Daily Devotional; formerly Chaplains Corner

Discussion in 'Religious Discussions' started by ampaterry, Apr 24, 2011.

  1. Grizzly2

    Grizzly2 Well-Known Member

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    I woke up early to help my wife this morning who is bedridden, and like what happens every now and again, for one reason or another, could not get back to sleep. So I got up, turned this thing on, glanced at a few new posts and then came here. I was behind on these well written daily devotionals and read the last six. I also need to go back to the 7th which I haven't read yet. But these 6 are what can be produced by a life devoted to serving and understanding God, His Word and how it applies to daily living. I've said this before, but I truly appreciate the mind and heart of BlackEagle and how he is able to write and share with a clarity and understanding in a well ordered progression of thought.

    As I read these daily devotionals I always try to relate to what a Pastor has lived out and learned in the many years of devoted service to Christ, His Church and His Sheep. I also try to compare it to my walk and those who I have come to know who also have devoted themselves in a similar way. Most importantly we, as has been clearly said so far, must also compare what we read and hear to God's Word. As BlackEagle has pointed out a number of times, we are all different. We all have different gifts, some developed to serve His Kingdom and some that are still in the worldly realm. We are also all at different levels of maturity as well as fellowship and unity with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

    I'm not sure how much further BlackEagle will go with this series. What I would like to see as a natural progression is the working of the Holy Spirit in the lives of true believers. Again, there will be similarities and differences in how we all experience His Spirit in our lives. The huge problem before the Church is what happens when man tries to create the moving of the Holy Spirit or duplicate what they read in God's Word in their own lives or the Church. This serves to confuse and lead many astray as they may want desperately to experience the spiritual life they see in others. Pastor John MacArthur and others years ago held a "Strange Fire" conference where they came against what they saw as excesses and man made expressions claiming to be the moving of the Holy Spirit. It is good and right to point out wrongs but in doing so, we must be careful not to throw a wet towel over one of the promises of God which Jesus and the Apostles have addressed in God's Word.

    The Reformers hundreds of years ago saw in Scripture for the first time in centuries how grace through faith had been replaced by man made concepts in the Church. I hope there will be another great reformation, awakening and transformation within the Church that combines the knowledge and obedience to His Word with the leading of the Holy Spirit in the life of believers. Many of the Scriptures we quote and seek to apply in our lives were first spoken or perceived by the Prophets and Apostles in their lives. When Paul says it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me, he is referring to more then just the Word of God feeding his spirit. He is also speaking of the Truth, the Way and the Life which is Christ Jesus alive within us and the moving of the Holy Spirit bringing application of His Word and producing good fruits as we mature in Christ over the years. Jesus said that He came to undue the works of Satan within us. A life of progressive sanctification and increasing holiness getting us reading for the return of Christ Jesus should also be a part of our new life after being born of His Spirit. This will not happen without hearing the still small voice of the Holy Spirit through promptings and impressions that we learn to obey in thanksgiving and love and maybe even by failure a time or two all building up trust, faith and believe in Christ and His Gospel or good news of how we can successfully live for God only in Christ, in the vine and by faith which He is constantly trying to strengthen through the moving of the Holy Spirit within us. I firmly believe that each time we come together we should all have a praise report of what the Lord had done within us or through us and the blessings that follow.

    Without a mature unity with the Holy Spirit, how can we stop what we are doing as the Holy Spirit moves us to help a homeless person or to give a certain amount of money to a brother in need, or to stop mowing the grass and go on a bike ride so that He can provide a much needed wheelchair from a person who just happens to be at a garage sale you are being sent to, or find the right church or find the right pastor or lead a pastor to a specific church or to confirm in your mind and heart something you just lived out with the teaching of His Word or put new faith in your heart so that when you pray and ask, you ask in faith and see how prayer is answered, over and over again until you see how that works. How can you truly believe until by grace, God moves in your live? How can you come to repentance unless His Spirit helps convict you? How can you receive His Spirit unless the Father draws you to His Son and you are baptized into His Spirit? How can you serve unless His Son baptizes you into His Spirit? How can you mature in Christ unless you learn to walk in the Spirit you have been given and on and on.
     
  2. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Thanks, Grizzley2. There's a lot to think about there.

    For today...

    Prayer Part 2

    Yesterday we mentioned looking at the Psalms David wrote as he talked with God about whatever was on his mind. One thing that comes through loud and clear throughout the Bible is that God wants us to come and talk with Him. He likes to hear from us. We never bother God when we come to Him, when we ask Him for things, when we just want to talk.

    One caveat. If we try to hold onto some sin, God won’t give us the time of day. Psalm 66: 18 If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear;

    Psalm 55 is rich with the comfort we can receive from God as we "dump" on Him in prayer. Verse 22 says "Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved."

    Philippians 4:6-7 echoes that: " do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

    He may not answer just the way we would like Him to, but He has the greater perspective, and always has the best answer.

    One thing I do is to grab a promise from God’s Word and “remind” God of that promise as I’m praying. I use God’s own words to talk to Him; I “pray scripture” back to God. That way I know I’m asking things according to His Word, and I’m glorifying Him. There is no better praise than to use a person’s words when talking to him.

    Many years ago I was out on the trail with the rest of the campers, and the counsellor in charge suggested that we pray as we walked along. The guys started praying from the front of the line on back, just a sentence or two, but when it came to my turn, I stayed quiet. Later the counsellor came back and wondered why I hadn’t prayed. That was an important thing. Some people would have let it pass; this counselor cared enough to ask why I stayed silent.

    I told him that I didn’t feel I had much to say, or add to what had already been prayed. We talked a little more, and he reminnded me that prayer is just simply talking to God, letting Him know what is bothering me, or making me happy, or whatever.

    So many prayers I have heard in church are elaborate, complete with “thee’s” and “thou’s”, and often quite long winded. They are comprehensive. These people are usually devout in their relationship with God, but if I compare myself with their prayer style, it can be intimidating. Don’t compare your conversation with God with someone else’s conversation with God. God is interested in each one of us as we are.

    You can read through Jesus’ prayer for us there in John 17 in about three minutes. That was a critical time for Jesus as He was turning over care of His disciples directly into God’s hands because He was about to be executed.

