Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Who Are You Not Listening To?

 Tuesday, February 28, 2023

If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 1 John 5:9-10

Who Are You Not Listening To? 

Today I think the greater question than Who are you listening to, is Who aren’t you listening to? We have so much information at our fingertips that is has become cliché. The truth is becoming harder and harder to discern. There is one place the truth will be the same forever. God’s truth is unchanging – it will never change when our circumstances change, our feelings change, our homes change, our lives change. God’s truth will remain the same for us in all things. 

We do listen to the testimony of people, and we can often find ourselves persuaded by it, forgetting what we know to be the truth - that the testimony of God is greater. People’s opinions definitely have an effect on decisions we make from what to wear, to what to drive, to who to marry. Even if we are not physically listening to what everyone says on social media, we are being influenced by what we see. We take it as truth but often it is not. We seek approval and consolation from our close friends and even from those we don’t even know. Social media has made it easy for us to let a whole world of people we don’t know into our lives as far as we are willing to post it. 

A testimony is a formal written or spoken statement, especially one given in a court of law. A witness with a testimony is essential for revealing the truth of what happened in any given circumstance. In the passage above, John wants believers to know that we do not have to have blind faith. Instead, our faith is based on the most reliable testimony, the witness of God Himself. We listen and are influenced by many people, some that we don’t know personally. How much more then should we be influenced by our Creator, the Creator of all things? The One who loves us enough to send His Son to pay our debt? We can have confidence in God and trust Him because His promises are true, and His truth stands the test of all time. 

Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself…

As His children, we actually have His truth embedded in our very beings. When we ask Jesus to be our Savior, we receive the Holy Spirit who bears witness inside of us. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our Spirit that we are children of God. Romans 8:16 If we reject Jesus as our Savior, we are rejecting the testimony God has given of His Son, therefore saying God is a liar through our unbelief. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. People who refuse to believe God (in the full sense of the word believe) don’t intend to call God a liar, but they are doing just that.

Do you know someone who has rejected the Gospel, or God? If so, pray for them because rejection of God’s testimony over time can lead to a place where we can become permanently hardened against God. 

Monday, February 27, 2023

True Repentance

Monday, February 27, 2023

Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38

True Repentance
If you are already a Christian, the scripture above tells us that after being honest with yourself and admitting your sin, you need to repent.  If you are not, should you also follow with a public confession by being baptized.  

What must I do? 
The scripture above was in response to a question asked by the crowd of thousands of people that Peter was preaching to in Jerusalem during the Pentecost.  He had been preaching the first gospel sermon ever preached in the name of Jesus and at one point in the sermon, conviction was so strong that the audience cried out, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37).  Peter’s answer was direct and clear; repent and be baptized – every one of you. These are not just words; these are words that carry weight.  

Repentance is turning away in Godly sorrow from all sin -- sins of thought, word, and deed, secret sins and known sins. When we truly repent, we are ashamed of and sorry for all sins alike because they are wrong, and we turn from all sin - even the ones we don’t want to let go of. It does not require a long time to repent; these people repented on the spot.  We understand the word repentance as confessing our sin and changing our ways.  In our minds repentance is all about modifying behavior.

Changing behavior has been the object of many programs, especially in addiction.  Shick had a program that used what was called “aversion therapy.”  A person was forced to perform the behavior until they were sick so that when they thought of doing it again, they remembered the pain.

It has been aptly remarked that repentance is the hardest command for man to perform. 
·     That may well be because real repentance is not merely changing what I do, it is changing who I am. In short, a man must be set free from the sin he is, which makes him do the sin he does.--George MacDonald

·     Any concept of grace that makes us feel more comfortable sinning is not biblical grace. God's grace never encourages us to live in sin; on the contrary, it empowers us to say no to sin and yes to truth. -- Randy Alcorn 

Incomplete Repentance - Why repentance does not work for some

·     Repentance is not just regret. They had already been cut to the heart. (v.3) And now Peter says, "Repent!" Repentance is more than feeling sorry. It means following through on that conviction and turning around  - changing your mind and your heart so that you are no longer at odds with God but in sync with God.
      The kind of repentance that works changes more than just behavior. It is a radical change in one's 
attitude toward sin and God. It implies a conscious, moral separation, and a personal decision to forsake sin and to enter into fellowship with God.  Real repentance is more than changing my behavior out of fear of hurting others or fear of being caught (sorrow).  It is changing my behavior because now I see things differently. It is ceasing to think like the world and beginning to see things with our new mind in Christ.  It is where truth meets sin.

