Tag Archives: witnessing

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 7; Settled In And Busy

Jeremiah 29:1-32, 49:34-39, 50:1-46; 2 Kings 24:18-20

It’s fairly easy to read Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles in Babylon and see a parallel in present day America. It causes me great concern to see a large portion of Americans working so hard to see this administration fail. Doesn’t anyone get it? If the administration fails, the country suffers. (of course, then the socialist agenda can swoop in and save the day. And some of you already think that’s a good thing. Wake up, America.)

We should be praying for our country like Jeremiah told the Jews to do concerning Babylon. Because if the nation prospers, “you too will prosper.” Jeremiah warns them to turn a deaf ear to the liars. And for heaven’s sake, DON’T encourage them!

I think there is a parallel between Jeremiah’s letter and the modern church, too. Christians aren’t snapped up into heaven the moment we are saved. We live in this fallen world among sinful people, much like God’s people in Babylon. But Jeremiah tells us to settle in. Build houses, plant gardens, enjoy the fruit of you labor. Marry and have lots of babies so they can grow up and have lots of babies. “Do not decrease.”

Wasn’t Jesus’ message similar? He told us in Matthew 10:16 He was sending us out to the wolves, not taking us home. He told us to go, make disciples, be the light in this dark world. He wants the Church, like He wanted the Jews, to grow one person at a time. And again, He warns us about false prophets who claim to be sent from God, but are clearly not when you hold them up to the Truth of Scripture.

We need to be praying for God’s Church in 2019. Because if the Church prospers, we prosper, too. The world prospers when the Church is healthy and growing. That is simply God’s economy.

Today, God is asking me how I am doing. Have I settled in, planted seeds, led people to the Savior? Or have I put my feet up, secure in my salvation and looking forward to getting this life over so I can be in glory? Am I grounded in Scripture, standing firmly on the Truth as God has revealed it? Or have I listened to half-truths and out-right lies without discerning what is True in God’s Word?

I believe God is challenging me to settle in here on this island where I live. Then, get busy living the Christian life and talking about my Savior. I believe God is challenging my prayer life, to pray more for His Church, His children in the world. He has promised me that one day He’ll take me home. But unless it’s today, I’ve got to get busy.

 

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.

July 26; Useless

Jeremiah 5-6, 13

God’s instructions to Jeremiah are kind of odd. He told the prophet to buy a linen belt and wear it around his waist for a few days. Then he was to go to the river, hide the belt in the rocks, and leave it there. Jeremiah obeyed. He bought the belt and wore it, traveled to the river and hid it, then went home.

Many days later God told Jeremiah to go back to the river and dig up the belt. When Jeremiah uncovered the belt it was “ruined and completely useless.” (13:7)

Shocker! Of course it was ruined, exposed to the elements, neglected, and filthy. No self-respecting prophet would be caught dead wearing such a thing. I get it. My question is, what would God have me learn from this belt fiasco?

God explained to Jeremiah, and us, the meaning of this picture. Believers are that belt, attached to God, useful to God, cared for by Him. We have purpose and identity and the Presence of God so long as we stay attached to Him. God tells Jeremiah he bound us to Himself for His renown and praise and honor. Holding us to Himself brings Him joy.

“But (we) have not listened.” (verse 11)

If you read chapters 5-6, and much of Jeremiah’s prophecy, you’ll see how often God speaks, God acts, and His people just don’t listen. His people choose sin. We hide ourselves in the rocks, and that’s what makes us as useful to God as a disintegrating belt.

Your wrong doings have kept these (God’s blessings) away; your sins have deprived you of good.” (5:25, emphasis mine)

It isn’t that God is randomly zapping people with disease and hardship, or that He is pushing a “hate” button in people’s hearts because He gets a kick out of reality TV. What is happening in this world is a direct result of our actions, not His.

God bound us to Himself when we accepted Jesus as our Savior. That’s where we are  protected, useful, and loved. That’s where God wants us to be. We break those bonds when we listen to the lies, when we ignore the Truth, when we hide in the rocks instead of purposefully clinging to Him.

God says there should be wine in wineskins. We say, of course we know wineskins are for wine. We aren’t stupid.

