Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund
The Church of Christ at Marsalis Avenue will be helping churches and their communities recover and rebuild from the effects of Hurricane Harvey. Your donation will go directly toward Hurricane Harvey Relief Effort. 1 John 3: 17-18
Hurricane Harvey has left the vast devastation throughout southeast Texas. Families have been displaced. Flooding has damaged homes and businesses. Winds have blown down powerlines and traffic signals. Recovery efforts will take months, if not years. Some may wonder why God would allow a hurricane to impact millions of lives. God has a purpose for the pain that is being experienced.
God speaks during the storm (see Job 38:1). God does not have to wait until the storm is over to speak. He can speak through the storm. When God speaks through the storm, He is reminding us of His infinite power and supreme authority. He controls the storm. There is nothing that happens to you that God did not know would happen to you. When God speaks during the storm, it gives us perspective. During the storm God says, “I am with you and have been here the whole time, and have prepared you for this moment.”
The storm reminds us that this world is temporary. It is so easy for us to build lives on earth and lose our sense of purpose. God will allow our lives to be disrupted so that we will refocus on building treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). We are reminded that our lives are our most valuable possessions. We should cherish our lives and honor the God who has given us life.
The storm leads us to trust God. During the storm, God says to us, “Trust me.” God has a purpose and a plan for everything that He allows to happen to us. When we are in it, we often can’t see what God is doing with us. Because we live in a fallen world, you can expect trouble, no matter how good you are. Those in the body of Christ will have trouble. Those outside of the body of Christ will have trouble. The difference is that when you are a child of God, you have help in your troubles. Often, God is allowing seeds to be planted in our lives so that we will grow. God is using the catastrophe as the seed that will produce a tried, tested, and true disciple. The catastrophe is the seed planted and a mature you is the harvest.
The storm brings us together. This decade has been the decade of division. Our nation is divided. Our communities are divided. Our churches are divided. We have been splintered and fractured so much that many have given up hope of reconciliation. But the storm has brought us together. There are no Democrats vs. Republicans, law enforcement vs. communities, Black vs. White. The focus is about people helping people. The storm has forced us to reevaluate what is important. It is my prayer that we do not lose the lessons from the storm once the waters subside and homes are rebuilt.
We all understand the power of words. The Bible is clear that words are important. Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Prov. 18:21). A lying tongue is an abomination to the Lord. But truthful lips are established forever (Prov. 6:17, 12:19). James would suggest to us that if a person can control what he or she says, then the person can control the whole self (James 3:2). Although we understand the importance of words, our words often fall short of God’s expectations.
As you strive to look more like Christ every day, ask yourself, “Can I see Christ in my talk.” The question is not, “Can others see Christ in my talk?” We can fool others. But we each know how we really talk. We know the things we say when others aren’t listening.
Can I see Christ in my talk? In order to answer the question, it is important to understand how Christ talked. We know that Ephesians 4:29 says let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth. Many people think that means as long as there is no profanity coming out of their mouths, then they are good. But it takes more than the absence of unwholesome language to see Christ in our talk. Over the next few weeks we will reflect on how Christ talked.
For starters, Christ spoke to instruct. Often his teaching would come in the form of parables. Jesus did not let an opportunity for instruction pass Him by. Like Jesus, take advantage of the opportunities for instruction that life presents to you. As he walked, he taught. As he saw, he taught. As he experienced life with the disciples he taught.
When we see Christ in our talk, our words are instructive and informative. Our talk should be more substantive than the weather and the latest Hollywood gossip. Others should learn of God from what we say. If we don’t speak of God, those who need God may not learn of Him.
Being a disciple of Christ means that we imitate His mission. Jesus came to be a light to the world. He is the Light of the world (John 9:5). We are called to reflect His light in the world. Like the moon reflects that radiance of the sun, so we are to shine forth God’s glory in the world. We are to be illuminators of truth (Matthew 5:14).
Although Jesus did miracles and ministry, that was not his ultimate purpose for coming to this world. He came to be the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world. He came to set us free from our sins.
As we do ministry, we must never forget the mission, which is to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). The purpose of ministry is to meet people at the felt need and lead them to their ultimate need for Christ and salvation.
We must never forget that we have been given the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 states, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (NASB).
We represent Christ to the world. As we have been made right with God by accepting the salvation that is available, we should lead others to the Christ so that they can be reconciled to God.
Being a disciple of Jesus Christ means that we do more than just believe in Him. We are expected to follow Him. We are to imitate His ministry and His love. Jesus also expects us to imitate His obedience (John 15:10).
Jesus was obedient and submitted to God in all that He did. He was obedient even in the one thing that the Father asked Him to do that He really didn’t want to do. There was a part of Him that didn’t want to go to the cross (Luke 22:41-45). He prayed three times, let this cup pass from me. But then He said, never the less, not my will, but your will be done (Matthew 26:36-44). In Philippians 2 we learn that Jesus humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death on a cross. Crucifixion was the cruelest form of capital punishment inflicted at that time. The pain of crucifixion was so intense, that a new word had to be coined to describe the pain. It is out of the pain of experienced during crucifixion that we get the English word “excruciating”.
The Word of God teaches us in Philippians 2, that the mind of obedience and submission that Christ had is that mind that I should have also. There are some things that God has asked us to do that we really don’t want to do. There are painful experiences that we must endure. We must love people that we really don’t want to love. We will be called on to make some sacrifices we don’t want to make. We even be asked to obey some commands that we don’t want to obey.
The strength of our commitment to God is found in our faithfulness in obeying Him. When our desires are in conflict with the will of God, we must imitate the obedience of Christ and boldly proclaim, “Not my will, but Your will be done.” It is when we feel like getting beside ourselves that we need to humble ourselves and imitate the obedience of Jesus.
Minister Ross' creativity, wisdom, and insight have inspired community, church and corporate audiences throughout the United States.