Daniel – Stand Firm and Take Action

He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.
(Daniel 11:32)

Daniel chapter 11 can get pretty confusing for me, but when I come to this verse I get the main point. Whatever is going on here in chapter 11, there are people who are seduced and break God’s covenant. That is sad, and that is the way of the world. However we also see that there are those who know God, stand firm and take action.

I’m seeing so many connections between Daniel’s theme and the book of Revelation. In both books, God’s people are being oppressed by a beast, and in both books the Son of Man, Jesus overcomes that beast. Also in both books, those who are with the Son of Man, Jesus, can and will overcome and conquer the beast.

And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 
(Revelation 12:11)
This is our encouragement for today. We are in a war against Satan and any “beast” he sends our way to torture us. The Devil is, with all his might, seeking to destroy God’s work. But Jesus is on the throne, He has already conquered and He reigns supreme. Death, sin and the Devil have no power over Him. In Christ, the Devil has been disarmed and made powerless.
So stand firm today, men. Stand firm today in Christ. Fight the beast. Do not love your lives even unto death. You have a covenant with Christ to keep. You have His blood covering you. His word is always there to guide you. But standing firm means more than standing still. It means taking action.
Take action to say kind words and to forgive others. Take action to reach out to encourage someone else. Take action to say no to the Devil’s temptations. Take action to be honest when the pressure is extreme to be dishonest. Take action to speak up for God to your boss, your neighbor, your friends, etc.
Stand firm and take action.

 

Return to your mistress and submit to her

The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel of the LORD also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” And the angel of the LORD said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction.
(Genesis 16:7-11)

Hagar was on the run. She was really treated poorly by Sarai, and felt the only option was for her to run away. God appears to her and speaks to her, and what does He say?

Go back home and submit yourself to Sarai. What? Sarai was really being harsh with Hagar. Sarai put her in a really bad situation and now is treating Hagar like an enemy. It doesn’t seem fair that God would send her home, but He did.

Three points about this:

  • God’s answers are not always easy to hear. Below you will see a passage from Peter about slaves and masters. How does a Christian behave when being mistreated? God’s answer doesn’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but remember what Jesus did when He was cruelly treated?
  • With that command came reassurance and comfort from God. The Lord was watching what was going on at home with Sarai and Hagar, and He was fully aware of the affliction Hagar was enduring. God’s blessings and provision were promised to Hagar even as she had to deal with a mistress who was very harsh with her.
  • Running away is not always the right answer. There was a time for people to flee and runaway. Christians fled from persecutions. Jesus fled to the other side of the Jordan to avoid the murderous attempts of the Jewish leadership. God told Jesus’ parents to flee to Egypt to avoid King Herod. There is a time to flee, but running away is not always the right remedy. For this situation, God wanted Hagar to go back home. Here’s another example. Onesimus was a runaway slave who ran into Paul while Paul was imprisoned in Rome. Paul taught him the gospel and Onesimus became a believer in Christ. But what did Paul do? He sent Onesimus home to his master, Philemon, with a letter. Paul did not keep Onesimus with him and only send the letter to Philemon. It may be that instead of running away from a difficult situation that God wants you to fight and stand for Him through that difficult situation.

Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
(1 Peter 2:18-25)

Daniel – They, their children, and their wives

Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.
(Daniel 6:23-24)

Today’s passage from Daniel is a sobering reminder of the consequences of our actions as men and how it affects our children and our wives.

These men had “maliciously accused Daniel.” They wanted him out of the way and even if that meant he was killed, the ends justified the means. Because of their hatred for Daniel, they even went to great lengths to manipulate the king into making a law that would be adverse to Daniel’s faith. They set the king up and used him like a pawn so they could dispense with Daniel. Once the king was wise to all of this, he was full of righteous wrath and threw every one of these men and their families into the den of lions.

Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.
(Proverbs 26:27)

It is a serious warning for us today that our envy, pride, anger, lust and hatred can wreak serious havoc on our families. That was a horrible day for all of those families. Imagine how awful the sight would have been to see those wives and little kids being thrown into the very mouths of lions. And this was all because hubby/daddy had a malicious heart that craved power.

I got a Christmas card in the mail this week. It made me so sad for that family. Here is another woman now without her husband having Christmas pictures taken with her kids. Where’s daddy? He’s not there anymore because other things/ladies took his heart away from them.

Take your role seriously, guys. Where you lead as men will either take your family to green pastures or to the lion’s den. It’s your choice.

Daniel – Though You Knew All This

And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this,
(Daniel 5:22)

This article was posted earlier this year, and I decided to re-post it with several additional observations.

