Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Callings of Christ


Recently I read that a call from God was like a 'telephone' ringing, our Lord calls and we answer and listen.  When Jesus saw the four fishermen, his call was very simple.  All He said was, "Follow Me."  
While the call was indeed a simple call, the response was more difficult.  Peter and Andrew left their boats and nets, James and John left their "Father, boats, nets, and his hired help", and later on scripture recorded that Matthew left his lucrative accounting business (tax collecting).  Following Christ will always mean leaving 'something.'  While this is not a popular message and certainly one that is less than palatable, it is certain a scriptural part of the call of Christ.
His callings extend to every part of our lives.  He calls us to SALVATION - in other words to be saved.  This call, in and of itself, is a call to leave one life and take on another.  Following Christ means a change of our entire life and direction, a repentance from our past and a refocusing on His future for us.  Jesus Himself speaks of being 'reborn' into a new person.  This means that our new person is unlike the old person.  When we are born, we take on the characteristics of our parents.  Now I love my parents but they, like me, are incredibly flawed, selfish, and sinful.  Thus, I take on the characteristics they passed to me in my 'gene' pool.  When I am reborn into Christ, once again, I take on the characteristics of my parents.  This time, my spiritual parent is Christ who has no flaws.  The results are this: things I used to love I now hate,  things I used to do I no longer do, attitudes I used to harbor I no longer harbor, and the heart I used to have I no longer have.  You see, I have become like my father.  Becoming like my spiritual father is the process of sanctification.
SANCTIFICATION is generally the follow-up call to our initial salvation experience.  The Great Commission given by our Lord Jesus is to "Go and Make Disciples".  It stands to reason that it we are to "Make Disciples" we must first "BE Disciples."  It is through this process of learning to follow & live like Jesus that we become a disciple.  Our Lord sends us the Holy Spirit to work this process in us.  Candidly, we have become 'masters' at avoiding the discipleship process.  In the comfortable culture of the USA, we have embraced a 'no-commitment, no change' type of Christianity and it is killing the church.  Jesus didn't die to create a fan base, He died to make disciples.
Part of the process of becoming a disciple is responding to His call to "SERVICE."  No where in scripture is there a spiritual listed which goes by the name of 'sitting in a pew.'  The concept of 'sitting and soaking' is a fairly recent philosophy which, I believe, will be judged with harshly at the Judgment Seat.  Jesus reserved His harshest judgment for the 'unfruitful.'  Discovering, Developing, and Deploying our spiritual gifts is the 'minimum' we can do after all He has done for us.  Every believer has some kind of "God-designed" ministry for them.  He calls us and He gifts us and He expects our response.
When your spiritual phone starts ringing, pick it up, and report for duty.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Lessons From An Atheist



A couple of years ago I was in Mobile, Alabama, for the state Pastor’s Conference and was struck by the truth in a video presented by one of the speakers.  As an introduction to his message, one speaker used a clip from a man named Penn Jillette.  Admittedly I live a sheltered life so I had never heard of the magician team of “Penn and Tiller” nor did I realize who it was ‘on the screen’ when Penn’s name was mentioned and his face appeared.  Yet, the words this avowed atheist spoke still echoes in my soul
Penn told the story of a man, a “Gideon”, giving him, an atheist, a New Testament.  It seems that because of the way this Gideon presented himself; Penn was very affected by the meeting.   
First, the Gideon was very complimentary of the show and it was noted that this was stated in a truly authentic way. 
Next, the Gideon was very nice to Penn; a fact that Penn mentioned no less than twice.
Next, the Gideon looked Penn in the eye; this one truth was high on the list of the atheist.
Finally, when the Gideon walked away, this non-believer was impressed with his kindness, goodness, and his honest concern. 
Perhaps those who believe in Jesus and attempt to live like He desires could learn a few of the characteristics Jesus displayed in His earthly life from the words of this atheist.
The ‘take-way’ for me was Penn’s stunning words as he spoke about proselytizing.  I offer this question for all those who wear the name of Jesus, believe in Heaven and Hell, and eternity.
Penn said, “If you believe beyond a shadow of a doubt in eternity, heaven, hell, and Jesus; how much do you have to HATE someone NOT to tell them.”  He went on to say, “Just because it is socially awkward is no excuse for refusing to tell someone they are in danger.”
There is an old saying which goes, “Out of the mouth of babes.”  I submit “out of the mouth of non-believers.”

