Tag Archives: witnessing

(Song of Solomon 5-8) Love Is Not All There Is

Yesterday my prayer was that I would love God like He deserves, with a passionate, all-consuming, pure kind of love. Today, I am reminded that’s not enough.

I need to act on that love. A former pastor always said, “Love is something you DO.” So reading these chapters today I realize how important it is that I GO when He calls, I need to INVITE Him to come to me. I need to GIVE to Him, SHOW my love in private and in public, LISTEN to Him, choose to STAY with Him.

I am reminded that simply feeling love for and even feeling loved by Him, isn’t love at all. I mean I love my piano. But if I don’t play it, it’s just furniture gathering dust.

My prayer today is that my love for my Beloved Savior will be something you could notice in the words I say, the things I do, even the look on my face. Let it be known that I love the Lord. Let me show you what that looks like.

(Proverbs 23) A Question of Alcohol

People have interesting reactions when I tell them I don’t drink alcohol. Most common reaction is surprise. Doesn’t everyone have a glass of wine now and then? Sometimes I see a wall go up. One person actually responded with, “So you think I’m going to hell?” That was extreme. Most of the time my abstinence makes drinkers uncomfortable, and sometimes there is no reaction at all.

It’s not my intention to make anyone uncomfortable. However, if God convicts someone by my choice about their own drinking, I’m happy to be used by God that way.

Let me say as I often do: the Bible doesn’t list drinking alcohol as a sin. So no, you aren’t going to hell just because you have a glass of wine, unless your drinking is an act of rebellion toward God, unless your glass of wine becomes two – then three – and you get drunk, which is addressed in Scripture. (Eph 5:18)

It’s also addressed here in Proverbs, and it’s one of the reasons I choose to refrain from drinking alcohol. The wisdom of God says:

Don’t gaze at wine because it is red, because it gleams in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a snake and stings like a viper. (23:31-32)

I don’t have to be bitten by a poisonous snake to know it will make me sick or kill me. I don’t have to be bitten by a viper to know I should stay clear of it at all costs. And I don’t have to drink alcohol to know it can harm me, either.

Did you know that your body, so intricately created by God, recognizes any amount of alcohol in your system as a poison? Your organs immediately begin fighting that poison in the same way it does arsenic. Read the science. It’s true.

And, although people say they can drink alcohol without it effecting them, those same people will say, “I need a drink” after a hard day. If it doesn’t effect you, why do you need it? For what reason? Doesn’t make sense.

If I am going to be an effective witness for Jesus, I want my brain working at 100%, not dulled by alcohol even a little. I want to be ready to give an answer for the hope I have in Jesus without slurred speech.

Lastly, my choice not to drink alcohol has sparked conversations about my Savior that would not have happened if I’d poured a glass like everyone else. The fact that I declined has given me the opportunity to share why I did.

If we “come out from among them and be separate,” like the Bible says, people will notice. (2 Corinthians 6:17) And if people notice, they may just give us an opportunity to share the Gospel.

There’s another benefit. I can have a great time sober AND remember it the next day with no regrets! 🙂

So go ahead and have a drink. I will not condemn you. I am not better or more holy than you. I believe God has prompted me to honor Him in this way. And I will not tell you you have to do the same. How you choose to honor God is between you and Him. May we all be obedient.

(Psalms 137-140) Crossing The Line

I sometimes have trouble reading some of David’s violent psalms. His prayers concerning his enemies are filled with horrible things he asks God to do to them. The truth of the matter is, though, people who reject God and mistreat God’s children will suffer worse things than even David could imagine. It’s a hard truth to grasp.

I think we need to be careful how we pray. Many of us, me included, pray that God will stop the evil in the world, do away with terrorists and abortion doctors. We pray He will strike down transgenders, persecutors of Christians, and people from the “other” political party than we. Some of us could have written David’s psalms with the same vengeful attitude toward our own enemies.

