by Jason Barnett
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When I was five years old, my life's dream was to become a firefighter. I would get to slide down a pole, and put on awesome gear. Then I would drive the fire truck to a huge building engulfed in flames. As I grew up a bit, my dream changed. I discovered a game called football. I loved the chess match that took place between an offense and defense. Also, I liked being able to hit people and get away with it. At the same time, I knew I wasn't big enough to play the game. Logically, if I couldn't play, I would coach.
This was my dream for a long time that is until after I gave my life to Christ. I had been a follower for some time, and when I was a freshman in high school, God came knocking on my heart's door.╩I didn't hear an audile voice, nor did I see any brilliant flashes of light. All I had was a distinct impression, God wanted me to preach the Word.
Of course, I was convinced God had the wrong guy. I told God, the one who made me, that I wasn't capable of doing it. I don't like people and I would much rather keep to myself. So talking in front of large groups of people, and telling them about an offensive gospel really wasn't my idea of a good time.
As I kept making excuses as to why I couldn't, God kept telling me to do it. He told me not to worry about my shortcomings, just to follow him. After months of trying to ignore it, I finally gave God an ultimatum. I told him if he wanted me to preach, he had to present me with an opportunity. A couple days later my youth leader asked me to preach at our next youth led service. From that point on, I have had no doubt what God wants me to do with my life.
Shortly after I accepted God's call, I struggled with why me? I was a simple kid from a redneck town, a place where proper English doesn't exist. I had done my fair share of bad deeds, so why would God want a guy like me? So when I preached, I would try to be like other preachers. And each time after the message was delivered I would be deflated. The problem was I was trying to be someone else.
Check out Matthew 4:18-22:
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him.
Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. (NIV, all other verses will be the same)
Jesus called those four fishermen. Four uneducated people would be a part of a group that helped spread the message of God's love. He didn't choose them based on their level of knowledge, a piece of paper, or any other qualifications they might have. Jesus chose them for them.
At this point, I'm sure Peter, Andrew, James, and John had no clue what they were getting into, but they trusted Jesus enough to drop everything to follow him. And not only did they drop everything they did it immediately. The first disciples didn't run and ask anyone for permission, they followed because in their hearts they knew it was right.
God called me to preach his Word. Not to be somebody else, but as me. He doesn't need me to jump through hoops or seek permission. He has already approved me for the job. Through his spirit I am being transformed to fit the job. And just like anything, this job requires some additional knowledge, but the authority to preach the Word has already been given to me.
When God is telling you to do something, take it from me and Nike, just do it. Follow him! There maybe some channels you have to go through, but don't let that discourage you. God has called you, and he has given you the task. Not a church board or a man wearing a suit and tie. When others try to hinder you, take comfort in the fact it is Jesus who is leading you.
Reading the Gospels, we discover how awesome of a teacher Jesus was. He taught using stories from everyday life, and then explained the meaning to those who were listening. But that isn't what impressed the people check out this quote:
Matthew 7:28-29╩When Jesus finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teachings because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
Those of you who are called along with me to preach the word, we can take a lesson from the way Jesus spoke. When they say he spoke with authority, to me that means he spoke with conviction and confidence. He wasn't worried about offending people Jesus simply stated the truth.╩This is the same charge Jesus has given to us, to speak with authority. He has given all of us our own distinct voice and way of presenting, but we all are asked to speak the truth with confidence and conviction.
Knowing our authority to preach does not give us total confidence, to gain that we must spend time in the Bible. ╩When we sit down to write a sermon, prayerfully seek after God's truth through study and meditation on the scriptures.
Make sure you have your own private devotional time with God. How can he use you to help feed others if you don't take the time to feed yourself? A lot of time, that quiet is when God will bring me a message. If it is one I can't preach yet, I write it down on a list in my Bible. ╩When the time comes, I know what God wants to say through me.
God has charged some of us with the task of proclaiming his word. Let us always present God's truth, not the doctrine of a church, or theology of man. May we present the message with boldness, not so we can take pleasure in offending others, but so our words can be used by God to transform lives around us. And we can present the Gospel with confidence knowing our authority comes from Christ.
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