Sunday – December 9, 2018 Gospel of Luke – Luke 12:12-23 “Affliction of the Affluent”

Sunday – December 9, 2018

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Word On Worship – Sunday – December 9, 2018

Luke 12:15
Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”

When I read the parable of the rich fool, I cannot help but think of Howard Hughes. From some of the reports at the time of his death, he had accumulated a great deal of wealth but did not enjoy any of it in his last years. In this sense, Howard Hughes is a present-day example of what Jesus is giving us warning. The danger of thinking of a man like Howard Hughes implies that the text applies primarily to the rich and enables us not to think of ourselves as a “rich fool.”

We may come to this parable with a sense of smug security. Perhaps Jesus will be speaking to us when he gets to the next section, where Jesus is addressing His disciples. But here, Jesus is telling a parable about a very wealthy, unlike ourselves. Jesus can hardly be addressing us. I’m not so sure about that. I think that most of us would be hard pressed not to admit that we are, as individuals, financially comfortable. Our nation is, in comparison with most others, exceedingly blessed.

The world says our life consists of things, but God says life consists of being rightly related to Him and to others. The world would view this rich man as a success. He would be held up as a model to follow. He had not gained his wealth by dishonest or corrupt means. He had worked for it, poured his money back into the business, and had done well. He was financially secure. He could now enjoy the good life: good food, fine wine, servants, and whatever pleasures money could afford. Isn’t that what we all aim for in life? Isn’t that why we go to college, so that we can get a good career, make plenty of money, provide the finer things in life for our children, and retire some day with plenty in our investments? What’s wrong with that?

This man’s whole attitude was the very reverse of Christianity. Instead of denying himself he aggressively affirmed himself; instead of finding his happiness in giving he tried to conserve it by keeping. His goal was to enjoy life, but in seeking his life, he lost it. What was wrong was the man’s focus. He had the world’s perspective, not God’s perspective. God’s perspective is not that riches are inherently wrong. Money can be a great good if used with a perspective of the life to come. There are several wealthy men in the Bible, such as Job, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph who enjoyed God’s blessing and were godly men. But, to a man, they were generous men who lived in light of eternity. As Paul tells Timothy, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17). If we want to be rich toward God, we need to be careful to distinguish between the world’s perspective and God’s perspective. God’s perspective always takes into account the life to come.

Sunday – December 2, 2018 Gospel of Luke – Luke 12:1-12 “Hazards of Hypocrisy”

Sunday – December 2, 2018

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Word On Worship – Sunday – December 2, 2018

Luke 12:8-9
And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.”

The Greek word for hypocrisy refers to a mask worn in acting. The hypocrite’s emphasis is on how others see him, not on how God sees him, so his focus is on the outward person, not on the heart. Jesus calls it leaven or yeast because it is subtle, just as a small pinch of yeast will spread until it puffs up a large lump of dough. In Galatians 2:13, Paul charged Peter and Barnabas with hypocrisy because they openly ate with Gentile believers, but when the Judaizers came to town, they suddenly withdrew out of fear of what the Judaizers would think. If such godly, strong leaders as Peter and Barnabas were susceptible to hypocrisy, then it is a sin that we all need to be on guard against!

Hypocrisy in the lives of the disciple can have a devastating impact on the gospel we proclaim. This is why Paul reacted so strongly to the hypocrisy of Peter in dissociating from the Gentiles and eating with the Jews alone in Galatians 2. Why make such a big issue of such a little blunder? Because it was a denial of the gospel. The gospel declares all men, Jews and Gentiles alike, to be lost in their sins, with nothing to commend them before God. The gospel offers salvation to all men, Jew or Gentile, on the same basis: faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, who died for the sins of men on the cross of Calvary. To give preferential treatment to the Jews and to avoid the Gentiles was to imply that the Jews were on a higher spiritual plane than Gentiles, a denial of the gospel which makes all believers equal (equally lost, equally saved). Paul rooted out this little bit of leaven, knowing where it could go.

To confess Christ means to proclaim to others the fact that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Lord and that our salvation is all from Him and not at all from us. We do this initially through baptism, where we publicly confess that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Lord. Then, through both our lives and our words, we openly acknowledge that we are followers of Jesus Christ and that He has saved us by His grace, apart from anything we have done. If Jesus Christ has truly saved you, then you will be a different person. You will be growing in righteousness, love, and truth. You will judge and confess your sins. When opportunities come up to tell others of the great love and mercy of the Savior, you will do it because of your gratitude to Him for saving you.

