This past week I had the honor and privilege to attend a pastors appreciation breakfast in Nashville TN and the guest speaker was Jim Cymbala.
Up till two years ago, I had never heard of Jim Cymbala, but once I did, I have devoured several of his books (Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, Fresh Faith, Breakthrough Prayer, and others). I have been encouraged by the stories of this mans life and how God has used him to bring glory to the name of Jesus. So, when I heard he was going to be down the road, I took advantage of the opportunity to be blessed by him in person.
What first struck me was the humility of Mr Cymbala. He was there to lift up the pastors, but he did not try and hide behind a curtain of keep to himself. Rather, he mixed and mingled with the other brothers and sisters in Christ while we awaited the breakfast to begin. Once he did speak, he did not come to us as if to share some marvelous insight on how to do ministry better, instead, he did the only thing he knew to do, he talked about Jesus. The passage he used was Mark 3 in which we read of Jesus calling to himself the disciples. This is how it reads in Mark 3:13-15
13 Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles,[a] to be with him, to send them out to preach, 15 and to have authority to[b] drive out demons. (CSB)
What God, through the Spirit, spoke through Jim that morning was to remind us, each one who is in the body of Christ, what our first calling was. Yes, Jesus was going to send the 12 to preach. True, he gave them the power, authority, to cast out demons. But that was not their first calling. Did you see it?
Jesus appointed the twelve to "be with him." Our first calling as sheep in his pasture is nothing more than to simply be with him. If we fail to be with him, all our preaching will be attempted in our own power. All our attempts to drive out the enemy will fall short unless first we are with Him.
And by with, Jim was not telling us to simply have a relationship with Jesus. In fact, Mr Cymbala told us it is possible to have a relationship with someone (friend, acquaintance, or even family member) and not have fellowship with them. What Jesus calls us to is to have fellowship with him. To eat with him. To drink with him. To dine, to rest, to simply BE with him.
How my heart needed to be reminded of this powerful truth. And from the few conversations I have had this week, it is apparent that this is the message that God is speaking to his busy sheep all around us. He is like the Shepherd who stands out in the field and calls for his sheep to come. The call is not for anything other than for the sheep to come be with the shepherd so he can care for them, check them for any needs, and then supply what they need. All Jesus wants is for his people to come be with him.
In Him, all our needs are met. In Him is the power to overcome the enemy. In Him is the strength to endure suffering, tribulation, trials. In Jesus we find our hope, our comfort, our peace, our sustenance. Being with Him is where we find our refuge, our shade, our strong tower, our defense, our relief. In Him we find our belly filled and our thirst forever satisfied. In Him, we find everything we need.
That is why David said, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I need nothing more!" Psalm 23:1
Today, and every day, may we join together and obey His first call, to be With Him!