Are you treating God the same way you treat the guy at the chicken shop?

I have a relationship with Sammy’s Fried Chicken.  I give them what they want and they give me what I want. Fried-Chicken-Wings-Recipe

When I say that I want 12 chicken wings, the man behind the counter will then ask me for £3 and after a few minutes, he’ll give me my chicken wings.  I give them money and they give me good fried chicken. We have a good business relationship.

But what happens if I find out that they’ve only given me 10 chicken wings? Or what if the wings are really small? Or they still have blood on them? 

I’ll go back to complain and pretty quickly down the road as there are loads of chicken shops in Shepherd’s Bush.  Sammy’s has to keep his side of the relationship, which is to provide good fried chicken, and then I’ll keep my side of the relationship, which is to provide them with a little cash.  When this happens we have a good relationship, if not, our relationship ends.

Is this how you treat God?

If we say to God, you do this for me – give me health, a promotion at work, more money, better relationships, whatever – then I’ll serve you completely; then we’re treating God in the same way that I treat Sammy’s Fried Chicken.

Our relationship with God should be one of love not a business deal. Why?  Because it was God who loved us even when there was no chance that we could love him in return.

The Apostle Paul tells us: “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” Eph 2:4-5

Keep your business relationships where they belong – in the chicken shop.  God is calling you into a relationship of love.

What is God calling me to do?

How do I know what I’m called to do in service to the Lord? There’s no instruction manual to life. I can’t read in the bible the verse that says: “Chris, you should start New City church.” How do we know what God is calling us to do?

calling

A helpful way of thinking about calling that I heard years ago (I think from Tim Keller) and I’ve told this to many young people who are questioning their calling is this: A calling from God has three components which should be thought about within the context of the body of Christ: opportunity, ability and desire.

Opportunity

Why did we move to London instead of Mongolia? I had an opportunity to move to London, I don’t know anyone in Mongolia. If God is in control – which He is – then He will bring opportunities into your life. And often these opportunities will come in the context of your fellow Christians. Friends asked Jos and I to think about moving to London. No one asked me to think about Mongolia.

What opportunities is God bringing your way to serve Him?

Ability

God will call you into areas of responsibility in which he as gifted you. God is not calling me to play music in a worship band – I’m just not that good. Here again, the answer to this abilities question comes in the context of the body of Christ. If you think you have musical abilities but everyone covers their ears when you sing, then you need to reconsider. But if you teach a bible study and people come up after and say, “I appreciate what you said there” – that’s an indication I might need to move forward.

Where are you getting affirmation from others that you’ve done a good job in a small area of responsibility? Has God given you an ability in that area? Should you step up a level in the challenge before you? And are you looking to grow in your ability to serve God with the gifts He’s given you?

Desire

Finally, what is the desire of your heart? If you are a Christian, the bible teaches, that God has given you a new heart. The Holy Spirit lives within you – changing your desires to become more and more the desires of God so that over time, your desires and the desires of God become one and the same.

If we really believe this, then I should be able to ask you – “What do you enjoy doing?” And if your response is “I just like smoking dope and playing video games all day” then I would probably question whether the Holy Spirit is really at work in your life. We’d then need to back up the conversation to discuss the basics of the gospel.

But are there areas of service which you do enjoy? When does your heart resonate with joy even after a hard days work? Maybe it’s time to pursue them with more intentionality.

Enter into joy in your life by serving Jesus with the gifts he’s given you.  Open your eyes within the context of your fellow believers to the calling He has for you to serve in His Kingdom.

Living without regrets

This has been taken from a sermon preached from Matt 25:1-13 (Jesus’ parable of the Ten Virgins) entitled “Living without regrets”

We don’t know when Jesus will return for the second time in glory. But you better be ready or you’re going to have regrets just like the foolish women who ran out of oil and  were then locked out of the party. Through the parable, Jesus gives us some hints about how to live a life without regrets.

1. The wise girls thought about their lives ahead of time

oil_lampVerse 3 and 4:  “For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.”

 
The foolish girls didn’t think about the fact that they were going to a wedding in the dark and there might be problems. They did what was easy and didn’t plan ahead. Your spiritual life takes thoughtful planning.

Yes – there are cases like the thief on the cross or death-bed conversions, but that’s not the norm. If you keep saying to God, “I’ll deal with you later” – later may be too late. Today is the day of salvation! Today is the day of repentance and faith! Today is the day for new spiritual disciplines – new habits of prayer and scripture reading!

2. The wise girls took action when needed

Verses 6 and 7: “But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.  Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.”

If you are going to live a life without regrets; if you are going to be ready for the Lord Jesus then you are going to have to take action when God brings you the opportunity to serve him. Jesus’ second coming is going to be the fulfillment of what he has already started when he was here on earth.

When Jesus sends his disciples out on their own for the first time, Luke 9 tells us that he “he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.” (Luke 9:2)

What did they do? Proclaimed the kingdom of God and healing. What did Jesus do? Preached the gospel and brought healing. What is God calling us as followers of Jesus to do? Preach the gospel and bring healing – just like Jesus and his disciples.

3. The wise girls didn’t get distracted by the foolish girls

Verse 8 and 9: “And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’”

 
It looks harsh on the surface of it – why didn’t the wise girls just share their oil? Because then neither girl would have enough to make it across town with a lit torch.

 
Jesus is warning us here not to get too distracted with our friends and family who haven’t responded to the gospel. Some won’t like it when we decide to follow Jesus.  We should expect that. Wise girls – or should I say wise people – don’t get distracted by the all the commotion caused by the foolish people in our lives. Love them? Yes. But let our foolish friends draw us away from Jesus? No.

 
May Jesus empower you by His Spirit to live a life now that you won’t regret. A life of faith in the risen Jesus and a life of focused, thoughtful action in service of the King who is coming again in glory.

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