Tag: encouragement

Wolves Among You – Beware

Ethan-Vanderbuilt-A-Wolf-in-Sheeps-Clothing

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:28-30)

The other day I read an article that was written by a young man. In this article the young man said that he was a profession Christian. He also went on to talk about how he, at moments in times past, had very passionate evangelistic experiences, where he went and testified to people about Jesus, and tried earnestly to win souls to Christ.

Then he went into error; the young man put forth the argument that Jesus is not the only way to God. He explained that since God created everything, then by virtue of God’s omniscience, he also created the other religions of the world. This faulty reasoning had led him to believe that God had given us numerous ways to approach him in the various religions of the world. “After all don’t all religions end up in the same place?” I want to make sure that everyone knows; that this young man’s doctrine is a false doctrine. I will concur that all religion does led to the same place.  They all lead to hell.  Religion does not save a single soul. Only believe in Jesus as the Son of God, who sacrificed himself for our sin, and acceptance of this truth in faith; that he died, was buried, rose again, and will return to establish his kingdom, and this is the only way to the Father will save anyone.

Please pray for this young man, because; the deceptive lies and half-truths that he speaks shows that he is not saved, because he actually does not believe and have his faith in Jesus Christ alone. In John 8:44 it reads, “ye are of your father the devil, and the lust of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”

So then if you do the will of your father and you show signs of lies, deceipt, rebellion against the will of God, trying to make your own way to God then you are your father the devil.  What then in the will of God the Father? Jesus puts this all into very simple terms, “And this is the will of him (the Father) that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son (Jesus), and believeth on him, may have everlasting life:  and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6.40).  Acceptance of Jesus as the only way to the Father shows you to be in the will of God, and a child of your heavenly Father.  This is the way to life eternal with God.

In the 13th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew Jesus explains that the devil intentionally places it agents in the midst of the church. “He answered and said unto them, he that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are of the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tears are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.” This verse along with Matthew 7:21 tells us that not everyone who says Lord, Lord, shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that do at the will of my father which is in heaven.  Instead the devil puts in tares among the wheat, that is he puts in false believers among the believers.  These false believers sow in false doctrines in an attempt to confuse and weaken the faith of the true beleivers.

This false concept of having more than one way to God, or more than one God, is nothing new. In Isaiah 14:13 – 15, which is believed to have been written between 740-680 B.C., it reveals the intent of Satan to exalt himself above the throne of God.

“For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God:  I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”(Isaiah 14:13-15)

The worship of other gods has never been accepted by the one true God. Exodus 20:3 – 5 states, “thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto the any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;” this is a very serious offense that the Lord warns us not to commit. By way of example, you can open your Bible to 2 Kings and see the story of Moab in the first chapter. In this story Ahaziah tried to consult one of the profits of Baal-zebub, who was the god of Ekron, and the Lord slayed him because he sought another god.

Now let’s take a look at what the Lord says in the book of Isaiah. “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that you may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: if you’re me there is no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, and the Lord; and beside me there is no savior.” (Isaiah 43:10 – 11). As you can see the Lord is very clear on this point, there is only one God, and the Lord is that God. There is no other way to salvation, but through him. Jesus himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6). The book of the Gospel of John testifies, “in the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was the life; and the life was light of men.” (John 1:1 – 4).

The consequence of believing that Jesus is just another god, or that there are many ways to God other than Jesus, is evidence of lack of faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. With this profession, you condemn yourself. “I said therefore unto you that she shall die in your sins: for if you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sins.” (John 8:24). So I warn you now, if you hear anyone putting out any other gospel other than salvation through Jesus Christ alone than that is a false teacher that is going to lead many people to death. You do not need to listen to them because all they will do is try to confuse you.

I will close with this Scripture from Galatians 1:6 – 10, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, say so I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet please men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”

If anyone declares any other gospel to you, other than the gospel of Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation, no matter how nice they talk, or how convincing the logical argument might seem, they are in error and should be removed from your presence.

