Monday, April 23, 2012

A Penetrating Gospel

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. - Matthew 24:14 (NIV)

The "gospel of the kingdom" is to preached.  It is to penetrate throughout "the whole world as a testimony to all nations." There is no end of times until this is done

The gospel is to be proclaimed by those of us who believe it and know it as truth.  We cannot expect the world to carry its message forth.  The news media will not do it.  Certainly, we cannot expect the educational system or institutions of higher learning to spread the word about it.  No, we must proclaim it and penetrate the entire world with it, spreading around the seed that must be sown upon this earth.

We must go far and wide with the "gospel of the kingdom." It cannot remain contained behind the stained glass of our sanctuaries.  It cannot simply rest in our hearts.  It must come forth through our active engagement of sharing it with others. 

Let us approach this task as our primary activity while alive on this earth.  We must approach it with faith and fervor, fueled by the Holy Spirit who sets us afire to speak boldly of His endless grace and eternal love.  Let this gospel go forth out of you for all that God has bestowed upon you as one of His own children.

"We may well be ashamed of our own personal imperfections, but we have no need to be ashamed of our doctrine." - J.C. Ryle


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Danger Ahead

Wherefore Christian was left to tumble in the Slough of Despond alone; but still he endeavored

to struggle to that side of the slough that was farthest from his own house, and next to the wicket-gate;

the which he did, but could not get out because of the burden that was upon his back: but I beheld
in my dream, that a man came to him, whose name was Help, and asked him what he did there.
. . .  Fear followed me so hard that I fled the next way, and fell in.
- Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan



Bunyan's protagonist is aptly named Christian.  He struggles with which way to go and who to listen to as he searches his way through life.  That may sound familiar to many of us as Christians.  We have spent some time trying to find our own way and the help of others have sometimes led us astray.  That appears to be nothing new.

Pilgrim's Progress is a book full of symbolism.  Yet, it is a tale that should resonate with most of us.  It should remind us of our constant struggle to stay on the right path.  Through this christian classic, we should remember that life is full of dangers ahead and just around the bend.  It may not simply be the things that we encounter upon the road itself.  It may be the danger of the very people who cross our path along the way.  We may do well to not listen to some of the folks who seem to know so much and cause us so much trouble as we follow their lead.



Paul wrote it this way: "Test everything. Hold on to the good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21, NIV).  Don't simply look into what people say and take it as gospel.  The Bible warns us of false teachers and their twisting of the Word of God for their own benefit and gain.  Learn to discern the truth based upon your understanding of the Word and the urging of the Holy Spirit. 



Even in his letters from prison, Paul is careful to state: "It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains" (Philippians 1:15-17, NIV).  Jude urged the believer to "contend for the faith," while John shared that we should imitate and do "what is good." We cannot spend a lot of time following behind this manipulators and workers of evil.  We have to focus on the good that comes from God that produces love and peace, even joy and forgiveness.  If we do as He has said for us to do, we will uphold the truth that comes from Him and he will destroy that which defies His Word.

Be careful to hold onto the Word of God as truth.  Otherwise, when you least expect it, you will find danger ahead.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

5 Things Christians can Learn from the 2012 Political Race




Read Plato's Republic or Walden by Henry David Thoreau and you can get a worldly view on politics and its citizenry.  That may not go well with the Bible.  In fact, it may not match at all.  However, there are some key things that Christians can learn by observing the current political race for presidency.
  1. You have to announce that you are running in the race.  Christians should not act like they have the best-kept secret in town.  The gospel is translated as "good news." You share good news.  You don't keep it to yourself.  We have to announce it to the world that we are in the race.
  2. You have to make an effort to reach people one way or another.  The Obama Campaign of 2008 incorporated all sorts of means and mediums to involve every type of potential voter around the country.  We have to reach people with our message with the same fervor that candidates push their agendas and campaign slogans online and in print, even through the media and public appearances.
  3. You have to let people know where you stand on the issues that matter to them.  Politicians will constantly talk about taxes, public assistance programs, business development and employment, even education and health care.  They may step into controversial areas like birth control, abortion and same sex marriage, even illegal immigration.  We have to know what matters to people and share where we stand with people.  We lose any opportunity to win souls like we should when we fail to share what the Good Book says about this life and eternity.  Look at Luis Palau, James Dobson and Chuck Colson for examples of how to evangelize with hope and a firm standing on the issues of today.
  4. You have to keep your cool and your composure in the heat of the debate.  Political jousting is nothing new.  It is as old as politics itself.  However, as Christians, we have to be able to maintain our cool when our beliefs are attacked.  We cannot get on the defensive, taking it personal, and become arrogant or abusive with our attackers.  The Bible tells us that our spiritual warfare is not fought against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:10-18).  After all, even as Jesus hung on the cross, He did not call upon the armies of angels to rescue Him as He endured the fatal punishment of the storied execution style of the Romans and the cruel mistreatment of His own people.  We, too, must endure the attacks of slander and assumptions regarding our beliefs.
  5. You have to carry yourself as a winner.  No candidate enters the race with the hopes of being a loser.  No, political candidates go for broke with a winning attitude.  They are confident in their own abilities.  We do not have to get conceited or cocky.  We just have to go forward in faith, with full belief in the Lord's ability to provide for us and protect us.  We have to take Paul's words to heart, believing: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."






Monday, April 2, 2012

Witness to the World

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.
- Acts 1:8 (NIV)

Jesus shared that the Holy Spirit would come and empower His followers.  He pointed out that His disciples would serve as witnesses of Him all over, even "to the ends of the earth."



He spoke of specific places where they would witness, but He also shared of how the message would transcend their locale "to the ends of the earth." Their witness was so powerful that others caught on fire with the Good News and took hold of it.  They shared the gospel message and it spread throughout the world as God's people were dispersed under persecution.



You should be a witness of God's gospel of grace and forgiveness.  Let your testimony speak of God's lovingkindess towards all men.  Let your witness spread throughout the world.  Speak of God's goodness and grace by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Speak of it and spread it "to the ends of the earth."

 
Amen Me!