You are called

In this episode of the Everyday Jesus podcast, we look at the subject of calling. Is everyone called to do ministry or is it something just for pastors and missionaries?

You Are Called Everyday Jesus

In this episode we look at whether everyone has a distinct calling and purpose with God or if that's just something for pastors.  http://www.everydayjesus.net http://www.facebook.com/everydayjesuspodcast Music from http://www.hooksounds.com  
  1. You Are Called
  2. Pregnant With The Wind
  3. Having a Revival Mindset
  4. Seek And You Will Find…
  5. Three Ways To Halt Spiritual Growth

The Christian Conscience and Mandates

We are living in a time when the government mandates many things – from health insurance to certain shots. And while many may take the stance that Romans 13 addresses how the Christian should respond to such mandates, I believe that is a blanket statement in which the blanket has far too many holes in it to keep anyone warm.

Now, to be clear, most of the people I personally know that have been faced with the more recent mandate, have actually gotten around it by applying for an exemption. Some of the exemptions have been medical and some have been religious. And it seems that there is a controversy as to whether religious exemptions are biblical.

Those in charge in many places were expecting people to apply for religious exemptions, specifically tied to the fetal cell argument, so they sought to obscure the truth, (see link here). My thoughts today are not to talk down that line of thinking for applying for a religious exemption because of the deeply held belief that abortion is wrong, but to also offer another train of thought in regards to exemptions – namely the idea of a Christian conscience.

Many have seemingly forgotten one of Christianity’s deeply held ideas, that every Christian has a conscience and to go against one’s conscience is sinful. On October 31st, the church across the world celebrates Reformation Day, which is the anniversary of the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg Chapel.

As history taught us, the ruling powers in the church at the time did not take kindly to what Luther thought, so they started persecuting him and asking him to take back what he had said against the pope and the church. It is in that context that he is reportedly to have said: “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.”

Christians today could learn a lot about the sheer boldness and fortitude possessed by Luther, because the conscience is an important part of how we are to live out our lives as believers. Deep within our souls we know right from wrong and God expects us to do what is right.

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” James 4:17

James does not hold back here, it’s sinful to go against your conscience. The Bible doesn’t address every area of sin. It doesn’t mention how much time we should spend on Facebook or in what ways we should use computers, but it does say that the law of God has been written on the hearts of men. And James draws from that, the idea that we know the difference from right and wrong and we must do what is right. Where the Bible is silent, in other words, we must follow what God has put into our hearts.

Now we know according to Jeremiah 17:9 that the heart is exceedingly deceitful, so how does this play into our conscience? Well the Bible answers that in the New Testament. Hebrews 9:14 says, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

Put simply, because of Jesus and his atoning work on the cross, our conscience is being purified. Now this doesn’t mean it’s perfect and we should certainly pray over our responses in critical situations, but as James said, we can’t go against our conscience as that would be sinful.

Now I’ve said all of that to say this, when it comes to government mandates, the Christian must search his conscience and do what is right to him, for to do anything other would be sinful. The Bible is clear that government has its place and it is to be God’s servant for your good (Romans 13:4). It should be honored and respected. But the Government is not God and when the government tells you to do something that goes against God or your conscience, then you have a duty to do what is right before God.

This line of thought was summed up perfectly in the early church when Peter and the apostles were brought before the local authorities and were instructed to stop preaching the gospel. Now they could have obeyed the principle in Romans 13, but instead, they understood the principle in James 4:17 and chose to stand up for what they believed and said, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)

So I’d like to encourage you in a couple of areas today. First, if you are facing a mandate and it goes against your conscience, stand strong. Secondly, if you are having discussions with friends and family on this subject, and their conscience is telling them something different than what yours has told you, please love and respect them. We are free to disagree with one another, but we are not free to hate on one another. Christians should be known for their grace, not their vitriol, even in times like these.

WHICH GOD DO YOU SERVE?

This is a story almost as old as time. As a people, we were created to worship. Now some, possibly those who are atheist, would say that we are not created to worship and that they are choosing not to worship any god. They would however be wrong.

When we think of worship, a lot of times we think of it as kneeling down before our chosen deity. Yet, worship is more than that. It’s really about what do we give reverence to or to put it another way what do we make the highest authority in our life.

Whatever is our highest authority or whatever we give the most reverence to is what we are worshipping. We may never sing songs to it and we may never physically kneel before it, but make no mistake, we are worshipping it.