 

 

Wolf Image from Ether Vanderbuilt

Pray in the Right Attitude

There are a lot of books and study packages and helpful hints on prayer that are readily available throughout the United States and the Internet. The way that they present themselves are like some kind of magic remedying, or sometimes special invocation used to get what we want out of God. It is clear by looking in the book of Matthew chapter 6 that the shoes always been a misunderstanding on how we should approach God in prayer. I think that is of special note, that the Lord himself thinks it’s a is so important that we understand how to pray, and how to seek the Lord, that he left as an example. This example is what we often referred to as the Lord’s prayer or the our father. We can find is prayer located in Matthew chapter 6 starting in verse 9.

 

Matthew 6:9-13 King James Version (KJV)

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this Day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Laura clearly leaves this prayer as an example of how we should praise, the type of praise and offering the should be offered in prayer, and one of our attitude in prayer. Something that we should also consider, is this prayer closely models the prayer that was prayed by King David, as he will made ready to relinquish his throne to his son Solomon. When David prayed he prayed in this manner.

1 Chronicles 29:10 – 13 (KJV)

“wherefore David bless the Lord before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, Lord God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Nine, oh Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in heaven and in the years is thine; thine is the kingdom, oh Lord, and thou art exalted as head of all. Both riches and honor come to the of the, and out rainiest overall; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength into all. Now therefore, our God, we think the, and praise thy glorious name.”

It is no accident, that the Lord chose the model of prayer given in Matthew after the prayer of David given Chronicles. It is often said that David was a man after God’s own heart. This prayer shows how much David understood the Lord, and understood his place in the Lord’s will. First of all David in his heart knew that only God deserves the blessings of all creation. He understood that all power and all glory anything that we could ever achieve is done through God the father. He understood the relationship that God had with Israel. The relationship between God and Israel, God and King David, was very unique and was one built on love. If you look back through the histories of other cultures and their gods, you’ll see quite a different relationship. Other cultures and other religions do not have a loving God who provides everything for them for their benefit out of his good pleasure. This same unique relationship is carried over to us as believers in Christ. This love relationship is demonstrated in the death and the burial in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

So then first we must understand that everything that we have is actually a gift from God. Everything that we own in reality belongs to God. When we speak of everything we are talking about our finances, livelihoods, health, and even the very breath we breathe. If we approach our prayer in the correct attitude, and we give God to credit is due to God, then we find ourselves not asking for petty little things that God already provides for us. Instead we enter into true worship with an understanding of the provisions that are already made by God. In seeking God in prayer, we should seek to return the love that he showed us.

Looking back at Matthew chapter 6 we can also see Jesus was very concerned about our attitude in prayer and why we choose to pray. That we should be seeking the father with all earnestness all sincerity in our heart. Jesus said, “take heed that you do not you’re on before men, to be seen of them”. He also said that we should not present ourselves out before meant just to be seen of men to be doing good things for God but we should be sincere and we should pray secretly in private because God once a one-on-one relationship with us and he once us to really spend time with him. The father does not want us to be superficial in our actions and our hopes and in our love for him. While the our father is a good model and learning how to pray it should not be a repetitious prayer. Instead the model of the Lord’s prayer shows we should love the Lord our God with all of our hearts. The our father also shows that we should have respect for God for the provisions he makes. We should be submissive to his will in our lives by actively seeking his will. We should be living a life that shows that we are his children, because he is a good father who provides far daily needs before we even ask. We do this by forgiving others like he forgave us. We should also acknowledge the fact that it is he who guides us and leads us to our daily lives protecting us from temptations and from the evil things there are around us those who seek to harm us.

Because he does all these things we can with joy in our hearts give praise to our heavenly father because he is the ultimate authority in the universe. He has all authority, provides everything we need, and he does it because he loves us like a good father should. Those of you who have children know that there’s nothing that you would not do for your children to provide for their safety for their health for their financial support, and even for the little toys that they want Christmas. Knowing this then, that your heavenly father who created everything, who owns everything, who wants to give everything to you, can and will provide everything you need if you’ll just come to him. There is no invocation there is no secret formula there is no special prayer. Instead there is a recognition of God for who he is, an understanding that he loves you, and that he is willing to give you good gifts. But of these gifts, the greatest gift that he wants to give you is eternal life in fellowship with him. This was provided the sacrifice that was made by Jesus Christ when he died on the cross to redeem your who and your whole life to the Father.  So the question is, if God love you so much to sacrifice his own son, how much more will he give you if seek him first, and you ask in faith, believing he can do whatever you ask.

