We Are ALL Called

On Sunday, Nov 1, my husband’s nephew (KJ Weisheit, the new Youth Pastor at First Baptist Church Celina) preached on “The Church.” His message spoke to me, and so I wanted to share some of it and some other thoughts on this topic with you here.

KJ PreachingKJ started off explaining “What the Church Is Not.”

The Church is not a building. It’s not meant to be a social gathering. (Meeting in fellowship at the church is good, but socializing shouldn’t be our main focus or reason for going to church.)

Then he went on to share “What the Church Is.”

We are the Church. The people … wherever we meet, and whenever we gather in His name. “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20)

We are one body with many members. And every member has a specific job. Some are called “to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service …” (Ephesians 4:12).

“… each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12:6–8)

I’ve always liked this passage from Romans. It reminds me that we each have been called to fulfill the mission of Christ in different ways. We shouldn’t envy others and their roles or diminish the importance of our own roles within the Body of Christ.

As KJ reminded us — How we feel about our part in the Body does not matter. Even those parts of our physical bodies that seem to be weaker than others are still indispensable. We are ALL called to be a blessing (see Gen 12:1–3); we are ALL called to be salt and light (see Mat 5:13–16); and we are ALL called to be love (1 Cor 13).

In a blog post from Holley Gerth, “Psst…You’re Making a Bigger Difference than You Know,” I read a little more about what I believe our calling (as the Church) is and how God equips us:

Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit” {John 7:38}. This is good news for us: We are not the source. We are not the supplier. We are simply the server. We pour out what God pours into us. Then He fills us up again. [Isn’t that awesome?!]

SmallestKindness-e1445886531810

If you give even a cup of cold water
to one of the least of my followers,
you will surely be rewarded.
{Matt. 10:42}

If you give even a cup of…
patience to a cranky toddler.
kindness to a challenging coworker.
hope to a struggling stranger.
peace to a conflicted family.
joy to a discouraged friend.

What may seem small can make a big difference. One cup of living water can refresh a heart. One cup can save a life. One cup can even change the world.

2015-11-06 11.54.12

Another good post that I think ties in to this message of finding ourselves and our place and role within the Church comes from Shannon Martin at (in)courage — “When Judgment and Self-Doubt Derail You.

She says, “Church culture has taught us to talk pretty and play nice, but what about our hearts? … I’m a believer that we should be the church we long for. We don’t get far toward clearing a new path when our feet and our hearts aren’t willing to make a shift.”

10302015_ShannanMartin_Church

Be the Church you long for. … If you need a friend, try at first to be a friend. If you need help, ask … but don’t forget to reach out to others to help in whatever capacity you can. Think about the aches and desires of your own heart, and realize that there are probably many people all around you feeling just like you. Your weaknesses may very well be just the thing that connects you to someone else in need. But if you are not confident enough to approach someone else first, there’s still something you can do, and that is to simply pray for others. Share your love … share God’s love … through your prayers.

“Sharing makes you bigger than you are.
The more you pour out, the more life
will be able to pour in.”  Jim Rohn

We are all given a choice. Will we be who God created us to be and play our part in the Body of Christ, or will we try to be who others expect us to be? True joy and authenticity is found only when we align ourselves with God’s plan.

“Effectiveness in God’s work depends on
what He calls each person to do.” Charles Stanley

Few will be given a task on the scale of Moses’, but the Father has a calling for each believer. Whether His plan is that we raise a godly family, reach out to a neighbor, or run a business with integrity and consideration, He wants us to do so in His power. (In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley)

LeAnne and Brittany

LeAnne and Brittany (KJ’s wife)

Before I close this post, I want to mention another family member who really seems to get this concept of fully living as a part of the Church, and that is KJ’s sister, LeAnne Weisheit. LeAnne is an active member of Watermark Community Church. Whenever she is not at work (as a teacher) she can usually be found participating in a Christian camp; assisting with a ministry event; or, in some way, reaching out to connect with others, helping them to grow in faith. She lives her faith and shares God’s love all week long. We are so proud of her and her loving spirit.