I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. 2 Corinthians  7:9-10

Friday, February 24, 2023


Friday, February 24, 2023

 Turn us back to You, O LORD, and we will be restored; renew our days as of old… Lamentations 5:21


RENEWING = comes from the root, to restore. It speaks of renovation. 

The old saying of, "garbage in, garbage out" tells how our minds need renovating.  The mind is incredible.  We can store and retrieve information in our minds that far exceeds the most advanced computer. 

·      The mind is a garden that could be cultivated to produce the harvest that we desire. 
·      The mind is a workshop where the important decisions of life and eternity are made. 
·      The mind is an armory where we forge weapons for our victory or our destruction. 
·      The mind is a battlefield where all the decisive battles of life are won or lost. 

The Bible warns us in Proverbs 23:7, "for as he thinks in his heart, so is he."  The mind alone is precious. But our minds become even more precious when we come to Christ.  Our minds then become the threshold for thinking and acting in the capacity as Christ did.  Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 2:16b, "We have the mind of Christ."

The renovation of our minds does not come easy. The enemy would rather us have a debased, unfruitful mind.  The mind is a battlefield.  The transformation and renewing of our minds begins when we begin to take control of our thoughts. 

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ… 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

This is the sieve of renewing the mind. If we capture every thought, and bring it to the feet of Christ, our minds will become renewed as we become like-minded with Christ.  If we will renew our minds in this fashion, think what it will do for our speech!  No more gossiping, for gossiping is not of the mind of Christ!  No more saying hurtful words, for hurtful words are not of the mind of Christ! 
Let this year be the year you began to renew your minds in Christ Jesus.

…fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.  Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:2-5

Thursday, February 23, 2023

The Light of the World

Thursday, February 23, 2023 

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.  1 John 1:7

The Light of the World

Jesus told Paul that one of the four results of opening blind eyes would be that their eyes may turn from darkness to light. …to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light... Acts 26:16-18 During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that we are the light of the world – here to spread His light to a dark world. Therefore, part of opening blind eyes means that we shine His light so that they can find the light and turn from darkness. 

Darkness is a metaphor for so many things – but people who are blind to God’s truth live in spiritual darkness. If they are caught in sin, the darkness covers sin. Satan also uses the cover of darkness to make things look like something they are not, in order to deceive us. 

On any given spring or summer night, you will find a swarm of flying insects hovering close to the porch light, as they are attracted to light because of phototaxis. Positively phototactic organisms, such as moths, move towards light sources. Negatively phototactic organisms, on the other hand, move away from light, such as cockroaches that scuttle into a dark corner when you switch the light on. I find it incredibly ironic that the most detestable of creatures, cockroaches, love the darkness.  It is symbolic of the sin in our hearts that seek darkness instead of light when we do not want our sinful hearts exposed.   

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God. John 3:19-21

Turning on the light is like turning on the truth. When the light exposes sin, darkness loses its power. The power of Satan is broken by the Spirit of truth. So, when the eyes are opened to see Christ the way He really is, and to see God and the world and sin and righteousness and heaven and hell the way they really are, then the power of Satan is broken. 

It is the truth of God that brings light to darkness. The first and last pieces of armor Paul lists in Ephesians 6 to protect us from the principalities and powers and make us effective in fighting them is the belt of TRUTH and the sword of the Spirit which is THE WORD OF GOD.

The light shines and overcomes the darkness, and the darkness can never overcome the light. His light overcomes the darkness of the world, and His light overcomes the darkness in us. His light in us will light the way for others when we share it with them. We are the light of the world, and we are to let His light shine so that others can find the way. 

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16 




Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Open Blind Eyes

Wednesday, February 22, 2023 Some material taken from Kingdom Opportunities Part 2

But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.  Acts 26:16-18

Open Blind Eyes 

While traveling to Damascus on a mission of hate and persecution towards Christians, Paul is blinded by a light from heaven, which turned out to be Jesus getting his attention. …I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Acts 26:13-15 God goes on to tell Paul that He is sending him out to “open blind eyes…” So, here is Paul, his eyes blinded by Jesus’ light, being commissioned to go and open blind eyes. Paul was blinded for three days after this transformative meeting with Jesus on the Damascus Road. 

