Tag Archives: sharing the Gospel

Understanding (Daniel 10-12)

Daniel was sad about the state of Israel. God had revealed to him that the day of judgment was imminent. After fasting from choice food for three weeks, the prophet stood at the riverbank. It was there he received his final vision.

The angel said something to Daniel that spoke to me today:

“Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.” (10:12)

Isn’t that amazing? God hears our prayers for understanding, then helps us understand. I see that same encouragement throughout Scripture. If we seek God, we will find Him.

…if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding… then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:2-5)

Think over what I say for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. (2 Timothy 2:7)

I think we should start out every morning humbling ourselves and confessing to God that we don’t understand everything. We don’t understand His mind or His ways. We don’t understand His plan for us. But we’d like to. So we set our minds to understand.

We read our Bibles to get to know God’s heart. We pray to bare our souls, to repent, to draw near to God. And when we do, God gives us the understanding we seek, and He wants us to have.

Why? Why is it important to God that we understand? Look at how the book of Daniel ends:

As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance. (12:13)

God wants us to have an understanding so that we can take it and use it to reveal God to a world that needs Him. We don’t gain understanding just so we know more facts than the next guy. We don’t study to show ourselves superior to others.

We gain an understanding for the purpose of sharing it, going about our way, making disciples until this life is over.

Do you understand Scripture? There’s more for you to understand.

Do you feel you can’t understand Scripture? That’s a lie from the enemy. Ask God for understanding. Ready your heart. Draw near to Him. Humbly repent of sin. Then know He hears you, and will be right there to give you understanding in response to your prayers.

Then may we all share what we know is true according to Scripture as God gives us understanding. Let’s be workmen who have no reason to be ashamed because we are rightly understanding God’s Word and sharing it with those who are lost without Him.

May our God-given understanding result in changed hearts for Jesus’ sake.

He’s Got His Reasons (Jeremiah 10-14)

Jeremiah was fed up. He was following God, warning the Jews about consequences for sin, doing what God asked him to do to show the Jews they needed to repent, but they ignored him. Instead of repentance, sin ran rampant, and Jeremiah had had enough.

“Drop them off like sheep to be butchered,” he prayed. “Set them apart for the day of slaughter. Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the peoples who do not call on your name.” (12:3; 10:25)

I mean, he’s got a point. People who reject God, those who flaunt their sinfulness and persecute we who follow Jesus ought to be wiped out, they shouldn’t be allowed to continue. Right? “Get ’em, God! They deserve it.”

I’m reminded of James and John who wanted to call fire down from heaven to destroy the Samaritans who had disrespected Jesus. Jesus’ answer? “Move on, boys. Let’s leave these folks alone.”

Really? Jesus let them get away with treating him so badly?

Yes.

Yes He did.

And here’s why: After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Apostle Philip went to Samaria and shared the Gospel. Many Samaritans were saved as a result. Most likely some of those James and John had wanted to incinerate came to know Jesus as their Messiah!

I guess the lesson here is, let’s go about our day doing what Jesus told us to do. Let’s love our neighbors, do good to those who mistreat us, pray for our enemies. Let’s go and make disciples, grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus.

Then let’s let judgment up to God. He’s got His reasons.

 

Pray For CEF (2 Kings 11)

Joash was seven years old when he became king. That’s like a second grader. Granted he had adults like Jehoiada the priest calling the shots. But Joash was king.

I am reminded that God can and does use children in His kingdom. And God needs committed adults to guide them.

I have been a Good News Club volunteer for a few years, and I am convinced that children can understand God’s Word and make conscious decisions to ask Jesus to forgive their sins. Every week I see God move in young hearts and change young lives. It is an amazing ministry right there in our public schools.

My heart is burdened for Good News Clubs and CEF (Child Evangelism Fellowship, of which GNC is a ministry). There is something going on in leadership that has led to some people leaving the organization. Some have gone voluntarily, some have been relieved of their duties.

The thing is, it’s not a theological difference that is causing this discord. All the people involved are committed to the Gospel of Jesus. All of them want to see children have the opportunity to hear God’s Word and enjoy a relationship with the Savior.

I don’t know the details but I know they need our prayers. Satan would love nothing more than to stop us from going into our schools to tell children the truth about Jesus. This program is claiming eternal souls for God, and our enemy wants it stopped. And I believe he is working from within to accomplish his evil goal.

Is it the sin of pride? Is it the need for control, or a divisive spirit? Is it unwillingness to  listen? I don’t know. I can’t imagine one side of the issue is totally right and the other totally wrong. I just see it causing a serious division. And it breaks my heart.

Will you pray with me? I’m praying God will deal with sin in the hearts of all of us involved in this important ministry. I pray that God will break hearts, will prompt both sides to reach out to each other in love. I pray that there will be healing and that the cause of Christ will go on.

I don’t know how long Good News Clubs will be legally allowed to meet in our public schools. But I will be really mad if we implode because someone has drawn a line in the sand. I can’t believe this brings joy to my Lord.