We believe that each believer has received a special gift
and should employ it in serving others, as good stewards of the
manifold grace of God. Spiritual giftedness and maturity determines
where and how a believer serves. (1 Peter 4:10) Watermark

We are all called to serve.
Have you found your place in the Church?

**************

Dear Lord, thank you for the gifts and talents you have given us. Please show us where we can be most useful for your Kingdom. Help us to see how much you love us and how much you want for us. Help us to trust in your divine purpose for our lives. Lord, whatever I want for myself, help me want what you want for me more.

Father, help us remember to be present for one another, to strengthen and encourage others, to give generously of ourselves and our resources, and to simply listen when that is what is needed. Help us to use the gifts you have given us to build up the Church, and to share your love with those who may not yet know you. Give us boldness to carry out your will.

Thank you for your grace, your love, and the opportunities you place in our lives to serve you and others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.  

     

The Art of Encouragement

Today I am proud to post a sermon from my father-in-law, H.B. Fuller (retired pastor but forever a preacher) that ties in wonderfully with my post from yesterday. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Do you ever feel like giving up? We all go through those periods when we want to throw in the towel. This is the pattern a lot of us go through. Listen and see if this is not similar to your experience. You feel people are saying things about you that just are not true. Work is a drudgery. Even things you used to do for pleasure become a task. You are tired, irritated with those who love you the most. Life loses its joy. Depression, frustration and a tinge of paranoia become your bedfellows.

About at this point, God raises up some friends who prove to be [true] friends. These Christian friends support, pray for, and love us. They have taken seriously Hebrews 10:25:

“not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some,
but encouraging one another,
and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

How desperately we all need encouragement. It is wonderful to have a friend who does not hesitate to point out flaws in our Christian faith and conduct. This finest of encouragement is possible only between two friends who trust each other, and know each other well enough to laugh together at each other’s expense.

The creation of this living fellowship is surely one of the most urgent tasks of the church. Anyone who sets their mind to it can be an encourager. It requires no degree or ordination. All one needs is the willingness to give oneself to another person.

Interestingly, the word in the Bible reading in the 11th verse [1 Thessalonians 5] that the NIV translated “encourage” has its root in the word parakalos, usually translated “comfort.” When you make a noun out if it, the word becomes “comforter,” which we define as “one called alongside of.” The supreme Comforter is the Holy Spirit. When we become encouragers or comforters, we are doing work akin to that of the Holy Spirit. How awesome!!! What a privilege and responsibility to be permitted to work alongside of the Holy Spirit to encourage a struggling brother or sister. And yet there is the exhortation “encourage one another” (v. 11).

Walk (or sit) together.

Walk (or sit) together.

  1. ENCOURAGEMENT IS A PERSON

During one of the major offensives of World War II, Dwight Eisenhower was walking near the Rhine River and came upon a GI who seemed depressed. “How are you feeling?” the General asked. “Sir,” the young man replied, “I’m awful nervous.” “Well,” Eisenhower said, “You and I are a good pair then, because I’m nervous, too. Maybe if we just walk along together we’ll be good for each other.”

No speech, words of wisdom, or special advice necessary, just one person giving of himself to another.

Encouragement means “coming alongside to impart courage.” In a sense, encouragement is one person giving strength and support to another by osmosis, just being there radiating light, spiritual nourishment, strength. When we encourage, we snuggle up to an individual and show we care.

One of the great callings of the New Testament church, one of the great responsibilities of individual Christians is encouragement. Barnabas, whose name means “son of encouragement,” came alongside Paul to give him needed support for entrance in the early church. Let’s read the record in the Bible—maybe God will teach you a lesson I do not see. It is found in Acts 9:26–28:

“And when he had come to Jerusalem he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles, and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem.”

Paul not only benefited from Barnabas’ encouragement, but he learned the lesson well. Later, he became an encourager himself, especially for his young friend Timothy.

Encouragement is a person—you and I—an encourager giving self to another in distress—the distressed experiencing the benefit of his friend’s presence and taking up the ministry himself.