Satan is always looking for ways to distract us from the truth. Blinding us to the truth is one of his greatest tactics and today, with all the media platforms we have, it is easier than ever for us to be deceived if we are not careful. In this passage, the eye is symbolic for the window to the mind. In 2 Corinthians 4:4 Paul says, "The god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God." 2 Corinthians 4:4

When our eyes are opened, we see the truth of the reality of what is happening. We see the truth before us, but we greatly feel the weight of being deceived. We have all been blindsided at some point in our lives when we were shocked to discover the truth. We can also choose to close our own eyes to the truth sometimes because we don’t want to deal with it, but this is different. This is Satan deliberately deceiving us and that is what he is best at doing. He is called the great deceiver (Revelation 12:9) and the father of lies (John 8:44) for a reason. 

Jesus wants us to open blind eyes by telling them the truth of the Gospel. We are partners with the Holy Spirit. We plant the seeds, but the Holy Spirit is the one who does all the work. We speak the truth, we show the truth, and we share the truth, and the Holy Spirit brings conviction. We want their eyes to be opened but we also want them to have something better to believe in than what Satan has given them. 

How can we open blind eyes?  What is our part? There are two very important things we can do when it comes to opening blind eyes:

·         We pray for God to open the eyes of the blind. 

·         And we speak words of truth about Christ so that when the people's eyes are opened there is something to believe. God will give us the right words at the right time.

Pray for the miracle of spiritual sight for the blind and put the truth of Christ into a person's mind with a testimony. Remember, it is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, not ours. Our job is to speak the truth in love – Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.  Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. Colossians 4:5-6

Four results will come from the opening of blind eyes:

  • Being turned from darkness to light
  • Being turned from the power of Satan to God
  • To receive forgiveness of sins
  • To receive an inheritance among God’s people

Satan does not want blind eyes opened. He will try to stop us from doing this so get ready and be on the lookout because he is prowling. But Jesus has commissioned His church to carry this out. He wants us out there exposing His truth to all who have been deceived. Let’s go. 


Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Your Faith-Life Is Showing


February 21, 2023 
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.  James 1:2-4 The Message

Your Faith-Life Is Showing

We have all had tests and challenges coming at us from all sides for the past three years. I love this translation from The Message of these verses.  With all the challenges and unknowns of the world right we have faced and are still facing, we are being forced to live our faith out loud, and our true colors will show. The world has been watching, and will keep watching, to see how we weather this storm, and some of them are even finding comfort in a faith that they have been ignoring for a while.  Are fear and anxiety winning the battle of your mind right now?  When trials come our way, we have false expectations that God ought to take them away quickly. After all, we have faith – so that is supposed to make it all go away right? The longer we are in a trial, we may actually question God and His love for us. Even David did this very thing when he was literally running for his life as Saul tried to kill him. 

America has been a blessed country, but with everything that has happened in the past three years and all the things that continue to happen, it feels like our very existence is threatened. For many of us, we are grappling with how to deal with this sudden (but not really) shift in our lives.   Even now our God is in control and on His throne.  Even when the most threatening trials come our way, we should consider it as a sheer gift 

Unfortunately, we have to pass through the tough things in life to get to the other side. We can ask God to take away the trial, but trials, like viruses, have to run their course. God still has a plan when the world seems to spin out of control. He has a plan for us in the middle of the out of control world. Our faith on display can be a comfort to a faithless world.  In the midst of trials, especially ones felt by the whole world collectively, people who have turned away from God may turn back to Him. Others who have never known Him will seek Him. Family relationships may be reconciled. Bonds will be strengthened as we realize the valuable gifts that God has given us in one another. 

It is in times like this that we, as a community of faith, need to be there for each other, and for those who reach out to us.  Our individual faith on display and our faith as a whole body of Christ cannot waver in the eyes of a stricken world. We can be the example and lead them to Him by showing our faith in an all-powerful God in the most uncertain of times. 

