Where Does Suffering Come From?

It can come from God in the general, physical suffering and death unleashed in the world after man sinned (Genesis 3:16-19).  “And so God placed the curse on man and on his whole environment, thus forcing him to recognize the seriousness of his sin, as well as his helplessness to save himself and his dominion from eventual destruction.”  (Leon Morris, The Genesis Record, p. 126.)

The curse on man himself was fourfold: sorrow, pain and suffering, sweat or tears, physical death.  “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope…” (Rom 8:20).  Romans 8:20 seems to be an allusion to Genesis 3:16-19 and this reference to the past must surely be to the judgment of God, which fell on the natural order following Adam’s disobedience.  The creation was the recipient of the action indicated but only as a result of man’s sin.  God is the One who did the subjecting.  The curse of sorrow, pain and suffering, sweat, tears and physical death was brought about by God…but He did it with purpose…God subjected the creation in hope.

 It can come from God in specific cases to humble and/or strengthen…consider Israel (Deuteronomy 8:2-3), Miriam (Numbers 12:1-10),  and Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:10-20).

It can come from Satan through God’s allowance…consider Job (Job 1-2) and Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).  We must note, however, though Satan caused suffering for one purpose…God used each of these for very different purposes than the Tempter intended and in such a manner as to humble and/or strengthen one of His children.  God sees suffering differently than we do and His heavenly “forest” gets lost on us for our earthly “trees”.

Finally, it can come as the inevitable fruit of our own sins…“…the way of the transgressor is hard.”  (Prov 13:15)……be sure your sin will find you out.”  (Nu 32:23).  Sin has temporal consequences – physical, emotional and social.  “What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed?  For the end of those things is death.”  (Rom 6:21).  Yet, at last, unless there is some direct link to our sin it is very difficult to know the exact origins of our adversity…and that is just as well.  For far more important than knowing why we are suffering, is our response to it.

Adversity and discouragement, regardless to its source, is one of God’s most effective tools to deepen our faith in Him and transform our lives.  “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.”  (Psa 119:67)…“It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.”  (Psa 119:71).  It is difficult for us to truly understand through our earthly lenses…it is only as we come to understand God’s perspective that we are able to respond appropriately.  What better example than in the anguish of Christ on the cross in regards to:  the influence of God…“…the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”  (Isa 53:6)…the sufferings of Christ both humbled and strengthened Him (Hebrews 5:7-8).  The influence of Satan “…the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him…Satan entered him…”  (John 13:2, 27).  The influence of our own sins…“…who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree…” (1 Pet 2:24)…yet it was our Savior’s trusting response to this awful suffering that enabled God to work by it something transcendently wonderful.

So it will be with us if we choose our response to suffering wisely – especially when we don’t understand why…“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  (2 Cor 4:17-18)…“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”  (Rom 5:3-5)

At last, like that ancient blind man, what we suffer here is in order that “the works of God may be revealed in us.”  (John 9:2)  Our God is Holy…He is eternal…He is love…He is merciful…He is gracious.  Take comfort in that He will not give you more than you can bear…and in all your suffering or adversity or disappointment, whatever the cause, glorify your God and Father, trusting Him to work all things together for your good (Genesis 50:20; 1 Pet 1:6-8).

God has left you here for only a little while (1 Pet1: 6-9) not only for your sake…but for the sake of your brethren (2 Tim 2:10).  In your adversity…go to your Heavenly Father and your Elder Brother and your brethren to be sure…but take the time to see past your suffering or disappointment…see that God has begun a good work in you (Phil 1:6)…and be encouraged… so that you might be an encouragement to me and those of the household of faith!

Angels Among Us

You ever get a song stuck in your head…it is all you can think of…it is distracting in that it is all you can hear when there is nothing said?  Well I don’t have a song stuck in my head but rather a scripture:

“Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10; NKJV).

Jesus is teaching his disciples of the importance of even one soul in what we call the Parable of the Lost Coin.  What strikes me about this verse is the awesome interaction between what we are doing in this world and what our Heavenly Father and His angels are doing in Heaven.

It is easy to lose sight of Heaven if we allow what we can see, touch, hear, smell, taste, smell…that is the physical world we live in…dominate our thoughts, speech, and actions.  Jesus tells us to seek first the kingdom (Matt 6:33) and Paul tells us to seek those things which are above (Col 3:1)…because that is where Jesus is.  If we did this, wouldn’t that lower our anxiety…instill in us the awesome power of our Father…excite us about being in the Lord’s Body…fill us with peace and love for each moment God blesses us with?

Consider the boy with Elisha as the Samaritan army surrounded their city.  What anxiety he must have had…how certain he must have been that their doom was at hand.  After all, he could see it…he could hear it…he could smell it!  What did Elisha pray?  Why did he pray it?  What was God already doing?

