Tag Archives: sharing the Gospel

January 4; Gibberish

Genesis 10-11:26; I Chronicles 1:5-7,17-27

When my mom stepped into her first grade classroom on the first day of school, she couldn’t speak English. Her German-born parents spoke only German in their home. Her siblings were her best friends. I’m sure she picked up some English words from the neighborhood and church. But she was a German-speaking six-year-old in an English speaking school.

I have a friend who was telling several of us about her granddaughter’s Spanish immersion school. Grandma was extolling the virtues of such a progressive education. Her granddaughter was coloring at the kitchen table. So to make her point, Grandma asked the six-year-old, “Sara Beth, do you understand your teacher?” Sara Beth simply answered, “No.”

The language barrier is real.

I think about Mom when I read the Tower of Babel account in Genesis. How confusing it must have been to be that little girl plopped in a situation where no one speaks or even thinks in the same language you do, and then expect you to follow directions. How confusing it must have been for those building the tower to be talking to their co-worker one minute, then all of a sudden realize you have no idea what he is saying. Some people seem to understand. But you have no clue what that gibberish is supposed to mean.

I’m convinced that sometimes our communication breaks down for the same reason when we are sharing the Gospel. Those of us who know Jesus speak a different language than those who don’t. We understand and speak the language of the Holy Spirit.

We understand what sin is, what repentance involves. We get that Satan is a created being, a real fallen angel, and hell is a reality. We take for granted that everybody knows that Jesus died on a cross to pay for sin, and that Jesus is part of the Trinity which is God. We get that this world is not all there is.

What we forget is that the majority of the world – maybe the majority of the people in your world – have no idea what we are saying when we share any of that. It sounds like gibberish to them.

My Mom slowly learned to speak English. She learned the basic words first, then was able to put together sentences, and understand simple instructions from her teacher. Before long the was having conversations in English, then it dawned on her she was actually thinking and dreaming in English. She got it!

If you are sharing Jesus with someone and find yourself frustrated because you can’t understand why they don’t get it, remember they don’t understand the language. It might take time, repetition, patience. But don’t give up. To them, it may sound like gibberish at first, but once they get it, it will change their lives. Before long they will be speaking, thinking, and understanding the language of the Spirit.

It just occurred to me that after Mom learned English, she stopped speaking German. (being anything German was not a popular thing here in the States during the 1940’s) Eventually she even lost her ability to speak German. (The old passed away, all things became new; from 2 Corinthians 5:17)

Not only that, Mom taught her siblings how to speak English. She helped her mother learn to speak English. She shared with them what she finally understood for herself. Isn’t that what often happens when someone finally understands what Jesus did for them, and accepts His forgiveness? They get it. And they share it!

That’s my prayer for all of us. May we never grow tired of sharing Jesus with that one who is slow to understand. And may we be so immersed in the language of the Holy Spirit, that we recognize the world’s language is gibberish to us.

Titus, Philemon; The Alternative

A friend of mine recently said, “I figure every day I’m still alive is a good day, when you consider the alternative.” I said, “I look forward to the alternative.”

Paul, in the two short letters I read today reminds us that, as Christians, we have important work to be doing, regardless of our ages. There are people who need the Lord, and it’s up to us to be sure they hear about the Savior. We are to be encouraging one another, teaching about and growing in our relationship with Jesus, “while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God, and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (2:13)

It’s not that I have a death wish. I love life here on planet Earth. I am blessed beyond what I deserve. But I also would love to be home. G. Campbell Morgan put it like this, “I am not looking for death, I’m looking for Him.”

And so am I.

Let’s get busy today living. Let’s be Jesus’ voice, hands, and feet to people who need him. Let’s talk about Jesus with people we come in contact with today. What a privilege to live for Jesus today.

And together, let’s keep one eye on the sky. We might actually get to meet Him today. My heart might stop beating. I might close my eyes, and open them in heaven today. Or this might be the day Jesus comes again in the clouds and take us all home. Either way, the alternative to this life, with all its cares and worries, even the measure of joy and blessing we experience here will be behind us. Then the fun begins for us who have accepted God’s grace through the blood of His Son, Jesus.

Or we might live another fifty years, Jesus might not come back for another 2,000 years. We don’t know. The only thing we know for sure is that this life is not forever. There is an eternity. And Jesus will come again.

Do you know Him? Are you ready to meet Him? If you aren’t, find someone who does and talk to them. If you are, be that person who will lead a sinner to the salvation Jesus bought for them.

Christian, get busy. And be assured, the alternative to this life is wonderful beyond imagination.

 

Acts 22-28; What Would It Take?

I read about Paul’s life and think – could I have endured what he did and still stay faithful to the Truth? How many times would I have to be falsely accused before I quit proclaiming Jesus as God? How many friends would I have to lose, or towns I’d have to leave, or prison sentences I’d have to serve before I’d say, “Enough is enough?” Could I stand before kings and governors and boldy proclaim the Truth about Jesus?

