Tag Archives: witnessing

Signs of Repentance

Jonah

The King of Ninevah sent a decree out to the citizens of his city. He had heard Jonah’s warning and believed God was angry enough at their sin, to destroy the city. At that realization, the king repented and put on sack cloth and ashes, a visible sign of his repentance.

This is what the king said to the Ninevites:

No one, not even the animals from your herds and flocks, may eat or drink anything at all. People and animals alike must wear garments of mourning, and everyone must pray earnestly to God. They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence. Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.

So they did, and God didn’t destroy them.

Should the Church come together in repentance? Should Christians fast, put on visible signs of mourning? I wonder if we all wore black arm bands to signify our own turning from sin. Can you imagine the conversations we would have, the opportunities we’d have to share Jesus?

We might not be 40 days from God’s judgment on our nation and the world. But God’s judgment is coming. Are you satisfied knowing at least you’d go to heaven? Or do you share God’s burden for all those who will not, all those who still need to surrender to Him before it’s too late?

The only thing that will stay His hand is repentance, obedience, surrender. Are you wearing visible signs of your own repentance? How you look, what you say, where you go, how you treat people, how you stand for God’s truth are visible signs I hope you are wearing.

Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.

Who Are Your Friends?

2 Chronicles 24

What kinds of people do you surround yourself with? The old saying, “You are who your friends are,” is true.

Ben Franklin, in his Poor Richard’s Almanac wrote: “If you lie with dogs, you get up with fleas.”

Studies show that people who hang out together eventually adopt each other’s clothing styles, opinions, hand and facial gestures, and even voice intonation. I bet you’ve noticed some of that in siblings. Do you recognize it in your group of friends? It’s probably there.

When King Joash hung out with Jehoiada the priest, he did amazing things for the Lord. The people restored the Temple under Joash’s leadership, and true worship of God was once again filling those walls.

But it seems the minute Jehoiada died, Joash moved on. He surrounded himself with the “leaders of Judah” (vs 17) and reinstated idolatry. The nation would suffer God’s judgment for that.

We ought to follow Jesus’ example. He went to sinners, ate with them in their homes, touched them. But He didn’t park there. He surrounded Himself with believers, those who had left their old way of life to follow Him.

Jesus commands us to GO and make disciples. But Scripture also tells us to be separate from unbelievers, to not neglect the fellowship with believers. We are told to join together as children of God so that we are ready to venture out into the world to share Jesus with the lost.

But we aren’t to look or sound like the world, not to accept or copy their sin.

I believe if we spend more time surrounded by non-believers, we run into the danger of looking and thinking like them. It’s human nature.

So again, what kinds of people do you surround yourself with? If your closest friends aren’t born again Christians, if you aren’t spending quality time in church and in small groups studying God’s Word with friends who will hold you accountable, you need to do better. Choose friends better.

You can pet a flea infested dog, you can feed it, and not get fleas. But if you lie down with a flea infested dog, you’ll get up with those little buggers on you.

And there’s a price to pay for that.

Character

Proverbs 8-13

Wisdom. Integrity. Honesty. Discipline. Trust. A good work ethic. Good sense. Truth.

All these, and more, are mentioned in Solomon’s proverbs and ought to be present in every believer.

Yesterday in Sunday School, we talked about the fact that Paul used himself as an example of how to live this Christian life. “Imitate me,” he said in 2 Thessalonians 3. Paul had nothing to hide, and confidently put himself in a fishbowl.

Could I do that? Could you? Or are we trying to hide a tiny sin that would expose us as hypocrites?

The book of Proverbs reminds me that my character is as important as my testimony. Maybe more so as I represent my Savior to a world that needs Him.

Follow My Example?

I Chronicles 29

King David gave generously from his own treasures toward the building of the Temple in Jerusalem. Then he went to the people and challenged them to follow his example.

That spoke to me today. God has give me so much, blessed me way beyond what I deserve. Not financially, necessarily. Although I have enough to be comfortable. But I certainly don’t have the equivalent of tons of gold and silver to throw around.

Yet God is reminding me how truly rich I am.

I have my health, a working brain. I have hands and feet and a voice. I have Jesus! I have the forgiveness of my sin, and the gifts of having the Spirit of God in me: love, joy, peace…

I have God’s own words at my fingertips!

The questions then, are these: Am I using these things generously toward the building of God’s Church? Am I investing in people, introducing unsaved people to their Savior?

And, would I ever in a million years suggest you follow my example?

