Tag Archives: sharing Christ

November 22; With Words and By Example

Acts 17:1-18:17; I Thessalonians 1:1-2:16

We know that Paul went from town to town sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We know that many people were saved as a result of his ministry. But we also know there were certain people determined to stop Paul in any way they could.

That’s why, when Paul was in Berea where the people receive the message with “great eagerness,” some men from Thessalonica showed up to stir things up. The Bible tells us they agitated the people to the point that the believers in Berea felt they needed to send Paul to the coast to get him out of harm’s way.

When Paul had been in Thessalonica, many people believed and were saved. A church was started in that town. But there was also a contingent of people from there whose goal it was to make life miserable for anyone who believed in Jesus. And they weren’t just satisfied with opposing the Gospel at home, they tried to stop Paul’s ministry in Berea, too.

That’s the context as my chronological reading plan has me reading Paul’s letter to the church in Thessalonica today. Paul talks about the suffering the Thessalonian Christians endured from their own countrymen, the strong opposition they faced.

But Paul also speaks about their work produced by faith, their labour prompted by love, and their endurance inspired by hope in the Lord (from I Thessalonians 1:2). I think that is awesome.

If you are discouraged in your witness for Jesus because you are faced with opposition, or even apathy, let me encourage you to read Paul’s letter to a people who knew exactly what that was like. Let the words God breathed into Paul strengthen you as you continue to share the Lord’s message.

Who knows? You may become a model to all believers in your town; the Lord’s message may ring out from you as your faith in God becomes known. (see I Thessalonians 1:7-8)

It’s not only words God uses to speak the Truth, although people need to hear the words in order to be saved. Your life, your faith, your example can also be used by God to point people to their need of the Savior.

So let’s keep speaking the Truth, sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And let our actions speak as loudly, our faith ring out the message that Jesus saves.

May 3; It’s Your Turn

Psalms 21, 51, 103; 2 Samuel 12:24-31, 8:2-8, 23:20a; I Chronicles 11:22a, 18:2-8

David’s guilt over his sin with Bathsheba, and the death of his son, seems to have paralyzed him for a time. Joab led the army into battle against Rabbah the Ammonite, and won a great victory. Then he sent a message to David, telling him in effect to get back to work.

The first thing that strikes me about this is that Joab could have turned this victory around and exalted himself. But he didn’t.

Along with that, I am reminded that fighting God’s enemy is not a one man job, nor is it about gaining notoriety for ourselves. We are an army, each with gifts and responsibilities working together to accomplish God’s goal.

God’s goal.

I love that Joab went about caring out his own responsibilities, and that he confronted David for not doing his own. I love this picture that demonstrates that God has given each of us a job to do, one of which is holding each other accountable.

I remember Dad telling stories about being a Marine in WWII. He said it was frustrating when a Marine wasn’t doing his job. That one man, not pulling his weight, made it harder for the others to do their jobs, and often put a whole platoon in danger.

You are that important in our war against Satan.

Let me just say that if you are attending church on Sunday, and that’s all you do the rest of the week, it’s time you start pulling your weight. Your uninvolvement in this battle makes it harder for the rest and, frankly, puts the mission of the Church in jeopardy.

Let’s muster the troops – all of us who know Jesus as our Savior – and win this war. Let’s all of us be obedient to do the things God asks of us. Let’s get off our couches and get out there and talk to people about their Savior, ministering to the needs of people who need Him. Your pastor can’t do it all.

He’s not supposed to.

The reality is that other soldiers in God’s army have planted seeds. God is working in the hearts of sinners even right this minute. A battle or two have been won by others.

Now it’s your turn.

February 27; Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

Numbers 3:1-4:33

I find it significant that when God told Moses to take a census of the eleven tribes of Israel, they were instructed to count all the men twenty and older who were able to serve in the army. Now, when God gave the order to count the Levites, they were to count every male a month old and older.

Obviously, little children were not given jobs for the care of the Tabernacle, any more than the children from the other tribes were expected to go to war. So why count babies at all?

(Side note: in our current climate where murdering babies is applauded, let me remind all of us that life is a gift from God, and every life is precious to Him, and should be to us. God forgive us for what is happening in this country.)

