Tag Archives: sharing the Gospel

Jonah; Wake Up

There are so many important lessons tucked into these four short chapters of Jonah. Please read it for yourself before you read the rest of this post, and let God speak to your heart about obedience, about evangelism, about attitudes toward the unsaved, about Jesus. He will tell you what you need to know. I’d like to share what God pointed out to me, but don’t let this be the only thing you get out of this amazing book today.

You know the story. God tells Jonah what to do. Jonah thinks he has a better idea. On his way to do “missionary work according to Jonah,” he and everyone onboard the ship are met with a violent storm. The ship is being tossed about. It is in imminent danger. Everyone on board is facing death. And what is Jonah doing while God’s judgment is being poured out?

HE IS SLEEPING! (1:5)

He is sleeping! He’d removed himself from the rest of the passengers and crew, hid below deck, and fell asleep. Do you see what I see?

Do you see too many Christians who hide within the walls of a church, who serve on church committees, sing in the church choir, give generously to the church, but can be described as sleeping while the rest of the world is facing judgment?

It wasn’t until Jonah woke up, dealt with his own sin, and obeyed God that, not only the people onboard the ship were saved, over 100,000 people of Nineveh were saved as well.

I’d like to shout, “Wake up, Church!” But the Church isn’t reading my blog. You, however, are.

God is telling you and me to go to Nineveh, to go into our communities, to talk to our neighbors about their need of the Savior. You might think you have a better idea. You might think that being involved in a church is enough.

But maybe it’s time we woke up and did what we are told.

Jeremiah 46-52; When It’s Close To Home

God had given Jeremiah a word, and Jeremiah was faithful to relay the message as it was given. It started out with a prophecy against Egypt, then against the Philistines. God continued to give prophecies against Moab, then Ammon, Edom, Damascus, and the Arabians. These nations, these people had rejected God, had fought against God’s people, and God let them know the consequences they would pay for going up against Him.

But then God gave a prophecy against Babylon, and I have to think this message wasn’t as easy to deliver for Jeremiah. The Babylonians were enemies of Israel, just like Egypt and the rest of them. But Matthew Henry reminded me that the king of Babylon had been kind to Jeremiah. There was a personal connection between the prophet and the king.

This is what Henry says about Jeremiah 50:1ff:

“Here is a word spoken against Babylon. The king of Babylon had been very kind to Jeremiah, and yet he must foretell the ruin of that kingdom; for God’s prophets must not be governed by favor or affection. Whoever are our friends, if, notwithstanding, they are God’s enemies, we dare not speak peace to them.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary of the Whole Bible; Zondervan Publishing,1961; page 1018)

I don’t know about you, but as much as I appreciate Matthew Henry’s insight into God’s Word, sometimes reading him is like reading a foreign language. I guess, if you were born in 1662 like he was, his vocabulary wouldn’t sound so strange. But for those of us living in the 21st Century, here’s what I get out of Henry’s old world vocabulary:

It’s not always easy to talk to the people closest to us about sin, about their need of the Savior. It’s not always easy to tell someone they are wrong, especially if that person is a really nice, good, upstanding person. And it’s hard to speak the Truth when we know we might offend someone we have a personal relationship with.

But Henry reminds us that all unbelievers, everyone who rejects God or ignores Him, anyone who thinks they are ok on their own, are enemies of God. The Bible is clear; you are either for God or against Him. There is no category of “nice guy” that cancels out our guilt of sin, and our need of Jesus.

Did you get what Henry said? God’s prophets, those of us entrusted with the Truth must not let our affection for someone prevent us from sharing the Truth. And if our loved one, or our sweet friend, or our kind neighbor, has not confessed sin and accepted Jesus as their Savior, WE MUST NOT TELL THEM EVERYTHING WILL BE OK.

We must not say of someone who rejects Jesus and dies, that they are in a better place. They are in a horrible place. More horrible than we can imagine. We must not say of an unsaved person who suffers a painful death that, well at least they are not in pain any more. Because the reality is they are in more pain than they ever experienced in this life. If we say otherwise, what message are we giving to those of our friends and family who have yet to accept God’s grace?

We must not tell someone who is rejecting Jesus, ignoring Him, living in sin, that their choices aren’t carrying severe, eternal consequences. We must not speak peace to a non-believer because, no matter how nice they are in this life, they are without hope without Jesus. They have no promise of peace, so we must not pretend that they do.

It’s not easy sharing the Gospel when that lost person is close to home. But aren’t those the people we love the most, the people we care for above all people?

