyone you.  Young and old.  Rich and poor.  Famous or infamous. God uses everybody. There’s not a soul out there that God can’t use for His purpose and for His glory.

Who does God use?  He uses me.  He uses you.  He uses each of us.  No matter where we are; what we are doing, no matter what has happened.

Today.  Where you are.  In your place.  God wants to use you.

I said yesterday at Asbury in my message that ministry is not just preaching.  We’ve made the ministry something reserved for just preachers.  No, we are all called to ministry.  If you are baptized believer, than you have a calling on your life for something for God.

You do.

Who does God use?  He uses me.  He uses you.  He uses all of us.   May we be faithful, in all that we do!  And may we live in the power of His grace today!

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Christmas Callings

God-is-CallingChristmas is a season of callings.  It’s  a season of risks.  It’s a season of trust.  It’s a season of believing.

Think back to what started everything with Christmas.  And angel came to Mary and said, you are going to give birth to the Savior of mankind.  You are going to give birth the the one that would save the people from their sin.

She would do it.

It was a scary, huge, big job.  It would be tough.  It would be a challenge.  It would not be easy. And what did Mary say?  Yes.  She said yes.

This season is a season of saying yes to God.

I though about that, when I read today’s text in 1 Samuel 3: 8-10.  Listen to what it says:

And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.”

Samuel, two times, heard the voice of God calling to him.  He was confused.  He went to Eli.  Eli told him to listen, and to respond to the voice of God. And that third time, when God called, Samuel responded.  He said yes.

And God would do great things through Samuel.  He would be the one to anoint David, who would the forefather to Jesus, as king.  God was using Samuel to begin the process that would result in Jesus.

And it happened, because he said yes to the voice of God.  He said yes to His calling.

Today, will you?  What is God calling you to?  Will you say yes?  Will you say yes to your Christmas calling?

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Do Not Be Afraid

Paul in his ministry did a lot of pretty scary things. He went to some pretty rough places. He faced down some pretty tough dudes.

He was willing to do all of this, because He had a passion, a calling a desire to take the good news of Jesus’ love, mercy, and salvation to as many people as He could and as far away as He could.

Yesterday, we talked about what we are here for. What our purpose is. Paul knew what his was.

But, here’s the thing. Just because you know what God’s called you to, just because you are aware of what He wants you to do, just because you may be confident in this, it doesn’t mean you won’t be scared.

In our lives, we will be scared of something. We will be worried about something. We will be afraid.

Of life. Of challenges. Of circumstances. Of, whatever.

Listen to what Jesus tells Paul today in Acts 18:9-11 , as he goes about his calling:

And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

Do not be afraid. No one will harm you. I have more on my side than just you.

Remember, God has more up His sleeve than just me and you. God’s plan is bigger than us. We are part of it. But, the entire fate of the free world doesn’t rest upon your shoulders.

Today, don’t be afraid. Don’t fear. No matter what you are facing. No matter what you are up against. God is with you.

He loves you. He will not forsake you.

He will not forget you.

He is with you. He is for you. He loves you.

Today, no matter what is going on, here the words of Jesus to Paul – Do not be afraid.

Today, and each day, He is with you.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

I Don’t Want To!

I really wish that life was all unicorns and rainbows. That’d be awesome. It would be great if life was only made up of things that were easy, of things that we liked doing; of things that we would chose to do.

That’s not the way that it works. Life is not always made of up things that we would choose to do. Life is not always made of up the things that we’d choose to.

It’s sometimes, more often than not, made up of hard things. Things that we think we can’t do. Things that are too great a challenge. Things that, in the end, we just don’t want to do.

Look at what happens in Acts 9:10-17:

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Look at Ananias today. He didn’t want to go talk to Paul. He didn’t want to go heal Paul. Why? He had good reason. Paul had been destroying the church. Paul had actually been coming to Damascus to destroy men like him. And now God wants him to go and heal Paul.

No way! I don’t want to!

