Diving Deeper – A Life Call to Missions

When I was about 10 years old, I visited my sister Jean who lived about an hour away from us. It was in the summer and it was hot, so we all went to the community pool to swim and to cool off a little.

I want you to understand something about me and water. As a child I was like a fish. If there was a pool I was in it. If there was a beach, I begged my parents to spend time there. I LOVED the water. But there was a problem, I was not a very good swimmer. I hadn’t taken any lessons, my Mom had taught me how to float and to swim a little, but that was it. Back to my story.

I was having a blast, fooling around and splashing in the shallow end, and then I had a great (stupid) idea. Why not try my hand at the deep end of the pool. My nephew was over there, so why can’t I be too? So I made my way to the side, I crept along the ledge of the pool, I made it all the way to the divider, went underneath it. And bam, I was in the deep end. Than I proceeded to slip off the ledge and suddenly I was in trouble. What seemed like an awesome idea turned out to be a bad one, I remembered that I couldn’t swim. I struggled, and splashed, I must have swallowed half of the pool. The lifeguard didn’t even jump in the pool, he just kept trying to get me to grab the rope on his whistle. Finally my nephew, Nick, ¬†shoved me to the edge of the pool, and I was lifted out. Needless to say, it was a long time before I ever went back to the deep end.

Learning to swim is a natural part of our childhood and development, and at some point we make the move from staying in the shallows to being able to go to the deep end, where the ultimate reward awaits us – the diving board. In our walk with Christ it is the same way, we spend our formative years as Christian’s learning to splash about in the shallow end, soaking in the grace and mercy of God. But as we grow and mature, we need to be able to take that step, and move into the deeper things of God, and take a dive into the mission that Jesus gave us.

Matthew 28:19 NLT

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

This is our life call to missions. A call that in order for us to obey, is going to take “deep-end” living.

The shallows are great, it’s where we get in the pool, it’s where we discover who we are in Christ, and how much He loves us. But the deep-end is where we need to be headed. That’s where we can dive into what God has for us, and where He wants us to go.

Over the next few days I want to share with you some important ways that we can start to learn to swim, and move from the shallows, to the deep end of God’s purpose and plan for our lives.

Source Material: The Fifty Two, Volume 4  Produced by national youth ministries Copyright ©2010 Gospel Publishing House.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Tragedy, Tears, and Joy

It’s hard to¬†write this morning. My heart is heavy, my soul is aching. In the aftermath of the shootings in Newtown, it seems¬†ill-timed¬†to write about joy. While I do not have any children of my own, the senselessness and the pain of this tragedy rocks me to my core. I do not have the words to offer that would bring any comfort or even soothe the smallest part of our grief.

But to not write this as I had planned, to write of joy, would be to fly in the face of everything I have been teaching over the last few weeks. Because we are talking about joy, not happiness.

Happiness is influenced by the world around us, by our current situation, our wants and our needs. Happiness can be destroyed easily because it is manmade. Joy however is different. Joy springs internally, it comes from the very source of our life, our Creator. Joy comes from God. One of the cornerstones of Christian joy is that it survives tragedy, survives emotions and situations. Because God is everlasting, so is our joy. But that does not mean we will not feel grief, indeed because of our joy, grief feels so much sharper in comparison.

It is in these times, when the grief of the world lays heavy on our hearts, that we must look to our joy, must build it, strengthen it. Here are some ways that we can tend to the joy in our souls. I am not going into a full detail from Wednesday nights message, just some scriptures and a few comments about each one.

1. Recognize God as Joyful

Zephaniah 3:17

“The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.”

God takes great pleasure in you, to the point that He bursts into joyous song when He thinks about you! God is not a distant judge wagging a finger at you and waiting for you to mess up. Rather He is a joyous Father, waiting to greet you and erupt with joy when you come into His presence!

2. Celebrate God’s Attributes in Worship

Psalm 66:1-4

“Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
    sing the glory of his name;
    give to him glorious praise!
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
    So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
All the earth worships you
    and sings praises to you;
¬†¬†¬† they sing praises to your name.‚ÄĚ

Joy is one of the many attributes of God. So why when we worship Him do we so often look like we are being asked to eat soap? Worship should be an extension and celebration of the joy of the Lord! Dance, jump, spin, shout, lift your hands!

3. Make a Commitment to Others

Romans 12:15

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

Joy is not only directed vertically (to and from God), but horizontally (person to person),¬†as well. Make¬†a committment to rejoice with each other! Joy is contagious, share in the joy of those around you! And don’t forget the second part of this verse, share in the grief of others as well. Life is not all sunshine, but by sharing both joy and grief, we build each other up.

4. Ignite a Passion for Evangelism

Philemon 6

“and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.”

Want to see joy? Share your faith, see the joy of someone coming from darkness into light. The burdens of life falling from their shoulders. The angels in heaven rejoice when one who is lost is found, and we should too. In fact according to Philemon by sharing our faith, we come into a fullness of understanding about Christ and all He has done.

5. Stay Close to Jesus

John 15:10-11

“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

John 15:4

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”

In order to find joy, we don’t need to search for it, rather we need to seek and stay close to the who Himself is joy. If you want a joy that is complete, lacking nothing, stay close to Jesus.

Joy is what sets us apart from the world. We don’t have to be lost in a mad scramble for happiness in position, power or possessions.¬†Instead we are secure in the¬†everlasting joy of peace, love, and hope that comes through¬†communion with our Savior.

Having trouble with your joy?¬†Pursue Jesus, make Him first and everything else second. Your joy will be¬†brought to overflowing and¬†spread to others. Don’t have joy? Today, wherever you are, pray to God, make Jesus the Lord of your life, and get ready for a joy filled ride like no other.