(Originally posted 5-3-18)
One thing that never ceases to amaze me is the strength and caliber of the servicemen and women within the United States Armed Forces. I know there are a lot of things within this country right now that bring no element of pride or spirit of patriotism. But when I look at the sacrifices made by those serving in our military, I always find a reason to be proud that I am an American. I believe we do have the best of the best when it comes to those who are protecting us and the great freedoms we have in this land.
There are several mottos and core values that go along with each branch of service. I was doing a little bit of research the other day and I discovered that the Coast Guard’s official motto is Semper Paratus, which is a Latin phrase meaning “always ready.” When you think about it, it totally encompasses what the Coast Guard is all about. Whether it’s a rescue at sea by boat or helicopter, we have all seen images that stir heart and soul. These images offer a sobering dose of reality: without the actions of these brave men and women, some in distress would be left to die. By being always ready, the Coast Guard has saved countless lives and given back sons, daughters, wives, and husbands to many families who would otherwise be left with a hole.
If I can extrapolate Semper Paratus into a spiritual context, as Christians we are in a place of needing to be “always ready.” We have a dying world around us and many who will taste a far worse death than being lost at sea; a spiritual death. Coming off of a 4-part series centered on “Faith,” (to review, see these links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4) there is an opportunity to discuss what we do now with all that we understand and know in Christ. One familiar passage about being ready to share the Gospel is 1 Peter 3:15: “Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” It is this verse that gives us some direction into what sharing the Gospel looks like for you and me.
1. The Spirit gives boldness
For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what must be said. Luke 12:12
In the context of either sharing or defending our faith, we often come up against the fear-gripping reality of our flesh: what will I say and what will people think? All of us as Christians have this fear to some degree, so take heart. I believe Jesus knew we would be afraid and that is why He encouraged His disciples: in the moment, the Spirit will give you the words to say. Whew. Can we breathe a sigh of relief knowing that our words do not hold another person’s eternal destiny in the balance? We are His mouthpieces, His instruments, and His vessels to move through. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to give you the ability to say what needs to be said and He will use you to communicate His truth.
2. The Gospel is enough
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Acts 3:6
An amazing miracle happens in Acts 3 within the days of the early church. A lame beggar calls out to Peter and John as they were going into the temple. Peter explains to the man that he has nothing to offer him monetarily-speaking but gives him what he does have: the message of the Gospel and the healing power of Christ. Within that power, the lame man is healed and goes away praising God.
Often we believe the Gospel has to be accompanied by something else for people to receive and accept it. In many cases, we put up a pretense or a condition that has to met and once it is, maybe then someone will listen. But Peter knew he had nothing to offer the lame man. It wasn’t the wealth he could give the man that would “win him over” to Christ. It was the power of the Gospel which in this case, broke through and healed the man; both physically and spiritually. We need to rely on the power of the Gospel. We must rely on the power of our testimony in Christ because it truly speaks volumes.
3. Leave the details up to God
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. Now the one planting and the one watering are one in purpose, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 1 Corinthians 3:6-8
If the Gospel is a “seed” some will receive it and some will reject it (see Conditions Of The Heart). For those who receive it, the seed will hopefully grow over time. But the returns and the increase seen is not something we have control over. Hear me out. I believe we do the work of presenting Christ in any and all circumstances. But if one should receive and then fall away or if one should receive and not grow in Christ as we had hoped, we cannot miss our purpose. God gives the growth. We are simply obedient to share. We sometimes think we do the conversion and we “lead people to Christ.” No, we simply make ourselves available and allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in and through us. We are there to disciple and encourage as we pray for our brothers and sisters; especially those weaker members. We entrust the process of sanctification to the one who sanctifies.
In being always ready, we operate in a 24/7, 365-days-a-year mindset of preparedness. I truly believe and have come to realize that God gives us the moments to share our faith; they are God-ordained and God-orchestrated. They may seem happenstance or random at times and that’s ok. What we see this side of eternity is limited and a small glimpse of what God is doing behind the scenes. Spiritually-speaking, He is always at work and He is always ready. Therefore, we must also be in that place knowing that we may not have the perfect presentation or delivery, but it doesn’t matter. He is working through us. Amazingly, God partners with us…frail, fallible, and imperfect as we are. And in that collaboration, He brings to life dead things.
I love you all! I hope you are encouraged today. I love to hear your stories of what God is doing and how you are putting faith into action in your own life. Be blessed.