Please pray for CEF.

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.

Come What May (2 Samuel 16-18)

Ahimaaz wanted to run and tell David the outcome of the battle between his men and Absalom’s. Joab said no. He would send someone else to David because, “You don’t have any news that will bring you a reward.”

The news about the battle wasn’t all good news. David’s son Absalom had been killed in that battle, and that fact would destroy David. Or it would destroy the messenger like those who brought David word of Saul’s death. David had a history of killing the messengers of bad news, and Absalom’s death would have been the very worst kind of news.

Ahimaaz’s reply to Joab speaks to me:

Come what may, I want to run.

We have news to share with the world. It’s the best news ever in the history of the world. But with it comes some bad news, too.

The bad news is that we are sinners. You are a sinner. I am a sinner. And sin comes with a death sentence. We all deserve to go to hell. We need someone outside ourselves to save us from that awful end. Some people get angry when faced with the truth about their sin.

The good news is, Jesus is the Savior we need. Jesus paid the death sentence that would have sent us to hell, and instead offers us eternity right next to Him in a place too amazing for words. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us. Doesn’t get much better than that.

The thing is, you can’t share the good news without the bad. In order for someone to accept the Savior, they need to see their need of the Savior. And sometimes we might hesitate to share that message for fear of how it will be received.

Will I lose a friend? Will I be laughed at? Will people start treating me differently, unfairly, exclude me from things? Or as in some places in our world, will I lose my life?

Ahimaaz wanted to be the one to tell David, and he was willing to pay whatever price to share that message. He wasn’t concerned with his own safety. He wasn’t looking for some reward. It wasn’t about him. I believe, for Ahimaaz, it was about the message.

It’s still about the message. God is challenging me to take up Ahimaaz’s battle cry when given the opportunity to share His news with people He died to save.

“Come what may, God, let me be the one to tell someone about You today.”

A Season For War (2 Samuel 11-12; I Chronicles 20)

There is a phrase in both 2 Samuel and I Chronicles that caught my attention this morning: “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war…”

Why spring? It sounds like the start of baseball season or something. I did some research and this is what I found:

Spring was the ideal time for going to war because, first, the rains were over which meant the soldiers could march on solid and dry ground. There was grass in the fields, fruit on trees, and ripe corn, food for both soldiers and horses. There was wisdom in the timing.

Now, soldiers could suit up at any time of the year. Not all battles were fought in the best circumstances. But if a king could wait until spring before going into battle, he had a better chance of success because his soldiers didn’t have to fight the enemy AND the elements.

I am reminded of Paul’s second letter to Timothy when he told the young preacher to “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season…

We, like the Old Testament soldiers can suit up at any time. In fact, we are told to put on the armor of God every day. We are instructed to always be prepared to give an answer for the hope we have in Jesus. Our battles, and our opportunities to share the Gospel, don’t just come at prime time. We are told to be prepared to preach the Word at all times.

But I am challenged today to plan my battle strategy, to look for the signs that tell me the time is right to go to that person God has laid on my heart to confront their sin in order to lead them to their Savior. Sometimes we might be tempted to barge in when it’s convenient for us, only to be met with the challenge of fighting the elements of distractions or resistance or misunderstandings while we are trying to fight the battle against sin.

I want to wait for God’s timing, because He is preparing the ground for battle. I want to recognize His season for war against Satan, and be prepared to fight the fight He is leading. Not my season. But His.

May I be prepared every day by putting on the whole armor of God, by being ready to give an answer, to share the Gospel whenever the opportunity presents itself. May I be sensitive to God’s timing. And may I be a faithful and obedient soldier so that when God says, “Charge!” I’m the first to go.

December 26; That’s Love

I John 4-5; 2 John; 3 John; Revelation 1

I remember Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God. Not just having a warm, fuzzy feeling toward Him, but to love God with all our hearts, all our souls, and all our minds. That is total love, intentional love.

Then Jesus said the second greatest commandment is like the first; love your neighbor as yourself. John, in his letters, emphasizes what love of God and others looks like in the day to day.

The apostle goes so far as to say that if someone doesn’t love, that person doesn’t even know God The evidence of our love for God is in our love for one another. If you harbor hate toward someone, you can’t love God. It’s that clear.

John says we love because God loved us first. John also says our obedience is proof of our love for God, and that obedience will result in showing love for people. The disciple also says, the blessed truth of the matter is, God’s commands are not burdensome. It’s not impossible to obey God. In fact, I believe God’s commandments make sense, and would make the world a safer, happier, healthier place if people just obeyed them.

We just are coming out of a season of love. Many needy people received an expression of love as food banks were filled, as mitten trees, secret Santas, adopt-a-family efforts were filled by people showing love. You can hear reports of generous giving this time of year.

