Monthly Archives: November 2013

November 23

I Thessalonians 2:17-5:28; II Thessalonians 1:1-12

Do you get excited when you read what Paul says to the Thessalonians about Jesus’ Second Coming? I do! The shout of the archangel and a trumpet blast. Jesus himself appearing in the clouds. My parents, grandparents, my nephew and others who died knowing Christ as their Savior will come out of their graves! And we will all meet Jesus in the air, “and so we will be with the Lord forever.”

That’s why we who know Christ do not grieve like those who have no hope. We know that once this life is over, life is not over. Once this life is over the person who has accepted Jesus as Savior really begins to live. 

I, for one, look forward to that day. And I think it would be incredible to still be walking this earth when it happens. Leaving the cares of this world behind would be a welcomed relief.

But I don’t pray for that day to happen soon. My prayer is that Christians will step up our game, that the Holy Spirit will find us willing and useful vessels through which he can continue to draw all men to God. Shame on us if we want to take the easy way out. Instead, we need to strap on the armor and get out there into the battle. There are still people who need the Savior and unless they accept him, they will go to hell.

Oh that our neighbors and friends shared the same hope we have.

Dear Jesus, we who know you look forward to the day when we will meet you in the air. We long for the moment when we can look into your eyes, when we can sing your praises face to face. But, Lord, we also know you are not willing that any of our neighbors and friends should perish without you. So I pray for your children today. May we do the work you’ve called us to. May your Holy Spirit empower us to be your voice to lost souls. Prepare hearts to meet you today. And may we be faithful to share the Good News of Jesus with them. Tarry, Lord. There are still people who need the Savior.

November 22

Acts 17:1-18:17; I Thessalonians 1-2

Witnessing, sharing our faith, giving our testimony, talking about the Lord is hard for most of us. Most of us did not go to a Bible College or go through a “how to” course on sharing the Gospel. We fumble over our words and forget the chapter and verse of the Scripture we want to use. We are so afraid we’re going to sound like fools we convince ourselves to say nothing.

Yet we are commanded by Jesus to go into all the world and preach the Gospel!

Paul was a master soul-winner and we can learn so much by studying him. Look at how he talked to the Greeks in Athens. He started the conversation with what they already knew. They worshiped lots of gods and in fact, just to cover their bases, worshiped “an unknown god”. Paul acknowledged that, then said – let me tell you about that unknown God because I just happen to know him!

Sometimes I think we believe sharing Jesus has to be a three point sermon. I know there are some who are saved in evangelistic services or at the kitchen tables when a stranger knocks on their door and comes to tell them about salvation. But I believe most people accept Christ as a result of someone who is invested in them. Who gets to know them, spends time with them and talks to them on their level of understanding. 

What is it your friend already knows about Christ? Start there. If God has nudged you toward speaking to your friend, he is already working in this dear one’s heart. Let God give you the words and trust him to use those words to draw this friend to himself.

Father, I pray that you would nudge each of us toward a loved one, neighbor, co-worker, or friend who’s heart you are readying to hear the Gospel. May each of us be faithful to reach out to this person, to listen to them and encourage them. Then when you open the door for us to put our faith into words, I pray that we will allow you to give us the words! Help us to see the people in our world like you do. And give us a loving boldness to tell them about your Son, our Savior… and theirs’.

November 21

Acts 15&16

Paul and his new partner Silas traveled from city to city sharing the gospel and encouraging believers. Barnabas and Mark took off in another direction to do the same. God turned the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas into two missionary teams and the gospel reached twice as many towns. Satan may have thought he could stop the gospel by causing a rift. God turned it around for his glory.

Satan doesn’t always use anger or tragedy to fight against Christians. His weapon isn’t always persecution. Often he is much more subtle. He knows Jesus. He can quote Scripture. And sometimes Satan sounds like a Christian.

When Paul and Silas were trying to conduct evangelistic meetings, a demon possessed girl followed them everywhere. The demon within her caused her to repeatedly shout, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” Satan didn’t prompt the girl to make fun of them, argue with them, insult them. She sounded like a believer, yet Paul recognized it as Satan and demanded the demon leave the girl in the name of Jesus.

Friend, do you recognize Satan when he comes disguised as the angel of light? I don’t care if it’s something you hear from a Bible teacher, a friend, a preacher, or a blogger. Test it with Scripture. It doesn’t matter if it sounds Christian. Don’t accept it unless you can prove it true by God’s Holy Word. I am burdened for believers especially these days when so many ungodly things are being preached on TV and in local pulpits. The politically correct doctrines some would have us believe cannot be from God because they contradict Scripture. Taking a verse out of context doesn’t make it right. Sin is sin. And the wages of sin is death. Jesus is the only way to the Father and he IS the Truth! 

Let’s defeat Satan by being in God’s Word every day, by committing to memory verses God makes jump out at us, by thinking about what we hear, and praying that God would reveal his Truth to us every minute. And let’s demand of those who are teaching in our churches, our schools, and in the media that they stay true to Scripture. Period.

Dear God, I pray for believers today. May we not accept everything we hear as from you. But may we test it according to your written Word. Thank you for the Bible. I pray that each of us will realize the treasure we have right in our homes. May we use it, love it, study it so that we can recognize Satan’s attacks and lies. Then, God, give us a boldness to speak the Truth in love. 

November 20

Galatians 4:8-6:18

What does it mean to be free in Christ? Did Jesus erase the law when he died on the cross? Are the things that were considered sin in the Old Testament no longer sinful? 

Paul explains that because Jesus took on himself the penalty of sin we are no longer justified by following the law. Forgiveness for sin no longer requires slashing the throat of a cow. Salvation comes through the blood of Jesus and is ours for the asking.