Do you remember the account of the writing on the wall in Daniel 5? The King of Babylon at that time was Belshazzar and he and his court decided to have a drunken party and use the vessels from Solomon’s temple to hold their beverages. They toasted and praised their gods while holding items from God’s house. The King is rattled to his core with a vision of a man’s hand writing strange words on a wall. Daniel is brought into interpret the message.

While explaining the meaning of the writing on wall, Daniel gave King Belshazzar a history lesson about King Nebuchadnezzar. For us it is only a matter of turning a page back and reading Daniel chapter 4, but this event of Nebuchadnezzar being humbled before God had happened many years before. A great king of Babylon was lifted up with pride against the Almighty God, and he was severely humbled before God.

The thing is, according to Daniel, this was not private knowledge. King Belshazzar was fully aware of what had happened to Nebuchadnezzar. Knowledge of historical facts was not enough was it? King Belshazzar knew the right information, but failed to learn from it. He did not humble himself before God.

Take a look at the first chapter of Daniel and notice something. Where did King Nebuchadnezzar place the articles of Solomon’s temple (God’s house)? In the houses of his gods…in the “treasury of his god.”

And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god.
(Dan 1:2)

That tells you where King Nebuchadnezzar ranked the God of Israel. He saw the God of Israel as just another god that was subservient to his own gods. Through his reign, however, he learned otherwise as he came to know the real God of all the earth. Again, as Daniel stated to the later king Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s journey of faith was not unknown to Belshazzar. He just failed to learn, accept and apply the lessons of his predecessors.

There are real answers in history, we can truly help change our course in life by looking back in the past. You can look at the course of people’s lives and see the good choices they made and solutions they came up with to solve problems, and you can examine their thought process to see how that can help you today. You can also look at how individuals, organizations, and nations spiraled down into a world of hurt because of a sequence of one bad choice after another. Learn from it. Learn from your own past too! We do not have to repeat history like King Belshazzar did. He was given all the tools and opportunity and information he needed to completely alter his course. But he chose to reject the knowledge given to him, and he ended up repeating history.

This is the lesson of Ezekiel 18. A son can see the wickedness of his father and make a deliberate choice not to follow that same path. That son can charter his own course with God.

“Now suppose this man fathers a son who sees all the sins that his father has done; he sees, and does not do likewise…he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live. As for his father, because he…did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity. “Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
(Ezekiel 18:14-20)

This is what God expects of each of us, and it is what God expected of King Belshazzar. When you are driving on the interstate, you eventually have to get off the exit to “arrive” at the destination. Some folks keep studying and learning, but never “arrive” at the truth. Paul said there were those who were …always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:7). Belshazzar wasn’t lacking for information, he was lacking the application of it.

Daniel – The literature and language of the Chaldeans

“…youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans” (Daniel 1:4).

Daniel had a job. Being a servant of God and a prophet did not mean that he just sat around, meditated, and waited for God to give him the next message. Daniel was an adviser to the King of Babylon. God specifically put him in this job so that Daniel could serve as His prophet to the king.

What training did he need to go through in order to be that adviser? He had to be trained in the “literature and language of the Chaldeans.” 3 years of training, by the way (Daniel 1:5). It was at the “end of the three years” that Daniel and the others would stand before the king. As my friend, John Sandusky, said one time, Daniel was at Babylon University.

Daniel’s heart was set on God, but he was still trained in the things of the world. In order for him even to have access to the king so that he could influence him, he had to be trained in the ways of the Babylonians. That was part of the price of admission. The young Daniel had to learn a whole new culture and a new language. He was around a lot of strange people with a lot of weird ideas, and I’m pretty sure he was exposed to a whole new world of debauchery in Babylon. But all the same, he had to be educated in these ways, and he was still faithful to God while he was doing it.

Being trained in the things of the world doesn’t mean your heart is not set on God. Devoting lots of time and energy to learning skills, trades and careers is necessary so that you can take care of your family and have money to help others in need. You are also going to be set by God in various places in the culture so that you can influence those around you. We need Christians in the medical field, in law offices, in computers, in police and firefighting, in politics, in universities, etc. But again, in order for that to be possible a person has to dedicate a lot of time, money and energy to that profession.

Daniel wasn’t just sitting around reading his Torah every day, he had books to read and classes to attend. Endless hours of training and lectures were part of his everyday life, I’m sure. Paul was a tent-maker, he had to learn that trade, and that took time. It seems that Paul also was well-versed in Greek poetry, maybe that was part of his education as a youth. Jesus was a carpenter. David and Amos were shepherds. Moses also grew up in a heathen palace and was educated in the ways of a foreign people. Luke was a physician. Lydia was a seller of purple and Tabitha was skilled at making clothing. All these things take a great deal of time and attention in order to master.

Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.
(Proverbs 22:29)

Perspective Matters

25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you….  (Matt 20:25-26; NKJV)

Jesus takes His disciples and teaches them from where they are.  He has His mind set on heaven the work the Father has give Him to do.  The disciples are still focused on the here and now.  They know what it looks like to have an earthly king and they know what it looks like to be part of that inner circle.  They want to be part of it, even if for the wrong reasons.  Jesus knows that and He is going to change their perspective to the vertical.

There are many different figures used in the Bible to describe God’s people and their relationship to Him.  Here Jesus is talking about the Kingdom.  This is a governmental figure and implies there is a King, citizens, territory and law.  Jesus starts by explaining that the territory under consideration is spiritual and eternal.  The life, leadership, and service He cares about is not like those of the world.

He draws the attention to the worldly leadership style they are basing their request on and which is causing the discord in the group.  The “rulers of the Gentiles” points to those who lead them currently.  Specifically it is Rome but I would include the Pharisees and Jewish leaders as well in terms of their self-seeking leadership versus serving to the glory of God.

Worldly leaders lord it over those whom they lead.  They exercise authority and are more concerned with their power and influence than the impact and/or needs of those who lead.  Aaron talked about some of these distorted leadership models last week.  Worldly leaders are promoted on the basis of friendship, nepotism, seniority, etc.  They dominate others and exercise great authority over them, wielding the power they have now to retain the power they have now.

The point here is the “why” of leadership.  Why do you want to lead?  Why do you want to have control?  Why do you want to have power?

When we consider God’s teaching about shepherds in 1 Peter 5, we see that God’s leaders do not do so because they “have to” and lead in a way that nurtures and grows those under their supervision.  Further, they lead not because they have to and lead in a way that others follower because they want to…not because they have to.  That requires an intimate, mutually beneficial model in which all parties matter.

Worldly leadership differs from this because of the “why”.  If the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2) is the “why”, then a leader is going to be worldly.  If the “why” is Jesus Christ, then the leader is going to be what Jesus is calling His disciples to be.

The “why” is something we can do something about.  We can consider the results of our leadership, the motivations of our leadership, the relationship we have with those under our influence and diagnose if our perspective is right.  We can help each other with that through honest and timely feedback and desiring it from one another and those who mean the most to us.  We can identify the specific things that are a distraction from who we need to be and pray about them, study about them, work on them.  We can choose our “why” and if we choose Jesus He will call us close and He will teach us to move our eyes off the world and onto Him.

Jesus didn’t push the 12 away.  He draw them close.  He didn’t condemn them for their lack of vision but started with their lens and opened the aperture and showed them heaven.  His “super-vision” planted the seed of true leadership and service and we all can benefit from the 12’s lesson and those in our own lives.  Horizontal thinking is vanity but vertical thinking is eternal.  That is the difference and the place where we can start with our own continued development into the leaders God calls us to be.

Praise Him for the opportunity, ask Him for help along the way, and thank Him always.

When your religion is perfectionism Part 2

Take time to read Romans 4 again and meditate upon it today. We are continuing our focus on the religion of perfectionism. In other words, a religion of perfectionism is having a religion that is dependent upon me being flawless and sinless.

God is holy and just. He demands obedience. The Bible is plain on that. I think many of us know that very well. But that is not the whole picture of the Bible. The God of the Bible, Old Testament and New Testament, is also a God of grace, mercy and lovingkindness. Here are some passages to help us remember other aspects of God’s nature and how it is connected to our salvation, joy and peace.

It is His goodness/kindness that should also lead us to repentance.

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
(Romans 2:4)

It is His grace that teaches us to live godly lives and do good works for God.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
(Titus 2:11-15)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:8-10)

It is the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses you from all sin today, not the list of good deeds you were able to check off today. It is the blood of Jesus that brings you near to God, not your ability to do it all by the book.

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

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
(Ephesians 2:13)

It is Jesus’ righteousness, not yours, that will save you.

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.
(Romans 5:18-19)

…and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith (Philippians 3:9)

It is the peace of Jesus Christ freely given to you at the cross. In Jesus is the peace, not in your perfect law-keeping.

for He himself is our peace… (Ephesians 2:14) 

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33)

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
(Romans 5:1-2)

More to come tomorrow, Lord willing.

