"Messengers of God"

Listening to God, something we all know we're supposed to do, but a task that's sometimes difficult to do. I know often times we struggle with understanding just what it is we're suppose to do, what is it exactly God is calling us to do. Then one day we get the answer, and instead of being joyful we respond with, "you want me to do what," "how am I suppose to do that," I don't know how," "I really don't have the time," and the excuses go on and on.

Well we're in good company; some of the most notable biblical figures also had reservations when called by God. Jeremiah is but one example. God appointed Jeremiah to be a prophet to the nations, and his first response was "I don't know how to speak" and "I'm way too young."

Now just as Jeremiah has a God given role, God has a purpose for each Christian, as they live out their faith. All Christians are called to be messengers of God, to witness to the saving grace of Jesus Christ, what differs among Christians is how we are led and gifted to deliver the message. And whatever God has called each of us to do; we are required to do it not for personal glory, but to bring glory to God.

So if God gives you a specific task, accept it cheerfully and do it with diligence. And if God hasn't given you a specific task yet, or you haven't discerned what that task is, then seek to fulfill the mission that is common to all believers, to love, obey, and to serve God, until his specific guidance becomes clearer.

It's the role of the church to help folks discern God's call, and then to equip, encourage, and empower all messengers of God, to serve in a way they feel they are being led. As a Pastor my role is to not just engage in ministry, it's to help equip, encourage, and empower the church, all of you to be in ministry as well.

About two months ago several of us met to discuss how we could develop a vital visitation ministry, and what such a ministry would involve. Our visitation team, under the leadership of Bun and Larry, goes to visit people who are not able to attend church, those who are recovering from recent hospital stays, those in nursing homes, those going through difficult times, those who have experienced a family death, or those who just need a visit from a friendly face.

There are many needs in people's lives that don't go away overnight. My ministry tends to take me from urgent need to urgent need, not allowing me the time to provide all the long-term quality care that's needed. Our visitation team fills that void of care. The visitation team doesn't replace the work of the pastor but compliments it as we work together in ministry. And in coming months I see the visitation teams role expanding to include taking the Lord's Supper to those who can't be present for Communion.

My intent in sharing this ministry with you is to point out that those who saw the need, and were led by God to pursue such a ministry, lifted this need up, they prayed about it, spoke with me about it, and were endorsed by the Church Council to go and be messengers of God's saving Word through visiting.

Two weeks ago Judy Smith and I went to visit the principal at Emmitsburg Elementary School to discuss any potential needs they might have. As a result Judy and her team are putting together a plan to develop an after school program that will be presented to the church in coming weeks. Sylvia identified a need at Mission of Mercy, the mobile medical clinic, and is pursuing that opportunity as a way she can serve God. Once again, God laid a need on someone's heart and they felt led to pursue it, and now are looking to be equipped, encouraged and empowered to serve.

Now the churches role, and my role as pastor, is to lift these ministries up in prayer, encourage the teams, empower them to respond to God as they are led, and to identify ways that we can better equip them to fulfill their God given call.

Too often we miss ministry opportunities because we shut out the Holy Spirit. You see in general we struggle with new challenges; we tend to lack self-confidence, feeling that we don't have the required skills, training, experience, or encouragement we need to be effective. Jeremiah thought he was "only a Child," certainly way too young and inexperienced to be God's spokesman for the world. But God said, "not so," and promised to be with him, and to equip him with the skills he would need to speak to God's people. We shouldn't allow feelings of inadequacy keep us from obeying God's call on our lives. God will always be with us, as he promised he would be. So when you find yourself avoiding something you know you should dobecasue God has laid it on your heart, be careful not to use a lack of self-confidence as an excuse.

We also shouldn't let others talk us out of a direction God may be leading us in, another big reason we don't pursue God's call on our lives. We can't allow others, through peer pressure or condescending attitude steer us away from God's call.

Let me share a story with you about a man who didn't give up on his God given call. "His father was a successful barber, so everyone assumed young George would follow in the family trade. Unfortunately for his dad, George was more interested in music. Unfortunately for George, his dad thought musicians were nothing more than "vagabonds."

At age seven, the Duke of Weissenfels accidentally heard George playing around on an organ. The Duke encouraged George's father to develop his son's obvious talent. Since a Duke's request was not to be taken lightly, George was given lessons while his father hoped the boy's love for music would pass. Mr. Handel was mistaken. His son's passion only grew, and he became the "Celebrated Saxon." George Friedrich Handel believed his music was a gift from God and composing was his calling. Handel enjoyed an easy and luxurious life until he made some bad business decisions and became the target of jealous less-talented musicians. His health was failing; his creditors threatened him with imprisonment. He almost gave up, yet from this valley of despair came his greatest work, Messiah.

His health continued to decline over the remaining decade of his life. He suffered a fainting spell during a performance of Messiah. He went home to bed and never got up. The Lutheran saint expressed the wish that he might die on Good Friday "in the hope of rejoining the good God, my sweet Lord and Savior, on the day of his Resurrection." His wish was fulfilled in the early morning of Holy Saturday (April 14, 1759) when this man of calling met his Messiah face to face." (story from McHenry's Quips, Quotes, and Other Notes) The author of the story writes, when I hear the "Hallelujah Chorus," I'm thankful this would-be barber followed his calling from God.

When God gives us a job to do, we can't let others distract us or talk us out of doing it. We must trust that God will provide what we need to accomplish his tasks. The resources we need may not be apparent at the moment we're summoned to serve, but God will provide, we must trust in this promise.

I know this promise to be true, as I have seen God use me for things I had no clue how I would accomplish, I couldn't see the resources, yet when I placed my trust in God, he provided what I needed when I needed it.

God provided the resources for Handel to compose one of the most recognizable and spirit-filled compositions of all time, "Messiah." And Handel's music has touched and changed the hearts of many over the years, for Jesus sake.

God's desire is that we hear his summons to be his holy messengers, and to respond confidently to his call. So find your place in the body of Christ, identify that one task you feel led to accomplish, something perhaps you're gifted for, or something you're interested in but have never done before. Respond, and be an effective messenger of God, witnessing to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.