Monday, January 31, 2011

Huh.. Me Fruitful?

Believer, ever wonder as to why you were chosen by God? Has anyone ever asked you why you are here?

Does fruitfulness come to mind?

Do your ears perk up a bit along with the needle rising on your interest-meter, when this topic is broached?

Do you think of loving character attributes in regards to fruit?

Do you think of influencing a lot of people in a positive way so that they will also choose to serve the Lord?

Do you think of the many mission fields of the world and their tribesmen starting to believe what the Bible says about Christ.. that was perhaps newly translated into their language? 

What first comes to your mind, when you hear a preacher talk about how to bring forth spiritual fruit? Do you feel pushed or drawn, scared or excited, like doing something to please the Lord, or something because the Lord is already pleased with you?

Hey gang, this in an important subject to God for He expects faithfulness and fruitfulness from His children, but He never pushes. He gently leads us into fruitful living.

In fact Christ made this clear when He said, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My Name He may give you" (Jn. 15:16).

So many believers get off track these days.. especially with this topic as it relates to who we are to witness to and how? It would seem that many believers would prefer to argue about who are the elect and who are not the elect, with the elect. I've even seen some of the more zealous ones out picketing at Billy Graham evangelistic meetings so that Christians wanting to win their friends to Jesus there, would just stop and let God do it all. How is that biblical? Didn't Jesus command His followers to go?

I'm thinking of those needing the Gospel in Egypt today. Some believers will be led to stay there and share Christ. And Jesus alone is the only One to call missionaries to witness there. What if this Land never saw or heard from one witness again? How sad would that be!

Listen, if you have doubts and lack eternal security because you've listened to some negative thinkers.. if you want to know God's will for you.. if you want to know if God chose you to be a part of His eternal Kingdom ..or not.. then simply repent and choose Jesus as your Savior and Lord today and then guess what? You will know the Answer to this all important issue. Yeah, whosoever will, go for it (I mean go for Him right now and settle it)!

Yes, to keep it simple, it is indeed the Lord's will for you to worship God every day as the Spirit leads you, believer. It is the Lord's will for every Christian to desire God's Word and to fellowship with growing believers who also study the Bible. It is the Lord's will that every Christian go with the Gospel in love those needing to hear the Message. It is clearly Christ's will for you to walk close with Him daily so that you go, grow and bear fruit that abides.

But what is it?

Let's think about the basics of fruit for a minute here.

Natural fruit has within it the seeds of other fruit. Why? It's because God likes reproduction! And He loves spiritual reproduction in His Kingdom.

Have you ever witnessed to someone who was open to spiritual things and they said "Yes, I do want to know this Bible Christ. Sure, right now! What must I do?" And then after they turn and trust the Lord you see them just devouring Christian books, CDs, MP3s etc and in a matter of a few weeks or a few months ..there they are growing and leading another person into righteousness with the Word of God.

How exciting. How thrilling. This zeal coupled with joy in Jesus is rad-infectious, and can even reignite even old stodgy lukewarm believers. That's why I love to be around baby believers and those learning to witness.

When I read the Bible about this or even speak of "fruit," here is what I want you to think of..

* Character – how loving am I really?
* Conduct – how I actually live my life.
* Contributions – how God leads me to give of my time, talents, and treasure to support His world-wide ministry effort.
* Communication – how I say and what I say to unbelievers ..or even to the Lord in whole-hearted praising Him. 
* Converts – how and who I win to Jesus Christ (yes win biblically, and I don't mean "win to me" [the witness] as some fishers might aim to do).

I really challenge you to rethink and repray over each of these areas, beloved. Please don't be frustrated. Trust the Lord to eencourage and help you.

"God blessed them and said, 'Be fruitful and increase in number…'" ~ Genesis 1:22

      "One of the secrets of a long and fruitful life is to forgive everybody everything before you go to bed." ~ Ann Landers

"I would put it to you, my dear hearer, have you been fruitful? Have you been fruitful with your wealth? Have you been fruitful with your talent? Have you been fruitful with your time? What are you doing for Jesus now?" ~ C.H. Spurgeon

Jesus said, "For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more" (Lk. 12:48)> Man, I personally have been given so many blessings that it makes my head spin. Most Westerners have received so much comparatively. Thank you Lord, You are so, So, SO good to us! I love you so much!

But that's why I like to pray something like this, "God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause His face to shine upon us; Selah. That Thy Way may be known upon earth, Thy saving health among all nations" (Ps. 67:1-2).

There ya have it. A great missionary prayer for others. And the secret to this fruitfulness is abiding in Jesus (the true vine).

Please prayerfully meditate on Christ's passage on fruit-bearing here again…

"A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear" (Lk. 8:5-8).