But he did. And look what God did through Paul. Through Paul, half the New Testament was written, and those us today that aren’t Jewish can say that we are Christian because of the work that God did through Paul.

And the only way that God could have done that was by Ananias doing something that he didn’t want to do.

Today, God may call you to do something that you don’t want to do. That looks hard. That puts you in a tough place. That makes you want to stop your feet and say no! I’m not doing that.

Today, do what God calls you to do. Be obedient. He has something for you. And He has something for that one that He wants to reach through you. When we are obedient, even when we don’t want to be, God can do some great things.

Today, even if our first impulse is to scream I don’t want to! when God call us, may we do what He wants. For in being obedient to His calling, we find more life than we could ever imagine.

Do Not Be Afraid

I’ve read the story of Jesus calling the first disciples many times in my life. I’ve preached on it a good many times in my ministry. It’s a story that I feel like I know pretty well.  It reads in Luke 5: 8-11 like this:

But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

So, when I started reading today’s passage, I thought, well, I wonder what’s there. I’ve read it so many times, I just don’t know what’s there this morning to reflect on and share. And then I read verse 10 again.

And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”

And when I read it, I noticed something that I had never noticed before (it’s funny how God has a way of doing that!).

Peter realizes who Jesus is, and his immediate response it to say – I am sinful and not worthy of being in presence. Just like Isaiah in Isaiah 6, when Peter has an encounter with the Holy, he realizes how unworthy he is.

Jesus then calls the disciples to follow Him. But before He calls them to go and catch men, He says this – do no be afraid.

Do not be afraid. What a message we need to hear. These disciples were beginning to head out on a journey that would take them far from home. They would see things that they never thought they would have ever seen. They would experience things that many of them would have never through possible. They were literally going to do the impossible.

And I’m sure if they realized on the front end all they were going to do, they’d have been terrified.

So, Jesus says, don’t be afraid.

I don’t know what your day holds. I don’t know what your life holds. I don’t know what challenges await you. I don’t know what all callings Jesus has on your life. I don’t know what the future will be.

I know that there will be joy and pain, laughter and tears, challenges and triumphs. And I know in all things, today, tomorrow, and always this message we hear today rings true.

Do not be afraid. God is with Jesus. He never leaves us. He is with us. He calls us, He loves us, He cares for us.

Do not be afraid. You are His beloved child. He will neve leave your side. You have nothing to fear. Today, or any day.

Do no be afraid.

Motivation

Today in this passage we read the famous story of when God calls Isaiah. We see God appear in the temple before this and we see him ask a question – who will go for us?

Listen to Isaiah 6:8:

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

And we see Isaiah’s famous response. Here I am, send me! Man of us have heard Isaiah’s response and marveled! What an awesome thing to say, what a great response. What am example.

May we have the strength to do the same!

But where did this strength come from? Where was this motivation found? How could Isaiah decide to forsake everything that he was doing and follow God’s request? Where did this motivation come from?

Look what happend before the famous verse 8, look at 6-7:

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

God took away his guilt. His sins were forgiven. His sin was atoned for. He was forgive and free.

He had experienced the joy and life of forgiveness! He had seen his sins taken away. He had heard and experienced the power of being forgiven.

He had the most powerful motivation any of us could ever have in our lives – grace.

Was God asking for a lot from Isaiah? Yes. God was sending him out on a big life changing mission. But Isaiah gladly and eagerly volunteered. Because he had found the joy of God’s forgiveness. He was new. He was clean. He was forgiven. It was a fresh start. A new day. And he couldn’t wait to go!

Today, you’ve been forgiven. God has forgiven you. You sins are washed away. Serve Him today not out of obligation or fear. Serve Him out of a thankful heart.

We have the greatest motivation in the entire world. We’ve been given grace! We’ve been given forgiveness! We’ve been given love!

And God asks us today, who will go and show that same grace, forgiveness, and love to others?

May our response be the same as Isaiah. Here I am. Send me!