(Checkout Pastor Jerry’s web site @ www.jerrywatts.net )

Friday, April 05, 2013

The Touch of God


In the 26th chapter of 2 Chronicles is an intriguing and informative story about a King named Uzziah.  Uzziah was named King when he was only 16 years old and he reigned for 52 years.  Here’s the big news; Uzziah was blessed by God, enjoyed the touch of God on his life (and Kingdom) as well as was successful as long as he sought the Lord!  This was seemed to indicate that ‘when he no longer sought the Lord then he would no longer be blessed by God or be successful.’
The scripture gives a picture of Uzziah’s rise to power, his development of far-reaching power, and even his fall from power.  Because of his past victories, the power of his military, and the force of his power, Uzziah, slowly but surely, became someone who the Lord God would no longer bless.
As a young man and a rookie King, he surrounded himself with great counselors because he knew he needed help.  However, as the victories came and his successes became many, he became too strong for God to bless.  He was too strong on his own, so he no longer sought nor depended on the Lord.  Honestly, he probably felt like he could give God a break because he (Uzziah) could handle whatever came.
So King Uzziah decided that he could do the sacred work that only the priests was supposed to do.  His arrogance before God caused him to be confronted by dozens of ‘brave priest’ and his response was anger.  In fact, he became so angry (red faced) and refused to admit his ‘arrogance’ which caused to God send an affliction, a skin disease, which cause Uzziah to be removed from the Temple, be replaced as King, and be rejected by society.  His epitaph was not the victories he won, but the disease he carried.  His reaction to his God-given success was the cause of his demise.  It is a sad finish to a spectacular beginning.
Here are some things we learn from Uzziah; “When we stop seeking God, He does stop blessing us.”  “God’s judgment is severe.”  “When we put our fingerprint on something (anything), God will take His hand of it.”  “When we forget the God who blesses us, we will lose the touch of God on our life.”
In the decaying culture which we live, having the touch of God on our life, should be a top priority.


(Checkout Pastor Jerry’s web site @ www.jerrywatts.net)

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The Real Need In this Nation



Our culture and country is in need.  A degree in finance is not required to recognize that we are in a financial crisis, nor is a degree in Law Enforcement is required to know we have a crime problem, nor is a degree is ethics required to clearly understand that the USA has a pervasive problem with ethics.  Yet, all of these stated problems are not the ‘root cause’ of the disintegration of this country, culture, and community.  Finance, crime, and ethics, are but symptoms of the true problem.  If we Americans can ‘man-up’ and ‘face-up’ to the real, deep-seated problem of our culture, then there is hope for the culture that we have come to know and love.  On the other hand, if we are unable to ‘face the music’ and seek the genuine answer, then we may not survive as a country and culture.  What’s required is a spiritual awakening which changes the cultural landscape.  Let me offer a thought from history.  Recently, I read the following paragraph:
On 21 September 1857 Jeremiah Lanphier, a businessman, began a series of prayer meetings in New York. By the beginning of 1858 the congregation was crowded, often with a majority of businessmen. Newspapers reported that over 6,000 were attending various prayer meetings in New York, and 6,000 in Pittsburgh. Daily prayer meetings were held in Washington, D.C. at 5 different times to accommodate the crowds. Other cities followed the pattern. Soon, a common mid-day sign on business premises read, “We will re-open at the close of the prayer meeting”.  It has been told that the courts had to cease hearing cases because there were no ‘cases to hear.’ 
Jeremiah 29:13 reads, “You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.”  The prophet was writing the words as Jehovah God spoke them.  These words follow the promise which God gave only 2 verses earlier (in verse 11). That promise was and is; ‘I know the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’
The same God who was present in the birth and blessing of this nation is the same sovereign God who today wants to restore this nation.  The real need for America is to believe Jeremiah 29:11 and to live Jeremiah 29:13.  As He often does, God calls on us, His crown creation, to respond.