Always Abounding

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”  I Corinthians 15:58

I never stop moving.  Even when I sleep, Kristine says that I toss and turn and kick.  I always stay busy on one project or another.  Whether it is at work, around the house, for the church or one of my various hobbies, I hardly ever stop.  I’m sure a professional psychologist would identify a number of reasons for this but I think it has something to do with the desire to be useful.  In fact, one of my greatest fears is being useless.

In addition to the fear of death, I think most people dread getting old because of this very reason…feeling useless.  Brother Claude taught me some very valuable lessons about redefining usefulness.

When you read the verse above from I Corinthians 15, what kind of Christian do you picture?  “Steadfast” and “immovable” makes me think of strength and courage.  The idea of “always abounding in the work of the Lord” creates images of Apostle Paul type Christians.  People with multiple bible studies going with non-Christians while they squeeze in visits to the sick and take food to shut-ins.  They get off their knees in prayer long enough to volunteer at a homeless shelter, mow the lawn at the building, and rescue Sister Ethel’s cat out of a tree.  You know, Super Christians.

A couple years after meeting Claude his deteriorating physical condition caused him to make some significant changes.  He had to get rid of his beloved Dobermans and sell his house.  He moved into a one room assisted living facility.  Additionally, he had to give up his walker and exchange it for a wheelchair.  He recounted one of his first nights in the assisted living facility and told me, “I was laying in bed thinking about my new situation.  I was staring up at the ceiling and praying and I asked, ‘What now Lord?  What do you want me to do now Lord?”

Brother Claude battled resentment, bitterness and depression associated with the loss of his independence, like anyone would, but he didn’t give in to those temptations.  In spite of his new limitations, he decided to get to work.

On Sundays, Brother Claude would scoot his chair into the building and park at the end of a pew.  Because he took his seat with him, he could sit by just about anyone he wanted.  He took advantage of this freedom and traveled all around engaging in worship with different people all the time.  I believe he knew more people in that local body than just about anybody because of his “limitation.”

Brother Claude had a heart for children and they loved him.  His new wheels forced him to be significantly closer to the ground, putting him eye to eye with the little ones.  This vantage point allowed him to smile and connect; giving attention to a population of the group that is often overlooked and marginalized.

Selling his house and moving into assisted living created a fixed budget for Brother Claude and put some money in the bank.  Being a former broker for Merrill Lynch, he understood finances and he knew exactly what he needed to get by month to month and he knew what he could give away.  He inquired on several occasions about supporting men who preached the gospel.  During one visit he told me, “I want to die penniless.  I want every cent used up for the work of the kingdom.”  I personally know of several individuals who benefited from his generosity and love for the Lord.

Every time I stopped by to visit Brother Claude his laptop was open and there was a stack of CD’s next to it.  He always had a collection of sermons he was listening to.  On one occasion he told me that he had listened to a sermon I preached a number of times because he “really needed it.”  He would share tidbits of something he had heard or comment on how a particular lesson had encouraged him or helped him.  His lack of physical independence didn’t put his mind in a cage.  He chose to meditate on the word of God and he shared those things with others.

I was able to visit Claude the day before he died.  He wasn’t very lucid as the pain medication kept him very drowsy.  I went into his room and touched his shoulder, softly speaking his name.  He slowly opened his eyes and focused on my face, taking a minute to adjust to the light.  After a few minutes I asked him if he knew who I was.  His breathing was labored but a slight grin spread across his face and he struggled to say, “Andy!”  He fought with the blanket to take his hand out and grip mine.  He didn’t say another word for the entire visit, he just sat there staring at me and holding my hand.  I told him about the kids, about our new life in Indiana, and I told him I loved him.  After about 15 minutes he drifted back to sleep but every time I would move my hand he would grip a little tighter.  Even in the end he was the encourager.  He always had a kind word, an uplifting sentiment, or an expression of gratitude.

I don’t know what my future holds.  I don’t know if I will slow down gradually or if my work will come to an end suddenly.  I don’t know if I will experience physical pain, tragic loss, or relative health and peace.  What I know is that if I meet the future with faith and trust the Lord will find a way to use me regardless of my circumstances.  If I allow the Lord to define “usefulness” then I will always be able to abound in His work.  Brother Claude taught me that.

I am going to Heaven!

Another lesson from Benjamin Lee’s meeting with us was titled “I’m going to Heaven”.  In teaching the lesson, he referenced a sister in Christ and how she lived with this attitude.  If you asked her…she would tell you and because she believed it she lived it and that made a difference on others.  The same is true for us as fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers…as men influencing children in our home, community, church…in our lives.  If we live with this faith, that we are going to heaven, then our children will see it and it will give them encouragement, confidence, and belief in their own lives.