At any given times, multiple things or people are vying for our worship. One of these easiest gods to point out is the god of money. Jesus never says that money is evil, it’s fairly neutral, but it’s the “love” of money that is evil. Or to look at it another way, it’s the worshipping of money that is evil. That’s why Jesus also says that you cannot serve two masters – god and money.

That’s a principle worth noting – you cannot worship two gods. You might think you are worshipping God and money or God and popularity, but in truth one will always take the place of the other, meaning you will always hold one in higher esteem and if you are holding one in higher esteem, then the other isn’t really being worshipped. Jesus is essentially saying that if you are choosing between God and anything else, then God is the one who will lose out. You must determine that He alone is God and that nothing else is worthy of your worship.

One of the seemingly shared characteristics of all gods is their ability to save us from hell. I heard a preacher say years ago, that if being poor is hell for us, then of course money will save us. If being being single is hell, then of course a spouse will save us. If being rejected is hell, then you will worship popularity. We worship the god that we think will save us.

This brings us to our current state of affairs. Sometimes you will see that certain entities will create a “hell” so that it can also save you from it. Today governments all across the world are creating a “hell” for people so that it can offer salvation. This hell is the inability to enter restaurants, stores or even work at certain jobs without having the proper “medical credentials”. The government now has the ability to save you from this hell by offering you salvation in the form of a shot and the proper paperwork. The reason for this is simple, the government is demanding your worship.

Some will say that Romans 13 is an open checkbook for us to obey any and all demands of the government, but they fail to take into account several instances in the Bible where people didn’t obey the ludicrous claims of the governing authority, especially when those demands went against their faith. The Apostles never stopped preaching the gospel, even though they were commanded to under the threat of death.

“But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Acts 5:29

Look at the stories of the midwives in Exodus 1 or Rahab in the Book of Joshua. Look at the life of Daniel and the three Hebrew boys. There are many examples of defying tyrants in the Bible. In fact, some would say that it’s one of the hallmarks of being a God-fearing person. You fear God more than you fear the government.

“Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God”

John Knox – Scottish Reformer

Again, we worship whatever we hold in the highest regard. If it’s God, we will certainly attempt to live quiet lives, seeking to love others and to love God. But don’t expect the government or money or whatever not to fight for your worship. I believe every Christian will have to face the question, which god do you serve? You can only choose one. Which one do you serve today?

Pregnant With The Wind

In this episode we are discussing what it looks like to be pregnant with the wind, or to put it in other words, to labor for something that never comes to pass. Have you ever worked hard only to find yourself in a fruitless situation several years down the road? Have you ever had a dream that never came true or didn’t amount to what you thought it would. We hit on all those things and more in this episode.

Pregnant With The Wind Everyday Jesus

In this episode we are discussing what it looks like to be pregnant with the wind, or to put it in other words, to labor for something that never comes to pass.    http://www.everydayjesus.net http://www.facebook.com/everydayjesuspodcast http://www.instagram.com/everydayjesuspodcast  

(For those getting emails, you will need to click through to the website in order to see the podcast player or head to spotify, itunes, etc. and search for Everyday Jesus)

Seek And You Will Find

In this week’s episode of the podcast we look at the encouragement to seek. “Seek and you will find,” Jesus says. What does that mean? How should we seek? When should we seek? What will we find? All of these questions are answered in today’s episode.

Seek And You Will Find… Everyday Jesus

In this episode we discuss the encouragement to seek God. If you seek, you will find, Jesus says. What does that mean? Check out this week's episode to find out! http://www.everydayjesus.net http://www.facebook.com/everydayjesuspodcast http://www.instagram.com/everydayjesuspodcast music: hooksounds.com

(For those getting emails, you will need to click through to the website in order to see the podcast player or head to spotify, itunes, etc. and search for Everyday Jesus)

Why is the Lord’s Supper Important?

On the night before he was crucified, Jesus sat down with his disciples and had a simple meal together – bread and wine. For those who have attended church, we call this the Last Supper. I get why we call it the Last Supper, as it was the last meal that Jesus ate before his crucifixion, but I’m not sure it’s name is the best name. It also goes by another name once we pass through the events of the cross – The Lord’s Supper.

Further into church history, we find that rather than it being the Last Supper, it actually became the First Supper, as Christians throughout history have commemorated the meal at churches and homes throughout the centuries. Sometimes in church this becomes such a formal event though, that we lose the intimate value of it. Picture yourself sitting with Jesus around the table on the night that he was betrayed. He is sitting there eating, talking and loving on his best friends.

