“Obligation to Others”

Obligation to Others

Romans 1:14-15, “14 I am [i]under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.”

             Debt is a common word in the American household today. The majority of American’s live in some type of debt whether it be from a mortgage, credit card, vehicle, medical bills and possibly so many other avenues of credit. I remember one of my first debts that I had to repay as a teenage boy. I was 17 years old and had my drivers license, but no car. My dad helped me as we looked around for a good deal on an older vehicle for me to purchase. Finally, one day my dad came across the vehicle that would end up being my first pickup truck. It was a 1984 Ford Ranger, baby blue with navy pin stripes down the side. We purchased the truck for $1,600.00. Well, actually my dad purchased it and I had to pay him back. I had been working for quite a while, but didn’t have the whole amount saved up yet. My dad and mom were gracious enough to go ahead and buy the vehicle and let me pay them back so much a month. I remember that the debt of that truck along with insurance, gas and maintenance changed the way I looked at my paycheck each week. Making $7.35 / hour ( which was a lot for a high school kid at that time ) didn’t last too long after my bills were paid each week. It was a good lesson about debt and responsibility – even though the creditor ( mom & dad ) were very lenient with me.

Paul, in Romans 1 points out a very real responsibility that he had because of being in debt. He found himself under debt to God for the great payment that Jesus had made for him. Since Jesus went to Calvary’s cross and paid the price for Paul’s sin and brought forgiveness and eternal life to him, he felt a debt towards God and towards God’s creation  – people. In other words, Paul wanted to live a life of thankfulness to God for what God had done for him. The obligation ( debt ) he is speaking of is to be used by God to spread the good news of the Gospel message to lost people.

Paul knew what it was to be a lost person who had no relationship with God. God in His mercy and grace met Paul on the road to Damascus and changed his life. Now, Paul knew what he had been missing his whole life. Paul knew how bad he was in all of his sin, and that Christ had saved him from all of that. Paul was so thankful that he had the attitude of wanting to please God with his life now. He knew God had called him and set him apart to spread the Gospel. He was now under obligation!

Paul shared in verse 14 that this obligation was to everyone. He said it was to the Greeks and to the Barbarians. He further explained this by saying his obligation was to the wise, and to the unwise. In other words, Paul, a simple man would speak in such was that the uneducated could understand and come to know Christ through his speech and explanation. This was for the “barbarians” or the “unwise”. However, Paul the simple man, could speak in such a way that even the “Greeks” or “wise” educated individuals would entertain his messages. He was all things to all people for the sake of sharing the good news of the Gospel. It was all because he understood the debt he could never repay for the sacrifice Jesus had made for him ( and everyone ) on Calvary’s cross.

So, a few last things to think about are these. First, I am not my own. I belong to Jesus. Therefore, I am in debt to Him for His great sacrifice for me. “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit which are God’s.”. 1 Corinthians 6:20.  Second,  Jesus paid that great sacrificial payment for everyone. No matter your social status, your race, your ethnicity, how good, or how bad you have been, Jesus died for you! “both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.” Romans 1:14. Also “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.  Third, it was a joy for Paul to carry out his work.So for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.” Romans 1:15.  This was not something that Paul dreaded doing each day as he woke up. It was not something that became routine and stale. It was something that was exciting, challenging and powerful in his life each and every new day.

Have you become a follower of Christ? If so, do you live a life of gratitude towards Christ for what He has done for you?

Sincerely,

Bro. Bryan

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” Youth Ministry – Necessary! “

Ministry Youth

Photo: MMBC Youth at Hearts on Fire Conference

Hebrews 4:14, “ Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.”

              In studying Hebrews 4:14 I was reminded of an article I read last week about a group of cheerleaders who took a stand for Christ recently at a football game.

         The article shared how the administration from Oneida High School in Tennessee decided to discontinue public prayer before football games because it was under pressure from different groups threatening to take up legal action over prayer. Due to the pressure that was mounting the school began each football game with a moment of silence in substitution for prayer. Another article written by christiannews.net stated that the decision to discontinue prayer did not sit well with one group of people – the cheerleading squad. During a recent moment of silence one of the school’s cheerleaders, Asia Canada, began to recite the Lord’s prayer out loud. She was joined in by her fellow squad, and then by the cheerleaders on the opposing team. Others began to join in too. Asia told reporters by the time it was over the entire stadium was reciting the Lord’s prayer. Ms. Canada and the other captains of the cheerleading squad told Fox reporters that they were passionate about their belief in pregame prayer, and they were willing to stand up to school administrators for their conviction. “Our community needs God in it, especially at football games. We pray for the safety of each and every player out there and the cheerleaders and the fans for the drive home,” [Meyers] said.

