Tag Archives: sharing Jesus

Despite Their Fear (Ezra 1-3)

Have you ever considered the possibility that we in the US have become a nation of whiney, angry victims? We’ve become reactionaries, emotional cripples, entitled, tantrum-throwing thugs. And a world that once envied and admired us, now looks at us as people to be pitied, or at least as the biggest joke ever.

It’s hard to take a stand for the Truth when that stand could offend someone who lashes out verbally, or even physically. People have been killed for wearing a hat someone didn’t like. To disagree is to invite violence.

So what are we to do? The Truth we as Christians possess is an offensive message. If we are to share the Gospel, we are to show people their need of a Savior, point out sin in their lives, help them realize they are without hope unless they conform to the demands of God.

Them’s fighting words.

Some people, in light of the present climate, seem to think silence is the answer. Keep your faith to yourself, let others believe what they want to believe, stay under the radar. Other people appear to be going along with the crowd rather than ruffle feathers; be tolerant, be loving, be accepting of all beliefs, don’t offend by calling things like abortion or homosexuality sin.

But what does God want us to do? Jesus Himself warned that we would be hated for following Him, and reminded us that they hated Him first. Jesus didn’t tell us to change the message, or to keep the message to ourselves.

GO!

Make disciples.

The Jews had been commissioned to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. The only ones glad about that, however, were the Jews. The opposition tried to discourage, threaten, and intimidate the Jews out of completing their mission. But look at what God tells us in Ezra 3:3,

Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices.

The Jews didn’t fight back. They didn’t get into Tweet wars. They simply carried on with what they knew they were to do – and they did it openly and honestly. I think God would have us do the same.

Christian, let’s continue to build God’s Church by revealing God to those around us, by sharing the Gospel no matter how afraid we are that it will offend. Let’s continue to worship God in spirit and truth, and to love our neighbors enough to talk about the hard things.

Despite our fears.

Who Are You? (Jeremiah 9)

Who are you? When you are introducing yourself to someone you want to impress, what kinds of things do you want them to know? Do you tell them about your career? Your accomplishments? Do you talk about your health, your intellect, your bank account? When you are trying to put your best foot forward, who are you?

Listen to what God says in verses 23 and 24:

This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.

When you are talking about yourself, does the conversation revolve around you or do you turn the attention on God? Do you talk about what you’ve done, or what He has done in your life? When people describe you, do they describe you as smart, funny, ambitious, accomplished? Or do they describe you as someone who knows God?

Just wondering today, who are you?

 

You Can’t Have Children (Hosea)

When I started to read the book of Hosea today, my mind went immediately to the Church in 2020. It’s easy to see the connection between Israel and the Church; blessed yet unfaithful, ignoring God’s laws yet claiming to be His children.

But I didn’t get very far before I felt God nudge me. “I have something to say to you today, Connie, about your own walk with Me. This is not about “them.” I’m talking to you.”

Reading Hosea’s words is not fun when you look at it like that. It speaks to me about my own fickleness. It points out my tendency to listen to other voices besides God’s, to get along with the world rather than obeying Him. I remember times I sowed “the wind and reap(ed) the whirlwind.” There is a lot, sadly, in the lives of the Jews during Hosea’s time that I can see in me.

But what stood out to me this morning is found in 9:11-13. Verse 10 is such a tender expression of love. I hear God say that when He looks at me it’s like finding a grape in the desert, early fruit on a fig tree. It’s that “apple of His eye” thing. God adores me.

But then He challenges my commitment to Him. Israel flat out worshiped Baal. I don’t flat out deny God. Yet there are times when I don’t block out the call of the world, times when I might ignore a sin, or rationalize a sin (which are forms of idolatry and adultery in my relationship with Him).

And God tells me if that is the case, my glory will fly away. No births, no pregnancy, no conception.

No problem! I’m way beyond child-bearing years. But that’s not what He’s talking about. And what He is talking about should drive me to my knees.

