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More than twenty years ago, I attended a week-long evening conference along with my dad. On about the third night, the speaker stated that the next evening, he would speak about ‘Three things that God does not know.’
My curiosity was aroused and my expectation heightened as I pondered what these three things could be. The next evening, I curiously awaited the heretical statements from this preacher. As far as I was concerned, I knew from my church attendance and interest in God’s word that the God of the Bible was all-knowing.
The following, are the profound points the preacher shared that night. (I cannot recall the exact words that he used to elaborate after each point so the brief explanations that follow each are my own but will serve to bring further biblical clarity to the statement.)
Ready…. Here we go;
1. God does not know anyone who has not sinned
The Bible stated that ‘for all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. Rom 3:23. Our sins separate is from God- (Isaiah 59:2) and the just penalty for our sins is Spiritual death (Rom 6:23)
2. God does not know anyone who cannot be saved
The Bible says that God sent his Son Jesus to take our place. He was sinles. Our guilt was placed on him. He died on the cross for our sins. He rose from the dead and offers us Eternal life and a relationship with Him. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the World that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever beliveth in Him, shall not perish, but have eternal life.
3. God does not know any other better time to come to him but now!
The Bible says in 2 Cor. 6:2 “Today is the day of salvation”. We do not know what tomorrow holds for each of us. So the present time may be our moment to repent of our sins (Luke 3:13), believe –trust- in Jesus (John 3:16) and receive Him (John 1:12). It may not be your last opportunity, but what if it is? This best time to get saved is now!
At the end of that sermon, I knew what I had to do. That day, I made a profession of faith in Christ Jesus and surrendered my life to Him.
Will you do the same? Today is the best time! You can do this by praying to God right now and confessing with your mouth what you now believe in your heart (Rom 10:9-10)
If you already have, pray that God will use you to share his message of reconciliation with others.
In the 9th Chapter of Matthew, Jesus made an observation that I am constantly reminded of when I think of all the minsitries and efforts in most of our churches today. He stated, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few..”
As believers, we should seek to be the workers or laborers that God can send out to reap the harvets of Souls in the world.
In seeking to be a co-workers with the Lord of the harvest we should seek to know what would make us effective in this endevor. We should know, Biblically speaking, what makes one an effective worker or witness of the Gospel.
What is the profile of a person who seeks to be a winner of Souls?
I suggest 3 elements that are equally important if one is to be effective in sharing Jesus with others.
1. Provided with Power – Acts 1:8
The Bible say in the book of Acts that “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses…”. This verse has two profound imperatives. The first is that those who have the Holy Spirit (believers) will as a result recieve power. Sharing the Gopsel in a God ordained manner requires supernatural enablement and if you are a believer, you posses that power through the Holy Spirit! It goes without saying that unbelievers (and yes, we have them in our churches) are without the power of the Holy Spirit and they will not be effective in sharing Jesus with others. We should not presume that everyone in the church has the Holy Spirit. The second imperative is that those with the Holy Spirit will be (His) witnesses. This communicates the consequential certainty that those with the Holy Spirit will be witnesses of Jesus Christ. When one becomes a believer, their identity is inextricably linked to Jesus Christ. We represent Christ as people indwelt with the Holy Spirit. The question to consider is what kind of representation shall we be for Him.
2. Propelled by Passion – Rom 1:14
Perhaps, besides Jesus Christ, no one else exemplifies a passion to see people come to Jesus more than Apostle Paul. Paul stated that he felt ” obligated both to Greeks and barbarians, both to the wise and the foolish..” and was willing to “become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some.”. Evidently, Paul was passionate about sharing the Gospel with others. Some may object to the challenge that we should emulate Pauls passion pointing out that we are all different and that Paul’s passion may have been a function of his Damascus experience. My answer is this; You may not be as passionate as Paul but you must be as pasionate as you can be about Sharing Jesus with others. I can almost certainly say that for many of us, we are not as passionate as we could be about Sharing Jesus. Given the Great Commission mandate, we cannot be consistently more available, active and involved in butterfly chasing activities and at the same time wonder why we have no excitement, enthusiasm, emotion or feel compelled to share Jesus to the extent that we each could. We each have been given a measure of faith and we need to live at the maximum measure of our faith. A passion can be nutured and developed. Maybe the reason why we are not passionate is that we refuse the work out what God has already worked in you for “it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose”. We have to pray and get involved in whichever way God directs. We work out what is in us by availing ourselves to God’s call to be involved in the work of the harvest. There is work both in reaping Souls for the Kingdom and training workers for the field. This lead to the third element…
3. Prepared with a Presentation. – 1 Peter 3:15
Perhaps the most quoted verse for apologetics is in 1 Peter where Peter encourages the audience of his letter to “Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason[m] for the hope that is in you”. This verse applies not only to apologetic encounters where we are ‘defending’ the Gospel but also to evangelistic efforts where we would still be sharing the reason for our hope of Salvation in Jesus Christ. The Bible also tell us to be “diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth.” The mention of diligence and emphasis of correct teaching suggest that preparation is indispensable if we are to be effective witnesses. We cannot ‘shoot from the hip’ and hope to clearly communicate the Gospel. Preparation is essential. This preparation is most effective as a conglomeration of self study, structured learning and practical application. Philip the deacon and evangelist was able to share with the Ethiopian eunuch about Jesus beginning with the Scripture that was being read in Isaiah undoubtedly because he was a student of Scripture. Paul’s ability to remonstrate with others was the practical outlet for his study of the parchments and I presume that his ability to clearly present the Gospel was enhanced by the many time he spoke during his missionary journeys. We too should be prepared to present the key essential of the Gospel in a coherent way. We should memorize relevant scripture and have an outline that will help us communicate in an organized way the Truth of man’s sinfulness, our need for a Savior and what God did to avail reconciliation and Salvation and how one can appropriate this Gift of Salvation. Additionally we should be intentional in creating and availing ourselves to opportunities to share this message with others.
