Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Struggle to 'Go'

Jesus' marching orders to every Christian and to every church is found in what is commonly referred to as the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). The primary command is to make disciples--and we are to do this by going, baptizing, and teaching others to obey God's commands.

Jesus commands us to 'go'--but I find it real easy to justify and rationalize something quite different. After all, I worked hard on the sermon this week--they should come to hear it.  Or, I have too much to do on my 'to-do-list'. Or, if I'm really honest with myself--I don't love others enough to get out of my routine and comfort zone. Ouch!

Excuses are nothing new. When Jesus called out people to follow Him and be His disciple...
 - Some insisted that they needed to care for their elderly parents first (Luke 9:59-60).
 - Some insisted that other matters needed to be put in order first (Luke 9:61-62).
 - Some were willing to follow but not until they knew all the details (Luke 9:57-58).
Sadly, it's the same today.

We fail to 'go' insisting that our priority is at home. Or we are comfortable where we are. Or we have a fear of failure or rejection. Or we are so busy in doing other 'good' things that we fail to obey the most basic of commands given to us (and then wonder why so much of what we do is lacking in spiritual power!).

Henry Blackaby points out that often, we look at the success we're experiencing doing what we're doing (whether it is church-related or work-related) and use that as an excuse to not 'go.'  But Jesus often called His followers elsewhere even in the midst of success. Peter had just pulled in the greatest fishing haul of his career--when Jesus called Him to leave it and follow Him (Luke 5:1-11). Philip was experiencing great success as an evangelist when God called him out to the desert (Acts 8:25-40).

Our own priorities, fears, and successes can all be a hindrance to going where Jesus wants us to go. How willing are you to 'go' and make a disciple?

(If you want to be notified of future blog postings, friend me on Facebook 'John Schmidt'.  Also, my recent sermons in both an audio and video format can be found at www.NVbridgechurch.com.)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Why Jesus Can Meet Our Every Need

Last Sunday, I preached on the story of the raising of Lazarus (the brother of Mary and Martha) from the dead (John 11).  One of the fascinating aspects of this story is understanding why Jesus responded differently to Martha and to Mary even though they both came to Jesus and said, "If you had been here, my brother would not have died."

Martha came to Jesus first and made this statement. Jesus' response to her was a mini-sermon (vv. 23-26).  But when Mary came to Jesus and made the exact same statement, Jesus was almost speechless and His response was: "Jesus wept" (v. 35).  Why the disparity in what Jesus said?

Apparently the hearts of Martha and Mary were in two completely different places. Martha seemed to be falling into a pit of 'woe is me'. Jesus needed to reach down and pull her from that pit by splashing cold water on her face: "Martha, I am more than someone who has access to power to raise Lazarus--I am the power! Get a grip on eternal truth and who I am."  This is re-enforced in verse 40 when Jesus has to once more mildly rebuke her.

But for Mary, her grief was based on the profound sadness of death taking her brother. Instead of 'preaching' at her, Jesus recognized her greatest need was not spoken truth, but participating in her emotional loss. "Jesus wept."

These two responses are astonishing because in one short narrative, we see Jesus reiterating His claim to be 100% God ('I am the power--the giver of life') while He is also 100% man ('Jesus wept').  He is not 50/50 God and man--but 100/100.

We may not fully understand this, but Jesus is qualified to meet our every need.

- Because He is 100% God, He has the power to meet every need. And because of that--He sometimes has to 'shake us by the shoulders' to get our attention and remind us who He is.

- Because He is 100% man, He understands and know exactly how you feel. And because of that--He can walk with us, hold us in His arms, and comfort us like no one else can.

My wife pointed out that Mary had the proper perspective of Jesus and circumstances in life because she spent time at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:38-42) while Martha was constantly distracted by the cares and concerns of the world. Martha seemed to struggle with spending time and attention on 'good things' while Mary focused on the 'best thing.' 

And when the heartache and tribulations of life happened--Martha had difficulty coping while Mary was able to turn to the only source that mattered: Him who was Life!

Do you have an emotional, or physical, or relational, or spiritual, or psychological need?  Fall at and embrace the feet of Truth, Jesus--He who is 100% God and 100% man.  Be a Mary--not a Martha.

(If you want to be notified of future blog postings, friend me on Facebook 'John Schmidt'.  Also, my recent sermons in both an audio and video format can be found at www.NVbridgechurch.com.)