God is speaking to me about spiritual children, those I could introduce to their Savior.  Read this chapter in that light and I think it will break your heart.

I have known women who long for children, who go to desperate measures to conceive. And I’ve seen the agony when time after time, their greatest desire is not realized. I’ve seen the crushing blow hit when they are told they will never have their own children. It’s a pain that is often inconsolable.

Now God is telling me I’ll never have children. If I allow my relationship with Him to weaken, my glory, my ability to shine the light of Jesus will fly away, and I will not have any part in the salvation of another soul. Does my reaction to that news mirror that of a woman unable to conceive a child? Am I inconsolably devastated at the idea of never leading someone to Jesus?

I should be. And so should you.

Do You Hear It? (Isaiah 27)

Isaiah continues to talk about God’s judgment on sin. But he also reminds us God will protect His children from the outcome His enemies will face. I love this picture:

“Sing about a fruitful vineyard: I, the Lord, watch over it; I water it continually. I guard it day and night so that no one may harm it.” (2b-3a)

I am part of that vineyard, God’s Church, through the blood of Jesus. God says He protects it, waters it, guards it against harm. I know that a healthy vineyard goes through pruning, and harvest, and that’s not always comfortable. But God assures us He’s got our backs even when we face the trails of life. It gives me such peace to know the One who cares for me.

Then God says something that I need to remember. Listen to verse 4:

“I am not angry. If only there were briers and thorns confronting me! I would march against them in battle; I would set them all on fire.”

This verse should terrify some. God will pass judgment on anything and anyone who tries to harm His Church. And it will not be a gentle tap on the wrist. The idea of God going to battle against anyone, or condemning someone to that fire should throw fear into hearts. But God is not motivated by anger. He is motivated by love, and here’s how I know that:

“Or else let them come to me for refuge; let them make peace with me, yes, let them make peace with me.” (verse 5)

Do you hear God’s heart? I do. God’s will is that no one die without Him. He WANTS everyone to come to Him, to accept what He died to give. He WANTS to protect and defend and nurture and ultimately to spend eternity with each and every one of us.

Some people will go to hell. But that’s not what God’s heart wants.

Do you hear the tenderness in verse 5? He says He will destroy His enemies, but He’d would rather not. “Let them make peace with me.”

Have you ever heard the words, “I love you,” from that special person in your life? Those three words can bring such joy when you know the sentiment is true. What happens then, when that special someone repeats those precious words a second time? Maybe slower, softer, emphasizing each word?

“I love you. I. Love. You.”

That’s what I hear in God’s voice as He said these words in verse 5, as He talks about people who position themselves as His enemies. As He readies to go to war against them, to mete out that final judgment, His heart still cries out:

“Make peace with me. Oh, make peace with me!”

Is there someone I know who needs to make peace with God? May I hear the anguish in the heart of my Savior as He pleads with them to come to Him. May I be faithful to tell them how they can do exactly that, to introduce them to the Savior who loves them so much.

But sharing Jesus isn’t just about helping someone avoid hell. It’s about hearing God’s heart. Do you hear it?

 

 

Do You, or Don’t You? (Proverbs 26)

Solomon has a lot to say about fools and what our response should be toward them. In Psalm 14, Solomon’s father King David described a fool as one who says there is no God. So, believing Solomon must have learned from his dad, I’m going with that definition of “fool” rather than merely someone who does stupid things.

If you are reading chapter 26 and get to verses 4-5, and if you are like me you’d probably have to stop and question what you see there. Do you, or don’t you, “answer a fool (one who denies God) according to his folly?”

This morning I’ve sat here and thought about these two seemingly contradictory verses, prayed that God would give me understanding, and dug through some commentaries to see what others have said about it. As a result, I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer to the question, “Do you or don’t you?” is “Yes.”

The difference is the fool himself.