Our God has already won our battles and we can trust Him. The rest of the world needs to see our faith lived out in every way.  When we are under pressure, or in the middle of a trial, we can know that God will see us through to the other side. We may have no idea what the other side looks like, but God does, and He will use this trial to do its work in us, make us mature and well developed, and not deficient in any way.  Live your faith out loud, showing your trust in a God who never fails. 


Monday, February 20, 2023

Real Faith

 Tuesday, February 20, 2023

 But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.    Acts 26:16-18

Real Faith


An Authentic Christian Life is vital to evangelism. This is not becoming a Christian 
clone choosing to walk like others in a form of religion.

Authentic Christianity involves being who you are as a unique creation of God, not practicing a ritualistic religion. It is not going through the motions and checking all the boxes to look religious. It is not even being at church every time the doors are open, and the lights are on. An authentic Christian life is a life that displays the Fruit of the Spirit, born of a relationship with God.

When we live authentically in front of the world, they see our faith in action, transparently displayed. This sets us up to be ready to take any opportunity we are given along the way to share the gospel with others. 

Verse 16 in the passage above in The Message translation says I’ve handpicked you to be a servant and witness to what’s happened today, and to what I am going to show you. Paul had just met Jesus on the road to Damascus, and God told him that he was going to use his experience and testimony to share the gospel. God was sending Paul out on a mission, just the way He sends us out to share His story of redeeming love.

God takes the circumstances of our lives and turns them into opportunities for evangelism. God gave Paul a wild story to share but God knew that Paul would probably never come to know Him without that kind of experience. He was a hard case as he had been persecuting and even killing Christians. But God blinded him – literally – to get his attention. God used Paul’s difficult circumstance for His glory. Someone somewhere needs to hear how God changed your life and how He was with you through the hard times. 

Paul regained his sight after three days and soon had the opportunity to share his story with King Agrippa, King of the Jews.  When God told Paul to whom I am sending you, God was telling him to Go and Tell.

When God said that Paul probably did not imagine he would be witnessing to the whole Jewish Sanhedrin, while he was under arrest for sharing the Gospel. I bet that is not how Paul would have planned it, but at the time he got to give his testimony to the whole Jewish Sanhedrin. Just like Jesus said he would -- they will arrest you and this will be a time for testimony.

There was a plot against Paul’s life, and so he was moved to Caesarea on the coast giving him the chance to share his testimony to Felix the Roman Governor. After two years in prison in Caesarea, the new Roman Governor Festus puts Paul before King Agrippa so they can hear what he has to say. So, the whole Jewish legal counsel, and three of the highest political officials in Palestine (Felix, Festus, Agrippa) all hear the gospel because Paul was arrested and imprisoned on false charges. 

Are you living in some hard circumstances today that feel like nothing good could ever come out of it? God can use anything, and He will do it in ways we cannot ask, seek, imagine, or fathom. We can be sure that others are watching to see how we handle it. They are watching to see if the faith we profess has an influence on the way we handle the hard times. 

Crises bring attention to our lives and provide opportunity for witness 
that is not present when are lives are free of trouble.

Our faith can be seen in our living expectantly under the providence of a sovereign God. We can live expectantly and be ready to move every time God gives us the signal, and that is a life lived with purpose in every step. 

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Kingdom Opportunities Part 2

Kingdom Opportunities Part 2
Colossians 4:5-6

Most Christian workers struggle with evangelism and so rarely do it.  We spend most of our time with Christians and minister to each other as evidence of our faith.  Misconceptions concerning what evangelism is and our personal responsibility to share inhibits God’s use of our lives to take the gospel to the world.

An Authentic Christian Life is vital to evangelism. This is not becoming a Christian clone choosing to walk like others in a form of religion.

Go and Tell v.17b

God has gospel purposes in all the setbacks of our lives.

The world watches to see if the faith we speak of has influence on the way we handle the storms of life.

We can live our days with a sense of expectancy and readiness to move with the gospel of peace.

Open Blind Eyes v.18a;

To “have your eyes opened” is to become aware of the truth regarding someone or something.

We pray for the miracle of spiritual sight for the blind and put the truth of Christ into a person's mind with a testimony.

Turn darkness to light v.18b

The world will never treat the darkness as something strange until their eyes are opened.

Where there is spiritual blindness people are at home in the darkness of sin.