So go to your closet, get on your knees, give credit where credit is do.  Be sincere with your Heavenly Father, seek his will, and when He answers, be faithful.

 

What Are We Doing With the Great Commission?

The spreading of the gospel is what created the church (Col. 1.5-6), and the primary message of the church is the gospel (1 Cor. 15.1-3).  By saying that, the spreading of the gospel is the primary message of the church, it is meant that we begin with the process of telling others the truth of Christ and salvation.  Salvation in Christ is not only believing, but accepting.  Accepting the Salvation offered through Jesus Christ means you HAVE BECOME A DISCIPLE.  Disciples MAKE disciples. This is what evangelism is, the start of that process.

Probably the most powerful verse in evangelism is what we call the great commission.  In this Jesus meets with his 12 disciples on a mountain and gives them one last bit of encouragement and a command.

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”  (Matthew 28.19-20).

A successful business has a business plan, and in that plan covers the vision and the goal for the business.  The Great Commission is that for the church.  It gives us our mission: What we are called to do; Our Vision: Where we hope to go; Our Plan: How we will get there: and Our Response:  What we need to do. We are told to “go”.  We should be a reaching church, ever expanding our message.  If you study things in nature, they are always growing, or they are dying.  If a tree stops growing then it rots from the inside-out.  This is the condition we see allot of local churches in today.

Jesus said, “As the Father sent Me, so I send you (John 20.21). This was God’s plan from the very beginning.  From the Old Testament on into the New Testament God demonstrated his plan of repentance and salvation through the word of mouth shared by men to men (mankind to mankind).  This spreading of the Word of God came through prophets, teachers, scribes, kings, Apostles and, finally, disciples.  In Acts 1.8 scripture tells us that we are to be witnesses of Jesus, starting in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  We read in the gospel of Mark that we are to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16.15).

We are not to be idle and wait for people to come to us.  We are to actively take the gospel to all nations, all peoples, all tongues.  This means we should reach out not only to foreign missions, but in our very neighborhoods.  We reach them by preaching, and teaching.  We have to teach them about the love of God and the salvation in Jesus Christ.  We have to proclaim what is acceptable to the Lord God.  We have to teach them how to apply these lessons in their life.  We are to baptize them in accordance to the profession of their belief in Christ.  Immediately we get them in an outward expression of faith, showing others that they are disciples of Christ Jesus.  Evangelism is never an end of means.  Evangelism is a starting point for the new convert.

Evangelism is part of a continuing cycle of growth in the Christian and in the local Church.  Evangelism is a beginning in once sense and the process is a continuing of growth in the other. Like a tree that grows from a single seed, it puts out roots, stretches for the sky, bathes in the Sun and grows up and puts out more seeds that are carried by the winds to new locations. Christians should focus everything in their lives to keeping the gospel message at the center of our mental, spiritual, and emotional life.  This is achieved through deliberate, prayer rooted in Christ, Spirit led, lovingly felt, fervent Personal Evangelism.

One of the deacons shared a story in my Sunday school class on Personal Evangelism.  He told of how a woman had come in to the church just before the service and asked for money for food.  One of the members went out and talked with the couple and believed that their situation was sincere.  The member gave them some money and told them that after they had eaten to come back to the church and join the service.  While that was a good and noble thing to do, it was a wasted opportunity.  What would have been so wrong with two or more members missing service and going with that couple, buying their meal or even some groceries and then sitting with them right then and sharing Christ? That would be keeping the gospel the center in the situation.  If we look at the examples of Jesus and the Apostles in the New Testament we see that they met the immediate need, but they also went further to identify the real spiritual need and offer a solution.  Yes we are to care for the widows, and orphans, and the poor and needy, but we need to care for their spiritual needs as well as the physical, medical, and financial needs.  We do this by sharing everything we know about Christ.

