Sunday, March 3, 2019

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Appointed to Serve

Over the past couple of months, I have been reflecting on the Lord’s call and how He appointed me to serve. It was ten years ago this month that my wife and I began our ministry at Lakeline Oaks Retirement Community in Cedar Park, Texas.

In just five years of serving, I learned so much about my relationship with the Lord and my responsibilities as a pastor, friend and counselor for the community. The activity director, Dave, gave me the best advice that a first-time pastor could ever hope to receive. He said, “Jesse, feed and take care of the flock.”

Those words have always remained with me and even to this day are the words that guide my every action and remind me of why I serve in His kingdom. Although I was not prepared to fully take on the responsibilities of being a pastor, I knew that God would lead and provide me with the wisdom and words. I learned that I had to rely on Him and follow His lead no matter where my path would go.

After serving five years, God moved us to another location and we began to wonder why we were led to Georgia to serve. After all, my wife and I knew no one here. Our ministry in Cedar Park was growing and we were very happy to serve there. They were and continue to be our faith family. Each Christmas, my wife sends cards to all those who are still there and we remain friends via Facebook and email. Each time we receive an email, we treasure it as gold and thank God for the opportunity to have ministered there. 

While in Georgia, we wondered why He led us here. We moved into a new home and restarted our lives in a new place. My wife began to meet new people and to make friends. As for me, it was difficult and I constantly asked God for our new mission. Within a few years of arriving here, things changed not for the better but for the worse.

My illness, financial problems and so many other problems started to wear very heavy on my faith and my family and I began to question God. Our faith began to wax and wane a bit. While I underwent my treatment and recovered from my illness, things seemed to get worse and worse. My medical bills began to increase. In just a little over one year, our bills added up to over half a million dollars. We began to run through our savings and all the money we had went to doctors’ visits, treatments, medication and so many other things. Just making our bills proved to be very difficult.

As my wife and I continued through this nightmare, we grew closer together. There were many nights where we just talked and shared what was our on our hearts. We both began to wonder about God’s plan for us. I often found myself reminding Him of how content we were back in Texas and serving a wonderful congregation and faith family. I began to ask Him the big question of why.

I found myself in my prayers asking Him over and over the same question, “Why, Lord? Why is this happening to us?”

Each time the Lord provided me the same answer that He gave Paul in 2 Corinthians 12, “9 My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

He also provided me with another answer. Once again, it was the same one that He gave Paul in Philippians 4, “13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

As I allowed His words to minister to my soul and spiritually feed me, I began to realize that I was not just called but, rather, appointed to preach the word of God to all those around me and those who would listen to the Word and to my story. My illness, in and of itself, is a miracle. Several of the doctors said the same thing over and over, “You were within hours of dying.”

I thought about what they had said to me and the other things that were said. My symptoms were non-existent and no one even suspected the nature of my illness. I was a walking miracle and no one could explain how I was even standing or talking. Most even admitted that they did not even understand how I was still breathing. I should have been dead a long time before even reaching the hospital.

God, throughout the Old and New Testament, calls and appoints people to serve in a particular role. God tells Samuel, as written in 1 Samuel 16, to anoint David to serve as king of Israel. Saul, while while on the road to Damascus, is selected and appointed to be an apostle. In Galatians 1, Paul wrote, “15 But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him 16 to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being.”

As I continue to ponder all that has happened to me and God’s hand upon me, I realize that God appointed me to do something that He chose me to do even before I was born. I never thought I would be preaching the Good News to others from a pulpit or ministering to thousands of people every month through our ministry website. 

God does work in mysterious ways and there is no way for us to comprehend the fullness of His divine plan for our lives until it unfolds in accordance to His plan for our lives. Each day is a new opportunity to minister to those in need and to share the Word with all those who are in desperate need of comfort and love.

My wife and I are embarking on a change of season in our lives. Although things have changed in a very big way for us, we realize that we were appointed to live our lives as His servants. As the words of the old hymn, “Where He Leads Me,” tells us, “I can hear my Savior calling, ‘Take thy cross and follow, follow me.’”

There are times when we find it difficult to follow. Our human nature kicks in and we begin to question God and His plan for our lives. When that happens, we reflect on our call to ministry to those at Lakeline Oaks Retirement Community and God’s words to Paul. We, once again, take up our crosses, follow Jesus Christ and serve the Kingdom.

As you go through this week, I ask each of you to think about God’s plan for your life. Has He appointed you to do something special? Each of us serve Him in different ways. Some of us are called to preach and teach. Others are called to provide to His children. No matter what you are called or appointed to do, you can rest assured that you can stand firm in His grace and know that His grace will get you through that valley of darkness.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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