Be Prepared!

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Scouting is the characteristic activity and occupation of a Boy Scout or Girl Scout as part of the Scout movement. The purpose of the Scouts is to help develop character, citizenship and individual skills.

For both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the motto, “Be Prepared” means the Scout is always to be in a state of readiness in mind and body to do their duty.

Few people know the story behind the Scout motto. In 1907, Baden-Powell, an English soldier, came up with the motto: Be Prepared. It was published in “Scouting for Boys” in 1908, two years before Boy Scouts of America was founded here. Though the Boy Scouts was a service-minded organization—not a military one—Baden-Powell called on the Scouts to play a part in defending his island nation. World War I was looming and the Boy Scouts proved valuable helpers. Winston Churchill wrote in “Scouting Magazine” (1955), “Their keen eyes were added to the watchers along the coasts. In the air raids we saw the spectacle of children of 12 and 14 performing with perfect coolness and composure the useful function assigned to them in the streets and public offices.”

To Baden-Powell, “Be Prepared” was not just about first aid, but that Scouts should prepare themselves to become productive citizens and strong leaders. He wanted each Scout to be ready in mind and body, to meet whatever challenge awaited him, with a strong heart.

When you think about preparation and planning, you realize the words “Be Prepared” is a great motto for many avenues of life. Would you enjoy a concert where the orchestra was composed of untrained musicians? What if the instrumentalists had not even practiced together before the concert? What if they were totally unprepared?

Would you attend an event where there were no ushers to seat you, or programs to guide you through the performance? What if every musician was playing at once, but from a different sheet of music?

Would you demand a refund if, when you entered the theatre and finally located your seat, the orchestra was only partially filled? Would it bother you if late-arriving band members noisily set up their music stands and honked, twisted, strummed and hummed, as they tuned their instrument? Would you promptly make your exit and determine not to attend such a concert again? Sure you would!

When it comes to being prepared, as a Christian, we should strive to be ready to serve Jesus, no matter what, when or where. Churches of the Lord Jesus Christ have much more to offer people than the finest symphony orchestra. The true ministry of the Lord’s churches is more important, because churches are all about God, the Bible and eternal issues! True churches are God’s chosen medium for communicating His Word to this age, which affects lives for eternity.

However, the question we must answer is, are we doing our best for Jesus? Just as an untrained, undisciplined, unconcerned orchestra could never produce beautiful music, so churches that have untrained, undisciplined or unconcerned teachers and leaders can never produce that Christ-honoring service He so richly deserves! Church members who would never be late for work, will always be early for a ball game, but who drag in, sleepy-eyed, after the worship or Bible class has started, are certainly not prepared to give their best in honor of the King. We can do better! Be Prepared!

If we would please God with our service, we must:

  • PLAN! Great work for God begins with planning! Think about your church. Put yourself in the place of a visitor and walk through the lobby, classrooms, nursery, bathrooms and sanctuary. Look for areas of improvement to the facility. How does it smell? Is the facility well lighted? Is it neat and clean in appearance? Are the greeters friendly and well-informed about your church facility, schedule and events? Share your findings with the pastor or deacons and ask them to arrange for the needed improvements. If at all possible, churches must remove physical barriers that turn people away or hinder them from coming.

 

  • PREPARE! Our public school teachers are trained for years before they ever stand before a class of students. However, in a church, too often, to be a teacher only requires a warm body. Bible teachers handle eternal truth and should be trained and knowledgeable, so they will be prepared. Talk to the pastor or Sunday School superintendent about initiating training for every job in the church. Potential volunteers do not know how to do what is needed, and must be taught! If a church offers training for ushers, greeters, teachers, nursery-keepers and other jobs, people will volunteer to help. Preparation is half the battle!

 

  • PRODUCE! An effective, trained and motivated staff of church workers will have a positive effect on the whole church. Organization, training and motivation produce participation. The Bible teaches that the Lord adds to His church and that every church member has a duty to serve as part of that church body (1 Corinthians 12). When members faithfully serve Christ in their church, the church can function effectively, ministering to the community in which it is established. God never planned for His House to be filled with unprepared, non-serving, pew-warming members!

God’s work is too important to be left to chance! We need to PLAN, PREPARE and PRODUCE, for Jesus sake!

