WeepingintoDancing

Overcoming Difficult Trials

Archive for the tag “Evangelism”

Do You Stick Out?

christians

The Bible tells us we are aliens and strangers in this world. This is a reminder to all Christians that heaven is our eternal home. The Greek translation for alien is a sojourner, stranger, and foreigner. A foreigner is one who lives in a place without the right of citizenship. Our citizenship is with God and in the heavenly realm.

“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wave war against the soul.” 1 Peter 2:11 (NABS)

 But, for now, we must run a spiritual race; working out our salvation by making the most of the days God has allotted us. Every person has a specific number of days to live in this world. No spirit or man can snatch us from God’s hand or steal a single minute of our life. Through the sanctification process, God equips us to fulfill those works He Created us to execute for His glory.

A person’s days are determined; You have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.Job 14:5 (NIV)

 When we live as followers of Christ, we will stick out.

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.Galatians 3:27 (NKJV)

Non-believers shall take notice and question our thoughts and actions. If we go against politically correct ideas, warped by the Ruler of this World (John 12:31-32), we will find ourselves judged by the ones he has deceived. The devil has many names including: God of this Age (2 Corinthians 4:4), Deceiver (Revelation 12:9), Enemy (Matthew 13:39) , Liar (John 8:44), Adversary (1 Peter 5:8), and Accuser (Revelation 12:10). They define his character and his actions.

That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.Ephesians 4:22-24 (NKJV)

Our Christian character and faith will be attractive and repulsive to the lost. Some will find themselves drawn to our inner peace and love, while the conviction of the Holy Spirit will cause others to react with judgment and hate. Conscious of sin, but not willing to admit it as sin and turn from it, a spiritual battle incurs.

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25 (NKJV)

Times are changing. More and more Christian beliefs are viewed as ignorant, backward, unrealistic, and behind-the-times. Words such as archaic, old-fashioned, and out-of-date, will find their way into judgmental conversations. But what the world does not understand is thatJesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” Hebrews 13:8 (NIV). Additionally, God does not adjust His living Word to accommodate our lusts and desires. He is unchanging.

“For I am the Lord, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.Malachi 3:6 (NKJV)

 When we accepted Jesus as The Way… The Truth… and The Life, we died to our old self and put the righteousness of Christ. We are a new creation! So, our old worldly deeds and ways of thinking were renewed in the knowledge of God the Father. We are not supposed to compromise our thinking in order to fit in with those who have not accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. We are to fellowship with all mankind and share the Good News, but never are we to water down the truth. God is black and white when it comes to His Word.

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.John 14:6 (NIV)

 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” Colossians 3:9-10 (NKJV)

Ask yourself this question. Do your co-workers and neighbors know you to be a Christian? If not, why are they unaware of your faith? Have you been hiding your light under a bushel and for what reason?

Satan is looking for ways to tickle ears and tempt us into complacency. We must fight it! Do not settle for lukewarm Christian living. Let us all strive for boldness in our witness, living out our gift of salvation with hearts of gratitude. God is mighty to save but He also expects action. We have a responsibility to share the truth with the lost. That truth is, there is only one way to the Father and that is through His son, Jesus Christ. Being a good person is not enough to secure a place in heaven. If we love those around us, we must stick out.

Hell is a reality. When we speak the truth we are speaking in love. God hates gay marriage, abortion, sexual immorality, covetousness, and idolatry. Our responsibility is to speak the truth and share the Good News. It is God’s job to work on the hearts of the lost. Be bold! Be brave! The harvest is great and very ripe but the laborers are few.

“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.  Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’” Matthew 9:36-38 (NKJV)

 “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.1 John 1:6-7 (NKJV)

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.” 2 Peter 1:5-9 (NASB)

Shod Your Feet With The Gospel Of Peace

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The Christian spiritual race is an uphill climb, full of snares and rough places. A smart runner selects shoes that will carry him through every type terrain. Our spiritual armor includes shoes, and we are instructed to “shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15).

The gospel of peace is the story of God’s love for us. Jesus carried and nailed the sins of the world to the cross. By His death and resurrection, the blood of Christ covers us. Through the forgiveness of sin, our fellowship with God has been restored. We have the promise of eternal life, so long as we declare Jesus the Son of God and our Redeemer. The word shod simply means… to wear footgear. Our spiritual footgear is the story of God’s love and sacrifice. This is our comfort and our calling. Through Christ Jesus we have victory over death, a message we are commanded to share with the lost world.

Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19 (NKJV)

However, this does not mean everybody should quit their day jobs and sail off to Africa as missionaries. Indeed, some are called to preach the gospel in other lands, but there are also everyday opportunities to share the Good News. If led, we can point our feet to the house of a sick friend or lonely neighbor, and be the hands of Christ. With an open door, we can speak words of encouragement, which will accomplish much, though we might not realize it at the time.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.Proverbs 25:11 (NKJV)

Persuasive and timely language is a most effective balm to a hardened mind or heart. And like “apples of gold set in silver,” they are a beautiful and joyful thing to receive.

Believers possess a special treasure, the promise of eternal life and the joy of a personal relationship with God. How can we not share this good news with those around us? How will others believe in Him if we keep silent?

“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:14-15 (NKJV)

God will often prepare the hearts of those whom He has called, thus giving the messenger of Good News fertile soil to plant His seed. The heavenly Father requires our faith and action to fearlessly speak the truth. Compromise is not of the Lord. His Word will stand without sugar coating, so long as we speak with gentleness and respect. Useful scriptures will suddenly come to mind, helping us in our task of loving the one in need. The Holy Spirit will give us the words and actions necessary, so laying aside our own agenda and personal strength is key. We are to rely on God’s leading and supernatural power, for those acting on their own authority are guilty of robbing God of His glory. We are the messengers of God but He is the Savior.

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NKJV)

Any time we step out in faith, the enemy will try to interfere with our efforts to share the gospel. Utilize the entire spiritual armor of Christ. Pray. Harassment should not be a surprise to the believer. Rather, our perspective should be that any spiritual annoyance and intimidation is confirmation we are walking right with God. Gaining back the ground Satan has stolen is never easy. The prowling lion that looks to devour is a mighty foe, but the Lion King of Judah has already won the battle. The victory is already His and we share in the victory through Jesus Christ. Let us all make an effort to share the gospel of peace with someone new every day.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” Isaiah 6:8 (NIV)

“Of course you’ll encounter trouble. But behold a God of power who can take any evil and turn it into a door of hope.” ~ Catherine Marshall

Walk As Children Of Light

*Walk As Children of Light

Loving fathers teach and discipline their children. They offer wisdom, knowledge and their devoted attention. Fathers help to “shed light” on troublesome or difficult situations. God does this for us as well. He teaches and disciplines with a pure love, and yes, adversity is one of His most effective tools in our education. Affliction causes us to look up and increases our dependence upon God, rather than self. When circumstances appear impossible, faith reminds us that apparent impossibilities are wondrous opportunities for God to move.

During times of adversity, life may appear very dark and overwhelming. Hopelessness can grab hold of our heartstrings and lead us down paths of self-pity. “How could the Savior send such trouble my way? What did I do to deserve such hardship?” The Word tells us that God does not willingly afflict His children. He sends or permits only that which accomplishes His good will and purpose. Perfect love is always included in His equations.

“For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.” Lamentations 3:33 (NIV)

Thankfully, there is always a light of promise and hope at the end of every trial. This light is Christ Jesus. By it we are propelled forward in our race, even through the darkest and most painful of sufferings.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:115 (NKJV)

JESUS is the living Word of God, the light that enlightens every man with spiritual truth. Those who perceive the true Light and choose to follow the source will never walk in spiritual darkness. Natural darkness is the absence of light and spiritual darkness is the absence of Jesus, the light of the world.

With earthly bodies reborn and filled with the Holy Spirit, we have a supernatural “light” living within us. Our God given light is not seen with human eyes but is still perceived and very apparent to others, when we remember to “shine it all around.” D.L. Moody speaks of our witness and compares it to a lighthouse. A LIFESTYLE witness should be obvious to others without our having to set off cannons.

We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining- they just shine.”    ~ D. L. Moody

Having been called to walk as “Children of Light,” seeking out all goodness, righteousness, and truth should therefore be our aim. Is it not wise to make a daily goal where we seek out what is acceptable to the Lord and then follow through with prayer and service?

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:8-10 (NKJV)

Sharing His love with others while living through personal times of adversity will not only point the lost to Christ, it will cause us to discover beautiful blessings found only in the fellowship of His suffering. Our capacity to love and forgive will increase, compassion and mercy will grow, and grace will abound. As our love for Jesus grows, so will our light within.

May the light of Christ Jesus shine ever more brightly within all of us, drawing the hungry, weary, thirsty, and lost to truth and eternal salvation.

“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John 8:12 (NKJV)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” John 1:4 (NKJV)

“Soon we shall be up there with Christ. God did not mean us to be happy without Him; but God would first have us to be witnesses for Him down here, to hold out as much light as we can.”      G.V. Wigram

“Christ cannot light a single spark in the heart of an individual, without that little tiny spark being for God. He gives the light, and has ordained that every ray of it is to reflect something for God.” G.V. Wigram

Jesus and the Fig Tree

figtree

Why did Jesus curse the fig tree?

Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry.  And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” And His disciples heard it.” Mark 11:12-15 (NKJV)

When He realized it was all leaves and no fruit, was Jesus so terribly disappointed that He vented His anger in emotional vindictiveness? Since we know Jesus is without sin… we must conclude His anger towards this fig tree was righteous.

But what of Mark’s comment, “It was NOT the season for figs.” Wasn’t Jesus then expecting too much from this tree? Was He really expecting it to bear fruit out of season?

Without all the facts, one could easily see Jesus in a negative light, or even as harsh. Should you ever find yourself viewing God with an uncomplimentary and critical attitude, pause and reflect. Consider who He is and who you are and whether you have any right to judge your Creator. Then, humble yourself and consider His character. God is love. He loves ALL of His creation. If not so, why would He care when the tiniest sparrow falls?

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.” Matthew 10:29 (NIV)

Fig trees will often produce a small amount of fruit prior to the main crop. This “first fruit” was what our Lord was expecting. Since this fig tree was without ANY fruit, but fully dressed in leaves, He knew it was barren. The tree was not fulfilling its purpose. Thus, Jesus eliminated an unproductive tree from an orchard, not by saw or ax but by faith and His Word.

And we made ordinances to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, to the house of the Lord” Nehemiah 10:35 (NKJV)

Mark 11:12-15 is a wonderful analogy and a good reminder for all believers. We were made for a specific purpose, predestined by God to fulfill His will. We were knit together by a loving Father who gave us every gift, trait, and skill necessary to fulfill and carry out the plan and purpose He designed us to fulfill.

We should be productive instruments for the glory of God. During our many seasons of life, we will sow seeds, water and care for them, harvest a crop of righteousness (that is only because we are one with the Lord Jesus Christ) and praise God for the gift of service.

“What makes the Dead Sea dead? Because it is all the time receiving, never giving out anything. Why is it that many Christians are cold? Because they are all the time receiving, never giving out anything.”   ~D.L. Moody

Have you any first fruit to offer the Lord today? Or, are you hiding behind a façade of greenery with little service or fruit to speak of? The fig tree was fully dressed in leaves of green but not productive. Be careful that you are walking the Christian walk and not just hiding behind some showy leaves. Our Master expects produce and will cut away dead branches and then prune the healthy ones to increase the harvest for His kingdom.

READ THE SCRIPTURES AND QUOTE BELOW, THEN CONSIDER THE FIG TREE. HOW DOES IT APPLY TO YOUR WALK WITH CHRIST JESUS?

As soon as the commandment was circulated, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of grain and wine, oil and honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything.”                                      2 Chronicles 31:5 (NKJV)

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” John 15:6 (NKJV)

“The world is perishing for lack of the knowledge of God and the Church is famishing for want of His Presence.” ~ A.W. Tozer

The Great Commission: Patience Required

*Fruit:Patience

This is a devotional from my next book FACING STORMS: A DEVOTIONAL FOR THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

We have a great commission in life. We are called to make disciples of all the nations, including our own country. So, the rude co-worker and obnoxious neighbor is part of our assignment. God loves His entire creation and wants every person to accept Him as his or her Lord and Savior. This is every Christian’s most important calling and mission in life.

“It is the duty of every Christian to be Christ to his neighbor.”   ~ Martin Luther

No, this appointment is not an easy one, but neither is loving a people who falls so short of God’s morality. Thankfully, God refuses to give up on us and throw in the towel. He perseveres in demonstrating His love daily and in every moment. He longs for our fellowship and makes Himself available at all times. He creates incredible sunsets for our enjoyment and gives pleasure in so many different ways. His heart and passion belongs to us so, to model Him, our passion should be for the lost…. Be they ever so challenging.

People who rub us the wrong way are the means God uses to sand off our rough edges. They are placed in our life for OUR benefit. For by having them near us, we soon see our shortcomings and identify the weak areas in our character and spiritual walk.

Are you an impatient person? Ask for patience and God will surely send someone your way that challenges your temperance. Only by God’s blessed grace will you see a righteous gift of compassion birthed in your heart. Your self-control and forbearance will astound you. The sincere love and affection you are meant to feel for this person will deepen over time. So profound will it become, if you practice it daily, you will find yourself perplexed at how you ever saw them as a thorn or irritant in your side.

Will you choose kindness over selfish actions of rudeness? Will you overlook an offense and remember the many times God has forgiven you? Through simple acts of love, you can change a stony heart into a softer one, a heart the Creator can easily fashion and mold into something new.

Discernment will be given for the sake of intercession. Do not gawk at their sin or find pleasure in fault-finding. The Spirit will guide you as you pray and witness to them. Once hard to love (only because their wounds had made them fearful and prickly) they will drop their thorns and rest in your company. Reckless words will cause much damage but wise words of encouragement bring much fruit. By establishing trust, they will share another side with you, one only a precious few have witnessed. It will be an honor to behold.