The children born to the Levite clan were going to grow up to be priests, to carry on the work of their fathers as the spiritual leaders of Israel. And I believe they were counted as infants for a reason.

Proverbs 22:6 tells us to train up our children in the truth, in the way they should go. I don’t think it’s ever too early to teach your children the difference between right and wrong. I don’t think a child is ever too young to recognize sin, and experience consequences for sin. I believe children should experience what repentance and forgiveness feel like before they realize their need to go to their Heavenly Father for the same. And I don’t think a child is too young to be used by God in leading someone to the Savior.

A friend of mine shared about a little boy who was standing in the checkout line with his mom at the grocery. The cashier began entering prices into the register, and packing the groceries in bags when the little boy asked her, “Is your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life?”

The cashier burst into tears. Uncontrolled weeping caught the attention of everyone around, including the manger who quickly came and took the cashier aside. The mom and boy followed.

Right there, in that grocery store, the cashier prayed to receive what Jesus died to give her. And so did the manager!

Out of the mouths of babes.

I think God made a distinction between the census of the eleven tribes and that of the Levites for a reason. A child is too young to wield a sword in battle. But when he is older, he must become a warrior. There will be battles to fight.

But a child is never too young to wield the Sword of the Spirit. We must be teaching our children about God, reading to our children from the Bible, talking to our children about God, leading our children to God’s saving grace, and equipping our children to share Jesus with others. Because God can use a child as much as He can use you and me.

 

2 Chronicles 29-32; You Are Invited

King Hezekiah did some house cleaning. He not only rid the temple of any pagan worship, he re-established worship of the One True God. Many Jews tirelessly worked to restore what had been lost due to the disobedience of former kings, and the Jewish ancestors who followed them.

A couple of things stood out to me as I read these chapters this morning. One is the Passover feast was delayed because the priests had not done what they needed to do to consecrate themselves for the work of the Lord. The church leaders seem to have been dragging their feet. Why, when so many Jews were tearing down idols, and getting the temple ready for worship? Why didn’t the priests get ready, too?

We can only guess. Maybe they were working with the people, restoring the temple and just lost track of time. Maybe they were holding off to see how far this transformation would go before it got stopped in its tracks. Maybe they were reluctant to let go of their own idolatry. What we do know is, King Hezekiah was not fooling around. And he did not let the priests off the hook. They eventually went through the consecration requirements so the Passover could be held.

It makes me wonder if, on occasion, our church leaders might not be dragging their feet, too. Even pastors and elders get comfortable. Even pastors and elders can have sin in their lives they aren’t confessing. Could this be one of the reason so many churches in our country are closing their doors?

Now before we start pointing fingers and laying blame, the other thing I noticed is that when the invitation to come to celebrate the first Passover observed in years, some people blew it off and even made fun of the ones who brought the good news. Maybe they thought observing Passover was “old school”, or maybe someone used the word “tradition”, so they turned up their noses.

Once again it would seem the people had become comfortable in their sin, and weren’t about to change. Well, some of them felt that way.

But a large crowd did gather in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Sacrifices for sin were offered, and God was worshiped like He demands. Thousands of animals were slain, and the feast was extended an additional week. The peoples’ hearts were turned to God, and God blessed them for it.

I can’t help but think of the ones who refused the invitation. Did they care that they were missing God’s blessings? Did it occur to them that they were disobeying God? They received the same invitation everyone else received. They just didn’t accept.

I come away from reading these chapters today with a realization that I have the responsibility and the privilege to extend God’s invitation to the people in my world to come and worship Him. I must first ready myself for the work of the Lord. I need to address sin in my own life, I must allow God to clothe me with Jesus’ righteousness. And I must yield myself to His will, trusting that He will be my strength in the mission.

Then I need to get out there and deliver the invitation, regardless what people might think of me. Yes, I believe Jesus is God in human form, that God has established only one way in which we may come to Him, that Jesus died to pay what my sins demand, and that I am saved completely and eternally through the precious blood of Jesus. It is a gift of God, it’s grace, and it’s mine from a repentant heart.

You might think that’s old school, that you are enlightened so therefore have a more inclusive approach to God. You might snicker and roll your eyes when I tell you you are a sinner in need of a Savior, that your eternal soul will experience the worst possible pain beyond imagine if you refuse the invitation God is extending to you. You might even write me off as a lunatic when I tell you your decision concerning Christ is the single most important thing in your life now and forever.