 

 

Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Valentine’s Day–But Were Afraid to Ask

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Valentine’s Day is a holiday most people know very little about. In our era it is a day to celebrate love for your spouse, or special friend. We celebrate it by exchanging “Valentine” cards, while giving chocolate or roses, to the person of our affection. Every year 144,000,000 (One hundred forty four million) Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged in the United States, (not including packaged kid’s valentines for classroom exchanges), and an estimated 1 billion worldwide. This means that Valentine’s Day is the second-largest holiday for giving greetings cards. So, what is behind all this sweet talking Valentine’s Day giving?

This special day had a more solemn origin and much deeper purpose than most people realize. The man who became known as Saint Valentine was a godly minister in Rome during the 3rd century. According to “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs,” written by John Foxe in 1583, Valentinus lived during the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius II, a ruler known for his brutal persecution of Christians. This godly man refused to deny Jesus, though the emperor threatened, and eventually, took his life on February 14. Not only did Valentinus courageously stand for Christ, he fed, sheltered and comforted persecuted Christians during those dark days leading up to his imprisonment. He boldly refused to worship the Roman pagan gods. While imprisoned, Valentinus witnessed about Christ and led many others to believe in Him as Savior. He even shared the gospel of Christ with Emperor Claudius, who was so enraged that he had Valentinus beaten and beheaded.

On the day of his death, Valentinus sent a letter to a young lady, his jailer’s daughter and closest friend, who visited him in his imprisonment. In the note, he declared his love for her, wished her well and signed the letter, “from your Valentine,” as his farewell. According to tradition, his execution day was February 14, A. D. 270. This act of love began to be repeated by other Christian martyrs who were about to die, thus setting the pattern of expressing undying love in the face of difficulties. This ritual of sending a love letter or note on Valentine’s Day became a tradition, though few understand the ancient historical setting. Valentine’s Day began, not just as a symbol of love, but of true Christian love.

Valentinus possessed such a deep affection for Christ that he was willing to face martyrdom, rather than to deny Him. Until recent years most believers in the West only knew of Christian martyrs in history books. However, the renewed hatred of Christ and Christians here and in other parts of the world has brought the possibility of martyrdom to the West in the 21st century.

Though Valentine’s Day is famous for romantic tokens of love among men and women, it originally was famous for the way a martyr could love Christ so deeply, he would willingly die, rather than deny Him. This day also became a day to remember persecuted Christians who loved so selflessly; they gave their own life-blood. God’s word reminds Christian people to remember, love and care for those persecuted for their faith: “Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers…Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body” (Hebrews 13:1-3).

God demonstrated the greatest expression of love for mankind when He “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God loved humanity enough to give His Son. Jesus reminds us, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus offered His life on the cross to pay the penalty for all our sins.

The unlimited love God has for lost and helpless humanity is summed up in Ephesians 2:4-5, “But God, being rich in mercy, BECAUSE OF HIS GREAT LOVE with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).”

It is important to understand that God’s great love originates with Him, not with us. It is not our great love that brings His salvation to us, but His great love for us! John wrote, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). God loves us unconditionally, despite our sins and failures.

When God’s love is received and appropriated by faith, it has a compassionate effect on us—“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). Love by God to us and by us to Him results in our love for others. John wrote, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).

No matter how much you understand about the background, the words “Happy Valentine’s Day” communicate affection and the desire for closer relationship, and is based on the greatest, most compassionate love this world has seen, God’s love for us through Jesus Christ! Enjoy your day!

Run with Endurance

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For many years, the most difficult ultra-marathon race was the Westfield Run in Australia. The 544-mile course from Sydney to Melbourne was considered the longest and toughest endurance race in the world. Only the top class and most fit marathon runners, usually 20-30 years of age, competed.

In 1983 a 61 year-old man named Cliff Young signed up to run the race. When he showed up for the start he was wearing overalls and work boots. The race organizers tried to discourage him from participating, thinking he could easily die during the agonizing race, but he insisted on running. He told them that, though he did not have much experience in competitive races, he grew up chasing sheep around a 2,000 acre farm in the state of Victoria, so he thought he was able to run the race.

When the race started, the runners left Cliff far behind. Race fans and the media made sport of him and his goofy-looking slow loping pace, with gumboots plopping every step. However, when the runners stopped each night, Cliff kept running. After three days, sometime during the night, while the lead runners slept, Cliff took the lead. Not only did he take the lead, he kept it and won the race, breaking the previous record by 9 hours. Cliff completed the 544 mile course in 5 days, 15 hours and 4 minutes. He crossed the finish line more than 10 hours ahead of his nearest rival.

