You are Enough

Bruce and I have experienced many changes since we last worshipped with you. Some of the changes have been welcome and joyful. Others have felt dark and difficult. There are many places of darkness around us personally, in our local communities, our nation, and on our planet. It is easy to despair. Jesus did not shy away from naming and addressing this aspect of our human condition.

Mark 13 NLT

Jesus replied, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’[a] They will deceive many.And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately.Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in many parts of the world, as well as famines. But this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

We have seen the realities spoken of here lived out across our globe since Jesus spoke these words. I found a lament in the book of Job that puts words to my reactions to the deception, warfare, and environmental distress of our times.

Job  30

25 “And did I not weep for those in trouble? Wasn’t I deeply grieved for the needy? 26 I therefore looked for good to come. Evil came instead. I waited for the light. Darkness came. 27 My heart is troubled and restless. 

And yet, as Jesus continues to speak, there is hope to be found.

Mark 13 NLT

 “When these things begin to happen, watch out! You will be handed over to the local councils and beaten in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me.10 For the Good News must first be preached to all nations.[c] 11 But when you are arrested and stand trial, don’t worry in advance about what to say. Just say what God tells you at that time, for it is not you who will be speaking but the Holy Spirit.

From these words I hear two truths that bring hope in darkness:

WITH GREAT DARKNESS COMES GREAT OPPORTUNITY

IN THE OPPORTUNITY GOD WILL GIVE YOU WHAT YOU NEED

 

I found a psalm of David hidden in the book of second Samuel that gives further encouragement.

2  Sam 22

26 “To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
    to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
27 to the pure you show yourself pure,
    but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
28 You save the humble,
    but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.
29 You, Lord, are my lamp;
    the Lord turns my darkness into light.
30 With your help I can advance against a troop;
    with my God I can scale a wall.

I find I am not always faithful, never blameless, and rarely pure, but as long as I admit my broken and weak condition God is there to save the humble. I can trust God to see and deal with the deviousness and haughtiness characteristic of my times as David did in his. Further, in dark times I can trust God to reveal the way forward and enable me to take it.

WHATEVER THE NEXT STEP, GOD WILL ENABLE YOU TO TAKE IT

Jesus gave instructions to his disciples in Luke 9 that speak to me as well.

 

Luke 9 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

One day Jesus called together his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases. Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. “Take nothing for your journey,” he instructed them. “Don’t take a walking stick, a traveler’s bag, food, money, or even a change of clothes. Wherever you go, stay in the same house until you leave town. And if a town refuses to welcome you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.”

So they began their circuit of the villages, preaching the Good News and healing the sick.

The instructions to take nothing on the journey of ministry is perplexing at first. Upon deeper reflection I believe the message is:

WHAT YOU HAVE IS WHAT YOU NEED FOR THE WORK GOD HAS FOR YOU.

Later in the same chapter we are given an example of this lived out.

Jesus Feeds Five Thousand

10 When the apostles returned, they told Jesus everything they had done. Then he slipped quietly away with them toward the town of Bethsaida. 11 But the crowds found out where he was going, and they followed him. He welcomed them and taught them about the Kingdom of God, and he healed those who were sick.

12 Late in the afternoon the twelve disciples came to him and said, “Send the crowds away to the nearby villages and farms, so they can find food and lodging for the night. There is nothing to eat here in this remote place.”

13 But Jesus said, “You feed them.”

“But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Or are you expecting us to go and buy enough food for this whole crowd?” 14 For there were about 5,000 men there.

Jesus replied, “Tell them to sit down in groups of about fifty each.”15 So the people all sat down. 16 Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. 17 They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers!

WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE IS ALL THAT YOU NEED TO DO THE WORK GOD HAS FOR YOU.

A final passage we will look at speaks to priorities in our work with and for God.

In this translation the word government is used where “ministry” appears in many other translations. Government = Greek diakonia (the organization or system of deacons or ministers to meet the needs of the people). It is closest in English to the word administration which we use to refer to our government under a particular leader.

2 Corinthians 3 The Message (MSG)

1-3 Does it sound like we’re patting ourselves on the back, insisting on our credentials, asserting our authority? Well, we’re not. Neither do we need letters of endorsement, either to you or from you. You yourselves are all the endorsement we need. Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—and we publish it.

4-6 We couldn’t be more sure of ourselves in this—that you, written by Christ himself for God, are our letter of recommendation. We wouldn’t think of writing this kind of letter about ourselves. Only God can write such a letter. His letter authorizes us to help carry out this new plan of action. The plan wasn’t written out with ink on paper, with pages and pages of legal footnotes, killing your spirit. It’s written with Spirit on spirit, his life on our lives!

Lifting the Veil

7-8 The Government of Death, its constitution chiseled on stone tablets, had a dazzling inaugural. Moses’ face as he delivered the tablets was so bright that day (even though it would fade soon enough) that the people of Israel could no more look right at him than stare into the sun. How much more dazzling, then, the Government of Living Spirit?

9-11 If the Government of Condemnation was impressive, how about this Government of Affirmation? Bright as that old government was, it would look downright dull alongside this new one. If that makeshift arrangement impressed us, how much more this brightly shining government installed for eternity?

12-15 With that kind of hope to excite us, nothing holds us back. Unlike Moses, we have nothing to hide. Everything is out in the open with us. He wore a veil so the children of Israel wouldn’t notice that the glory was fading away—and they didn’t notice. They didn’t notice it then and they don’t notice it now, don’t notice that there’s nothing left behind that veil. Even today when the proclamations of that old, bankrupt government are read out, they can’t see through it. Only Christ can get rid of the veil so they can see for themselves that there’s nothing there.

16-18 Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.

From this passage I understand:

IT’S NOT SO MUCH WHAT WE DO AS MINISTERS THAT MATTERS, BUT IT’S WHO WE ARE AND HOW WE DO OUR WORK THAT SHINES LIGHT INTO DARKNESS.

God’s letter to this world is written by the Spirit in us as our hearts and lives are transformed and we become like Christ.

TO REVIEW:

WITH THIS GREAT DARKNESS COMES GREAT OPPORTUNITY.

IN THIS OPPORTUNITY GOD WILL GIVE YOU WHAT YOU NEED.

WHATEVER THE NEXT STEP, GOD WILL ENABLE YOU TO TAKE IT.

WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE IS ALL THAT YOU NEED TO DO THE WORK GOD HAS FOR YOU TO DO.

IT’S NOT SO MUCH WHAT WE DO AS MINISTERS THAT MATTERS, BUT IT’S WHO WE ARE AND HOW WE DO OUR WORK THAT SHINES LIGHT INTO DARKNESS.

I was a teacher for far longer than I have been anything else in my life, so I am giving you homework.

Who are you and what do you have?

I believe the place to start in figuring out what God is calling you to do is to figure out who you are and what you already have.

Who are you? What brings you life? What excites you? What are the things that upset you or distress you? Where do you find passion? Collectively what calls you, unites you, invites you?

What do you have? Not your stuff, but your real assets, the gifts and talents, knowledge and training, experience and desires that all make up who you are is what God will use to bring light in this darkness.

As a next step: consider What do you do for fun? When you get to choose how you spend your time, what do you do and why? What is it that brings you life in those activities? The answers to these questions will point to your gifting. The understanding of you gifting will help clarify your call. In understanding your call you will find the next step. God be with you in every question leading to the next steps for you as individuals and a faith community.

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