You know the person who loves to debate, finds a platform to expound an opinion every chance he gets, the person who loves to hear himself (or herself) speak. Most of the time it doesn’t take long to figure out if this person is genuinely interested in having a conversation, or is intent on having an argument. If the latter is true, that person is not ready to hear the Truth. Solomon would tell us to walk away if all he wants is to bait you into a war of words. Walk away rather than stooping to his level of meaningless dribble. He doesn’t even know how foolish he sounds. Don’t be like him.

However, if someone is expressing the foolish notion that there is no God, or that the Bible isn’t true, or that Jesus isn’t the Savior, and you feel the Holy Spirit nudging you to speak up, you need to obey. If you ignore the nudge and stay silent, that person will walk away thinking his foolishness is true. If this person is sincerely seeking answers, and you don’t share what you know is true, you will have lost an opportunity to share the Gospel. You will have disobeyed.

I pray all of us are ready to give an answer for the hope we have in Jesus. I pray that the Gospel is never far from our thoughts and that we are eager to share the Good News with anyone and everyone. Our world needs Jesus. Let’s be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, let’s not get caught up in word wars or argumentative encounters. But let’s be quick to lead a sinner to his or her Savior as God gives us opportunity.

So, do you or don’t you share the Gospel? Yes! May God give us the wisdom to know when to speak up and when to remain silent. And may He be glorified in our response to the fool who says He doesn’t exist.

December 19; Be Prepared

I Peter 2:13-5:14; Jude 1:1-6

When was the last time someone asked you to give the reason for the hope you have in Jesus? Some of you will answer that you had that opportunity yesterday. Others might have to confess it’s been a while – if ever. Why is that?

God is asking me today if people even know I’m a Christian without me saying anything. Do I stand out in a crowd by being joyful, content, kind, caring, willing to serve, truthful…? If the only thing people know about me is that I go to church, is that enough reason for them to ask me about the hope I have in Jesus? A lot of people go to church, and still have no hope.

Paul tells us to always be prepared for people to ask us about Jesus. I don’t think that just means reading your Bible and praying every morning – although I hope that is the first thing you do before stepping onto the battle field every day.

I’m thinking we prepare to share Jesus by the choices we make, the life we live, the words we say. If we wear His name, can people see Christ in us? Or do we look like everyone else in the crowd?

If people see Jesus in us, they’ll naturally want to know more about Him, because what we have with Jesus is so much better than what anyone has without Him. Do they see that in us? Are we an enigma in a world of distrust, anger, discontent, depression, and immorality? We should be.

If you call yourself a Christian I can guarantee someone is watching you to see if your hope is real. Let’s determine to prepare ourselves to show them it is, and to tell them how they can have the same hope in the Savior

 

December 12; Prison Ministry

Acts 28:11-31; Ephesians 1-2

I thought the wheels of justice turned slowly in our twenty-first century. Seems they didn’t move much faster in Paul’s day. He was arrested, sent to Rome for trial, then sat there for two years as a prisoner, waiting for his day in court.

I am reminded that Paul was truly an innocent man. What they did to him was unfair. It was just wrong on every level. But Paul didn’t let his situation paralyze him.

His prison was actually a house. His roommate was a prison guard. And Paul was able to entertain people in his prison/home. For two years Paul’s house was filled with people, and the preaching of the Truth about Jesus. For two years Paul wrote letters like the one we started reading today to the Ephesian church. Two thousand years later God’s words through Paul are still encouraging and convicting hearts.

Paul had an incredible prison ministry.

Too often I let the unfairness of life, or hardships prevent me from sharing Jesus. Those pity parties replace the joy that is mine from having my sins forgiven, and the Spirit of God living in me. Too often I let what is happening to me effect who I am, what kind of ministry I can have for Jesus’ sake. I end up letting circumstances paralyze me.

Paul didn’t make that same mistake. And I want to follow Paul’s example.

Do you think you are in some kind of prison? Poor health, financial struggles, relationship problems, situations that make life difficult as a result of your own choices, or as the victim of someone else’s?

