As an employee of a ministry like Street Hope TN, I often receive comments from others, such as, “it takes a really special person to do what you do.” But, I have to confess to you all that I am by no means a special person. In fact, I am wicked in my own flesh (Jer 17:9). I am lazy, vain, impatient, unkind, selfish – so selfish – and I could go on with a list forever. The bottom line, there is nothing about me that is good or special in and of myself. The only hope I have is that I have a gracious and merciful God who loves me so greatly that He sent His son to die in my place to make atonement for my sin (John 3:16). I have trusted in and believed in Him as my Savior, and a result, I have been redeemed by the blood of the lamb (1 Pet 1:18-19), I have been given a new heart and Spirit (Ez 32:26-27), and “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).
What’s my point? In and of myself there is not one special or good thing about me or anyone else that serves with Street Hope TN. Working for a ministry like Street Hope TN is hard, and we have a mission that quite frankly can seem insurmountable and hopeless at times (and we know that apart from Christ it is hopeless). Honestly, if it were up to myself in my flesh, I probably wouldn’t choose this road as part of my journey here on earth.
But that’s the thing, it’s not my choice.
I am not my own, I have been bought with a price by the blood of the lamb (1 Cor 6:19-20). As a result, I have received the Holy Spirit of God who is living inside of me, just as all others who have confessed and believed in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Because of this, we are told “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom 5:5), and that same love of God “compels us…so that [we] should no longer live for [our]selves, but for the One who died for [us] and was raised.”
Why is any of this significant? Because, if you are a child of God, what you do with your life is not your choice either.
We have been called out by the Lord to share the good news of the gospel with all people (Matt 28:19-20), to be the hands and feet of Jesus – to serve “the least of these” (Matt 25:34-40), to “love one another, even as [He has] loved [us]… and by this all men will know that [we] are [His] disciples, if [we] have love for one another (John 13:34-35)— we are even called to love those who hate us (Matt 5:43-48).
What happens once a person believes in Christ, is filled with the Spirit and then walks in obedience to the Lord’s commands?
Well, take a look at the church in Acts. After the day of Pentecost came and the Holy Spirit fell on them, they “were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47). If you read on into Acts 4, we are told that as the sharing of the good news spread and people came to know the Lord, there came a point where there “was not a needy person among them” because the body of Christ had met those needs.
Friends, God’s call to share the good news, love others and to care for “the least of these”– whether serving the hungry, caring for the orphans and widows, loving the neglected, meeting the needs of the needy, etc. – was never an option, it is a command to all believers in Christ. And, as we are obedient, God honors our obedience, and it’s in Him that we find ultimate satisfaction and overwhelming joy!
Scripture tells us that every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, will be in heaven “standing before the throne and before the Lamb…crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”. But, if we choose to live for ourselves, to stay silent and to reject God’s calling, “how then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” (Rom 10:14).
Our theme verses for Street Hope TN are Isaiah 61:1-3:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
As believers in Christ, we know that God loves us so much that He made a way for us to have eternal life with Him (John 3:16) and to live in victory over sin (1 Cor 15:55-56). We know God is faithful (2 Tim 2:13). We know He restores the broken and binds up the broken hearted, He gives freedom (physically and spiritually) to the captives, and He comforts those who mourn. But He doesn’t just comfort, He makes beauty out of ashes, restores true joy to the broken, and gives them a spirit of praise so they will be firmly planted Oaks of Righteousness. We know all of these things because the Lord Himself has revealed them to us by His word and through His Spirit.
We live in a lost and dying world apart from Christ, and we have the solution for the sickness and sorrow. God our Father has “given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade (1 Pet 1:3-5)”. Why on earth would we keep that to ourselves? Why on earth would we not serve? Why on earth would we say that this is someone else’s responsibility? Why on earth would we miss out on the blessing of walking in obedience with the Lord?
We are each members of one body of Christ and we each have different gifts and functions (Rom 12:3-8), and we are each expected by the Lord to use them for His glory.
Let’s use our gifts, talents and wisdom the Lord has given us to reach the world for Christ.
Let’s share the gospel.
Let’s show the love of Christ to the unlovable.
Let’s meet the needs of others.
Let’s not only give lip service about Jesus, let’s be obedient.
Let’s be the hands and feet of Jesus.
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