The power of Satan is broken by the Spirit of truth.

Receive Salvation v.18c

It is faith in Christ which brings salvation and sanctification.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Living Life in the Spirit

Friday, February 17, 2023 Taken from Authentic Christianity Christinmeity

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Galatians 5:16-18 

Living Life in the Spirit

How can we develop a lifestyle of depending on the Spirit? By walking in the Spirit we increasingly experience intimacy with God and enjoy all He has for us. Walking in the Spirit is a choice that can become a lifestyle. It is learning to depend upon the Holy Spirit for His abundant resources as a way of life.

How, then, can one be filled with the Holy Spirit?

Obey God’s Command: And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.  Ephesians 5:18

Claim God’s Promise: And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked of Him. 1 John 5:14-15

Sincerely desire to be directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

Confess your sins: By faith thank God that He has forgiven all of your sins - past, present and future - because Christ died for you.If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Present every area of your life to God: Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

By faith claim the fullness of the Holy Spirit: Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own… 
1 Corinthians 6:19

If you become aware of an area of your life (an attitude or an action) that is displeasing to the Lord, even though you are walking with Him and sincerely desiring to serve Him, simply thank God that He has forgiven your sins on the basis of Christ's death on the cross. Claim His love and forgiveness by faith and continue to have fellowship with Him.

If you retake the throne of your life through sin -- a definite act of disobedience -- breathe spiritually.  Spiritual breathing (exhaling the impure and inhaling the pure) is an exercise in faith that enables you to continue to experience God's love and forgiveness.

Exhale sin -- confess your sin -- agree with God concerning your sin and thank Him for His forgiveness of it, according to 1 John 1:9. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9  

Inhale God -- receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit by faith. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.  Romans 8:11



Thursday, February 16, 2023

Hard Testimonies

 Thursday, February 16, 2023 Some Material taken from Kingdom Opportunities

But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name's sake. It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony.  Luke 21:12-13

Hard Testimonies 

Our mission in this community, our neighborhoods, schools, and jobs must never be mainly a come and see mission. It must be a go and tell mission. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, that is our mission field. It is the everyday circumstances of life that God opens doors for witness. 

God can also use the negative circumstances of our lives to bring about an opportunity of witness. We have said it all week – the world is watching everything we do – how we act and react, and the listening to the words we say. We have an opportunity to influence our communities for the kingdom, and we should. We should be living every day in that way – a living testimony – in the ups and downs of our lives. That is authentic Christianity.  

When Jesus looked into the future and predicted what would happen to his disciples, he said something very sobering, but also very encouraging. But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name's sake. It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony.

Jesus was saying that, even though the cause of Christ will eventually triumph in the whole universe because He is alive and sovereign, following Jesus would mean arrest and persecution for some of his disciples. What is encouraging about that? 

The encouraging thing in these words is that God intends for persecution and imprisonments to be a strategic opportunity for witness to the truth of the gospel. For the disciples, He was letting them know that they would suffer and even die for the name of Jesus, but that suffering would not be in vain. Their suffering would be used to advance the kingdom of God. 

The same is true for us today. We may not be treated like the disciples, but any suffering we experience in our lives, any hardship, and tragedy, any difficulties can be used to advance His kingdom. All these things that happen in life that devastate us, they interrupt our lives and bring us to our knees, but it doesn’t take you  out of the race. It does not interrupt God’s plan for your life and your role in His evangelistic strategy. We make our plans, but life happens. God takes what happens and makes it part of our story for His glory. People see how we handle these circumstances and that often opens a door to tell what God means to us, how He has helped us during these times, and how our lives have been changed because of Him. 

God is the master evangelistic planner. What God wants is people who wear 
the shoes of readiness to move with the gospel. 

As we develop and a heart for lost people and begin to reach out, there will be many interruptions and surprises -- but none of them without evangelistic purpose.  In other words, in every circumstance -- especially the unexpected ones, and the frustrating ones -- be ready to bear witness to Christ.