    Some of the prayers in the Bible are quite comprehensive, like Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the new Temple in Jerusalem in 1 Kings 8; others are short and sweet. I like what Nehemiah 2 says: 4 Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. 5 And I said to the king... Nehemiah had already spent considerable time in prayer in chapter 1; now it was something like “OK, God, here goes...” and he told the king what he wanted to do.

    And don’t get tied up in knots about how to pray or what to say. There are times when we are faced with things we just can’t put into words, or we want one thing but suspect God wants another thing, or we have no idea at all what God is doing or what is happening. That’s why Proverbs 3 says 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

    When we run out of words, remember Romans 8 26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

    That could be for the times when we feel a real conflict between what we want and what we suspect God wants in a situation. Or it could be for times when we are totally confused or overwhelmed by circumstances, and have no idea where to start or what to say.

    Our life as Christians is a constant conversation with God. Remember how Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in the cool of the day in Genesis? God wants to do the same with us…walking and talking with us. He talks to us through His Word; we respond through prayer. And it doesn’t have to be a formal “heads bowed, eyes closed, hands clasped” kind of prayer. You can talk to God sitting in the car at a traffic light, waiting in line at the store, trying to get to sleep at night. Any time, anywhere, whatever we are doing, God is ready to listen and talk to us.

    May God bless us all richly as we learn to talk to Him about what is on our hearts and minds; what is worrying us, and learn to see His comfort and answers to prayer.
     

  3. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Fellowship

    I've said many times that this forum is addictive. Part of that attraction is that we share similar interests. We all enjoy shooting and like to talk with other shooters about it. We like to talk about our guns, and we really enjoy helping each other out when someone has a question. We value others’ opinions. We like a good laugh together, and kid each other. We particularly like helping newbies, whether it's with gun selection or reloading questions or any other subject. We come from a huge variety of backgrounds and experiences, yet we share common opinions about a variety of subjects and enjoy chatting about these things. When we differ in opinion we generally realize this is not a life or death subject and agree to disagree. Maybe the other person will "see the light" sometime.

    Now, that friendship and fellowship went to a whole new level when I got to the Tennessee BBQ last year. Talking face to face, sharing meals, shooting together hearing the voices and seeing the faces of people on the forum brought the conversations we have here on TFF to life in a new way.

    Good fellowship, friendship, is refreshing to everyone involved. Look at Psalm 133:
    Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity!
    2 It is like the precious oil upon the head, Coming down upon the beard,
    Even Aaron’s beard, Coming down upon the edge of his robes.
    3 It is like the dew of Hermon Coming down upon the mountains of Zion;
    For there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forever.


    That oil would have been full of fragrances, spices, perfumes that would make the whole place smell wonderful. God gave the recipe for the anointing oil to Moses back in Exodus 22 and specified this was to be the only use for that combination of spices. That was to be a unique, refreshing fragrance to be associated with the worship of God.

    The dew on Hermon…refreshing as a spring morning, something to brace the Israelites for a long hard hot day ahead. So brothers dwelling together in unity, having good fellowship together, working together as a unit, being good friends, is just as refreshing.

    That should be true for us as Christians. God says we should spend time with each other, doing the same kinds of things with other Christians that we do with members here on the forum. Hebrews 10:24-25 says: "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

    Think about what happens here on TFF. Someone wants information on a gun, people who know that gun chip in their knowledge and experience. Others dig into some research to find answers to questions and solutions to problems. If someone wants help with a part, people jump in with help on where to get it, or may even send that part to them. We listen to each other, think about what they need, and do what we can to help. Or it may be some other issue that we talk about in the General Discussion or in the Religious Discussions sections.

    Proverbs 27 says 17 Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.

    Do you remember the fellowship David and Jonathan had? Jonathan heard David was going through a rough patch and … 1 Samuel 23 16 And Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David at Horesh, and encouraged him in God.

    In John 15:12-14 Jesus says: "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you."

    There’s more to this whole area of fellowship. We’ll have to come back to it tomorrow.

    But the bottom line is that real fellowship, true fellowship, comes from the fact that we can love each other because God loved us first, and He loves other people through us. We are conduits of God's love to other people.
     
  4. Grizzly2

    Grizzly2 Well-Known Member

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    https://biblehub.com/nasb/john/17.htm
    Oh, the depth of the unity Jesus speaks of in His prayer to His Father for those who are His. In that budding unity which brothers and sisters in Christ live comes true fellowship. How many leave the Church before finding this unity? How many in the Church know personally this unity? How many facets are there to this unity? Most in Churches today know of or are familiar with the unity they share with His Word - His written Word, but what of His Spoken Word?

    We get nervous when other Christians talk of God speaking to them, don't we? We look at each other and wonder if we are seeing another delusional Christian who thinks that God speaks to him. Why? Because too many have claimed God spoke to them, declared it publicly and like false prophets, were proven wrong when what they claimed would happen never did happen. So now, we have doctrines preached that claim that God only speaks to us through His written Word, the Bible.

    How then did Joshua know when to go to battle and when not to? Where did the Revealed Truth that Paul taught come from? Why are we to faithfully trust in God to lead us in our daily living when these circumstances cannot be found in His Written Word? Does His Word only have one facet of brightness? Is God limited? How did Paul hear the Macedonian call? How did these men arrive at this level of unity with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit? Were they brought there or helped there by signs and wonders, by the grace of God, by the love of God, by being lifted up by their brothers and sisters in Christ, by much prayer and supplication?

    How strong was the unity within Peter and John when they came upon the crippled beggar on the way to the temple in Acts 3 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+3&version=ESV)? "
    9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him."

    Have you been filled with wonder and amazement at what the Lord has done in you or through you or to others? Have you perceived or "heard" or been moved to respond or obey the living Word in your heart? Have you ever known that you were just told to start a prayer group, or tend to someone who is homeless or to go down the liquor isle of the supermarket to minister to someone? Has the Holy Spirit ever gotten your attention so that you could be directed to share the Gospel with someone along the road where you hadn't planed to stop? Have you ever been moved to stop what you were doing so that the Lord could provide for you in ways beyond what you could have imagined? Have you noticed yet that the Lord is capable of bringing together those whom He foreknew to one Church that they might grow in unity and fellowship together? Have you seen yet how the Lord then draws others to His Gospel and to the unity Jesus prayed for?