         At the end of Hebrews the writer was sharing with believers their need to hold fast to their faith, and to fight the good fight. The Christians of that day were being challenged to go back into their old ways of Judaism and to turn away from their new faith. The writer of Hebrews was saying, “NO!” to turning back into old carnal, ritualistic tradition that only satisfied man’s worldliness. He was instructing God’s people to realize they had a high priest ( Jesus ) who was tempted in every way they have ever been tempted. Yet, Jesus never fell into sin. Jesus could sympathize with those believers, and He can with us today.

         This world is a very difficult place for adults professing to be Christians, but I honestly believe the youth of today face even a tougher battle than we do as adults.

         So why youth ministry? I think Hebrews 4:14 says it all! Youth need to be rooted and grounded in their youth. One day they will graduate high school, leave for college or the work-force. They will find themselves quickly out of the immediate protection of their parents that they have felt for so long. If we do not work diligently to disciple our youth, they will quickly be discipled by the world. WE DO NOT WANT THAT! It’s already a constant battle to protect them from the darts that the devil is throwing their way through television, internet, games, and products.  We have a short span of time to make a huge impact on our youth – we’d better not waste it!

         It took guts, courage, and conviction for that young lady to stand up in a stadium full of people and go against the norm of the world. For Asia, she wasn’t trying to go against the norm for the sake of rebellion. She was simply standing up for what she knew to be right – to pray for those she cared about, and even those she did not know.

         Youth ministry is a huge blessing to be involved in. It is the opportunity to get to raise up young men and women who will have the opportunity to change the world for Jesus Christ. We dare not take this opportunity for granted! It is an awesome privilege.

 

Sincerely,

Bro. Bryan

“Do You Really Care?”

Reality Check

             When I first entered the ministry in 1997 I began working at Bellevue Baptist Church as a “work shipper” in Community Missions. Work shipper was a fancy ( or not so fancy ) term for paid intern staff. Looking back, I can honestly say this was a really awesome time for me in ministry. It was exciting! Every day was different. Every challenge was unique. All of us who were work shippers got to work with children, youth, young adults, and all the way up to senior adults. In other words, there was never a dull moment.

As I reflect back on the ministry that the Lord has blessed me to be involved in throughout the years there is a saying that we used to have in Community Missions that always comes back to me. I believe it originated in FCA ( Fellowship of Christian Athletes ), but don’t bank me on that 100%. The saying is, “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”. How true is that? It may be more true than we give it credit for on the surface. I have had the honor of working with just about every age group there is throughout the last 17 years of ministry and that saying still holds true today with every age group out there.

This profound, but simple statement is one that every Christian ought to examine. It can make a huge difference in how we minister to others around us. Why? When people know that you genuinely, authentically care about them they are more likely to listen to what you have to say about everything. This is important because it can make the difference in how they receive your witness of Christ in your life. If you are sharing your faith with someone and it is obvious you would rather be somewhere else, doing something else, and with someone else their ears are likely to be deaf to what you are saying to them. However, if someone knows you really do care for them they are going to be more open to what you have to say. They are likely to hear and take in what you are sharing with them.

Please know that God is the One who ultimately penetrates the heart of man with His word to reach lost man and change his life. However, as Christians we should do our very best to be usable vessels so that we may be His tools to be used for His honor and glory. That includes being people who genuinely care about other people. When we are authentic in our love for others it cannot help but show!

This is exactly what God has done for us. We are without excuse because God showed the world that He cares about the world by sending His only begotten Son to do what man could not do. One of the most quoted verses of Scripture tells us how much He cares. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in His name should not perish, but have everlasting life. “ John 3:16. Think about another verse. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”. Romans 5:8.  So, man is without excuse because God has “demonstrated” His love for us. While Jesus was on the cross He knew every sin that you would ever commit in your life. Yet, He stayed on that cross for you, me and the whole wide world.