Created by Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista

Created by Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista

  1. ENCOURAGEMENT IS A WORD

Consider the following sound advice from Proverbs 25:11:

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”

The Japanese have a saying, “one kind word can warm up three winter months.”

We all need encouragement whose “pleasant words are a honeycomb sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).

Vince Lombardi, the legendary Green Bay Packers’ football coach was a feared disciplinarian. But he never leveled a man without also seeking to launch him. One day he chewed out a player who had missed several blocking assignments. After practice, Lombardi stalked into the locker room. The player was sitting at his locker head down, dejected.

Lombardi mussed his hair, patted him on the shoulder, and said, “One of these days you are going to be the best guard in the NFL.” That guard was Jerry Kramer and he said he carried that positive image of himself the rest of his career.

“Lombard’s encouragement had a tremendous impact on my whole life,” he said. Kramer went on to become a member of the NFL Hall of Fame and a part of the NFL’s ALL 50-YEAR TEAM.

Do you offer encouraging words? Paul Tillich [one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century] said, “Almost every person you meet is fighting a great battle within.” People everywhere are in need of an encouraging word, an uplifting compliment, or a note of encouragement. Many Christians are discouraged and faltering in the faith. You can spur them on with your inspiring words.

What words to say? Sometimes one approach, sometimes another. BE THERE, GO and SAY something (make sure what you say is from the heart)—“I love you in the Lord.” “We care about you.” “I am praying for you.” “I am asking God to meet your need.” Be sure you ask God to give you the appropriate things to do and say.

Go to the hurting person when possible. If this is not possible, send a letter of affirmation, a note of congratulations, a pep talk, or a kind word from you. If you send a greeting card, write a personal note, even if it is no more than one line. You would be surprised at how many people read only what you wrote.

Your personal word, from the heart, inspired by God, can and often does make an eternal difference in someone’s life. It has in my life.

Church

Memorial Baptist Chapel

  1. ENCOURAGEMENT IS A CHURCH

The Bible makes it clear that the church is distinctive from the world in the area of encouragement. Our society [often] seeks to depress and defeat; the body of Christ desires to inspire and uplift. “We are called out ones,” the set aside ones. One of the distinctive callings of the Christian is to be an encourager. Listen again to the text from I Thessalonians 5:11:

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

It can’t be any plainer. The church is [to be] a safe place of encouragement.

The early church was acquainted with persecution. Martyrdom was a daily occurrence. These people had reason to be depressed. Consequently, the author of Hebrews wrote a letter of hope and perseverance.

Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hear closely Hebrews 10:25:

“not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some,
but encouraging one another,

and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

The body of Christ gathers for worship and fellowship with other believers. The church offers the warmth of a bonfire. But when we remove ourselves, the fire diminishes. Three times a week [let alone once a week] is little enough for the body of Christ to assemble itself together to be warmed by each other’s spiritual heat. Together hope is fortified, and life is renewed.

Christians thrive as a group, bunched up together. We are not designed to be loners. We draw strength from each other. When God’s people bunch up to pray, praise, preach—the power of God is magnified and individuals are encouraged. 

Many Christians take seriously the ministry of encouragement. A church in Oregon provides encouragement cards in the pew rack. Members take time before the worship service to write notes of encouragement to each other and others. These cards are collected and mailed.

Encouragement is the overall theme at a Texas church. The sanctuary is called “The Encouragement Center.” The pastor’s message on the weekly bulletin is labeled “The Encouraging Word.” The church newsletter is titled “The Encourager.” But more importantly, the membership takes seriously the need to encourage one another. No wonder people are attracted to this growing church.

CONCLUSION:

Find someone who needs encouragement. Give of yourself, say a word, or introduce him or her to the church—the safe encouraging place—or to Jesus—the encouraging Savior.

Sunday school classes must emphasize the ministry of encouragement. Teachers, please work on this. Give priority to it. If for one reason or another you cannot, encourage some of your members who appear to have this ability.

Of course, our best friend is Jesus. He is the premier encourager. If you do not know Him as Savior, now is the time.

Jeremiah

Jeremiah 29:11-14