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Thank you for dropping by to spend time with me. I will try to post at least once a week. I value your comments and insights, so please - respectfully - share your opinion with us. Be blessed! Lynnda

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cruise to Eternity, Part Three

"I will not become a Christian because God might make me become a foreign missionary."

You may have never heard those words – or said them, but do you fear what God might ask you to do? Many people do. Some folks are afraid that God will ask them to give up everything and do something unpleasant. This fear is one of the devil's most powerful tools. Why? Because, as in almost every lie he uses, this one has a grain of truth. God may require you to give up a comfortable life. He may even require you to die for Him. God is the One who controls everything; that is part of what sovereignty means, after all.

So how does this fit in with our cruise to eternity? We examined the passengers on the ship; they are diverse in their spiritual condition as well as in every other way. We looked at the owner and the captain; God as creator owns the universe and Jesus Christ is His appointed King of all creation.

However, the owner and the captain were not the only ones dedicated to getting the Queen Elizabeth from New York to London. The journey required both a crew and a staff. The crew operated and maintained the equipment that moved the ship across the ocean. The staff served both the passengers and the crew in everything from food preparation, education, cleaning service, entertainment, medical services, and more. They took the same trip as everyone else, but the crew and the staff had those additional responsibilities.

From where did the crew and staff come? The captain (or his representative) chose them. The company would have advertised a position for a person with a particular set of skills and abilities. A person would have responded, an interview would have been held, and a contract signed between the company and the successful candidate. This process would have been repeated until every position was filled. Two things were required in this process, the company had to find the candidate acceptable for the position and the candidate had to be willing to commit to fulfilling the duties required. How well those two requirements were met had a large part in determining how smoothly the trip went. If the crew and staff did their jobs well, guess who got the credit for it. The captain!

As you can probably already see, the spiritual reality is close to this analogy. Jesus chooses us to accept His sacrifice for forgiveness from our sins, just like a captain chooses those who will dine with him. Those people are chosen, but in our analogy, they remain passengers on the ship; they do not become crew or staff.

You have probably heard the saying "Bloom where you are planted." Those words are not found in the Bible, but the principle is appropriate for those who find themselves "passengers" on this trip. No extra choosing by God is needed for God to require us to love Him, to love each other and to obey His commands in the Bible. However, God does choose some people to serve Him in special ways. The Bible says that He gives gifts to the church of apostles, prophets, pastors, evangelists, and teachers. In my analogy, these people would be the crew. They operate the church "machinery" to the benefit of all of us. He also chooses staff – in the church, deacons, business mangers and accountants; outside the church, operators of soup kitchens, managers of great wealth, organizers of orphanages, and founders and employees of Christian organizations like Youth with a Mission, or Focus on the Family. These people serve everyone according to the skills and abilities that God has provided. Who gets the credit if they do a good job? Jesus!

Those jobs would not be too uncomfortable for some of us. We might be willing to do some of those things. But what if God asked us to die for Him? Yes, for some people that is a reality, not a possibility. In the Bible, Stephen and Paul were both killed because of their service to God. For more recent examples, read Safely Home, a novel about the persecuted church in China by Randy Alcorn or watch End of the Spear, a movie about five missionaries who died in Ecuador. Those of whom this has been required have been prepared by God to face it.

Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (NIV) Those of us who have accepted Christ as our Savior have good works to do now that God prepared in advance. He also gives us the skills, abilities and training to do the work AND puts the desire to do it in our hearts. So, just as with our freedom from sin, God does everything except commit to doing the work. After we commit, we must put all that we are into performing it. A productive, satisfying Christian life lived in obedience to God also takes all of Him and all of us.

God is in complete control all the time and we can trust Him.