He prayed that the boy’s eyes would be opened so that he might understand what was really going on…to have confidence in the Lord as Elisha did…to give him the rest of the story…that God was there…that He had sent His army.

“Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw.  And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”  (2 Kings 6:17; NKJV).

The mountain was full of a heavenly army…with horses and chariots of fire…they were all around Elisha!  Because “The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.”  (Psa 34:7; NKJV).

God’s army of angels is innumerable…it cannot be calculated.

 “…many angels around the throne…and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands…” (REV 5:11; NKJV)

These mighty angels rejoice when even one sinner repents…and it doesn’t stop there.  They are not idle bystanders.  They are INVOLVED in our salvation.  They are “…ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation…” (Hebrews 1:14).

GOD’s angels serve GOD’s children…consider these examples:

Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego:  “Look!”  Nebuchadnezzar shouted.  “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire.  They aren’t even hurt by the flames!  And the fourth looks like a divine being!” (Daniel 3:25; NLT)

Peter:  “Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter.  The angel tapped him on the side to awaken him and said, ‘Quick!  Get up!’  And the chains fell off his wrists.” (Acts 12:7; NLT)

 We are not alone…not within the Body of Christ.  We have each other and we should rejoice in each other’s spiritual successes and rally around each other in times of need…praying always!  We also have our Father, our Elder Brother, our Comforter…and a host of angels who are watching, engaging, and talking about God’s eternal plan as it unfolds in our lives (Eph 3:10).

Pray to God that our eyes might be opened!  Praise Him in all His glory!

God’s Voice and the Storm

But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
(Mark 4:38-41)

Here is a song to listen to today, called Oceans. Very encouraging.

God’s Voice and the Storm

It is no wonder that these Jewish men were wondering “who” Jesus was! God’s power over the waters, winds and storms is evident throughout Scripture (Genesis 6:17; Exodus 14; Joshua 3; Psalm 29:3,10; 65:7; 89:9; 93:3-4; 104:6-9; 107:29; 148:8; Proverbs 8:29; Job 38:8-11,25; Jeremiah 5:22; Nahum 1:4). When Jesus woke up and “rebuked” the wind and told the sea to be calm, it immediately obeyed His voice. Only God has that power.

Read Psalm 29 about the voice of God. Think about Jesus as you read this, but also think about the “storms, winds and floods” in your life. Where is our faith? We are in the boat with the God of the Storm.

Psalm 29:1-11

A Psalm of David. Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. (2) Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness. (3) The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters. (4) The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. (5) The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon. (6) He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox. (7) The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire. (8) The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. (9) The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare, and in his temple all cry, “Glory!” (10) The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever. (11) May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!

Jesus rebuked the wind (Mark 4:39). He also rebuked the fever in Peter’s mother-in-law (Luke 4:39), he rebuked unclean spirits (Mark 9:25). Peter tried to rebuke Jesus and Jesus turned around and rebuked Peter (Mark 8:32-33). After His resurrection, Jesus rebuked his disciples for their unbelief (Mark 16:14). When James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven upon the Samaritans, Jesus rebuked them (Luke 9:55). There is authority and great power in the rebuke of Jesus. Let’s let Him rebuke our storms and winds.

What has God given you?

If you are a Christian, what has God given you?

A Spirit of Power, Love, Self-Control…NOT FEAR

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
(2 Timothy 1:6-7)

A Spirit of Adoption…NOT FEAR

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
(Romans 8:12-17)

Confidence, Love Perfected, Eternal Life…NOT FEAR

By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 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.
(1 John 4:17-18)

And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
(1 John 5:11-12)

What does God want for me? Look at what God has given us and that should answer it. It will also tell you what He doesn’t want for us. He wants us to have a life without fear, specifically our fear of facing Him on the Judgment Day. God wants security for us, He has adopted us into His family. We are not enslaved to a horrible taskmaster where we always live in fear and uncertainty. God, the loving Father, adopted us through the blood of Jesus, and we are now His children forever.

God’s Desire to Bless Us

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
(Luke 6:27-36)

This morning, I watched a Bible Project summary of the book of Genesis (part 1 and part 2). What struck me today is how God’s heart to bless all of mankind is so prevalent in the book. From the 1st chapter to the 50th chapter, God’s heart is to bless man, save their lives, and do good for them.

But when you read Genesis, you see selfishness, pride, brokenness, violence, hatred, revenge, deceit, drunkenness, sexual immorality, lust, envy, etc. All of the “works of the flesh” (Galatians 5) can be found there. Mankind…we are a messed up and evil group of people, aren’t we? And yet, even though God did punish mankind, God’s heart through it all was to bring His richest blessings to even the vilest sorts of people. He wanted them to repent and be saved.