Cliff was surprised when they awarded him $10,000 dollars in prize money. He gave his winnings to the other runners, saying he only ran to prove to himself that he could do it. When interviewed afterwards Cliff told the reporters that as he ran, he would imagine he was running after sheep, trying to outrun a storm. Because of his enormous feat, he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for long distance running in 1984. Cliff became the icon of endurance running, logging more than 20,000 kilometers in competitions for 16 years after his Westfield victory, even competing in a six-day race in Victoria in 2000, when he was 78 years old. He passed away in 2003 at the age of 81, and today a memorial in the shape of a gumboot is prominent at the Cliff Young Park in Beech Forest, Victoria.

Though there has been a newfound popularity of long distance running competitions, it is really not new. Our term “marathon,” used to designate the modern 26.2-mile race, is rooted in ancient Greek history, named after the Battle of Marathon, in 490 B.C. In that battle, the Greeks defeated the Persians at Marathon, then Philippides, a Greek messenger, was dispatched to Athens to share the news. He ran the 26 miles without stopping, and burst into the assembly, proclaiming, “we have won,” then collapsed and died.

The ancient Olympics began before the 7th century B.C., and members of first-century churches were familiar with several different competitive running and athletic events like the Isthmus Games, held the second and fourth years of each Olympiad. These spirited events were used in Scripture as illustrations of the need of discipline, training, patience, endurance and achievement. God inspired the writer of Hebrews to use the running metaphor to show how believers in Christ were to live the Christian life in this world.

For Christians to live for Christ in this world is not like a sprint of 50 or 100 yards, where the runner exerts himself for a few seconds; but is more like an ultra-marathon, requiring pacing, planning and endurance. So, how can you run the race as a Believer, to the glory of God? To run this race you must:

1) Forsake Sin. Recognize, confess and abandon known sins that entangle and overcome      you—“Let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us…”             (Hebrews 12:1). You could never win a race with a 10 pound weight on each foot. Neither can you run the race for Christ entangled and weighed down by known sin.

2) Endure Hardship. Faithfully and patiently run the race God has for you—“And let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” (Hebrews 12:1). To live for Christ requires endurance and determination. You must stay the course, tolerate the pain and             keep in the race, no matter what the cost.

3) Focus on Jesus. Pleasing Jesus is your goal, so don’t lose sight of Him—“Fixing our eyes              on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…” (Hebrews 12:2). Live a life patterned after            Jesus, His sacrifice, His love, His forgiveness, and His compassion. Never lose sight of             the finish line. Stay in the race for the long haul.

4) Don’t Quit. Disappointment and discouragement have lost many races and ruined many lives, so—“Consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Think about what Jesus sacrificed for your salvation.

If a 61 year-old sheep farmer can win a 544 mile marathon, imagine what you can do running your race to live for Christ in this world! Remember: The Race is not always to the swift—but to those who keep on running!

 

Heaven Help the Home!

180131 PIX HomeSweetHome.jpgFor many of us, the words “home” and “family” prompt thoughts of warmth, loving people, assurance, kind words, good food, fun times and open honesty. At this time of year, following the winter holidays, I am reminded of what a privilege it is to be part of a loving Christian family. There is literally nothing like it in this world!

A book on the home and family, written by Howard Hendricks, “Heaven Help the Home,” inspired the title of this devotional. It was a helpful paperback full of instructions and practical advice for the family during difficult days. The need for God’s intervention in the home has not lessened, but increased in manifold ways. Most researchers point to the breakdown of the home as a major contributor to the ills in our society today.

I love what Charles Swindoll wrote about the family. “Home is where life makes up its mind. It is there—with fellow family members—we hammer out our convictions on the anvil of relationships. It is there we cultivate the valuable things in life, like attitudes, memories, beliefs and most of all, character.” Nothing can take the place of God’s purpose for the home.

God’s Word employs several beautiful metaphors for children and the family that are both enlightening and instructive. In Psalm 128 He reminds us of His blessings on the homes of God-fearing people. The Psalmist wrote: “Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house, your children like olive plants around your table. Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD. The LORD bless you from Zion, and may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Indeed, may you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel!” (verses 3-6). Here the Lord pictured the wife as a fruitful vine, and the children as little olive plants situated around the table. Both the grape vine and the olive plant were fruitful, helpful, life enriching and very valuable. In these verses the Lord wants us to understand that wives and children are precious blessings to be treasured and cherished. Don’t you love to gather around the table and hold hands as a family as you offer prayers of thanksgiving to the God who made it all possible?

