“Come and see (hear) … Go and tell!”

Our weekly devotion from the sainted Rev. Earl Feddersen:

Amos 7:10-15
Ephesians 1:3-14
Mark 6:30-34

In this Sunday’s Gospel lesson, Jesus gives His disciples their first glimpse into being apostles. Less than halfway through Mark’s story, Jesus’ message to the Twelve changes from “Come and see (or hear)” to “Go and tell.”

It is something of a surprise that Jesus sends them out on their first mission so early in their training. These are the same guys who still look at each other with blank faces when He scores the punchlines of His parables. They are still in the simple “Wow!” stage at the meaning of His miracles.

He sends them out two by two. It is another example of His wisdom–it’s a cruel world out there and He doesn’t want them to face it alone. He sends a dose of divine authority with them as well, making them dominant over evil spirits. But the rest of their equipment is to be scant. They are to travel extremely light. They take no food or money and only the shirts on their backs. Each should wear sandals and carry a walking staff. They are equipped for fast travel.

The idea of leaving excess baggage is a good one for all of us in His mission. Too often we have emotional baggage. We worry that we won’t be able to answer all the questions people might ask. We think we should memorize the Scriptures before we depart. The fact is that too many people think the call to teach others, to “go and tell,” is something that should come later … much later!

Jesus gives the disciples a sense of urgency. If somebody fails to accept their message right away, they are not to hang around and argue. They are to leave them in the dust and go to someone who will listen. As God’s missionaries, we are called to tell the Good News, not to create the results. The results are in God’s hands. Some people may need 100 witnesses to come by before the seeds take root and grow.

This time of the year reminds me of my days in the parish and Vacation Bible School (VBS). We would usually start with 50-70 kids, but in just a few days we would have well over 100. Why did the other kids come? Did we give evangelism instructions to the first group or teach them invitation techniques? No, kids carry no baggage whatsoever. Filled with simple joy, enthusiasm and the Spirit of God, they sang the songs, simply because they liked them, and told their friends about the good time they were having every morning at VBS. For the kids, having come and seen and heard, it was only natural to go and tell. The enthusiasm of children is contagious, perhaps even infectious.

Maybe that is why Jesus sent His disciples out so early in His ministry and so early in their stage of instruction. Maybe that same childlike quality filled their witness. Maybe, years later, when they were hardened veterans in the mission field, they would remember it.

In Sunday’s lesson from Ephesians, Paul begins his letter to this, his main support station, by reminding them that they are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ, chosen in Him to be holy and blameless in God’s sight, predestined to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ. It goes on and on. In the Greek, the entire 12 verses are one sentence! The whole thing is fascinating– wonderful, but I particularly treasure the opening lines noted above.

Paul was talking to Gentiles. It went against everything he had always thought “before Christ.” Even the Gentiles, the men and the women, are adopted as God’s sons–the word “sons” is a legal term. As children of God we all receive an inheritance right along with Jesus. There are no second-class children in the family of God.

The words remind me that, just as Jesus did not require any advance qualifications for His disciples, so they require no special attributes to be His apostles–His missionaries. He took swarthy fishermen right from their boats, a tax collector right from his table, and turned them into His full-time students. After very little preparation, He sent them out to proclaim His kingdom. His grace was sufficient to bring them into His presence and His power was sufficient for them to enter His service.

In the same way, Jesus required nothing in advance from us before He went to the cross for us. It’s a good thing, too, since we weren’t even born when He did it. That is the purest of undeserved grace! And now, having made us God’s “sons,” inheritors with Him regardless of our nationality, race or sex, He sends us out. And God blesses us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing–everything we need. We have no need of excess baggage. We who are stained and guilty in sin are, in Christ, “holy and blameless in God’s sight.” Well, now that you’ve come and heard, go and tell!

Mid-Week Stewardship Thought

Expressing Love through Giving

Two brothers shared a field and a mill, and each night they evenly divided the grain they had ground together during the day. One brother lived alone; the other had a wife and large family. The single brother started thinking, “It isn’t really fair that we divide the grain evenly, because I only have myself to care for and my brother has children to feed.” So each night he secretly took some of his grain to his brother’s granary to see that he was never without.

The married brother said to himself one day, “It isn’t really fair that we divide the grain evenly, because I have children to provide for me in my old age, but my brother has no one. What will he do when he is old?” So every night he secretly took some of his grain to his brother’s granary. As a result, both of them always found their supply of grain mysteriously replenished each morning.

