Called to Serve 4

Matthew 28:16-20

It has been claimed that Oscar Wilde on his deathbed offered these last words – “Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.”

The expression “famous last words” is fairly familiar to most. The idea is that when you are aware that you have one final chance to say something it ought to be important or meaningful.

The Book of Matthew closes with the final words of Jesus to his disciples. Where were the disciples? How did they react when they saw Jesus? What does Jesus remind them of in verse 18? With that in mind, what does he tell them to do? What assurance does he offer?

Known as the Great Commission, this is the last command that Jesus offers his disciples. He wants them to go into the world and spread the good news of salvation. He wants them to make disciples, not just converts. He wants them to teach and train new believers to be strong in their faith.

And Jesus makes it clear that he is speaking from a position of authority when he gives this command. He also reminds them that they are not alone and never will be. Whatever they do they will be doing with the presence and power of Jesus Christ himself.

How could they refuse?

And, of course, they didn’t refuse. They believed and they obeyed. And we know that they succeeded.

But, as usual, that is not the end of the story. It’s the beginning. And that story needs to be our story.

I believe the Great Commission was intended not just for the remaining eleven disciples, but was intended for all believers everywhere. Every person who accepts Christ as Savior, every person who calls himself or herself “Christian” should obey the Great Commission. We are all called to spread the good news of Christ. We don’t all have to be preachers. We don’t all have to be teachers. We don’t all have to help the sick and injured. But we all must do something to serve God.

And we all must remember that when we do the work of Christ we are not alone. When we do ministry we do it with the presence and power of Jesus. He is with us; he is within us; he is around us. With such a presence we cannot fail.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can you do to remind yourself that Jesus is with you always?

Called to Serve 3

Acts 6:2-7

Events, phone calls and meetings in the past several days have alerted me to the tremendous needs that exist in the world. There is absolutely no shortage of ministry opportunities around the world or even in our local communities. When we look at the need that exists it is easy to be overwhelmed by it all.

In this passage from Acts we see the early church encountering an overwhelming need. Specifically, some felt their widows were having their physical needs overlooked. What did the Twelve NOT want to abandon? What was the solution?

How was the proposal received? What did the apostles do with the seven who were chosen to serve? What three positive results were achieved?

Rather than be overwhelmed, the disciples came up with a solution. The responsibility for the work that needed to be done had to be spread among other believers. This meant that those who were skilled at preaching and teaching would continue to do so. Those who felt called to serve the physical needs of others – in this case, cooking and feeding – were commissioned to do that.

The end result was that many positive results were achieved. The disciples were able to spread the gospel news, continuing to preach and save souls. The number of people who were serving the Lord in ministry increased, and more and more followers were obedient to the faith.

I would venture to say that more and more people found the satisfaction of doing something they were comfortable with, and doing something that was rewarding to them. The seven chosen to care for the widows probably found a great deal of satisfaction in knowing that they were serving Jesus by preparing meals.

Rather than be overwhelmed by the mission fields that surround us today, and rather than throwing up our hands and saying there is nothing we can do, we should examine all of our gifts and all of the needs until we can find a satisfactory fit. Each of us can do something to help serve and glorify God. If you are not called or comfortable in one area, then seek out an area where you can find fulfillment. The smallest of gestures performed for the service of God and man is a great and wonderful thing.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How do you fit in the outreach efforts of your worship community?

Called to Serve 2

2 Timothy 2:20-21

The other night at our Bible study/dinner we were talking about fine China dishes – a frequent gift for newlyweds. We have a terrific set of China that we got at our wedding from a variety of people. They are a lovely pattern and of the highest quality. We have used them about twice in 19 years of marriage.

My favorite set of dishes (we have many) are simple white dishes with a blue trim. They were relatively inexpensive, but we use them a great deal.

In this letter to Timothy, what everyday item is mentioned? How are they described? If a person cleanses himself of ignoble or bad purposes, how can he be used?

There are many erroneous schools of thought in most churches. Some people think themselves too good to be used for simple ministries. Most feel they are not good enough for any ministry. Others seem to be waiting for that special ministry and that special call before they will do anything.

Unfortunately so many of us can be like our fine China. We look good and we have the potential for good use, but we don’t ever come out of the cabinet. The metaphor used here is intended for believers to realize that they are to be used for the good of the kingdom of God, and are not to allow themselves to fall into evil activity.

But the metaphor can also extend to those who refuse to be used at all. They may not be involved in ignoble behavior. They may not be doing bad things. But then again, they may not be doing anything.

Whether we see ourselves as fine China, everyday plates, or even plastic-ware intended for picnics, we each must first confess our sins to God and accept Christ as Savior. Then, after we are cleansed of our sins, we must present ourselves to God as utensils for Him to use as He sees fit. As Timothy is urged, we should be “prepared to do any good work.”

God has created us all and has equipped each of us with our own set of skills. But all of it means nothing if we will not let God use us in doing His work.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you prepare yourself to be an instrument of God?

Called to Serve 1

Matthew 4:18-22

Today I heard about a local pastor who would, on some Sundays, announce to his congregation that he had nothing to say. The service would then go on without a message.

That astounded me and truly disappointed me. I believe every pastor should have a message every Sunday and whenever he or she is asked to say something. A pastor should be ready to serve at all times. But really, if we are going to be Christians we must all be ready to serve at some point.

What was Jesus doing when he encountered Peter and Andrew? What were they doing? What about James and John? How did all four react to the summons?

Previous study on the disciples has caused me to believe that the four men summoned were no strangers of Jesus. It is quite likely that the two pairs of men were local fishing business men in Capernaum, a small town in which Jesus was a resident. Their status in the community, the small size of the town, and the fact that Jesus was likely a local teacher would mean they knew each other.

It is still remarkable, however, that a summons into a very challenging ministry would be received with such willingness from the fishermen. In fact, the idea that these men were responsible for successful businesses makes it even more remarkable that they would walk away from what they were doing so readily.

Yet in all four Gospel messages we have similar stories of Jesus summoning men to follow, and the men accept the challenge without hesitation or question. And it has always fascinated me that the people Jesus called were very common people. He did not call on great speakers or those who were political powerhouses.

And all of this means to me that none of us have any excuses for not serving God. We can all say that we are too busy. But the stories clearly state that these men were engaged in their business, yet they followed. We can all say that we have no talent. But the disciples were men who had no ministry experience until Jesus gave it to them.

Just as the twelve ordinary men called to be disciples followed Jesus and worked at ministry for him, each of us is called to serve God. We are called to drop what we are doing at some point or another and do something that serves the Lord. We need not worry about what we set aside, nor do we need to worry about our qualifications. God will give us what we need when we do our work for Him.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How will you respond when Jesus says, “Follow me”?