I remember growing up, I was very active and enjoyed playing various sports. Even if it wasn’t a sport that I particularly enjoyed or was good at, I would often still try out. And what a feeling it was, when I would be chosen to be a part of the team. The experiences built my confidence, allowed me to try something different, and kept me active. Just a few years later, while I do hope to have that same energy, I embrace the fact that I am still chosen today in a much more wonderful way.
You are chosen. What do those words mean to you? Who has chosen you? And why have you been chosen? Let’s look at this important topic today and discover what the Bible says about us being chosen.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10
What a beautiful verse that reminds us that we were once not the people of God, but by His mercy we are the people of God. It is good to be reminded of this as we go about our journey of faith.
Let’s look at couple of reasons why we are chosen today:
1- We are chosen for good works
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
God has prepared us for good works and some of these works are: to be more like Him through the Holy Spirit, to share the Good news of salvation, to share the love of God with others, and to have a personal relationship with God. These things are not done on our own strength, and we must depend on God as we live day to day.
2- We are chosen for God’s purposes
“God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and His Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed Him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:2
We all have plans but we must remember that we are chosen for God’s purposes, and not our own. When we care about what God cares about, our plans start to align with God’s purposes in our lives and we begin to see fruit that we would not be able to see if we did not surrender our plans to God.
3- We are chosen because God loves us
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.” 1 John 3:1
There are so many verses in the Bible that talk about this great love that God has for us. As a parent, we do not always agree with our children, but we have a special love for them. And how much more does God love us? A lot more! The love God has for us is unconditional. There is nothing more we could do to make God love us more and nothing less we can do to make God love us less. He loves us. He loves you. You are His chosen child.
4- We are chosen to share the Good News with others
“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all
creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever
does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany
those who believe: In My name they will drive out demons; they will
speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and
when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will
place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” Mark 16:15-18
After Jesus spoke these words, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19). We are chosen to share the wonderful news of Jesus with other people. Are you called to be a missionary? If you have not read this blog series, be sure to check it out.
While not everyone can be a missionary, everyone can have a part in the bigger task—by going, sending, supporting, or mobilizing others. Jesus is allowing us to take part in some way.
You are chosen and you are loved. Who can you share this with today? We are all in need of some encouragement these days, so let’s be a source of encouragement to someone else today. God bless you as you continue to love Jesus and live for Him.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellences of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
1 Peter 2:9-10
So this is it, the last post in this series called God’s Heart for the Nations.
Thus far in this series, God’s Heart for the Nations, we’ve seen thatmankind is not at the centre of God’s plan and the Bible is not about us. And we have also seen that the Bible is not simply a collection of 66 books. It is actually one book telling one story with an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. We learned how God’s blessing and His purpose for that blessing connect and we saw how God reaches the nations by blessing His people. We have learned how God reveals His heart for the nations in the Psalms and Prophets and that Jesus was and isthe Saviour of the world, not just the Jews. We saw how Jesus made it clear to his disciples that His purpose is global and included all nations and we learned that the book of Acts makes it very clear that God’s message is to reach the ends of the earth.
Every disciple of Jesus Christ should be committed to the process of developing a lifestyle that reflects and participates daily in the mission of God. One of the blessings of salvation is that we have been freed from the slavery of living for self so that we might live engaged in His mission (2 Corinthians 5:15). Our natural inclination is to develop self-centred faith. It is essential that every follower of Christ develop themselves biblically, spiritually, and practically in relation to the global mission of God to the ends of the earth.
Intimacy and Mobilization
Conventional wisdom has told us that the way you mobilize people toward missions is to get them on a mission trip. I cannot count the number of missionaries to whom we have spoken that point to a short term mission trip as the turning point for them. But, if that is the foundational motivation for missions, it may suggest that the primary motive is man’s need, and that we are persuaded to be involved through experiences. But consider what we see about knowing God in the following Scriptures.
Psalm 46:10 is that verse to which we often come back as the basis for God being known and exalted in all the earth. He says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Knowledge of God is essential.