Another Bible passage that pictures children in the home is found in Psalm 127:3-5, where it reads, “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” Did you notice how God pictures children? Through the psalmist Solomon, God says a child is “a gift,” “fruit” and “a reward.” Offspring are also compared to “arrows” and the man is “blessed,” whose “quiver” is full of them. These divine descriptions of children suggest their great potential. Gifts are enjoyable, fruit is part of a harvest and a reward is a great prize. Also, like arrows, children can and should be equipped and dispatched to duties and places far beyond the reach of their parents, as they are released from the quiver.

Several years ago, we set aside six Sunday nights, to show a family film series in our church. The individual lessons are long forgotten, but the most memorable thing about, “Turn Your Heart Toward Home,” was the introduction. Every week the film began the same way. The music and words would sound as the camera showed a young soldier riding and then stepping down from a bus, onto a gravel road. As he slung his duffle bag over his shoulder and walked up to the old farmhouse, his mother spied him through the front window, dropped what she was doing and ran to meet him. The boy’s father and younger sister also ran to embrace their long-absent son and brother. The response of the congregation was amazing. As the introduction opened, the same scene unfolded, and our people responded in the same way—with shedding of tears. There would not be a dry eye in the church house! The fact is, my eyes are moist now as I remember the scene and type this.

Why is that? It happened because in the entire world, in every generation, there is no institution so precious, no group so valuable, no organization as irreplaceable as the family. Charles Colson said: “Ordained by God as the basic unit of human organization, the family is the first school of human instruction. Parents take small, self-centered monsters, who spend much of their time screaming defiantly and hurling peas on the carpet, and teach them to share, to wait their turn, to respect others’ property. These lessons translate into respect for others, self-restraint, obedience to law—in short, into the virtues of individual character that are vital to a society’s survival.”

The value of children, those little olive plants around your table are enormous. The potential of children, those little arrows from your quiver, aimed and dispensed into the future, is immense. Our hopes depend upon them. Every church had better be intentional about instructing parents, assisting families and teaching children. Henry Drummond, who lived a century ago, wrote, “The family circle is the supreme conductor of Christianity,” and that is exactly true! The genuine Christian family is a billboard reflecting the beauty and effect of the gospel.

 

 

 

Etched in Stone

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A plaque proclaiming “Todd Academic Center” appeared on the sides of a building on the campus of Dallas Theological Seminary.  Bible classes regularly met in that beautiful, modern, three-story building.  In one class a professor was teaching on the subject of preaching.  Abruptly he stopped and asked, “Does anyone know who Todd was?” Everyone looked puzzled.  There was no Todd in our class and nobody knew anyone named Todd.  The prof went on: “Isn’t it funny that Mr. Todd donated millions of dollars to construct this nice educational building with his name on it and yet none of us know who he was or what he did?”  His words got me to thinking about monuments etched in stone.

A few months later I drove down Main Street in my hometown, Malvern, Arkansas, and noticed a row of old office and commercial buildings.  There, high up under the pitch of the roofs were names etched in stone.  One read, “Richardson 1927,” two more, “Leiper 1923,” “Harper 1927,” and the final one read, “Dunn 1926.”  Another city block of similar old buildings had just been demolished to build a new Walgreens.  However, I wondered what ever happened to Richardson, Leiper, Harper and Dunn.  They were surely long gone by then and the only visible evidence of the lives they lived were their names etched in stones.

In cemeteries across our land, you may see great stone monuments to people who lived, loved, died and left their marks…on gravestones.  For most of them, the date of birth, date of death and a short epitaph summing up their philosophy of life is all that remains.

Think about this: Where are you etching your name?  Fifty years from now will it make any difference that you lived on this earth?  Or better, can you etch your name somewhere that will really last?  Surely life is more valuable than to be remembered as a name on a dilapidated building, or carved in a grave headstone.

Where can you place your name so that it will last?

The Bible tells us of a place where your name can be recorded, forever, and never be removed.  Jesus told His disciples about such a place.  The gospel of Luke tells how seventy of Christ’s disciples had returned from a great ministry where many were saved and others were healed.  The disciples were exuberant because the very demons of Hell had been subject to their authority.  In the midst of their celebration, Jesus reminded them that there was something else more important; a thing immensely more valuable than their power over demons.  Jesus said, “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven” (Luke 10:20).  In this uncertain world, nothing is as comforting or as treasured as knowing your name is written in Heaven.  Repenting of sin, receiving Christ, and being saved, means your name is recorded in the very presence of God.  Now that is a memorial that will last!

