Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

Discipleship - Come and See

Volume 5 No. 259 January 16, 2015

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Saints John and Bartholomew (Nathaniel)
Saint John and Saint Bartholomew (Nathaniel) (right) by Dosso Dossi, 1527
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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1. Foreword: 'Come and See'

Come and See. Come and Taste. Come and Experience the Love of our Savior who loved us so much that he died on the cross for us. Come and Be Transformed. ...

This Sunday in Church

2. Bible Readings for This Sunday (January 18)

Bible Readings For The Second Sunday after Denho

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_2nd_sunday_after_Denho.htm

3. Sermons for This Sunday (January 18)

Sermons For The Second Sunday after Denho

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_2nd-sunday-after-denaha.htm

4. Weekly Feature: What It Means to Follow Jesus

What does it mean, to follow Jesus? It means to leave all other pursuits in life and put him front and center. It means that from now on, this Jesus will be #1 in life, above all other aspects of life. Not one among many in second, third and fourth place, but all other aspects of life we would like to get into, are under, subjected to our following this Jesus. ...

This Week's Features

5. Inspiration for Today: My Son, Give Me Thine Heart

6. Not Ability, but Availability

What kind of person does God seek to use? What qualifications is He looking for in someone? Is it a towering intellect? Is it natural leadership ability? Could God ever use someone who is a bit shy by nature? Does this person have to be very talented or handsome or beautiful? ...

7. Why David Was Favored by God

Now that I'm older I realize David's life wasn't perfect; in a lot of ways it was actually pretty lousy. He was hounded by Saul for years, he lost loved ones to sickness and war, and he even committed some pretty serious sins. Being a man after God's own heart didn't mean David would be shielded from harm, and being a Christian doesn't guarantee us prosperity. ...

8. Rewards for Discipleship

Often we think we should only follow Jesus because of His inherent worth and that to seek a reward from Him is entirely wrong. Christ's inherent goodness and beauty is, of course, enough to motivate discipleship; however, it is not altogether improper to look for other blessings as well. In fact, Hebrews 11:6 says God is pleased when we believe "he rewards those who seek him." ...

9. Obey and Be a Humble Servant

Any kind of pride is dangerous and it's the beginning of one's downfall. When we contemplate our lives and sacrifices on earth, we understand that pride is meaningless. Yet if we humble ourselves and give the glory, power and credit to Jesus, then we can experience our heavenly blessings and the world around us. If we obey God and sacrifice our lives for him, we have only done our duty and we should regard it as a privilege. ...

10. How You Can Lead Others to Do Great Things

I'm often asked, "What does the Church need today?" Well, the people of God need to be rallied and led by those who will step into the trenches with them. And whether you realize it or not, you can be the one to lead them. So step up and do great things for God, leading others when you do. That's exactly what the Church needs today! ...

11. Seeds of Greatness

When God created you, He deposited in you everything that you need in order to fulfill your calling. He gave you the desire and the ability. He equipped you with gifts and talents. No dream is too big. No challenge is too great. ...

12. Making a Difference

Someone has rightfully said that "to make a difference, you have to be different." I like that! But what kind of "different" are we talking about? I'm talking about a difference that changes one person's world for the sake of Jesus Christ. More specifically, we're talking about introducing the values of the kingdom of God into the kingdom of this world. So how do we become a difference maker? ...

13. How to Create the Ever-Elusive Ripple Effect

Sometimes we don't take action, stretch ourselves or take risks because we don't think one phone call, one conversation or one person can make a difference. We don't believe that we can, in fact, change our own world, let alone the entire world.

This week I want to share an example of how one person, one conversation, one ripple can in fact create tidal waves of positive impact. ...

14. About Malankara World

Foreword: 'Come and See'
As we mentioned last week, we are in a part of the church lectionary where things happen very fast. In less than a month ago, we were contemplating about the Revelation (Annunciation) to Joseph. During a month's time we have gone from Christmas to Denho (Baptism of Jesus) - in actuality about 30 years of Jesus' time on the earth. Today's Gospel reading is about Jesus assembling his disciples as reported in John's Gospel. The theme is, "Come and See". It is an intriguing phrase. There is a book written about Mother Teresa titled, "Come and See" that is a favorite of mine.

