Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Homosexuality and What It Means to Christians

Now, this is a serious topic up for debate. My feelings on this is based on  my understanding of God. People always use the Bible to support being anti-gay, but aside from one verse in Leviticus stating that a man shall not lie with a man as he does a woman, there is no Scriptural support for all the anti-gay stuff going around. Sure, the Bible mentions homosexuality in it as a sin, as being sexually immoral. But, I feel two things are going on here: 1 the Bible was written by men, most men think the act of two men having sex is quite nasty, but they love watching two women do it, which is why gay women is never specifically mentioned, unlike gay men. 2. The people who translated the Bible didn't quite know what they were doing and of course people who work on translating, to get better and better translations out there, are not going to admit that certain things are wrong for fear of what it may start. These are merely my thoughts. Don't take it as fact. Ok, well you can take part of one as fact, the Bible was written by men. 
Ok, now let's get to what homosexuality means to Christians. It doesn't mean a thing. Jesus spent time with gay people, you can believe that. They would not have been in with the normal groups of people they would have been in with the people Jesus spent time around. God made gay people. Being gay isn't a choice, choosing to act on being gay is a choice. One's sexual preference is not one's own choice. One is born with one's sexual preference. However, it might take years for a person to even realize he/she is not straight. I was in my mid 20's when I realized I'm bisexual. Yes, that's the truth, I'm bisexual. This is why I feel men put their own thoughts and feelings in the Bible about homosexuality. The ancient Hebrews were a patriarchal society. Men were in charge. Women were no more than property and had little to no rights. Don't get me wrong, I firmly believe God inspired the Bible, however, men still wrote it, and I just can't believe everything in it comes from God. It doesn't agree with my understanding of God. Now, let me clear this up a little here. My understanding of God comes from the Bible, but it also comes from my relationship with Him. Yahweh is a great and powerful God. He loves us, protects us, listens to our prayers. Grieves with us, for us. He is ever present in our lives. God is amazing, He's beyond that actually. There isn't a single word known to man past or present that can describe Him. Because of all that He is, I can't believe that He would ever turn away from homosexuals, bisexuals, or any other person, especially when they dedicate themselves to Him. I have gay friends. I have quite a few gay friends, some Christians and some not. But, it doesn't matter. God made them, and He loves them. He expects us to be the same way. He's not saying we have to agree with their choice of lifestyle, it does go against the grand design, but there are a lot of sexual acts we partake in that go against the grand design. Oral sex for example, what good does it do, if we swallow the semen instead of the man putting it where it is supposed to go? Not a bit of good. I mean in the grand design of things. It isn't exactly going to get a man's wife pregnant going into the stomach instead of the uterus. Now I could sit here and write about sex and marriage and all that, but I'll save that for another time. 
When we decide to pick a side in this debate, we have to do so knowing the side we pick is the right one for us. But, here's the thing: There shouldn't be a side to have decide on. We should want all people to be happy and marry who they want to marry and raise kids with who they want to raise kids with. Being raised by gay people is not going to turn kids gay. Look at all the people who were raised by straight parents and are gay. That logic holds no grounds. Ask God how He feels about gay people, and talk to Him about how you feel and pray He guide you where you need to be. I support gay peoples' rights. They should be entitled to the same ones we have. Let's not allow religion, man's religion to get in our way. Let's gain an understanding of God's religion and let God, not man tell us what to do. A preacher is a man, he'll tell you what he was taught to tell you, not what God wants to tell you. It's sad but true. I am no longer a part of man's religion, but God's. I listen to God, not man. God tells me, we need to love Homosexuals. He tells me He loves them just as much as the rest of us. He welcomes them into His Kingdom when they choose to be redeemed just as much as the rest of us. It's not our place to judge, only God's. If we want to pass judgement on a person because of who they choose to love, then there's a problem. What makes this any different than the Civil Rights Movement? Nothing except it's about gay people and not just black people. Gay people come in all shapes, sizes, and skin color. God's children do too. There's no difference there at all.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

False Prophets of Today Series-Jehovah's Witnesses' Former Presidents and Governing Body

          What comes to mind when you hear the words “false prophet?” To me I see some man talking about Jesus and God and the impending doom we are all going to experience before too long. In the Bible there is mention of several false prophets, especially during the Old Testament times. We’ll look at a few of these, just to get an understanding of things when it comes to false prophets, and then we’ll explain how the leaders of Jehovah’s Witnesses are false prophets and then we’ll work our way on how to tell if someone is a false prophet. I am sure it will be pretty easy to tell.
          In 1 Kings chapter 18, Elijah mentions meeting the false prophets who served false gods. Elijah issued a test to find out if Baal, the god of the Canaanites, or God was the true God. In most Bible translations, God’s name has been removed, but I think this will be a rare occasion where I mention so we don’t get confused, Jehovah is God’s name, so you will see it a lot especially since it makes up half of the name Jehovah’s Witnesses.
          Elijah had two bulls brought and prepared as an offering. Neither was to be set on fire, however. The test was not a test for Jehovah or Ball, but merely a way for Elijah to show that those who worshiped Baal were not worshiping the one true God. Elijah let the Baal worshipers call on him first. From the moment the bull was prepared until midday, Baal had still not set the bull on fire, despite the pleas of his worshipers. Elijah told them to shout louder, for he must have been sleeping or something. The people did, and they also cut themselves so that blood flowed from their bodies.
It was well into the afternoon before Elijah had them stop and watch as he began his little ceremony. He built an altar to Jehovah using twelve stones, each of which represented the twelve Tribes. He then dug a trench around it, arranged some wood, and cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. He told the people to bring him four large jars of water to disperse the water all over the bull and wood. He had them do this three times. Elijah stepped forward and prayed. He asked Jehovah to please send fire down on the offering, so that the people would know who God is and turn from the false prophets and the false god. Jehovah answered his prayer. All the people saw this, and began to worship Jehovah right there. Elijah ordered the false prophets to be seized, and then taken out to the Kishon Valley and killed.