    We like to speak of a personal relationship with God and well we should. We should often be amazed and wonder at how the hand of God moves in and around our lives as he draws us and cares for us and shows us His Eternal life in Christ. There is so much more to this unity that Jesus prayed for us to have then what I believe, is being taught and shared today within our denominationally divided churches. Personally, I think we should come out from among these denominations and enter into His unity in Christ Jesus in His Church. I'm not sure this can happen within the traditions and restrictive patters of religion that confine us today.

    Have you ever wondered why Jesus said to the Church at Laodicea, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me" (https://biblehub.com/nasb/revelation/3.htm).



     
    Winchester94 and reflex1 like this.
  5. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Thanks for your comments, Grizzley2. I have added my thoughts onto a separate thread.

    For today.

    Fellowship in a Common Relationship

    We’re reviewing some basic skills we need as Christians. The outline is in the form of a wheel, with a hub, four spokes, and a rim.

    Christ is at the center of this wheel, the Hub. He is at the center of our lives, controlling our lives. God’s Word spoken from God to us, is the spoke from the hub to the bottom of the rim. Prayer going from us to God is the spoke going from the top of the rim to the hub. The first two spokes have to do with the vertical relationship between us and God. The next two spokes have to do with the horizontal relationships we have with people. Fellowship is a third spoke of this “Wheel illustration”, a horizontal spoke because it has to do with people, with other Christians.

    There are at least five factors that are vital to being able to have fellowship the way God wants us to have fellowship, encouraging, building each other up, and showing God's love for each other. And God promises to be right there with us... Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

    1. A common relationship with Christ. John 17:20-24 says " I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me."

    Notice how Jesus talks about the unity we have together. It’s not from external agreements. It’s not from us deciding to compromise, to go along to get along. This perfect unity Jesus prays for us comes about from the fact that God is living in us. Jesus living in us forms the basis, the foundation for true fellowship.

    And that’s what makes unity in Christ so different from the rest of the world. God has made each of us different from everyone else. But each of us has that common relationship with God that makes us able to work together just as a well-honed team works together.

    Members of the same family have a common relationship and fellowship with each other that "outsiders" have a hard time gaining. When we have received Jesus into our lives, as
    John 1:12 describes, we have a common relationship with God as His sons, and so we have a common relationship with each other.

    I remember beginning to discover that as I talked and prayed with an older lady from a different theological background, who loved the same Jesus I love, who had the same Jesus living in her heart that I have living in mine. Our common relationship with God through Jesus Christ brings us together as His children, His family, brothers and sisters in Christ. The same thing is true about people from different countries and races. We can have fellowship together because we have a common relationship with God through Jesus Christ. So dad, mom, and my brother were happy to worship with Christians in that totally foreign church in India. They needed a translator to understand what each other was saying, but together they were all worshipping the same God.

    The same thing was true for them in Singapore and in Japan and in Saudi Arabia. The same thing is true for friends of mine who are working with Christians in Africa and other countries, and with people from all walks of life and culture; people from the inner city, successful businessmen, great grandparents and their great grandchildren. Whoever calls Jesus “Lord” and has received Him into his life and lives by God’s Word is my brother or sister in Christ.

    1 John 4 says it this way: 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

    It is impossible for people to truly love each other with God’s kind of love if they don’t love God. It is only possible to truly love others when God loves them through us.

    It is impossible for people to have true fellowship with one another if we don't have true fellowship with God first. True fellowship with one another is a result of our fellowship with God.

    Anyone can have this relationship with God. He offers it to anyone and everyone who will receive it. John 1 says 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

    There is no “limited offer” on this. It’s open to anyone and everyone who received Him.

    Romans 6 says we don’t have to do anything to earn that gift. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    The way to join God’s Family, to become one of His children, is to receive Jesus into your life. Talk to God. Say, or pray, something like this: God, I’m sorry for my sin, for what I’ve done to offend You. I receive Your free gift of eternal life that You bought for me when Jesus died on the cross to take the penalty for my sins on Himself. Will You please come into my life and take it over and help me to live as I should, as You want me to live? Thank You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    That common relationship with Christ is one foundation stone of true fellowship that we can have together as Christians. We’ll have to check out the other four tomorrow, God willing.
     
  6. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Foundations for Fellowship, Part 2

    We need to have fellowship together as Christians. Jesus prayed in John 17 that we would be one as He and the Father are one. We need to get together as Christians so that we can encourage each other and if necessary, correct or challenge each other.

    We need to be aware of needs of other Christians around us and being ready to help out. That’s integral in what God says in Galatians 6: Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

    As Christians we are all linked together through our common relationship with Christ. What affects one of us affects all of us. 1 Corinthians 12 says 25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

    Yesterday we looked a little at the first foundation for having true fellowship, which is a common relationship with Christ. That makes us brothers and sisters of each other and of Jesus Christ. Today, let’s summarize the other four foundations for fellowship.

    2. A common love for God. John 17:26 says "I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” Jesus describes how a house divided against itself cannot stand, and a house, or group, not united in love for God cannot stand together and have real fellowship with each other.

    1 John 4: 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

    In other words, if we love God, that love should show up in how we show God’s kind of agape love toward other Christians. Our common love for God gives us a mutual focus in life.

    3. Clear Conscience Proverbs 18:19 says "A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle." A guilty conscience builds walls between people.

    If I have offended someone and not tried to make it right, that person has a reason to shut me off. Every time he sees me he'll think of what I did to him and get mad at me all over again. Every time I look at that person, I'll cringe inside and try to avoid him, because I don't like to be reminded that I have done something wrong and not tried to make it right. That is not conducive to good fellowship.

    There is a wall of guilt shutting me off from this brother. Asking forgiveness is the only way to break it down. It takes humility. I need to shut down pride and go to that person and say something like, "I was wrong. Will you please forgive me?" If I need to make restitution, I do that as well.

    Guilt toward someone else will also come between me and my relationship with God. Jesus said in Matthew 5 23 Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

    4. No Bitterness: Hebrews 12:15 "See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;".

    This is the flip side of the clear conscience. If I hold a grudge against someone who has offended me, then every time I see him I'll want to haul off and try to get even with him. That doesn't improve fellowship at all.

    The danger is that I'll start talking to people about what that cretin did to me and get a bunch of people on my side, and he'll have to defend himself, so a bunch of people go to his side of the argument, and the fellowship is split. Many become defiled. That bitterness is a cancer that needs to be cut out as soon as it is detected.