Many times, we turn people off because too often we had rather be somewhere else on our busy schedule than taking time to share the Gospel message with a lost person. Maybe it’s time we slow down enough to consider the fate of a lost person. People without Jesus go to hell every day as they step from this life over into eternity. It’s time we ask God to give us compassion that is real and that shows when we are communicating the word of God with others around us. People need to know that we are not robots, or like the boss in the ivory tower who looks at his employees as just another number. As Christians, we need to be real, authentic, and genuine is caring for other people.

Real care is shown and spoken. Jesus spoke words of life while He was on this earth. Jesus went to the cross and demonstrated the love that He spoke about for mankind. I want to be a stepping stone that helps people come to know Jesus, not a stumbling block. My prayer is that this be true in my life – that others may see that I care so they care what I know about my Savior Jesus.

Sincerely,

Bro. Bryan

“When It’s Impossible To Please God”

faith-and-reason

Hebrews 11:6, “ But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. “

 

Take a moment to read this verse a few times and see what a profound statement God is making to His people through His word in this verse. “But without faith it is impossible to please him” says a lot to us about the importance of faith and pleasing God.

             Pleasing God is not something that comes natural to natural man, but it should be natural in the life of a Christian who is growing in his/her relationship with the Lord.

             Many times in our society we cringe if anyone mentions anything about pleasing others. So many times this is looked at as a negative or weak thing. We are told that we should be true to ourselves and look out for number one ( self ). The problem is that could not be any further from the truth of what a Christian should be like in his/her relationship with God. Jesus laid down His life for the rest of the world. God the Father gave up His only Son for sinful man. The attitude of Jesus when being nailed to the cross was, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”. Luke 23:34.  This thought in today’s society of pleasing self before looking to what is best for others is very selfish, thoughtless, and self-centered. It certainly isn’t what Jesus taught His followers to be like.

             There are times when it is a good thing to want to please others. For example, I want to please my children by being a good daddy to them. I really want to please my wife through being a good husband and provider for our family. I want to be a good son to my parents, and a good brother to my sister. These are all good desires and I believe they are all in the scope of God’s will.

             However, most importantly, we should want to please God above all, in all, and through all. To neglect pleasing God is tragedy in the life of a Christian. Pleasing God has to come before pleasing self, or any other person in your life. It is the prerequisite of being a blessing in all the other relationships I have such as to my wife, children, parents, and church family. There is no escaping the fact that pleasing God must take priority in the life of the child of God!

             This verse tells so much about our posture towards God Himself. The key to pleasing God is a life of faith. The writer of Hebrews tells us what faith is in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”. As a Christian, I know that one day my spirit will leave this body and be present with the Lord. My trust is in Jesus and what He did on the cross at Calvary that gives me the assurance that one day I will be with Him for eternity. That is the substance of things hoped for even though I haven’t seen it with my eyes yet. It is rock solid faith and assurance.

             That kind of rock solid faith must contain two ingredients mentioned in verse 6. First, you must believe God is who He says He is. He is the Creator and Sustainer, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, He is Jehovah God. God is God. He made you, and He made everything. You must believe ( trust ) this before you can have the type of faith that pleases God. Second, you must believe ( trust ) that God is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. That reward doesn’t mean you’re going to be wealthy in material matters. He could bless you in that respect, but it means that He will reward you in far greater ways that material possessions – strong faith, courage, and boldness in Him. These are keys to having the type of faith that pleases God. Without this type of faith, it is impossible to please God.

             So, the question should be asked, “How much like this faith is your faith?”. This is not something that can be manufactured, earned by good works, or you can be talked into. This is something God increases in the lives of those who believe God, and seek Him daily. He gives faith, and increases faith. What a blessing! It is the real gift that keeps on giving. This is faith that will help you follow God where God leads you. This is the faith that allows you to follow God when no one else will. This is the faith that helps you have peace in making decisions that make no sense to anyone else in your life. This is the faith that says I will chose to serve God no matter what. This is the faith that pleases God. Be honest with yourself today about your own faith and what it looks like compared to Hebrews 11:6.

 Sincerely,

Bro. Bryan