But I’m reminded Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for those who mistreat us. That doesn’t mean He wants us to turn a blind eye to their sin, or that we should pray that they will enjoy success in their lives. We need to be praying for their salvation.

It is sin which drives our enemies. We should pray they repent of those sins. The world’s problems would disappear if those people we consider enemies met their Savior.

It’s a fine line between hating sin and hating sinners. But it’s a line we need to draw. It’s a line we cannot cross.

(Job 29-31) Prejudice

Do we get a glimpse at the less-than-righteous side of Job here? I have no doubt the man was a good, generous, upright guy who truly loved and feared God. God Himself called Job a righteous man, and God doesn’t lie.

But this man, who gave to the poor and fed the traveler, encouraged those who mourned, and received respect and honor from others, might have been a bit prejudice. In speaking of the young men who were harassing him, Job said this of their fathers:

I wouldn’t have put them with my dogs. They were emaciated, ate tree roots and shrubs like animals. These fathers weren’t fit for human society, and everyone treated them like thieves. They howled like wolves, and were forced out of the land.

Then Job says:

Now I am mocked by THEIR songs. I have become an object of scorn to THEM. THEY despise ME and keep their distance from ME. (30:9-10, emphasis mine)

Job is indignant at the very thought that the dregs of society would dare look down on him. But my question is, Job, why consider anyone throw-away?

I ask the same thing of us. ALL people are equally precious in God’s sight, and should be in the sight of all of His children: the unborn, the physically and mentally handicapped, the poor and the rich, the homeless and those living in luxury, homosexuals and those who reject that lifestyle, people with different skin color and nationalities, people with differing opinions, tattoos and piercings, grey hair and wrinkles.

We can be doing all the “right” things, we can be generous and loving and devoted to God. But is there a bit of prejudice in us, too? Because the truth is, ALL people need Jesus. Everyone needs Jesus, no matter what kind of life they are living!

God is asking me to do a prejudice check in my own heart. Might He be asking you to do the same?

(2 Chronicles 28-31) It’s Just The Beginning

The Jewish people had just participated in a worship service beyond imagination. There were sacrifices for days, songs, trumpets, praises.

“There was great rejoicing in Jerusalem, for nothing like this was known since the days of Solomon son of David, king of Israel.” (29:26)

But it’s what happened after the benediction that spoke to me today.

“When all this was completed, all Israel who had attended went out to the cities of Judah and broke up the sacred pillars, chopped down the Asherah poles, and tore down the high places and altars throughout Judah and Benjamin, as well as in Ephraim and Manasseh, to the last one. “ (31:1a)

We have put so much emphasis on the experience of worship we neglect why we worship. If attending church on Sunday doesn’t inspire and equip and encourage us to get out there and confront sin, if we don’t leave the sanctuary like people shot out of a canon eager to go and make disciples, to be salt and light, fishers of men, why do we bother getting out of bed on Sunday morning?

I believe Scripture tells us the evidence of true worship is what happens next.

And pastors: If your goal isn’t to inspire your congregation to use their worship of God as a catalyst to share the Gospel, why do you bother getting out of bed on Sunday?

Worship isn’t the all to end all. It’s just the beginning.

(2 Chronicles 7-9) Come to Jesus

We all know that Solomon was wise and rich. In fact, he was arguably the wisest and richest man who ever lived. But it occurred to me today that it was the people who flocked to him – ordinary people as well as kings – that is the message here.

And it was the man, Solomon, they came to see. It speaks to me about how the Gospel is presented these days. Do we invite people to come to God for the benefits of knowing Him? Things like health, wealth, peace, heaven?

Or do they hear an invitation to come to the Man, the person of Jesus, the Son of God, the Savior of the world? Lay aside the material blessings associated with knowing Him. Lay aside the feelings, even lay aside eternity. Don’t we want people – don’t I want you – to meet Jesus Himself?

I guess I want people drawn to Jesus when they observe my relationship with Him. Not necessarily my lifestyle, or my attitude, or my faith. I want them to see that I have a real relationship with the King, and then want a relationship with Him, too.