Jesus explained it saying "The seed is the Word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the Word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience" (vv. 11-15).

So, my question to you is this: Are you a spiritually fruitful believer.. or at least wanting to be? Are you denying your self, resisting the devil and saying no to this world's system and to your flesh? Are sinners.. or lukewarm or carnal believers pulling you down spiritually? Get away from em! Fruit with Jesus is more important than any destructive friendships. Sow to the Spirit more diligently even on days when your flesh doesn't feel like it.

I don't want you to ever be choked out by the cares and desires of the world—by thorns. I want you to take root in the rich soil of truth. I want you to keep falling in love with Christ over and over again until you just have to tell someone.

Do you pray for fruit saying something like, "God, thank you that You alone can help me to bear fruit for Christ's glory! Is there anything in my way, basically impeding fruit from coming forth in my life? What will you put in and take out of my life—have at it because I want to be filled up with your Spirit until there in zero room left for worry or fear. Would You have me in a different kind of work, or church? Will You lead me to on-fire close friends who are spiritually sound, wise and balanced? What are the main things that You want me involved with this year, or not involved with this year so I can produce more fruit than ever before? Help me to pray more specifically in faith, to sow more purely, to praise You more fervently, and to witness more effectively. Definitely want to biblically employ gifts that You give, but more than that, I long for You and lasting fruit. Pour your love in big time even now! Together, let's see rivers of living water flow as I go from 30, to 60, to 100 fold fruitfulness. Help me stick with You all the way even if none go with. Let your anointing flow through me as I obey the Scriptures just like nourishing sap from a vine for a purpose! Thanks Lord."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Been through some rough times? God has hope, restoration, and new mercies for you.

Have ya been through some hard times and now are feeling weary in well doing? Have you be ripped off because of your own bad decision or those of others? Have some people smeared your name and in some way ousted you? Have you lost a job? Do you feel mad at people or at God? Have you been suffering with some disease that the doctors can't seem to defeat with medicine and all their training? What kind of fiery trials or persecution or disenfranchisement have you experienced?
You are not alone. God has not forgotten you—He is not mad at you, but is right there with you in spite of the suffering. We live in a fallen world due to Adam and Eve's bad choices and now we suffer at times—it's not God's fault at all. Jesus intercedes for us.
And what did Jeremiah do when he looked upon the miserable conditions of God's people, after life had basically fallen completely apart for them as a people? Did he just turn away and ignore all the facts, not wanting to be bothered by them along with all the negative emotions? Nawww. He hurt, and he sill got involved with others who were hurting.
Jeremiah lamented the uber-sad conditions of his people, the Jews. These Hebrews were carted off far away if you will, to be captive in Babylon a long, long time. Why? It was because they had forsaken the Lord and via their own personal choices, they allowed their hearts to be turned away to worship dumb idols instead of the only wise God. What a waste!
But even though Jeremiah's eyes failed him, because of his tears and sorrow.. and even though his inner human spirit was greatly troubled to the max and his heart was like.. poured out on to the earth, Jeremiah still chose to hope in the Lord (See Lam. 2:11; 3:23-24). And there is hope for you in Christ Jesus your loving Lord!
I like how The New Living Translation speaks of hope as it lays out for us Jeremiah's very honest words…
"The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The unfailing love of the Lord never ends! By His mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself, The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in Him! The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for Him and seek Him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord. And it is good for the young to submit to the yoke of His discipline. Let them sit alone in silence beneath the Lord's demands. Let them lie face down in the dust; then at last there is hope for them" (Lam. 3:19–27, nlt).
Makes me want to humble myself and submit. Makes me want to wait and listen, until God restores and heals all the hurts. What does that passage do for you?
Believer, have you had the bottom totally drop out from under your life and leave you with ashes? Yeah, according to Jeremiah, that's what makes us feel like we've got a mouth full of ashes to eat! Jeremiah says God's people can humbly turn to Him again and find a renewed inner strength and hope. Please do encourage yourself and remind yourself if no one else will ...that God's great merciful love is created anew for you every single morning!
Seek Jesus first in the morning before everything else crowds out your time alone with Him. He can still meet all your needs! Are you not sure if you even have hope against a very long lonely eternity? You can be sure that you are in Christ today!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Lord really loves and wants to use you in spite of the junk you’re going through.

Please don't waste your sorrows.


I mean don't just hurt and do nothing about it - don't go through fiery trials and not be bettered by em. Let the Holy Spirit change you for Christ and His world-wide Cause. Don't drown your troubles in alcohol, in worldliness, in the occult, or in other substances. That's a complete waste. Just take your sorrows to the throne room of God in prayer, give yourself and them to Him, and then stay faithful trusting the Lord to work all things for the good—for the good of His Kingdom and for the good of those around you.

