People around the Itawamba Christian Church have heard me mention an idea we each are being asked to consider for 2021. The idea is: “Take the Next Step!” This idea is born from the Scriptures which tells Christians that the essence of being a Christ-follower is to follow Jesus. It encourages each of us to think about where Jesus is leading us next and wherever that it, take that step!
For some, taking the next step might mean deciding to say YES to Jesus and become a Christ-follower. For some, taking the next step might mean to say YES to becoming a member at ICC. For some, taking the next step might mean to say YES to attending Sunday School. For some, taking the next step might mean to say YES to investing financially in Kingdom work like ICC, or our Church Camp, Missionaries, Colleges, etc. For some, taking the next step might mean saying YES to serving in a Ministry of ICC. For some, taking the next step might mean saying YES to becoming a Minister, Missionary or other fulltime vocational Kingdom worker. Hopefully you can see that the thrust of this effort for 2021 and frankly beyond is to “Say YES, to Jesus!”
That all sounds good and probably, as I have seen already, several are thinking and taking a next step, and its still only January! The wonderful aspect of being created with freewill is the ability to make choices. But a sometimes forgotten dimension of exercising our freewill actually means while we have chosen something (we said YES to it) we have also either by design or default said NO to something else.
A problem many of us face however is we have gotten pretty skilled at saying NO to Jesus! We hide the sting of that blunt assessment with lots of words and excuses that make the prospect of saying NO less direct or painful. I say NO to Jesus every time I hear of His beautiful sacrifice for me and refuse His gift to save me. I say NO to Jesus when I choose to make Sunday “My-day” instead of gathering with the rest of the saints. I say NO to Jesus when I take the financial resources He gave me the strength and skill to earn and use them make my life more “comfortable” while Kingdom priorities might suffer. I say NO to Jesus when I won’t adjust my schedule so I can find my place of service within the Kingdom. The bottom line is this: I say NO to Jesus every time I refuse to say NO to myself!
Following Jesus is a journey of choices. Consider the words of Jesus Himself as He instructs His disciples: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24 Denying oneself essentially means to say NO to ourselves. When it comes to the Kingdom we need to see that “maybe”, “not today”, “too busy” are really simply ways of saying NO to Jesus. Perhaps that sounds a bit harsh. The point is to get us all to see Kingdom issues more clearly and be best prepared for when we shall see Jesus face to face.
The leaders of this congregation stand ready and willing to help you say YES to Jesus and take the next step towards Him, whatever that might be for each of us. Please prayerfully consider where He is leading you and also carefully consider what might be holding you back. I am eager to see how the King is going to take your YES and transform you and His Kingdom!