Tag Archives: witnessing

May 15; A Bucket List

2 Samuel 20; I Chronicles 22; Psalms 30 & 140

It’s a popular concept these days to have a “Bucket List.” It sounds fun, fulfilling, to check off all the things you’ve always wanted to do before you die. Skydiving? Check. River Cruise in Europe? Check. Broadway play? Check. Meeting a famous person? Check. Whatever you’ve dreamed about doing, do it before it’s too late.

Having a Bucket List is especially appealing to people who believe this life is all there is. Enjoy it before you turn into nothingness. It also seems to appeal to people who are their own priority. Me first, you know.

David had a different kind of Bucket List. We read that David wanted to build a temple for God. It was a longing, a passion of his to create a place worthy of God’s Presence. But God told him, “No.” Solomon would be the one to built the temple.

So David got busy. He drew up plans, hired workers, purchased materials, mentored Solomon. David’s Bucket List was full of ways to assure that temple would be built, even if his name wasn’t going to be on it. David’s Bucket List was about furthering God’s work.

I don’t read where he took even one trip to Disney. David’s Bucket List was all about God.

So I’m asking myself what it is I want to do before I die? Do I want my final push to be about me? Or do I want a Bucket List that looks like David’s, one that is full of things I can do for God before I meet Him?

I’d like my Bucket List to include the names of people I’ve influenced toward having a relationship with God through Jesus, rather than a lot of things I did for myself. I want my Bucket List to include things that glorify God – not me.

If I have the means to travel Europe on a luxury cruise ship, I have the means to take the Gospel to children in Haiti, or to build a well in Africa in Jesus’ name, or buy Bibles for Chinese Christians, or support a missionary in Romania, or give school supplies to kids in poverty in my home town. If I can put effort into meeting my sports hero or music icon, I can put effort into sharing Jesus with a homeless person, or my neighbor.

Now, please. I am not condemning anyone who goes on a European river cruise. I’d love to do that myself. And I’m not telling anyone how they should be spending their money. I’m just suggesting we take a look at our priorities and find out how God can be honored in our lives while we still are able.

Having a Bucket List might be a good thing. I think what is in our Bucket Lists are between us and God. Whatever we do, let’s do it to the glory of God while we still have time.

 

May 13; The Truth Hurts

Psalms 64, 70, 84, 141, 143; 2 Samuel 18:19-19:43

Absalom is dead. The son who did everything in his power to steal the throne from his father, David, was killed in a battle he was fighting with the intent to destroy David. David wished he’d been the one to have died instead.

Now, I dealt with a lot of middle school parents who thought their precious children could do no wrong, even when presented with evidence to the contrary. But David takes the cake.

David went into a very public, very agonized mourning over the death of his son. I’m not saying he was wrong to be sad. He was a father. But David’s mourning went to the point his own soldiers – those who had been loyal to him when his own son betrayed him – were ashamed to have fought the battle. The solders went into mourning.

So Joab, the leader of the army, went to the king and shook some sense into him. We, of course, can’t hear Joab’s tone of voice. But we can read his words. And it doesn’t appear that he was joking. These are some harsh words. Truthful words. But Joab doesn’t seem to be worried about hurting the king’s feelings.

David was wrong. David acted badly. And he had to be told in no uncertain terms.

I’m not a very good Joab. Confrontation is not my strong suit. Oh, I can write a script in my head. I can imagine what I would say to someone I think needs to hear the truth. But actually saying those words out loud is not something I do.

God is convicting me about that today.

Joab realized that what David was doing was hurting other people, and jeopardizing David’s kingship. I can watch a loved one making similar choices, choices that perhaps hurt others, or worse – jeopardize their relationship with God and eternity.

David needed Joab’s firm honesty. My loved ones need mine. I don’t want to hurt anyone. But sometimes the truth hurts. I don’t want to lose a relationship with them by making them upset with me. But God is asking me if their liking me in this lifetime is worth their eternity without Him?