Almost Missed Jesus

Listen to what happens today in John 1:45-49. It’s a powerful passage and can be a warning to us today:

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

What happened here? What is the big deal? Something big. Something huge. Something nearly life changing.  Nathanael almost missed Jesus. He almost missed His chance to encounter Jesus.

Why?

Philip came to him and said, we’ve found the Messiah. Nathanael, when he heard Jesus was from Nazareth assumed nothing good could come from there. Nothing.

So, because of his preconceived ideas, he almost missed Jesus. Because he had prejudged who he though that Jesus was, he almost missed Jesus

That’s a real lesson to us today. Jesus may appear to us in ways that we don’t expect. He may speak to us through things that we’d never expect. He may call us through people we’d never expect.

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells us that when we serve the least of these among us, we are serving Him. In Hebrews, we are reminded to show hospitality, for we never know when we may be entertaining angels.

Believe it not, God wants to speak to you today. Today, quiet yourself. Allow yourself to hear His voice. Allow yourself to really listen for Him today.

And know that He may come to you today in unexpected ways. Through a child. Through someone you don’t like. Through a stranger. Through a trial. Through a challenge.

Though some way you would never expect.

Nathanael almost missed Jesus today. Let’s not make the same mistake. May we be on the lookout for all the ways that Jesus want to speak to us today. And may we be listening.

Because of the Tender Mercy of our God

In the passage today that we are reflecting upon, we see Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, praise God for what God is going to do through his son. We know from the story of John the Baptist, that he was a man that, shall we say, lived outside the norm.

John lived away from it all, and he lived a life with a singular purpose – to point the way and prepare the people for the coming of Christ. He was the baptizer, out by the river, calling folks to righteousness, calling them to repent, calling them to follow the path of God.

And calling them to get ready for the one that would save the people from their sin. Calling them to salvation.

Why? Why did John do this? Why did God call him to this, and why did God give Zechariah and Elizabeth at their advanced age this child that would grow into this man? Listen to what Luke says in Luke 1:74-79:

that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

We see – because of His tender mercy. Because of His mercy, God gives light. Because of His mercy, God gives hope. Because of his tender mercy, God gives the freedom to serve.

Look at what it also says in verse 74 – we might serve Him without fear.

God desires today that you serve Him, but not out of fear. Out of love. Out of grace. Out of His tender mercy. He loves you. He gives His son for you. He gives us each folks pointing the way to Him.

And He wants us to respond. To serve. To love. To care. To obey. Because of the tender mercy of our God we have been given grace and salvation.

And He wants us to serve Him without fear. Today, and each day, may we do that!

The Chief End of Man

Paul today reminds us what we were made for by God. We were not created for destruction. God did not make us to condemn us. We were made for salvation, made for relationship with Him.

As the statement is said, What is the chief end of man? To know God and to enjoy Him forever. That is what you

were made for. That is what I was made for. That is what each of us is made for.

To know God. And to enjoy Him now upon the earth to to enjoy Him forever in eternity. That’s our purpose in being created.

Listen to what Paul writes today in 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11:

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Now Paul reminds of two very important things this morning. First, that we receive this purpose and this benefit not through our own worth, but through all that God has done for us.

First, He created us in His image. Second, Jesus died (and rose again) for our salvation. The joy of knowing and walking with God is not because of anything we have done, it is all because of what He has done.

Jesus Christ purchased our salvation today.

 

That should encourage us. That should make us happy. That should fill us with joy and peace and life and just make our lives complete.

And that should then help us encourage each other. If God made me for that, He made you for that as well. And part of the reason why I am here today is to encourage you. If I’ve been saved and know His grace, part of my job isto encourage others. Help them to know that grace. That love. That mercy. That joy. Help them to know that God loves them.

So, today, you are commanded to be an encouragement to others. Who will you encourage? Who will you be an encouragement to? You’re created to know God and love Him.

Does that encourage you?

Will you use that joy you feel know to encourage others? That’s what we are here for. May we be faithful.