A Father's Love: Fifth Sunday in Lent, April 2

The Father loves the Son
and has given all things into his hand.
John 3:35 (NASB)

Responsibility is the duty and power to deal with something and to be held accountable.

When I was a teenager, my mother often left one of my siblings in my care. I knew the house rules . I also understood that if my baby brother broke the rules, I would be the one held responsible for anything he did, because he was not yet fully capable of understanding the consequences of his actions. For that short amount of time, I was given the power and duty to correct him within the guidelines my mother had given to me.

Adam and Eve were given God's command regarding the tree of knowledge, as well as the free will to obey or disobey that command. They were told of the consequences, but having never experienced death, it is unlikely they fully understood, like my baby brother, the consequences of their actions. Despite their naiveté, someone had to be held accountable.

Jesus says the Father has given "all things into His hands.”

He was born into the world and bore the responsibility of paying the penalty for our sins. Because we cannot save ourselves, He had been given both the duty and the power to lay down his life and take it up again on our behalf.

By faith in Jesus, we become the children of God, and with that title comes our own responsibility to the people around us. We know the punishment for sin is death, and the gift that comes from faith in Jesus is eternal life. It is our job to share that message with the lost.

We don’t know the full ramifications of not following Jesus’ command to “go and baptize” (Matthew 28:18-20). We do not know how many souls will be lost for eternity if we shirk our responsibilities. We also don’t know the miraculous things God could do if we use our lives to tell others about the love and grace that comes from Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Father, because of our sinful nature, we will always remain like a helpless infant, unable to correct our condition apart from your intervention. Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, who was willing to rescue us from eternal damnation and separation from you and help me to lead others to the cross. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Rosemary Sternbeck
Fairbanks, Alaska

Read & Reflect: April 3-8

Read: Matthew 5:14-16, 2 Timothy 2:15, 1 Peter 3:13-17

Reflect: Now that you have the light of Christ in you, it would be wrong to hide it from the world. Do not be ashamed, but be ready to give the answer to others, with a clear conscience, should they ask about your joy, never fearing what others might say. In what parts of your life are you hiding your light? What talents do you have that could be used to the glory of God?

Read: 2 Timothy 4:1-5

Reflect: You are called to fulfill your ministry in the Kingdom of Christ, but that calling is different for each person. We are all given unique talents and experiences to be used for God’s purpose. Some are called to teach or preach, while others are called to positions behind the scenes, but all of us are called to build up the body of Christ. Whatever your calling is, do a thorough job as God’s servant. Ask Him what his mission is for you and commit to it wholeheartedly. Take time to pray and reflect on your interests, skills, and experiences. Instead of asking God to help you with the work you are doing, try asking Him to show you how you can help in the work He is already doing.

Read: Colossians 4:2-6

Reflect: Ministry doesn’t happen on your watch; it happens in God’s perfect timing. Therefore, it is vital to surround yourself in prayer and wait in patience, being ever watchful for the opportunities God puts in your path. Think back on your week. Were there opportunities that you missed to share the message of Christ’s love with your words and actions? Ask God to help you prepare for the next time that door is opened.

Read: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

Reflect: In order to share God’s Word and His love, you must know to whom you are talking. When Jesus told a story, his message was focused to the group in front of Him. He knew their lives and their culture and, in doing so, was able to teach them in a way they could understand. Paul says he became like those he was trying to reach with the Gospel. He built trust and understanding first. When struggles in ministry arise, take a look at yourself, and ask God if there is something you need to change to more effectively reach the lost.

Read: Romans 1:14-17, 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Reflect: If you steadfastly desire to serve the Lord, opportunities will present themselves. When a door is open to you, walk through it confidently, knowing the Holy Spirit will guide your words. In preparation, read Scripture. There are no better words than those that came straight from Jesus’ mouth! Make it a goal to memorize a new Bible verse every week.