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How NOT to win the lost

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Lately I find myself getting more disturbed by a trend I see. Christians treating and reacting to non believers as if they were Christians.  Expecting them to live and act like they have been filled with the Holy Spirit.

We will never win others to Christ by tsk tsking them and shaming them. We will win them to Christ by sharing the love of Christ with them. By demonstrating the love of Christ to them.  When you look at your unsaved loved ones, friends, coworkers etc. don’t expect them to behave as if they are transformed. They are not. They are living in the flesh being lead by the flesh. Is it any wonder many are living lives of a hot mess? We did too before we made the decision to ask Christ in!  Thanks be to God that He heard us and gave us the Comforter to guide us in the way we should go.

We will NEVER win others to Christ by merely pointing out all their flaws and criticizing them. It wouldn’t have worked on us and it won’t work on them. Nor is it what Christ has called us to do.

Does this mean we should not speak out about atrocities and abuses in our society? NO. We need to speak out against those who do both but we will not win one single soul to Christ by beating non believers over the head with the Bible.

We need to love on people the way Christ did. We need to help others when we can. We need to pray for those who need Christ! These things are scriptural. Does that mean we don’t share the TRUTH of the gospel with them? Does it mean we should water down the gospel for them?  NO! We must share the truth that will set them free but not before demonstrating the love of Christ to them! No one wants to hear the truth by being smacked over the head with it. Let the Spirit guide you when and how when it comes to sharing Jesus! He is the master of drawing those who need Christ!

When I see a secular parade, protest etc. and I see Christians carrying signs saying you are going to Hell it does not bode well. How about handing out some bottled water and a tract telling them of the love of Christ instead. Live the love of Christ, demonstrate the love of Christ and share the message of Christ! That is what we are called to do.

Ask God what you can do today to demonstrate His love!

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”~John 13:35

 

Maybe a little too comfy…

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When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:11

When my children were little they all had some type of comfy blanket or toy. It was taken with us when we went anywhere overnight or when we traveled in order to ensure a peaceful trip for the rest of the family. They would sometimes rub it against their face when they were going to sleep or just drag it around with them when they were about the house. Fortunately they all outgrew them! 🙂

Us followers of Christ can sometimes be guilty of holding onto our comfort toys for far too long. Those things that bring temporary relief or pleasure but keep us from moving forward and actually living the mature Christian life. We all have ones that we wrestle with.  I know I’ve been sensing that God is not pleased with me when I waste time doing things that bring a little relief from this crazy world we live in when I could be doing something that can help change this crazy world we live in by changing the lives of those living in it!

There is a darkness encroaching that we all see. Christians are being persecuted worldwide at an alarming rate. Many are boldly dying for their faith rather than renounce the lover of their soul. Yet, in North America, Europe etc.  many of us are afraid to even share the gospel with our neighbor.  We don’t want to appear different or odd. Well we are different and odd. We are a peculiar people! We need to be bold in our love for Christ. He was bold for us when he went to the cross and suffered the dreadful death that He did.

The time for playing is over. We need to encourage one another to live our life (always guided by love and not our own agenda) boldly for Christ! We need to set aside anything that is causing us to be distracted or falsely comforted from avoiding the fact that many around us are going to not only miss out on a life of joy and peace but an eternity with Christ!

It’s time for us, the Church, to lay aside our comfort toys and be the Church Jesus called us to be!

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,  to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up  until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves,and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.~ Ephesians 4:11-15

Disappointed in man?

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The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;  His mercies never come to an end; they are new  every morning; great is Your faithfulness.~Lamentations 3:22-23

For most of us, we don’t have to go too long in our week before we have a situation that finds us disappointed in man.  Either a politician who has gone back on his/her word, a friend who has let us down, a family member that didn’t come through…it could be any of these things and more.

Our world is a place where disappointments abound! We see sin growing, evil men ruling in areas of the world, taxes increasing, services lessening. There are far too many things and situations to mention that can cause us to feel disappointed.

However, we have no excuse to let these things hold us back from trusting in a Savior that is anything BUT disappointing. He is a Savior that, when allowed, will lead us through the paths of disappointment. Not only that but He will provide joy as we go through these paths!  He is a faithful, loving Savior that will NEVER leave us or forsake us. He will be with us through any ups and downs and if we allow Him, He will keep us grounded when life would otherwise tip us on our heads!

When you find yourself being tossed about emotionally, physically or spiritually, get yourself back to a quiet place of prayer. Confess any sin to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us! Ask Him to give you the peace that only He can give. The beautiful, irreplaceable peace that comes when we rest in Him.