The false prophets knew that their god was not a real god. They purposefully led the Israelites astray. This is how false prophets work. In Deuteronomy chapter 13, we are given two tests to tell if someone is a false prophet or true prophet. If a person tells you or miraculous signs and even gives them to you, but tells you to follow someone other than Jehovah, then they are a false prophet. Jeremiah talks about what God will do to false prophets in Jeremiah chapter 23. There are four warning signs we need to be on the watch for everyday in regards to false prophets. The first sign is that they of course appear to speak God’s message, but they do not live according to his principles. The second is that they water down God’s message in order to make it more palatable. The third is they encourage their listeners, often subtly, to disobey God. And the final one is they tend to be arrogant and self-serving, appealing to the desires of their audience instead of being true to God’s Word.
In Jeremiah what happens to these false prophets is quite just. God told Jeremiah that their path will become slippery and they will be banished into darkness, where they will fall. Disaster will be upon them in the year God punishes them. God says that they will also eat bitter bread and drink poisoned water. Such is only fitting for those who purposely lead others away from God who truly want to serve him. But is it fitting for those who truly believe that what they say is true, even if it isn’t? God is just, and anyone teaching false teachings and false prophesying deserves just punishment. From a human view on it, no it is absolutely not a fitting a punishment.
There are many other places in the Bible where it mentions false prophets, and it’s very clear that even today they are ever present. The founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses, or as they were called back before they had a name, Bible Students, believed truly that the pyramids of Giza held significant power to unlocking the secrets of the Bible. Well, there aren’t any secrets to the Bible, it’s pretty straight forward on everything, and the pyramids were used as a tomb for dead pharaohs. This in itself does not make Charles Taze Russell, a false prophet. What makes him a false prophet is that in the 1870’s he predicted two things. The first, in 1874, he claimed that Jesus had returned to rule of the kingdom, but was invisible. That right there goes against what the Bible tells us about Jesus’ Second Coming. Revelation 1:7 says, Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. (NIV Translation) We will clearly see Jesus when he returns. He will not be invisible. The second thing he predicted; was the time in which the battle at Armageddon would occur. He predicted that it would occur.
He was not the only one in the organization, or as it would eventually be called, The Watchtower and Bible Tract Society, or Jehovah’s Witnesses, to make such predictions. The president to replace him when he died, "Judge" Joseph Rutherford, also predicted the end of the world as we know it. He predicted that the second to final battle would occur in 1918. I say second to last, because after Christ’s thousand year reign, Satan, who was thrown into a fiery prison after losing this coming battle, will be allowed to roam once more and show God who truly his eternal servants are. Eventually, the only people left after this, will be true worshipers of God. He believed that the year 1914, was when Jesus would return, again invisibly, and that World War I was the war to usher in the new kingdom. We can clearly see that was faulty. You are here, and I am here. We should clearly not have ever been born if the end of World War I was going to bring about the end of the known world.
I am not sure if the last Armageddon prediction was made by a president or the Governing Body. I am not real sure when they went from a single person in charge to a group, of what else, but men. Women do not have much say in things, and they are very limited in their involvement in the group. But, that has already been talked about, so if you want to learn more about that, I believe the Title of the “talk” we’ll call it has the word women in it. I am not quite sure what I called it completely.
Anyway, it is the late sixties, early seventies, and the big mission is to tell potential converts about the end of the world coming in 1975. Again, we wouldn’t be here if that had happened. Well, I know that at least I wouldn’t be. I am assuming everyone reading this is from the eighties, and not earlier, or later. It is quite possible for someone to be reading this and being born before 1975. That is not only three failed prophesies about Armageddon, but two failed about Jesus’ return. There is mention in Mark chapter 13: For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform miracles to deceive the elect-if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you ahead of time. (Verses 22-23, NIV Translation) Later, Jesus says, “At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. (Verses 26-27 NIV Translation) Jesus warns us to look out for those who come in his name, but do not bring truth, what they prophesy does not come to pass. Jesus also tells us how he will return when he does. Not only, will he return on clouds, but his angels will be gathering the harvest of his true followers.
When thinking about people claiming to be prophets, though some prophets are televangelists, but this fits them as well, we must ask ourselves some questions to determine if they are true servants of God, or false teachers. 1. Have their predictions come true, or do they revise them to fit what has happened? We can say no to the first part in regards to the leaders of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and yes to the second. 2. Does any teaching utilize a small section of the Bible to the neglect the whole? Well, I can answer this, but I won’t write my answer here, not because I am afraid of anything, but because I haven’t shown any proof to show yes or no to this question. It isn’t hard to find research to get an accurate yes or no answer. I love reading the testimonies of former Witnesses, they are so inspiring. A lot of them have come to Christ, and now have ministries of their own, usually geared towards helping other former Witnesses or to reach current ones, or both. There are tons of websites to go to that show their beliefs and use of the Bible, to help you with an answer. I encourage you to do your own research; there are several holes in this. I am focusing on key points about Armageddon and Jesus’ return, so there are a lot of other things that they have said or do say that I have left out. 3. Does the teaching contradict what the Bible says about God? Refer to question 2 on this one. Again, I have presented information on that, at least not at this time. 4. Are the practices meant to glorify the teacher or Christ? Nothing they do is to glorify Christ, it is all done, the average Witness thinks, in the name of God. Jesus is not as important to them as he is to us. They do not view him as we do, and can be seen from attending a meeting, reading their material, and doing research. However, I feel that unknowing to the average Witness; it is all done to glorify the leaders. And 5. Do the teachings promote hostility toward other Christians? Again, not something that we talked about, but while they do not promote hostility towards Christians (they aren’t Christians though they like to think so), they do get that reaction from Christians. We are often hostile towards them. We need to show them what they try to show us, love. I suggest you do your own research on the Jehovah’s Witnesses for yourself and see from your own research the answers to these questions.
