Friday, June 15, 2012

You Almost Waited Too Long

2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.  2 Timothy 4:2–5 (NIV)

“Roger Shelton, was a pastor from Nashville, Tennessee who was traveling in Korea on an evangelism mission. He once visited with a man whose legs had been paralyzed with a disease that that would soon take his life. As Shelton entered the house he found the man crouched on the floor. Speaking through an interpreter, Shelton told the man that he had come to talk with him about Jesus. The Korean replied “I know. I have been waiting for you a long time.” The statement confused Shelton and his interpreter because that had not arrived late. The Korean explained. “That’s not what I meant. My people are Buddhist, and I have been a Buddhist. But Buddha gives me no comfort.” Then he pointed to a Korean Bible. He told them that he had read it through twice and that it told  of a great one. Then man said to Shelton, “I have waited for someone to come and tell me more about him. I knew that if the Bible was true, God would send some to me and now here you are.” That day Pastor Shelton shared the gospel with the stricken Korean man and the man was saved. As they were leaving, the man thanked them for coming. Shelton has since been quoted as saying that the man’s final words to them as they were leaving shook him to his very core. “You almost waited too long.”

Does that cut you like it cuts me? I have to be honest with you. It cuts me deeply because if we’re totally honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that most of the church is flying in a holding pattern, waiting for the Lord to return. They’re not evangelizing their own communities much less the world. And that means that for many of the lost in this world, time will run out for them today.

You Are Called.
I was having lunch with one our deacons the other day and he told me of someone in our church who truly believes that the ministry of the church should be left up to professional clergy. In other words, all that the body of Christ does is the sole responsibility of licensed ministers. The person that told me this story was as flabbergasted as I was. But just so we’re clear, that is absolutely unbiblical. Yet the more I thought about it, the more I realized this could be one reason so few people are serving in their local churches. So let’s set the record straight. God has called you. He has called you to serve in many capacities. While he has given you particular gifts that will allow you to excel in some ministries, He expects you to be prepared to work in all.

Case in Point
Second Timothy 4:2 is often quoted in reference to vocational ministry. In fact it is the most common scripture used at the ordination services of young preachers. However, the truth found in II Timothy 4:2 is by no means limited to those of us who are vocational ministers any more than the great commission is. That means  . . . you . . . you are called to preach the Gospel. Remember Stephen in Acts 6 and 7. He may very well have been the church’s first deacon. He was not a professional clergy member. Yet he got himself killed because of his preaching. Here’s the point I’m trying to make. If you are waiting for a very small group of ministers throughout the world to meet the spiritual needs of a lost and hurting world then you are missing out on God’s blessing for your life. Worse, there are countless people who are missing out on the Gospel because you’re waiting for someone else to do what you’ve been called to do. Pray today that God would help you discover where he would send you. It might be to your neighbor’s door, or it might be to the bustling cities of China. But pray that God would give you the courage to go . . . wherever He would send you.

Scripture to claim
15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you. Titus 2:15 (NIV)

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