Tag Archives: witnessing

The Good Old, Bad Old Days (Job 29-31)

In Job’s final speech to his friends, he talked about the past, the days he enjoyed a prosperous life, when he was able to help the poor with his material wealth. He remembered the strangers who found shelter in his home, and the respect he received from everyone who knew him.

“How I long for the months gone by,” he said in 29:2, “for the days when God watched over me.” In verse 4 he said, “Oh for the days when I was in my prime…” (Well, actually I have said the same a time or two myself!)

Job looked at the past with longing. And many of us do that, too. We remember the good old days, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing…

  1. unless we allow our memories to paralyze us. The truth is, life was easier for me before my back problems. Life was more exciting when I had more energy and the future was promising. But today the days of my past outnumber the days of my future. The days of the past were innocent and full of new things to learn. Today my look at the world can be jaded. So, do I sit in my recliner and remember the good old days while ignoring my present and future? Do I find more comfort remembering the past than I do embracing the present and looking ahead to my future?  Isn’t it a waste of precious time to live in the past?
  2. unless our memories are not true. Our minds have a way of inflating the good while diminishing the reality of the ugliness that existed, too. The opposite can be true as well, and can be so destructive if all we remember is the bad. No past is all good, or all bad.

My dad loved being a dad. We five girls were his everything. That is, until we became teenagers, and then adults with minds of our own. That was hard for Dad. And I think he always longed to go back to the days when his little girls were still his little girls. I’m not saying we weren’t able to enjoy a good relationship with him once we got through those awkward teenage years. But I think he was always a bit disappointed we grew up. And I think that colored the relationships we had with him as adults.

Living in the past, whether real or imagined, is an act of futility. Life will never be the same as it was when we were kids. We can’t go back. Time marches on. And if I am honest, my past has been fun and blessed and amazing; but it has also been painful and lonely and hard. Would I really want to relive all of it?

Warren Wiersbe says this:

“The good old days are are often a combination of a bad memory and a good imagination.” (With The Word, Thomas Nelson Press; 1991; page 298)

Yep. That pretty much describes it, doesn’t it? But Wiresbe also said something that hit me this morning on page 297 of With The Word:

“The past must be more than a memory; it must be a ministry.”

I am thankful for the gift of memory, even though not all my memories make me happy. So, what am I doing with that gift of memory? Am I sitting on it in the privacy of my own home, wishing, longing, regretting, or obsessing? Or am I using my past experiences to help someone today, January 11, 2020? Am I remembering my blessings so to encourage others, my mistakes to challenge or to warn someone who needs a reality check?

The past is the past, there is no going back. But our past can also be a tool to be used on behalf of others, for their sakes and God’s glory. Let’s remember the good old, bad old days, and allow it to minister to someone who needs our wisdom and experience to help them along the way.

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.

December 21; A Charge

2 Timothy 2-4; Hebrews 1

I hope you will read Paul’s charge to Timothy and hear God speaking to you. The fact is, the time of Jesus’ return is 2,000 years closer than when Paul wrote these words. We may be 2,000 years before that blessed event yet today, but Scripture tells us to be prepared. It could be 2,000 years from now. It could be today.

This is Paul’s charge from chapter 4:

  1. Preach the Word
  2. be prepared in season and out of season
  3. correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction
  4. keep your head in all situations
  5. endure hardship
  6. do the work of the evangelist
  7. discharge all the duties of your ministry

Friend, our relationship with God has to be intentional. It cannot be mere emotion, or something we put on a shelf like a trophy. You and I need to be using our minds, keeping our heads in all situations.

In chapter 3 Paul talks about the evils of the last days and warns us about those who live lives of greed, pride, disobedience, slander… He tells us to have nothing to do with them. Why?

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires… 

Now before you men start to feeling smug here, I’ve known some pretty gullible men, too. I don’t think I’m going out of bounds to suggest this warning is for all of us. None of us are immune from the wiles of the devil.

And I can’t help but think evil is worming its way into our homes through the internet and cable TV. Be ware!

That’s why my prayer is that any who read this blog will be encouraged to be in the God’s Word every day. Reading. Studying. Praying about it. Memorizing it. Re-reading it. And obeying it. Please let God grow you and strengthen you through the pages of His precious Word. And take Paul’s charge to Timothy as your own.

 

 

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 18; Reputations

Titus; I Peter 1:1-2:12

Do you consider what kind of reputation you have among your friends and acquaintances? What about the school you went to? What are they known for? How about your workplace, your neighborhood, your church? What do people believe about people who work, live, and worship there?

Should we be concerned with our reputations? Or, like some would say, “What people think about me is not my problem.”

Paul, in Titus 1 quoted a prophet from the Island of Crete who said this:

Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons… 

Ouch.

But then Paul goes on to say “This testimony is true.” Double ouch.

I used to tell my students that anytime someone said, “always,” or “everybody,” or “all,” what followed was usually not true. But Paul seems to back up the idea that if you are from the Island of Crete you are a lazy, lying, glutton. I doubt that reputation did much for the tourist trade.

In his letters, Paul will often talk about how we should live. He uses words like servant, patient, kind, godly…

And he said something in Titus 2:19 that I believe sums up why our reputations should be stellar.

…so that in every way (we) will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.

He goes on to tell us to say “No” to ungodliness, to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives. Why is that important? So that God will bless us with material comfort, health, and happiness? Or should we want the kind of reputation that will reveal Jesus in us, and encourage others to want Him for themselves?

If we have reputations for being liars, partiers, or having dirty minds, what about that would draw anyone to a Holy God? Using Paul’s example in his letter to Titus, what about the reputation of the Cretans would make anyone want to visit there, much less live there?

Let me suggest that your reputation is very important as you represent Jesus. Let’s determine to live lives that are genuine, that are patient, kind, grounded in Truth and consistent in our walk. Let’s have a reputation for being joyful, giving, honest, servants of the Savior so that others will want what we have through the blood of Jesus.

Have you considered your reputation? You should.

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.