We need not fear the things that are happening around us. They are but opportunities to seek God about. As you spend time with Him, give Him your disappointments and ask Him to give you the peace and joy that He gives as you move forward in faith.

Truly His love never ceases, despite our failures from time to time and His mercies never come to an end for His own!

 

 

When less is MORE

 

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He must become greater; I must become less.~John 3:30 NIV

For us to really be servants of Christ we have to yield our own wills to His. We can’t just do this Sunday morning during church service. We have to do it daily, when or before our feet even hit the floor we must determine that today will be a day that I will surrender my will to His. This means in the home, at work, on the bus, in the store and anywhere else we may find ourselves. This means we may find ourselves being put in some difficult or uncomfortable situations for our flesh. In fact it is very likely that we will from time to time.

We have been called to be FOLLOWERS of Christ. Not LEADERS of Christ. He knows us and loves us more than we are capable of truly loving ourselves. He is a trustworthy leader and earned our dedication on the cross of Calvary.

Let’s use this day for Him! Let’s determine to allow Him to lead us this day to do good works for His Kingdom. Let’s be willing to share our love for Him & others in practical ways today.  Intercede for those who need prayer! Be a support to those who need it! Wherever He puts you and whatever He puts in your path today, do it in submission to Him and do it with excellence!  Less of us and our fleshly wisdom and MORE of Him and His infinite love!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every day is our FATHER’S day

I love the fact that regardless of whether we have a living father, a father engaged in our life, a father that cares or a father that doesn’t care for us now and perhaps never will, the one thing that every follower of Christ can be assured of is the love of a Heavenly Father.  His love knows no bounds. His love has been demonstrated to each of us who call Jesus Christ Savior and Lord in the most wonderful and powerful way possible.

He loved us when we were most unlovable. While we were up to our eye balls in sin, He saved us through the sacrificial death of His most precious Son!  That’s powerful love! That’s limitless love! That’s love that we should never take for granted! His love exceeds any possible love that an earthly Father could demonstrate because He was willing to send His perfect, blameless Son to a painful and agonizing death on the cross for you and I in order to restore a relationship with Him.

1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

The incredible love and mercy God demonstrated to us and continues to demonstrate to us through Christ is too much for us to really fathom. Just as Peter points out, we have been given a new birth (salvation) and a living hope of Eternal life all because of God’s great love towards us!

We have no excuse to live a defeated life as a follower of Christ due to the less than perfect actions of our earthly fathers. We have been given restored relationship with the Creator of the Universe, the Father to the fatherless, the lover of our souls through Christ and we need to move forward in the freedom that comes with that.

We serve a living, loving and merciful Father who has provided us with salvation and the Holy Spirit to enable us to walk out  the calling He has for our lives in victory! So let us lay aside our self pity and excuses and let us move forward as we abide in Christ and obey the voice of the Holy Spirit. Let us be thankful every day that we have a Heavenly Father that loved us and continues to love us more than any earthly father ever could. Let us praise Him and show our devotion to Him by obeying His Word and living  a life of service to Him, through Christ.

Blessings!

Really? Peace & Joy during a storm?

There is only one way, we who are followers of Christ, can possibly have peace when we go through a storm in life. It is by believing in the depths of our being the truth that God is faithful to us and will NEVER allow us to go through more than we can bear. It is knowing with absolute certainty that NOTHING or NO ONE is able to cause us to lose our peace and joy if we put our trust in the ONE who is absolutely trustworthy. The reason we too often lose our peace when the storms come is simply because we have stopped believing that everything that happens to us has been allowed by the ONE who knows us best!  He who knew us while we were being formed in our mother’s wombs, knows what can be used in the transformation of our character from selfish, self absorbed individuals to sold out, Spirit lead followers of Christ.

The great preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon once wrote, “God gets his best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.” There is so much truth in this quote. Why does it often take afflictions, trials, storms to grow us up? Perhaps it is because when things are going smoothly we tend to forget the goodness of our God. We tend to fall back into the pattern of thinking somehow we have control over all our circumstances. We forget just how much we need to rely on and depend on the lover of our soul!  When difficulties enter our lives it usually doesn’t take us too long before we are back to crying out to God for His help.