But, Paul says, evidence of this work is played out in obedience. Sin is still sin. He tells us not to indulge in the sinful nature, rather serve and love each other. Paul lists acts of the sinful nature in 5:19-21. Among those are sexual immorality, jealousy, drunkenness, and hatred and people who live like that will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But he also says, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. People who have the Spirit of the Living God just naturally live like that. It’s as natural as an apple tree bearing apples.

Who wouldn’t want to live being filled with the those fruit of the Spirit? Aren’t those the things most people are looking for in this life? Dear one, we are free to choose that life! We are free to choose Jesus.

Father, once again I thank you for what Jesus did on the cross when he took on himself the penalty for my sin. Help me to recognize sin and flee from it. May I be quick to confess sin in my life and may I be filled with your Holy Spirit so that I will bear that precious fruit. Not only will my life be better, but I can reach out and help others, too. May I bear fruit for your kingdom today.

November 19

Galatians 1:1-4:7

Don’t you love reading Paul’s letters? They are filled with a grass-roots look at the Christian life and encouragement to meet that life head-on! He certainly was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, was he?

When I read things like what he wrote in his letter to the Galatians I wonder why so many of us still consider the flesh and blood nation of Israel as chosen for some special treatment by God. I appreciate how Paul explains it when he reminds us God’s promise to Abraham concerned Abraham’s Seed. Not seeds. One person who is Christ (3:10). 3:7&8 say anyone who believes are children of Abraham. 3:26-29 emphasize the fact that God does not recognize any difference between Jew and Gentile, male and female. We are all heirs according to the promise when we believe in Christ.

God revealed his plan first to a Jew. He chose that man’s physical family to reveal God to the world until the Seed was born. Now it’s our turn to show God to our neighbors and friends and go across the ocean if God calls us. 

I know there are Scripture that suggests the flesh and blood nation of Israel is still set apart. But it doesn’t even suggest such here in Paul’s letter. In fact, Paul says plainly that all believers are members of the nation of Israel, heirs, children of Abraham. It has nothing to do with the nationality of our parents. It has everything to do with our response to Jesus.

You know what these amazing verses mean to me? God doesn’t love anyone more than he does me. God isn’t more interested in anyone else’s eternal soul more than he is in mine. I am the apple of his eye. And so are you if you know Christ as your Savior.

Dear God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and me. Thank you for Jesus and his obedience to your will. Thank you that his work on the cross allowed me to be adopted into your chosen family. Thank you that anyone who comes to you believing becomes heirs of the promise. And thank you for loving me so completely. May I live my life honoring you, my Father. And may others see Jesus in me.

November 18

Acts 13:1-14:28

I grew up in a church of a denomination that was formed with a wonderful emphasis on missions. We often had missionaries in our pulpit and the Missions Conference was something I looked forward to every year. A week of evening services, colorful flags from countries around the world decorating the sanctuary, slide shows from the mission fields, singing those great hymns about missions, and international dinners! I loved it all.

I know mission work has drawn criticism of late. How dare we impose our western religion on these innocent people? And if you tell them Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one goes to the Father except through him, well – that can really get the critics going!

When Paul talked to the people in Lystra who mistook him for one of their gods, he told them that in the past God let all nations go their own way. “Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” (Acts 14:16-17) He told them they needed to turn from their worthless gods and put their faith in the living God.

When the people heard this they stoned Paul and left him for dead. Paul pulled himself up and you know what he did? He went back into the city. Why? Because he knew those people were lost without Jesus.

That’s the bottom line. People need the Lord. They are going to hell without him. Is God calling you to serve him in a foreign land? Go! Is he asking you to take the Gospel to the homeless people in your city? Do it! What about the inmates at your local prison? They need Jesus, too. Has God laid on your heart their eternal souls? Be obedient to the call.

If you really believe that Jesus is the answer, then you need to ask yourself what you are willing to do about it, where are you willing to go to share the Truth of the Savior. Paul was faithful to his calling. I pray the same can be said for each of us.

Heavenly Father, what would you say to each of us today? Is there somewhere you want us to go to share the good news of Jesus Christ? Are there remote villages full of people who have never heard? Are there large cities full of busy people who don’t give Jesus a second thought? Would you want us to go into the prisons or into the streets of our own towns to introduce lost souls to the Savior? Forgive our excuses, Lord. May we set aside our hesitations and trust you. If you call, you will also lead. May you find us faithful.

November 17

James 4:1-5:20; Acts 11:19-12:25

I hope you read the book of James. There is a wealth of information in each verse. It’s a practical guide book for living the Christian life. It truly is a light to our way.

What are you looking for? Is it health or wealth or success or is it answers to life, strength to meet hardships? Read 4:7-10 and find the answer to having the most extraordinary life. Let James talk to you about God’s will in 4:13-17, about priorities in 5:1-9, about hardships and prayer in 5:10-18. I hope you’ll read and re-read this book and let God speak to you about your walk with him.

In 5:20 James sums up why we live this Christian life in the first place. “remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

Are you turning sinners from sin? Do you have the wisdom that comes from God and is your life an example of holiness? It’s why God doesn’t take us to heaven the moment we ask Jesus to come into our hearts. While you have life and breath you have a mission. 

May we be faithful to that mission and introduce someone to their Savior today.

Dear Savior, thank you for inspiring your servant to write the words we read the last couple of days. May your children take to heart the things you are saying to us. May we be the people described here. And may our lives represent your holiness. Then, Father, give us opportunity to share the good news of Jesus with a sinner who needs turned around.