The Queen of Sheba remarked how blessed Solomon’s people must be just being in his presence. I’d like people to be able to recognize how blessed I must be as I live in the Presence of God.

And ultimately, I want them to want to live there, too.

(2 Kings 18-20) Generations To Come

I’m not a big fan of King Hezekiah. Yes, he did some good things, and Scripture says he did right in the eyes of God. His prayer is an example, and a challenge to me. But I’m not sure I like him.

Verse 20:19 seals the deal for me when Hezekiah said all he cared about was his own comfort and safety. Too bad about his kids.

But I’m reminded he isn’t the only one looking out for #1, or living for the moment. I’ve been guilty of that, too. And you know what? I’m not sure I like me either, during those times.

If I’m not concerned about what life will be like when the babies in my family are grown, or if I have no passion for the kids in my church or neighborhood, or the dear ones in the school down the street, what does that say about me? I might as well pull the covers over my head and eat bonbons all day, get fat on my blessings, and die.

Because I certainly am not serving God unless I’m working toward making the world more Christlike by actively inviting people to know the Savior. I don’t have to be good with kids, teach a Sunday School for first graders, or even volunteer at the schools. But I can pray. I can support Bible-based children’s ministries, I can encourage parents, teachers, and caregivers in the name of Jesus. I can be an example of someone who is devoted to Jesus and interested in the souls of the next generation.

Do you know the percentage of people who give their hearts to the Lord as adults compared to that of children? It’s shocking. Someone recently showed me a statistic that said 2/3 of Christians say they accepted Jesus as a child. Children need to hear about Jesus and be given the opportunity to surrender to Him while they are young. I am not saying reaching out to adults isn’t important. It is. God is not willing ANY should die without Him. But let’s not neglect the next generation while reaching out to the present one.

I do not want to entertain the same attitude Hezekiah had. I’m not ok thinking the children alive today may have to face persecution and suffer for the Name. I’m not ok thinking the Gospel may not be recognizable in years to come. Yes, I most likely will be gone.

But can I be ok knowing that young people around me might have to live through God’s judgment for my decisions? Or that the same young people might become so hardened to the Truth that they never receive God’s grace?

We all have a responsibility in reaching children for Christ who will reach children for Christ for generations to come.

(Leviticus 6-14) Speading Disease

If you think this is about COVID, you would be wrong.

God, through Moses, refers often to a place “outside the camp.” It was where the unclean parts of a sacrificed animal were burned, where unclean stones and plaster were thrown, and to where unclean people were banished.

We who live after the cross see thy symbolism as Jesus was crucified outside the city when our sins rendered Him who knew no sin, unclean.

But something else spoke to me today about these chapters. I, as a Christian, am commanded to be holy because God, whom I represent, is holy. That means I need to remove everything from my life that isn’t holy, and throw it away, burn it up, and never revisit it – ever.

My problem is I try to hold on to a bit of sin. Or I confess it, but don’t really repent of it. It might be an impure thought, a feeling of unforgiveness or resentment or hate, a habit, laziness, and sometimes flat-out disobedience. The list goes on. All of which prevents me from holiness and purity. Yet holiness and purity are God’s requirements.

I see, through the picture Moses paints here in Leviticus concerning disease and mold, the result of my disobedience. Even if I put on a hat to disguise my disease, or a coat of paint on a wall to cover up mold, it doesn’t render me clean. If I put a smile on my face and carry my Bible, it doesn’t cover up the fact my heart is diseased, unclean. And my infection can and does spread to others. I can call my sin a mistake, a choice, an accident, or convince myself it’s no big deal, but my unclean life touches the lives of others in my home, my church, my community, and I become responsible for my sin disease spreading to them.

It also reminds me of what is happening in God’s Church. We’ve convinced ourselves that sinners in our midst is a good thing. We should welcome them, embrace them, make them a part of our fellowships. But God, here in Leviticus, tells us to banish the diseased person to outside the camp until – not before -they are clean.

