Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Do EVERYTHING Without Complaining and Arguing

Do EVERTHING Without Complaining

Paul gives us some wonderful advice in Philippians 2:14-15, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation.”

How much do you complain? Most people would say they complain very little but have you stopped to take a count of how much you complain and how much you rejoice? Granted, we all complain about something once in a while but a habitual complainer is someone who needs to remember Paul’s words. Adhering to Paul's words will keep you blameless and pure, looking like God’s child. When we complain, we don’t look like Christ but like the crooked and depraved generation around us.

A complainer is someone who always has something negative to say. They could be at the grocery store shopping and notice the cost of peas have gone up 20 cents. They say, “That’s ridiculous. Peas used to be half that price. I’m not buying peas or shopping here anymore!” Or, they could be driving down the road and someone is going ten miles under the speed limit. They say, “Why is this jerk going so slow? I’m in a hurry and he is so inconsiderate. People cannot drive anymore!” Sound ridiculous? Actually, sometimes people complain more than they think they do. When Paul said do everything without complaining and arguing, he meant EVERYTHING - shopping, driving, working, parenting, marriage and every aspect of life.

It sure is easier to focus on negative things instead of rejoicing about the good. I mean Paul was, in his words, being poured out like a drink offering (v. 17). In reality, he was imprisoned and about to be executed for his faith. Did he complain? Not even about the prison conditions, the “cruel and unusual punishment,” or the quality of the food in prison. He understood that his time was limited on earth and he had better get busy rejoicing about everything (Philippians 4:4).

Are you rejoicing or complaining more? There are many wonderful things the Lord has done to rejoice over. If you spend your time on them, you’ll never have time to complain. So how do we restrain the way we complain? How do we gain the voice that loves to rejoice?

Paul said to joyfully serve the Lord NO MATTER WHAT comes our way or doesn’t go our way. Did Jesus complain on the cross? We should “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame.” Paul does not say to do what you like without complaining and arguing. He says do everything. While that seems hard, God will give you the strength and the Holy Spirit will help to shape you to the image of Christ in your words, attitude, and actions. When you stop complaining and arguing, not only will you grow to be more like Christ, the people around you will have a better day as well. I pray the words of your mouth and the meditations of your heart are pleasing to the Lord (Psalm 19:14).

Monday, August 22, 2011

Commissioned or Decommissioned

We as the church are commissioned to preach the Gospel to all nations.  We should share it with those around us every day - our local mission.  But we should also share it with the world - our global mission.  I have been deeply burdened by this one lately.  The church is and should be on fire in its local community - aggressively and passionately seeking to save those who are lost right next door and down the street.  But the commission from our King goes beyond the borders of our city, past the curbs on our streets, exceeding the boundaries of our contacts.  It is a global mission and sadly churches are not living out the full commission of the Gospel but have decommissioned themselves to only local evangelism efforts.  It is a world-wide commission thus establishing it as truly great and us as truly humbled in need of the Holy Spirit to accomplish it.

Absolutely, make no mistake about it, the local church is to reach out to those around them - those they see and engage daily.  We must make these our main priority.  After all, if we do not sense an urgency to share the Gospel with those closest to us we will never share it with those far away.  Our efforts to plant churches locally must increase, especially as the church in the U.S. is in great decline.  We have become one of the biggest mission fields.  We are empowered first, as Acts 1:8 tells us, to our immediate areas.  Then, we stretch beyond that.

I can't get past this verse lately - Matthew 24:14: "And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."  The Gospel WILL BE proclaimed in the WHOLE world to ALL nations - then the end will come.  Then Jesus will return.  Could he come back today?  Of course.  This verse does not tell us we can predict the return of Christ, only that when God the Father authorizes Christ to return, He will.  And reaching people in every nation has a part to play in it.  How do we know if all groups are reached?  What is the defining percentage that equals "reached"?  We may not know the full scope of the terms "reached" and "all people" but one thing is for certain - the end has not come so our mission is not over.  I can't get past it because I am not doing it.  I am burdened - repentant and humbled by those in need of Christ around me and those Christ calls me to go to globally.

