Posts Tagged ‘Evangelism’

The troubles of this world are cold and relentless. It’s not easy to stay so focused on heaven that we are being bombarded with the problems of earthly life. We’re commanded, of course, to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things (Col. 3:2), but even the most committed believer will testify that earthly trials sometimes obscure the heavenly perspective.

sam

We worry. We grieve. We stumble. We strain under the toil of our daily labors. We feel the guilt of our fallen condition. Meanwhile, we are assaulted with troubles of all kinds. Those are just a few of the many worldly burdens that  keep our thoughts from rising to heaven.

And yet we are commanded repeatedly to “seek the things that are above” (Col. 3:1). We are instructed to “look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen” (2 Cor. 4:18). We can’t allow the burdens of this life to divert our hearts from heaven.

How is that possible? When the load weighs us down and the troubles become too much for one person to bear, pie-in-the-sky sentiments can sound very far away.

But that is precisely why the church is so important. It is our duty as believers to help bear each others burdens (Gal. 6:2). When someone staggers, we help steady the load. If he is straining, we help bear the burden. And if he stumbles, we lift him up. Helping fellow believers carry the weight of their worldly troubles is one of the chief practical duties that should be something every Christian WANTS to do.

Of course, that concept is contrary to the thoughts of our culture, with secular society’s tendency to focus on ourselves. Our generation has developed an unhealthy obsession with entertainment; we are daily bombarded with a bunch of trivial diversions; and we tend to interact with one another in sound-bites or through faceless media. We live in crowded cities and over-populated neighborhoods; yet most individuals are more isolated than ever.

And let’s be honest — Most churches nowadays often imitate the culture exactly where we most need to confront and contradict its influence. As churches seek to become bigger, flashier, and more technologically savvy, they usually tend to become more cold and impersonal. Contemporary churches sometimes even seem to encourage the “me first” agenda of self-love rather than the “one another” commands of Scripture. As a result, we don’t bear one another’s burdens like we should.

Paul made this duty a high priority. It was the centerpiece of his sermons to the Galatian churches. The first half (or more) of Galatians is a defense of  faith and a series of arguments against the false teaching that threatened to place those churches in bondage to the Law. In Galatians 5:14 he reminded them: “The whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

How is that love best shown? “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (6:2).

Do you want to fulfill the moral requirements of the Law? Love your neighbor. How do you love him? By bearing his burdens.

It’s interesting that Paul would emphasize this theme in an epistle written to confront people who were falling into legalism. It’s as if he were saying, “You want to observe a law? Let it be the law of Christ. If you have to impose burdens on yourselves, let it be through acts of love toward your neighbor.”

If you will do that faithfully, your own burden won’t seem so heavy. Best of all, you will find it easier to keep your focus heavenward, regardless of the trials you suffer in this life.

They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (John 17:16 )

Heaven

We live here, we walk here, we eat and drink here, but may we never call it home. The ground beneath our feet and sky above our heads are the scenery we enjoy momentarily, but they will pass away (Matthew 24:35). Our family is more than people with the same last name (Mark 3:35), as believers we are united by blood, literally the shed blood of Jesus the risen Savior. We, the family, walk as sojourners (1 Peter 2:11), as travelers, loving and serving the people around us, all the while remembering we will one day be home. A home that has been prepared for us (John 14:3), where we will live in ever increasing joy.

Our lips will never again say, “It was fun while it lasted”, as the smile fades from our face. In our home there is no sorrow, there is no disease, there is no end to joy (Revelation 21:4). In our home our treasure does not fail, there is no thief to steal, no moneybag to grow old (Luke 12:33). In your heart, and in your head, where is your treasure and your home? For “there will your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34).

Where is your home?

John 7:37-38 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

Frozen Niagara Falls

An estimated 500,000 tons of water go over Niagara Falls every minute. On March 29, 1948, the falls suddenly stopped. Those who lived near enough heard the overwhelming silence, and immediately they thought it was a sign – the end of the world had come! However, after thirty hours had passed – the flow of water resumed.

What happened? Heavy winds had set the ice fields of Lake Erie in motion and tons of ice had jammed the Niagara River entrance near Buffalo. The ice blocked the flow of water until finally, there was a shift in the blockage and the river began flowing again.

The river had stopped flowing because of ice.

If we really want the flow of God’s love, peace, joy, and anointing in our lives – we cannot allow our hearts to become like ice. If we do, His life-giving current will stop.

Let the Lord search your heart for those areas where the ice has built up and needs to thaw out. He will show you where they are if you ask. Our hearts should be burning for Him, so let the river flow…. once again.