"Come and See." Jesus shows us how to do evangelism properly. It is not about giving a big speech. It is being a model - leading a model Christian life. We should reflect the light of Jesus. We should let Jesus come alive in and through our lives. When someone see you, they should be impressed by what they see - what you do and how you live - rather than what you say - practicing what we preach - not like the despised Pharisees and Sadducees who were hypocrites. They talked big and lived differently.

Philip had no answer to Nathaniel when Nathaniel commented, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip didn't want to give a speech to Nathaniel explaining why he felt that Jesus is the Messiah - the anointed one. He simply answered, "Come and See."

"Adeste fidelis. Come all ye faithful, and all ye who would like to be faithful if only you could, all ye who walk in darkness and hunger for light. Have faith enough, hope enough, despair enough, foolishness enough at least to draw near to see for yourselves."
 
- Frederick Buechner

Philip showed us the true way to do evangelization. Our job is to bring people to Jesus - not convert them. The conversion is done by Holy Spirit, not by us. The skeptical Nathaniel encounters Jesus and, like everyone who encountered Jesus before him, was transformed by that experience. From "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Nathaniel (Bartholomew the Apostle) said, "You are the Son of God. You are the King of Israel." What a testimonial! What a transformation!

We give credit to St. Peter for confessing to Jesus, "You are the son of living God" and he got the keys to the Kingdom. But we often forget that the first person who has called Jesus as the "Son of God" (reported in Bible) was Nathaniel. After Peter's Confession, St. Thomas also confessed, "My God and My Lord."

All these disciples "came and saw" and were transformed. They were transformed enough to die for Jesus. Out of the 12 disciples Jesus picked, 11 had suffered violent deaths. Only John was spared a violent death. Jesus explained the relationship between Him and His disciples,

"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends."
 - John 15:13

Jesus continued explaining what friendship to Him means,

"You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you." - John 15:14-15

Come and See the unadulterated love. The love of God,

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." - John 3:16

Come and See. Come and Taste. Come and Experience the Love of our Savior who loved us so much that he died on the cross for us. Come and Be Transformed.

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (January 18)
Sermons for This Sunday (January 18)
Featured: What It Means to Follow Jesus

by Dr. Walter W. Harms, Austin, TX

Gospel: John 1:43-51

What do you know about Jesus? He is surely God's Son, his one and only Son. Jesus is God. He is Savior. He died to forgive us of our sins. He will come again to take us to heaven.

What else could we learn about this person we call Jesus? Well, it's part of the reason we have this season of the church year called Epiphany. This is the season when the spotlight is on Jesus, to show him more fully, to reveal perhaps if possible aspects of who he is which we have not seen before, or which perhaps we have forgotten.

The incident of the life of Jesus we read in the Gospel writer, St. John's version of the life of Jesus, reveals some surprising aspect of this Jesus and a person's relationship with him. We will learn: what it means to follow Jesus.

Jesus is about to leave the northern area of Palestine called Galilee (also the name of the prominent sea in that area) to go other places. Then he finds a person named Philip and says to him: "Follow me." Philip apparently "follows" Jesus because from that time on he is connected to Jesus as one of the 12 persons Jesus called to be his special followers, his disciples.

Here is the first important part of what it means to follow Jesus. Jesus finds the person he wants to follow him. Philip doesn't go looking for a guru. He isn't sifting through all kinds of possible prominent teachers and what they taught in order to "find" which one suits him best. He is "found" by Jesus. Found, discovered, I guess, called, we might say, to be a follower of Jesus.

Jesus finds; Jesus discovers; Jesus calls. Some years ago in Austin, TX (and in other cities in the USA) there was an evangelistic campaign with the title: I FOUND IT!

The implication of that campaign was that you could "find" Jesus if you looked for or recognized him as the person (God? Lord? Boss?)to whom you wanted all along.

That's not the way it is. Jesus finds you. Without Jesus, Christians have always said a person was "lost," not found at all, wandering aimlessly, rudderless in the chaotic sea called life.

Jesus finds Philip and he finds us. He finds us by issuing us a call. That call is to "follow him."

What does it mean, to follow Jesus? It means to leave all other pursuits in life and put him front and center. It means that from now on, this Jesus will be #1 in life, above all other aspects of life. Not one among many in second, third and fourth place, but all other aspects of life we would like to get into, are under, subjected to our following this Jesus.