The room would have been lit up with candles. There would simple utensils lying around. Perhaps some cloth to wipe their faces. There may have been some laughing early in the evening as the disciples were unaware of what was going to quickly come to pass. Remember Jesus had rode into Jerusalem to the crowds chanting “Hosanna” and laying palm branches down before Him. This was an electric time.

Continue reading “Why is the Lord’s Supper Important?”

What Should I Do When My Heart is Troubled?

What do you do when your heart is troubled? What do you do when things are falling down around you? Life can be very difficult. Things don’t go the way you want them to go. As a Christian, how should you deal with that?

“My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all of my sins.”

Psalm 25:15-18

The Psalmist, David, starts Psalm 25 with a request from God to “teach me your paths (verse 4).” What is it about following God that brings so much stress and conflict into our lives? I know some preachers promise that once you come to Jesus, everything will be sunshine and roses, but that hasn’t been the case in my walk with Christ.

In my walk, it seems that every time I get the least bit comfortable, some situation arises and it prods me out of my comfort zone. One minute everything is fine and the next, everything is falling apart and with seemingly little to no warning. Just boom. Everything is coming against me.

What I’ve found is that when I’m comfortable, I’m not growing. I’m not growing closer to God. I’m not growing spiritually. In order for me to grow, I have to get out of my comfort zone.

Getting out of your comfort zone is not pleasant. I picture it like the baby bird being kicked out of the nest in order to learn to fly. You are either going to fly or you are going to hit the ground with a THUD! When we are pushed out of our comfort zone, we have the same choice – fly or fall. More often than not, I fall. I fall into depression or loneliness or anxiety.

David and I have a lot in common. He says in verse 16 that he is lonely and afflicted. Basically he feels like he is being beat down and he has no one with him to lift him up. I don’t know about David, but I feel like this even when there are people around me, who may even be encouraging me. In some ways, it’s like my ears are shut to their encouragement. All I can hear is my loneliness.

“The troubles of my heart are enlarged,” says David. And I concur. When we are lonely and afflicted, it’s almost as if all of our troubles are much larger than they really are. They have grown. Our troubles seem larger than we are. What a terrible place to be!

What is the answer to these woes? What should we do when we find ourselves in such a place? Here are three steps:

Continue reading “What Should I Do When My Heart is Troubled?”

Deny Yourself or Deny Jesus

Our society is backwards. We are told constantly that we need to look after ourselves. We need “me” time. We need to “find ourself.” You have to focus on you, because nobody else will, the saying goes. But this is all backwards to kingdom thinking.

In the kingdom, Jesus is asking us to deny ourselves. He is commanding us to take our focus off of ourself and put it on the cross. While others are feeding into what your flesh wants to hear, Jesus tells us that our flesh has to be crucified.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

Matthew 16:24

Jesus didn’t cut corners with his disciples. He told them exactly what they needed to hear and that message was simple, if you don’t deny yourself, you can’t follow me. Jesus knew that the denial of one’s own interests, hopes and dreams was a difficult ask. He knew that our flesh would fight against that line of thought. After all if you don’t look after you, who will?

Denying yourself is more than just saying no to yourself, it really is a death sentence as Jesus describes it. We deny ourselves and then we join him in his crucifixion by taking up our cross and following Him up the hill to Calvary. Denying yourself means you have to die to everything. And if you don’t deny yourself, you will most certainly deny Jesus.

Continue reading “Deny Yourself or Deny Jesus”

The Bridegroom Is Calling…

Have you ever been slow to respond to the Lord? Have you ever delayed in your response to His calling? Today I was reading from Song of Songs 5. Listen to what it says.

I slept but my heart was awake.
Listen! My beloved is knocking:
“Open to me, my sister, my darling,
my dove, my flawless one.
My head is drenched with dew,
my hair with the dampness of the night.”
3 I have taken off my robe—
must I put it on again?
I have washed my feet—
must I soil them again?
4 My beloved thrust his hand through the latch-opening;
my heart began to pound for him.
5 I arose to open for my beloved,
and my hands dripped with myrrh,
my fingers with flowing myrrh,
on the handles of the bolt.
6 I opened for my beloved,
but my beloved had left; he was gone.
My heart sank at his departure.
I looked for him but did not find him.
I called him but he did not answer.

Song of Songs 5:2-6

This morning as I was reading this, I was struck by the fact that the bride hears the voice of her bridegroom, who is calling for her and waiting for her to open the door for him, and she doesn’t immediately respond.

How often do we hear God calling for us and we delay in opening the door for Him? I can think of several times in my life where I have heard His voice and not immediately obeyed or I have been slow to respond.