Sounds cruel. Sounds un-Christian. But the fact of the matter is, their disease can and does spread within the church. Their disease of sin can and does spread to holy people, who then themselves become unholy. It has nothing to do with loving or not loving our neighbor. It has everything to do with keeping the Church holy, protecting the holiness and purity God demands of us.

The Church is not pure, we are not holy as long as we tolerate unrepentant sinners in our midst. Should we be inviting our unsaved friends to church? Not if we want to keep God’s Church holy.

Jesus said, “Come to me…” He didn’t say come to the synagogue. He didn’t say come to church. Jesus told us to GO, make disciples. He didn’t say sit back and invite them into His House, hoping our holiness will rub off on them and make them clean. It doesn’t work that way.

We need to get off our couches and get out into our neighborhoods and introduce unsaved, unclean people to their Savior. Then, and not before, we should welcome them into our midst to worship God with clean hearts. God does not accept worship any other way.

Unrepentant hearts cannot worship God. And that bit of disease in our churches can and does spread. Don’t think it doesn’t.

(Genesis 20-25) Not Harsh Enough

We question Sarah’s treatment of Hagar and think she was too harsh when she sent Hagar and Ishmael away. We see Abraham having other children after Sarah died, and he sent those children away as well. What’s up with that?

Sarah’s words spoke to me today:

Drive out the slave with her son, for the son of this slave will not be a coheir with my son Isaac. (21:10)

Are we that protective of that which we hold dear, of the very promise of God?

I believe the Church has become a wishy-washy, bleeding hearts club where we are so concerned about offending, we’ve allowed anything and anyone into our midst. In fact, we have the idea we need to be inviting non-believers into our fellowship. We’ve been told to think we will rub off on them, but I wonder if the opposite isn’t true.

We’ve fashioned our worship service so it’s attractive to non-believers. We’ve watered down our sermons so as not to step on toes of non-believers, because we don’t want them to stop attending and giving to our worthless ministry.

Yes, worthless.

Because the Bible is clear. The purity of the Truth, the Gospel of Jesus and the Holiness of God must be protected. There are no co-heirs with God’s Promise. The Church must drive out any hint of compromise or threat of compromise in order to retain its purity.

You might think that’s harsh. I think it’s not harsh enough.

Last Days (2 Timothy)

Paul’s words to Timothy are still words to live by in 2020. There is no doubt we are in the “last days.” Paul told Timothy he was living in the last days, and we are 2000 years closer to the end than Timothy was.

The following verses describe life in Paul’s day. I believe he is describing 2020, too:

People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. (3:2-5)

Sound familiar? I bet you saw most of those behaviors on the news last night. Maybe in your own family. Maybe when you look in the mirror.

Oh, there’s more:

(They are) always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. (Verse 7)

It reminds me of the present day “Woke” movement. It reminds me of modern academia, our “cancel culture,” Bethel worship.

Here’s the thing. We can shake our heads, point fingers, even pray for Jesus’ quick return because things are so bad. Or we can do what Paul told Timothy to do:

I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. (4:1b-2)

Paul goes on to tell Timothy and us that eventually people will not put up with sound doctrine. And the movement will be huge.

But, dear one, it’s not enough to recognize our circumstances in God’s Word, in verses such as these that Paul wrote Timothy. Recognizing that our world is in serious trouble is important in so far as it motivates us to share Jesus with lost souls. If it is true that Jesus’ return is around the corner, then the window of opportunity for people to be saved is closing. Does that bother you?

Paul encourages us to be in the Word, but then to use what we’ve learned to evangelize:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (3:16)

Do you believe we are in the last days? Then God is asking us to patiently correct, rebuke, encourage each other. We need to be training people in righteousness, not just right living. People need to know Jesus and accept His righteousness.

We are celebrating the birth of Jesus this week. What better time to start a conversation with our unsaved loved ones about what that birth means. Jesus was born to die for them!

These are no doubt the “last days.” What are you and I doing about that?