Solitude, listening to the Word, waiting reverently, pouring out your heart to the Lord during times like these so that He can direct you ..will all be tied to your future fruitfulness. There's a time to act, but first there's a time to stop and wait upon the Lord. As you do, God will make you more sensitive and compassionate towards those who are hurting as you have hurt. He can take the pain away. He might not every time, but He can indeed heal, restore, mend, awaken, revive and then minister to others through you. Will you get out of His way, yield as His willing tool, and allow His Spirit to flow through you to other people today? The Bible says we are to...    

"Be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share." ~Paul, 1 Timothy 6:18

I love what others-oriented, Francis of Assisi, prayed in this regard...

"Make me a channel of Your peace
Where there is hatred let me bring Your love;
Where there is injury, Your pardon, Lord
And where there's doubt the true faith in You.
O Master, grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand 
To be loved as to love with all my soul.
Make me a channel of Your peace
Where there is despair in life let me bring hope,
Where there is darkness only light
And where there's sadness ever joy...
Make me a channel of Your peace
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
In giving to all men that we receive
And in dying that we are born to eternal life."

Have you died to your own way, plans and purpose yet? Have you been born to eternal life? You can be today! Francis was a rich-kid-sinner from a very wealthy home, but he became truly rich in Christ as He forsook it all in obedience to Authority. God made him a zealous missionary if you will and this can happen with you as well! Sure, you remember the story, how Francis quit living for self and was made compassionate by the Compassionate One as he looked up and then looked out.. upon the poor who Jesus died to save. Christ made Him a fisher of men and women. Frances and all other true believers (of his time and even in ours..) never wanted to be pedestalized at all or for anyone to pray to them. That's not biblical even if some church encourages this. He knew that he was to pray to God through Jesus Name..alone. And his prayer life all started when he was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired from his guilt. The Spirit was convicting him royally. So he turned to Jesus and away from his sin habits.  

Question: Have you ever gone through an extremely rough time in your life, and then later on found that you felt a whole lot of compassion for people in that same situation ..that you didn't have inside you before? Yeah, pure love as you've never experienced before to that same level? Perhaps you once had cancer, but now feel deep empathy for those having to endure chemotherapy. I have not been there, but I have close friends who have explained this to me (Read all of Romans 8).

"Give me a heart sympathetic and tender, Jesus, like Thine, Lord, like Thine, touched by the needs that are surging around me, and filled with compassion divine." ~ Anon.

Hey, there are a lot of bad things I have not had to experience. I am still far from perfect too, but I have found that when I encounter a person living with an oppressive alcoholic, it really moves me inside. I want to act. I want to share words that will comfort and help. By the way.. is there any other type of alcoholic who uses (See Proverbs 20:1)? 

I have discovered that when I come across someone who has experienced religious manipulation and cruel spiritual abuse, I can really relate to them. I can relate to people who have been lied to and fleeced. In fact as I look back over the years, on all the times when people said I really ministered to them, it was often when I had encountered people who had gone through a similar struggle as I had experienced. The Word has answers that make a difference. This is why I rejoice to see Christians take their failures, their pains, their problems and turn them around according to the Word and give the devil a black eye with em so to speak. If you once encouraged people to get abortions, believer, then go witness to and counsel people thinking about that type of murder. If you've been to jail, forget not those behind bars.

Case in point: Chuck Wendell Colson is a primo example of this type of ministry after his time spent in prison for his own blunder. You remember how Chuck was commonly named as one of the Watergate Seven, but he was never charged with that specifically, or prosecuted for any crime at the Watergate break-in or cover-up. He did plead guilty to obstruction of justice in another case and served seven months of a one-to-three year sentence in the federal Maxwell Prison in Alabama.. as the first member of the Nixon administration to be incarcerated for Watergate-related charges.

But Chuck's sins didn't immobilize him into becoming an unproductive person in our society. He failed forwards. He learned from them and we can too! Chuck wasn't turned into some inverted depression-session, no, no, he wasn't stopped by personal shame. He advanced in spite of weakness in God's strength. He simply repented and trusted Christ in 1973.. and with Prison Fellowship, a ministry that he personally founded, Chuck did a wonderful work for others behind bars and still does to this day. All his guilt is gone and his story really encourages me as a saved sinner. It should encourage you as well.

Chuck of course loves the Lord more than "ministry" or anyone else, but he still constantly reaches out to prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families both as an act of service to Jesus Christ and as a contribution to restoring peace to our crime-ridden cities and communities endangered by sin.