All of the facts stated towards regard to Jehovah’s Witnesses Presidents and the Governing Body and their false predictions not only about the battle at Armageddon, but also Jesus’ return have come from the testimonies of former Witnesses who felt they weren’t getting what they needed from the society, and started studying and reading the Bible as it is meant to be, and not through publications written by a group of men who don’t even really know what they are talking about. These men have no formal religious training, only the training provided through the society, and it lacks in a lot. I have spent a lot of time with the average Witness, and they fully and completely believe the lies that they either were raised to believe or came into through interaction with average Witnesses. Trust me, the average Witness has no knowledge of what is presented before you here in this document. They only know about Jesus’ invisible rule starting in 1914, which as we saw goes against what it says in the Bible about his return to rule. If you ever get a copy of their Bible, read it side by side with your translation, you will see how little of Jesus is in it, and how differently it reads from yours. It is written to get their beliefs across and ingrained into the Witness’s mind. Witnesses do not get to think for themselves as Christians do when it comes to finding answers to religion questions, and many members have been “disfellowshiped” over asking questions about teachings over the years. I do not know if it is still that way today. The society has made many policy changes over the years, which of course, shows the false prophet, no true Christian religion or I guess denomination would ever change their policies or teachings over the years. A church within the denomination might, but not a whole denomination. Here is a good website to begin your research http://www.towerwatch.com. It’s a former Witness’s ministry site, and he has a lot of Witness things on there, including several of the testimonies I got my information from. I encourage you to check it out. It is a great place to begin that research.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Rare Note Lifting the Witnesses in Praise

Ok so I have to tell everyone what makes the Witnesses better than us Christians. It's pretty easy to see that as Christians, very few, very few of us live up to the Christian standard, and even take being a Christian seriously. Let's face it, the majority of us spend our time criticizing other Christians, or talking bad about the other denominations, or here is something seriously twisted spreading lies amongst the congregation about things such as the Catholic church and the King James Version of the Bible, or that Jesus started a religion, or a number of them. I am going to clear some of that up right now: Catholicism did not exist during the time of Jesus, and they did not try to convert him. Catholicism is a descendent of the original church founded by Christ's followers. Jesus did not start any religion. He did not necessarily encourage his disciples to start one either. He sent the message of how we are truly supposed to live our lives and not live them in the manner of the Pharisees and the teachings of the other religious leaders of the time. The church was to make sure that the truth of God and how he wants us to serve got out and then also make sure people knew who Jesus is. The King James Version of the Bible did not exist during Jesus' time, nor did he use it. I am sure that he would not have used it even if it had. Jesus did not need scriptures to read from, he helped inspire some of them. He knew exactly what he had to do when he came to earth, so you can be he knew every word of the Scriptures. Here is the big shocker for some of you: there was no Bible as we know it in Jesus' time. The only thing that the people had was scrolls. Yep, scrolls of parchment on which the books were written. Also, not everyone even could read and Bibles were not printed for thousands of years after Moses' death. And, there is no wrong or right translation of the Bible. Grab any Bible translation that is different from yours and open it and explore just how much it says the exact same thing as yours. This includes the Witnesses' translation. There are two things I have noticed about the Witnesses' Bible. The first is that they do not translate the word sheol, they leave it as that, most of our Bibles actually tell you the translation, which is grave. Also, given their disbelief of Hell, and the fact that Jesus preached about that more than anything, they do not even have hell in their Bible. They have some funny g word where it should be. Ok here's a third difference, and while not a big deal it drives me nuts. They do not call the Old Testament, the Old Testament; it is the Hebrew Scriptures. The New Testament is called the Christian Greek Scriptures. This is not really a big deal, but it drives me nuts, because it says that the two Testaments are not connected. It also divides the Jewish people. Jewish Christians were still Jews. They may have written the New Testament books in Greek as opposed to Hebrew, but then they were trying to reach the Gentiles, non-Jews, just as much as the Jewish people, so it made sense to use a common language among the people. Both Testaments are important, and are both part of the same story God is telling us. God is telling us how much he loves us. God is telling us how much we mean to him. How much it pains him to see us disobey him and choose to ignore him instead of getting to know him. 
Well, now it is time to give the praise I said I was going to give the Witnesses, it is related to what I said about us. Ok, so here it goes, they do not treat anyone despite their religion the way we treat not only other Christians, but other religions. They do do their own negative saying against us, but they do so through their materials and study. A lot of people give comments about things and I sit there and think how is them telling like minded people the bad things about Christians any different then what I do on here? It's not, and also off topic a little. Ok, so anyway, they pretty much treat people respectfully and kindly and everything, they try  not to gossip or spread lies and all that stuff. How many of you just can't wait to tell people the juicy stuff you heard about your neighbor or the preacher or preacher's wife? Worship leader? Yeah you know you do. Well, that isn't Christian, it isn't even right no matter if you are Christian or not. There is a lot we all need to figure out if we want to go to heaven. Faith and obedient service is required to go to heaven, not just belief in the saving power of Jesus. I know it is hard to change into the good Christian, but we can do it. We need to raise our children to be that way so they do not have to learn to change behavior. We all could use an eye opener, and I think God is using the Witnesses in my life to show me how he wants us all to be. They are united, we are divided. We are divided through our sins (mistakes), beliefs, lifestyles, way we talk, dress, treat people, etc. The list just goes on. We need to be united. I was going to work on a sermon on love, but I think it is best if I work on one based on Acts 15. We need to learn how despite the diversity of the early church, they still managed to be unified. They all had different beliefs, spoke different languages, were raised in different religions, etc. Yet, they manage to remain united through Christ, which is exactly what are not. We are divided, and it is because of our division and our lack of concern for people who are different from us that we fail to show people why they need Jesus and to serve and love God. We need to take some tips from the Witnesses and mimic their behavior and attitudes.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


We all experience fear. The thing is God does not want us to be afraid. We do not need to be afraid of anything when we have faith in him. Joyce Meyer said in her ministry that Fear is an instrument used by Satan. She also gave a life point that we should make a mantra for ourselves. The Joyce Meyer life point is: I will not fear because God is with me!
            I struggle severely with fear. I can’t drive a car because I have a fear of being in an accident while driving. I won’t do a lot of things by myself, or will have someone else do them for me because I am afraid to do them for myself. My mom always has to call the doctor or something for me because I am too afraid to talk to anyone on the phone I do not know. The thing is I know the people who work at the doctors’ offices. I am afraid to ride on a train or fly on an airplane. I absolutely hate meeting new people, but being a servant of God, it is really important to meet new people. That is how you witness to people and encourage them to follow Christ and serve God. Fear runs my life in some areas. It is very difficult to remember that God is with me and won’t let anything happen to me that he doesn’t want to happen to me. We all need to learn that fear prevents us from doing things, and sometimes that means we don’t do certain things that God wants us to do. Nothing short of death should keep us from doing the work God has given us to do.
Genesis 15:1 After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”
            Why would Abram be afraid? Perhaps he feared revenge from the kings he had just defeated (14:15). Gad gave him two good reasons, however to not be afraid. He told him he would protect him, he was his shield, and he promised to be Abram’s “very great reward.” When we fear what lies ahead, we must remember that God will stay with us through difficult times and he has promised us great blessings.