Man! I do NOT like what God is saying to me today. But He speaks the truth.

And the truth hurts.

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.

April 27; Pass It On

I Chronicles 12:23-40; Psalms 2, 78

I volunteer in an after-school Bible club for kids. Our Good News Clubs, under the umbrella of Child Evangelism Fellowship is an amazing privilege and blessing. We actually had a picnic today with all the volunteers from our county. If you are one of them, thank you! I love serving with you in this important ministry. I think we all agree that sharing the Word of God with the next generation is something we cherish, and watching these children grow in understanding is truly indescribable.

Psalm 78 is a history-of-God-lesson; one of many times God’s history with the Jewish people is recorded. Why read about this over and over? The psalmist said, unapologetically, that they will not hide the things God has done from their children, so their children will tell the next generation, “even the children yet to be born, and they in turn will tell their children.” (verse 6)

I hope you are involved in sharing the good news of Jesus with children. Not all of us can volunteer for Good News Club, or teach a Sunday School, or work with Bible School. But I bet you know a child. I bet you have children or grandchildren, nieces and nephews of your own.

The next time one of those precious ones crawls up into your lap, why not tell them a Bible story? Why not tell them about an encounter you have had with God? Maybe your kids think they are too old for snuggling. The next time you are alone with them in the car, or sitting on the front porch, why not share something you read in God’s Word that morning?

Let’s keep the Word of God active in our lives, and pass it on to the next generation. And pray that after we are gone, those kids will be passing it on to yet another generation of people for whom Christ died.

April 5; The Past Is The Past

Judges 10-13

Today we read about two men who became leaders of Israel. Jephthah, described as a mighty warrior, led the people in some decisive victories in a civil war against their warring family. Samson, a man with super-natural physical strength, led Israel against the Philistines. They were both great leaders, albeit flawed individuals.

I am struck by their very different beginnings. Jephthah was the son of a man named Gilead and an unnamed prostitute. His brothers, as soon as they were old enough, drove Jephthah out of their lives. No son of a prostitute was going to get any of their inheritance! But Jephthah used his gifts and abilities, and eventually rose to a position of power in Gilead.

Samson, on the other hand, was born to a married, God-fearing couple whose goal was to raise their son exactly according to God’s plan. It would not have been easy to raise a Nazarite, even back then. But these godly parents were determined to do just that. We’ll read that Samson grew up to be a great leader in Israel.

Sometimes we might be tempted to use our own beginnings as a weight to hold us down. Maybe we weren’t born into a middle class Christian family. Maybe our parents never married, never went to church. Maybe we weren’t able to afford college. So we let our past dictate our present.

In contrast, maybe we were born with that proverbial silver spoon in our mouths, went to the best schools, wore the best clothes, drove the coolest cars. Maybe our parents made sure we were in church every time the doors were open, and we can quote Scripture like a Baptist preacher.

Does one past guarantee success in God’s kingdom while the other guarantees failure? Is how we were raised an indication of our ability to serve God? The answer, of course, is NO!

Your past is past. It’s your choices today that render you useful or useless in God’s plan. A privileged child needs to come to God in exactly the same way as a child who grows up on the streets.

Neither Jephthah nor Samson allowed their past to be a “thing.” Both men followed God and chose obedience.

Here’s something else God has laid on my heart. Sometimes we let our own past sins hold us back from serving God. We tell ourselves we have no room to talk about sin, being the filthy sinner we were. We tell ourselves no one would take us seriously, considering the bad choices we’ve made in our past. I think God would remind us that when He forgives sins, He buries them, washes them away, never to remember them ever again. The past, under the blood of Jesus, is the past.

You can’t control or change your past. But God has given you today – this minute – to choose Him.

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13b-14)

Choose God today. Then see what He can do with a yielded heart. I know that God can use even the likes of you and me.