"If we want to become the type of people that God can use anytime, anywhere, anyplace, we must offer ourselves, our homes, our kitchens, and our living rooms as outposts for the kingdom of God." ~ Franklin Graham

Do you view your life as your life? Where have you hurt God and others before? What sicknesses, sorrows, or failures, and consequences have you had to put up with? Do ya view your stuff as your stuff? Do you view your troubles as your troubles ..alone? Please stop that! Let Christ be Lord of all for He alone can use you as a blessing for others. Would you like to be born a second time like Chuck Colson was when he was regenerated?

Monday, January 17, 2011

What’s The Best Kind Of Preachin’ There Is?

I like some preaching, for sure, if the content and attitude are good...if the preacher is not puffed-up-religious but lives the life. 

How about you? 

You know of course how believers are to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger (I actually think for the most part that we should do more listening that speaking..) and how there's expositional preaching, longhorn preaching (especially here in Texas - two points and a lot of bull inbetween), topical preaching etc...and at this time we don't have time to discuss all aspects of hermineutics. Maybe in the near future we can talk about that stuff some more.  

But the deepest and best type is.. a Christ-exalting non-preachy kinda Bible preachin' for repentance.

How come I like it?

Well, God likes it. 

Besides, I just know that there indeed is a real caring God who can use this stuff to make positive changes, and even the greatest Change (inner regeneration) in people's lives matter who they are. He loves us all the same and has ordained that biblical preaching for repentance is the primary tool to be used.. where He will bless and "save" someone. All fishers who might feel compelled to use too much theatrics behind the pulpit or elsewhere, or shouting or mere exciting stories that grab people's attention, or even use personal options.. really need to know this. 

Got a friend that I deeply love. He is on my mind today. Yes, he loves to party and use substances (sometimes "fweed" false weed for a high, but in an attempt to use stuff that in some locations is legal). And he is on that train headed downwards, just like every alcoholic or user is riding downwards. I really don't look down on him at all, but feel very concerned for his welfare. I can relate to him in some ways. Not sure what He will do next. Been surprised by him many times and not one time was it a pleasant surprise to hear about. Biblical preaching courageously points to Jesus Christ as the ultimate Answer and that's what helped me most in a similar situation on the same train so to speak. But if someone spoke to me about this stuff back then when I was 17, I would have rejected this mumbo-jumbo-speak because people just don't know what "repentance" or other Christiany words mean. Instead they spoke to me about starting a relationship with Christ and bailing on habits that destroy me they should have. 

This friend of mine who I will call Brad (of course that's not his real name), has used his gifted ability to charm others for years, to leach on many families so that he wouldn't have to work or support himself. It's very sad how many years he has wasted. He is extremely cleaver and able to work to this day, but is now getting a bit older and finding it more difficult to work on, buffalo, or swindle new people. He blames everyone but himself (you know people like this), has basically left a path of destruction relationally in his wake and does not have many friends left least that I know of. My wife and I are praying hard for this friend and his friends so that he will simply start to learn and change so that he will quit hurting God, others, and himself. Of course God can change Brad fully, if he will first change his mind, but God won't make him repent or believe. You know this.  

It was interesting to hear what my third son had to say about this situation, who had been observing Brad for some time. And it was really true.. "He [Brad] just needs to hit bottom." Yes, the best thing you can do for an open-minded-user asking for a handout is not to give em money or any sell-able items that they can use to get a bottle or drungs of course, but to keep giving warmhearted, but firm Christlike love, the simple Good News that includes repentance and some clear advice (like my wife just happened to give out) that says, "Please go get a job and I'll pick you up on Sunday for church before we go for a meal together."

Brad is not yet an open-minded-user yet even if he feels he has been enlightened. So wish our friend would "hit bottom" before he breaks God's heart and all his loved one's hearts all over again. That's why we turn our wishes and hopes and sometimes worries into praying in faith.

Unbeliever, you might be some pre-repentant high-bottom top producing businessman who hasn't felt the pain of your own irresponsible behavior yet, or a low-bottom stubborn gutter-kisser who ran out of money in Vegas.. who is now feeling quite a bit of pain. Listen to God's Word in your pain. We all are sinners and my question for you is this: Have you reached your bottom yet? Where will the turning point be, if there will be one at all. Many who plan on the best piviot-point never seem to gain enough "want to turn" to actualy turn before family destruction happens. Are you ready to turn to what you haven't turned to thus far - Jesus Christ? 

He is the only One who can help you most! You can get off that lame train at any point and begin to profit from your mistakes, from your bad choices etc. That's what was told to this loser and it helped me more than words can express. Please don't put it off another day! Turn around to God.
Personally, I know that train brad rides on real well but no longer want this trip. Use to enjoy traveling on it a lot myself..aways downhill. Perhaps I can call it the party train.. but non-party-ers also ride it into Hell. The great thing about it is this.. anyone aboard this train can de-board it at any time while they are still sucking air. They can turn around and begin a journey in the opposite direction, but yes, that takes off loading ego (force yourself to eat some humble pie and you won't die). Be more than able to be honesty, just tell the truth to yourself and others.. before a holy God who cares 'bout ya.