Genesis 46:3-4 3 “I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you until a great nation there. 4 I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.”
            God told Jacob not to fear going into Egypt, because he would always be there with him and his people. God makes that same promise to us today. When he gives us something to do, he is not going to give it to us and then abandon us. No, God is going to be there with us to guide us and help us whenever we need it.
Job 28:28
            And he said to man, “The fear of the Lord-that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.”
            “The fear of the Lord” is a key theme in the wisdom literature (Job through Song of Songs). It means to have respect and reverence for God and to be in awe of his majesty and power. This is the starting point to finding real wisdom. In the case of fearing God, you do not really fear him, you are holding respect and reverence for him. So, fearing God is not actual fear, it is respect.
Psalm 27:1 The Lord (Jehovah) is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear?
            This reinforces my point about that we all feel fear. But, with God’s help we can conquer our fears. To beat our fear, we must remember what David said, The Lord is my light and salvation.
Exodus 14: 10-11 10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?”
            The Israelites were terrified of everything. There are many examples of the Israelites acting like this with Moses. They were terrified of what awaited them outside of Egypt. They didn’t have faith in what Moses had said and they didn’t have faith in God, who had sent Moses. God is never going to send us out somewhere without protecting us. God is never going to ask something of us if He doesn’t think we can do it. God was delivering his chosen people and instead of trusting him, they were afraid and wanted to return to Egypt. This is one of the many; many times the Israelites didn’t have faith in God. It took them forty years to complete an eleven day journey. Why did it take so long? Well, because they were afraid. That wasn’t the only reason, but it played a huge part in all the other reasons.
Exodus 20:20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid, God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
            See, here again the Israelites are afraid. In the previous before this, God has come to speak with them freely, but they stay away, fearful that they will die. Moses tries to convince them that there is nothing to fear, but they do not believe it. We should of course fear God, but the fear we should feel is one of awe and respect. That is a very different fear than what the Israelites felt during their time in the desert, or wilderness as it is called a lot in the Bible. The fear they felt was the fear we often feel when in a situation we are uncomfortable with. As I said before, I am afraid of the dark, among other things, but we’ll just use this as an example. When I am in the dark, I start getting a little freaked out. I am constantly looking around me to make sure I am alone, or that the people I am with are still there. When a person is afraid, they act a certain way. We all act differently, but we all feel the same. I am sure that if any of us had been in the situation the Israelites were in we’d be fearful of God the same way they were.
Deuteronomy 2:25 This very day I will begin to put the terror and fear of you on all the nations under heaven. They will hear reports of you and tremble and be in anguish because of you.
            God is telling Moses that he will make the nations fear the Israelites. The Israelite army was not intimidating by any means, but when they fought, God was with them and he often helped them win any battle. Fighting God would make any nation tremble. God’s awesome and mighty power is not a power to reckon with. Of course, these nations did not know nor believe in God, so they had no way of knowing for sure that God was even involved in anything.
Judges 7:10-11 10 “If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah 11 and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp.
            God had chosen Gideon to lead the Israelites to victory. Gideon however, was afraid. He did not understand why God would choose him for such a mission. He felt inadequate. He was the youngest son of his family, and his clan was the smallest. God sometimes uses those who are the most unlikely. Moses was raised in the Egyptian court, but God used him. God used David, a young shepherd boy to defeat Goliath and the Philistine army. God is using me, a young woman with nothing to show for myself except a college degree to teach you the Word. It isn’t always the biggest or oldest or most likely to succeed God calls to do something. It is most often those of us who would never expect to be used by God in big ways. We should never be afraid of doing what God wants us to do; because God would never ask us to if He didn’t know that we could.
1 Chronicles 28:20 David also said, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.
            David told his son, Solomon that there was no reason to fear God. God had a job for Solomon, to build the temple at Jerusalem, and God was not going to leave Solomon until the job was done. When God gives us a job, he is not going to give it to us and then just sit back and see how and what we do with it. He is going to be with us throughout the whole thing, and he is going to guide us and help us when we need it.
Nehemiah 2:2-3 2 …so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of the heart.” I was very much afraid, 3 but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and it’s gates have been destroyed by fire?”
            Nehemiah was not ashamed to admit he was afraid; nor did he let his fear keep him from doing what he needed to. Most of us would not be so bold as to do what needed to be done despite fear. Most of us run away when we experience fear. There is nothing wrong with feeling fear, but we are not to let it control us. Fear is often a good thing, it helps keep us on edge, but we cannot give into it, we must continue with whatever we are doing.
Proverbs 29:25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare but whoever trusts the Lord is kept safe.
            We cannot allow the fear of other people rule over us. It can hamper everything we try to do. Instead, we must take our fear and turn it into trust in God, only with trust in God can we get through our fear and not let it control our lives.
Mark 6:49-50 …but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, 50 because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
            Jesus had sent the Disciples out ahead of him so he could dismiss the crowd after he preached and then pray. The boat with the Disciples was out in the middle of the lake, so Jesus walked on the water to the boat. The Disciples were understandably afraid at the sight of him walking on water. After all, we cannot walk on water. Jesus reassured them not to be afraid, because it was him. When we experience fear, we can always be sure that God is there with us.
Mark 12: 4-5 4 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.
            Fear of opposition or ridicule can weaken our witness for Christ. Often we cling to peace and comfort, even at the cost of our walk with God. Jesus reminds us that we should fear (respect) God because he controls eternal, and not merely temporal circumstances. We cannot allow fear of a person or a group to keep us from standing up for Christ.
Mark 12:42-43 42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believe him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.
            Just as bad as not believing, is believing and not admitting it. Many people back in Jesus’ time wanted to believe, but the fear of being excommunicated from the synagogue kept them from confessing it. Early Christians had to face a lot more than just being excommunicated. Early Christians had to go through hardships, like flogging, beatings, imprisonment, and a lot of times, execution. These Early Christians did not let the fear of any of that keep them from confessing what they believed and sharing it with others. A person cannot believe and not tell anyone. It just does not work that way. A person cannot believe and fear that the people they want to be with will not be ok with it or make fun of them. It is better to believe and share it and face possible persecution, ridicule, and loss of friends; than it is to believe and not share it with anyone for fear of all of those things.