Evangelism is probably the best way to keep the message of the saving grace of Jesus Christ a reality in our lives.  If we are actively evangelizing and concentrating on spreading the gospel it is less likely we will be distracted by the world.  Having gospel conversations with unbelievers builds up our knowledge and confidence in the scriptures.  Being intellectually challenged drives us to seek a deeper understanding of Christ in the scriptures, in history, and in science.  We get to learn more about God’s character, his holiness and judgments, we gain a deeper understanding of how God works in man.  We have to think through how to explain all these concepts to different types of audiences.  This gives us better tools to study and trace God’s truths in scripture and see the evidence in life itself.

Soldiers are taught tasks and skills then immediately are made to go and teach other soldiers these newly learned skills.  This makes them learn the tasks and skill development on a deeper level than they would have ever know in just listening to lectures.  Philemon 1.6 says “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”  Knowing and explaining the gospel to someone who does not understand it or believe in it is different than having an academic understanding.  This process of personal evangelism enlightens the one teaching as well as the one receiving.   Brian Parks in his 9Marks Journal gives 6 Benefits of Evangelism fir Disciples:

  1. Evangelism helps keep the gospel central in our lives and churches
  2. Evangelism deepens our understanding of the most fundamental truths of Scripture
  3. Properly motivated evangelism grows our love for God and neighbor
  4. Evangelism prompts unexpected questions and objections from non-Christians, which can deepen our faith
  5. Evangelism protects us from mistakenly assuming that those around us are saved.
  6. Evangelism increases the likelihood of being persecuted for the gospel which leads to our growth

(“Six Benefits of Evangelism for Discipleship.” 9Marks, www.9marks.org/article/journalsix-benefits-evangelism-discipleship/.)

Evangelism by individual members has a direct effect on church growth.  If we look in the book of Acts there are several examples of how the local churches grew after a short period of active evangelism by its members.  Acts 11:19-26 tells us of how, that after persecution in Jerusalem, some believers went to Antioch and began telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus and how the hand of the Lord was with them and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.  It goes further to say that believers in Christ were first call Christians at Antioch.  The strength of the evangelism effort has a direct relation to the growth of the church.  The local church and its membership should be a vibrant and dynamic reality in the local community.

The early churches demonstrated a recognition of needs in the local area, and even in other distant churches.  Each member of the community was concerned about the welfare of the whole and the individual above themselves.  Resources were shared and this created a social-economic system the benefitted all those around the church area.  The effects of evangelism made it possible for these churches to grow and have a positive effect on their neighbors, their civil governments, and eventually the whole country and even the world.  The church is responsible for the widespread use of the tablet form of writing, what we call a book today.  The church is responsible for the advent of schools, hospitals, and vocational centers, for rehabilitation centers and even the Constitution of the United States, the freedom from slavery instituted in Britain and the U.S. came from church movements.  The “Ivy League” schools were originally schools of Biblical Study.  Personal Evangelism has had a great effect on the world.

Christian organizations supply food and clothing to poor, war torn communities all over the world.  Christian legal teams fight slavery, sexual trafficking, Christian and Jewish persecution, and abortion not only in the United States, but in places like Africa, Iraq, Israel and all across Europe.  Without evangelism efforts these Christian churches would not have the resources to send missionaries to local neighborhoods, much less to the foreign mission field.  God provides for these missionaries from the harvest of the evangelism effort.  The building up of the local churches and the resources that they share are affected by the evangelist efforts put forward in their own communities.  With all the good that we do in our neighborhood and in the world around us we must not forget that these are by-products of the spread of the gospel.  Evangelism is for making changes in people’s lives.

Remember back to Matthew 28:20, Jesus commanded that we are to teach the nations “all that I have commanded”, and to “observe all that I have commanded.”  The command is not just to have them confess Christ, but to teach them to be obedient to what Jesus has commanded.  Remember the Lord prefers obedience over sacrifice.  He must be worshiped in Spirit and in Truth.  Those who obey His commandments demonstrate the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  Faith that saves has the sign of obedience.  Scripture tells us that we should not be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of the mind.  The renewing of the mind is accomplished by the Spirit of God by the study of scripture and fellowship with Christ.  Is this what we are doing?

