Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Who's In Your Circle?

Matthew 26:1 (KJV) 1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples,

One cell phone commercial on TV asks the question, "Who's in your circle". This particular service lets you call any number in your "circle of friends" for free. The assumption is that each of us has a small group of people that are close to us that we call more often than anyone else. These people are our network of friends with whom we share life.

In the body of Christ we need the same network of "circles" to function at our best. Jesus modeled this concept for us with His own, "circle of friends". Although Jesus came to die for all humankind, he invested His life in a small circle of men and a few other folks in His extended circle. We often think of Jesus life and work in the context of "the multitudes", but it was those twelve disciples that Jesus devoted most of his energy and upon whom he depended in His time of need.

When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane agonizing over his future, he didn't call upon the multitude to be His prayer support. He called his circle of friends. If that circle was important to Jesus, if it was needed in His life, I'm sure it is needed in ours! That's why it is so important to not just become part of the church, but part of a smaller group of people within the church that are your circle of friends. They become not just your friends, but your prayer support and encouragers in time of need. I am convinced that every believer needs to be part of a smaller group within the church. Whether that be a Sunday School class or some other small group, we all need that close circle of friends. When we do not have it, we end up facing life's struggles without the same kind of support that even Jesus needed in His life.

If you're not part of a Sunday School class or small group, let me encourage you to become involved for your own spiritual health and the health of others. If you know people within the church or outside the church who don't have this kind of support, invite them to become part of your circle. It is in this "Circle of Friends" that we do life and we do ministry. Don't let either pass you by!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Have you ever been pulled in many directions?

Matthew 26:1-3 (KJV) 1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, 2 Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.

This past week has been one of the most incredible weeks of my life! Between the Hunters 24/7 event and Sunday services over 95 people made a new level of commitment to Christ. For about 70 of them it was to recommit their lives to serve Christ. For at least 25, it was their introduction to a new life in Christ. I laughed, cried, got goose bumps and shouted over the commitment cards that I read. The end result of the weekend was a huge win for the kingdom of God! That being said, all week long, and even during the event Saturday night and on Sunday, I felt myself being pulled in a lot of different directions. A lot of ministry needed to happen and a lot of business needed to get done, and yet my most important duty was to pray for the salvation of those souls. At times, as I was feeling the pressure of being pulled in many directions, I also felt stress. I know that each of you know what I'm talking about; That inner tension of feeling too small for the task at hand or unable to meet the immediate needs.

Sometimes life gets really hectic. But imagine being in Jesus shoes as we walk through this Passion Week. Jesus has been ushered into Jerusalem with the praise of the shouting crowd. He's just finished his final sermon regarding the kingdom of heaven, trying to convince his audience to prepare their souls for eternity. They have questions. They have needs. But now they are all gone and Jesus is left with his closest friends and He knows He must prepare them for what is about to happen. He is going to be brutally murdered and He feels the obligation to prepare His friends for the inevitable. So He begins to try to brace them for what lies ahead.

What's really on His mind is the great pain and suffering that awaits Him. The betrayal, not just of Judas, but of all His followers. He knows it's coming and He must walk down that road anyway. He dreads the pain. Is that what's really on His mind?

Or is He looking beyond the pain, beyond his death, to the reason for His death? Is His focus on the responsibility to redeem mankind? I believe it was. But I am amazed at His ability to focus on all these other needs, all these other people in the middle of the most trying week of His life. Jesus was able to accomplish His mission because He kept it in front of Him. He never lost sight of His purpose and He never quit loving those around Him, no matter how they treated Him.

God has a purpose for your life and mine. We need to discover that purpose and remain focused on it. We need to walk a deliberate path but we also need to never quit loving those around us, not matter how they may treat us. Their eternal life is just as important as mine.