Look at this pattern in Genesis. God gave Cain time to repent, and even after Cain murdered Abel, God blessed Cain with mercy (Genesis 4). He gave the whole world time to repent until there was only Noah left with his family (Genesis 6). The Lord told Abraham that he would give the people of the land of Canaan several centuries to repent before He drove them out of their land (Genesis 15). Sodom and Gomorrah was spared until there was only Lot left with his family (Genesis 19). And on and on and on it goes.

That’s the heart of God. His heart is to forgive. He wants us to repent. Our loving Lord wants us to be reconciled to Him in a family relationship. He, as our Father, wants to bless us in so many ways. And His desire to do so does not change when we become His enemies. We as humans have done everything in our power to hurt Him, yet He blesses us and wants to bless us even more. He blesses even the most vile and disgusting sorts of sinners today. Even the wicked get blessings from God. That is how God is.

The question really is, “Where is my heart on all of this?”

So, with that in mind, let’s think and pray today about what Jesus tells us in the above passage in Luke 6. Am I like the Father toward those who hurt me? If we cannot bless our enemies and love them, then we are really nothing like our Father in heaven. Is my desire like God’s, in that I seek to love, bless, pray for and do good for those who are against me?

Please, O Father, transform our hearts to be like You. In our homes, communities, churches and wherever we may be, that we may bless the peoples around us because we are your children.

Who Can Stand Before His Cold?

He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes. He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold? He sends out his word, and melts them; he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
(Psalm 147:15-18)

A majority of the nation is dealing with some really cold temperatures right now. Here at home we are expecting a high of -3 degrees tomorrow. Crazy cold, but I know other places are much colder. I’m not much of a winter fan, but the snow sure is pretty today and it was so beautiful watching it fall last night.

I found this verse today that talks about the winter and God. God brings the winter and He takes it away. He gives the snow and hurls down crystals of ice and then He melts it all in spring. Snow is a gift from God intended to refresh the soul and water the earth (Psalm 148:8; Proverbs 25:13; Isaiah 55:10).

But what struck me is this question, “Who can stand before His cold?”

The question is nobody. Even the toughest people with the warmest gear will eventually get to a place where they can’t take any more cold and they have to warm up. In temperatures like this, frostbite occurs very quickly.

This concept reminds me of what our congregation was just studying in the book of Job. God paraded all of nature before Job, including His greatest, most magnificent creatures. The questions to Job were something like, “Can you do this?”, or “Can you stand before this?”

As we brave the cold and endure the harsh winds and drive over ice and snow, we can be reminded that God is the one who rules the winter. We are in His hands. Just like we cannot stand before the winter, we cannot stand before God. That is of course unless we have Jesus and His blood to help us stand before Him. Which leads to another thought.

God’s forgiveness is also compared to snow.

  • Psalm 51:7 – Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
  • Isaiah 1:18 – “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

God’s holiness and appearance is compared to the whiteness of snow.

Think about what it is like when you have a blanket of snow on the ground and a very sunny day. What do you need? Sunglasses! That’s the image of God’s presence presented to us in Scripture.

  • Daniel 7:9 – As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire.
  • Matthew 28:3 – His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.
  • Revelation 1:14 – The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire…

Here is one final thought. Last night my neighbor came over and plowed our driveway. After he was finished, we were talking, and I said, “Listen…isn’t that amazing as to how much quieter it is when it is snowing?” It is really awesome to think about the quieting effect of a fresh blanket of snow. Here’s an article that explains why it is quieter when it snows. God’s presence also is to have a calming, quieting effect upon our lives (Psalm 131:1-3).

Well, that’s it. Enough about snow and cold for now!

God is Slow to Anger

Some may read the Old Testament and scratch their heads when they hear that God is slow to anger. There are a lot of people and civilizations that are snuffed out by God in the Old Testament. And yet, many passages in the same Old Testament say that God is slow to anger. How can that be so?

When you see God angry and when you see Him measuring out death and destruction, look at all the evidence. Consider all the qualities of God when you consider His anger. You will see that God truly is slow to anger.

I have pasted several verses below from the Old Testament that speak of God being slow to anger. Look at what else is said in those passages.

Why is God slow to anger? A constant theme in these passages below is that God is merciful, gracious, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. God forgives our sins. Even in Israel’s rebellion, God did not forsake His people. He is ready to relent from the punishment. That is His last resort, not His first option. God’s heart is for us to come to repentance. He wants restoration and reconciliation. Our Father wants us to be close to His side. When God does not clear the guilty, it is because the guilty have left Him no recourse.

Man’s anger is quite the opposite isn’t it? When I am angry, and I really feel justified in that anger, shouldn’t I look at what God is like when He’s angry? Am I merciful and gracious? Does my heart abound in steadfast love and faithfulness? Is my desire to be right, or my thirst for justice greater that my longing for someone to come to repentance? Do I look for ways for others to be reconciled and restored, or am I seeking ways to prove my point and drive home how others have been wrong to me?

