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Assignment | Commissioned

#storychanging

Assignment | Commissioned

Monday“The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike!”  John 4:36

We hear a lot about “bearing fruit,” but we squeeze our own definitions in there that let us off the hook. “Well, you know, fruit is like…the fruit of the Holy Spirit…being nice to people…I’m bearing fruit for God when I stopped cussing…so much.” Well, good for you, but is that how Jesus defined “bearing fruit?” Not according to John. We are bearing fruit when our life choices result in   people being saved. Socially-approved niceness is great, but at the fruit harvest, you might end up with a lot of leaves.”

Keeping with our orchard analogy, what does it take to produce a fruit crop good enough for the market? The orchardist doesn’t start with a mature tree loaded with green peaches. First he plants. Then he waters. Then he feeds. He protects the trees from pests, and then he waits on God to send enough sun to ripen the fruit for harvest. Finally, he sends harvesters into his orchard. They may not have planted or watered a single tree, but they come back with sacks full of juicy ripe fruit. They are paid for their labors and everyone rejoices together. But it took human involvement to harvest that peach crop. God doesn’t just shake the trees and let the peaches fall into sacks. It takes people to harvest an orchard of peaches—and souls.

Final Thought:  What part have you played in God’s harvest? None? It’s time to get started  (John 15:4-5).

Prayer: Father, I’m seeing how lax I’ve been following your command to bear fruit for your kingdom. I’ve made excuses, but there are none good enough. I’m ready to work in your orchard. What’s my first assignment? In Jesus’ name, amen. 

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Tuesday Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about… Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. John 1:44-46

-“Church? You’ve started going to church?” Ella cried. “They’re just a bunch of hypocrites!” “Come and see,” said her neighbor.

-“Oh no…” groaned Darlene. “Don’t tell me you’ve got religion. Those people are wacky.” “Come and see,” said her stylist.

-“I don’t think Jesus wants people like me,” murmured Lu. “After all I’ve done.” “Come and see,” said the recovery pastor.

“Come and see” has been God’s invitation since Creation began. “Taste and see that the Lord is good,” wrote David (Ps. 34:8). “He has risen…Come and see the place where he lay,” said the angel (Matt. 28:6). “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did!” said the Samaritan woman (John 4:29). “Come and see” is the best way to explain the reality of Jesus to someone who doesn’t know Him. He’s not a religion to be contained in a rulebook. He’s not a dead prophet to be immortalized. And He’s not a figment of our imagination. He’s a Person to be experienced. God invites us to come and see because once we’ve come near, tasted, and seen, a door opens into another realm. Faith becomes as rational as sight. Life transformations testify to His power and presence. The greatest invitation to Christianity is a life that says to all, “Come and see.”

Final Thought:  Who in your life needs an invitation to “come and see?”

Prayer: Lord, is there anyone who will be in heaven because of me? I want to step into your presence one day and be greeted by a crowd of people who say, “We’re here because you invited us to come and see Jesus!” Help me get started. Amen.

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Wednesday And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?  Romans 10:14-16

“That speaker was impressive,” said Carla. “All those statistics. Who would’ve guessed there are still 1.6 billion people who have never heard the gospel!” Jes was quiet as they walked to their cars. “Yeah, blew me away,” she murmured. “It stirred something in me. How will they hear and be saved if no one tells them about Jesus?” Carla shrugged. “Oh, missionaries, I guess.” Jes paused by her car door. “But what missionaries? I mean, missionaries are just people like us who heard the same thing we heard and said, ‘I’ll go.’” Carla frowned. “Well, not me. Let someone else do it. I’m not into mud huts and cannibals.”

“Let someone else do it” has become the unofficial theme of modern evangelicalism. Let someone else teach preschoolers, mentor teenagers, visit prisoners, learn a new language so they can go into all the world and preach the gospel. Not me. I’m too busy-important-tired-in debt-lazy-scared. I can’t give to missions, either, because I’m saving for a house-car-college-vacation. How God must weep at our priorities. We go to church if it feels good and our kids like it, but volunteer-serve-train-counsel-teach and share Jesus with some of those 1.6 billion people? Nah, that’s not my thing. Let someone else do it.

