WHAT HAS GOD CALLED YOU DO?

A great message from David Platt of McLean Bible Church in Virginia. It is part five of his sermon series, titled “Following Jesus: Faith That Changes Lives in a World of Urgent Need, Can I suggest you take the time to view the sermon series, just click on the link.

‘What kind of Christianity have you bought into? Who told you that following Jesus would lead to greater comfort and ease in this world?’ Because that didn’t come from this Book,” said Platt while holding up his Bible. “That came from a very skewed version of this Book that’s being sold all across our culture.”

Platt said that many Christians need God to point them to the reality that “the ultimate need of every single person in the world is to be forgiven for their sins.” However, he said, in order to be reconciled to God, a person needs to first hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Platt emphasized the importance of Christians not being afraid of difficulties that they might face while spreading the Gospel to remote places because, he said, “there are 3 billion people in the world who have never heard the Word of God, and they won’t have their sins forgiven if they never hear the Gospel.” (My add) Moreover, if God has called you to go, He will guide and protect you.

“God made a way for humans to be forgiven for all their sin, to be reconciled to Him, to eternal life, through faith in Jesus, by what He did on the cross, His resurrection from the grave,” he maintained. “We have been commanded to show God’s love in a world of earthly suffering, and ultimately, we have been commanded to proclaim the Gospel to keep people from a second death (David said eternal suffering). “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. “Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. The victor will never be harmed by the second death.

“Somebody has to go and tell them. If no one goes and tells them, they will spend eternity separated from Him. Do you see what’s at stake here? Do we see the need?” Platt asked rhetorically. 

BELIEVE AND OBEY, BOTH NECESSARY

There is no doubt Jesus accomplished all we need to be righteous before God our Father. Salvation is available for all those that repent of their sins and believe in Jesus as both our Saviour and Lord.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,” Romans 1:16

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.Romans 3:21-22

We are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” Romans 3:24

And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:50

It is a done deal, however the following verses also indicate that Jesus calls us to action.

And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” Matthew 4:19-20

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.And he rose and followed him.

To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:59-60

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.Matthew 16:24

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:10

Jesus has put us in right standing with our Heavenly Father and made it possible for our Father to send the Holy Spirit to enable us to live the Christian life, to be our Counsellor, our Comforter and Teacher so the question now is are we truly obeying His call to follow Him and to do the good works He has prepared for us?

QUEEN ELIZABETH SPEAKS OF “LIVING FAITH”

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II, head of the Church of England, thanked BBC’s long-running TV series “Songs of Praise,” which celebrated nearly 3,000 episodes on its 60th anniversary Sunday, for presenting Christianity as a “living faith.”

“For 60 years, Songs of Praise has drawn together congregations and BBC viewers throughout the United Kingdom in collective worship,” the queen said in a message for a special episode of the show Sunday, The Telegraph reported.

During that time, the program has shown Christianity as a living faith not only through hymns and worship songs, but also by featuring the many people who have put their faith at the center of their lives,” the 95-year-old queen continued.

“I congratulate ‘Songs of Praise’ and all those involved in the program on its 60th anniversary,” she added.

Aled Jones, who has been a “Songs of Praise” presenter for over 20 years, called it “one of the biggest joys of my life.”

“It is an honor to be able to share uplifting stories of faith with our dear audience and to gladden hearts with music that means the world to me. Here’s to a future filled with wonderful ‘Songs of Praise!’” Jones was quoted as saying.

On Saturday morning, while opening the new session of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, the queen spoke publicly about the Duke of Edinburgh for the first time since his death in April, The Sunday Times reported.

“I have spoken before of my deep and abiding affection for this wonderful country, and of the many happy memories Prince Philip and I always held of our time here,” she was quoted as saying. “It is often said that it is the people that make a place, and there are few places where this is truer than in Scotland, as we have seen in recent times.”

A church leader close to the late Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, revealed in a media interview back in April that he had “persuaded” the queen, his wife, to talk more about her Christian faith ahead of her Christmas broadcast in 2000.