    Get rid of bitterness by forgiving that person. Yes, the person owes you, but you turn the debt collection duties over to God, the way David did time and again in the Psalms. You start again with a clean slate with that person. (But it never hurts to be wary, lest he do the same thing again. Forgive does not necessarily mean forget. See what Paul said in 2 Timothy 4 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15 Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching. )

    Jesus said several times that God will forgive us the same way we forgive others. Matthew 6:
    12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors…14 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.


    5. Common Purpose: Amos 3:3 "Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?" Did you hear about the man who saw his neighbor struggling in the doorway with a huge piano? He went over to help. They pushed and pulled, lifted and strained for 15 minutes and finally the neighbor said "I don't think we are ever going to get this piano out of the house". The man put his end of the piano down and said "Out of the house??!!??"

    If people are going to pull together in fellowship they need to know which way they are pulling. And God's fellowship does mean more than just getting together from time to time to make each other feel nice and happy. We need to be pulling in a certain direction. The Navigators have defined their purpose as “To Know Christ and to Make Him Known”. A church I worked with defined her purpose as “Reaching, Training, Building, Sending”. The activities of that church were unified around those four words.

    So there are five foundation stones for fellowship:
    1. A common relationship with God through Jesus Christ that brings us all into God’s family so we are brothers and sisters from all nations, all races, all walks of life.
    2. A common love for God that enables us to love others with God’s kind of love.
    3. A clear conscience that breaks down walls of offense.
    4. A forgiving spirit that gives offenses over to God to deal with.
    5. A common purpose.

    This is by no means the last word in things God uses to build fellowship. A humble spirit, humility, is one. There will be others that come to mind over time, but these will do for a start. You can add to this list as God shows you other things.

    May God bless us as we continue to build up and encourage each other in our fellowship with each other and with Him.
     
  7. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Sharing the Light

    We are reviewing some basic skills we need as Christians, using a wheel as an illustration. At the center of the wheel is the hub, with four spokes extending out to the rim. Jesus Christ needs to be at the hub of our lives, at the center of our lives. We have briefly looked at three of the spokes, God’s Word, prayer, and fellowship. Our lives are the rim, coming into contact with the world. God’s Word is how He communicates down to us. Prayer is how we communicate back up to Him. Fellowship is one of the horizontal spokes, our relationship with other Christians. Now we are moving on to the fourth spoke, Witnessing. This is our relationship with the people who are not Christians, yet.

    And that’s how we should look at people around us…not Christians yet. Only God knows who will and who will not become Christians. He just puts us out there to deliver the message, the invitation to any and all. Then as John 3:16 says, 16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

    We don’t know who those “whoever” people are, and some of them will be great surprises to us. Seeing that revival happen in Nineveh was a great surprise to Jonah!!

    Romans 10 14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”

    God sent Jonah to Nineveh. God presented that question to Isaiah in Isaiah 6: 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 9 He said, “Go, and tell this people:

    Jesus sent us out into the world with His commission in Matthew 28:18-20. We can either obey Christ’s directive, or we can be derelict in our duty.

    Psalm 45 starts out this way:
    "My heart overflows with a good theme;
    I address my verses to the King;
    My tongue is the pen of a ready writer."


    We like to talk about what we know, about things we like. Shooting, cars, sports are subjects we are comfortable talking about with each other and with people we know, because we enjoy those things and know lots about them. We are like an artesian well, easily spilling out information. Someone asks a question, we are ready to talk.

    As we saturate our lives in God's Word, it should be as natural a subject for conversation for us as shooting. We shouldn't come across as religious nuts, but as people who are down to earth, real, and who have answers to life's problems that are much better than the world's answers to life's problems. Our answers should come from God’s Word. Someone comes up with a reloading recipe question we go back to the manuals, not Bubba’s favorite hot load. Someone comes up with a life question, we should go back to The Manual—the Bible—not somebody’s theoretical guess that’s flawed because it came from a human.

    I find myself from time to time joining in a conversation where people are discussing some problem. I offer an idea from the Bible without telling them it’s from the Bible. “A wise man once said…” and tell them something that Proverbs or Jesus or Paul said. Then later, when they like the idea, tell them it’s from the Bible.

    That happened with a cold caller one time. I told her she interrupted me while I was in the middle of something and would she like to hear what I was working on? She said yes, so I read her the Beatitudes. She said that was beautiful, with a little catch in her voice. I told her someone very wise had said that many years ago. It was Jesus, in the New Testament. She thanked me and hung up. I never found out what she was selling.

    I was talking with an associate at work, and the conversation drifted over to something and I wound up relating some stories from the Bible. She told me she had grown up in Communist Eastern Germany so she was an atheist. That doesn’t matter to me. I’m not going to argue that kind of thing. I’m just going to plant seeds of God’s Word in her mind and let God do the growing. He promised His Word would not go out and return to Him void, but it will accomplish what He sent it out to do. (Isaiah 55:11). She had heard religious leaders talking before, but had never heard God’s Word presented in a personal, friendly way. She had never heard how God’s Word relates to people and circumstances and events and life in general today.

    And that’s the difference between being religious and being a Christian. Religious people only see the Bible as words on paper, nice stories. Christians see the Bible as the living Word of God to us. When we take it in, it should be like grabbing live electrical wires. It should produce a response.

    Maybe connecting live wires to a light would be a better illustration. Religious people only grab the insulation and never get God’s message flowing into them. You know what happens if you leave the insulation on the wires when connecting them to a lamp. Nothing. No light. If we’re going to be a light to the world, we need the electricity of God’s Word flowing through us.

    This is the reason God leaves us alive in this world. We are to be lights to those around us.

    Remember how Jesus prayed for us the night before He died on the cross. John 17 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world… 20 “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

    He has sent us into the world, so that the world may believe the Father sent the Son to die on the cross to cover our debt of sin to Him.

    God willing, we’ll pick up on this tomorrow.
     
    Grizzly2, Aspeck, One Shot and 5 others like this.
  8. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Our Commission is our authority

    Scotland is considering legislation that could effectively shut down debate or discussion on any subject because someone takes offense at a statement. These are red flag laws on speech. Already people have had “visits” from police for “liking” the wrong thing on facebook or retweeting something that offends someone. They don’t have resources to deal with crime but they can take time to make sure someone who has offended by words is charged with hate crime and has justice served on him. Some have been fired for not toeing the politically correct line.