Jesus promises that if we confess Him on earth, He will confess us in heaven (12:8). Every Christian should live every day in light of someday standing before the One who gave His life for us. Our great hope should be that we will hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Then any suffering or rejection we have experienced will be worth it all!

Sunday – November 25, 2018 Gospel of Luke – Luke 11:37-56 “Fundamentalist Flaws”

Sunday – November 25, 2018

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 25, 2018

Luke 11:45-46
One of the lawyers said to Him in reply, “Teacher, when You say this, You insult us too.” But He said, “Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers.”

When you study the life of Christ, it is noteworthy how He deliberately did things to provoke the legalists. He could have healed people on any other day of the week, but He often did it on the Sabbath. He could have been more discreet in violating the Pharisees’ rules, but He did it openly. When a Pharisee invited Jesus to dinner, He could have gone along with their elaborate hand-washing custom, but He deliberately ignored it. When they questioned Him about it, He could have been polite, but He blasted them for their hypocrisy. When a lawyer pointed out that Jesus had offended them as well, He didn’t say, “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to offend you good folks.” He said, “Woe to you lawyers as well!” Jesus confronted legalism as sin.

There is probably no sin more tolerated or more widespread in the Christian world than legalism. It may surprise you to hear it labeled as sin. Legalists are thought to be a bit overzealous or “uptight,” but they aren’t usually thought of as sinning in the same sense as adulterers, thieves, liars, and the like. To the contrary, legalists seem to be concerned about holiness. Yet the Lord Jesus had more conflicts with the legalists of His day than any other group. It wasn’t the adulterers, the robbers and that sort, who put Jesus on the cross. It was the legalists.

What is legalism? Some erroneously confuse it with an emphasis on obedience. I have been accused of being legalistic because I preach that we must obey God’s Word. But every book of the Bible teaches that we must obey God. Being under grace does not mean that we are free to disobey God. Others say that legalism is when we set up any manmade rules. But there are many areas not specifically addressed in the Bible where we need some rules in order to function as a family or church. Parents are not being legalistic when they set a curfew for their kids. Churches are not being legalistic when they follow certain procedures or practices.

In most instances, legalism grows from a well-meaning intention to live in a way they perceive is good in the eyes of God.  In Christian homes, parents mistakenly think the way to keep their teenagers in line is to lay down and enforce a lot of rules. In Christian churches, leaders place expectations on attendance, giving and appropriate dress. But the life that is pleasing to God is the individual who knows and responds from a personal knowledge of the Holy One. He’s with them when you are not there. If they truly know Him and know the great love of Christ who gave Himself for their sins, they will want to please Him, beginning on the heart level. Our goal at Sunrise is to equip each individual to live under the lordship of Jesus Christ, in a growing personal relationship with Him. Legalism takes an external approach; biblical Christianity focuses on the heart relationship.

Sunday – November 18, 2018 Thankdgiving 2018 Psalm 136

Sunday – November 18, 2018

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 18, 2018

Psalm 136:1
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

Psalm 136 is a unique psalm because the same refrain is repeated 26 times. The only thing close is when Psalm 118:1-4 repeats, “His lovingkindness is everlasting” four times. Psalm 136 was designed for public worship. The Jews called it the Great Hallel (= Praise), and it was especially sung at the Passover. Perhaps the worship leader would recite the first line of each verse, followed by the congregation repeating together the response, “for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” John Calvin’s commentary on Psalm says that the repeated refrain teaches us that to praise the Lord properly, we must acknowledge that everything we receive from Him is bestowed by His grace.

You may note how similar this psalm is to Psalm 135, and see both psalms cite frequently from other Scriptures, especially Deuteronomy. For example, the title, “the God of gods” and “the Lord of lords” (136:2, 3) comes from Deuteronomy 10:17. The reference to God’s strong hand and outstretched arm (136:12) also comes from Deuteronomy (4:34; 5:15; 7:19; 11:2; 26:8). It refers to God’s display of His strength. In verse 15, it literally says that God shook off Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea. The same Hebrew verb is used in Exodus 14:27, “then God shook off the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.” Many other expressions in the psalm come directly from other Old Testament Scriptures.

The lesson for us is that it is important for us to know the Scriptures, including the Old Testament, so well that we respond to trials and other situations in our lives with biblical language and thought patterns. The stories in the Old Testament that Psalm 136 alludes to “were written for our instruction,” so that we would not crave evil things as they did, nor be idolaters, nor try the Lord, nor grumble (1 Cor. 10:6-11). If you are not familiar with these events so that they shape your worldview, you will not apply them when you most need to. Rather than thanking the Lord for His everlasting love, you will fall into grumbling with the rest of the world.