“How do we usually read this scripture, which is familiarly called The Great Commission? Ordinarily we read it like this, “Go ye therefore, but if you don’t want to go, you can sing in the choir as a substitute and let someone else go for you, teaching all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Other people read it like this, “Go ye therefore, but if you don’t want to go, you can teach a Sunday School class on Sunday morning as a substitute for going and let someone else go for you teaching all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Or, sometimes folks read it like this, “Go ye therefore, but if you are afraid to go or don’t want to go, you can paint on the church building as a substitute and let someone else go for you teaching all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” There’s just one thing wrong with all these various renditions of the scripture as the church members ordinarily read it; it’s not in the Bible. No matter what you say when you get out your Bible, you m7ill still read Jesus saying to you, “go YE therefore and teach all nations.” It does not say anything about if you do not want to go or are afraid to go. It simply says, “GO!” I’m afraid that we in the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ of America have not been going like Jesus Christ told us to go.” (“God’s Plan for World Evangelism.” Sermon 15a)

The sad thing is that most modern Christians have never won a soul to Christ.  In fact most church going Christians do not even try to share their faith, or even invite friends or family to their church for fear of rejection of ridicule.  The danger in this is that Jesus said that whoever is ashamed of me in from of men, him I will be ashamed of in front of my Father.  Many churches don’t even get out in their local cities and perform a corporate level of evangelism.  There is virtually no effort to train or hold church members accountable to participate in Sunday school recruitment or youth development or recruitment programs.  The lack of identifiable leadership in evangelism is often used as an excuse by the members of the congregation to avoid their obligation to share the gospel. The result is that local churches are closing their doors all over the United States.  Members are disenfranchised and quit.  They lack the vision and without a vision they eventually give up and die. The following statistics were released in 1993 from Michael Parrott of Spokane, WA.

EVANGELISTIC STATISTICS

Ninety-five percent of all Christians have never won a soul to Christ.
Eighty percent of all Christians do not consistently witness for Christ.
Less than two percent are involved in the ministry of evangelism.
Seventy-one percent do not give toward the financing of the great Commission.

One particular denomination did a survey on its leadership ministries. The results are as follows:

  • 63% of the leadership in this denomination, including deacons and elders, have not led one stranger to Jesus in the last two years through the method of “Go Ye” evangelism.
  • 49% of the leadership ministries spend zero time in an average week ministering outside of the church.
  • 89% of the leadership ministries have zero time reserved on their list of weekly priorities for going out to evangelize.
  • 99% of the leadership ministries believe that every Christian, including leadership, has been commanded to preach the gospel to a lost world.
  • 97% believe that if the leadership had a greater conviction and involvement in evangelism, that it would be an example for the church to follow.
  • 96% of the leadership believe their churches would have grown faster if they would have been more involved in evangelism.

Because of this, our results in evangelism have been mediocre, at best.

(“Street Level Evangelism, Where is the Space for the Local Evangelist,” by Michael Parrott, Acts Evangelism, Spokane, WA, 1993, pp. 9-11.)

We should constantly analyze ourselves with regards to the “Great Commission”.  Are we effectively reaching our neighbors? Are we teaching those we reach?  Are we seeing lives changed because of the gospel message we proclaim?  What are we that we should not be doing?  What are we NOT doing that we should be doing to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ? The uppermost desire for every Christian should be to bring someone to Christ.  You can do the personal work that you are called to do as an individual Christian.  You can work and win a soul to Christ.  All it took was one man crying in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord!”  Jesus started by getting one disciple.  Then one disciple got another. All it takes is one person in your neighborhood to proclaim the gospel of Christ.

 

References

“Southern Baptist Convention.” Southern Baptist Convention The Baptist Faith and Message. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 July 2017.

Foundations: An Overview of Systematic Theolog. Perf. R. C. Sproul. Series 11: Three In Persons. Right Now Media, n.d. Web. 28 July 2017.

Coleman, Robert Emerson, and Billy Graham. The Master Plan of Evangelism. Revell, 2008.

“God’s Plan of Salvation.” Bible.org, bible.org/article/gods-plan-salvation.

  1. C. Ryle, Practical Religion (Darlington: Evangelical, 2001), 73

Lindsey, Art, PhD. “The Priesthood of All Believers.” Institute for Faith, Works and Economics (2013): Print.PDF

The Biblical Evangelist, biblicalevangelist.org/index.php?id. 4 August 2017

Steele, David N., et al. The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, Documented. P & R Publications, 2004.