Final Thought:  If you just thought “OUCH!” this might have been for you. Are you the “someone else” God is calling?

Prayer: Father, I’m afraid to honestly evaluate my level of commitment and service. I’m comfortable ignoring it. But I will have to answer to you for what I could have done and didn’t. What are you calling me to do? I’ll be that someone else. Amen. 

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Thursday How beautiful… are the feet of those who bring good news… who proclaim salvation… Isaiah 52:7

Kojo gently laid the tiny white woman on a mat outside the doctor’s hut. “I be right back,” he told her and hurried inside. In seconds, he was back with the missionary doctor. “Ms. West,” the doctor said. “Kojo says you’re not well. Your legs again?”

A thousand leathery wrinkles parted for Ms. West’s smile. “Yes, Hans. All those years traipsing across mountains and climbing rocky paths. My feet have given out.” The doctor frowned. “Then, how did you get here? Your village is over 20 kilometers away?” She smiled up at Kojo. “He carried me on his back,” she said. Kojo nodded. “Beautiful feet,” he said. “They save me.”

For reasons known only to God, He has chosen to use frail, fallible humans to transport His message of salvation. And it can be costly to those humans. Missionaries have been slaughtered, faithful witnesses have been imprisoned, beaten, robbed, raped, and exiled simply for preaching the good news about Jesus. In our culture, we face ridicule, hostility, and baseless accusations. But the harvest is immeasurable, the reward priceless. Kojo owed his soul to a tiny missionary and gladly sacrificed to help her. Her feet were beautiful to him because of the message they brought. Only Jesus can save a soul, but He expects us to carry that message to the world. Our feet may bring many messages but only one makes them beautiful.

Final Thought:  We carry messages everywhere we go. Only one can save. Are your feet beautiful in God’s kingdom?

Prayer: Father, only your Son’s blood can save anyone, but you’ve chosen me to bring that message to the world. Am I living in a way that looks beautiful to you? Are my feet carrying your message? I want them to be beautiful. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Friday In this way I have aspired to preach the gospel where Christ was not known. Romans 15:20

Another conference. Another Bible study. Another class. Another challenge to share Jesus with a dying world and we just blink. “Good message,” we say. “I got something out of it.” Getting something out of it is the churchy way we judge the quality of a spiritual presentation. If we don’t “get something out of it,” we feel justified in discarding the whole thing and looking elsewhere. However, the Christian mindset was never to be what’s in it for me?  but what can I do to help? The early church knew that. Christianity was too costly to pretend. Their lives were on the line, so they shared Jesus with as many people as they could before they were massacred. Paul actively searched for people who’d never heard the gospel because he had an assignment.

We’ve forgotten we have an assignment too. But that commission has been repackaged to fit western consumerism. Christianity American-style is about me. My church. My pastor. My self-esteem. We’ve begun to think the Bible is all about us. God exists to validate us, and as long as we’re happy with ourselves, God is happy with us. Peruse the titles of best-selling “Christian” books and summarize their theme. All the while, no one is preaching the gospel where Christ is not known. We’d rather prop up the barely-saved than go toe-to-toe with an atheist. We prefer coddling the backslidden to sharing Jesus with hostile LBGTQ+  paraders. And who wants to learn about savages across the world? Starving orphans. Muslim refugees. Do we, like Paul, aspire to preach the gospel where Christ is not known? It’s not optional. It’s our assignment.

Final Thought:  Can you summarize your personal assignment from God in one sentence? Are you fulfilling it?

Prayer: Father, I’m tired of being a self-absorbed church-goer, evaluating everything by what I get out of it. That mindset is nowhere in the Bible and I repent of it in my life. Whatever assignment you give me, I will do it.  In Jesus’ name, amen.