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Ezell: Obeying God’s call to the nations

EDITOR’S NOTE: Nov. 29-Dec. 6 was this year’s Week of Prayer for International Missions in the Southern Baptist Convention. The Week of Prayer, with the theme “Because of Who He Is” from Psalm 96:3 (HCSB), undergirds the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. The offering, in tandem with Cooperative Program gifts from Southern Baptist churches, supports international workers in seeking to fulfill the Great Commission. Gifts to the Lottie Moon offering are received through local Southern Baptist churches or online at imb.org, where there are resources to promote the offering. This year’s goal is $175 million.

Kevin Ezell is president of the North American Mission Board.

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) — If you take a look at one of our family photos, you’ll see we are a diverse bunch. We have six kids from four countries. John Michael (JM) became part of our family five years ago. I’ll never forget the first night after we picked him up from the orphanage in the Philippines.

As I put him to bed that first night, he did something I thought was very strange at the time. He made fists with both hands and pushed them against my cheeks. I had no idea what he was trying to communicate. Then he said, “I love you, dad.” It was the first time he had ever said that to me. So I told him, “I love you, too.”

“I will be a good son for you,” he told me. Five years later and I still get a lump in my throat when I think about that. The next morning, when he told me the same thing in the same serious tone, I realized something was wrong. He saw every day as an opportunity to earn my approval and earn the right to stay a part of my family. I told him right then that no matter what he did, he would always be a part of our forever family. That wouldn’t change no matter if his behavior was good or bad.

“Yes sir, but I will be a good son for you,” he responded.

What if you and I looked at our relationship with our Heavenly Father like JM looked at his relationship with me?

We don’t try to please God in order to earn our salvation, but we long to please God because of who He is. Because God has been so good to us in Christ, we give all we have to please Him.

You and I can strive for many different things in life. We can work for riches. We can pursue power. We can seek after fame. But because of who God is, there’s only one ambition in our life that really matters — that we obey and please our Heavenly Father.

Paul realized this. He said in Acts 20, “But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the Gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24, HCSB).

Nothing mattered more to Paul than obeying God’s call to share the Gospel of grace throughout the known world. You may long to be good at what you do for a living, to be the best engineer, the best lawyer, the best mechanic, the best doctor or the best stay-at-home mom you can possibly be. Those are fine ambitions.

But above all else you and I have been called to be a good son or daughter of the King because of who He is. Because of who He is we must obey God by going to the hard places on this continent — the large cities with so many people and so few churches — to tell people about Him.

But the lostness in North America is only a fraction of what it is worldwide. More than 3,100 unreached people groups are not being engaged with the Gospel by anyone. As we strive to be good sons and daughters of the King, only one ambition really matters in our life — to give all we have to make much of Jesus where He is not known.

This Christmas season will you obey your Heavenly Father and make reaching the nations your No. 1 priority, your top ambition?

No other ambition is worth your time, talents and treasures.

    About the Author

  • Kevin Ezell