    Street preachers have been arrested, harassed by people and the police because someone took offense at the Gospel. Christians living in muslim lands get thrown in prison for talking about Jesus. Some Christians become martyrs because they won’t renounce Christ. China is trying to force God out of their country and putting Christians under terrific pressure to compromise.

    Should we go on presenting the Gospel to people? Acts 5 Peter and some others had been hauled into court for street preaching, thrown in jail, released by an angel, and went right back to preaching. They were hauled into court again.

    Here’s how the conversation went: 7 When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.

    They were living out Psalm 56: I will put my trust in You. 4 In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?

    They were living out what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 10: 32 “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

    Jesus gave us a commission in Matthew 28:18-20 when He said 18… “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

    That commission means Jesus has given us a task to do and He will review how we carried out that task. That commission means that we have Jesus’ full authority backing us as we go about doing His work. He also promised His resources to do His Work His way, and He promised to give us the ability to do His Work.

    That’s why Peter and the others were unafraid to go right back out into the Temple and go on presenting the Gospel to the people.

    God says we need to see the influence going from us to the world, not from the world to us. It is the natural overflow of our life in Christ. We want others to have this new life. God has given us the privilege and responsibility of passing this Good News about Jesus on to others.

    More than that, God has given us the assignment, the command, the commission, to do this, and because Jesus Himself has commissioned us, we have His full authority backing us. That’s why Peter and the others would not back down or be intimidated by the courts.

    Talking about Jesus should be a natural result of our growing relationship with Christ. Jesus said in Matthew 4:19 "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." When we hang around other people who like guns or who like to shoot we become comfortable talking about guns and shooting, and we can talk to anyone who will give us half an ear about it, even inviting them out to the range with the hope of getting someone else interested in shooting. So we follow Jesus, hang around Him and His people. We get comfortable talking about Him to anyone who will give us half an ear.

    We talk about mentors, people we can attach ourselves to in order to learn from their knowledge, and their experience. Some things are better caught than taught. We follow our mentor around, learning the “feel” of things, as well as the “facts” of things. So when we follow Jesus, He mentors us in how to talk with people and deal with situations. He wants to teach us to be fishers of men, people who will draw others into His Kingdom.

    Why don’t we witness more? Why don’t we tell more people about Jesus and the promise of Eternal Life He has to offer, and forgiveness of sins?

    One reason might be that we don’t see the urgency of the situation. But it is there. Hebrews 4 6 Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.”

    God may withdraw that offer whenever He wants. That person may die; become totally incapacitated, God always has the final word on the end of the world.

    We have the news about a calamity that is about to befall all people. We need to warn them about it. If they choose to listen to the warning, all well and good. If they refuse to listen to us, then the calamity they will encounter is on their own heads. If we fail to give the warning, then we are guilty of dereliction of duty. That’s the gist of Ezekiel 33, where God describes the duties of the watchman on the wall of a city.

    We don’t know how much longer they have to live here on this earth. How many times does someone get the news that their friend has died of a stroke, heart attack, accident? They stare in stunned silence then blurt out “But they were fine yesterday. I talked with him and he was OK.” That was the last time you got to talk with that friend. What did you say that was going to be important enough to last for eternity? What did you say that would be your last words together here on earth?

    There are probably other reasons we don’t tell other people about Jesus, and we’ll look at one of them tomorrow, God willing.

    Meantime, if someone asked you, “What is a Christian?” what would you tell them? If someone asked you how to become a Christian, what would you tell them?
     
  9. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Courage and Witnessing

    Why don’t we talk about Jesus with people around us? One reason we looked at yesterday is that we don’t feel the urgency pass the message on. I think another main reason is fear.

    · Fear of rejection—they might think we are some kind of religious nut and will want nothing more to do with us.

    Just remember, Jesus was there before us in the rejection department. Isaiah 53 says 3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

    Do you remember what Jesus said to do if people reject the Gospel? Luke 9 5 And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” In other words, don’t argue, don’t get bent out of shape. Just move on. They are not rejecting you. They are rejecting God.

    · Fear of being mocked—the world is very good at mocking anything it disagrees with. Take any of the PC hot topics these days, and you will find the PC brigade mocking anyone who says different from them. That’s especially true of Christianity. The media has been doing that for decades. We don’t like being made to look like fools. Remember how the people mocked Jesus at His trial in Jerusalem.

    Then see what God says in 1 Corinthians 1: 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

    The Gospel is foolishness to “the world”, but salvation to anyone who will listen and believe.

    · Fear of being persecuted. That’s the next step after mockery. We see it happening all the time today with the pro-life movement, freedom of speech vs homosexuality, and any number of other things where people are being persecuted for showing they are Christians and talking about it. Even wearing jewelry to work.

    Hebrews 11 gives a thumbnail sketch of the long history of those who have been persecuted for their faith in Christ. It’s nothing new, and God honors those who stick their necks out for Him. Daniel 12 says 3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

    · Fear of making a hash of it. We’re afraid we’ll say the wrong thing, or say the right thing the wrong way and cause someone to reject Christ. As we saturate our minds and our lives with God’s Word, knowing it and doing it, we can speak it. But Jesus also said in Luke 12 11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

    God will give us the things to say and the way to say them. But we need to have our minds and lives saturated with God’s Word so the Holy Spirit can help us organize our thoughts and words.

    1 John 4 says 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us.

    If we follow God’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves, we will want them to know Jesus and His salvation.

    And remember God’s challenge to us: Hebrews 10: 35 Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. 37 For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. 38 But My righteous one shall live by faith; And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.

    There’s more to this. We’ll come back to this tomorrow, Deo Volente.
     
  10. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Fear or fearless?

    I took a course in world literature while I was in university. The professor had many years of experience and education behind her. Part of the course included parts of the Bible. She lectured about the “Joseph Story” and several other, as she put it, compilations of legends handed down through the ages. After about the second or third of these lectures I went in to try to talk to her about the Bible as God’s inspired Word to man. She fixed me with her “look”, and hit me right back with something along the lines of “how dare I, a measly sophomore, challenge her with all her authority and degrees and certificates and educational background and experience.” I didn’t know what to say, so I kind of slunk out of her office with my tail between my legs.