When we are slow to respond to the Lord, we can actually miss Him. This is what happens to the bride in this song, she delays in her response to him and by the time she gets up to answer, he is gone.

What slows our response to our bridegroom?

  • Lack of patience – Look at the first verse, she says she was sleeping, but her heart was awake. She had stopped waiting for her bridegroom to return and had fallen asleep. We sometimes sleep on the promises of God. We think that He will never come for us. That He has forgotten about us.
  • Comfort – The bride had gotten comfortable. She says that she’s already taken off her robe. She had gotten into the bed and gotten comfortable. There was a bit of laziness about her. We sometimes get comfortable with God and don’t respond quickly to His calling because we have grown apathetic towards His voice.
  • Excuses – The bride begins making excuses. She says she has already washed her feet. Sometimes when God calls for us, we begin to make excuses as to why we can’t do what He is calling us to do. We are too busy. We don’t have everything we need financially. We makes excuses even though He is standing at the door.

When God calls for us, we should be quick to respond. We should be waiting on Him, but too many times, He is the one waiting on us. We aren’t where we are supposed to be. We are asleep at the wheel. And yet, He continues to call out to us.

In this song, the bridegroom even puts his Hand on the latch of the door. Notice he doesn’t bust the door down. He doesn’t try to break in. He is a gentleman. He is so close, but yet still waiting for his bride to respond. As the bride of Christ, we need to realize that He is waiting for us to open the door. He won’t open the door himself. He is waiting on you. He will stand at the door and knock. Will you open for Him? (Revelation 3)

So many times when we hear that familiar verse from Revelation, we immediately think of salvation. We’ve heard many preachers use that verse out of context. But the the verse was in a letter to a CHURCH! Jesus is waiting outside of the church and he is knocking, but no one has let Him in! That’s crazy! This isn’t about salvation, it’s about apathy in the church, because earlier in the letter, Jesus says the church is lukewarm.

“I know your works: you are neither cold, nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

Revelation 3:15-16

When we are slow to respond, when we are apathetic, when we become lukewarm, we miss God. Our complacency is what kills us. We must wake ourselves. We can’t sleep and miss Him! Arise O sleeper! We don’t want to be like the bride in this song. Look at the result of her slow responses to her bridegroom’s calling:

I opened for my beloved,
but my beloved had left; he was gone.
My heart sank at his departure.
I looked for him but did not find him.
I called him but he did not answer.

Song of Songs 5:6

The bridegroom had left. He had called for her. He placed his hand of the door. He had praised her. But she did not open to him until it was too late. Then she calls for him and he doesn’t answer. I never want to be in that position. I want Him to answer when I call for Him. I want Him to still be at the door. I don’t want to be slow to respond. Lord, help me. I hope that is your prayer too. We are encouraged by the Scriptures to seek Him while he may be found. You should not delay…

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.”

Isaiah 55:6

Two Things You Need To Know

There are two things that can derail you in your walk through this life. Think of it like taking a trip. You have to know where you are and you have to know where you are going. You would be surprised how many people are going through life and can’t tell you where they are or where they are headed. It seems simple and it most certainly is, but most of us spend little time thinking on these two subjects. Instead we are simply positioned and lead by external forces. Wherever the wind is blowing is where you will find me type of thing.

Where you are matters. If you don’t know where you are, how will you ever get to where you are going? If you go on to any gps device, it has to have a starting point. It’s got to know where you are starting from. Where exactly are you? Because of you think you are in one place, but you are actually in another, guess what? You won’t get to where you want to be. You have to know where you are starting from. Some people are scared to know where they are starting from. Why is that? Because you have to admit that you aren’t where you want to be.

There is a confession in the fact that you haven’t “arrived.” And for some of us, this is a hard confession to make. We’ve spent most of our lives trying to prove to others that we have arrived, that we know what we are doing. We spend most of our lives not being honest with ourselves that we haven’t arrived. Confession is good for the soul. You need to be honest with the fact that you aren’t where you want to be. If you can admit that, then you can start to be honest about discovering where you are.

In discovering where you are, you need to have clarity of thought. If your thoughts are clouded and lost in the fog, you won’t be able to see the markers telling you where you are. I see this a lot with people who think they are farther down the road than they actually are. They know which road they are on, but they are simply confused with how far they have to go. When looking honestly at ourselves, we have to come to the realization that we may actually have a long ways to go in improving ourselves or in our walk with God. We need to be able to read those road signs.

Continue reading “Two Things You Need To Know”