6545136-house-in-fire-at-night-firefighters-fighting-with-fireI have a lot of friends in the Fire Service, and spent some time as a Fire Fighter myself, so I don’t want anyone to be offended when I bring this story up. Back East, due to budget cuts, some volunteer Fire Departments have been forced to either charge an advanced fee to receive fire protection, or to shut down the Department all together. Unfortunately, it’s been recorded where a few Departments have responded to a fire, but when they found out the homeowners were not covered, they stood by while the house burned down. Now let’s not get into the right or wrongs of their actions, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. I bring this up because I consider this to be a fine example of  how many Christianslook at non-believers, they better pay for the protection first, or we’ll just watch you burn.

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog written by a young man who had grown up in a Christian family, but turned Atheist. In his blog, he asked a very simple and well put question, “If Christians are so concerned about my spending eternity in hell, why don’t they do more to try to save me from that Hell they describe?” I thought is was a very logical, as well as a Biblical question (I was also impressed with the fact that he was so polite about asking). I was surprised at what I saw when the responses started coming in.

Most of the responses that I saw were rather sharp and angry, blaming him for being in that spot rather than gently and lovingly explaining it to him. Now to an extent, this is true, but it doesn’t mean that we should give up or ignore him when he’s asking for help. I would never want to be known as someone who would turn their back on someone when their Spiritual house is on fire. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is: Matthew 4:19, “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” If you notice in this verse, the key word is a VERB, GO. It doesn’t say, “Let’s tell them about Jesus and let the Holy Spirit do the work. If they don’t respond, then it’s their fault.”

OK, I admit that it may appear that I am angry over this response, but it’s more of a confusion. I cannot understand how anyone can read the story of how Jesus gave His life for us, asked us to do the same, yet be so unwilling to do whatever it takes to see a person come to repentance. The Holy Spirit uses us to do His work, if we sit on the couch and leave it up to Him, then we are letting a lot of people burn.

I see so many other faiths putting Christians to shame in their evangelistic efforts. The Mormon Church is growing at a very fast pace because their followers GLADLY reach out to others and practice what they preach through actions. The Muslim faith is passionate to the point of being fanatical about what they believe, Yet we know the truth, and leave it for someone else to to. To me, this is as much of a betrayal to Jesus as the kiss of Judas. My apologies for being so blunt, but if you’re passionant about something, then you tell it like it is…:)

My life may be hard now, and I may have to slave like a dog to get a scrap while others do nothing and get fame and wealth. I may not have the money to eat anything but ramen noodles while others eat out every night, but one thing is for sure. I have eternal life, and one day this hard life and poor health will be replaced with a glory that cannot be described to those who are worldly rich, but spiritually poor. I will have so much joy that I won’t remember a thing from the past while those who neglected their spiritual life will be begging for a second chance as they face eternal hell. I can accept this pain and junk that I face daily because it’s just a down payment for a rich prize that awaits me. Thank you Jesus.

 Acts 20:35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

It’s amazing how many people will take personal comfort over helping someone else. When I see someone like this, I always wonder if they know what Jesus did for them, and why they won’t do the same for others. After all they will be rewarded in the Kingdom of heaven for it, but what will God‘s reaction be for the ones who took personal  comfort over the helping of others.

I have always felt that when we won’t help someone because it may jeopardize our own personal wealth and comfort are really doing nothing more than showing that we don’t believe that God will take care of us, or that we worship possesions more than God. Just remember that everything we have here on this earth is only temporary. We cannot take it with us through the doors of heaven. When we focus on the treasures that wait for us in the Lords House, our possesions here won’t seem so important, but the desire to help others will.

I’m not sure why this hit me so hard this morning, but it has, so I hope it helps someone.

Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. (Mark 4:7 ESV)

No one likes thorns, right? They’re sharp, prickly and generally to be avoided. Weeds and thorns often go hand in hand, neither being the type of growth a gardener likes to see. But continuing on to verses eighteen and nineteen, Jesus reveals a surprise about these thorns, that “the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (Mark 4:18-19). The thorns here represent the things in the world we care about, and are generally thought of as good or appealing.

Many Americans spend their adult lives in pursuit of a bigger house, a better boat, a nicer RV, a lakeside cabin, a faster car, fame, status, wealth- the list could go on indefinitely. When we center our energy and focus on things other than Jesus and the Gospel, those good things become idols, they become “God things”. They choke the life from our spirits and keep us from bearing fruit, useful and good (Galatians 5:22-23; Hebrews 6:7). The point is this: in actuality, we like thorns, we like them a lot. The problem we continually face is when, instead of using the things in our possession or the status our wealth grants us for the Kingdom, we use them for our kingdom. At the center of our hearts should lie Jesus and His mission, and how He’s called us to serve Him. When we don’t live like this, we are in great danger of loving our thorns more than our God.

 

The above devotion is from http://www.shortdailydevotions.com  and I highly recommend the site.