            We all experience fear, but it is what we do we are afraid that shows what kind of person we are to God. God does not tell us to not feel afraid, but he tells us not to act on it. He doesn’t want us to be ruled by it.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Witnessing: Every Christian's Mission

I am not sure exactly how to set this message up. It is important for all Christians to understand the importance of witnessing, and while I have several verses on the matter, having no personal experience to add to this, may make this very weak indeed. But, let’s face it, how many Christians today really do have any experience witnessing? My guess is not very many. I want to change that. I want to be a witness of the Gospel. I want to share that Good News with the rest of the world. I want you, the readers, to also think about witnessing. How many lives could we save if we did? My guess is a lot. I know that there is always someone who doesn’t want to hear about your faith or what you have to say about God and what he has done for you, but there is always someone else who does. How are you going to find those people if you don’t try? The answer is you aren’t. No one can find people who are willing to listen to your witness and testimony if you do not even begin to try. That is what I hope to accomplish with this. I hope that I can maybe get myself to witness and get all of you to do it as well. What a difference in the world that could make.
Genesis 6:22- Noah did everything as God commanded him.
            This is the best way that we witness to people. By doing what God asks of us, people can see what kind of person we are. They may even come up to us and ask us why we do what we do. Talking about God and what he has asked of us could get someone else to think well I want the life he gives him/her/them too. After all, God does reward us for our work when it is pleasing to him and done willingly when he asks us to. We must also remember that this verse is about Noah that means this was just before the flood, and the passing of God’s judgment on the people. He spared Noah and his family because they listened to him. We must also teach people that by not listening to God or accepting that he exists, they are going to end up like the people during Noah’s time, only it will be much worse than drowning. God has something special planned for those who choose against him, and no one wants to be a part of that. We must continue to work on anyone who is reluctant to listen to us at first. Perhaps, they will change their mind. However, we must also learn when it is time to stop being persistent. Not everyone will be receptive of the message of God’s love and Jesus.
Genesis 40:8 “We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.” Then Joseph answered, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”
            Joseph shows us that we must turn attention to God at the time it is most important. Just because we can give someone something they want or need, does not mean that we should get the glory and not God. We show people that our abilities or knowledge comes from God and he deserves all the credit and glory for it. Also, if something is going on with a person and you can bring God into it, do so. That is a great way and time to witness to someone.
Exodus 5:3 Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Now let us take a three day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God, or he may strike us with plagues or with the sword.”
            We know that Pharaoh did not listen to Moses and Aaron as they pleaded their case. He did not know nor respect God. People who do not know God may not listen to his messengers, us. Like Moses and Aaron we need to persist. We cannot give up after only one try, or even a few tries. We can’t let others who reject our faith or us to discourage us. We must stand firm in our faith and pray that God will open minds and soften hearts. I know it’s hard. My father expects me to be open minded about his faith (Jehovah’s Witnesses), but he is not open minded about mine. I am constantly trying to show that my faith has changed me where his has not done so for him. He fails to see anything but a stubborn young woman who doesn’t study the right Bible or do what God wants from her. Of course I read the right Bible, it’s the same Bible he reads; it’s just not the translation the Witnesses use, which is why he rejects it. Because I reject his faith and belief system, he therefore does not think that my calling is from God. Everything I do in regards to this ministry is for God, because Called me to do it, and he gives the power to say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done.
Exodus 18:8-11: 8 Moses told his father-in-law about everything the LORD had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the LORD had saved them. 9 Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the LORD had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. 10 He said, “Praise be to the LORD, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the LORD is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.”
            Moses told Jethro, his father-in-law everything that had happened in Egypt. Jethro was so moved by the story, that he accepted God has his God. This shows us that our relatives are the ones that are usually the hardest to convince about God. I know this from dealing with my own on this matter. Yet, I do not give up. I am always trying to find ways to show how much God has done for me due to my faith and trust in him.
Joshua 2:8-13-8 Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up to the roof  9and said, “I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you to come out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, to the kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. 12 Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I showed kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death.”
            Rahab, the woman who is talking to the spies, wasn’t a Jew, she didn’t know God the way they did. Yet, she was willing to serve God by helping the spies destroy her home. In exchange, all she asked for was that her family be spared from everything, and given their lives. Just because someone may come from a different religious background doesn’t mean that we can’t still witness to them. We can. Who knows they may know more about God then we give them credit for.
2 Timothy 1:5 I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother, Lois, and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
            Timothy’s mother and grandmother were early Christian converts, possibly through Paul’s ministry through their city, Lystra. They raised Timothy in their faith, despite the fact that his father probably wasn’t a believer. We can gather this from the fact that only his mother and grandmother are mentioned. We can’t hide in our faith at home. Sure our families are a great way to spread the Gospel, but we must make sure we are teaching them the Gospel and showing them they have to also spread the Gospel. The best way to do that is to show your family your faith in Jesus, and be sure to also show Christ’s love, helpfulness, and joy in you by living an exemplary Christian life.
2 Timothy 2:2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.
            We cannot just learn the truth and run with it. We must be well taught how to teach it to others. We must make disciples so they can then in turn make disciples. Not everyone can just go and teach naturally. Not even I have a natural talent for it, and I homeschool. We must entrust teaching to those who have the skill and knowledge to do so who can then teach others the skill and knowledge to do so. That is the only way this can be accomplished.
2 Kings 7:3-10 3 Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, “Why stay here until we die?  4If we say, ‘we’ll go into the city’-the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die. 5 At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, not a man was there, 6 for the LORD had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us! 7 So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives. 8 The men who had leprosy reached the edge of the camp and entered one of the tents. They ate and drank, and carried silver, gold, and clothes, and went and hid them. They returned and entered another tent and took some things from it and hid them also. 9 Then they said to each other, “We’re not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.” 10. So they went and called out to the city gatekeepers and told them, “We went into the Aramean camp and not a man was there-not a sound of anyone-only tethered horses and donkeys, and the tents left just as they were.”