Zagzebski, Linda. “Foreknowledge and Free Will.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 13 Apr. 2017, plato.stanford.edu/entries/free-will-foreknowledge/.

“Ezekiel 3:19 Commentary – John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible.” Bible Study Tools,

“Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry.” Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry, II, no. 2, 2014. FALL, doi:The Gospel and Evangelism. www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/ezekiel-3-19.html.

“Six Benefits of Evangelism for Discipleship.” 9Marks, www.9marks.org/article/journalsix-benefits-evangelism-discipleship/.

Unknown. “God’s Plan for World Evangelism.” Sermon 15a, www.white-fields.org/uploads/1/5/7/7/15776806/my_favorite_missionary_sermons_sermon_15a.pdf.

“Street Level Evangelism, Where is the Space for the Local Evangelist,” by Michael Parrott, Acts Evangelism, Spokane, WA, 1993, pp. 9-11.

Be Not Weary in Doing Well

“But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.” (II Thessalonians 3.13)

Life can get overwhelming sometimes.  We can often overstretch ourselves in trying to be there for everyone in every situation.  Our finances get overtaxed, and our patience gets a little run down.  We sometimes mean to do well, but we just keep hitting barriers.  It seems that the good things we try to do for one another are just taken for granted or even misunderstood.  Sometimes the things we need to do out of love, are just painful.

Paul tells us, relax, and just keep going.  Don’t let yourself get run down or frustrated.  Paul tells us in this chapter of Thessalonians that some of us just turn into busybodies. Work for the Lord should be done to the Lord, and not to men’s eyes.  Don’t be busy trying to please men and seeming to be busy with the work of the Lord, when in actuality you are just busy trying to be a people pleaser.  Remember you are NOT God.  You don’t have the authority to sit in judgement over others.

The best way to help someone is to pray for them.  Lift up their needs before the One who CAN make a difference in their lives, and their lifestyle.  We should always do everything in love, not out of a burdened grudge.  Remember to take time in the Lord for yourself.  Jesus said that the Sabbath was made form man, not man for the Sabbath.

At one time Jesus sent his disciples out to spread the Word and when they returned he asked them, how did it go?  They then replied with all they had said and done.  When they had completed, Jesus told them no go away to a private place and rest.  You see it is necessary for us to take time to rest.  Just as you need sleep at the end of the day you also need to recharge your spirit.  Jesus would often get away and pray in private.

I was reading through my studies and found a card my wife had wrote me.  The card was very nice and encouraging. It did not ask for anything, it just expressed her desire to be with me. Sometimes just a simple encouragement is all we really need to give someone.  The card she wrote me said this;

“All I want is to love you for the rest of my life… to wake up every morning with you by my side, knowing that no matter what happens, I’ll be able to come home to your loving arms.  All I want is to share everything with you… to talk to you about our ideas, our dreams, the little everyday things that make us laugh, and the not-so-little things that we can’t help worrying about.  All I want is to give you my love… as a place you can always come to for acceptance or the simple comfort that silence brings when things left unspoken can still be understood.  All I want is to grow old with you… to watch our live unfold, our dreams, one by one, come true.  All I want is to love you forever. – Love Me”

Every morning my wife and I get up, we start the day with a cup of coffee and some quiet time with one another before we start our daily routines.  I cannot tell you how valuable this time is to me, and how it helps my day.  Then when she gets off to work, I spend time in prayer and in reading my daily bible readings.  I start every morning the same way, no matter what day of the week, if I am working or a day off.  I spend time with my wife and my Jesus, before anything else.  If I did not, I don’t think I could get through the day.

My wife and I talk, text and pray for one another throughout the day.  My Savior and I talk and sing together throughout the day.  These are the things that keep my battery charged.  I look forward to spending time with them every moment of the day. I enjoy having time alone with the Word and to feel the presence of the Spirit of the Lord.  Knowing that Jesus is coming back to take us home is the hope that we should all have, and express.