So why does the psalmist hammer home 26 times the theme that God’s lovingkindness is everlasting? It’s because the enemy wants us to doubt it, especially when trials hit. This truth was so important that David appointed singers whose job was to repeat at the tabernacle, “give thanks to the Lord, because His lovingkindness is everlasting” (1 Chron. 16:41). Later, when the ark was brought into the newly completed temple, Solomon appointed singers to sing, “He indeed is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting” (2 Chron. 5:13). God’s response was to fill the temple with the cloud of His glory. Still later, Jehoshaphat appointed singers to lead the army into battle singing, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His lovingkindness is everlasting” (2 Chron. 20:21). It was after this that the Lord routed the enemy.

Sunday – November 11, 2018 Gospel of Luke – Luke 11:14-36 “Evidence That Leads to Many Verdicts”

Sunday – November 11, 2018

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 11, 2018

Luke 11:34-36
“The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness.

I would have to agree with those who say that “you can prove anything you want from the Bible.” This is not to say that the Bible proves all points of view. It is to say that many who view the biblical evidence miss the point. The beauty of this text is it not only shows us how far men can stray from the truth, but it reveals to us why they do so. Here is a text of great importance to all who would seek to know the truth, to come to the verdict which the biblical evidence leads us. Let us listen well to the words of this text, for doing so can keep us from going astray, and it can help us to understand and to help those who have missed the point of God’s Word.

As I look at all the Scriptures it would seem that a man’s ability to understand what God is saying and doing is entirely dependent upon his ability to “see” the truth. Truth is not the problem, but man’s receptivity to the truth is the problem. The Bible is replete with evidence, but the eyes of man are simply not able to see it.

Man’s inability to see is attributed to at least three sources. First, man himself is responsible for his unreceptive heart toward God and toward spiritual truth. That seems to be the thrust of our Lord’s words to the crowd “See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness” (Luke 11:35). Man’s blindness is also attributed to the work of Satan, who blinds men’s minds from the truth (2 Corinthians 4:4). But blindness is also a work of judgment on God’s part, for He has blinded the eyes of Israel as a temporary judgment, due to their persistent unbelief (John 12:39-41).

How, then, does one who is blind come from blindness to sight, from darkness to light, from death to life? I believe that the answer to this question is clear in the Bible. Man cannot, in and of himself, heal himself of his blindness, for it is a blindness of heart. Instead, God, through a gracious and miraculous act on His part, opens our eyes to see the truth. I believe that Paul’s physical blindness and the reception of his sight, was symbolic of his spiritual blindness. Once a person has come to faith in Christ, it is the Scriptures which expose the light in our lives, and which reveals our sin. The Scripture “sharpens our focus” as it were. On the one hand we must ask for God to “open our eyes” as we come to the Word, so that we may see in it the things God has for us (Psalm 119:18). On the other hand, the Scriptures serve to open our eyes, to show us life as it is, ourselves as we are, and God as He is (Hebrews 4:12-13).

Sunday May 27, 2018 Gospel of Luke – Luke 6:46-49 “Obedience, Not an Option”

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Luke 6:46-49
“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.”

The words of our Lord in His Sermon on the Mount are indeed difficult and perplexing, but their essence is clear. We are to do what no one else will do—love our enemy. We are to do so because God has loved us while we were His enemies. We are to do so because God is the One who will bless us for obeying His commands. As Jesus comes to the end of this sermon, He asks pointedly, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”

Obedience to the “tough” commands of our Lord proves a person to be a true follower of Christ, and handling the tough tasks now assures us of enduring tough times ahead. Jesus taught that it is not only to call Jesus Lord, they must prove He is Lord by obeying His commands (v. 46). It is in doing the tough things which shows our discipleship. It is not test of a child’s obedience to hand him money and instruct him to go and buy candy. It is a test of obedience to have the child submit to an inoculation at the doctor’s office.

In the parable of the two builders, Jesus sought to illustrate the fact that doing the hard thing now gives confidence in the hard times ahead. When building a house, the wise man “goes the extra mile” of laying a strong foundation. Digging deep to establish a solid foundation is not the easy way, but when the storms come, the building will stand. Obedience to our Lord’s commands regarding the loving of our enemies is not easy, but it does give us confidence that in the future we will have been well founded, well established in our faith and obedience, and able, by His grace, to withstand any coming storms.