            These men were outcasts. We often use the term leper for people who are social outcasts, they are social lepers, they do not belong to any group, nor does anyone want to be around them. Well leprosy, was and still is a disease which the outmost sign, is that of the skin becoming diseased and infected. It can be passed through touching someone with it, and that is why most people feared it. It is treatable today, but back in ancient times, it wasn’t. Even though these men were outcasts, they still told the city they were forced to leave, and sit outside the gate of, what they had discovered when the threatening army had completely abandoned their camp. The city was starving, and God provided for them. Sure, the lepers kept some things for themselves, but no one cared about them enough to make sure they were taken care of. The point is they knew they were doing wrong and corrected it by telling the correct people about what they had found. We must remember that no matter what type of situation we are in, it is important that we take the time to witness. The Good News of Jesus and the kingdom is too important not to share. It is too important to put ourselves and our spiritual needs before that of those who do not even know Christ.
2 Chronicles 30:11 Nevertheless, some men of Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem.
            This verse kind of needs some background information. This starts at the beginning of the chapter. Hezekiah was celebrating the Passover and invited many different people to the celebration. The people of Israel and Judah were not being a faithful to God as they were supposed to be. Many people ridiculed them for holding the feast, especially since it wasn’t at the appropriate time, but that was due to the people not serving God properly. However, this verse says that some men humbled themselves to the Lord and went. Our efforts to teach people about God, his love, and his Son, will meet similar reactions. Many people will laugh at the invitation to accept Christ. But, this cannot stop us from reaching out. If we know ahead of time that rejecting the Gospel is common, we can guard against personal feelings of rejection. After all, it is not us that people reject, but God. Remember that the Holy Spirit convicts and convinces. Our task is to invite others to consider God’s actions, claims, and promises, not to get them to accept. Acceptance is up to the people themselves. We are merely the messengers.
Esther 2:10 Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so.
            With virtually no rights and little access to the king, it was best to not reveal her identity. While boldness in stating our identity as God’s people is our responsibility, at times a good strategy is to keep quiet until we have won the right to be heard. This is especially true when dealing with those in authority over us. But we can always let them see the difference God makes in our lives.
Jonah 3:4-9
4 On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” 5 The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. 6 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust.  7 Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
            God’s word is for everyone. Despite the wickedness of the Ninevite people, they were open to God’s message and repented immediately. If we simply proclaim what we know about God, we may be surprised by how many people actually listen. Jonah got upset when God forgave the people and spared them. Jonah totally got mad. He had chosen to disobey God because he knew that if the people repented God would forgive and spare them. He didn’t think that anyone not wishing to be obedient to God should be forgiven. Well, even Christians disobey God in one way or another. God loves us and wants us to repent. He wants to forgive us. We cannot act like Jonah did. We must be thankful for anyone who listens to our message and seeks repentance.
Matthew 3:4-6 4John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
            John was markedly different from other religious leaders of his day. While many were greedy, selfish, preoccupied with winning the praise of the people, John was concerned only with the praise of God. Today, there are many religious leaders who are only interested in numbers and money. Most of them you will find on the television or radio. I bet that some of you even make sure to watch or listen to them every day. Perhaps you even buy their books and CD’s. Now, I am not going to say that all of the ones on television and radio are like that. I happen to be a big fan of Joyce Meyer. She tells you how it is and isn’t a crowd pleaser. She has a lot to offer and a life filled without Christ just as much as a life filled with Christ to learn from. Now, Billy Graham and Joel Osteen are two completely different people. I cannot see how they have ever helped people. They are so far from being true Christ followers it is not even funny. This blog topic is not about discerning a true Christian from a “false prophet” so I will not get into this discussion now, but I will in the future. It is crucial to know how to spot a “false prophet” from a “true one.”
John attracted such a large number of people because he was the first prophet in four hundred years. Not only that, but he had no trouble bashing the king and other religious leaders. He was radical, something that would have fascinated the common people. John also had a strong message to deliver- that they all were sinners and needed to repent. His words were powerful and true. The people had been expecting a prophet like Elijah, and it seemed like John was the one.
            Baptism is how we show our desire to repent and follow God. It is a symbol used to show that we are made clean; we are purified, cleansed of our sins. The cleansing itself is not seen from the outside, but the repentance, or change in behavior we make when becoming Christians is seen. Are you showing that change in behavior that shows you are a Christ follower?
Matthew 4:18-20 18 As Jesus went throughout Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me, Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
            These two men already knew Jesus. He had talked to them at an earlier time, and had been preaching in the area. When Jesus called to them, they already knew what kind of man he was, and chose to follow him. Jesus told them to leave their nets and join him as fishers of men, or to help others find God. Jesus was calling them away from their productive jobs, to be spiritually productive. We all need to fish for souls. By practicing Christ’s teachings and sharing the Gospel with others, we are able to draw those around us to Christ like a fisherman pulls fish into his boat.
Matthew 9:37-38 37 Then he told his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
            Jesus looked at the crowds following him and referred to them as a field ripe for harvest. Many people are ready to give their lives to Christ if someone would show them how. Jesus commands us to pray that people will respond to this need for workers. Often, when we pray for something, God answers our prayers by using us. Be prepared for God to use you to show another person.
Matthew 10:17-18 17 “Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and the Gentiles.”
            Jesus is telling his disciples and us what to expect as his followers. Not only did the disciples face these hardships, but many Christians still do today. Sometimes we face hardships in our own families, and sometimes we face them in other countries serving as missionaries. Living for God often brings persecution, I experience this within my own family, though they are dealing with it a little better now than they used to. But, despite persecution, we are given a chance to spread the Good News of the Gospel. In times of persecution, we can be confident that Jesus has “overcome the world,” and those who stand firm to the end will be saved.
Matthew 28:18-20 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
            God gave Jesus authority over the heaven and the earth. On the basis of that authority, Jesus told his disciples to make more disciples as they preached, baptized, and taught. With this same authority, Jesus still commands us to tell others the Good News and make them disciples for the kingdom. The disciples were to baptize people because baptism unites a believer with Jesus Christ in the death of his/her sin and resurrection to new life. Baptism symbolizes submission to Christ, a willingness to live God’s way, and identification with God’s covenant people.
            How is Jesus with us? Jesus was with his disciples physically before his ascension, and remained with them throughout their lives through the Holy Spirit. This is true for us today. Jesus is with us through the Holy Spirit, and even though sometimes it seems like he isn’t, we can always know he is. It is encouraging to know that Jesus is always with us. It makes it easier to follow his directions to us, such as witnessing to the nations. We are to go-whether it is next door or to another country-and make disciples. It is not an option; it is a command to all who call Jesus Lord. We are not all evangelists, but we all have our special gifts and talents we can use to witness and fulfill the Great Commission. As we obey, we have comfort in the knowledge that Jesus is always with us.
