Category Archives: Christianity

Wisdom and Understanding (Colossians)

In these days when lies are declared truth, and madness applauded as sanity, we need to be reminded of a few things.

Paul said:

My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. (2:2-4)

I, too, want to encourage you in heart and unite with you in love so that we can have complete understanding. I pray that we will know the mystery of God – Jesus! Because only in Jesus will we discover real wisdom and understanding.

And I, with Paul, want us to be grounded in the truth which is Jesus, so that we’ll recognize – and reject – the deceptive arguments being touted by the world’s authorities today. They not only speak lies, but they would make us feel guilty, intolerant, bigoted, selfish, and deplorable if we dare not go along with them in their lies. Can you see it?

Paul tells us who have received Christ as Savior to:

,,,continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (2:6-7)

We have to grow our roots deep in Him! We need to read His Word, spend time in prayer, intentionally walk with Him every moment of the day. We need to believe and hold on to what He has revealed to us in Scripture.

Then listen to this word of warning:

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. (2:8)

Who are you listening to?

Paul goes on. We need to clothe ourselves “with compassion, kindness humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (3:12-14)

We Christians should not be fighting amongst ourselves over petty grievances. The world needs to see what a difference Jesus makes in our lives. They don’t need to see us acting like them, or in some cases, worse than them!

Now why is this so important? Is it so you and I can get our ticket to heaven? Paul says this:

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (4:2)

What should we watch for? What do we have to be thankful for?

that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ... loudly and clearly! (from 4:2-4)

Paul encourages us to make the most out of every opportunity that comes our way to share Jesus with someone who is lost. Jesus is a mystery to those who don’t know Him. It’s up to us to help them solve the mystery by introducing them to the Savior.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (4:6)

People are believing the lies. Even some who call themselves Christians are falling for it. “A man is not a male unless he feels like a male.” “You can’t help who you love.” “Life begins with birth so that which is in the womb is not life.” “A woman should have say over what she does with her body.” “Truth is subjective.” “Faith is a crutch.” “All roads lead to heaven.” “God is love so He accepts everyone.”

LIES! But they are lies that have become a false truth to many. And woe to you who don’t agree with them.

I hope you’ll read Paul’s letter to the Colossians today. There is so much in here for us Christians in 2020. Let’s know what God has revealed in His Word, and let’s stand firm on that foundation. Let’s proclaim the Truth of Jesus loudly and clearly, and let’s never miss an opportunity to introduce a lost soul to their Savior.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (3:17)

What Are We Waiting For? (Acts 24-28)

You don’t have to wait until your life is in order before God can use you. Paul was imprisoned for years, not guilty of any crime. He was in chains because he preached the truth and people didn’t want to hear it. He went through storms, adrift at sea, and shipwrecked. His life was anything but orderly.

Yet Paul never missed a chance to share Jesus, no matter who his audience. Kings? Sailors? Jailors? Sick people? Heathen? Church leaders? Yes! No matter who they were, Paul was preaching the Gospel to them.

Paul was an overflowing vessel at God’s disposal, even though his life was a mess.

What are we waiting for? Until our kids are grown? Until we feel worthy? Until we are older and wiser? Until we get that promotion at work, or that college degree, or our health is better?

We can learn from Paul who, no matter his own circumstances, shared Jesus. He didn’t wait until he was free, or healthy, or safe. He had a mission every day: tell people the Good News of the Gospel.

Tell me again – what are we waiting for?

Prophesy Fulfilled? (Acts 20-23

Paul was warned that if he went to Jerusalem he would be arrested, bound, and imprisoned. He responded with this:

Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. (21:13)

Paul’s friends recognized the signs and warned Paul there was danger ahead. But Paul wasn’t interested in the signs. He was committed to the mission, focused on sharing the truth about Jesus – no matter what, signs or no signs.

Almost every day I hear or read something like : “Bible prophesy is being fulfilled! The end is near! We are living in the last days!” It seems to me many people have become so obsessed with connecting the dots. But what good is simply connecting the dots?

Paul didn’t deny the signs. But he didn’t waste time investigating the details, either. His focus was on sharing the Gospel for as long and as loudly as he was able.