In order to live this way, there are some questions we must keep working through our minds and help our children work through their minds.  These questions are good checks for us as we work toward our goal of Heaven.

1.  What will we need to get to Heaven?

We will get to Heaven through salvation and that salvation comes from God’s grace.

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:23-26; NKJV)

And though there are many things that demand our attention, we need to be in God’s word (Psalm 119:105) which is a lamp to our feet and we need to be obedient to it and God’s commandments (John 8:31-32—Truth makes us free; Galatians 5:4—But we can fall so we need to stay obedient).

2.  What help might we need to make our goal of Heaven?

In addition to God’s grace, His word and our obedience; we will need the edification, fellowship and help of our brethren.  The local church is a source of help as we make our way from earth to Heaven.  We see many examples of being joined to and strengthened by local brethren in the first century church.  (Acts 2:42-47; 9:19, 26; Philippians 1:1)

3.  How long will it take us to reach Heaven?

The rest of our lives!  Our journey is a marathon, not a sprint and it won’t always be on even ground.  Which is why we need God, we need our brethren and we need constant reminders.  We need to take time daily and think about Heaven and how awesome it will to be home.  How often do we truly do that?  We need it just like we need God’s grace, Word, and His people.  There are going to be challenges (Galatians 2:1-14) and we have to remember that our journey is about progress and not perfection.  We are perfected in Jesus Christ and that takes time and will take the rest of our lives.  But we can confidence in our end goal just as Paul did (2 Tim 4:6-8) no matter what phase of our life we are in.

4.  Finally, why do we want to this goal? Why do we want to go to Heaven?

I will leave you with that question but let me encourage you by the words of my nine year old daughter.  She answered this question before Ben did…and she leaned over to her mom and her answer was “Because that is where God is!”  Amen.

Evangelism Made Simple

I was encouraged last night as we continued our meeting with Benjamin Lee at South Macomb. Ben taught us about evangelism and here are some thoughts from his lesson.

  • We have to have a sense of urgency when it comes to the gospel because there are people out there who want to hear it and we might be the one to tell them.
  • There are a lot of excuses we create to keep us from sharing Jesus but we are not alone in that and there are great men in the bible (i.e. Moses; Exodus 3:1-4:17) who made excuses about why they shouldn’t do what God was asking them to do…and God was patient but in the end His anger was kindled against those who resisted Him and that is the same with us…we need to repent of that and get to work.
  • Evangelism is not Rocket Science and there is no secret recipe or silver bullet…it is simple and it is about us and our attitude and our purpose.
  • There are opportunities all around us whether at work, at the grocery store, at the gym, in our home…we just have to be ready to see them…we have to prepare our mind to see them and we can do that through prayer.
  • So how simple is it? How about this simple:
      • Open Your Eyes: In John 4:30, Jesus says “lift up your eyes” in talking about the opportunity to teach and that is what the Apostles did throughout the first century…they looked and what they saw were opportunities to teach Jesus. What was the difference between the time when Jesus taught in John 4 and what we see them doing in the book of Acts? Their eyesight! That is, they were focused on lost souls and because that is what they were looking for that is what they found and in that they found opportunity to teach.
      • Open Your Mouth: Can’t you say something about Jesus? Hasn’t He done more than enough in your life to come up with something to share? Of course you can…but we don’t always because we lack confidence or are afraid we will offend or that there is no way they are going to believe us. Well, the truth is all that is true…we will lack confidence at times, some will reject us, some will mock us…but some will want to hear more and some will hear more and obey. How awesome! It happened to Paul in Athens (Acts 17) and like Paul can’t we endure a little disappointment for the joy of a soul saved? We just have to open our mouths.

    • Open Your Bible: And we have to use God’s word…it has the power to save not ours. We can overcome our lack of confidence by being well studied in the bible. Are we taking time each day to grow in our knowledge of God’s word? If yes, that is evangelism…at least it is the training necessary. Add prayer for opportunities to that and you are on your way…with eyes wide open ready to speak and teach…God’s word will not fail…so speak it confidently.

As I think about this…I know that these points are true and having a sense of urgency for the gospel and evangelism is something that I need to grow in…especially for my children. Even if we all retain our health and live a full life…I only have them for a short time before they become men and women…now is the time to plant and water so that they will be prepared in Jesus to take on the world. And I don’t have to be afraid…God is with me and if call out to Him…He will reassure us and He will be with us…and He will work with us. He did for Paul (Acts 18:9; Acts 23:11). Be encouraged. Let go. Get out of the way. And let God work in you!