You may have heard how this plays out: God in first place, family second, church third, self fourth and from there you can pick what is the next. No, no, no! There is no second place in the line up that follows Jesus. He alone, is it!

I do wonder some times whether we "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness." I wonder if we believe, that then "all [other] things will be added" that we need to our life. We could well have been lulled, seduced by this world's pleasures and passions to consider ourselves "Christians," followers of Jesus when what we really follow is the agenda set by advertising, portrayal of the "good" life on TV, listened to on the IPODs of our lives streaming their message to our ears and, possibly, hearts?

We are never perfect in following, but even if I have a good road under my auto, I wander some from side to side. But have we gone into the right of way, the oncoming lane, the ditch or taken across the open fields when it comes to "following" Jesus?

A second dramatic aspect of what it means: to follow Jesus, is what Philip did. He did not go to class. He did not get himself baptized. He did not "join" a church. And he certainly did not sign any kind of commitment card.

He found his brother, Nathaniel, and told him about Jesus. In other words, he told what had happened to him to someone he deeply cared for. I want to remind you all that this is the first action of a "follower" of Jesus.

That just blows my mind; does it yours? What do you consider the first action of a follower of Jesus? Go to Church, worship? Teach a class? Make contributions to the church? Try to lead a moral life? Or is it that euphemism, "to spread the Word"?

Usually when we say that, we don't know what we mean and it generally doesn't involve us. "Spreading the Word" usually involves some committee or group or slightly weird group of people who talk Jesus talk all the time! But me? Me tell others about Jesus?

If, and I say, if the standard for following Jesus is precisely this, to tell those we love of Jesus, could you or I or this group of persons even come close to being considered: followers of Jesus?

An important aspect of Philip's telling about Jesus to Nathaniel is that he, Philip, "found" him, just as Jesus had found him. He tells his brother Nate some interesting stuff. He give him the whole philosophic reasons why he, Nate ought to check this Jesus person out. No, Philip tells us what has happened to him.

He (catch this) has "found" the One, Moses and the prophets wrote about. What's that mean? Well, to Philip there was a searching for and a longing to "find" (there's that word again) the One, the promised One these guys long ago wrote about. This Promised One would rescue them from the sterility that worship of God had become. This One would dramatically lead people in new paths. This One would give Philip and all persons hope, joy, real reasons for existence and dealing with other people that wasn't tit for tat and went beyond the "I got this gift for Christmas; I better give a like or better gift to that person."

He had "found" that One in the Person of Jesus who had first of all "found" him!

Terrific news for Philip. He, as a follower of Jesus has to share that life-changing, mind-transforming news with someone, and who better than his brother?

He shared what was good news for him with someone else. That is what it means: to follow Jesus! Is the good news of Jesus "good" enough to share with someone else?

A third aspect of what it means: to follow Jesus is Nate's reaction. The news that Jesus is from that town which had no distinction except that their was only road and it led out of there, brought a reply that Philip is no doubt wrong about this Jesus. Nothing good could come from that backward place.

A real jab, I believe, to Philip and his message. Was Philip for a moment discouraged? Was he tempted to enlarge his message to Nate? Was he tempted to put Nate down for being such a dimwitted person?

No, he does what we should do when we have spoken of what Jesus means to us (he does mean something, doesn't he? Can you put that into words?) and get a neutral or negative reply: Well, come on and see. Don't take my word for it. Make your own judgment. Expose yourself to what I have been exposed to (what I "found" when I was "found"). Make your own decision, but make it on the basis of what you see and hear.

We could well learn from this novice follower of Jesus. What following Jesus means and how to speak to those we care about and love.

Certainly we must remember that what we present to those we want to come and see is something that is worth while coming to see. Just how exciting, encouraging, life-changing is our worship, our friendliness to those who do come at our invitation? Check out the message I present to people. Is Jesus as our gracious Lord and Savior front and center of the message and could this Jesus be a part of the life of the people present?

A final aspect of what it means: to follow Jesus is Nate's meeting with Jesus, an absolutely fascinating and intriguing dialogue.

Nate goes to see Jesus, check him out, check whether Philip's got something here or is he and this Jesus full of beans.

When Jesus sees him, his comment is: "You are a true Israelite. You tell it like it is." What does Jesus mean by this "true Israelite," "nothing false in him?"

