Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Are you weary in doing good?

In Galatians 6:9-10, the Apostle Paul urges the Christians gathered at Galatia:

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

These very powerful words not only apply to those stalwart saints who lived so many years ago. They apply to us today, right here, where we live.

The truth is, it is very easy to become weary in doing good. Anyone who has ever taught a Sunday School class for a year, or led a youth group for a school term, or helped prepare food for a significant church event—or countless other activities within the framework of church life—knows how very weary one can become.

The list of thankless jobs within the church stretches out almost beyond one’s ability to comprehend. The work of Jesus Christ, through the body of believers in the church, can only reach the highest level of effectiveness when literally scores of individuals willingly give their time and talent.

It takes many, many people volunteering to help to make things happen in a church. Sometimes, for a whole variety of reasons, the same people find themselves engaged in many church activities. As these folks look over their schedules for a given week, they find that they will make numerous trips to church in order to see to this matter or that one.

After a while, even the most dedicated volunteers begin to notice that, in many cases, the same faces appear in the ranks of the workers. They hear a number that counts the number of members who belong to their church and begin to ask themselves where all those other folks have gone when the call to tackle a new task goes out.

Then, do you know what happens next? Satan sticks his nose into the matter and begins to remind those hard-working volunteers of all the time they have invested while others seem to sit on the sidelines. The evil one cajoles and commiserates about fairness and just treatment.

Soon, each dedicated volunteer begins to put his or her foot down. When someone asks him or her to take on another task at church, he or she becomes irritated, even offended.

At this point, the tongues of the gossips begin to wag about the formerly dedicated volunteer. They use words like “burn out” and “worn out.”

All across this nation, even around the world, the army of God has many individuals who once gave their all in the cause of Christ, only now to step back and stubbornly refuse to take part. So, what do we do about this constant problem within our own Church.

We need to take another lesson from the Apostle Paul, this time from 1 Thessalonians 5:11:

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

Aha! We need to encourage one another.

When was the last time that you spoke a word of encouragement to one of your fellow believers? Have you thanked someone you observe at church who is fulfilling a role that helps advance the Kingdom of God?

Let me respectfully suggest that you make an effort this week to speak a word of encouragement to one of your fellow believers. Tell that one you appreciate what he or she does. Acknowledge that you understand he or she has made a sacrifice to do whatever it is that he or she does for the Kingdom.

And, while you’re at it, take a look at your own life. Are you looking for ways in which God can use your talents and abilities in His work through the church?

One day, when I was a small boy, a visiting pastor preached a sermon about service to Christ and His Kingdom. He concluded his sermon by reciting a little poem that has stuck in my mind for over 50 years. Here’s the first stanza:

Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life's busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Will you take up this challenge? Today? The work of God in the place where you live, through your church, depends on you, on your dedication, on your commitment.
Copyright © 2009 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, July 6, 2009

What will you do
this summer?

In the musical play, 1776, writer Sherman Edwards writes these words for a discouraged and downcast John Adams: “Is anybody there? Does anybody care? Does anybody see what I see?”

Adams sings this lament on a darkened stage. In the original cast, actor William Daniels projects such a mournful tone that nearly everyone in the audience feels chills of mourning ripple up their spines.

An exhausted courier has arrived to deliver a message to the Continental Congress from General George Washington at the forward line of the battle. The British forces have the upper hand. Washington has spent most of the last few weeks trying to rally his troops. Things do not look well. Victory appears to rest solely within the enemy’s grasp.

No wonder Adams delivers this lament. No wonder he feels overwhelmed by gloom and discouragement. It’s as if he recognizes a need to step away from the urgent matters pressing in around him and to begin to examine the very depths of his being. Has he done the right thing? Has he made the right choices? Has he stood for the right principles? Has he remained faithful to his cause? Has he clung to what is right and turned his back on what is wrong?

The period of “summer” in the life of most churches—that stretches from the first Sunday in June until the first Sunday in September—offers a time when many believers take what they belive to be a well-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of church life. Typically, church programs take a hiatus. Attendance drops during this time. Many churches even structure their services to account for the many members who will number among the missing during this time.

In years past, say more than 100 years ago, summer typically offered believers in the Lord Jesus Christ an opportunity for penitence and preparation. Even though the agriculturally centered society saw summer as a very busy time, it also served as a time for spiritual renewal through camp meetings and other spiritual gatherings. It also served as a time to get ready for the thrust that would begin with the fall and extend through the winter months into spring.

In light of the changes that have taken place in our spiritual calendar, I am prompted to ask, “How goes it?”

“How goes what?” you may rightly respond.

“How goes your repenting and your preparing?”

You see, we far too often take the regular occurrence of a summer spiritual break for granted.

Oh, I know that some of you, drawing on the traditions of your childhood, may decide to take some of your vacation time to read a spiritual book or even spend some early morning or late evening time reading more from the Bible. I certainly will not fault you for deciding to follow the traditions established by your upbringing.

But, summer offers us so much more of an opportunity to examine the intimate details our lives during this deliberate three-month period. It offers a time of true introspection. It also offers us a time to enhance our spiritual awareness. It presents a window through which we should feel uniquely open to instruction in righteousness from God’s Word.

“Is anybody there? Does anybody care? Does anybody see what I see?”

The Apostle Peter, in his first epistle, writes these words of warning to the fledgling church:

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

During this summer, why not take time to examine the nature and character of our own beings? We can become aware of the manner in which the enemy prowls around us. We can ask God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to reveal those places in our lives that leave us open and vulnerable to our enemy’s advances.

We must become aware that our enemy may have sown seeds of discouragement. We must look carefully to see if that prowling lion has begun to devour our desire to hold fast to the One who holds fast to us.

If we find the hungry lion lurking at our door, praise God we have a remedy. Peter continues:

“Resist him (Satan), standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:9-11)

Yes, indeed, we do not have to face our enemy alone. So, let’s stand firm! Let’s not be discouraged! Let’s not fall into the trap offered by the devouring lion to use any excuse to keep us from gathering with our brothers and sisters in Christ to worship Him on the Lord’s Day. Let’s not withhold our time, talent, and treasure. Let’s not let anything get in the way of our devotion to the Risen Christ during the summer.

I continue to believe that we stand at the starting point of an exciting, vital, soul-filling, life-breathing, spirit-energizing time of ministry in the life of the church.

During this season of summer—I believe with all my heart—a new day can begin right now, right here, today!

Will you join me in rededicating yourself to serving Christ? Will you join me in praying for a great outpouring of His Spirit? Will you join me? Will you?
Copyright © 2009 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.