Some people have the ability to be honest, but still are not. They need to simply make the decision to be honest, to call things what they really are, and to say that they need God's help.

I hope that you are also praying for someone or some people just like my dear friend, Brad, on the wrong train route. This world is just full of them and without any praying Christian witnesses around.. or without them repenting on their own.. their train ride will unfortunately end up going so bad on em that everything about the ride that's negative will be totally irreversible. Their time is limited. Our time to pray and reach them is limited.
Are you on that train?

Do you want to see your life set on the right track? Just admit it and quit it...whatever you are doing wrong according to the Bible. Hang a U-turn, repenting in faith and trusting Jesus Christ. Don't merely get moral. Be reborn inside according to the Word of God. Might sound kinda religious, but it really is not.
Because lives around us make the greatest change only after the thinking is first changed.. preaching for a person to repent is preaching for the greatest change. It is the deepest type of preaching there is.

Christian, please communicate God's non-boring Message in a non-boring way that it changes the way people will think today! That term "repentance" might sound fairly antiquated or take on some negative image for some people in their minds, but when people, with contrition and reverence, actually confess their sins to God and turn from their wrong doin's this "R" term will indeed become a most wonderful term to them as it is to me. Personally I try use other terms more though with the unchurched, or sentences that mean the same thing as "repentance" means, or I just try to define it as I use this Bible term, but I still preach repentance to please Christ, for decisions, and those souls aboard that downhill train. 

Repentance and faith in Jesus can happen in a moment of time if we have been faithfully sowing seeds of truth. Those ideas preached together are the main Message of the New Testament.

What did the New Testament preachers constantly preach on? Repentance from dead works—from sin and all sins. John the Baptizer preached, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near" (Matt. 3:2, niv).

Jesus preached, "Repent and believe in the Gospel"(Mk. 1:15, niv).

What did Christ command His disciples to preach to people on that train or apparently off that train? "So they went off and preached repentance" (Mk. 6:12, nab).

What did Pete communicate on the day of Pentecost? "Repent and be baptized every one of you" (Acts 2:38, nab). What was it that the Apostle John zealously preached in the Revelation? Repent.

Christian, daily we all talk or write or chat or text or speak to others about what's really on our hearts - your tongue is the bucket and your heart is the well and what's in the well is withdrawn by the bucket for others to hear - so with that in mind, what will you decide to preach as you follow Christ in biblically fishing for souls? 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Get On The Path To Soul-winning!

When was the last time that you prayed for red hot passion, for holy zeal, for real fervor as your mind is renewed with truth, and for the pure fruit of love in the Lord? When was it that you last asked the Lord to cleanse away all worldly thoughts from your mind and to refill you with His Holy Spirit for His purpose.. and to lead you to someone open and ready to hear His Gospel? When did you last ask Him to give you a harvest?

Not at all bad stuff to pray for huh. Perhaps, for the benefit of others, you'd like to add to that list of witnessing requests below in the comments section. 

I will ask today and expect! Won't you join me? Sure, He can make this stuff happen. He can make what seems way too hard, simple! He alone makes people born again spiritually, not any of us, but we each have a part to play if you will. God leaves no believer out.   

Yeah, this is what has been on my mind today. Where is the passion for souls that the Church once had and where are the prayers and tears for lost souls? Who of us wants to wave goodbye to if you will, and permanently part with some loved one or friend? Not me!!!!

How must God feel when they put Him off.. or when we as believers put Him and His task for us off. You know that He thinks about this a lot too and feels for each one so much more! That's why there is an urgency about what we are and do. We minister what we are and our time is limited.  

It deeply bugs me when I have prayed for and explained the Gospel as clear as I can to some dear loved one or friend, and still they cling to dead religion or beer or their live-in-lover, or their career etc.. as their main hope for life. But that's when I must pray some more.. fervently!

Sounds kinda antiquated to use such old terms huh, but you know what I mean. Read the book of Acts and see what the Church used to be like. And sure we are seeing God move in some churches today, where people are being won to Christ, but there really isn't that many.

Have we gotten over It already—I mean over loving the Word of God and loving the people that He still loves? I hope not. He was passionate enough to die for em and for us? He still has a purpose for our lives. I believe that when we get back to Jesus and the "book of Acts kind of principles," we'll see Jesus working and His "book of Acts kind of results."  

It's just too early for getting over It!