Do you believe lost people go to hell? Look into the eyes of that lost loved one and see their eternity. Can you be as faithful as Jeremiah to deliver the Truth in spite of your personal feelings for that person?

Can I?

 

Jeremiah 16-20; And Yet

Have you ever felt you can’t win for losing? That if it weren’t for bad luck, you’d have no luck at all? That no matter what you do, someone is going to be mad? I think Jeremiah was right there.

God gave him a message for the people. And the people wanted to kill the messenger. Shouldn’t God give him success if he was only doing what God told him to? Hear what Jeremiah tells us the people said about him for telling the truth:

So come, let’s attack him with our tongues and pay no attention to anything he says. (18:18b) (Sometimes it seems the Bible could have been written in 2018)

Reading these chapters, you can feel Jeremiah’s despair, his frustration. He was ready to cash it all in.

And yet, he said something in chapter 20 that convicts me:

But if I say, “I will not mention him or speak any more of his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. (20:9)

That begs the questions: Am I ingesting God’s Word to the point where I’ll just burst if I don’t tell someone? Is God’s Word like heartburn that can only be belched out to bring peace? Am I aching to tell someone the good news of Jesus? Am I tired of holding it in?

So last night, I went to Chick fil A and ordered a spicy chicken sandwich and fries. I ate the whole thing and loved every bite. But about 45 minutes later, I had such heartburn I thought I was having a heart attack. It hurt so bad. I was bloated, and miserable. (this is no reflection on Chick fil A. It has everything to do with the fact I didn’t take my acid reflux medicine yesterday. Ahh, love the aging process)

That’s when I started burping. I will confess that, being the classy lady I am, I let ’em rip loud and long. 🙂 I live alone so I didn’t hold back. (I just hope my neighbors didn’t hear) Sometimes the belch itself hurt, but after a while the pressure in my chest and stomach calmed down.

Sorry for being so gross, but I thought of this while reading Jeremiah’s words this morning. And I can’t help but be convicted that my love of God’s Word doesn’t always burn within me like that, until I let it out.

The liberal media, false teachers, people who don’t want to hear from God because it doesn’t fit their agenda want us to shut up about Him. These bullies threaten to attack us with their tongues, and ignore what we have to say. They have the power to shut down businesses, or refuse to serve us in their restaurants. They call us names from their talk shows, and ridicule us to our faces.

So many of us are being intimidated to keep quiet. Who needs the aggravation? Right?

And yet, God is worth the aggravation. If I get my feeling hurt when ridiculed or challenged for following Jesus, so what? I am reminded God died for the person giving me a hard time. People gave Jesus a hard time. And He died for them, too.

I need to be reading and thinking about God’s Word every day. I need to be learning, growing, allowing Him to fill me to the point where I have to tell people or die.

God, thank you for your Word that is so personal, I can get a lesson from You out of heartburn. I love You! I do love reading Your Word. I do love the time I spend with You, allowing You to share Your heart with me through these pages. God, give me heartburn, and may it burn with the good news of Jesus Christ for those who don’t know Him. May You find me faithful.

 

 

 

Isaiah 54-59; The Truth Hurts

Before we get into these chapters in Isaiah, I want to share a few other verses with you.

Hebrews 4:12 –  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thought and attitude of the heart.

2 Timothy 3:16 – All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

James 1:17 and I John 1:5 are only two of many verses in the Bible that tell us that God never changes. Yesterday, today, and forever He is the same.

With that being said, I believe there is something vital for us in 2018 in the living words this unchanging God inspired men to put to paper thousands of years ago. So, dear Christian, have a seat. God’s got something to say to us today through his servant Isaiah. And it might hurt.

Read chapter 57 and see if you don’t think life in the USA in 2018 sounds very much like Israel in Isaiah’s day. I hear God say, “How dare you! Who do you think you are to do what you want, think what you want, believe what you want, then expect Me to be your servant. Ain’t gonna happen.”

Isaiah 58:4b says:

You cannot fast as you do today, and expect your voice to be heard on high.

Dear one, He’s talking to His children. He’s talking to you and me.

I often hear Christians lamenting over the state of the world, but I hear God say we need to clean up our own individual acts, and let the state of the world up to Him. Sometimes, when people observe how bad things are they seem to sit back and say, “Oh well. God told us this was going to happen.”

He did tell us what will happen, but He didn’t say it had to happen in 2018!

58:9 is one of many verses in the Bible with messages like this:

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer, you will cry for help, and he will say; Here am I.