But I’ll extend the invitation anyway. I pray you’ll join us in worshiping God as His child, saved by grace.

Judges 4-5; Too Religious?

Have you ever stopped yourself from speaking about the Lord in a conversation, because you didn’t want to sound too religious? What does being “too religious” even mean? And why wouldn’t we want everyone we meet to recognize the fact that we walk with God?

The song Deborah and Barak sang after their victory over Sisera is full of joyful praise, unashamed devotion to the One True God. He had done great things for Israel. And they were singing His praises!

God is still doing great things. Shouldn’t my praise of Him be as bold? I like how the song ends:

But may they who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength. (5:31)

I want to wake up every day, eager to shine God’s light on the world. I want to represent Him to a lost world, with unabashed devotion. No apologies. No hesitation.

That old sun comes over the horizon every day and takes over, the darkness has no strength against it. I’m pretty sure the sun never worries about shining too brightly. Why should I?

So if someone thinks I’m too religious because of my love for the Lord, praise God!

Numbers 15-16; Into The Midst

Many of the Israelites don’t seem to be very nice people. It didn’t take much for them to band together against Moses and Aaron in rebellion. Some of them even convinced themselves that the whole lot of them were holy, so who did Moses think he was, anyway? (This was after God pronounced judgment on them for their sin of disbelief. Not sure how holy they thought they were then.)

Even after God opened up the earth and swallowed the ring leaders, then sent fire to consume 250 rebels who were offering incense and dishonoring the priesthood, some of the Jews continued their vendetta against Moses and Aaron. I can’t believe their nerve.

THE NEXT DAY the whole Israelite community accused Moses and Aaron of killing the Lord’s people! Not sure how they thought Moses arranged an earthquake and a fireball from heaven without 2017 technology. But these people were actually saying Moses and Aaron were guilty of murder.

Once again, when faced with unfair treatment, Moses and Aaron fell on their faces. They went to God. They didn’t even try to defend themselves against the accusations.

God said, No worries. I’ll take care of these troublemakers. I’ll send a plague and kill them all!

What did Moses and Aaron do in response? They didn’t high five each other and stand back and watch their enemies suffer for being mean to them. They hurried to make atonement for the people.

They wanted God to forgive them! In fact, Aaron ran INTO THE MIDST of his accusers and stood in the gap between the living and the dead.

He saved their lives!

God is calling us to do the same. You might be mistreated for being a Christian. People around you might be talking about you, spreading rumors, accusing you. Your coworkers might be unfair. Some people in our world fear for their lives just because they follow Jesus.

How are we to respond? By standing in the gap. We have the Truth, the only means of salvation. We stand between someone’s eternal life and eternal death. Sure, they might want to be our enemy. But God loves them. And He just might want us to get in there and tell them that, to introduce them to the Savior.

Dear God, send me into the midst of those who would mistreat me. And may You find me faithfully standing in the gap, sharing your Gospel, leading people to the only One who can save, regardless of what they do to me. 

December 13 – You Are Out Of Your Mind

Acts 24-26

Paul is defending himself against the lies accusing him of crimes. He went from one courtroom to another and spoke before High Priests, governors, and kings. He was imprisoned for two years. But his story never changed. Paul stayed true to his faith in Jesus.

After repeating his defenses before Festus, the governor shouted, “Paul, you are out of your mind! Your great learning is driving you mad.”

Scripture tells us spiritual truth is foolishness to those who don’t know God. It sounds crazy to believe some virgin girl gave birth after being impregnated by God. It sounds ridiculous to believe anyone could grow up without ever doing anything wrong, or live after dying on a cross. It’s foolish to believe all those men over thousands of years could write God’s Truth, and that scribes could copy it without compromising that Truth. It sounds wrong to say Jesus is the only Truth, or that He’s coming again.

I feel like God is asking me if people have reason to think I’m out of my mind. Or do I keep what I know is true to myself? Paul talked about his faith over and over again, and didn’t care what people thought of him because of it.

God, I pray that I will be faithful to share Your Truth today, regardless of what anyone thinks of me. May I share Jesus with love, and confidence, and passion like Paul did. And may people be drawn to You because of my testimony.