Are You Staying the Same?

I volunteer in the guest services ministry at my church on Sunday mornings. As I stand under a bright orange tent at one of the many entrances of the building, I watch for the people to arrive, looking for first-time visitors. At first, folks begin to trickle in, just a few at a time. At a certain point, usually about fifteen minutes before the service begins, I can look across the parking lot and see a steady stream of people all moving toward me. They come in couples or groups and some come alone. I greet each one with a smile and say good morning.

Today, one man looked at me and said, “You just can’t stop smiling, can you?” He was right. I couldn’t stop smiling as I saw so many of God’s people coming to His house to worship together. It was a beautiful morning, much cooler than what we’d experienced for several months, and many of us were cheerful. But it wasn’t the weather that made me smile. It was knowing that God’s people were gathering together.

After the rush was over and the service had started, there were still a few stragglers who came quickly up the sidewalk; I welcomed them as they hurried into the building.

Then it got quiet, and I thought about the people I had greeted. Some smiled and responded to my words. Others nodded and glanced away. There were also those who refused to make eye contact at all (I don’t judge them, they are probably introverts like me!)

The people going in were of all different walks of life, different ages, and different marital statuses. They were also at different levels of understanding of the things of God. I thought about how God saw each person who had passed my greeting station and I realized something important.

God doesn’t care what we’re like when we walk IN the doors. He doesn’t care how we compare to the people walking behind or in front of us. He cares about what has changed in us and what we’re like when we walk back OUT the doors. His purpose is for each of us to change when we encounter His presence and the teaching of His word. He never stops helping us grow.

Did you go to church on Sunday? Did you leave changed, never to be the same again? If not, God was speaking, were you listening?

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” – Philippians 1:6 (ESV)

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” – 2 Peter 3:28 (ESV)

What You are Doing Right Now Could Matter in 150 Years

In 1866 a man named C.S. Reynolds started a church in what would become Clearwater Florida. He started with a handful of faithful followers and established the first Baptist church in the area.

That was 150 years ago this month. Pastor Reynolds had no idea what the long term results of his endeavor would be. He was just being faithful to the call he had received from God.  He started with what he had and believed God would multiply.

And the seeds he planted all those decades ago are still producing fruit. This month Calvary Baptist Church is celebrating it’s 150th anniversary. The City of Clearwater just celebrated it’s 100th anniversary. That’s right, the church has been here longer than the city.

Yesterday a United States Congressman addressed the congregation and thanked the church for their impact on the community for the past 150 years.  In the church archives there are records of time when things were tough. Times of financial hardship and broken relationships that required God’s healing hand. But the church has persevered. The message of the Gospel is still being proclaimed.

At the end of an entire weekend of celebration, our pastor talked about how one man heard God’s call and answered it in 1866. Not unlike the many examples of God’s people in the Bible who couldn’t know the impact their obedience would have, C. S. Reynolds was faithful and said “Yes,” to God’s call without any idea what would come of it.

The question put to the congregation at the end of yesterday’s service was this, “What can you do today that will matter in 150 years?”

I have been thinking  a lot about this.  What am I doing that will matter? Are there things I COULD be doing that I’m not?  What kind of choices am I making every day that will impact my future and someone else’s?

We aren’t all called to start churches or lead movements. We aren’t all called to be in the spotlight.  Many of us are just called to be faithful in our own little corner of the world. To be the parent our kids need us to be, willing to invest in them.  To be the helpmate to our spouses, supporting them and working along side them.  To be a true friend to someone God has put in our lives.

Sometimes it doesn’t look like much but we can’t begin to know what God will do with the little seeds we are willing to put in the ground, trusting Him to bring the growth and produce the fruit.

What are you doing today that will matter in 150 years?  Maybe that’s too long range to comprehend. Perhaps you can just consider what you are doing that will matter tomorrow, or next week or next year.

The important thing is to be intentional about doing something that matters. We can so easily get caught up in the daily routine that we can forget that God put us here for a purpose.

Ultimately, it’s not about whether it matters  this week, or next year or in 150 years. The real question is ,” will it matter in eternity?”

John 6:27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.

Colossians 3:23-24  Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.