Encouragement, Evangelism, leadership, life, purpose

It’s Time To Wake The Neighbors

If your house is on fire, what do you do?

Do you hope someone will come along and get everyone out, or do you work like mad to wake the people up and get them out of the inferno? Well, the house is on fire, and you are right here. It’s time to start working like mad to wake the people up and save them from the coming flames.

In diverse places around the world, Christians are under attack. Entire villages have been destroyed in Nigeria, just in the past couple of weeks, with hundreds of people murdered because they claimed the name of Jesus Christ. It’s against the law to own a Bible in dozens of countries. Christian churches are targets of government harassment and physical attack in more places than we can keep up with. In the United States, there is a concerted effort to have crosses, prayer, and expressions of faith removed from public view and exercise.

Now, more than ever in our lifetimes, we need leaders who will stand in the gap in prayer and speak the truth of Christ into this generation.

But, who will these leaders be? Where will they come from and where will they lead?

We, brothers and sisters in Christ, are the leaders this generation and this time requires. Jesus said so Himself. He told His followers to “Go!” He told them to, “Make disciples of all nations.”

He was talking to you and me. He was telling us that the house is on fire and we are the chosen to show the people the way out.

One of our biggest mistakes, as believers, is to think that only certain people are responsible for sharing the gospel. The message of Christ is not just for the trained or the ordained to tell. It is for the rescued and redeemed to proclaim. That’s us. All of us who have been washed in the Blood should be shouting it from the housetops. Jesus died for our sin, was raised back to life, and will be coming back to take us with Him. It is time, right now, to be making sure our families and friends and coworkers and neighbors are ready to go.

It’s time to show Jesus to our people. It’s time to share the Good News of Christ wherever we are and in whatever we do.

It is time to love and serve and give like Jesus.

It is time to wake up, you sleeper, and invite the neighbors to the wedding feast. There is no time to waste and no excuse that will cover our failure to act.

We have brothers and sisters literally dying for Christ, how do we dare keep the miracle of Christ quiet, especially when we are in no danger for the sharing?

YOUR MISSION:

  1. Pray for the people in your circles of home, work, and community to be open to the urging of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.
  2. Pray for the Holy Spirit to arrange opportunities and openings for you to share Christ.
  3. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the words you need and answers to questions that may be asked so you will be ready when the openings occur.
  4. Cultivate the fruit of the Spirit by keeping a close relationship with Christ.
  5. Love the people God has placed in your path, without judgment or condemnation.
  6. Live out the joy that Jesus came to give everyone who follows Him.
  7. Encourage others with words filled with life and love.
  8. Forgive always as you have been forgiven.
  9. Follow the example of Christ and establish relationships with others in order to share life together, encouraging and edifying one another.
  10. Share the Good News sincerely, kindly, joyfully, gratefully, compassionately, and peacefully with all who have ears to hear.

Brothers and sisters, there is work to be done and not enough workers to do it. Jesus is coming soon. Plant the seeds now, while it is still daytime, and when He returns He will gather a great harvest of souls. Surely there is no one we want to leave behind.

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, the send out workers into His harvest field.

Matthew 9: 35-38, NIV



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Is God Love?

What do you think of when you hear the phrase, “Love never fails?”

Does it bring to mind some previous bad experience with someone who professed love but didn’t show it? Is it an encouraging thought for you or does it seem like some lame greeting card blurb that has no real truth?

How we take this message has more to do with our own perception of love than it does with the validity of the point. We can take this at face value and attempt to understand it in light of our own human experience, in which case it could be uplifting or sarcastic and hollow, or we could find the Truth in it.

Let’s look at this another way. What if we edited the phrase a bit and made it, “God’s love never fails.” Would that make a difference? Though earthly love can be awesome or painful depending on your experience, God’s love is perfect and pure and precious. God’s love is the standard by which all other behaviors claiming to be love should be judged. With God, love isn’t just a word tossed out on occasion like treats given in exchange for some preferred behavior. It is real and complete and life changing.