    I didn’t have a grasp of the authority Jesus gives us because we are His ambassadors, His representatives here on earth.

    I saw a headline the other day that said well over half of conservatives are afraid to openly speak their views. We’re afraid of retaliation, of being mocked, of legal proceedings being brought against us, of offending someone, of losing friends, and a lot of other things.

    Telling people about Jesus Christ is one way we can stand up and be counted, to stand up for what we believe in, along with Paul in Romans 1:16 " For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek."

    Just remember, when Jesus gave us that Great Commission, He said He would be right there with us, helping us to carry it out.

    Think about this a second. Jesus said that He has all authority in heaven and on earth in Matthew 28:18.

    Ephesians 1 says 20 …He [God] raised Him [Jesus] from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet,

    In other words, Jesus’ authority trumps all other authority on this earth, or above or under the earth, at this time or any other time. When you get a directive from a supervisor you obey it unless you get a different directive from the company president. Then you follow the president’s directive. Jesus’ authority is far greater than any company president or any government agency or political leader or federal law.

    Peter showed the kind of courage that comes from knowing he is following God’s orders when he stared those Jewish leaders right in the eye and told them his authority for what he was saying. (Acts 5) 27 When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.

    When we tell others about Jesus we are obeying the command of the highest commander in all of creation and we have His authority backing us and He will support us with His power.

    And our Commander in Chief leads from the front. He is seated with God, but He said time and again, “I am with you always”.

    Then check out the last 13 verses of Romans 8. Part of that says 37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    And remember 1 John 4: 4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

    How far will He spread His message through us? The sky is the limit. Look at Isaiah 49: 6 He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

    There is another thing about the Gospel. Jesus said in Matthew 11: 28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

    The Gospel, making Jesus Lord of all, is the answer to a person’s individual problems, interpersonal conflicts, to social unrest, to international conflicts, to any problems out there in the world. Jesus is the Prince of Peace.

    May God grant us new boldness to communicate His Gospel, His Good News into this world where there is so much negative and bad news and conflict. May He grant us confidence as we shine the brilliant light of His Truth into the darkness of this world.

    You remember we talked about the five “elements” of getting us into God’s Word, and God’s Word into us. Remember the "hand"—Hear, Read, Study, Memorize, and Meditate.

    Then we glanced at five elements of Prayer—Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication, and Intercession.

    Then we skimmed over five foundation stones for fellowship—Common Relationship with Christ, a Common Love for God, we need to get rid of guilt by asking forgiveness of each other, we cannot harbor a grudge or bitterness against other Christians, and we need to have a common purpose.

    What needs to be in place to be an effective witness for Christ?

    We’ll look at this some more tomorrow, God willing.
     
  11. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    “We are not responsible to God for the souls that are saved, but we are responsible for the Gospel that is preached, and for the way in which we preach it.” -Charles Spurgeon

    We have been exploring the “witnessing” spoke of this “Wheel” illustration of basic skills we need to have as Christians. You remember that Christ is the hub of the wheel, God’s Word is the spoke going from the hub to the bottom of the wheel, prayer is the spoke going from the top of the rim to the hub, fellowship is one horizontal hub, and now evangelism is the other horizontal spoke.

    Jesus gave us His commission in Matthew 28 when He said 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

    That is the thing He has told us to do. It’s our assignment from Him. Verse 19 should be translated “Going therefore…” The word for go is a participle. The imperative is “make disciples”. We think of the verse as us being commanded to go on a mission, to some far-away country, or some strange place, and set up disciple-making shop. That’s not it at all. Perhaps a better translation might be “Going through life therefore, be sure your purpose is to make disciples wherever you are, whatever you are doing.”

    In other words, as we are going through life this is one of the things we do, along with getting up in the morning, eating breakfast, working, getting married and having children. Making disciples needs to be part of our lifestyle. That’s what God was getting at back in Deuteronomy 7. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. He was talking about fathers discipling their children while doing everyday things, but we need to make that our pattern of life wherever we are, whatever we are doing.

    In the same way, God is telling us to make disciples while we are doing everyday things…fixing cars, driving, at the range, washing dishes, going to the store, whatever we are doing.

    Then in Acts 1 He says 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” That’s a promise, a statement of fact. But how do we carry out that commission? How does God intend to carry out that promise through us?

    There are several aspects of witnessing.

    Prayer, our own solid relationship and faith in God, Lifestyle (our attitudes and actions and what we say), testimony, and actually presenting the Gospel.

    Let’s think about the first one for a minute.

    Prayer. I know of one organisation that encourages people to have a "Ten Most Wanted List": a list of 10 people who are not yet Christians, for whom they pray on a regular basis, asking God to prepare those people to hear the Good News, and to give us opportunities to pass that Good News on to them.

    Jesus set the pace for that as He prayed for us in John 17: 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me”.

    He is praying for not just the disciples he has around him, but for us who will be His disciples down the road. We ask God to “prepare the field”, to make these people ready to listen to His Good News and to be ready to receive God’s free gift of forgiveness of sin and of eternal life. Do you remember how many times Jesus said “he who has ears to hear, let him hear”? Not everyone can hear the Gospel. Paul said it is foolishness to some and a stumbling block to others. But there will be some people who can hear, and respond, to the Gospel. One of the things we should pray for our friends is that God would give them ears to hear, minds to understand, and a spirit to respond to God’s Good News.

    Then we need to be ready to talk with them when the opportunity comes up. When we go hunting we get our gear together, go out on stand and wait patiently until the game shows up and we take our best shot. We are ready and primed. Now, we are waiting patiently, looking for opportunities to bring the conversation around to the gospel. But we have laid the groundwork first with prayer, asking God to make this person ready to listen, and for God to give us the right things to say and the right words to say to them.

    God willing, we’ll continue looking at those tomorrow.
     
  12. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Evangelism foundations

    We looked at five ways to get God’s Word into us—hear, read, study, memorize, and meditate.

    We looked at five areas of prayer—ACTS-I: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication, Intercession.

    We looked at five things necessary for fellowship as Christians: Common relationship with Christ, Common Love for God, No guilt (asking forgiveness), No Bitterness (a forgiving spirit), and a common purpose.

    Now, let’s continue looking at five factors in evangelism. We looked at Prayer yesterday.