I’m wondering if I’d want you to put in the same amount of time I put into serving God; if I’d want you to use your talents in the same way I use mine for the glory of God. I wonder if I exercise my faith in a way I’d want you to exercise yours, or am I serving half-heartedly, giving only what I think I can afford, hoping you’ll not notice?

David said, “follow my example.” Can I say that to you?

If not, why not?

David’s prayer in verses 10-19 reminds me that everything I have belongs to God. It all came from God in the first place. I own nothing. I am nothing. But I am a steward of everything He’s given me.

May God, when He examines my heart rejoice when He finds integrity, when He finds me giving away with both hands what He’s given me, so that someone will come to His saving grace.

I pray the same for you.

Who Are We Listening To?

Numbers 11

I never noticed it before. I’ve read about the Jews complaining about the manna many times. But I guess I overlooked the fact the complaining began with “the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites.” (verse 4)

Makes me wonder. Are the changes in the Church coming from fully surrendered Christians inside the Church, or from people on the fringe who want to hold on to a bit of the world, people who want to feel good about themselves, and enjoy an entertaining hour on Sunday morning and call it worship?

Do we inside the Church hear a complaint (I’m sick of manna. I’m sick of hymns. I want meat. I want a cappuccino) and think, “Yeah. Me, too”?

The Israelites, instead of encouraging the foreigners to appreciate the God given manna and to praise Him for His blessings, took on the sin of the foreigners and complained themselves. Instead of pointing the foreigners to God, the foreigners pointed the Israelites to themselves. Many Israelites died as a result.

I wonder if we haven’t taken on the sin of self-centered, worldly desires of our foreigners, too, instead of helping them understand worship is not about them, not about their likes or dislikes, but about a sacrificial surrender and focus on God? Do we inside the church prepare those who are on the fringe to worship God in spirit and truth, or are we just interested in making them like us?

Who are we listening to? If we are listening to the “foreign rabble,” or today’s unchurched, we might be listening to the wrong people. At least that’s what I see here in God’s Word.

Remember The Day

Job 29

Was Job wrong to long for the days before tragedy struck? He had been wealthy, respected, and revered. He’d been healthy and happy. Now, after losing it all he wished he could go back when life was easy and all his children were around him. Who wouldn’t?

Sometimes I think how nice it would be to go back to my childhood, in our comfortable home, hanging out with my little sisters. It was a time when our parents worried about paying the bills, putting food on the table, the need of a newer car… and I never gave those things a thought.

It was a time when my parents went to work, and we went outside to play.Oh, there were awful things happening in the world at that time. But our parents protected us from the worry of most of it.

I don’t think it’s wrong to look back. In fact, memory is a blessing to encourage us, teach us, comfort us, and to challenge us to do better and be better. But don’t live in the past.

Longing for the good old days shouldn’t prevent us from living today. We can’t go back. Those days are gone and will never return. But we have today.

We have today to do better and be better, to be nurturing a relationship with the LORD and being His servant. We have today to grow, and to represent Jesus to our neighbors and friends.

In fact, Paul tells us his philosophy:

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)

Someday, years from now, someone is going to long for life the way it was in 2022. Maybe they’ll be remembering the day you introduced them to their Savior.

(Luke 12) Given Much

I’ve heard it said that people who haven’t heard the Gospel will be judged less severely than those who hear and reject it. I’ve even heard it said people who never hear about Jesus will get a free pass. And often, the people who believe that will use 12:48 as the basis for their belief. But is that what Jesus was saying here?

We need to ask ourselves about whom Jesus is speaking – and to whom he is saying it. Is He referring to saved and unsaved people? If you go back to verse 41 and read this whole section, you’ll see He is referring to believers. He’s talking about servants, managers, which begs the question – whose servants are they and whose property do they manage?

This message is for His disciples, those who have been given much!

We who are believers, students, servants of God, will be accountable for more when He returns. The longer I walk with Him, the sweeter the walk, and the more responsibility I have as His child.

You don’t hold a first grader accountable for passing a twelfth grade exit exam, and you don’t reward a twelfth grader for knowing only what a first grader knows. And, yes, God punishes both for not knowing what they are given at their level of understanding.

So don’t use this verse as an excuse for not supporting missions or evangelistic efforts, thinking people would be better off if they never hear about Jesus. The truth is, Jesus is still the only way to the Father.

And you will be held accountable for what you do about that with the knowledge you have received. If you are a believer and have dealt with your own sin at the foot of the cross, you’ve already been given much!

(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.