But then God says the land will be filled with drunkenness. Whether wineskins or belts, if we are doing our own thing without being attached to Him, there will be consequences. And it will destroy us. (vs 14)

I firmly believe our country is in the state it is in because too many Christians are useless. Including me.

The great thing about God, however, is that He can take a useless piece of disintegrating cloth and turn it into something beautiful and useful and a masterpiece that brings Him renown and praise and honor. Including me.

Including you.

July 24; What You Believe About God

Zephaniah 1-3; 2 Chronicles 34:4-7; Jeremiah 1:1-19

Last night our Bible study centered around the creation account in Genesis 1. What you believe about this first chapter in the Bible will determine what you believe about God. It’s that important. Do you believe Him or not? Did He speak the universe, our world into existence, or did He give us some clues in His Word, expecting us to figure out the truth?

Our teacher also discussed the subtle, and the overt attacks on the only thing created in God’s image: you! Satan hates God, and in turn, anything that reminds Him of God. And you, my friend, are the image of God staring Satan in the face. That snake would love nothing more than to take you down with him.

You, and your children. Don’t think your kids aren’t under attack. Whether it’s the friendly guide at the museum during the class outing who mentions in passing that the earth is millions of years old, as though that were fact, or the reading teacher who assigns “A Tale of Two Daddies: (which Goodreads touts as “sweet, simple, charismatic, and realistic… a kid-friendly book…), or a cartoon on TV that portrays characters as witches, gay, disobedient, smarter than the grown-up, all of which are attacks on the image of God. Please don’t blow off the seriousness of the attacks. Kids are learning.

Now, we Christians can wring our hands and worry about the direction this world is going. Or we can do what God has us here to do: speak up! It’s not enough to live a good life, to love everybody (which in our world too often implies acceptance, tolerance, live-and-let-live).

It’s not enough to give food to the hungry and expect them to figure out simply from your act of kindness that Jesus died to save them. Friend, you’d better be talking about the Truth. How will they know unless they are told? (Romans 10:14)

This world is on a downhill spiral. The forces of evil will tell you that’s a good thing, that we’ve become enlightened, freed from the constraints of religion, the masters of our own universes, powerful, worthy, good. But if you believe God, you can’t believe the evil.

God tells us there will be hell to pay:

I have decided to assemble the nations, to gather the kingdom and to pour out my wrath on them – all my fierce anger. the whole world will be consumed by the fire of my jealous anger. (3:8b)

God tells us His judgment is coming. But no one has to die. If you believe the Bible, you know Jesus already did that. We need only to repent of sin, and accept His forgiveness. We might know that, but our loved ones need to know that, too. They need to be told. And maybe more than once.

Here is what is important: God has told us this world is not going to last forever. Jesus is coming back, and life as we know it will end. For those who don’t know Him it will be worse than anything Hollywood can put on a screen.

However, concerning those who believe God, who are His children through the blood of Jesus, He says:

On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (3:16-17)

Don’t you want to experience that instead of the outpouring of God’s wrath? Don’t you want that for your children, too? Look around, there are people you love, people whom God loves, who need to hear the truth.

What do you believe about God? What you believe about God has everything to do with what you are going to do today.

 

 

 

July 23; Not Too Far Gone

Isaiah 66; 2 Kings 21:1-26, 22:1-2; 2 Chronicles 33:1-25, 34:1-3

I’m always thankful that the life of King Manasseh is recorded in God’s Word. He was an evil man. In fact, the Bible tells us he was the worst king ever in the history of kings. He not only worshiped pretend gods, he put those idols in God’s house. Awful things happened in the temple at Manasseh’s direction, a blatant, in-your-face denial of God.

But one day, Manasseh repented. He humbled himself before God, and God forgave him. Manasseh spent the rest of his life serving God with the same energy he’d disobeyed God before.

Manasseh reminds me no one is too far gone, no one is beyond God’s grace. And it encourages me to keep praying, keep sharing Jesus, keep loving the person we might be tempted to give up on.

I have a dear friend who prayed for her husband for decades, until one day he came to her and told her he’d prayed to receive Jesus, and asked if she’d go with him to buy a Bible. Her prayers weren’t answered over night. But they were answered.

So keep praying, dear one. “The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives. Praise the Lord!”

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)