But let me remind us that Jesus’ demonstration of love did not just result in meeting people’s physical needs, although that was certainly a major part of the way Jesus’ loved. Jesus met people’s spiritual needs, often BEFORE he did anything about physical needs.

The greatest expression of love for God is sharing the Gospel with someone for whom Jesus died. There is nothing that says “I love God” more than standing in the gap between heaven and hell for the eternal soul of another, turning a sinner around, and introducing them to their Savior.

So let’s continue to take care of the physical and material needs of people around us in the name of Jesus. But let’s not neglect to encourage a sinner to repent.

That’s love.

September 24; Keep It Going

Nehemiah 9:38-11:36

The people we read about in the book of Nehemiah weren’t satisfied with building the wall, then putting their feet up and relaxing. What we read in these chapters is their determination to serve the Lord after the job of repairing the wall was complete.

And once again, we see many people chipping in and contributing to the work. They even organized a schedule for people to provide the wood needed for the burnt sacrifices. No detail was too small. They had worked on their individual sections of the wall until it was complete. Now they were going to take on individual responsibilities to keep God’s work going.

Yes, Church. That’s a picture of us, or it should be. Are you doing your part, or are you allowing a faithful few to pull the weight of ministry in your fellowship? You and I are needed to further the Gospel through the body of believers with whom we worship. God has commanded us to go into our communities to tell people about Jesus, and to make disciples. Churches have been doing that work for 2,000 years. Will we keep it going?

August 13; Using or Abusing

Ezekiel 14-16

God likened the Jews to a prostitute. He’d saved her, protected her, nurtured her, and lavished her with amazing gifts. People should have been able to see God’s beauty in her, and been drawn to Him because of what they saw. But that’s not what happened.

God reminded me today that I can be like the ancient Jews God described as vile and disgusting. He saved me like he’d saved her. He’s protected and blessed me, too. And He has lavished me with things no amount of money can buy. What am I doing with what He’s given me?

I would venture to say you are blessed, too. If you are a child of God through the blood of Jesus, He has gifted you with things, with abilities that should be drawing people to Him. What are you doing with what He’s given you?

I would ask us all today if we are using the blessings and abilities that God thoughtfully and intentionally gave each of us, for His glory? Or are we using those blessings for personal gain and personal glory? Are we using those gifts or abusing them? The prostitute God described in Ezekiel was abusing what God had given her.

One of the gifts God gave us is His Word, the Bible. For the past ten days I have been reading and re-reading the daily passages and letting God speak to me without going through a commentary or study lesson. Just me and God, and I have loved it so much!

I don’t know if you took the challenge ten days ago, but let me encourage us all to consider God’s Word as a personal gift to each of us. Let’s let God reveal what He wants to say to us, rather than always reading what God said to someone else – including me. It’s great to read about what God is teaching others. But I don’t believe it can take the place of listening to what God would say to you when you read His Word for yourself.

God may have gifted you musically, socially, intellectually, with gifts of teaching, hospitality, knowledge, faith, wisdom, etc. If you are His child He has gifted you with His precious Son, His Spirit within you, and His Word in Scripture. He has gifted you with the Gospel of Jesus.

Are we using God’s gifts, or abusing them? I think you know how I’m praying.

 

August 2; Success and Failure

2 Kings 24:1-4; 2 Chronicles 36:6-7; Daniel 1:1-2; Jeremiah 26:1-32, 45:1-5, 25:1-38

Are you in ministry of some kind? Is there someone in your life for whom you’ve been praying and with whom you’ve been sharing the Gospel? How do you know if you are successful or not?

Most of us would say we are as successful in ministry as the number of converts we have influenced. But is the number of people you’ve led to the Lord the measure of  success for a servant of God?

If that’s the case, Jeremiah was a huge failure. He preached the truth for 23 years, and nobody even listened to him (25:3). 23 years he preached to deaf ears. Would you say he failed? Or did the people fail?

Here’s what I believe God says in His Word: obedience = success.

If we are doing what God is asking of us, we are successful servants in His sight. If we are obedient, we’ve done our duty and can expect Him to do His. The truth is, there are disobedient preachers filling thousands of seats in mega churches every week all over the world who are failures. One day they will look into the face of Jesus and hear Him say “I never knew you. Depart from me forever.”

Fail!

I think of Jonah, one of the most successful preachers on record. Yes, that Jonah who started out as a failure, disobeying God and winding up taking a swim inside a fish. But once Jonah decided to obey God, thousands of people repented and were saved. He may have been a reluctantly obedient servant, but his obedience was instrumental in saving an entire city.

Let me encourage you preachers, deacons, Sunday School teachers, Bible study leaders, moms and dads with wayward children: Be obedient.

Don’t look at the numbers, large or small. Don’t look at the rejection, many or few. Keep your eyes on God, and be obedient. One day, if you were quietly doing what He asks of you, or if you were standing before a large congregation preaching the Truth from Scripture, you will hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Join me!”

Your obedience is success is God’s eyes.