Jesus sees in Nate a person who thinks things through. That may be the meaning of Jesus' seeing him under the fig tree, a place to meditate, think things through, get to the real meaning of things. Jesus sees Nate as a person who tells it like he believes or thinks, even though he may be wrong. No weaseling around. No waiting to see what the reaction to might be to what I think before I say more. He speaks his mind.

He does it here: "How'd you know about me?" Jesus answer is: "I know all about you, Nate. I saw what you were about there in your garden meditating before Philip even got to you."

Now anybody who can do that, well, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that you are dealing with the Son of God, the promised King of God's people Israel! And Nate blurts that out. He tells it like he sees and hear it. You have this experience he is saying and you know you are in the presence of God himself.

To be in the presence of God, is that part of what it means: to follow Jesus? For sure! To have a sense whether we can experientially quantify it or not, that Jesus is the One upon the whole world rests, is to have the true essence of being a follower.

Jesus' statement about what Nate will see in the future is simply that. You are in the presence of God. Long before there was an Israelite in whom there was a lot of deceit, Jacob. He was a sly deceiver and he himself was the victim of many incidences of deceit. After he had deceived his father and as a result his twin brother wanted to kill him, he had to hightail it out of there with only the clothes on his back. On the way to a distant uncle's home, he had a dream. In this dream he saw angels ascending and descending at a place called Bethel. God was in that place. By saying Nate and all of us will see angels doing the same with him, Jesus is saying he is God.

He has come to be Immanuel to us. To bring us the great comfort of knowing that God loves us, will protect us, will guide us and finally bring us back home.

This Jesus asks us to follow him. To follow and see him tell us that disease, sickness, is not what God wants for man, that man cannot please God through some kind of rigorous and meticulous watching for possibilities of stepping over lines drawn by man, that God has to suffer and to die to bring peace between God and man, to give us the assurance that even though he died and was buried and we bury our dead, there is life after dark days of death and there is this Jesus coming for us.

Follow him! Take up your cross and follow him! Go his way of service and love and thus follow him. Know that it will cost you everything, even your life, for finally you will have to commit your life to God, as Jesus did and trust him to wake you up again.

And you will see the angels surrounding him in glory when he comes to take you, his follower, home. Until that time, tell to people you deeply care about to come and see what you have found, after being found by Jesus himself.

That's what it means: to follow Jesus!

Amen.

Source: Göttinger Predigten im Internet, ed. by U. Nembach, J. Neukirch

This Week's Features

Inspiration for Today: My Son, Give Me Thine Heart
My son, give me thine heart.

O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!

Thy heart is not right in the sight of God. -- Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

They ... first gave their own selves to the Lord. -- In every work that began ... to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord. -- As the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.

I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.

PROV. 23:26. Deut. 5:29. Acts 8:21. Rom. 8.7,8. II Cor. 8:5. II Chr. 31:21. Prov. 4:23. Col. 3:23. Eph. 6:6,7. Psa. 119:32.

Source: Daily Light on the Daily Path

Not Ability, but Availability

by Greg Laurie

"I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols."
- Isaiah 42:8


What kind of person does God seek to use? What qualifications is He looking for in someone? Is it a towering intellect? Is it natural leadership ability? Could God ever use someone who is a bit shy by nature? Does this person have to be very talented or handsome or beautiful?

The answer to all of these questions is clearly no. It seems as though God goes out of His way sometimes to choose the most unexpected people to use.

If I had to choose one passage of Scripture that I think best summarizes my life as a Christian, it would be 1 Corinthians 1:26–29, where the apostle Paul wrote,

Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world's eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

There is not a person who had less promise to achieve anything with his life than me. I was literally the last person picked for the team for whatever sport it was. I never was academically strong. I always underwhelmed in most areas of my life. So when the Lord chose me to serve Him, it was very clear that it was His doing—not mine. This is because God will not give His glory to another.

As I have said before, God is not looking for ability as much as availability. Are you available to Him?

Copyright ©2012 by Harvest Ministries. All Rights Reserved.