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go thereforeand make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me[a] in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”Acts 1:8 (NKJV)

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:15 (NKJV)

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”Luke 19:10 (NKJV)

“Yet if we would know God and for other’s sake tell what we know we must try to speak of his love. All Christians have tried but none has ever done it very well. I can no more do justice to that awesome and wonder-filled theme than a child can grasp a star. Still by reaching toward the star the child may call attention to it and even indicate the direction one must look to see it. So as I stretch my heart toward the high shining love of God someone who has not before known about it may be encouraged to look up and have hope.” ~ A.W. Tozer

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” ~ C.S. Lewis

 

Godly Relationships: Paul, Barnabas, and Timothy

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“And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus”  Acts 4:36 (NKJV) 

The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” Titus 2:3-5 (NKJV) 

I was once advised by a Christian friend to seek, pray, and find a Paul, Barnabas, and Timothy. This was godly advice so I now want to pass it on to you. Having a spiritual advisor, an encouraging peer, and a new believer whom YOU mentor might not occur all at the same time.  However, if you have walked a strong Christian walk for more than ten years, I hope you have all three of these people in your life.

The privilege of sitting under the covering of a believer who is far wiser than you in spiritual matters is a mighty blessing. God is our ultimate counselor, and the Holy Spirit will always teach, guide, and direct us.  But a person of flesh, who has gained knowledge and insight through personal trials and victories, is another prize altogether.

God created us for relationships.  The Body of Christ is the church, not the building itself, but the people within and attending services. The Lord will teach us through others.  Indeed, “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God “ (1 Co. 1:3-4 NKJV). If someone in the church has faced and persevered through a struggle, it encourages others going through similar trials to hear of their victory.

A Paul is someone who will lovingly speak the truth to you, even at the cost of hurt feelings. You grant them this liberty. This relationship is one of respect and honor. He or she will be a teacher first and a friend second, as you have entrusted them with authority and position over you. You acknowledge their insight and knowledge and ask them to share it with you.  They are a mentor.

Barnabas is known for being an encourager. In fact, Barnabas’ given name was Joses (Joseph) but the apostles gave him the name Barnabas, which means “Son of Encouragement” or “ Son of Exhortation” (Acts 4:36) What joy he must have had in sharing just the right words of hope and lifting the spirits of those around him. It is a wonderful blessing to share words of encouragement! We all need encouragers in our lives. People who spur us on to do good works for Christ.

Then there is the Timothy relationship.  A prospective Timothy is….

To read the rest of this post please to to http://facingtrials.com

Apply Instruction And Knowledge

Apply Heart 2 Instruction

As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”                             1 Peter 2:2 (NKJV)

We begin our education from the moment we are born. In order to survive, we must acquire knowledge and information and then apply it to our lives. When we first start off in life we crawl, but it is not long before we take our first baby steps. Assuredly, all babies fall down a multitude of times before mastering the ability to walk. Thankfully, a tenacious perseverance propels them to get back up and try again until the new skill is mastered.

As Christians, we need to adopt this tenacity to persevere in our walk with Christ.  He asks very little of us, for all He wants is a forward movement.  Baby steps are just fine, until there is …..

To read the rest of this post go to http://facingtrials.com

When God Tells You To ….. Go!

jonahGojpg

When God tells us to GO, we must go.  We must keep a loose grip on the things we love and the homes we live. If we are able to maintain a loose grip on the things we hold dear, it won’t hurt as much if we loose them.  Lost, but replaced with  new and better blessings. 

Are you sold out for Christ? Are you ready to lay down your whole life for His will and purpose? If so, you must be prepared to hand over all you love and desire.  Thankfully, if your will is aligned with the heart of God, your desires are already His desires.  Taking hold of His hand and allowing Him to lead you down unknown paths will seem effortless, thanks to your childlike faith.

If God said, “GO, share My Word with that man,” would you GO? (Even if he were a stranger?)  If God said, “GO, sell your house and move to Africa. I want you to become a missionary.” Would you go?  I hope so, but only if there was confirmation in the Word, and a conviction in your heart.  We are to do the Lord’s bidding, but only when we are certain HE is the one commanding us to GO. 

What if you are in the middle of a hardship or trial?  Do you get a free pass?  Nope!   If you are certain God is telling you to GO, the Holy Spirit will continue to nudge you.  Maybe God wants you to speak to a doctor or nurse caring for your loved one.  Maybe you heard a message at church that really encouraged and comforted you.  If the Holy Spirit tells you….

To read the rest of this post please go to http://facingtrials.com

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