We will see God's anointing touching hearts like in the book of Acts once again. Always makes me want to examine where I'm at with the Lord when I read the Word. Never want Christ to become my secondary passion ever!  

"I have somewhat against you, you have left your first love" ~ Jesus, Revelation 2:4

Yeah, I'll just say it straight. The devil and his buds really want to distract us so we'll not make the main Thing, the main Thing any longer. He wants us doing anything other than repenting or talking to Jesus.. anything other than studying God's Word and talking to unbelievers about Jesus Christ. He and his chums want the Church to get inverted to where we are looking in, In, INWARDS, not outwards. He doesn't mind when we are consumed with church politics or church building maintenance as the main things, or even with self and self-help books.

If the enemy can only get us hurting each other a bit, or divided, or fighting with each other.. if he can get us out of prayer with each other and quibbling over minor non-essential issues just long enough, then guess what? More people will, by default, end up streaming right on into his Hell.

But our Lord wants better things for us. He wants us to look up to Him and then look out ..onto the white fields that are ready. He wants us to overcome, to consistently act appropriately in faith, until together we bring closure on His Great Commission. The emphasis isn't really on us "doing" so much, but it's on Him. He empowers us for service. Salvation is of the Lord and we obediently cooperate with Him in this work. I find it much of the time fun and exciting! You never know where His great adventure will take you next.

Personally, I can hardly wait until that last person chooses to turn to Christ and then gets born again spiritually. Can you imagine? We'll be outta here then.. caught away in one sixth of a nano second!   

Our Great Example, Jesus, once told His disciples, "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours" (Jn. 4:34, kjv). Christ is a Finisher.. will we finish along side with Him? He is a Fisher to this day. Fishers don't really like to turn the boat around and head for the dock ..with empty nets. He's a Harvester too.. the same as He was while down here on earth. A harvester typically must roll up his sleeves and do some work during harvest time, even when he feels like doing other things instead. When it's harvest time on a farm, every other type of work ceases until it's all been brought in. It takes priority ahead of other things. You know how Jesus alone can save the lost, but Christ won't save the lost alone. He calls all of us Christians to be involved in witnessing. We're not a sluff-off slacker brigade. We are an every-member-doin'-their-part kinda army if you will, but not ever going to war against each other.

"It is time to quit fighting and go fishing!" ~ Freddie Gage

You remember how Jesus commanded people to, "Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 4: 17). Well, then after that in verse 19, Jesus called people saying, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." Yeah, that was specifically to Simon called Peter, and to his brother Andrew at the Sea of Galilee. Has He called you yet? Jesus looked to the Father telling Him about those on His heart, He practiced bold soul-winning, and then He also taught others using Scripture how to do this in love. Let's do the same!

Listen, please forget not that pit from whence you came! Do you ever think about where God rescued you from.. what you were like, or has too much time passed by? Others are in that pit today.. lonely, empty, guilty and afraid to die. They might say that's not so, but it really is so. I'm a debtor owing them love and the Gospel. God being my Helper, I never want to forget the pit and how I felt there, or those who were there when I exited because of grace (see Psalm 40:2). God, please give us a burden for lost people.. that supernatural, deep heart-felt concern for them in their hopeless plight! We want to feel what You really feel for em, to think what you think.. to do what you'd do. We want Your perspective and attitude today. Let Your Kingdom come on earth with power and uber-splendid glory, just as it is in Heaven ..starting inside us. Fill our mouths with Your compassionate Words. Amen! Hey gang, let's continue to worship the Lord full-on and stay on His path to soul winning. Let's help our Christian friends stay red hot on God's fishing path as well! Let's stop and respectfully listen to, pray with.. even pleading for, and weep with unbelievers wherever we find em. Christ would do that. Let's trust God to passionately use us to edify people and to transform unbelievers from the inside out! Jesus said, "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters" (Lk. 11:23). Man, that's so in-or-out, so with-or-without, so either-or.. isn't it. He claimed to be God and the only Way for you to get into Heaven and He sure wasn't a liar or crazy. There's a lot to lose. Are you certain that you are in Christ ..and I don't mean in some religion or church.. gathering people to Him for His Kingdom? One more important question: Do you want to be sure that you know Christ, not just know about Him? ~kurt

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ouch.. a Free Trial? You Can Have it!

Big triumphs are born out of big troubles. 

God can do a whole lot, when you can't. Are you suffering some? Got some troubles or questions? Please put aside all unbelief and pray harder like you mean it. I mean, straining won't really help, but faith in the Bible God will. So get a hold of Jesus thee Solution today.