In each and every one of these illustrations in the Sermon on the Mount (Luke 6:20-49), the need for “betterness” has been established, even though the cost is high to live according to Christ’s higher standard. The commands of Christ regarding loving our enemies is a very high standard, higher than that which others hold or practice, but this only shows that with God all things are possible for those who trust in Him, who obey His commands, and who are sustained by His power and grace.

Sunday May 13, 2018 – Mother’s Day

Sunday – May 13, 2018 – Read the Word on Worship

Sunday May 13, 2018 – Mother’s Day “How to Raise Godly Grandchildren” from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

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Deuteronomy 6:1-2

These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.”

Deuteronomy 6 has been called the Magna Carta of the home, a constitution which would guarantee the happiness and well-being of the family in the purpose of God. But while it is an important passage for the home, this passage must not be used outside of its overall context and purpose or it loses its real impact for the home. One of the chief purposes of this section of Scripture is a call to ministry and testimony as the people of God through obedience to God.

This is not simply a call to obedience for the sake of obedience or happiness, nor is it just a passage with mere principles for the home. It is a call to obedience for God’s glory, as an evidence of love for God and for a ministry to the world through the perpetuation of faith in the Lord from generation to generation to generation. Personal blessing is promised to those who respond to the challenge of God, but primarily as a by-product of relationship with the Lord, not as an end in itself.

As soon as you mention obedience, many Christians think “legalism.” Obedience can become legalistic when people do it outwardly to look good before others. But their hearts are far from devotion to God. Some Jews, for example, obeyed Verses 8 and 9 quite literally. They wore these verses in little boxes strapped to their hands and foreheads, and they put them in a little box by their doors and on their gateposts. But they missed the sense of the passage, which is that the Word of God is to permeate every area of life. Not just the outward behavior, but the sacred space within.

There are Pharisees in the church today, who lay down rules that are not in the Bible in an attempt to get their kids to look like good Christians to the rest of the church. But they themselves are judgmental of those who don’t meet their manmade standards; they gossip and they’re proud. That’s not biblical obedience. Biblical obedience goes down to the heart level, where God’s Word judges our sinful thoughts, motives, and attitudes. The obedience of faith means that out of love for the God who showed me mercy at the cross, I seek to be conformed to Christ in the inner man. As God’s people today, this is our call and responsibility. Remember, these Old Testament principles, warnings, and exhortations are given for us today as examples to us and for our instruction and “that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

Sunday May 6, 2018 Gospel of Luke – Luke 6:27-35 “Love, According to Jesus”

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Luke 6:35-36
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

“Tough Love,” is a popular topic in self-help circles, but I think you will soon recognize that I mean something very different from what this expression generally has been used to describe, even in Christian circles — especially in Christian circles. In our relationships with others, we often try to “under love” the other person, as opposed to outdoing the other in love. The reason is that love has obligations and so the one who loves most also owes most. Thus, to be free from the debts of love one must love less, making the other person more in debt to you than you are to them. A kind of “unbalance of payments” rationalization.

We often act out of unrealistic expectations. Many of our acts of love done toward others are very selfishly motivated. We love others in hopes of being loved in return. We give in hopes of receiving. We do good so that good will be done to us. We serve on the basis of expected reciprocity. Whether or not we continue to serve and love others is conditioned on how others respond and if they return equal value. Our Lord’s words are intended to show such thinking as utterly mistaken. We must serve others, expecting nothing in return but assured we will receive our reward from God. And the beauty of God’s grace is that He rewards us far beyond that which we deserve. He rewards in accordance with His grace and His riches.

Love, as defined here by Jesus, is vastly different from a meaning often propagated in the name of Christianity today. “Tough love,” as it is called, is love that is tough on others, love that looks out for one’s own interests. Biblical “tough love” is that that is tough on us, the lover, and merciful to others, even our enemies. You will not find our text in most books that deal with “tough love” because our Lord’s words condemn what is popularly taught.

God’s thoughts are not man’s thoughts, nor are His ways our ways. So, we should expect that much of what our Lord has to say will be challenging to accept. Our initial reaction to His Truth may well be difficult to embrace. Only after much thought and prayer can we see the hard things are exactly what our Lord meant, and what our fallen nature wants to reject. The corollary to this is the false teaching that makes things easy on us. What “sounds good” can be easily accepted without critical thought. Let us beware of teaching that “sounds good.” The renewing of our minds requires our thinking to conform with God’s Word. Hard to hear and accept or not, let us try to more fully grasp what our Lord has taught us in this passage.