From my post PRINCE PHILIP’S FINEST HOUR:

Prince Philip wanted his funeral service to be a testimony to His Triune God. There was no eulogy. He wanted the total focus to be on His God and on all three persons of the Trinity. This he did by his choice of Scriptures that were read. He also wanted all to know, particularly his family and friends, that he had total confidence his eternity was in the hands of the God he wanted to be made known through the funeral service he had planned.

ALWAYS REMEMBER WHO IS IN CONTROL

“And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” Luke 17:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6

The Apostle Paul says that in every single circumstance, we can tell God what we are feeling and, as a result, the Lord will protect our hearts and minds from the weight of this world.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.Romans 8:26

Here Paul makes it clear that the indwelling Holy Spirit helps us communicate our requests to God. We can rest assured He is advocating for us in our confusion and lack.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:1-2

Paul reminds us that our lives are not determined or controlled by forces on this earth. Our security is in Jesus, and that should guide our thinking.

If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you — you of little faith?” Matthew 6:30

Even if His provision doesn’t look the way we think it should, God can be trusted to meet our greatest needs. How much more can God care for you, for whom He sent His Son, Jesus, to die?

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing, and perfect will.Romans 12:2

While we certainly ought to engage in the world, Paul warns against becoming so consumed by its trappings that we begin to mirror it. Instead, we should set boundaries and see the temporary circumstances around us through the lens of our renewed minds, which come through sanctification as a result of salvation through Jesus.

The Lord is eager to meet us in every situation and circumstance, including when we’re overwhelmed by the constant flow of information fed to us by our newsfeeds. Take some time today to turn off your phone and focus on our priority: Jesus.

Remember as long as Peter kept his eyes fixed on Jesus, he was able to walk on the water. Live eternal now.

IS YOUR LIFE BRINGING GLORY TO GOD

God never called us to do anything for Him. He does, however, call us to work with him.

James, the half-brother of Jesus, taught: “In the same way, faith also if it has no works, is dead.” James 2:17,

The simple truth about the difference between good works and bad or religious works, is that good works are works that God by His Holy Spirit calls us to do, through prayer and our ongoing relationship with God in Christ.

Dead religious works, in contrast, are things we try to do for God in order to earn His favour. Jesus died on a cross for our sins, and we receive His favour only by His grace. No amount of works will ever purchase that favour. However, because of that grace we now do good works for Him through the leading of His Holy Spirit.

In Matthew 25:23, Jesus said, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.”

It sounds to me like Jesus was building some form of “performance-based Christianity!” Our true calling is to be living so close to Him, and to be so biblically astute, that our whole lives bring glory to His name in the process. Moreover, what you do on earth for Him will determine your role in serving Him during His Millennial reign on this earth.

In fact, God, the Father sent the Holy Spirit to be our counsellor, teacher and comforter to make us like Jesus and to prepare us to rule and reign with Him during His Millennial reign on this earth.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-1.jpeg

 “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.Revelation 5:9-10

They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” Revelation 20:4-6

RIGHTEOUS BY FAITH ALONE

Anything that is not birthed out of faith is fatally flawed by sin.

“For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” Romans 14:23

According to Isaiah without faith even our righteous deeds are “like a polluted garment”.

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” Isaiah 64:6

The reality is that anyone outside the saving faith of Christ are dead people, spiritually dead and therefore only capable of doing wretched, sinful things. From birth this is the reality for us all. We need to be clothed in His righteousness and this can only be done when we repent and put our faith in Jesus, the only one who can make us righteous, and that is by being clothed in His righteousness.

None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Romans 3:10-12

The book of Job teaches us much about faith. Believing that God is good despite the apparent evidence to the contrary, Job rested in faith alone. In the depths of agony he could still proclaim, “I know that my Redeemer lives” (Job 9:25). In the end, God silenced all discussion with the truth that He alone is wise (chs. 38–41). Yet, He vindicated Job’s trust in Him (ch. 42), proving that genuine faith cannot be destroyed.