But those aren’t the questions God is asking me today. His questions sound more like: “How many times are you going to ignore Me when I nudge you to speak to your neighbor about Me?” “How many conversations are you going to redirect when the subject turns to Me and you get uncomfortable?”

God’s not asking me to stand firm in front of kings. He’s asking me to stand firm in front of my family, and sometimes I can’t even do that. He’s not asking me to go to prison or be beaten because of my faith. He’s asking me to go to dinner with that person He’s laid on my heart.

What would it take for me to deny Jesus, to go along with the crowd, to convince myself what someone believes is not my business?

I’m ashamed to say.

Acts 9-14; Catch the Fever

I love reading about the birth of the Church. I love Saul’s conversion, Peter’s vision and Cornelius’ faith. I love reading how Peter followed an angel out of prison right under the noses of all those guards. I love the accounts of healings, of the Holy Spirit poured out on new believers.

But what spoke to me today as I read was the effect the Word of Truth had on so many people. Peter spoke so plainly of Jesus, as one who had been an eye-witness. Peter used Scripture to back up what he was saying, and I believe many people finally understood what their Old Testament Scriptures were about for the very first time.

Lives were changed. And the Good News spread like wildfire. People were excited to share what they believed with people they loved.

Sometimes I assume everybody knows Bible stories, everyone has heard Jesus died on the cross for sin. I think everyone knows there’s a heaven and a hell. But I am wrong to think those things. There are people right here on this island who have no clue.

We have the Truth. We have the best news ever. We have the answer to every longing, and we hold the keys to heaven. Does that excite you? Does that make you want to get out there and share what you have? I think it should.

At least that’s where I’m convicted today. Am I excited about Jesus, the cross, grace, eternal life, freedom from sin? Or do I take those things for granted? Ouch.

I’m thinking if I went back to my roots, like Peter directed the early church to go back to theirs, and if I remember what it was like to find my Savior, I could get excited about sharing that experience with someone else. And maybe, my excitement will be contagious. Maybe you’ll catch the fever, too. And maybe others will catch it from us!

 

Luke 18-21; Like Muscle Memory

I took a gun safety class a few months back. Something the instructor said came to mind as I read God’s word today. He said that our brains are capable of processing hundreds of bits of information every second. Google suggests that number could be as high as 20,000,000 bits of information every second (thanks Mary Jo). I have no idea how anyone could calculate that. Let’s just say our brains can handle a lot of information all at once.

Sit still for a minute. Take in your surroundings. Make a conscious effort to notice the colors, the sounds, the smells. I’m sitting on my porch. The sky is grey, the wind is rustling the leaves on the tops of trees. I see them moving, and I hear them, too. The house behind me is yellow, with white trim. Next door is a tabby house with a new tan roof. I hear two birds talking to each other in the distance, and I just noticed a squirrel sitting on my fence. I have a window open and I feel a gentle, warm breeze on my face. I could go on.

I happen to be making a conscious effort to notice these things. But science tells me my brain would be taking it all in regardless of whether or not I’m paying attention. Remember, they say our brains are capable of processing hundreds, if not thousands of bits of information every second.

That is, until we are in crisis mode, or are faced with a threat. The gun safety instructor said our brains go from handling hundreds of bits of information at once, to being able to handle… TWO! He said that’s why eye witnesses to a crime or tragedy never see exactly the same thing. That’s why some people freeze instead of using their weapon. And he said that’s why it’s important to develop muscle memory in self defense.

So, what does this have to do with the Gospel of Luke? You might think I’m totally taking a verse out of context, but hang with me for a second. In 21:2-19 Jesus is warning the disciples and believers about the persecution that is coming to them. Then in verse 14 He says this:

But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.

Make up your mind beforehand. Be prepared to defend yourselves.

I know most of us are not being persecuted as such, but I hope we are all being questioned about our faith, to give an answer for the hope we have. When was the last time you were put on the spot in the cafeteria, or around the office water cooler, or while sitting with your neighbor at the local coffee shop, and asked why you don’t support abortion, or don’t drink, or don’t believe the pop-religion theology that’s popular these days? When was the last time you were cornered about your stand on homosexuality, or Jesus’ claim to be the only way to God?

You do realize that, when forced into an uncomfortable situation, your brain almost completely quits working, don’t you? Then what? I know I have often walked away from a confrontation thinking, “Why didn’t I say this…” or “Why on earth did I say that?”

Well, it’s because I wasn’t prepared.

So, how do we prepare for those times when we are suddenly defending ourselves without 100 percent of our brain function? I think memorizing Scripture is right there at the top of our defense. Most of us can spit out John 3:16 without racking our brains. Do you have other verses in your arsenal? I think we need to be so familiar with God’s Word we don’t have to even think about it, it’s just right there on the tip of our tongues.

Do you pray about opportunities to share Jesus before you leave your house each day? That’s a prayer I’m sure God loves answering, and verse 15 says:

For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.