We’ve all heard that “God is love,” but have you thought about what that means? Often this fact is used to excuse false belief. Since God is love, He wouldn’t really make Jesus the only way to heaven, it isn’t inclusive. If I am a “good” person, a God who is love, will certainly overlook my sometimes bad behavior. God must not be real, because if He really was love, then there would be no disaster or disease or death. In truth, we have taken the prime attribute of God and made it lazy and cheap and tawdry in order to justify any number of temporary things.

God is eternal. He is unchanging. He is the only standard of right and wrong. His character is constant. His truth is rock solid. He has been the same for every generation since the creation and will be the same for every generation to come. We are the ones who waiver and waffle and wander. That’s on us, not Him. He gives us all we will ever need and He knows our need before we do. He withholds no good thing.

Because of His great love for us, He arranged a way to exchange our earthly nature for an eternal relationship. Because He loves us, He made this arrangement voluntary for us. He allows us to refuse. He doesn’t force us to join Him. We have the right to rebel. If we tell Him to get out of our lives, He will step away. His love for us doesn’t end there, though. Because God can’t abide sin, He knows where our rebellion will lead us and that isn’t okay with Him.

Sometimes He may allow bad things to happen so we see what horrors await us if we die in our waywardness. It is not in His plan for anyone to die without Christ, the only way to eternity, so He allows things that will get our attention.

If we won’t open the door to the knock, there may be a phone call that wakes us up in the dead of night. It is impossible to know how many difficulties were allowed just so one lost sheep could be found. Sometimes, in the storm, God is asking, “Can you hear Me now?” because He Is love. He is completely, utterly devoted to us in pure love that neither lessens nor ends.

We change. Our interpretations of what love is change. Culture and moods change. Thank God His love will always be the same.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

–1 John 4:7-10, NIV

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The One Way Street

Respect is a two way street.

We’ve all heard that before.

There’s a good chance most of us have said it before.

If we really think about it, though, this only comes to mind when we want to give ourselves an excuse for disrespecting someone we feel has first disrespected us. We too quickly take any perceived slight as an open invitation to lash out or hold a grudge against the offender. We speak harshly to them or give them the cold shoulder. We grumble and gossip about them and all the while feel justified because they treated us badly. In our all consuming feelings of insult, we may take to social media to extol our victimhood and show the world how we have been so shabbily treated. This would probably be about the time we end up telling anyone who will listen that, “Respect is a two way street, you know.”

The problem here is that this statement is wrong.

Respect is not a two way street. Sometimes, respect is a one way street with no jay walking allowed.

If we only respect those people who respect us, what have we done? What has made us different from the rest of the world? Where is Jesus in that? The answers to these questions are…nothing and nowhere.

Here’s a news flash: Jesus never asked for respect. Honestly, since He knew ahead of time what His mission was, that means He also knew ahead of time that He would not get respect. He came to this earth, on purpose, to be disrespected. He came to save the world with His life. If anyone, ever, had the right to feel victimized, it was surely Jesus. He gave up EVERYTHING for the very people who spit on Him, beat Him, and murdered Him. He did this for me and you and everyone else on earth. He didn’t do it for respect and He never played the victim.

If He never told us to respect Him, what did He tell us to do?

He told us to love one another. He told us to love God. He asked us to feed His sheep. He didn’t tell us to retaliate or hate or destroy. I’m pretty sure He doesn’t approve of us taking to Facebook to bash someone who spoke rudely to us.

He asked us to go. He told us to go to the ends of the earth to share the Good News with all the world. That includes the place where we are right now. Wherever we find ourselves as leaders, we are to share the Good News, both by our words and our deeds. As leaders, it is not alright to only respect those who respect us first, and then only for as long as they never slight us. We are to respect everyone, always, in every situation. That doesn’t mean I can’t call you out if you’ve done something wrong. Jesus did that. It does mean, though, that I must do it professionally and respectfully. I can look someone in the eye and tell them that they are not meeting the expectation of the job without being mean or hateful or aggressive. This may be really hard sometimes, but not so much if you consider the disrespect our souls cost Jesus on the cross.

Oh, and one more thing Jesus did say.

He told us to turn the other cheek.

Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.”

John 15:20-21, NIV