Bold Witnessing

    In Acts 4:13 there is a great statement about the testimony of Peter of John. These men had gotten into trouble with the authorities over the preaching of Jesus. The religious leaders insulted them by their statement. However, there was a great compliment paid to Peter and John. The verse reads, “When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and knew that they had been with Jesus.” They sought to insult them by calling them uneducated and untrained. These leaders simply meant that Peter and John had not gone to school and received a formal education regarding the Scriptures. But the compliment comes in the statement that they knew these guys had been with Jesus.

We have a clue in this verse what tipped them off to Peter and John’s relationship to Jesus: their boldness. Simply put, the way Peter and John conducted themselves let these supposedly religious men know they had been with Jesus. Peter and John needed no formal training to show this. They didn’t need to be well educated in languages and history to show this. They didn’t need to be wealthy or have influence in this life. Peter and John simply preached about Jesus with boldness and assurance. Interestingly the boldness did not come until they had seen the resurrected Lord. Peter denied Christ during the trials. They were scared for their lives. But it all changed when they saw the One who conquers death!

Our lives change as well when we meet Jesus. There is a boldness we can have. Not arrogance, but boldness. A boldness that shows we’re on the winning side. Our leader has defeated death. We can have a bold impact in our world when we allow people to know we have been with Jesus!

Give God your eyes, ears, nose…everything

The process of growing closer to Jesus is called Sanctification.  It’s a good theological word.  It simply means to be set apart from this world to Jesus Christ.  It is a process that begins at Salvation (when you are born again) and ends at Glorification (when you die).  The Apostle Paul gives us specific instructions on how we can be sanctified.  It is found in Romans 6:19, “Just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to moral impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification.” (HCSB)

The point is very simple:  If you want to be more like Jesus, give Him every part of you.  This is pretty straightforward, it’s not just “preacher talk”.  If you want to be more like Jesus, let God use your eyes for Him, let Him use your mouth, your hands, your feet, your brain, etc.  As you and I give ourselves over to Him, we become more like Jesus.  He is our model.  He gave all of Himself on the cross

Be sure to note this is not buying your salvation.  We cannot pay for it.  It is merely a response to the grace of God.  Paul reiterates this idea in chapter 12 verse 1 of Romans.  He says we should give our entire self to God as a response to His mercy.

If you want to be closer to God…give Him every part of you.  Let Him have control.

Are you a tree or a leaf?

Psalm 1 compares the person who follows godly people with the person who follows everyone else.  He says the person that does not follow the advice of those who don’t know God, is happy.  This person is like a tree planted by streams of water, bearing fruit in it’s season.  This person meditates on God’s Word all the time.  In other words, he follows God’s Word rather than everything else in the world.

The psalm goes on to say that those who don’t follow God’s Word are like chaff blown away by the wind.  They have no foundation.  They have no security.  If you live your life following what God has laid out for you in His Word, your foundation is secure.  The world always has some new idea, some new “quick fix”.  They never last.  Only God’s Word lasts forever.  It is our only reliable guide for this life and the one to come.

Today, check your roots.  Are you planted in the firm foundation of God’s Word?  The Bible says you are blessed.  If you are following after the same things as those who don’t know God, you will be blown around by the wind.

Enjoying His Creation

For some reason I love the summertime.  Not the heat, but everything else.  It amazes me that God created the seasons as He did.  It’s a reminder of His faithfulness.  Cold in the winter, hot in the summer, mild in between.  In spite of some people’s assertion that we humans are disrupting this process (as if we could do that), every year is the same.  God shows Himself to be faithful each year.

For the past three summers we have had a garden.  It works almost like clockwork.  By Mother’s Day the roses are in, by  June 15th we have squash and beans, and by July 4th the Tomatoes are in.  God is just as faithful in our lives.  We don’t always see it.  We don’t always acknowledge it.  But He is.

As the summer rolls on, think about the autumn coming.  God will be faithful as He always is!

Are You a Practical Atheist?

I am preaching this week from Matthew 6:25-34.  Jesus gives us 8 reasons we should not worry.  In studying, I ran across a great quote from Robert Mounce.  Mounce says when we worry we are being, “practical atheists.”  What a humbling thought.  I’ve been awake for about 4 hours this morning and I have already worried at least a few dozen times about one thing or another.

Among the 8 reasons Jesus gives for not worrying (I won’t preach my whole sermon here) is in verse 32.  He says the idolaters seek after things, but our Father knows we need them.  His point is that when worry about things, or give our full effort to attaining things, we act like an unbeliever.  They have no Heavenly Father who knows their needs.  We do!  When we worry about stuff, we forget that He cannot provide.  Maybe we act like He doesn’t know?  doesn’t care?…either way we live as if He does not exist.  Thus we become practical atheists.

Surely we’d never say with words that He doesn’t exist.  Our actions may say it for us.  I’ve often said that people know would know exactly what you believe if they merely observed your actions for about a week.

Don’t be an atheist.  He exists.  He can meet our needs.  He will meet our needs.

He’ll do it again

Psalm 61 is the cry of a man seeking to be closer to the Lord.  We see David’s earnest expectation that God will hear him because He has done so in the past.  David knows that God does not change.  He cries out in verse 1 for God to hear his cry and pay attention to his prayer.  Have you ever started a prayer that way?  I know I have.  We find ourselves at times wondering if He’s still there, if He still listens.  David continues, “I call to you from the ends of the earth…” David is seeking God.  David has lived enough to know that God is all he needs.  God is the only One who is always the right answer!

David’s faith in this desperation finds it’s source in God’s past actions.  Verse 3, “You have been a refuge for me, a strong tower in the face of the enemy”  David knows God will answer because God has already shown  His faithfulness.  What a great promise from God’s Word.  God has been faithful to His people in the past and will continue to be faithful to them.  David cries a shout of victory in verse 4, “I will live in your tent forever and take refuge under the shelter of Your wings.”   Do you see the change of attitude that happens in 4 verses?  David goes from crying to God and asking if He’ll pay attention – to proclaiming that He will have his refuge in God’s tent.

What is the key to this transformed attitude?  Remembering that He has done this before!  David knows God will be His refuge because God has shown that He will provide it for him.  It’s one thing to pray something that we know we don’t need and not be surprised when we don’t get it.  It’s entirely different to pray something in desperation that we have prayed before and He has already answered.

Wherever you are, crying out to God to listen and pay attention, reflect on what He has already done.  Look to answers in the past as a faith builder for answers tomorrow!  Our faith weakens as our memories of His work grow dim.  Watch Him work today…build your faith…He’ll do it again.

All We Need

The first song we sang Saturday night sums up a lot.  All We Need by Charlie Hall.  What an amazing thing stated in this short song.  We can have so much in life, but ALL we need is Jesus.  I post the lyrics here for you to enjoy and ponder…

We have all we need in You
And all we need is You
All we need is You

Rich or poor God I want You more
Than anything that glitters in this world
Be my all, all consuming fire

You can have all my hands can hold
My heart, mind, strength and soul
Be my all, all consuming fire

All we need, all we need, all we need is You
All we need, all we need, all we need is You