I’m reminded the Church has been reading the signs since the day Jesus went back to live in heaven. Many people believed Hitler was the antichrist back in the 1940’s, and were sure Jesus’ return was on the immediate horizon. The truth is, there have been Bible prophesies fulfilled, probably every year since John’s vision we know as the book of Revelation. People – even Jesus’ own disciples – believed Jesus was coming back in their lifetime. The signs were there.

But here’s my question: if you are reading the signs of the times and are convinced that we are living in the last days on earth – how has that belief effected your life? How urgently are you telling people about Jesus? How focused are you in sharing the Gospel with people who are facing hell, while you still have time to tell them?

Because if you aren’t frantically warning sinners, I’m really not interested in your opinion about prophesy.

Don’t Destroy The Work Of God (Romans 14)

I’ve shared that there is an ongoing conflict in CEF with some people leaving the organization, others being fired from their positions. Even though I do not know the details of the core issue, it is not a theological issue. The Gospel of Jesus is not being compromised. Yet, I can say that I have not seen Romans 14:19 played out from either side.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

I am not their judge. But the Bible tells us we will be held accountable for our actions, especially in regards to the ministry of the Gospel. I ask you to be in prayer for all involved.

Now the split has trickled down to our local chapter. It hurts. Our once cohesive Board is divided and some are choosing to leave, others to stay with CEF and carry on the Good News Clubs in our district.

Yes, it hurts. But my prayer is that all of us on the Board will make every effort to do what leads to peace between us, and that we will encourage each other because we all have a passion for sharing Jesus with children.

Paul warns, in verse 20: “Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food.” Now, I know some people believe God’s work can’t be destroyed because He is Sovereign. I read the Bible and hear God’s warning through Paul and through the example of the Old Testament Israelites that God’s will is NOT always done if we get in the way.

Paul is talking about food. “Don’t let an insignificant issue like food harm the ministry,” he tells us. But I also hear him say, “Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of change, or pride, or power, or your need to be ‘right.'” It’s easy to get caught up in the emotion of the issue. I’ve had to fight anger myself these days. It’s tempting to view people with differing opinions as the enemy, and fight against flesh and blood.

“I’ll show them!”

“No one treats me that way!”

Don’t destroy the work of God because you think you’re not being heard, or because you want the other side to suffer in some way, to get what you think they deserve.

My church is in the middle of a building project. Churches have split over paint color. Let’s not destroy the work of God for the sake of a building’s aesthetics. Rather, let’s make every effort to bring peace, and to edify each other. (I’m not actually worried about this in my church. I’m so thankful for this congregation of people on this island who, with differing opinions, are still living out verse 19).

You don’t like the preacher in your church? Don’t destroy the work of God.

You don’t like the music? Don’t destroy the work of God.

You don’t like the amount of money given to missions? Don’t destroy the work of God.

Rather, do everything in your power to bring peace to the situation, and to encourage each other with the love of God.

And don’t think that means offering an olive branch will automatically get you what you want. People may never see things the way you see them in issues of administration, or design, or music, or pot-luck dinners, or wearing masks. Keep the peace anyway.

Don’t destroy the work of God.

Ministry Roadblock (2 Corinthians 9)

What do you do when ministry hits a roadblock? Does God ever cause division among His workers? If so, how do you know which side is right and which is wrong?

On matters of doctrine, the Truth of Scripture, Jesus the Savior, the side of right and wrong should be pretty obvious. In fact, divisions over these non-negotiables might be God’s way of weeding Satan out of our midst. But what about matters of opinion, preferences, administration styles, and the like? Can a division in ministry based on those be of God?

I would say absolutely not! I would say those kinds of divisions are Satan’s effective tools to weaken ministry. We need to know the difference and stand with God to protect the ministry, the furthering of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Please pray for me. I am part of a national ministry that has hit a roadblock because some people don’t like the leadership. Both sides, that of the established leadership and that of those who have rebelled, have valid complaints. And sadly, both sides are guilty of putting their opinions and, dare I say, pride and need for power ahead of the ministry. Neither side is willing to back down, and it has caused a division that is far-reaching, and threatens to effect ministry on the local level where I am involved.