1st hand knowledge our Lord is why we should not be weary in doing well.  We should always work with the end game in mind.  Just as I look forward to the end of the day when I can have some quiet time with my wife and to the next morning when I can sit with her over coffee.  Just as I know the Lord is right there with us as we pray for our loved ones and our friends, just as we know that the Lord is coming to bring us home.  Just as we know that the Lord is returning soon, we should be motivated to please him, not man.

To many Christians are caught up in trying to be everything the world thinks that they should be.  Instead, be what is pleasing to your Father in Heaven.  Be a child of the Father.  Live with this focus in mind and you will do well.  Do well because it pleases your Heavenly Father, and also take time with Him and let Him know you love Him too.

A New Year : Keep Your Focus!

Philippians 3:13-15

I remember when I was in the Basic Non-Commissioned Officer’s Coarse while stationed in the U.S. Army, at Hawaii. We had a 12 Mile forced march that we had to complete under 3 hours. Now this doesn’t seem to difficult at first mention. Especially if you consider that we were all Infantry soldiers, and this was a small distance for us. We got up early, as usual, and drew our weapons, and load bearing equipment. Now the load bearing equipment is what we wear that allows us to carry a bayonet, ammunition, and water on our person. This equipment with the Kevlar helmet on average is about 35 lbs. Then we add on our weapon and ruck sack (backpack).

The recommended weight allowance for an Infantry soldier is 60 lbs in total. However, as a leader we are expected to go farther, carry more and do it faster. So I was required to carry a 95 lbs rucksack. Now you begin to see, that even seasoned soldiers can be put to the test with such requirements, and as Sgt and a Infantry Squad Leader, I was very seasoned. The walk I will tell you is not hard, the pace is not hard. The weight, although common, is a burden.

12 miles can get to feeling very long, and 3 hours, gets to feel like forever, and yet doesn’t seem long enough time. Your mind can start to talk to you. But by keeping the end in mind, you step-by-step get through the hills and the valleys along the way to the finish line. Your heart sometimes feels like its will burst, the breeze sometimes feels like God is cheering you on. Focus is what gets you through. You walk, and you focus on the goal. You focus on your pace. You focus on your distance left to go.

Philippians tells us that Paul kept his focus. He focused on the goal. He said I forget those things which are behind, and I reach forward to the things that are before. Paul pressed toward the mark. He kept Jesus in front of his eyes the whole way! Throughout Paul’s ministry he was beaten, stoned, hungered, homeless, betrayed, thrown in prison, mocked, ridiculed, and attempts were made on his life ; all for Christ’s sake.

Paul was called by Jesus Christ, just as you are. The scriptures tell us that Paul focused on one thing, “Christ Crucified”. We must remember that in all things that Jesus was crucified for us, and for all those around us. We must keep in mind that Jesus was not only Crucified and was buried, but that He arose from the grave. The resurrection of Christ is our sign of acceptance. In Romans chapter 6 the scriptures tell us that we shall also be resurrected in the likeness of his resurrection! Brothers and sisters, death has no hold on us! We do not need to fear what man can do to us. He cannot touch our soul!

We can rest in the knowledge of what the Lord has brought us through this past year, and let it be an encouragement that He will see us through this year also. Yes there are some things that will happen that we may not understand or that we wont want to go through. Right about now, you’re going to expect me to say that the Lord will not give you more than you can handle, but I’m not going to say that. I will say that He said he will always be with you, even until the end of the age. I will remind you that He told Joshua to “be strong and of good courage”, more than once. I will remind you that the scriptures tell us that we should encourage one another, and that we should pray for one another, and that we should love one another. I will remind you that Jesus’ intercedes on your behalf!

I do know that He who has begun a good work in you, will complete it. I have the utmost expectations for this New Year, that it will be better than the last. Not because of who is president, but because my God is the God who appoints the kings of the earth. I know that even though there is going to be persecution, that the Lord’s message will be spread as a result. I do know that the Lord has stirred up the Spirit in Christians all over the world, and that He is soon to return. So I encourage you, when your rucksack gets too heavy, or when your feet are sore and want to stop, or when your weapon is to hard to raise, to keep your eyes on the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. If you share anything this year about your faith, share Christ Crucified. Share the hope that is within you. Let someone know what you know… the Truth. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, and have a great new year!