In the same way these brothers expressed their love for each other, we are called to express our love to others who are in need of our support. This love can be shown by giving of our time and/or money.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, grant me a loving and giving heart. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Blessings on your journey as a steward!

Mid-Week Stewardship Thought

Jesus Is Lord; We Are Stewards

The foundational truth of Christian stewardship is that Jesus is Lord and we are stewards. What this means is that Jesus is Lord of our lives. He is number one in our lives. He has given us the clothes we have on. He has given us the cars we drive. He has given us the homes or apartments that we live in. He has given us the employment that we have or will give us the employment that we need. He has given great wealth to some while others may have to struggle paycheck to paycheck. Regardless of the amount of money we have, we are to steward faithfully all that we’ve been given. As stewards, we understand that our property doesn’t belong to us. Nothing here belongs to us. It belongs to God; He has given it. Knowing that God has provided our blessings, we should be thinking of ways and opportunities to use our blessings to extend God’s kingdom and help those in need. With God’s help, we can be instruments through whom God can use to share the Gospel and to provide a helping hand to the needy.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for being my Redeemer and Savior. Help me to live a life worthy of Your sacrifice. Grant me the faith that I need to carry out my tasks as Your steward. In Your precious name I pray. Amen.

Blessings on your journey as a steward!

Mid-Week Stewardship Thought

We Can’t Serve both God and Money

By nature, we are selfish and greedy people. Our society encourages that sinful mindset by telling us that more and newer is better. Although Scripture nowhere teaches us that being rich is sinful, it does warn us that wealth may be a trap and temptation “that plunges men into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9). Jesus said, “You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matthew 6:24). An indication that our money has become overly important to us is when we ignore the needs of others and the needs of our church. With God’s strength, we can place God first and overcome the temptation to love our money.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, help me to be faithful with all the blessings You’ve entrusted to me. Give me a grateful attitude and help me to be a faithful manager of my money. Help me always to be thankful for what I have. I thank You for Your constant love and presence in my life. Through Christ I ask these things. Amen.

Blessings on your stewardship journey!

Mid-Week Stewardship Thought

Giving is Fun? Yeah, Right!

As long as your viewpoint focuses on your wallet, your schedule, and your energy level, giving may not be much fun. Actually, when your focus is on yourself, giving is a burden. Giving is fun in light of what God in Christ has already given to you and done for you.

Giving is fun if, in your viewpoint, your spirit is more important that your body and your church is more important than your entertainment. Giving is fun when you have faith in God’s promise that He will “make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Giving is fun when, in your viewpoint, it is a joy to be in partnership with God in the work of sharing the Gospel with others. Giving is fun when you want to expend all the gifts God has given you so that you might be a benefit to others and bring glory to God.

Giving is fun if, in your viewpoint, it’s enjoyable to go places – either figuratively or literally. Maybe God is calling you to serve Him with your gifts in a place away from where you now are, maybe far away. Definitely God is calling you to share in the work of supporting mission work at home and in faraway places with your prayers and your money.

Giving is fun if, in your viewpoint, your desire is to please your Savior, if your desire is to express your gratitude for Who He is and what He has done and continues to do for you, and if your desire is to share the joy that He has given you through the precious gift of salvation.

Giving is fun? Skeptically, many will answer, “Yeah, right!” Your answer all depends on your viewpoint.

Blessings on Your Stewardship Journey!

Mid-Week Stewardship Thought

In Christ, We Are New Creations

Scripture tells us that we cannot be free to be God’s servants or stewards until death to ourselves takes place in each of us. This death is not a physical death, but a spiritual death. It is the death of the old nature in us so the new nature or new life in Christ can be raised. Paul wrote, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). All things in Christ are created anew. It is this new life in Christ that people see as we give generously and serve freely. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your love and strength that transform me into a new person who lives to serve You rather than myself and the ways of the world. Grant me grace to remain in Your love and to be a giving and generous person. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Blessings on your stewardship journey!

Mid-Week Stewardship Thought

God Warns the Wealthy

God loves both the rich and the poor. However, it can be difficult for the rich to love the Lord because they can so easily become absorbed in the things that they possess. Jesus warned that wealth can be highly dangerous. He told how difficult it was for the rich to be saved when He said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:24-25). God doesn’t condemn wealth. The warning is about the attitude that an abundance of money and possessions can cause. Paul wrote, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:10).

Prayer: Good and gracious Heavenly Father, I pray that You will strengthen me so I never place my security in worldly things. Help me to understand that the only important relationship I need is with You. Grant me an attitude of humility and dependence on You. Through Christ I pray. Amen.

Blessings on your stewardship journey!