Sunday April 29, 2018 Gospel of Luke – Luke 6:20-26 “Defining Discipleship”

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Luke 6:20-22
Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.”

At first reading the words of Jesus are incredible. It would seem as though Jesus has said that all who are poor, hungry, mourning and persecuted are blessed, while all who are rich, well-fed, happy, and honored are cursed. Living in an affluent country as we do, it raises many questions which it would do us well to wrestle in our hearts and minds. Is it a blessing to be poor, hungry, sorrowful, and rejected? Are all the hurting people of the world suddenly so fortunate, while all of the comfortable, happy people of the world are really cursed?

As Jesus frequently taught, when a choice must be made between money and God, God must come first (Matt. 6:24). Money is not evil, unless it takes the place which only God should have. The rich young ruler’s money meant too much for him. When forced with the choice of following Christ or being rich, he chose to remain rich. In the Lord’s parable of the soils, the thorny soil symbolized the “cares of this world” are that which chokes out the seed of the gospel. Luke tells us that Jesus called them “worries and riches and pleasures of this life” (Luke 8:14). When we must choose wealth or Jesus, being well-fed or Jesus, laughter or Jesus, we must always choose Him.

This raises an interesting and important point. What is it that makes following Jesus so great a blessing that men will gladly give up riches, comfort and even friends to do so? Luke’s account would supply us with a very strong reason: the blessings which Jesus gives are eternal, while those which disciples may reject are temporal. We can fill in many other answers from the gospel as a whole. Jesus gives the forgiveness of sins, peace with God, the joy of fellowship with Him and of serving Him. Discipleship leads to the greatest blessings, so great that wealth, health, and the praise of men pale in comparison with the joy of knowing Him.

Giving up lesser benefits for greater ones is not a principle known and practiced only by Christians. It is a principle practiced by all who are wise. We give up immediate pleasures to save our money to buy something that is of lasting pleasure or value. Runners give up food and even friends to maintain rigorous training, all for the joy of winning the race. Sacrifices are a blessing when they lead to greater blessings. That is what Jesus was saying in this sermon. How blessed were His disciples! True, they would become poor, they would experience hunger, and they would be rejected and persecuted. But in light of the blessings of fellowship with the Son of God these were hardly worthy of being called sacrifices.

Sunday April 22, 2018 Gospel of Luke – Luke 6:12-20 “Calling the Dirty Dozen”

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Sunday April 22, 2018 Gospel of Luke – Luke 6:12-20 “Calling the Dirty Dozen” from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

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Luke 6:12-13
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles…”

Do you ever look around at all the hurting, needy people in the world and feel overwhelmed? I do. Every day on the news we hear about people in desperate need: victims of war, disease, crime, poverty, family and personal problems. Even if we limit it to Temple City or to the people who attend this church, we encounter a pile of needs. We all know that God is the only final answer to those needs. As Job lamented, “Man is born for trouble as sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7). The suffering, sickness, sorrow, and pain that we all encounter should cause each of us to realize our own alienation from the holy God and our desperate need for reconciliation with Him before we die.

People need to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. God has many ways He could have used to dispense His truth to this hurting world. He could have used the angels who would have been more obedient and efficient at getting the job done than His followers have been. He could have spoken directly from heaven to every person on the globe. No doubt God had many other options. I can’t tell you for sure why He chose to do it the way He did, but the method of Jesus for ministry was prayerfully to choose a few men to minister to the needy masses.

You don’t have to be flashy or famous or influential in the worldly sense to be used by God. We all know about Peter, James, and John, but what do we know about James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, or Judas the son of James? And yet these men were a part of the twelve apostles who will sit on twelve thrones judging the tribes of Israel. Although they were not outwardly well known or as influential as Peter was, they were faithful men who served according to their gifts. Just as Jesus chose the twelve, He has chosen us to be His instruments to testify to others of His grace and to build up the saints through the exercise of their gifts. That’s what God requires of you and me.

Let me ask, do you see the masses and their great needs? Are you burdened for them with compassion as Jesus was? If you feel overwhelmed by the great needs, then look to the all-sufficient Master, who has grace and power to spare. It’s His job to heal and save them. But how does He do it? Through choosing faithful men and women to multiply His grace to others. He chooses common men and women from a variety of backgrounds and conscripts them into His service. If you’ve trusted in Him as Savior and Lord, He has appointed you to serve in His cause.