Satan’s gotta be loving this. My heart is broken.

And I want to walk away.

But as I was reading Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians this morning, He seemed to put a “Dear Connie,” in front of 9:12-13.

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

I will be honest to tell you that I considered resigning in the midst of this. I resent being forced to take sides when both sides are obviously doing things that cannot please God. Yet God is reminding me that my service is to Him, that this ministry is still reaching lost souls for Jesus, that what is happening in leadership has not changed the message, and I have the privilege of carrying on regardless of what is happening on the local, state and national levels.

I want obedience to accompany my confession of the Gospel. I am determined that my work in this particular ministry will overflow with thanks to God. But I need your prayers, as does the entire CEF family. I believe God can change this roadblock into a bump in the road. That’s my prayer. Will you join me?

The Victory (I Corinthians 15)

Jesus lives. Many people saw Him die on the cross that day. His corpse was buried in a tomb and guarded by Roman soldiers. Yet three days later that tomb was empty, and hundreds of people saw the risen Jesus. They heard Him speak, they ate with Him, touched Him, and many people were there and saw Him rise up into heaven where He lives yet today.

Jesus lives. Now death is not the end of us who have accepted Jesus as our Savior. Oh, this old body will die some day unless Jesus comes back first. But in my physical death, this old body will be replaced with a spiritual body that I will enjoy forever.

Death and sin defeated, and remembered no more!

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (vs 57)

Use It! (I Corinthians 12-14)

Paul reminds me that being part of God’s Church isn’t like being a member of a country club or going to a matinee at the local theatre. Being part of a church means doing my part with the gifts and abilities God has given me.

It means working behind the scenes, or getting out there and teaching a Sunday School class. It means reaching out to visitors, or sitting quietly with a hurting brother or sister. It means being the Church, not just going to church.

I hope you’ll read this portion of Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth. I hope you’ll assess your abilities and talents, define what it is you enjoy doing. I hope you’ll discover your spiritual gifts God delights in giving His children.

Then I hope you will use what God has given you, and serve in your church fellowship in an orderly way, in a way that honors God and points people to the Savior. I hope you – and I – will be the Church God intends for us to be, His body with all the parts and pieces working together, reaching lost people for the glory of God.

Shouldn’t We All? (Acts 18)

I know we Christians believe in Jesus. We have faith that He is God, that He died on the cross as a substitution for us, taking on the penalty for our sin. We believe that He rose again and lives today. We believe that the Bible is true, and God is who He says He claims to be.

But are we ready to give an answer for the hope we have, in the faith we possess? Do we know WHY we believe, and can we defend what we know against someone who believes differently?

When Apollos went to Achaia, “he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.” (18:18, emphasis mine)

Shouldn’t we all be able to do the same?

No “I” (Galatians)

This past year I have been reading through God’s Word using my mother’s Bible. Mom went to live with Jesus in 1996, and I have had her Bible on my bookshelf for all these years. I always love reading God’s Word, but this year has been kind of special as I see what verses my mother underlined. Sometimes I see a verse she underlined and think, “Yeah. That sounds like Mom.” Other times I read something she underlined and wonder what was going on in her life at the time that prompted that particular verse to speak to her.

Mom underlined three passages in the book of Galatians, and I’d like to share them with you today. The first is 2:20.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

I no longer live.

A dead person has no goals, no plans or desires, no ego. Can I honestly say that describes me? Have I been crucified with Christ so that Connie no longer lives? That goes so contrary to the popular theme of the day, that “I” deserve, “I” need, “I” can, “I” am…

A dead man has no “I.” Do “I?”

Paul, understanding that there was still life in his body, explained how he could be a dead man walking: but Christ lives in me.

Jesus filled Paul’s body with HIS goals, plans, and desires, and Paul gladly offered his body to accomplish those things on Jesus’ heart. Paul had no ego. His life was no longer his, but Christ’s.

