2018 has come and gone, and if you are anything like me, it left you wondering; where did the time go?
As each year closes and another year begins, many Pastors take self-examination of ourselves; as well as the Church the Lord has blessed us to shepherd through their Christian journey; under His Power and authority.
Those who are not Pastors but love the Lord and are called according to His purpose; also may find themselves taking self-examination of the works they have done throughout the year; knowing that their works don’t save them, but it is a Sovereign act of God alone.
As I reflected and prayed over last year, the Holy Spirit continued to give me the same theme; which is our Church Theme for the 2019 Year: “Striving to show our Faith in God through our works.” James 2:14-26, Matthew 25: 34-40
He gave me this theme along with several “understandings” to keep in mind:
Understanding, that it is not our works that save us. But if we love the Lord and are called according to His purpose, we will show evidence of one who loves the Lord and we will exemplify one who strives to do the masters will through his/her works.
Understanding, that Salvation is a Sovereign act of God and we do not do the work to be saved, but we do the work because we are saved.
Understanding, that it is a blessing, not Salvation, that is promised to the ones who reflect the works of one who is saved and has faith in God.
Understanding, that obedience to God is the mark of true saving faith.
Understanding, that sometimes, we must address the physical need before addressing the Spiritual need.
Understanding, that James is not addressing this scripture to the unsaved, but to the saved.
Understanding, that many back then and still yet today claim to be Christian, but their works, priority, and dedication to God and His people (whether it be Jew or Gentile; show otherwise.
Understanding, that faith, in and by itself, is not enough. There must be some evidence of our good fruit. We must remember, even the demons know who Christ is but the evidence of their fruit is bad.
Understanding, that works, and faith is not what James is saying gives us Salvation, instead he is saying Faith and our works lead to justification and one’s blessing.
Understanding, that we are mandated by God to have a moral kindness toward both our Jewish and Christian brothers and sisters. For Brethren is not just Jews or Christian, but anyone who is in need.
Taking these “understandings” into account, I had no choice but to ask myself questions I wasn’t fully ready to answer. Questions that made me examine myself to ascertain if I was doing all I could or should be doing in Kingdom building. Questions that dealt with the most inner parts of my faith:
A. Am I doing all I can do to be the best Disciple I can be or am I still doing surface things as if I am still on milk?
B. Have I done everything I can to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and reach out to those who started this Christian journey with
me last year; but
circumstances, situations, and life made them fall by the wayside?
C. Have I prayed enough about what I can do to empower and enrich, not only my church family, but the surrounding community?
D. Have I set an example of one who loves the Lord and is called according to His purpose or has my character reflected one who straddles the
fence more than one who is a Christian?
These verses and that theme not only made me question myself and my dedication to the work of the Kingdom but also made me question if the work we, as a church family, are doing in the community reflects that of a church that was founded on the very principal and precepts of the Church of Christ. It brought questions in to my spirit such as:
A. Will anyone miss our church if we were to move out of the area?
B. Are we fulfilling the Great Commission and following the example of Jesus; (What would Jesus do?)
C. Are we making a difference in the community in which we serve?
D. Do we have projects or ministries that are addressing the needs of the communities in which most, if not all of our members, reside?
E. Are we making enough of a conscious effort to “Go ye therefore…” and add disciples and souls to the kingdom of God or are we just filling seats
in our church with members?
As I pondered both the self-assessment questions and the local church assessment questions, it left me with no doubt in my mind that if the answer to any of the questions reflected a negative answer; then I and our congregation, still have much work to do.
Beloved the cold reality of it all is that we have got some work to do. The evil one and those who follow him are busy trying to kill, steal and destroy... The evil one is not just affecting those in the world, but he has had the audacity to enter some of our pulpits and change the gospel in which we preach. It has changed from Jesus being the only doorway to the Father, to there being other doors that resemble the door to the Father but is only a figment of one’s imagination. It may glitter but it sure is not gold. It may sound right and it may even look right, but it is based on words that cannot lead to salvation but can lead to internal damnation.
Beloved the answer for me is no…I have not done all I can!
We have not done all we can!
If we were doing all that we could do, then there would be far less people suffering on the streets with no hope and with no direction.
We must meet those who are in need, where they are at. We must strive to address their physical needs so they are not distracted by hunger, fear, or cold; while addressing their Spiritual needs.
I don’t have all of the answers; but I am convicted to do more and I pray that others are with me on this.
It is my prayer that anyone who reads this and finds that some, if not most of your answers, are “no” in 2018, are convicted to say with me:
Lord, help me in 2019 to recharge and renew my strength in You.
Help me to be able to do more in Kingdom building, both me and my church family.
Lord, please give me the wisdom I need to be able to balance my time wisely between serving You, protecting my family, being a good husband and father, working a full-time job, being a servant of Yours and of Your local body of believers, and taking some time to look after my wife and my well-being as well.
Lord, I know You know what I am able to handle physically, emotionally and psychologically.
Lord, when I have reached my limit, please allow me to rest in Your strength.
Lord, please give me those who will follow the vision in which You have blessed me with and allow them to receive the blessing by being a part of that assignment.
Lord, I know I cannot do this on my own but if You lead me, I will follow.
Lord, we are Your children. Please help us to not look at our limitations but to look beyond those limitations, to see the limitless strength and power we receive through You. Lord, if You lead us, we will follow…AMEN!
Rev. Leroy Mahoney, Vice President
Baptist Ministers’ Conference of Boston & Vicinity Inc.
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