Wednesday, February 15, 2023

A Gracious Influence

 Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.  Proverbs 16:24

A Gracious Influence

Some, and probably most, of the life-changing ministry that is performed each day is done outside of the walls of the church by people in the natural course of their lives. When we are ministers as Christ has called us to be, ministry is not just something that we schedule or perform, it is the outflow of Christ within us. A big part of our testimony to others is how we act – and how we speak

Obviously, we humans have a hard time with our mouths evidenced by the thousands of self-help books written about the words we speak. God gave us lots of direction in the many scriptures about the power of the tongue, and we study a lot about controlling our tongues and not saying things we shouldn’t, but sometimes we need to focus more on the things we should say. 

A “good” word can change everything. A kind word of affirmation can actually change a person’s whole day. Like the verse above says, gracious words are like sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. Healing, sweet, and so needed in this world today. There are not enough gracious words being said. 

Our words always speak louder than our religious rituals. Anyone can wear religious apparel, come to church, put a fish icon on their rear bumper, listen to Christian music, or create an impressive religious social media post. But without a doubt, one of the greatest indicators of our faith, spiritual maturity and wisdom are the words that come out of our mouths.  More harm has come to religion, family, government, and society by the tongue than any bottle, pill or gun. It is the sin of all ages of people. 

Every word we speak is a container that is filled with something. Our words can be filled with love, joy, happiness, blessing, and graciousness, or they can be filled with sarcasm, unbelief, all kinds of negativity, and even hate. We are to build people up, not tear them down, and when used properly the tongue can mend fences, heal broken hearts and encourage those who are in need of encouragement.

Somebody you know, someone you may come in contact with today, someone needs the sweetness and healing your gracious words can provide.  And someone else is watching and listening to see what you say or how you respond. It is hard to remember that we are always influencing someone every time we open our mouths. Those we work with and do life with will be influenced by our words to them and those around us. In fact, being careful with our words is essential, and we desperately need the help of God for the wisdom to know: when to speak, what to speak, how to speak and to whom we are to speak. Let your words be gracious and filled with self-control – the Lord can help with that! Today be mindful to those who need some gracious words spoken into their broken lives. 

Now if we put the bits into the horses' mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!  James 3:3-5

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

An Authentic Influence

Tuesday,  February 14, 2023

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:1-8

An Authentic Influence 

Every day we go to work and school and we influence people in ways we never even know. As Christians, we should be conscientious of how we are acting in front of others. Everyone is an “influencer” today with the social media platforms that we have. You can be whoever or whatever you want to be and we can make our lives appear perfect when they are really not. I believe that the world today does not want more people who look perfect. The world today needs authentic Christians to share an authentic love from an authentic God.  

The world wants authentic Christians, but not self-righteous Christians. Displaying righteousness is the furthermost thing from authenticity. People, especially those who are not churched, can see through a Christian who is displaying their righteousness before others in order to be seen by them. Jesus is telling us to not brag on ourselves when we do something for His kingdom. When we give to the needy or do anything else of service, we should be discreet about it, not boastful. When we boast about our own deeds, we are like the hypocrites in the synagogues at the time when Jesus was teaching this message. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. When we do things for the applause of men, that is the extent of our reward – their attention and applause. The reward we get in Heaven from our Heavenly Father is so much better. Our actions as Christians should only be about pleasing God. When we are seeking attention or applause for a deed, we are seeking to please people. 

They wanted glory for themselves instead of glory for God. We should quietly execute these deeds. - But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. We may feel the need to be seen but the only one who truly matters sees everything you do.  We may feel undervalued or not appreciated because no one may see or know what we have done, but if we are doing it for God’s glory He sees and knows. 

The same thing applies to our prayer life. We don’t have to pray flowery prayers with big words in public to impress God. The Jews in Jesus’ day prayed in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. But Jesus said, But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. God knows what we need before we even ask it. Jesus said to go into your (prayer) room (or closet), and shut the door so there is no one else there – just you and God. 

The word room here is the ancient Greek word that was used for a storeroom where treasures were kept. The time we have with our Heavenly Father is a treasure, and He loves us so much that He counts our prayers as treasures. There is not a better word that we can use for the most private moments that we spend with God – moments where we lay our hearts bare before Him, and He cares and He loves us with the most authentic, unconditional love. 

In order for us to use our influence well for the kingdom, we must remember how not to use it, and to live with authentic integrity, character, moral purity, graciousness, and truthfulness. Only when others see authenticity, vulnerability, and truthfulness in our lives will they believe the good news we have to share. 


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