(Checkout Pastor Jerry’s web site @ www.jerrywatts.net)

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

God in the House


Simon was a church leader.  He may have been a deacon, Sunday school teacher, or some other officer.  He had a party for all of his church leader friends.  The guest list was quite small.  But, as is recorded in Luke 7, Simon invited Jesus.   Simon is termed a Pharisee in the Bible.  The reason he and all his Pharisee friends wanted to have a quiet, intimate, and personal meal with Jesus is open for much discussion.  Did they want to get to know Jesus or were their motives less than honorable?  This is a question which has to be asked because it was the Pharisees who, only a short time later, were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus.  But that story will have to wait because there’s a party going on and Jesus is the guest of honor!
When all of the invited guests arrived, things got a little interesting.  An uninvited woman came in and stood behind Jesus.  It seems she was known by the host because in his mind he called her a ‘sinner.’  Today, many think this woman was a prostitute.  So what was she there?  She came for no other reason than to see Jesus.  For you see, Jesus had a reputation for helping those who couldn’t seem to catch a break or help themselves so she just HAD to see Him.
Might I suggest that today, those who believe in Christ need to spend more time making sure that Jesus, through His Holy Spirit, is in the house.  If He’s in the house,
If He’s in the house, He been invited.  Years ago, I read that Billy Graham’s daughter said that, “God is a perfect gentleman.”  He only comes as an invited guest.
If He’s in the house, people know it.  This is a message for every church family who believes in God.  When you walk into a room where God’s presence is, you know it.
If He’s in the house, people will want to be there.   God wrote it into the DNA of man to desire to a relationship with his creator.  People want to be where God is.
If He’s in the house, lives are changed.  Can you imagine coming face to face with the creator of the universe and not being changed?  I can’t.  Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is peace, comfort, and Love.
  
(Checkout Pastor Jerry’s web site @ www.jerrywatts.net)

Monday, April 01, 2013

Singing in a Foreign Land

Before the modern times of ‘civility’, a country that was defeated in a war might well have their population removed from their homeland and carried to the foreign land that had won the war.  The people who were relocated would become slaves of their captors. 
Such was the case with the Jewish nation as recorded in scripture.  In 722BC, the Northern Nation of Israel was captured by the Assyrians under Sargon and around 586BC; the Southern land of Judah was captured by the Babylonian under Nebuchadnezzar.  Many of the people who were taken into captivity were never heard from again.  They were lost to either genocide or cultural absorption.
After almost 70 years in Babylon, the people of God were getting homesick.  From an unnamed writer we read a report in Psalms 137 of how these people felt.  It reads, “By the waters of Babylon, we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion. There we hung our harp on a willow tree, for our captors there ask us for songs and our tormentors, for rejoicing saying, Zion.”  How can we sing the Lord’s song on foreign soil?”
Consider some of the things in your life which can take the form of a ‘strange land.’
First, it could be a foreign country.  I have never desired to be a world traveler because I don’t know the laws & customs in the other countries.  My fear is that I would go and break some custom and wind up in a hole in the ground for the rest of my life.  It’s difficult to sing in a place like that.
Next, it can be this nation.  Candidly, I LOVE the USA!  That said, this country is quickly becoming a strange place.  The country which I have known valued the lives of little children, understood the meaning of morality, and believed in absolute truth.  Today, those standards are all but gone.  It’s difficult to sing in a place like that.
While there are many other ‘foreign lands’ we could name, here is a question for our consideration; “Will we hang our harps on a tree and not sing?” or “Will we reclaim the songs of Zion and let the world hear that God is still love and Jesus is still alive?” 
Let those who have a relationship with God pick up our guitars and sing our songs of joy – even in a strange land.  It could well make a difference.


(Checkout Pastor Jerry’s web site @ www.jerrywatts.net)

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