In a similar vein, Paul encouraged the Philippian saints to help several women and other fellow laborers, “whose names are in the book of life” (Philippians 4:3). The book of life is where your name is written, when you receive eternal life, by trusting Christ.  The importance of having your name written in Heaven is immeasurable.  It is the difference between eternal life and death; between blessing and cursing; between Heaven and Hell.  God revealed to John that, “if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

If you want to etch your name in something that will last, you need to call on the Lord and be saved so your name can be written in Heaven!  After receiving Christ, you need to invest yourself in the only other eternal thing that you can see, besides the Bible—People!  Early in Philippians Paul wrote: “I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me” (Philippians 1:7).  Those Philippian believers Paul had led to Christ, baptized, mentored and taught, were in Paul’s heart, and we know he was in theirs.

Paul, John, Peter, James, other apostles and millions of Christians since, have had their names written in Heaven, and then have lived with such influence that they left their marks indelibly in the hearts and lives of others.  Imagine the multiplied millions of men, women, boys and girls, who received Christ and were taught, trained, coached, encouraged and prompted to grow in Christ by other followers.  Mentors may leave a mark for eternity in the lives of followers.

So, where are you etching your name?  Will the only reminder of your sojourn in this life be on the side of a building, or on a granite slab that only a caretaker will see?  Or will it be eternally written in Heaven, and appear in the hearts of people you have influenced for the cause of Christ?

Even stone monuments won’t last forever.  But you can have your name recorded in a better place than a stone monument—a heavenly place that will never be demolished or destroyed.  Through Christ you can have your name written in Heaven, in the presence of Jesus, redeemed saints and holy angels!  Don’t settle for just having your name etched in stone.  Instead, build your life and place your influence in the Rock that never falters!

The Impact of Grace

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I drive slower and more safely today because of grace. Let me tell you why.

The Blatant Law Breaker

Pat and I were returning to Monticello from a funeral a couple of hours away. Having been gone all day, I was anxious to be home. It turns out I was too anxious. Topping a hill, I saw an Arkansas State Trooper on the side of the road. I had not been using the cruise control, and until that moment had paid no attention to my speed. When I saw the trooper, I looked at my speedometer, and knew I was in trouble. Sure enough, I passed him and a few minutes later, he turned on his blue flashing lights. I pulled to the side of the road and the officer came to my window. First, he asked if I knew how fast I was driving. I answered that I had not been paying attention. The young trooper informed me he had clocked my vehicle at 72 miles per hour and the posted speed limit was 55. In addition, he said that after I passed him, I was still driving 10 miles over the posted limit. The law officer considered that very disrespectful. Immediately I pleaded stupidity and apologized. He took my driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance, and returned to his car, leaving me to sweat under the hot gaze and some choice words of my wife.

 The Human Grace Giver

After 10 minutes or so, the officer returned my driver’s license with a written warning. He lectured me on the dangers of speeding, having just come from measuring skid marks at a previous accident. He told me to slow down. I apologized again and promised to do better. As I drove away he followed me for 10 miles to be sure I meant what I said.

The Result of Grace

Grace, undeserved kindness, in any sphere, is amazing. I had blatantly violated the law by driving 17 miles over the posted limit, even passing a law enforcement officer in the process. Imagine that! Seventeen miles per hour over the limit, but I was given grace! The law officer’s attitude and words affected me deeply. So, I thought if he could be that gracious to me, a guilty law-breaker, at least I could obey the speed law. Grace is amazing, and it has an impact. I deserved judgment, but received mercy, and it affected me in a greater way than a ticket would have.

 The Primary Function of Grace

Grace, the unmerited favor and pardon of someone toward another, is incredible. It cannot be explained. It certainly is not deserved. From a divine perspective, the primary function of grace is to provide God’s forgiveness for lost sinners…”For by grace you have been saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). Since every person is a sinner and can never earn salvation, the only way God can pardon sin and save sinners is by means of grace, His unmerited favor. Salvation must be “by grace” because being saved is “not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Did you see that? Salvation cannot be earned; instead, it is “the GIFT of God” (emphasis mine). Grace is a free gift with no strings attached.

The Secondary Function of Grace

A secondary purpose of grace is to make an impact and alter the behavior of the recipient. The law officer’s grace to me had a powerful and unexpected result. It made me want to drive more safely—not because I had to—but because of his undeserved grace to me.

The Products of Grace

Following Paul’s statement that “by grace you have been saved through faith…it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8), he revealed two products of salvation by grace: it eliminates bragging and it elevates service.