Are you going through some trials today? "Huh, trials? What are you even talking about?" Well, the lost have troubles that work against them, but true believers have trials that work for them as they cling to the Savior. The Bible tells believers in trials this: "Count it all joy.." (Jam. 1:2-4)! Can you believe that? Does it sound kinda weird? That's a very interesting admonition huh. How can God even put the word "joy" in the same context as trials? One day He'll wipe away all tears from our eyes, and I believe that means He literally will wipe em off our cheeks, but also give us His perspective. We will soon understand.  

Are you going through some severe testings and tribulation right now? Man, I hate how that feels don't you? So sorry about that.. if you are in that junk. It'll eventually be good if you don't quit, believer. I know a lot of people tell you that sorta thing, but it's still true. God has a plan to get you through it. Stay in the Word. Immerse yourself in Him.   

Know that God deeply cares, hasn't forgotten about you for one minute, and He also has a purpose in it. Are there some strong mature Christians near you that can give you some biblical counsel?

God might be preparing and training you today for what He will do in your life in the future. "Great Kurt! Just what I need to hear now. Yeah, what about right now?"

Well, you can still shine bright as you are open and honest about this stuff.. first with God and then with a few others. The Lord can comfort and encourage you in the here and now. I probably wouldn't share it with everyone, but it's wise to share this stuff with some.

There is no need to be embarrassed by the circumstances, or to hide it from trusted growing Christian friends who know how to intercede for people (who also have trials that they endure through..) or to hide it from your lost loved ones who might be able to do something real practical to help out. Relationships can be built for life during this type of stuff. Besides, You remember how God used unclean birds to feed and sustain Elijah. He was hungry and God was His Answer. God is your provider as well and will do providing for you however He pleases. So fix your gaze upon Jesus.

God might even answer your prayers and use you more in the middle of it all, as you are weak and He is strong. Sometimes He is waiting for us bullheaded or dull or carnal Christians to get out of His way, so that He can move and get some stuff done. Do you need to confess sins, and turn away from em?

Listen, you can indeed be full of joy in the here and now, not just after things settle down some.. as you are continually fellowshipping with and obeying Jesus Christ. He suffered a whole lot and knows what that's all about. He fully understands and is there for ya!

Here is the bottom line: Everyone is either progressing or regressing spiritually. Do the former and not the later, even if you experience trials. Are you currently advancing or retreating from God and His direct will for you? As a Christian, I am either growing or beginning to draw back ..and God really takes no pleasure in those who draw back. Remember how the wandering Jews in the wilderness wanted to go back to Egypt for some more onion breath? Bad idea! I am either gaining ground spiritually or losing ground spiritually. I choose to gain by God's grace and you can too! So what are you doing now? During times of fiery trial or outright persecution or acute pain, this can be a time of growth and victory where God is actually glorified. Let Him give you keen insight and mature you so you can help others in trials. Of course Satan is trying to work against you and me with his lies and deception (no need to fret about that or have extended conversations with such a dweeb..), as God is working for you and me ..and guess who decides what direction you and I will go in? Yup, you and I will choose - for we each must decide daily. It's the same with every believer. We decide by faith to enter then Kingdom and we decide to continue on with Christ when the storm clouds form. The Word says, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you" (Jam. 4:7-8). Its' your move! 

"The troubles that we face each day reveal how much we need the Lord; they test our faith and strength of will and help us then to trust God's Word." ~ D. De Haan

"Trouble, meet it as a friend, for you'll see a lot of it and you had better be on speaking terms with it." ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

James said, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (See chapter 1:2-4). Perfected, completed, and with no lack—isn't that what you want? Those who seek the Lord simply won't lack any good thing (Ps. 34:10). ~ F4S

Typically, the dog who barks the loudest is the one that got hit.

There are times when God doesn't want you wasting your kind words of truth with closed sinners in an effort to help them. Might sound crazy, but why force a Message upon those lost individuals who absolutely refuse to hear it? There is a time to add words into the mix, yes accurate words when we do.. and then again, God also wants us to preach loud wordless all the time. He wants you and me to live the life, to be His faithful witness all the time. 

Yes, it's important for each of us to hear God's Word and be led of the Spirit every day.. in being a witness and also verbally giving a witness out for Christ. 

In a context of "judging," Jesus Christ told His followers, "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces" (Matt. 7:6). Sheep, so to speak, feed on their master's pasture or perhaps on milk, not on each other or on dirty refuse. Spiritual dogs if you will are attracted to really filthy and gross things on the ground. They like what smells rotten. They like to feed on what shouldn't be fed upon. They like to bite people or other dogs. As it is with spiritual swine who will walk on what's priceless, holy things are of no value to em. 