    By the way, these are lists I prepared. They are by no means the last word in our relationship with God, and I’m sure you could add other factors to these six areas of our lives as Christians.

    Here’s another factor necessary for evangelism.

    Solid relationship and faith in God
    This is at the root of all our relationships with people. It needs to be at the heart of our fellowship with other Christians, and it needs to be at the heart of our relationships with people who are not yet Christians. Our solid relationship with God grows from our intake of God’s Word, and our conversation with God through prayer. Psalm 1 describes how we will be like a tree by the riverside that yields its fruit in its season. Proverbs 4 says 23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.

    The influence needs to go from God through us to other people, not from the world through other people to us. By the same token, we need to be able to discern God’s teaching and influence coming from God through other people into our lives. God can use others to teach us.

    Jesus said in John 15 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

    If we are trying to “convert” people on our own, we make ourselves prey to the Hollywood caricature of some Bible thumper out trying to save people’s souls. People look at him like a harmless, well-meaning accessory to life. If we do it on our own strength, we are like a dead branch trying to produce grapes on its own. We don’t “convert” people. God uses us to bring people to Himself.

    A branch needs to get its life from the vine—the vital sap needs to flow from the vine into the branch before it can produce fruit. And the branch, as a result of abiding in the vine, naturally produces grapes. God flowing through us will produce His fruit in the form of people becoming Christians. We need to be responsive, obedient, to God’s Word.

    Only God’s Word, God’s Wisdom, God’s Love flowing through us will bring lasting fruit in the form of new Christians who become disciples, and makers of disciple makers.

    Attitudes and Actions, lifestyle. Matthew 5:16 says, "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

    This should flow naturally from our close relationship with God.

    How we live our lives should allow people to see Christ in us. People around us should see a difference between us and the rest of the world in what we say, what we do, our attitudes, our lifestyle, our values…How we live is just as important as what we say, if not more so.

    You may remember this story: The light turned yellow just as he was coming to the intersection so he did the right thing and stopped. The woman in the car tailgating him started honking her horn, gesticulating, and screaming in frustration because she didn’t get through the intersection. While she was in mid rant she heard a tap on her window and turned to see a very serious looking policeman. He ordered her out of the car with her hands up, handcuffed her and took her to the police station where she was searched, fingerprinted, photographed and placed in a holding cell. A couple of hours later she was brought out of the cell and taken to the booking desk where the arresting officer restored her personal effects and apologized with this explanation: “I’m very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind you while you were blowing your horn, swearing and giving the car in front of you the finger. I noticed the “What would Jesus do” bumper sticker, the “Choose Life” license plate holder, the “Follow me to Sunday School” bumper sticker and the fish emblem on your car and naturally assumed that you had stolen the car.”

    It’s funny, but it helps make the point. We must walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

    A business executive was dying and asked his people if they knew any way he could know if he would get to heaven when he died. One man was a Christian, but kept his mouth shut. Later his friend asked him why he didn’t share the gospel with his boss. The man said he couldn’t because his lifestyle in the office, his jokes, his activities, his attitudes, had all been just the same as everyone else in the office. His boss would not have believed him. His lifestyle closed his mouth.

    Philippians 2 says 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life,

    There are a couple of other aspects of witnessing we’ll look at tomorrow. Meantime, think about who should go on your “Ten Most Wanted” lists, and start praying for God to prepare the ground for sowing the seed of the Gospel in their lives. Pray that God would open their ears to hear the Gospel and waken their minds to understand it.

    When we go hunting, we watch for the deer or whatever we’re hunting, and when it comes in range, we take our best shot. We need to watch out for opportunities to take our best shot with people who are not yet Christians. What would you say to them if God gave you that shot?
     
  13. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

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    Jesus left us on this earth to be His witnesses, to carry on the work He started. In order for us to be able to carry out the task He has assigned us, we need to have a close relationship with Him. We need to abide in Him and He in us. We need to live as God’s people, so others will see our good works and be drawn to God. We need to pray that God would open people’s ears to hear the Gospel, and open their minds to understand it.

    There are two more aspects of the “Witnessing Spoke”. Let’s explore one of them today.

    Testimony. We all have testimonies. When we talk about how well a gun shoots, or how well we like a car or some other thing; when we talk about some experience we have had, we are sharing a testimony about that thing. It just comes out naturally, as part of our experience in life.

    David started Psalm 45 with My heart overflows with a good theme; I address my verses to the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

    David sounds like an artesian well…If you poke a hole in him out gushes a copious spring of praise to God.

    And look at Psalm 40. David tells how God pulled him out of some pit in his life. God took away the old song of despair and gloom and replaced it with a psalm of praise to God. He says 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the Lord.

    David never hesitates to tell what God has done in his life, and he talks about it so other people will want to trust God also.

    There are two “kinds” of testimony. One is simply telling people about what God has done in my life and what He has done for me. The other is to actually tell how I became a Christian. In Acts 26 Paul tells a king how he became a Christian. You can read through his testimony in about three minutes. He talked so effectively that the king's response was something like "Should I become a Christian too?" We can learn to tell others how we became Christians in about the same amount of time.

    Paul’s testimony in Acts 26 follows a kind of four-point outline.

    1. He compliments his listener, makes a gracious introduction: 2 “I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 especially because you are familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews. Therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.

    2. His life before he became a Christian, warts and all: 4 “My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews…9 “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth…

    Notice he doesn’t dwell on all the gruesome details but he doesn’t cover up the fact that he was not such a great person.

    3. His conversion: the conversation he had with God, and the circumstances of that conversation: 12 “In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting…

    4. Then something of his life after conversion: How God has changed his life. 19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance…

    Each of us has a different testimony, because God has made us different from anyone else in the world, but as we tell how God brought us to Himself we should be able to put it into something of the same outline.

    There is another kind of testimony that involves telling what God has done for me because I am a Christian. Psalm 40 is one example of that.

    "I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
    2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
    3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.


    Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD."

    As we are living out our lives God will bring us through things. He changes our lives and helps us overcome habits, and wrong lifestyles and problems. He brings us through difficult times. These are lessons God teaches us, things God does in us and for us, so that when we find others going through the same kinds of things we can tell them how He has brought us out of various pits and set us going again, and He can do the same for them.