The gospel is the power of God for salvation for in it the righteousness of God is revealed but it is by faith that we live the Christian life.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes… For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith (or beginning and ending in faith), as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17

BEING OBEDIENT TO GOD

For Christians sometimes obedience comes before understanding.

To enable us, Jesus made it possible for our Heavenly Father to send the Holy Spirit to indwell our Spirit to be our counsellor, teacher and comforter.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.John 3:5-8

In my own life, many times, I am confronted by the Holy spirit prompting me to do something I would not ordinarily do and when I am obedient and do it, I discover that God had orchestrated all aspects of the the event, circumstances, people and location and it invariably did one or more of the following things: helped others, proved God’s existence and brought glory to Him and His Word.

Even before Jesus made it possible for believers to be born again and receive the Holy Spirit, God was working with people like Abraham who by faith was prepared to be obedient . Think about it, Abraham could have had no understanding of why he was called to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice. This is trusting God to the uttermost.

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.Hebrews 11:17-19

What did God promise Abraham because of his obedience:

By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voiceGenesis 22:16-18

Long after Abraham had died the children of Abraham knew that:

Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.” Joshua 21:45

Jesus now calls us to do the following things, which in the natural you would not do, but by the power of the Holy Spirit you can do.

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.Luke 6:27-31

Are you being obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading each day of your life? Are you living eternal now?

available on Amazon as an ebook and trade paperback edition

FAITH JOURNEY BY LEADING SCIENTIST

Dr. Francis Collins is considered to be one of the most effective and ground-breaking scientists in the world. Collins graduated with a degree in chemistry from the University of Virginia. He earned his PhD in chemistry at Yale and then decided, for good measure, he would go to medical school at the University of North Carolina. From there, he returned to Yale and later, the University of Michigan. He is most noted for having been chosen to chair the Human Genome Project where, in 2003, he led an international collaboration of two thousand scientists in sequencing the human genome. More recently, he was appointed by President Obama to be the Director of the National Institutes of Health. Clearly, he is a prominent scientist, but what is perhaps even more interesting is his spiritual journey.

DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH

“As a scientist, I had always insisted on collecting rigorous data before drawing a conclusion. And yet, in matters of faith, I had never collected any data at all. I didn’t know what I had rejected. So, I decided that I should be a little better grounded in my atheism. I better find out what this is all about. So, I challenged a patient of mine who was a Methodist minister. And, after listening to my questions and realizing that I was not dealing with a very full deck of information, he suggested that I read the Gospel of John, which I did…I found the scripture to be interesting, puzzling, and not at all what I had thought faith was about… then I began to read C.S. Lewis and realized there was a great depth of thinking and reasoning that could be applied to the question of God.”

Lewis convinced Francis Collins that reason and faith go hand in hand, though faith has the added component of revelation—the Bible. Collins had previously believed that Jesus and the stories of the Bible were nothing more than mere myths. Again, as he studied the historical evidence, he was stunned at how well documented and how historically accurate the Bible is. He also saw a surprising fidelity of the transmission of the manuscripts that were passed down over the centuries. And, over time, Francis Collins, based on the accumulation of the evidence that he observed, concluded that God exists, and that Jesus is the Son of God.

He also concluded that most of the religious skeptics that he knew and that he meets today are just like he was. That is to say, they didn’t want to think about these things and never looked at any evidence, never drawing conclusions from the real evidence that was available.

This is what Dr. Dallas Willard, former professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California, believed was a major problem with individuals who considered themselves to be agnostic or atheist. Willard found that so many of the students and scholars he encountered on campus and in the world were guilty of what he called “irresponsible disbelief.” These bright men and women would often choose to disbelieve in something without any significant commitment to an investigation of that disbelief by way of sound reasoning and careful examination of the evidence.