He goes on to tell us to get right with Him, then get out there and do what He’s told us to do, go and make disciples. He’ll guide us. He’ll give us what we need to get the job done. We’ll produce fruit which is what He planned for us to do all along.

Do not… I repeat: DO NOT throw your hands up in defeat because you think the world is too far gone. This same unchanging God is still not willing that any should perish. That includes your neighbor. YOUR neighbor. MY neighbor.

Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save. (59:1)

Do you believe that? Then get off the couch and get out there. Greater is He in you than that liar who is in the world. Let’s examine ourselves, confess sin, stand for the truth of Scripture, and be the Church God needs us to be to keep this thing going. We can’t honor God if we give up.

Father, I am convicted. I can get pretty discouraged reading the paper, and hearing how the insanity of the world is becoming truth for way too many people. But I am reminded that my mission field is here on this island where I live. It’s the people on this street, in the grocery, or as I walk on the beach. You’ve asked me to be faithful, but sometimes I think what little impact I actually have. Forgive me if I convince myself it’s not worth it, or not important. You promise that when your people call on You, and ask for Your help to accomplish Your will, You are right there. God, I’m asking.

 

 

 

 

 

Isaiah 5-7; My Vineyard

Did you read these chapters and see what God has to say to you today about your walk with Him? I did. When I read chapters 5-7 I realized I am the vineyard Isaiah is talking about. As a Jesus follower, God established me on rich, fertile ground. He did all the work to clear that land when Jesus died on the cross.

What He offers me is pure, perfect, and prepared in advance for me to produce good fruit. (Ephesians 2:10) He gifted me with abilities to serve Him. He built a hedge of protection around me to guard my heart. He is the watchman who protects me from Satan’s arrows. He gave me everything I need to live a godly life. (2 Peter 1:3)

Then God turns over the vineyard to me, and waits for me to start producing good fruit. After all, He did all the hard work to get it ready for me so that I can go and make disciples, so that I can be a light to the world, so that I can share the Good News of Jesus with lost souls. The potential is endless!

But it didn’t take long for me to feel the sting of conviction today. Verse 2b: but it (me) yielded only bad fruit.

Then God asks, What more could I have done? The answer sadly is, Nothing.

Verses 4-7 are sobering when you consider yourself as the vineyard who isn’t producing fruit. God won’t stay where He’s not wanted.

I hope you read the “Woe to’s” in chapter 5 and let God speak to you about choices you make, attitudes you have, whether you tolerate sin in yourself and ignore it in others, whether or not you think you have all the answers apart from God.

When Isaiah came face to face with Jesus he cried, “Woe to me! I am ruined for I am a man of unclean lips…”

Now I don’t know what kinds of problems Isaiah had with what came out of his mouth, but this is what spoke to me this morning. Look at 8:6-7. When Isaiah confessed his sin of speech, God sent an angel to touch Isaiah’s lips! God met Isaiah at the point of his need. Isaiah confessed a sin. God forgave that sin.

Another thing I see is, that cleansing hurt. Most of the time, it takes a broken heart to repent, turning from sin is not always easy. Sometimes it really does hurt to admit you’ve sinned, to humble yourself, to accept grace. And sometimes separating yourself from that sin means giving up some things and people you really like. Ouch.

I think God wants us to know that as we read His Word, asking Him to speak to us about our walk with Him, He’ll point out sin. He’ll reveal things to us about our hearts’ condition before Him. He’ll talk to us about our vineyard.

Don’t forget this: If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness! (I John 1:9)

Every. Time.

So, read God Word and allow Him to put a finger on the problem. Confess. Repent. Allow Him to cleanse you. Then go back to the vineyard and get to work. Turn that precious property into something beautiful, and useful in God’s kingdom.

Isn’t God’s Word amazingly personal and relevant? I love it!

I Chronicles 14-16; The Things We Do For God

David was a man of action. Through his story, we can see that when he was obedient to God his actions were blessed. When David got ahead of God, or disobeyed Him, we see God remove Himself from the situation. There are no blessings there.

I appreciated Warren Wiersbe’s insight on the subject. (With The Word; Thomas Nelson 1991) I’m using his outline from chapter 15 as I share what God has laid on my heart today.

David had gotten excited about returning the ark of God to Jerusalem. He planned a big celebration, including a parade. He got a brand new cart to act as a parade float, and placed the ark up there for all to see. He assembled the band, and headed out with great fanfare (chapter 13).