Why David Was Favored by God

by Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com

But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
1 Samuel 16:7

The first time I read the story of King David, it was from a small, animated Bible my parents had bought me as a boy. As I flipped through the pages of that little book, I can remember looking on David as something of a superhero. Think about it: he defeated Goliath with nothing but a sling and five stones. After that, he became King of Israel, replacing Saul, who had done a pretty terrible job to begin with. He was referred to as a man after God's own heart, and nothing could touch him.

After a while, I began to see the life of David as more of a fairytale. I still believed it to be true, but a part of me resented God for showing David so much favor. Why had his life been so perfect when the rest of us had to struggle? Why did God allow so many people to suffer pain, but always seem to step up for David? It wasn't until I was a teenager that I stumbled onto this psalm written by David:

"Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God. Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me. I am forced to restore what I did not steal. You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from you." - Psalm 69:1-5

Now that I'm older I realize David's life wasn't perfect; in a lot of ways it was actually pretty lousy. He was hounded by Saul for years, he lost loved ones to sickness and war, and he even committed some pretty serious sins. Being a man after God's own heart didn't mean David would be shielded from harm, and being a Christian doesn't guarantee us prosperity. The thing that made David a great man, and the thing that makes our lives as Christians meaningful, was that he never turned away from God. We will all experience trials and tribulations in our lives, but by trusting God we can overcome them.

That is how we become people after God's own heart, and in the end, that's all God really wants.

Intersecting Faith and Life:

Take a moment to look past your troubles and consider what can bring you closer to God.

Source: Crosswalk.com - The Devotional

Rewards for Discipleship

by RC Sproul

Matthew 19:27–30 "Everyone who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life" (v. 29).

Often we think we should only follow Jesus because of His inherent worth and that to seek a reward from Him is entirely wrong. Christ's inherent goodness and beauty is, of course, enough to motivate discipleship; however, it is not altogether improper to look for other blessings as well. In fact, Hebrews 11:6 says God is pleased when we believe "he rewards those who seek him."

Today's passage reinforces this understanding of serving Jesus in hopes of a reward. Jesus' earlier promise of treasure in heaven to the rich young ruler (Matt. 19:21) probably moves Peter to ask what the disciples will gain from following Christ. The disciple is not rebuked for his question; on the contrary, Jesus says His followers will receive "a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life" (vv. 27–30), implicitly affirming that Peter's question is not wholly wrongheaded.

According to Mark's account, the hundredfold reward Jesus promises is not limited to the future; it is also experienced in the present (10:29–31). We will enjoy our blessings fully only in the new heavens and earth, but we err if we expect them in the age to come alone. Still, benefits today will not be without hardship; Mark's record says that good things come with persecutions (v. 30). This cautions us against thinking believers will be the most wealthy and successful of all peoples, according to earthly standards. Yet Christians are better off than unbelievers even when our standard of living seems comparatively less than theirs. John Calvin writes that "God gladdens his people, so that the small portion of good which they enjoy is more highly valued by them, and far sweeter, than if out of Christ they had enjoyed an unlimited abundance of good things."

Therefore Jesus also says that in the age to come, many who are first will be last and vice versa (Matt. 19:30). The exact sense of the proverb in this context is a bit unclear, but James M. Boice helpfully interprets it to mean that "those who have the most here will not necessarily have the most in heaven" (The Gospel According to Matthew, vol. 2, p. 411). All who for the Savior's sake reject power, position, and possessions now, though they suffer much, will find in eternity that their sacrifice was worth the temporary shame of being last today.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Any reward that God gives us is by His grace, for He is the one who prepares good works for us and enables us to do them (Eph. 2:8–10). Because it is all by His grace, we should never arrogantly demand that He bless us, but neither should we never expect a reward in this life. Take time today to think on the blessings of Christian friends, your church family, and other such things in this present age. Make sure to thank the Father for all of these rewards.

For further study:

Proverbs 22:4

Source: Tabletalk Devotions with RC Sproul; Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

Obey and Be a Humble Servant

by Rev. Fr. V V Paulose

"When you obey me you should say, "We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty." (Luke 17:10)

Every loss of ours is for Jesus, it's not a sacrifice but a privilege!

Any kind of pride is dangerous and it's the beginning of one's downfall. When we contemplate our lives and sacrifices on earth, we understand that pride is meaningless. Yet if we humble ourselves and give the glory, power and credit to Jesus, then we can experience our heavenly blessings and the world around us. If we obey God and sacrifice our lives for him, we have only done our duty and we should regard it as a privilege. Do you sometimes feel that you deserve extra credit for serving God? Jesus is not rendering our service as meaningless or useless, nor is he doing away with the rewards but the reality of eternal glory.