THE GENIUS OF C.S.LEWIS

Eric Metaxas interviews Oxford Fellow Dr. Michael Ward about his discovery of a secret code in C.S. Lewis’s CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, which Ward explores in his book PLANET NARNIA. Both men are brilliant and Christians. They expanded my view of Jesus and therefore God and hope they will do that for you as well. Whilst I have several of C.S.Lewis’s books this interview has inspired me to want to dig deeper. The level of C.S.Lewis’s faith was incredible. If you want to go deeper in your faith you need to read Miracles – Do they Really Happen.

LIVING ETERNAL NOW

One of the greatest aspects of the Christian faith is what we believe happens after death. And by no means is it blind faith or wishful thinking. It starts with Jesus himself. In John’s eyewitness account of Jesus’ life and ministry, he records a conversation between Jesus and someone who had just lost a brother to sickness and death. 

Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” John 11:21-27

Jesus made a promise to Martha that not only was there a resurrection, but that Jesus himself was the resurrection and the life, and that faith in him would result in eternal life. It’s why this same apostle John, would go on to write the greatest summary statement in all the Bible:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Make no mistake, Jesus clearly taught that there was a resurrection, and the way to eternal life, to a life after this life, was through faith in him. Now, the skeptical might ask: sure that’s great to believe in, but what if it’s all a hoax? Where’s the proof?

That’s a legitimate question.

How Christians live their lives should be proof enough. Why?

Because Jesus made it possible for our Heavenly Father to send the Holy Spirit to indwell the Spirits of all believers. He produces the fruit in our lives of love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, kindness and self control. His job is to sanctify us, to make us like our Lord Jesus. We therefore build our lives around this belief in Jesus as Saviour and Lord. It affects how we live and interact with others. It affects how we use our time, our finances. We give our life to serving Him and others. The Holy Spirit even provides the gifts of the Spirit (all nine: 1 Corinthians 12:4 and Hebrews 2:4) to enable us to minister to others effectively.

In the book of 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul makes a great point:

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” 1 Corinthians 15:19

If this life is all that there is, then you would not live a life of sacrifice as Christians do.

Also look at the historical evidence: we know from the four eyewitness accounts from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, that Jesus claimed to be the son of God, and as he promised Martha, that he was the resurrection and the life. And then he died a criminal’s death on a Roman cross. Three days later, these disciples began to claim that Jesus was raised from the dead, that they had seen him. And if true, this would change everything, because on numerous occasions Jesus prophesied his own death and resurrection, and if someone can prophesy their own death and resurrection and then pull it off, surely it is evidence enough to convince the most hardened skeptic. Fifteen to twenty years later, the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church in Corinth, recorded in the book of 1 Corinthians. In chapter 15, we have this incredible teaching on what Christ has accomplished for us with His death and resurrection.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 15:3-6

Paul is recording the central claim of Christianity: Jesus proved his divinity by dying on the cross and rising again, thereby validating everything he said about the resurrection. It’s why we have hope that we who believe in Jesus will see our brothers and sisters in Christ again, that this is not the end for us. The key here is the list of witnesses: after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to Cephas (Peter), the twelve, then 500 at one time, many of whom were still alive fifteen to twenty years later. It’s like Paul is saying: fact-check me on this one. I know it’s an outrageous claim, but go and talk to the witnesses yourself.

1 Corinthians is written twenty years after the event of the resurrection, with witnesses still alive, who saw Jesus alive after his death and burial and resurrection. And because Jesus rose from the dead, everything changes!

Here’s what Paul wrote about how Jesus’ resurrection secures our own resurrection:

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 54-57

Death is the great equalizer, death awaits us all, but Jesus has taken away it’s sting. Death is not all that there is, because Jesus conquered death, and through Jesus we will conquer death. That’s not saying that we’ll live forever in this life, but we’ll live forever in the next. For those of us who believe in Jesus, will see him again, at the resurrection at the last day, and we’ll be with him forever. And because of that, we can rejoice.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2

Let start living with an eternal focus NOW.