But David learned doing things his way, even though he meant well, ends in disaster.

So now in chapter 15, David is determined to let God call the shots. “No one but the Levites may carry the ark of God…” because those are God’s rules. There was still a joyful parade, but they had inquired of God first, and God blessed their work. Wiersbe reminds us to “Do God’s Work Biblically.” Sometimes it seems we in 2017 are more concerned about being politically correct than biblically correct. David would tell us that is a recipe for disaster.

Wiersbe also encourages us to “Do God’s Work Joyfully.” 15:16 says “David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brothers as singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps, and cymbals.” Who doesn’t love a parade?

Does what you are doing in God’s name bring you joy? Or is it a burden, done with a hint of resentment? If we are privileged to do the work for our great God, shouldn’t there be joy in the doing? If there isn’t, perhaps you are undertaking  a job meant for someone else. Your joy in the doing might be found in a different task. God loves a cheerful giver, of our money and our time.

Wiersbe looks at verses 25-26 and tell us to “Do God’s Work Sacrificially.” Seven bulls and seven rams were sacrificed during the procession, which probably means the parade took a few steps, then stopped so a sacrifice could be offered. Not exactly convenient if you were a cymbal player wanting to get home in time to see the first pitch of the big game on TV.

Let’s face it, doing God’s work often takes sacrifice, and not just monetarily. I am reminded God’s work required the ultimate sacrifice for my Savior. I think I can afford to miss the first pitch or the whole game if there is something I can be doing for God, and do it without regret.

Dr. Wiersbe points out that we are to “Do God’s Will Fervently.” David and the people held nothing back, were not distracted, and did not care what others thought. They were focused on God, plus nothing. And they didn’t stop until that ark was safely home, work completed.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” We’ve got things to do for God; to share the Gospel, to represent Him to lost souls, to care for the needy, to love our neighbors. The list goes on.

Let’s go about our tasks biblically, joyfully, sacrificially, and fervently for Jesus’ sake and for His glory!

Numbers 25-27; Leading By Example

When Moses found out he was about to die, he prayed that God would raise up a man to take his place. I was struck today about how he prayed:

Moses said to the Lord, “May the Lord, the God of the spirits of all mankind, appoint a man over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.” (27:15-17)

Moses knew that, left to their own devices, the Jews would go astray like sheep without a shepherd. He prayed two things about the one who would come after him. And I can’t help but think we should be praying the same thing for our own leaders, those dear ones who accept the responsibility as pastors of our church fellowships.

  1. Moses prayed that his successor would “go out and come in before them.” This seems to be speaking of the kind of example our leaders should present. Does your pastor (or do you if you are a pastor) demonstrate how to share the Gospel, and not just talk about it on Sunday mornings? Is he (or she) a presence in your community, does he talk about Jesus over coffee at McDonalds? Are people coming to your church on Sunday because of the contact your pastor has made? I knew a pastor one time who said that visitation wasn’t his gift. I’m sorry, but I question his calling. I don’t think a pastor should be making excuses for not “going out and coming in” before the people he is called to shepherd. We sheep learn by example. Moses knew that, and he prayed for a leader that would be that example.
  2. Now before you get too hard on your pastor for not being the perfect example, Moses didn’t let us off the hook. He prayed that his successor would “lead THEM out and bring them in” as well. I am reminded that Jesus wasn’t just speaking to preachers when He commanded that we get out there and make disciples. We aren’t to sit comfortably in our sheep pen while the shepherd is out there knocking on doors. We are all to be sharing our faith, calling on people God puts on our hearts, striking up conversation with people in the grocery line if God prompts us to do that. Are people coming to church because you have made the effort to invite them? It’s not just the pastor’s job to share the Gospel.

But it is his job. I will say that both of my pastors, the one in my Ohio church and the one here in Georgia, are men who are leading by this example. Going to school board meetings, or Rotary Club, or striking up a conversation with the waiter who brings coffee, or helping a neighbor pull weeds, finding opportunities to share Jesus… and taking those opportunities, these dear men aren’t just preachers on Sunday mornings. They live their faith openly every day. And they challenge us to do the same. I think this is what Moses had in mind when he prayed like he did.

Yes, our pastors have a grave responsibility to lead by example. Pray for yours. His is a very difficult job, and Satan would love nothing more than to shackle him to his desk.

And pray that God will prompt each of us to get busy, too. May we be people who eagerly put ourselves out there and lead people into our fold.

For Jesus’ sake. May He find us faithful.