David Livingstone, worked 12 hours at the age of 10 in a local cotton mill. In between sleep and work, he studied and became a medical missionary and went to Africa, the land of cannibals and darkness. He was physically attacked, was denounced and had his property destroyed. It was something that never concerned him. Speaking to a meeting of students at Cambridge University, he said, "People talk about the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of a great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay? It is emphatically no sacrifice.. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering or danger now and then with a forgoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause and cause the spirit to waver and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice."

Prayer:

Jesus, we pray for all those who are suffering for you in their body and spirit. Let you be the comforter. Let the tormentors withdraw. Let us have the spirit to humble ourselves and to say we have done only our duty. Reward those who have lost their life and property for your sake. All we ask in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Source: Today with Jesus

How You Can Lead Others to Do Great Things

by Dr. Jack Graham

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
- 1 Peter 5:1-3

I heard about a lady who was married three times. The first time she married a grocer. He died, so she married a tailor. Well, it turns out he died as well, so she married a preacher.

She was asked why she married these different kinds of men. And she said, "Well, I married the grocer so that I could eat for nothing. I married the tailor so I could dress for nothing. And I married the preacher so I could be good for nothing!"

It's an unfortunate reality that many preachers and leaders in the Christian community today really don't serve as they should. Yes, they rally their churches to do great things for the Kingdom, but when it comes to actually getting in and doing the work of ministry, many are noticeably absent. And this doesn't apply solely to church leaders. Many are good at saying, "We need to do XYZ," but when it comes time to begin, they're nowhere to be found!

I'm often asked, "What does the Church need today?" Well, the people of God need to be rallied and led by those who will step into the trenches with them. And whether you realize it or not, you can be the one to lead them. So step up and do great things for God, leading others when you do. That's exactly what the Church needs today!

LEAD OTHERS BY GETTING INTO THE TRENCHES AND SERVING WITH THEM!

Source: PowerPoint Devotional

Seeds of Greatness

by Joel Osteen

"His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue." (2 Peter 1:3, NKJV)

When God created you, He deposited in you everything that you need in order to fulfill your calling. He gave you the desire and the ability. He equipped you with gifts and talents. No dream is too big. No challenge is too great.

What happens a lot of times is that people don't recognize what's been placed within them because at first it seems subtle. The gift may not be evident in the beginning. It starts out in seed form. But just like planting a seed and tending to it will help it grow and develop fruit, when you tend to the seeds inside of you, they will begin to produce. How do you tend to the seeds? By reading, studying and meditating on the Word of God. By following His commands and keeping Him first place in your life.

Always remember, even if you aren't clear about God's direction for your life, when You put Him first place, He promises to lead and guide you. As you draw close to Him, as you gain knowledge of Him, His power gives you everything that you need!

Prayer

Father, thank You for giving me everything I need for life and godliness. I trust that as I draw close to You, You will reveal Yourself to me. I bless You today and honor You in everything I do in Jesus' name. Amen. 

Making a Difference

by Dr. David Jeremiah

There is a human propensity to rank "things" in life: people, places, activities, winners, losers, and so on. We are a list-making species. Looking at the many A-lists in society, it seems the world is obsessed with defining "Who's Who" in terms of money, status, and power.

We can't say that lists are necessarily bad. God created a list of His own recorded in the Book of Hebrews, but it was not compiled on the basis of wealth, power, or prestige. It was created on the basis of only one attribute: faith. Members of God's list of faith include Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, the Israelites who passed through the divided Red Sea, the soldiers of Israel who marched around Jericho, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets - and other faithful Old Testament saints who suffered in various ways for their faith in God.

The writer to the Hebrews used that list to exhort all believers in Christ to have faith: "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).

There is a list which you and I can become members of at any time. It's open to anyone who decides to make a difference in our world for Jesus Christ. That's why I call it the list of difference makers.

