You may have notice I often conclude our service or our prayer circle with the comment, “North Valley Christian Church now leaves the building.” I do that to affirm Jesus’ desire for us, his followers, to take His gospel to the community we live that is in need of good news. As Christ’s church may we not just hear the Word of God, and understand it, but may we also understand the seriousness of what Jesus charges us to do with that word. Jesus puts on his followers the obligation to share His Word with others.
As followers of Christ we must not just hear the Word, but we must receive into ourselves and grow it. We must not just hear the Word, but we must obey what Jesus taught, and apply it to our lives. We must not just hear the word, but we must share the light of Jesus to those in darkness around us. We must not just hear the word, but we must preserve it. Thus everyone who receives His Word becomes a sower, everyone becomes a lamp on a table, and everyone becomes salt. We are to become the sower, the lamp, and salt to the community that we reside in.
It is a solemn thing to hear God’s Word, for with hearing comes the responsibility of receiving, sharing, obeying, and preserving, for in so doing we produce fruit, not for ourselves, but for the glory of our King – Jesus Christ.
You Should Tell Someone,
Amos said, “The days are coming, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I will send a famine through the land … a famine of hearing the words of the Lord, (8:11). The prophet described an unusual famine, not one of food, water, or sword, but one of the Word of the Lord. If you read the next verse you learn the result of this famine is a great restlessness in people living in the land.
What is the condition of a place in such a famine? A place without the Word of God is a place when no message from the unseen is recognized as truth. A place where God does not speak to the depths of a person’s life. A place where the people have hardened their hearts, and whose minds are unconscious of God’s presence. It is a place where God’s word still lingers, and is still powerful and sharper than a two-edged sword, yet it fails to affect. Think for a moment, is that what describes our world today? Are people today not hearing God? Is there not a great restlessness about us? Yes!
We today are in a famine similar to the one described by Amos. God is still speaking, but many are no longer listening, and there is a great uneasiness about us. As ones who were once living in that famine, it is time to take the Word of God to those around us who are starved, and end the famine.
Ending the famine,
Matthew 12 contains two stories about working on the Sabbath – Saturday. One is about Jesus and his disciples picking and eating grain, and the other is about Jesus healing a man with a withered hand. Both actions were criticized by the Pharisees, for they saw it as breaking the 4th commandment, “Keep the Sabbath holy.”
Physical condition in the Bible is always emblematic of spiritual condition, thus we see mankind’s spiritual condition in the two stories: Our insatiable needs, suffering, and incompetence. In response to his critics Jesus asked, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath day to do good or to do harm?”
What is God’s answer to this question? God is such that in the presence of human failings He must either help or harm, and he cannot harm; he must either save or kill, and he cannot kill. Therefore, we have Calvary, the cross, the Son’s blood, the breaking of God’s heart, and the sacrifice by which he lifts crushed, bruised, broken humanity and remakes it.
What then is the Christian’s answer to this question? No Christian who comes into the presence of a failed, and sorrowful person can pass them by because, like God, we must either help or harm, and seeing as we are not to harm, we must help. In the presence of a hungry spirit, and a withered life we must tell about Jesus. Not to do so, is to be complicit in the forces that destroy.
The salvation of Jesus Christ is holistic, by that I mean it is complete. With that said we should understand there are many dimensions to living in harmony with God. I think most of us understand in one sense salvation is a legal transaction. We as humans are guilty of sin, and as sinners we stand against a God who is holy. Because God is holy he must deal with our sin because it is an assault against who he is. Enter Jesus, who died on the cross in our place. Jesus gets what we deserve; we get what Jesus deserved. Doesn’t sound fair, but that is grace.
If salvation is just a legal transaction in which we are forgiven of our sins so we can go to heaven, then salvation essentially becomes a ticket to somewhere else; salvation kicks in when we die. But Jesus did not teach this. Jesus said that when we believe, we have, “… crossed over from death to life,” (John 5:24). When I enter into a relationship with God through Christ, I am connected with God now, and forever.
Jesus salvation is now, and that is important for us to understand because I need God now, I need healing now, I need help now. Yes, there are greater things that will come someday, but salvation is now.
Give Him Praise!
Some men brought a paralytic to Jesus to be healed, (Matt 9). Jesus said to the man, “Take courage son; your sins are forgiven,” (NASB). How does one have courage when facing a difficult situation? Is it by love? No, for love fails. Is it by hope? No, for hope fades as quickly as the day. Is it by faith? No, for faith fears, and falters.
Love fails, hope fades, and faith fears what then is the abiding condition for courage? It is this: A clear vision of Jesus Christ. You say you don’t a clear vision of Jesus, then leave off vision and have only Jesus Himself. I change, He changes not. My love ebbs and flows, his love never dies. My faith, my hope, my love are not the final conditions of real courage, but Jesus Christ himself is. All our fears, and all our panics result from a dimmed vision of Jesus; a dimmed consciousness of Christ. I believe the fears we face today result from a lack of the sense of His presence.
Oh, trembling, terrified, troubled souls look to your Lord Jesus Christ, and with eyes fastened upon Him listen to His words, “Be of good courage.” What does that means? When he says that, He means this: He puts himself between your soul and all the forces in hell and earth that may come against you, and He rebukes them, casts them out, and defeats them.
What are the realms which cause us to be afraid? In the briefest of terms there are two realms: The unknown future, and the unfathomable present. We think of tomorrow and we are afraid of what will come with the rising sun. We stand in a present moment and think how can I hold on to this moment? These then are the realms from which our fears come from.
In Moses farewell benediction to Israel he sang, “Elohim is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deut. 33:27). In these words we find the comfort that we seek when we find ourselves afraid of the two realms that assault us. How you ask?
Elohim means: Mighty God, the God of creation. Therefore, He is the God of our beginning, and our dwelling place is underneath His everlasting arms. The Hebrew word underneath has a fascinating definition. It means the bottom, the uttermost limit of the depressing, humbling, and beating down. How far down can your imagination carry you? How deep have you been into life? How profound has been your experience of sorrow? How far have you sunk in some hour of weakness? How near have you come to death? When you recall your lowest level, then underneath that are the everlasting arms of God.
That which lies beyond our ultimate reach, that which lies beyond our imagination, and that which is beyond our thoughts is our God – Elohim.
It goes without saying that Jesus said many things to many people, but when it came to Jesus calling people to Him, He often used the simple phrase, “Follow Me.” In reading any of the four Gospels it is surprising how often we find Jesus using the simple phrase of, “Follow Me.” It is such a simply phrase that even a child can tell you the meaning of it. Yet it is so inspiring that theologians have yet to exhaust its meaning.
What does it mean to follow Jesus? Two things come to mind, and they are both captured in the title of the old hymn, “Trust and Obey.” I cannot follow unless I trust Him, but I can trust Him, in a general sense, but never follow Him. There are many who believe Jesus to be the Savior of men, but they never have trusted Him enough to follow Him.
You can applaud Jesus, you can admire Him, and you can come near enough to touch the hem of His garment, yet never strike a blow for God’s victory. His call is stirring, and never was there such an enterprise undertaken as the Jesus movement. His words stir the heart, but the question becomes: Will you answer His call to trust and obey?