Paul also understood that life in this body comes with challenges. It is a constant battle with Satan. Paul explained in another verse my mother underlined, 5:16, how he could resist the temptations Satan threw his way:

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Paul didn’t say there wouldn’t be desires of the sinful nature. We are all tempted in some way or another. (think of the “I” mentality I spoke about earlier. The pull to gratify sinful desires is real.) But Paul knew that if the Spirit was directing him, the ability to resist those desires would be his as well.

The third passage Mom underlined was 5:24-26.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with the passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Crucifying that sinful nature can be a battle for me. Sometimes I feel like Paul in I Corinthians 15:31 because I, too, have to die daily. But I notice in this passage in Galatians, Paul gives me the key: keep in step with the Spirit. How? By spending time in God’s Word every day, praying for understanding and discernment, growing in grace and knowledge of Jesus, then I am able to keep in step with the Spirit who fills me.

These passages in Galatians highlight five things to me this morning:

  1. Crucified with Christ (is that true of me?)
  2. Christ in me (not just emptying myself, but replacing the “I” with Jesus)
  3. Live by the Spirit (being aware of His presence, making choices that He prompts me to make, spending time in God’s Word and in prayer every day)
  4. Belong to Christ (wow! I am His, and He is mine! Never alone. His precious child)
  5. Keep in step with the Spirit (I’m not emptied, then filled just to sit here and enjoy the ride. This part of these passages that spoke to my mother tells me the Spirit is on the move, and I better keep up!)

I’ve learned some things about my mother this year as I’ve read her Bible. But more importantly, I’ve learned some things about myself and my relationship with the Savior she loved.

My prayer is that today, I will not live. I pray that I will be a dead woman walking around with Jesus inside, my fingers touching the things He wants to touch, my feet going where He wants to go, my voice saying the things He wants to say. I pray that for you, too.

Astonished? Why? (Acts 11-12)

The believers were being persecuted. King Herod had arrested many, and even had Jesus’ disciple James, put to death because James preached about Jesus. Peter was arrested and was imprisoned with a death sentence over his own head.

Many believers got together to pray. We find them in the home of Mary the mother of John Mark, no doubt pleading with God during this scary time. We don’t read their words, but I imagine they prayed for God’s mercy, His protection, His will to be done in their situation. I imagine they prayed specifically for Peter, “God, please spare his life, undertake on his behalf, save him from Herod’s evil plan.”

While they were praying, they heard a knock on the door. Rhoda, a little servant girl, went and probably put her ear to the door. She whispered, “Who’s there?” Peter, no doubt with his own ear up to the door whispered back, “It’s me! Peter!”

Rather than opening the door and letting Peter into the house, Rhoda rushed back and interrupted the prayer meeting. “Peter is here,” she exclaimed. The praying believers responded:

“Impossible!”

“You’re crazy!”

“It must be his angel, which means they’ve killed him!”

Rhoda kept insisting, Peter kept knocking, until someone from the prayer group went to open the door and see for himself.

There stood Peter! Their prayers had been answered, but Scripture tells us they were astonished. They couldn’t believe their eyes, yet they had been praying for that very thing. There before them stood the answer to their prayers, yet they were astonished.

Jesus Himself had told them, “Have faith in God… Therefore I tell you whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:22,24)

Jesus also said, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.” (John 14:13-14)

I wonder how many times I have prayed to God for something, but somewhere in the back of my brain I don’t think He’ll answer that prayer. I know many people are praying these days that God will turn this country around, that people will return to God and that He will restore our land. But I wonder if we really believe He will.

I also wonder how many times God has answered a prayer of mine, and I was astonished to see it. Should it surprise me when God is faithful to His Word?

I am challenged today to pray believing. I am challenged to pray specifically for people and situations, to tell God what is really on my heart. I am challenged to trust Him with the outcome, and to be looking for His answer so I don’t miss it. And I am challenged to pray in His name, with the intent that the answer to my prayers would glorify Him and draw people to the cross.

I will pray, “God help us. God defeat Satan in our government, in our society, and in our churches and homes. God take away this virus. God heal the unrest, send a revival, open eyes and unite us as one nation under God.”

And I will be listening for that knock on the door, expecting God to hear and answer my prayers for Jesus’ sake and for His glory. Seeing answers to my prayers might blow me away, but I never want those answers to surprise me.