Man’s anger does not produce what God’s anger does. Let’s meditate today on the heart of God and why He is slow to anger.

  • Exodus 34:6 – The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,”
  • Numbers 14:18 ‘The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’
  • Nehemiah 9:17 – They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.
  • Psalm 86:15 – But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
  • Psalm 103:8 – The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
  • Psalm 145:8 – The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
  • Joel 2:13 – and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.
  • Jonah 4:2 – And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.
  • Nahum 1:3 – The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.

Daniel – While I was speaking and praying

While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the LORD my God for the holy hill of my God, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision.
(Daniel 9:20-23)

This passage is so encouraging to me, and I hope it is to you. Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9 is just simply incredible. It is full of humility, love for God and a clear understanding of both God’s word and the history of God’s people. He made all the connections between God’s unfailing love and Israel’s unfaithfulness, but Daniel did not leave himself out of the mix, either. We’ll look at another time at the prayer of Daniel in chapter 9. But what I want to focus on is God answering this prayer.

God did not waste a second in responding to Daniel’s prayer did he? Go back and look over the passage and take note of a few things:

  • While I was still speaking – Daniel was in the middle of the prayer when Gabriel appeared. God didn’t say, “Well, let’s see how he finishes this prayer and then we will decide.”
  • Came to me in swift flight – Awesome…just awesome. I wish I knew more about angels, but it would probably scare me to death. Gabriel flew…and it took time to get to Daniel. Can’t say I understand that, but regardless, God sent Gabriel and told him to hurry to get to Daniel. “Daniel needs you, Gabriel.” That is our God, and in Hebrews 1:14, we are told that angels are ministering to Christians today. They come in swift flight to take care of God’s people today.
  • At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out – Jesus tells us that God already knows what we need before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8). We still have to ask, though! But when we begin to reach out to God, that very instant God is running to us! It is like the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. The son had a prepared speech and was on his way home to give it to his father. The father ran to him and didn’t let him finish his prepared speech. That is our God, that is our loving Father. The moment Daniel prayed for mercy from God, God sent the word out through heaven and Gabriel rushed to Daniel’s side.

Passages like this help me see God in such a tender and loving light. He greatly loved Daniel and he greatly loves us.

Rejoicing and Thanksgiving

As Christians, we should be thankful for God’s blessings (a noun identifying the gifts bestowed), not only in word but also in deed.  (1 John 3:17).

Being thankful – truly thankful – is more than a matter of words.  It should be apparent by the way we live our lives that we appreciate God’s goodness and His grace.

Are we thankful for our families? Let’s show it by treating them more lovingly.

Are we thankful for our material possessions? Let’s be good stewards of them by using them in the Lord’s work.

Are we thankful for our friends? Let’s demonstrate it by being a better friend to them.

Are we thankful for the gospel? Let’s prove it by sharing it with everybody around us.

It is a circle…through God’s Grace (that is giving us what we do not deserve) He blesses us.  In receiving these blessing with a proper heart, we are thankful.  Being thankful, we go to God in prayer with rejoicing and thanksgiving and this glorifies our Father.  He hears us, answers according to His will, more blessings come, we are thankful, and the process continues.

This is what Jesus did.  We know from the Bible that while Jesus was a man, He gave thanks to God the Father for the revelation of His will (Matt 11:25), for food (John 6:11), for hearing His prayer (John 11:41-42), for the unleavened bread/fruit of the vine (Mark 14:22-23) as a few examples.  These are examples we can emulate in our thanksgiving

The first century Christians did, and we should.  If we follow Jesus, we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him…with thanksgiving.  Thankful for the revealed word (Eph 3:3-5), for our food (Acts 27:35), for His hearing our prayers (1 john 5:14-15), for the body and blood of Christ (1 Cor 11:23; 26), and for the gift of Jesus in our lives (Rom 7:24-25; 2 Cor 9:15).

If we take time to be thankful, every moment of every day…and count our blessings, there will be a difference in our lives such as:

Counting blessings takes the focus off our problems, cares, anxieties and worries.

Counting blessings puts the focus on our God, our Father, the source of all blessings.

Counting blessings reminds us that GOD is there, that our Father cares, strengthening our faith.

Counting blessings fills our hearts with joy!

Counting blessings reminds us that we are blessed!

God wants a people.  He wants a people characterized by thankfulness.  If we are His child, He will dwell with us, walk among us, be our God, be our Abba Father (2 Cor 6:16).

Count the blessings God has given you today (and every day).  Enjoy them to His glory.  Tell Him all about your great day…and even if the day isn’t the greatest.  He is glorified in that and your relationship with Him will not disappoint. He will bless you.  You will be thankful.  You will talk to Him.  You will make other’s aware of Him if you do.  I am thankful for that.

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!