Invitation to Service 4

Matthew 28:18-20

One of my favorite stories was told to our group when I was studying to be a lay speaker. The story was about a Native American boy who was put through the rites of passage to become an adult. He was tested in many skills – hunting, fishing, running, and so on. His final test was being left in the dark woods in the middle of the night to remain there until daybreak, alone.

He spent a fearful night in the dark and cold. Every sound and movement was terrifying, but he stayed where he was supposed to be. As the darkness faded to gray with the pre-dawn light he saw something not far from him that he did not recognize. A little frightened at first, he kept his eyes on the figure until the light increased enough to see what it was. It was his father who had stood near him the entire time.

Today’s passage is a large portion of “The Great Commission.” What are Jesus’ instructions? What is the assurance?

This is one of the last things Jesus spoke to his disciples. Before ascending into heaven Christ gives this commission, or the authority for ministry. Make disciples of all people. Teach them also to spread the good news. Baptize them so that they know they are forgiven, and that they may be reminded that they too should be in ministry.

And the final assurance is that Jesus will be with us always. What a profound statement and what a profound promise. These are the words that have comforted me and sustained me for years and years. These are the words I trusted when I entered ministry and the words I lean on when ministry gets tough.

We are not alone. And not only do we have a companion and helper, we have the greatest and most wonderful of companions and helpers. With Christ at our side we can endure anything.

After we have readied ourselves for ministry, after we trust that God will provide for our ministry, we must respond by doing ministry. And as we respond by doing ministry, we must rest in the assurance of Christ’s constant presence.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can remind you of the eternal presence of Jesus?

Invitation to Service 3

John 21:15

Our teen children have been part of an outreach ministry two years in a row now and are looking forward to a third trip this June. One of the most common sources of excitement and delight for them is the outreach of handing out cold bottles of water on street corners on a hot, summer day. It’s a simple ministry. When a car stops at the intersection they hand the driver a bottle. That’s it.

But it is incredibly effective. Those who receive are given physical relief and they realize that they are loved. And often the free gift gives rise to a conversation about God.

After the resurrection John gives an account of Jesus meeting with the disciples on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. What did Jesus ask? What did he instruct?

Certainly the whole encounter in John 21 has deeper meanings in our faith. Jesus asking Peter three times to declare his love is a reversal of the three denials. The miraculous catch of fish is a reminder of the ministry before them. But the instructions of Jesus are again very simple.

“Feed my lambs.” He doesn’t have to go into any deep explanation or complicated reasoning. Just go help people.

By the example of Jesus in Matthew 1 we know that we are to take time to rest up and renew our spirits before doing ministry. We see in his instructions to the twelve (Matthew 10) that we are to trust God to provide for us, giving us the equipment and skills needed to serve others. And here we see the need to respond to Christ.

Jesus was not present at the seaside to tell them it was all over. He wasn’t there to tell them to forget about it all and go back to their lives as they were before.

Instead he was telling them to go do ministry. And it is simple. Feed the lambs of God. Feed them with food to give them physical nourishment. Feed them with care to give them comfort. Feed them with love to give them hope. Feed them with the message of Christ to give them salvation.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Where will you feed the lambs of God?

Invitation to Service 2

Matthew 10:7-8

Now and then we encounter some confusion about ministry. There are those who see events at the church, or events put on by the church, as opportunities to raise money. We can charge a small fee and raise some money. We can sell tickets.

While there are times when fund-raisers are helpful, not everything a church does is about bringing in money. In fact, I believe most of what we do should be about giving freely.

In Matthew 10 we have Jesus sending out the twelve disciples to be in ministry, providing them with some instructions. What is the message they should share? According to verse 8, what should their attitude be? What should they not take?

Reading this passage I am struck by the simplicity of it all. These men were starting out on something that most certainly was intimidating, something they were probably apprehensive about doing. I imagine they questioned their ability to accomplish anything.

But Jesus gives simple instructions. Their message is not complicated or difficult to understand. He gives them authority to do miraculous things, but their attitude is to be one of humility. They are not doing it for financial gain. They are to be free in their giving.

Finally, they are not to take all manner of supplies and money. He was forcing them to trust in God to provide for their needs.

We can learn about our own ministry in this passage. By taking the time and effort to help others in need, we are sharing the simple message of God’s love. We don’t need to be Bible experts, just people willing to give freely of our time and talents, whatever they are. Those who receive will know that they are loved without complex and intricate explanations and theologies.

Like the disciples, God has given to us freely; we should be free in our giving. We must learn to trust that God will provide for our needs and will equip us with what we need to serve the kingdom.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you trust God in your own ministry?

Invitation to Service 1

Mark 1:35-38

About three times a year we have what we call “Pajama Day.” This is a day of rest for the family. All rules are suspended and anyone may spend the entire day in their pajamas if they choose. It is a break from the daily work and efforts. It is a time to rejuvenate and re-energize ourselves. The Monday after Easter Sunday was a Pajama Day for us, allowing us to recover from the stress of effort leading up to Easter.

In this passage from Mark we see Jesus taking a slight respite from his ministry. Where has he gone? What was he doing? Why did he do this? What is he prepared to do now?

God has created the Sabbath and holidays to be a time of rest for his people. We all need to take some time away from the toils of work and daily living so that we might have some time to rest, but also so that we might spend some time in spiritual reflection. It is a time to allow our energy to build up again so that we are ready to continue working in service to God’s kingdom.

Jesus went off to pray, alone, so that he might not be distracted by the needs of others. But when he was finished he was prepared to continue his ministry with renewed strength and focus. He has set an example for us.

We are to take time to be alone with God. Take time to be in spiritual reflection, communing and conversing with your Lord. Allow God to give you new energy and clarity to face the challenges that are still before you.

DAILY CHALLENGE: In my time of reflection the 10/2 Grow ministry came into my thoughts and prayers.

This past year has offered a number of challenges for the 10/2 Grow. For some reason, which still has not been explained or corrected, our ISP has blocked the sending of the 10/2 Grow, which we have managed to work around. We suffered a set-back with the April Fool’s Day virus, and work and schooling has presented other challenges.

And so, I ask each recipient of these 10/2 Grow devotions to do two things this week:

1. Pray for the 10/2 Grow ministry. Pray that God will continue to inspire and direct this ministry. Pray that each person receiving the 10/2 Grow (including yourself) will be blessed by the messages and that the kingdom of God may be built up through them.

2. Invite and encourage at least one other person to sign up for the 10/2 Grow so that they also may take 10 minutes each day to grow in their faith.