"Though persecuting malice raged, yet the Gospel shone with resplendent brightness; and, firm as an impregnable rock, withstood the attacks of its boisterous enemies with success." ~ John Foxe

Now with this stuff in mind, I'm sure that you have heard the nonbeliever's favorite verse before, right? I think there have been some occasions where you've heard it, yeah, if you've ever taken some time to share the Good News and your love for Christ with other people in need of Him. Sure, the verse is Matthew 7:1 that says: "Judge not, lest you be judged." In the nonbeliever's mind, quoting this verse is a way of defending what he or she loves doing so that you as a real Christian don't bother him or her with the truth that convicts. Some don't want to be confused etc.. by the facts. They don't want to take responsibility for their wrong-doin's or have to change. Or.. maybe the one who quotes this verse might want to ward off any smug, holier-than-thou, arrogant type of carnal believer who tends to be a finger-pointer and very accusatory. Have you met people like that? 

Question: Ever have someone in a crowd hatefully go off on you making a public scene, simply because they over-heard you share some basic truth of God's love with a friend? I sure have before and I don't witness as often as I wish I would. Hey gang, you know what they say: If you throw a brick into a pack of dogs, typically the one who barks the loudest is the one that got hit! (Not that any of us want to throw stuff at animals ever, but you know what I mean here). Perhaps the person that went ballistic-berserk towards you is the one that got hit by the Spirit's to speak. 

OK, maybe there's a better analogy to use, dunno, but when the Holy Spirit is working on someone to lovingly bring them to repentance and faith, because they have been prayed for, or witnessed to before.. well, the spiritual battle that is going on for his or her soul can get pretty fierce. It can get more intense the closer they get to making a decision for Jesus. And Mr Lu-Cifer really doesn't want to loose any of his own that he has in his slimy grasp, and he will all-out fight for them so that they can stay in unseen chains and one day be with him forever in Hell. 

"Come on, Kurt! Give me a stinking break! Have you been watching too much Si-fi lately?" No, for real. Why would I pull your leg? That's why we trust and obey Jesus and fight the good fight of faith, but not be angry at or strive with people. People are worth fighting for..on our knees. There is a lot at stake and sometimes a lot going on around us in the unseen world if you will. I'm not saying I see winged bat-like creatures breathing out fire or flying saucers. No way! But using discernment doesn't have to get weird and religious. I don't have to get all sensational about it. Unbelievers have great value - each one of them just like you do. And if you don't fight for em so to speak, someone else will. 

A good rendering or interpretation of Matthew 7:1 is that we, as born again believers, are not to cast the final Judgment. It's simply not our place to do that. We certainly can't see the inner heart and spiritual condition of a person. We are not called to attempt to judge a person's motives, for only God knows their motives. Yes, Jesus made it very clear, "Don't condemn, lest you be condemned." Only God can see and determine a person's eternal destination. He alone knows the future and it would be utterly prideful for any minister to say that they could to the same in this regard. 

We can discern, notice behavior or in some cases view a record. We don't want to judge according to the flesh, but we can judge their message too. And some people that we come across, do love their dark sinful "party habits" and selfish pleasures more than they want imputed righteousness free from God, so they just get angry at us. They erroneously try to tell us that it is wrong not to keep your faith to yourself. Some already feel very angry at God, believing that He has let them down. It's a cruel world we live in and some want to blame Him without looking at their own wrongs. I've known people like this who had a relative die at a young age. I've also known some who were ill-treated by a pastor, a priest.. a so called believer claiming to be a representative for God.. who was allegedly mean or literally just weird.
Yes, so many hungry believers today are aggressively going after the sensational and listen! That can make any Christian weird. If a sin-loving worldly unbeliever can get you, believer, to blow up in the flesh, or get distracted away from the main thing, or off into reacting and attacking back, then somehow that behavior of yours will make them feel better inside. A pure, joyous, childlike servant attitude in a forgiven person will convicts sinners of what they don't enjoy relationally ..being outside of a right relationship with God. They might feel that if you fly off the handle, blowing up emotionally, attitudinally, or with wrong words, that this kind of thing will justify them in their darkness.

Please decide not to react in the flesh, but to respond in the Spirit of love. By faith rest in the Lord and choose to be an overcomer full of God's Spirit and Word. Opt to be victorious today, not needing to prove a thing to anybody. The unseen spiritual battle is ultimately the Lord's.
The Bible says, "For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the Name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God" (Jn. 3:16-21, nkjv). 

Perhaps you are now ready to turn around to God.. to let go of your idols, sins and just come to Christ as you are so that He will change you. Do you want to change and get things rightPerhaps you already are a Christian? Just keep on trusting the Lord for boldness so that you will be and give a good witness out for Jesus Christ where He leads you.. no matter how many dogs or people will bark or bite you. I can't promise that you'll never get snapped at, but it will all be worth it later on when the Lord rewards you for obeying Him! When you feel like biting back, bite your tongue and seek the Lord.