I desire to share Christ with all I come in contact with.  Today, I did that as I ran errands around town and came into contact with a guy at his business and another as I waited on bologna to be sliced.  Tomorrow I will pray, "Lord, show me someone today who I can share You with."  But I want to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth as well. 

Some will say, "well, the resources, time, and energy used to go somewhere else far away will be wasted when you could just reach the masses who are not reached here."  Yes.  That contemporary logic is right.  It will take longer, cost more money, and require more effort to go beyond us.  So why not let someone else, maybe who is closer to the unreached people groups do it?  Sounds like good logic but the problem is God has told me to do it and I can't ignore that. 

So what do I personally do about it?  Of course, I'm going to continue to lead, share, and devote my life as a pastor in this area to which I've been called.  But what about those who do not know?  What about those who have never heard?  How will they hear unless someone tells them?

I can't get past this.  My heart aches for the lost here and worldwide.  There are currently over 8,500 unreached people groups in the world.  These have never heard about Christ even once.  About 3,600 of these unreached groups are closed meaning no one can get to them to share Christ either legally or in threat of danger/death.  What about them?  Can I sit idly by as they continue to be unreached, hoping someone else will do it?  I can't reach them all.  I can't do everything - but I can do something.

So, what am I to do personally?  I'm investigating options right now (who can I support financially, who can i pray for, where am I to go, who can I partner with, etc.).  I'm doing this at the same time I am sharing Christ with the locals and making disciples of people I can call by name and meet with weekly.  My life and energy is given over to Christ as His pastor to those in my city and neighboring cities.  This calling is sure.  But Christ bids me to expand my local vision to His global one.  While my local vision must expand more and more to as many cities around me, it must also reach into the uttermost parts of the world.  He is Lord and King of Jefferson County and every county that touches it.  I will live for Him and give everything to see that happen.  I just can get past the "Go make disciples of all nations," "being witnesses to the ends of the earth," and "proclaiming the Gospel to the whole world and all nations." 

What about places like Northern Yemen?  It has 9 million people in it with only about 30 or so that are believers.  That's the equivalent of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana combined with only those in my Life Group who are saved.  If that comparison doesn't move you to see the state of urgency of world-wide evangelism/discipleship and the unsaved people groups of the world turn to Christ I don't know what will.  What do we do?  Who do we send?  Who can we support that's going there?  Where else am I supposed to go while I maintain my mission and calling locally?  Our hearts and efforts must be about reaching the masses here - only when we see those around us as valuable and eternally lost without Christ will we be able to see the masses world-wide in the same way.  We cannot merely go after the world when our next door neighbors and co-workers are lost.  Christ has called us to those we know by name and our kid plays soccer with.  These are first and foremost.  But we cannot turn a blind eye to the world around us, as though only our city and locals will be in heaven (or hell).

Let me make this disclaimer that has almost lessened and crippled evangelism in the church worldwide.  We don't need to merely get people anywhere, local or global, to just say a prayer and count them as saved as we pat ourselves on the back as they go live anyway they want.  We must make disciples.  This is only done through the local church.  We must plant churches here and abroad.  We must make disciples locally and globally.  Then the end will come.  How will we know when our task is over and we have reached the masses?  Our King will return.  The Sovereign Lord Who demands our glory and praise and wants all men to be saved (none to perish) will return in all His splendor and a great multitude of every nation, tribe, people, and language will stand before the throne of the Lord and give Him praise.  I don't know about you but that pumps me up!  I want to share the Gospel to obey Him and to see more people everywhere (locally and globally) give Him glory.  This is what we were made to do.  This is what we were commissioned for.  How Great a commission it is!  Help us Holy Spirit to do it all the while we say, "even so, come quickly, Lord."