Grace Eliminates Bragging

Salvation by grace eliminates bragging because it is “not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:9). Imagine what Heaven would be like if people could earn, work or give enough to get there on their own merit. Don’t you hate being in the presence of braggarts? Imagine spending eternity with people who got to Heaven by their own virtues. That would not be Heaven!

Grace Elevates Service

Salvation by grace elevates service because saved people, “are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). The very reason He created us, and saves us, is so that we may work for Him. We are saved to serve God, and Grace elevates that service, making it acceptable to God. Good works are not for salvation but because of salvation. We are saved without works of any kind, unto works of every kind!

The Divine Grace Giver

God gives grace that saves souls and changes lives. He pardons sin, forgives wrongs, and blots out transgressions by His grace—His undeserved kindness to all who place their faith in Christ. John Newton was right when he wrote: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see.” His grace is amazing!

Ambassadors for Christ

What do you think when you hear the word ambassador?  

Paul reminded the church members at Corinth that it was their duty to serve the Lord Jesus as His ambassadors in their world, during their day: “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Hideo Kitahara, Japanese Ambassador to Vietnam and France, who also represented Japan in the United Nations, wrote about “The Makings of a Good Ambassador” in Global Portal for Diplomats: “Ambassadors…must certainly strive to promote their country’s national interests.” He then wrote, “A good ambassador must be a patriot.” The ambassador is all about his home nation’s best interests, and is loyal to it even though he lives apart from it in his host country.

In another article, “Functions of a Diplomatic Mission,” in the Global Portal for Diplomats, the writer recommended five duties of ambassadors. Ambassadors should: “Represent their home country in the host country. Protect the interests of the home country and its citizens in the host country. Negotiate with the government of the host country on behalf of the home country. Promote friendly relations between the host country and the home country. Develop commercial, economic, cultural and scientific relations between the host country and the home country.”

So, if God expects His children to serve as ambassadors, as Paul wrote, what does that mean to you? What is a Christian’s diplomatic mission to this foreign country in which we now live? The words of Jesus to Paul on the road to Damascus might best summarize every believer’s diplomatic mission as ambassadors in this world. Jesus told Paul it was his duty: “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:18). The duty of every Christian is first, to help people around them open their eyes to their responsibility to God. Secondly, your work is to seek to, “turn them from darkness to light…from the power of Satan unto God.” People without Christ are in spiritual darkness and unknowingly under the powerful influence of Satan. As a Christian, your job is to point them to the light. Thirdly, the benefits of people coming to Christ are that their sins will be forgiven, they will have an inheritance in Heaven, and through faith in Him, will be sanctified, or set apart, as God’s own possession. The question then is, are you an ambassador of Christ? If you belong to Him, you are an ambassador, so, please get about your diplomatic mission.

As ambassadors for Christ, it is also our privilege and duty to represent our Lord Jesus Christ, His kingdom and His gospel message in this foreign land. What can you do to improve your service as an ambassador of Jesus Christ in this world?

ONE: As Christ’s ambassador, remember where your loyalties lie. As a believer in Christ, you are in a host country, a foreign land, while your true citizenship is in Heaven. Paul wrote, “our citizenship is in heaven; from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). Peter put it this way: “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11). Though we are living here, our citizenship and loyalty are there, so we should live like citizens of Heaven on earth. The songwriter Albert Bromley spoke truth when he penned, “this world is not my home; I am just traveling through.”

TWO: As an ambassador of Christ in this world, you have diplomatic immunity because you are under the protection of your Sovereign. That is not to say you may do things illegal, for Jesus commanded His followers to obey the laws of the land; but it is to say you are under His protection and guidance. Every Christian ambassador would do well to remember Jesus’ words: “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

THREE: As His ambassador, you represent your Sovereign in this foreign land. Your primary business is to carry His message, project His life-style, reflect His light and persuade citizens of your host country to believe in and follow Him. Communication does not happen in a vacuum, so in order to share His message, you must develop relationships with people of your host country (the unsaved world). Your redeeming message is: “Be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:20, 21).

FOUR: As an ambassador you are first accountable to your Sovereign for your life and service—not to your host country. Someday you will be called home to stand before the King and account for your actions on His behalf. Christian ambassadors should live in light of accountability to Him, always prepared to return home at the Master’s call.

Be a true Christian patriot! Share the saving gospel as you live by the laws of His kingdom in obedience to your only Sovereign! What a privilege! In Christ, you are an ambassador of the King of kings!