God wants us to go through life knowing, really knowing and believing that ALL things work together to them who love God and them who are called according to His purpose. When we finally really get it, really believe it, than we are able to trust Him regardless of the battle, regardless of the size of our opponent and regardless of the severity of the difficulty. This is how we are called to live as followers of Christ. Not on a daily emotional roller coaster that is fueled by our emotions and insecurities. We are to live by the truth of His Word which tells us nothing can separate us from Christ or His love for us. NOTHING!  If we allow them, afflictions will teach us just how reliable HE really is. If we speak the truth of His word to our situation and believe it in the depths of our being, than we are able to maintain our joy and peace no matter how difficult or severe the trial is. The truth of this has been demonstrated through centuries by all those martyrs who have willingly given their lives rather than deny Christ. They believed the truth of His Word and they lived it! Their lives and even their deaths became a witness for all those around them, that God will give the grace and willingness to endure whatever may come to those who love Him.

If our love is conditional based solely on His gifts and blessings to us it is not really love at all. If we truly love Him and believe He is who He says He is and that He loves us enough to not allow us to endure more than we can bear, we will be able to go through ANY circumstance with joy and peace. 

 Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”~Deuteronomy 31:6

I’m not for one second suggesting this may be easy. Yet it is possible. Not by mind over matter or wishful thinking but soley by knowing the truth of who HE is and how very much HE loves us. By knowing Christ’s promises are as good today as they were when He walked the earth.  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.~Romans 8:28  

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;  and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.~Romans 5:1-5 

Our confidence in these truths  grow as we spend time with Him daily in prayer and as we spend time reading our Bibles, the Word of God.

 The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.~Psalm 145:18  

 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.~Colossians 4:2

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.~2 Timothy 3:16,17

 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”~Romans 10:17

None of us know when trials will come. If we stay close to our Savior and grow in our faith, knowing and trusting Him completely, when they come we will not be swept away. We will be able to stand and endure with peace and with true joy (not surface happiness) but true joy, knowing whatever He allows to touch us is going to work out for long term good!  He will continue to grow Christ like character in us as we go through the very things we wish to avoid the most.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.~James 1:2-4

Ultimately, Christ is preparing us to one day meet Him face to face and hear the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” My prayer is that we will cultivate a deeper, more sincere walk with our Savior and Lord and that we will hide the Word of God in our hearts so that when the storms of life come crashing in, we will NOT be troubled or dismayed. We will confidently rest in knowing even in this, we can joyfully trust Him!  He is still in control!

Oh to have a heart like Stephen!

Reading Acts 6 & 7 just blesses me so much! I love Stephen’s passion for Christ and his desire to share the gospel despite the circumstances! A man of love and faith, fully passionate about our beautiful Jesus! His love was even evident on his face!  All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel. (Acts 6:15) Stephen was filled with the Spirit of God and sold out and radical for His Savior. There was no other Way for him to live. His allegiance was to Jesus!

There is so much we can glean from Stephen’s final day. When the elders and teachers of the law had him falsely accused of blasphemy against the law he didn’t fight back in the flesh but he used a more powerful weapon, he preached the Word of God to them! He didn’t try and justify his actions. He didn’t cry out to God for deliverance, He preached the Word, starting with the Old Testament and leading up to the ONE to whom he loved and followed, Jesus and what a sermon he preached! He knew the Word and he used it. He didn’t rely on his earthly wisdom, but rather the Word.

In chapter 7 we see him preach how God moved through the generations from Abraham up to the coming of His Son and how the “learned leaders” often refused and rejected God’s message and persecuted those who brought it, even to the point of betraying and murdering the Righteous One.

The Spirit of God moved mightily through Stephen as he preached with boldness! He didn’t back down or relent knowing full well that it may result in his death. Stephen’s focus was on sharing the gospel of Christ and Christ alone!

54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him.Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:54-60)

I can’t help but notice two things, Stephen did not want the Lord to hold their sin against them and his persecution was witnessed by Saul, whom later had his name changed to Paul and who happened to become one of the greatest preachers of the gospel ever!  Stephen’s death was NOT in vain!  We are living in times where are brothers and sisters around the world are often called to share the gospel amid hostile persecution! The way things are going in North America, it soon may be upon us too.

Lord give us a heart to share the Word of God boldly and in the power of Your Holy Spirit. Let us not be cowardly, or cling to things that really don’t matter. Give us a holy boldness to speak the truth when called up to do so! There is no ONE more worthy of our allegiance, than you Jesus!  Let Your Spirit move upon each of us that call you Savior and Lord to be bold and obedient, regardless of the circumstances we may face!

In the beautiful name of Jesus, Amen.