Hosea 6:6 tells us that God desires knowledge of Himself over burnt offerings and steadfast love over sacrifice. True knowledge of God is the supreme motivation for any sort of service.
Philippians 3:7-11 records Paul’s motivation for the work he did. He says that he counts everything as loss in comparison to the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus his Lord.
A biblically based pursuit of knowing God will result in a life committed to His mission. As you passionately pursue the knowledge of God, He will infuse His heart, purpose, perspective, and mission into your life.
In the first post in this series, you saw that God does all things for His name, renown, and glory. This is His ultimate mission. He is the one that motivates, directs, and empowers His people to accomplish His mission. When this passion becomes the driving force in your life, them mission trip experiences and information about the needs of a nation can lead you to make wise decisions, not decisions based in guilt or momentary excitement.
To mobilize may be defined as “to assemble or marshal into readiness for active service.” In the missions’ community, the term is often confused with missions’ recruitment. If you are not going someplace, you can always be a sender, an intercessor, or a giver. But our readiness for active service is not about selecting a title or role in the mission’s subculture created by the Church. Rather, our readiness for active service is demonstrated by a biblical lifestyle transformation. We have been liberated from the slavery of living for ourselves. We are mobilized when Christ is the passion of our lives and the cause of Christ guides our life decisions.
2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have gone and the new has come. This is the biblical transformation referred to above. And the new things include the proper motivations for service.
Romans 12:1-2 says much the same thing. We are living sacrifices, which is our spiritual worship. This means that we die to our old passions and motivations and are alive to new ones, which come about as our mind is renewed so that we may discern rightly the will of God.
Mobilization flows from who we are in Christ. Spiritual disciplines are the spiritual exercises that we do in order to walk by faith in the reality of our new life in Christ. One of the first steps in developing a global context in this new life in Christ is to integrate a global perspective in these spiritual disciplines. We have already looked at the spiritual disciplines in another series of blogs.
Plot Your Course
The next step is to examine your current position in terms of God’s global mission. When you think about God purpose or His mission, do you think in terms of your own context? Do your thoughts extend to the next town or the next county? What about another country? Or a specific people group? I hope they do, for the sake of His name and His fame.
We would like to speak to you about this. If you have any questions, give us a call or drop them into the comments section below.
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
So far in this series, God’s Heart for the Nations, we’ve seen thatmankind is not at the centre of God’s plan and the Bible is not about us. And we have also seen that the Bible is not simply a collection of 66 books. It is actually one book telling one story with an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. We learned how God’s blessing and His purpose for that blessing connect and we saw how God reaches the nations by blessing His people. We have learned how God reveals His heart for the nations in the Psalms and Prophets and that Jesus was and isthe Saviour of the world, not just the Jews. Last time we saw how Jesus made it clear to his disciples that His purpose is global and included all nations.
In this post, we will see the implications of Jesus' mandate in Acts 1:8 where he tells his followers that they (and we) will be His witnesses to the ends of the earth.
The book of Acts takes us on the journey of the Church’s obedience to Jesus Christ’s global mandate. It wasn’t immediate obedience, however. In fact, Don Richardson calls it reluctant obedience. The disciples were hesitant to move beyond their cultural bias, but God would be proactive to thrust the Church out to accomplish His purpose voluntarily or involuntarily.
Acts 2:1-13 marks the beginning of the new era that Jesus initiated. He had been telling his disciples the things that were going to happen, He would be killed, buried, and resurrected. He spent many days reassuring them of His love and His plan to use them in the phase that was to come. But before that could happen they needed to wait in Jerusalem for a helper to be given, the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus named in Acts 1:4-5 and who John the Baptist refers to in Mark 1:8.
In Acts 2:4 Luke tells us that they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. Then in Acts 2:11, Luke gives further clarification about what he meant by ‘other tongues’. This event took place during the feast of Pentecost, and Jerusalem was filled with devout Jews from every nation. When the group of 120 from the upper room began to speak in other tongues, these devout Jews from every nation heard the Galileans from the upper room telling about the wonderful things God has done.