March 30; A Candle In The Window

Joshua 19:32-21:45; I Chronicles 6:54-81

Joshua instructed the tribes to assign cities for the Levites. Remember, the Levites did not receive an inheritance of land in Canaan. God Himself was their portion. But they had to live somewhere.

As a result, sprinkled throughout the Promised Land, there were forty-eight cities designated as Levitical towns. The Levites were the sanctuary protectors, the priests, the Truth authorities. And God made sure they were accessible to everyone in the country.

Matthew Henry says this about the Levitical cities we read about here in Joshua:

“Thus God set up a candle in every room of his house, to give light to all his family.” (Commentary In One Volume; Zondervan; 1991; page 235)

I like that analogy. I’m reminded Jesus called Himself the Light of the world. (John 8:12) And in Matthew 5 He tells us WE are the light of the world and should never hide our light under a bowl. Before He went back to heaven, Jesus told us to go into all the world, to share the Gospel and make disciples. In other words, to shine our light!

I think God would have us consider our spiritual wattage. Are we, as children of God through the blood of Jesus, shining His light into a world that desperately needs Him? If not, why not?

May we each be that candle through the window that bids people come to the Light which is Jesus Christ.

This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

February 28; Get Out

Numbers 5-6

Let’s face it. Sometimes Scripture is hard to swallow. Sometimes what we read doesn’t make us feel good about ourselves, and often what Scripture tells us to do seems impossible. Political correctness? Forget about it.

When I read this portion of Scripture telling the Jews to toss all the diseased people out of the camp, I get it. In order to keep the rest of them healthy, the infected ones had to be removed. It was black and white. Are you diseased? Get out.

I imagine there were tears as loved ones were separated. I imagine someone felt it wasn’t fair. But it had to be done to keep the rest of them undefiled.

That makes sense, until I remember that Scripture often likens disease to sin. Putting the spiritual spin on these verses isn’t as black and white, although I guess it should be.

I believe the modern day Church has gotten so far from what God intended. I see us becoming more concerned about people’s feelings instead of their souls. I wonder if we think that if we provide an inviting setting, an exciting experience, a laid back atmosphere, sinners will come into our midst. Do we think that’s a good thing?

Isn’t that the opposite of what we see here in Scripture? “Oh, you have leprosy? Come right in and make yourself comfortable. My healthy skin will just rub off on you.”

It burdens my heart to know the church has in some cases, not only turned a blind eye to sin, it’s welcomed sin into our midst. And don’t use the argument that we live under grace after the cross. Grace is not acceptance of sin. Grace is not even love. Grace is God dealing harshly with sin, forgiving sin through the blood of Jesus which He shed in a very, very painful way.

The New Testament writers continue to tell believers to come out from among the world, to flee sin, to brush the dust off our feet. Yes, God loves sinners. Yes, Jesus ate with sinners. But Jesus went to them. He didn’t bring them into the synagog first to tell them the Gospel.

Matthew Henry reminded me that when Jesus returns He will “gather out of his kingdom all things that offend.” In the new Jerusalem, nothing unclean will enter. (from Rev 11) (Commentary In One Volume; Zondervan Publishing; 1960; page 146) Will there be people who sit in our pews today who will be “gathered out,” fully expecting to be accepted just like they are in those pews?

The assembling of ourselves as a church body is intended to edify believers, strengthen believers, encourage and challenge believers to go into the world to share the Gospel. And, dear one, we must keep it pure, undefiled. It’s not a social club. The Church is an exclusive organization. Only believers in Jesus Christ can be included. You might not think that’s fair. And that might be the problem.

Sin should not be tolerated in the church. Period. But I thank God that, even those diseased Jews who were thrown out of the camp, were welcomed back once they were disease-free. But the healing came before the welcome.

I just think maybe we shouldn’t be so concerned about growing our churches. The number of people attending your church is meaningless. However, the number of new believers who come as a result of someone from your fellowship leading them to the Savior is everything.

Keep the sin outside the camp.