Doesn’t that give you confidence? Are you in-tuned to God’s voice? He promises He’ll give you the words, and I believe most often it will be in the form of a Bible verse. Have you practiced listening?

Do you even know what you believe about hot topics like homosexuality, abortion, tolerance, legalism, and the like? Have you taken time to look up Scripture that addresses what you believe? Do you practice your defense by asking yourself the hard questions you might be faced with on these topics? Don’t think you’ll be able to define your position for yourself at the moment you are being questioned by someone who has a different view. It’s too late then.

The gun instructor told us how important it was for those who own guns to hold it, aim it, practice the stance and draw, to become so familiar with the weapon it becomes a natural extension of our bodies. Because if faced with a crisis, you won’t be able to think or reason. Your defense should come automatically and most likely will, if the muscle memory is there.

I said I took this verse out of context because Jesus is talking about a persecution. But the Bible tells us in other places to be prepared, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it tell us to put on armor, to fight the good fight, to train like an athlete?

We might not be persecuted for our faith today. But we may be called to defend it anyway. Are you prepared? Have you made up your mind beforehand how you’ll defend what you know to be true according to Scripture? Is the plan of Salvation, the defense of your faith so ingrained in you it’s like muscle memory?

God, help us to be prepared! Then may He give us opportunity to defend His Truth to someone who needs the Savior.

Luke 14-17; Sharks in Heaven

Well, I got tripped up on a verse today I’m sure wasn’t there the last time I read Luke’s Gospel. Ok – it probably was there But once again I’m blown away at how alive God’s Word is. It speaks to me every time!

The verse is 16:9. Jesus is speaking:

I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

I read this verse, then re-read it. Did Jesus just say we are to buy friends so we can get into heaven? Surely not.

Of course not!

Matthew Henry helped me understand it better. Then, after looking more closely at God’s Word, I got to thinking about the TV show “Shark Tank.” Those rich people are wise and shrewd with their money. They spend it to gain more. Sometimes they take chances and you think they are throwing their money away. Sometimes they pass on what I think would be a great investment. But every dollar they spend is done with calculated intentionality. And they usually end up with a big payoff.

Jesus, in summing up the parable of the house-manager, is telling us to use what is ours to invest in eternity, in eternal souls. I am reminded that everything we have is God’s – entrusted to us to benefit the kingdom.

God is asking, do I use my house, my car, my bank account, my “worldly wealth” as a means of reaching out to lost and needy people for whom Christ died? Am I spending what God has given me to gain more eternal souls for Him?

So much of what I read in Luke today seems to be calling me to take inventory, then to start investing in people for Jesus’ sake. We are given to give, blessed to bless, saved to tell others.

Read these chapters and see if God doesn’t challenge you to be the faithful son, the competent manager, the obedient servant, and to use what you are given for the glory of God.

You’ve heard “you can’t take it with you,” right? You know when you stand before God you will not be wearing that diamond ring or driving that Mercedes. Jesus says “WHEN it is gone,” not IF it goes. The only thing you will take into heaven with you are the people you have lead to the Lord. That’s it. So let me ask you this…

What kind of shark are you?

 

Matthew 1-3; Where Is Who?

So some guys, probably from Arabia, who were into star-gazing, and who were at least somewhat familiar with Jewish history and the prophets, see a new star in the sky. Maybe they watched it for a few days to be sure it wasn’t a Russian spy satellite or a drone or something they could explain.

Well, maybe I’m wrong about the satellite/drone thing. But I can imagine them getting out their charts and excitedly trying to put two and two together to identify this celestial phenomenon. However, their charts could take them only so far. They had to check it out for themselves.

I wonder how that conversation went when one of them remembered reading something about a Jewish Messiah being born. “Didn’t our calculations predict he’d be born around this time? Could the star be God’s sign that it’s happened? If so, this is huge! Let’s go worship Him together.”

So the men set out for parts unknown, following that strange star, believing that the Jewish God was going to send a Savior.

Here’s what made me sad today. These Gentiles came to Jerusalem, the center of the Jewish religion, and with great anticipation asked, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?” And no one knew!

“Where is who?”

It took the question of non-Jews for God’s people to look to Scripture for answers they should have already known.

I believe God is still putting stars in the sky to draw non-believers to Himself. God reveals Himself every day in hundreds of ways to anyone paying attention. Think about it. Evidence of God is everywhere!

So what happens when a non-believer whose eyes are beginning to open to the Truth comes to you and asks, “How do I find the Savior?” Do you know?

It seems the Jews in Jerusalem weren’t giving much thought to Scripture until the Magi came with questions. Shouldn’t they have been prepared? I think so.

And I think we should be, too. So did Paul:

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (I Peter 3:15) (emphasis mine)

Dear one, we have got to be in God’s Word. We’ve got to be familiar with God’s plan of salvation. We’ve got to be able to tell anyone who asks how they can find what Jesus died to give them. We’ve got to be prepared.

So that when someone asks how they can find the Savior, our reply will be “I’m glad you asked. Let me introduce you to Him.”