When you consider that this Pentecost is the beginning of the church it becomes evident that there are a couple of significant implications. First, Jesus has given the message. Recall that he spent almost three years teaching these people the message of the kingdom. That the kingdom is at hand and to repent and believe the good news of God. And now he gives the means for global distribution of the message - the languages of all nations.
A problem appears, though, in that the disciples do not seem to move beyond Jerusalem. Remember the instruction from Jesus in Acts 1:8 was that they would be his witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. But Acts 5:28 and Acts 6:7 give clear indications that the word is spreading very well through Jerusalem but not to Judea, Samaria, or the ends of the earth.
Many missions-minded leaders believe that Acts 8:1 is God’s solution to their lack of obedience to Jesus’ instruction in Acts 1:8. In chapter 8, we see the persecution that breaks out against the church following the death of Stephen. Isn’t it interesting how Luke records what happened?
“And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles,” (Acts 8:1)
As a result of the persecution, they were all scattered to Judea and Samaria. This is exactly what Jesus said would happen. And so it did.
Then, the rest of the book of Acts records the progress of the gospel out from Jerusalem.
Acts 8:4-8 record the trip of Philip into the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. In this instance, we see the use by God of signs and wonders accompanying the message and resulting in great joy among the people.
We also see Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch. An angel told him to go to the south to a specific road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza. On that road, Philip was told to go and join himself to the chariot. When he was there, he heard the Ethiopian reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked the man if he understood what he was reading. He couldn’t understand because he had no one to explain it to him. Beginning with the passage in Isaiah, Philip explained the good news of Jesus Christ and the eunuch believed and was baptized.
Do you think the eunuch kept this good news to himself? Not likely. It’s reasonable to assume that he shared this good news with everyone he knew in Ethiopia. That’s in Africa, in case you didn’t know. The good news is spreading.
We could also mention the divine appointment that Peter had with Cornelius and the way that God changed the mind of many concerning the ministry to Gentiles (the nations).
But the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15:1-21 was a turning point. You see, because of the success that Paul was having among the Gentiles, there were those in Judea who were saying that unless one was circumcised according to the custom of Moses, one could not be saved. According to Luke, Paul and Barnabas had some heated debates with them about this. It was then decided that Paul and Barnabas would be sent to Jerusalem, to the apostles and the elders about this question.
Along the way they passed through Pheonicia and Samaria where they told of the Gentile conversion stories and bringing great joy to the brothers and sisters, who were also Gentiles.
Paul argued from his calling to the Gentiles to the evidence of God working among the Gentiles to save them by grace, just as He had the Jews. He bore witness to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to the Jews. And it is clear that they have had their hearts cleansed by faith.
Then James, who was the leading elder in the Church in Jerusalem rendered his judgement. He stated that he agreed with Peter’s testimony (in the case of Cornelius) that God was again choosing for Himself a people from among the Gentiles and that the (Old Testament) Scriptures agree. Therefore, there was no reason to trouble these Gentile believers beyond those stipulations mentioned in verse 20.
This decision at the Jerusalem Council freed the gospel and the church from a single cultural expression. The question facing the leaders of the church was, “Is this new movement just another sect of Judaism or the dynamic Church of Jesus Christ finding faithful expression in all the ethne (peoples) of the earth?”
The question of the ages is not whether God’s promise to Abram will be fulfilled and disciples will be made from all nations. The Bible guarantees that God’s global purpose will be accomplished. The evidence is in Revelation 7:9-10.
The question is, will our generation of the Church be obedient to the mandate of Jesus Christ and participate in completing the task? And will I walk with Him, obey His command, and be strategically involved in His global purpose?
How do you answer these questions? If you do wish to be strategically involved in His global purpose, but just don’t know where to start, give us a call and we can help you figure this out. There are so many opportunities to be involved close to home that there really is no excuse not to be involved.