John 3:25 An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing.
            Some people look for points of disagreement to sow seeds of discord, discontent, and doubt. John the Baptists ended this theological argument by focusing his devotion to
Christ. It is divisive to try to force others to believe our way. Instead witnessing about what Christ has done for us can bring people to do so. By showing people what God and Christ have done in our lives, we paint them a picture of what they can have in their lives.
John 4:7-9 7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone to into the town to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
            This woman was a Samaritan, a member of the hated mixed race, was known to be living in sin, and was in a public place. No respectable Jewish man would to talk to a woman under such circumstances, but Jesus did. The Gospel is for every person, no matter what his or her race, social position, or past sins. We must be prepared to share the Gospel at any time and in any place. Jesus crossed all barriers to share, and we who follow him must do no less.
John 4:15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t go thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
            The woman mistakenly believed that is she received the water Jesus offered, she would not have to return to the well for water each day. She was only interested in Jesus’ message because she thought that it would make her life easier. If that were the way it worked, then people would be accepting Christ’s message for the wrong reasons. Christ did not come to take way our burdens, or challenges. Christ came to change us on the inside and to learn to rely on God to help us through those times.
John 4:16-20 16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” 17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” 19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
            When this woman discovered that Jesus knew all about her private life, she quickly changed the subject. Often people become uncomfortable when the conversation is too close to home, and they try to talk about something else. As we witness, we should try to gently guide the conversation back to Christ. His presence exposes sin and makes people squirm, but only Christ can forgive sins and give new life.
John 7:13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews.
            The Jewish religious leaders had a great deal of power over the common people. Apparently these leaders couldn’t do much to Jesus at the time, but they threatened anyone who publicly supported him. Excommunication from the synagogue was one of the punishments dealt out for believing in Jesus, to a Jew that is a severe punishment. Everyone was talking about Jesus, but when it came time to speak up for him in public; no one said anything. Why would they with the fear of excommunication in the air? Fear can stifle our witness. Although many people talk about Christ in church, when it comes to making a public statement about their faith; they are embarrassed. Jesus says that he will acknowledge us before God if we acknowledge him before others. Be courageous and speak up for Christ!
John 9:1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.
            In chapter 9, there are four different reactions to Jesus. There is surprise and skepticism, disbelief and prejudice, belief but keeping quiet out of fear of excommunication, and consistent growing faith. Each reaction to Jesus allowed the blind man Jesus healed to reach a clearer understanding of Jesus.
John 9:25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind, but now I see!”
            By now the man who had been blind had heard the same questions over and over. He didn’t know why or how he had been healed, but he knew that his life had been changed through a miracle; and he was not afraid to tell the truth. We don’t need the answers in order to share Christ with others. It is important to tell them how he has changed our lives, and then to trust God will help others believe in him too. I know people are always going to want answers and be upset if we cannot offer them. The Bible does not give us the answers to every question we can think of, so if there is a question we must show them that faith in God and asking him the question will lead to answer even if it is not right away. Also, I am sure that the minister can help find the answer as well, if they wish to know. It is never a bad thing to not know an answer to a question, and there is always someone who either knows or has the resources to find the answer. God however is always the first person we should ask, if not the only one.
John 12:12-13 12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting “Hosanna!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the king of Israel!”
            Jesus began his last week on earth by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey under a canopy of palm branches, with crowds hailing him as their king. To announce that he was indeed the Messiah, Jesus chose a time when all Israel would be gathered at Jerusalem, a place where huge crowds could see him, and a way of proclaiming his mission that was unmistakable, On Palm Sunday, we celebrate Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem as Lord of lords and King of Peace.
            The people who were praising God for giving them a king had the wrong idea about Jesus. They were sure he would be a national leader who would restore their nation to its former glory, and thus they were deaf to the words of their prophets and blind to Jesus’ real mission. When it became apparent that was not going to fulfill their hopes, many people turned against him.
            It isn’t that Jesus let any of those people down, it was just they were expecting something, and it wasn’t what Jesus was there to do. This is true today people expect God and Jesus to do certain things at a certain time and when those things don’t happen or happen when they think they need them to, they get mad and frustrated. Sometimes it causes people to lose faith and turn away from God. We have to show people that God does not work to meet our expectations; he works to meet his plans. What we or need may not be what he plans on us wanting or needing.
John 12:37-38 37 Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: “Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
            Jesus had performed many miracles, but most people still didn’t believe in him. Likewise many today won’t believe despite all that God does for us. We can’t get discouraged if our witness for doesn’t convert as many people as we would like. Our job is to continue as a faithful witness. We are responsible to reach out to others, but they are responsible for their own decisions. As long as we witness we are doing our jobs. Whether or not the people we witness to decide to become a servant of God and follower of Christ is up to them.
John 14:12-13 12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.
            Jesus is not saying that his disciples would do more amazing miracles; I mean raising the dead is nearly impossible to outdo. He was saying that the disciples, working in the power of the Holy Spirit, would carry the Gospel of God’s kingdom out of Palestine and into the whole world. Today, God does not give us the ability to do such miracles. We have to work through the little miracles and wonders our daily lives bring through faith in him. It is those little things that he shows his love for us. We have to show the people we witness to that those little things mean more than any big thing God can do for us.
Mark 2:16-17 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the “sinners” and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” 17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
            The self-righteous Pharisees were indignant that Jesus would eat a meal with such sinners. But Jesus gladly associated with sinners because he loved them and knew that they needed to hear what he had to say. Jesus spent time with whoever needed or wanted to hear his message-poor, rich, bad, good. We too, must befriend those who need Christ, even if they do not seem to be ideal companions. Are there people you have been neglecting because of their reputation? They may be the ones who most need to see and hear the message of Christ’s love in and from you.
Mark 5:19-20 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy one you.” 20 So the man went away and began to in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
This man had been demon-possessed but became a living example of Jesus’ power. He wanted to go with Jesus, but Jesus told him to go home and share his story with his friends. If you have experienced Jesus’ power, you too are a living example. Are you, like this man, enthusiastic about sharing the Good News with those around you? Just as we would tell others about a doctor who cured a physical disease, we should tell about Christ who cures our sin.