Then ask yourself what kind of ministry you can have. Let’s not let our struggles, or the unfairness of life prevent us from making a difference for Jesus’ sake. You might be missing a fabulous prison ministry right there in your own home.

December 1; References

2 Corinthians 2:5-6:18

I imagine most of us have had to supply references at one time or another. Job applications, college admission forms, rental agreements. I’m in the process of joining a gun club and need three people who will vouch for me.

Maybe you’ve agreed to be a reference for someone. On what did you base your recommendation? You probably had to say how long you’ve known the person, and in what capacity. As someone close enough to know that person, you might have had to give your opinion on his or her character.

Paul, in chapter 3 is talking about letters of recommendation, and he said the Corinthians themselves were his letter. Look at verses 2-3:

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Isn’t that beautiful? Isn’t that also convicting?

When people are considering what you have to offer them in Jesus, who is it they look to for a recommendation? What does your relationship with your spouse say about your relationship with the Savior?

How do the people at work see the Holy Spirit lived out in the way you do your job, the way you treat your co-workers? Can they say you are honest, hard working, kind, generous, loving? Or do they see you as miserable as they?

How about your neighbors? Can they recommend your witness as a believer based on who they know you to be at home?

Maybe more importantly, are there eternal souls who have been saved because of your ministry and witness to them? Are there people who can give first hand recommendations based on their own encounter with the Savior through you?

God is speaking to me today about my witness. Will people be open to hearing what I have to say, based on the testimony of others I have touched for Jesus’ sake?

The Corinthians were Paul’s letters of recommendation. God is asking me to think about mine.

November 18; Determination

Acts 13-14

When Paul and Barnabas entered a city and began preaching the Gospel of Jesus, one of two things generally happened. One is that people believed and were saved. The other is that people didn’t believe, and wanted to kill Paul and Barnabas. Even the city that wanted to worship the men as gods ended up stoning Paul and leaving him for dead.

What speaks to me about Paul and Barnabas is their steadfast determination to share Jesus, no matter the cost. Do you know what Paul did after the stoning? “…he got up and went back into the city.” (14:20) He left the next day, but the fact that he went back at all speaks to me.

It makes me wonder how many times I have shared about Jesus, only to be met with opposition or ridicule, then avoided that person the next time we were in the same vicinity. I wonder how steadfast is my determination to share Jesus with lost people, whatever the cost.

The truth is, most people don’t automatically become believers the first time they hear the Gospel. In fact, hearing they even need a Savior can make people very angry. Am I one and done? If they don’t drop to their knees and pray for forgiveness after hearing my testimony or my sermonette, too bad. Move on, Connie. Or run for your life. But don’t make the mistake of talking about God with them a second time. They might get mad.

I hope that isn’t true for any of us. We can learn from Paul who counted it joy to be persecuted for Jesus’ sake. Certainly we who know Him can count it joy if someone tries to hurt our feelings because we are sharing the Gospel, can’t we?

Let’s be determined to share the glorious truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with someone today, and again tomorrow, and the next day if it’s necessary. Let’s be determined to be obedient to God’s leading no matter the cost. People need to hear the truth. Let’s be determined to be the ones who will tell them, then tell them again.

July 22; Your Calling

Isaiah 61-65

Why doesn’t God just beam us up into heaven the moment we repent of sin and accept forgiveness through the blood of Jesus? Why do we have to continue living in this dark world, battling Satan, experiencing sickness and loss?

The answer is staring at you right in the face. Look around at those dear ones in your home, the people in your neighborhoods, co-workers, hurting families and grieving hearts, people who are lost without Jesus. They are why we are still here.

We have the answer to all of their problems, a balm for all their wounds, and hope where there is no hope. We have Jesus. And Jesus is exactly who they need.

Listen to Isaiah’s calling from God. It’s your calling, too.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:1-3)