Exposition: Joshua 24

Exposition: Joshua 24

1And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.

 Joshua gathered all the people of the Lord together so that they could present themselves to the Lord and he could speak to them, so that everyone could hear first-hand what he had to tell them.  What he was going to say would be extremely important for their survival and he did not want it misunderstood.  We all know how things can get misinterpreted through the grape vine.

2And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nahor: and they served other gods. 3And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac. 4And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.

 At the time that God called Abraham, the whole world was in apostasy from God. This is after God broke the language of the people and scattered them all about the face of the earth.  But there was one man who the Lord heard.  Abraham wanted to know the one true God, to God searched his heart and found him to be genuine.  He called Abraham out of a land of idolatry to be separated unto Himself, so He could teach Abraham and eventually call a nation out of him that the messiah would come through.  Much like when we are saved the Lord calls us out of the bondage of sin and to be sanctified to Him, so that we may learn of His grace and mercy.

 5I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out. 6And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea. 7And when they cried unto the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season.

 Joshua reminds the Israelis how God has always cared for them, even when they were in Egypt and how he used the bondage to make them grow strong and then delivered them in due time. Even when Israel disobeyed God, he did not abandon them, He instead provided their daily needs, reassured them, and guided them back to a place where they were willing to hear Him again, and obey.  They learned from their mistakes through Gods loving kindness and chastisement.

8And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you. 9Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you: 10But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand.

 God reminds the children of Israel that he continued to care for them and delivered them from all of their enemies, and out of every circumstance.

 11And ye went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand. 12And I sent the hornet before you, which drove them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow. 13And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and olive yards which ye planted not do ye eat. 14Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord.

 Of major importance is that now that they occupied then land, they did not rid the land of all of its previous occupants as the Lord had demanded. This meant that they were surrounded and even had in their midst people who followed false gods.  Joshua instructed them that they needed to settle in their hearts to serve only the One True God of their ancestors, who had delivered them through all the events that he previously mentioned.  They were not to forget what God had done for them, and neither should we.  We cannot forget what Jesus has done for us, the bondages of sin and addictions that He delivered us from.

 15And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

 Joshua again let them know, that they were free to choose whether they were going to continue to serve the Lord God, or if they wanted they could choose to serve another god. God is not going to force Himself on us, we all have a choice.  Joshua does show the importance of making a choice and staying with it.  He leads by example and declares that He and his family will serve the Lord.  We as parents and community leaders and employers and peers to others should lead by example.  Showing boldly that we choose to serve the Lord, not out of fear, but out of remembrance of what He has done for us.

 16And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods;

 The people following Joshua’s example choose wisely to serve the One True God.

 17For the Lord our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed: 18And the Lord drove out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the Lord; for he is our God.

 The children of Israel gave God recognition for the wondrous things He had done for them, how He had always had his hand in their lives. Many times we do not give God the recognition of the praise for what He has done for us.  Giving praise and recognition to God not only honors God, but it strengthens our faith, it reassures us of His presence in our lives, it reminds us that He is in charge and that He is not slacking of His promises to us.

 19And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the Lord: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. 20If ye forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.

 We often forget that God is not only a God of love and mercy, but that He is a just God and a God of judgment.

 21And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the Lord. 22And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the Lord, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses. 23Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the Lord God of Israel. 24And the people said unto Joshua, The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey. 25So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. 26And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the Lord.

 These events and the choices of the people of Israel were recorded as a reminder and a testimony against them and to all the other nations

27And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God. 28So Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance. 29And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old. 30And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath–serah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash. 31And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord, that he had done for Israel.

 This shows the importance of the godly influence Joshua’s leadership had on the nation. Strong godly leadership is a blessing to a nation.  We as Christians should be involved in our local, state, and federal governments at all levels.  Separation of church and state is not a biblical principle.  The governments of man are constructed by the will of God and are meant as a means to help us in our daily lives to have the freedom to serve God as God sees fit.

32And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.

This serves as a reminder of Josephs faith in God, and that he understood that God would continue to have His hand on his descendants and that God would honor His covenant.

 33And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in a hill that pertained to Phinehas his son, which was given him in mount Ephraim.