Mark 16:15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”
            This is where Jesus gives the Great Commission, to go out and preach the Gospel and announce the kingdom to all the world. Today, we are still supposed to focus on this. We need to be ready to witness and minister to anyone at all times. An opportunity may arise at any time for you to share Jesus and God’s love with someone.
Luke 9:5 If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as testimony against them.
            Shaking the dust of certain towns from their feet had deep cultural implications. Pious Jews would do this after passing through Gentile cities to show their separation from Gentile practices. If the disciples were to do this to a Jewish town, it would show their separation from Jews who rejected their Messiah. This action also would show that the disciples were not responsible for how people responded to their message. We are also not responsible for how people respond to us if we carefully and truthfully present our message. Like the disciples, we must move on from those who reject us and our message and find those who won’t.
Luke 12:8-9 8 “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. 9 But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.
            We disown Jesus when we 1 hope no one will think we are Christians, 2 decide not to speak up for what is right, 3 are silent about our relationship with God, 4 blend into society, 5 accept our culture’s non-Christian values. We acknowledge him when we 1 live moral, upright, Christ-honoring lives, 2 look for opportunities to share our faith with others, 3 help others in need, 4 take a stand for justice, 5 love others, 6 acknowledge our loyalty to Christ, 7 use our lives and resources to carry out his desires rather than our own.
Acts 4:3 They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day.
            Seldom will sharing the Gospel land us in jail. Still, there are risks in trying to win others to Christ. We might be willing to risk going to jail if it brought 5,000 people to Christ, but we should be willing to risk it for even one person. One person is worth as much as 5,000. It doesn’t matter the risks, we need to realize that nothing done for God is ever wasted.
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
            Jesus had instructed his disciples to witness to people of all nations about him. But, they were told to first wait for the Holy Spirit. God has important work for all of us to do for him, but we must do it with the power of the Holy Spirit. We often like to get on with the job, even if it means running ahead of God, but waiting is usually part of God’s plan. We need God’s timing and power to be truly effective, so we must make sure that when we begin to act, that it is when he wants us to.
Acts 4:20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.
            We sometimes may be frightened to share our faith in Christ out of fear of rejection. But, Peter and John’s zeal for the Lord was so strong, that they could not be quiet, they had to share their faith, even when threatened. If we find that our courage to witness has weakened, we need to pray for God to increase our boldness and fill us with the power of the Holy Spirit. Remember Jesus’ promise in Matthew 10:32, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.”
Acts 8:29-35 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” 30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. 31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his like was taken from the earth.” 34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
            The Holy Spirit had led Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch, who at the time was reading Isaiah. The Ethiopian was reading a particular part where there was a prophecy about Jesus. Philip had been led there to witness to the man and present him with the Gospel. Whenever we are told to do something or go somewhere or to talk to a certain person, we really should do it. God is using the Holy Spirit to guide us to a person who needs us at that moment, just like he did with Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch.
Acts 17:22-23 22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an alter with this inscription: to an unknown god. Now what you worship as something unknown I a going to proclaim to you.”
            Paul’s address is a good example of how to communicate the Gospel. Paul did not begin by reciting Jewish history, as he usually did, for this would have been meaningless to his Greek audience. He began by building a case for the one true God, using examples they understood. The Athenians had built an idol to the unknown god for fear of missing blessings or receiving punishment. Paul’s opening statement for the men of Athens was about their unknown god. Paul was not endorsing this god, but using the inscription as a point of entry to his witness to the one true God. Then, he established common ground by emphasizing what they agreed on about God. Finally he moved his message to the person of Christ, centering on the resurrection. When we witness to others, we can follow Paul’s approach: use examples, establish common ground, and then move people toward a decision about Jesus Christ.
            Paul explained the one true God to these educated men of Athens; although these men were, in general, very religious, they did not know God. Today, we have a “Christian” society, but to most people, God is still unknown. We need to proclaim who he is and make it clear what he did for all mankind through his Son Jesus Christ. We cannot assume that even religious people around us truly know Jesus or understand the importance of faith in him.
Acts 22:30 The next day, since the commander wanted to find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews, he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the Sanhedrin to assemble. Then he brought Paul and had him stand before them.
            Paul used his times of persecution as an opportunity for him to witness. Even his enemies were creating a platform for him to address the entire Sanhedrin (Jewish Council). If we are sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading, we will see increased opportunities to share our faith, even in the face of opposition.
2 Corinthians 4:2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
            Paul condemned those who twist God’s Word. Preachers, teachers, and everyone else who talks about Jesus Christ must remember that they stand in God’s presence-he hears every word. Many Christian ministers and leaders twist Scripture out of context to promise their own views. When we tell people about Christ, we must be careful not to distort the message to please our audience. We must proclaim the truth of God’s Word.
Colossians 4:6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
            When we tell others about Christ, it is always important to be gracious in what we say. No matter how much sense the message makes, we lose our effectiveness if we are not courteous. Just as we like to be respected, we must respect others if we want them to listen to what we say. “Seasoned with salt” means that what we should be “tasty” and should encourage further dialogue.
1 Thessalonians 2:4-8 4 On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. 5 You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed-God is our witness. 6 We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, 7 but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. 8 We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.
            In trying to persuade people, we may be tempted to alter our position just enough to make our message more palatable or to use flattery or praise. Paul never changed his message to make it more acceptable, but he did tailor his methods to each audience. Although our presentation must be altered to be appropriate to the situation, the truth of the Gospel must never be compromised.
            When Paul was with the Thessalonians, he didn’t falter them, didn’t seek their praise, and didn’t become a burden to them. He and Silas completely focused their efforts on presenting God’s message of salvation to the Thessalonians. This was important! The Thessalonian believers had their lives changed by God, not Paul’s. When we witness for Christ our focus should not be on the impressions we make. As true ministers of Christ, we should point to him, not to ourselves.
Revelation 1:9 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
            The Christian church was facing severe persecution. Almost all believers were socially, politically, or economically suffering because of this empire-wide persecution, and some were being killed for their faith. John was exiled to Patmos because he refused to stop preaching the Gospel. We may not face persecution for our faith as the early Christians did, but even without freedom, few of us have the courage to actually share God’s Word. If we hesitate to share our faith in easy times, how easy will it be to do so in hard times?