    We have seen and heard a number of athletes, in the Olympics, and on the football field and in other sports, publicly giving glory and thanks to God for making them able to do something. The news hates it and usually tries to cover it up or move on to something or someone else, but they do their best to communicate the message and give God the glory. They too are praying as they say these things, along with David, that Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD."

    How did you become a Christian? Can you put it into words the way Paul did? Try writing it out. In today’s world of sound byte communication, people want information short and sweet.

    We’ll look at the next means of witnessing tomorrow, God willing. What do you say to a person who asks you “what is a Christian”? How do you straighten out their misconceptions of what a Christian is? What do you tell them when they say “I hope I’m good enough to make it into Heaven”?
     
  14. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

    Joined:
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    If someone asked you what is a Christian, what would you say? If you wanted to tell someone how to become a Christian, what would you tell them?

    People have told me “I’m not religious” and I tell them right back (with a smile) that I hope I’m not religious either. Man-made religion is responsible for all kinds of evil in this world, including greed, murder, wars, child abuse, and slavery, to name a few things. Being religious means trying to live by a set of man-made rules, trying to be “good enough” to earn my way into heaven.

    Being a Christian is having a relationship with God through the person of Jesus Christ, and depending on the sacrifice He made on the cross to take the penalty for our sins on Himself. Becoming a Christian is receiving God’s gift of salvation.

    Some of us will have a clearer idea of what to say than others. There is an illustration I learned many years ago that is clear, concise, and highly portable. Once you learn it, you can draw it out on a piece of paper. A friend of mine didn’t have that piece of paper, so he spilled salt out of the salt shaker and drew this illustration in the salt. The guy he was talking with became a Christian. It’s called the Bridge illustration and I’ve attached a copy of it to today’s Daily Devotional as a .pdf. Here is a summary of the first part. God willing, we'll look at the rest tomorrow.

    Man is separated from God by an infinitely deep chasm called sin. Three verses could summarize man's situation:

    Romans 3:23 says "23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,"

    When I'm talking with someone, I'll ask him what that says about me. They hem and haw, and finally suggest that maybe I might be a sinner? And I agree. The Bible says we are all sinners.

    Romans 6:23 says "23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

    We work to earn wages. When we sin we work to earn the wage called death. That death is eternal separation from God.

    Hebrews 9:27 says "27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,"

    After our bodies have given up their ghosts, after we have been paid the wages we earned for doing the work of sin, we will still face God's judgment for how we have lived our lives.

    Three words could summarize Man's side of this chasm: Sin, Death, Judgment. It forms a bleak picture.

    God's side of this chasm could be summarized with one verse:

    John 5:24 says 24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life."

    The free gift of eternal life as opposed to death we earn from doing the work of sin; God dismisses the case against us: no judgment; and consequently passed from death to life. God's side of the chasm could be summarized with the word "Life".

    I know which side of this chasm of sin I would rather be on--God's side, the side of life. Problem: How do we get from man's side to God's side, from death to life?

    We can't do it ourselves. Nobody can live a perfect life, which is what God requires for someone to be with Him. Ephesians 2:8-9 says "8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." Titus 3:5 says " 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;"

    Guys, we’ll have to pick up on this tomorrow, God willing. If you want to look ahead, check out the attachment. It elaborates on this and tomorrow’s message and has illustrations, the same illustration my friend used with the salt.
     

    Attached Files:

  15. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle TFF Chaplain Supporting Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Crossing the Gap.

    Yesterday we glanced at the chasm of sin that separates God and man. There is no way we can ever build a bridge to span that gulf. We can never live a perfect life. That’s what God requires of anyone to be in His presence. Frankly, if we were to suddenly see God as He is, and as we are, it would kill us. Israel came close to seeing God when He was on Mount Sinai in Exodus 20, and were terrified by the experience. Elijah saw God face to face and he too was terrified, afraid he would die in 1 Kings 19.

    Instead God provides a way across the chasm. John 3:16 summarizes it: 16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

    Romans 5:8 says "8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

    1 Peter 3:18 says "18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;".

    God made the bridge across the chasm of sin that separates us from Him. Going back to Romans 6:23, this eternal life, this trip across that chasm from death to life is a free gift from God. All we need do is receive it. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    1 John 5: says "11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life."

    We either have this eternal life, or we don’t. We either have the Son, or we don’t. To receive this free gift of eternal life we need to receive God's Son, Jesus Christ, into our lives. That’s the plunk test of salvation for our lives.

    People today would like to say there are many ways into heaven. It doesn’t matter what you believe, just so long as you are sincere. God says that’s humbug. There is only one way into heaven, only one way across that chasm of sin, and that’s through Jesus Christ, His Son. Jesus said in John 14 6“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

    If someone says “that’s not fair”, remember. It’s God’s heaven, God’s rules. Someone says “my god would never be so restrictive”. Well, that’s a problem. They are talking about “their god”, some god they have made up in their own minds, sort of like an idol. Do they want a god limited by their intellect and wisdom and power? Or do they want a living God who controls all things, knows all things, is infinitely wiser than we can ever be, who makes all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose?

    Jesus paid the penalty for our sins Himself when He died on the cross. God looks at our rap sheet, sees that we have received Jesus into our lives, and declares the sentence has been paid in full and the case is dismissed. The prisoner is free to go.

    How do we receive Christ into our lives? Just invite Him in with prayer, something like this:

    "God, I'm sorry for my sins. Would you please forgive me? Would you please come into my life and take over? Thank you. In Jesus' name, Amen."

    That's not the end of the story by a long shot. It's just the beginning. Anyone who prays that and means it has a whole new relationship with God. He has eternal life, not eternal death, and God has torn up his rap sheet—destroyed his record of sin. And he has a whole new purpose for living.

    It’s never too late. Remember the thief on the cross beside Jesus in Luke 23? 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

    There is one other thing. This relationship with God is not based on feelings. It’s not based on circumstances in our lives. It’s based on fact. It’s based on God’s promise. Look again at 1 John 5. It’s a blunt statement. He who has the Son has the life. God gave His word that would happen, and God keeps His promises and His Word.

    May God bless us with opportunities and boldness to pass this message on to others. And if you haven't received this free gift of eternal life from God, let me encourage you to do so, and then tell someone about it.

    Again, look at the .pdf I attached to yesterday’s message for more elaborate discussion.