Someone has rightfully said that "to make a difference, you have to be different." I like that! But what kind of "different" are we talking about? There are a lot of people in this world who choose to be different just for the sake of being different! But that kind of different doesn't produce the difference for which God is looking. I'm talking about a difference that changes one person's world for the sake of Jesus Christ. More specifically, we're talking about introducing the values of the kingdom of God into the kingdom of this world. So how do we become a difference maker?

Joining the List

Maybe the easiest way to talk about the qualifications to become a difference maker is to eliminate everything that is not a qualification:

  •  Prominence: You don't have to be the leader of anything.
  •  Power: You don't have to have a name that opens doors.
  •  Prestige: You don't have to be famous.
  •  Possessions: You don't have to be wealthy.

So what is required to make a difference for Christ? The following are some key components necessary to join this list of difference makers:

  •  Belief. To make a difference for Jesus, you must know Jesus. ("I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own." John 10:14)
  •  Faithful. Faith gets you on the faith list, but faithfulness (dependability, consistency, devotion, loyalty) helps you become a difference maker. ("Who then is that faithful and wise steward...?" Luke 12:42)
  •  Willingness. The bottom line is that nobody makes a difference who doesn't want to make a difference. ("Then I said, 'Here am I! Send me.'" Isaiah 6:8)
  •  Obedience. Sometimes Jesus sees a potential difference that we don't see and sends us to make it happen, but we must be willing to follow His commands. ("But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I say?" Luke 6:46)
  •  Sacrifice. Everything we do for Jesus is going to cost something: time, talent, or treasure. ("For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost...." Luke 14:28)

In light of these qualifications (and others like them), do you qualify to become a difference maker? I can almost guarantee that if these criteria characterize you in your walk of faith, you are already making a difference for Jesus Christ and for eternity.

About The Author:

Dr. Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God.

Source: Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah

How to Create the Ever-Elusive Ripple Effect

by John O'Leary, risingabove.com

"I alone cannot change the world. But I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples." - Mother Teresa

Sometimes we don't take action, stretch ourselves or take risks because we don't think one phone call, one conversation or one person can make a difference.

We don't believe that we can, in fact, change our own world, let alone the entire world.

This week I want to share an example of how one person, one conversation, one ripple can in fact create tidal waves of positive impact.

If you've ever heard my presentation, you know that perhaps the greatest hero from my story of surviving a childhood fire is Hall of Fame announcer Jack Buck.

He repeatedly visited during my five months in the hospital, continued to give encouragement for years afterward and was extraordinarily generous to me always.

A question I am frequently asked by audience members is, "How did Jack know to visit you?"

The day I was burned the news of our fire and the seemingly insurmountable odds against a little boy's survival spread like a ripple in the water. Years before social media, this tragedy went viral in our community. Neighbors, friends, and family members were the first to learn. They'd then share with others encouraging prayers and action for this family that lost a house and was likely to lose a child.

A family friend named Colleen Schoendienst got a call about the fire. She then called her dad and asked if he would keep a little boy from our community in his prayers.

That phone call changed my life.

Colleen's father, baseball great Red Schoendienst, happened to be going to a charity event that night. He happened to be sitting next to his friend, a man named Jack Buck. And he happened to mention in passing that a little boy was not expected to live after being burned earlier in the day.

That was the extent of the conversation. But it was enough.

The following day, in a critical care room of a burn center, a little boy wrapped from head to toes in bandages, unable to move, speak, or communicate, was radically inspired when the voice of his childhood idol, Jack Buck, whispered into his ear, "Kid, you are going to live. You are going to survive. Keep fighting because John O'Leary day at the ball park will make it all worth while."

It was a short visit, one that brought light into the darkest time of my life, and one that changed my world.

But it really wasn't just Jack, was it? It was Red. Without his encouragement Jack would have never known, never visited, never changed me.

And yet, it really wasn't Red, either. It was Colleen.

Without her making that phone call, her father never would have heard about the fire.

And yet, wasn't the person really most responsible the unnamed individual who told Colleen? Wasn't that really the person that facilitated the life-changing meeting between Jack Buck and me?

My friends, we have so much ability and opportunity in our lives to positively and permanently affect change around us.

You don't need to believe that you alone can change the world.

Instead, my encouragement today is to embrace the truth that you can use your time, your words, your actions and your life to propel stones across the water. This simple action does in fact and always has changed the world. Starting with yours.

What ripple will you cause today? It can be big or little. The best is yet to come.

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