Welcome back to this series on prayer. If you have missed any previous posts you can click here to catch up. But in this post, we are focusing on the privilege of prayer.
We take a lot for granted. Advances that once seemed like life-changers are now staples. It’s hard for us to imagine, but there was the first day with electricity, running water, indoor toilet and the internet. Now, these privileges are expected.
In the Christian’s life the same could be said of prayer. Prayer is not an inalienable right of all people, like healthcare in Canada. Instead, prayer is a blood-bought privilege for those who trust and treasure Jesus.
So let’s look at the privilege of prayer from a different perspective. Rather than, “hey, we have this incredible privilege to pray to God, so let’s get praying” let’s say, “this incredible privilege of prayer is a precious gift. What can I do to safeguard this privilege?
Let’s jump right in.
What makes prayer possible?
Have you ever been to a public event where things were kicked off with the Lord’s prayer? I know it sounds strange but it does still happen in some contexts.
The story is told of a high school basketball game between two Christian schools. Everything seemed pretty typical leading up to the game. Music was blaring from the loud speakers; students were going nuts as both teams warmed up. A couple of minutes later, the starting lineups were announced. Still your typical high school basketball game, but then, right before the teams were set to tip-off, the public address announcer started saying the Lord’s Prayer. I looked around as hundreds of people were casually reciting in a mechanical way these words from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6. The man with the microphone ended with a hearty amen, and the referees called both teams to center court for the game to begin. I was not certain of what had just happened, but I know what did not happen. I know that we were not praying.
Surely this experience was not what Jesus had in mind when He taught His disciples how to pray—hundreds of people reducing this paradigm for prayer to some sort of cultural rite of passage so a game could begin. Christ’s teaching was belittled with the type of mechanical jargon He warned against in the Sermon on the Mount. However, this story should cause us to ponder the prayer that had been recited by the crowd in the gym that evening.
The privilege of prayer is magnified in the initial phrase of Jesus as He tells His disciples to pray, “Our Father in Heaven.” There is so much for us to learn in these words. First, we see that what is normal for prayer is not simply personal. No, it is corporate. Jesus does not tell us to pray, “My Father.” He says, “Our Father.”
Second, we see the beauty of the gospel in this prayer. Jesus does not teach us to come to God on the basis of some lesser status. We come as children to a Father. But how can this be? How can wretched sinners who deserve the wrath of God have the privilege of prayer? How can rebels be called the children of God and invited to come to His throne day and night?
Answering these questions requires that we see the connection between prayer and the gospel. In turn, we see why saying the Lord’s Prayer, and prayer in general, misses its intended purpose when it is recited mindlessly, particularly by those who are not Christians.
When the disciples came to Jesus asking how to pray, they came to the One who gives us access to God. In fact, this is why Jesus came—so that we could commune with God. This is why He left His throne in glory. This is why the One who is holy, righteous, and just, the One through whom all things were made, humbled Himself and came to live among us.
In its description of what a kingdom citizen should look like, the Sermon on the Mount reveals our hypocrisy and our sin. At the same time, it declares where Christ succeeded. He lived the life we could not. He was perfectly obedient.
He then went to the cross to atone for our sins, absorbing the wrath of God that we deserved. At the cross, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One died for the unrighteous (1 Pet 3:18). Three days later, Jesus was raised from the dead because God’s justice had been satisfied. Christ then ascended to God’s right hand, where he intercedes for us, giving us access to the Father in prayer.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). It is this righteousness that permits us to stand before the throne of God in prayer, and to do so with boldness.
Who has the right to cry out in prayer to God? Who can come to Him in prayer? No one, in and of themselves. Only through the finished work of Christ can we pray to God, which means that the One who gives us a pattern for and an example of prayer has purchased our communion with God.
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We now can boldly approach the throne of grace, calling out to our Father, through the Son, by the power of the Spirit. We can revel in the words of the apostle Paul to the church at Rome:
So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ (Rom 8:12–17).