I pray that we as believers can unlock the Power within us, develop the Passion for sharing Jesus and polish our Presentation of the Gospel so that we can be effective Gospel workers available and ready to be sent into the harvest field!
I recently read this article about a miniature insect that has “the only known functioning gear system of any organism”.
The planthoppers have these gears on their hind legs and this was discovered by a zoologist, Malcom Burrows after noting the explosive speed with which the planthopper nymphs could jump. They jump is so fast, it happens even faster than a neuron can be fired off to the human brain.
This picture is a highly magnified picture of the gears in the insect. Its design reveals new posibilities in how human made gears can be similarly fashioned especially on a small scale.
So what does this have to do with you, God and the Gospel?
1. You marvel at the design – Finding the same or more advanced mechanical complexity in the biological word that is seen and applied in the inanimate world is simply marvelous! It causes us to wonder and appreciate something. Design can be random or directed but I dare say that anyone will be hard pressed to make the case that this complex phenomena is a self caused design (devoid of external input) or a result of undirected, random occurences selected by advantage over time. It is just too tidy and too efficient to reasonably be explained by that.
2. God is whispering from the depths of the unknown – Humanity has made major advancements in the last 100 years in our observation of the universe and all that is in it. From exploring interstellar space to capturing microscopic observations like the movement of this insect, we are encountering a language that is speaking to our inner being. In the realm beyond the bills and brochures, beyond the traffic and television, beyond the politics and preconcived positions, where it is quiet enough to listen without intellectual posturing, we hear God’s presence. From the sound sent back from the Voyager outside our solar bubble to the magnified view of a machine in an insect, God speaks and says ” I was here before you came and saw (and still AM) and here is my signature for you to believe.
3. The Gospel is linked to the gears – At the expense of being accused of making a great a leap from the world of observable Science to the words of an ordained Saint, I inject a line from Apostle Paul’s treatise in the book of Romans. He says in Chapter 1, verese 20 ” For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse”. Creation is a God given starting point for a knowledge of Him that leads to a knowlegde of His provision for Salvation. The marvel you experience (I hope) in reading about the planthopper gears or other natural phenomena is God’s visible way of communicating his eternal power and divine nature that we may clearly see Him and experience Him.
I pray that the next time we encounter something amazing from what has been made, we may marvel and hear God’s whisper and praise the Lord . May the experience lead us to increase our understanding of who He is becuase if we ignore or reject His revelation… we will be without excuse!
They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest. (Psalm 126:6 NLT)
Seeds are an amazing phenomenon in God’s creation. Not only is the science of seeds fascinating, but the analogous spiritual lessons exemplified by seeds are profound and rich.
When I eat a fruit like an orange, I take the seeds out and discard them. The juice of the fruit brings satisfaction and the seed at that time is irrelevant and even a hindrance to its enjoyment. (We now even have the seedless variety to overcome that inconvenience altogether 🙂 ). But if I were without this fruit in future for an infinite period, and without any other alternatives for my satisfaction, the seeds would take new meaning. In relation to this, when I think of a seed as stated in Psalm 126:6 , three things precipitate as powerful and practical points for our mediation. (I’m long winded. Stay with me:) )
First, the seed would represent…
Past possibilities ;( They weep…)
In the hypothetical scenario, when scarcity comes, I would wish that I did not discard the seeds so freely when I had the fruits. And if I could find any that I discarded, I would imagine that their state would have been of greater viability if I had taken better care of them. My regrets would be about the past possibilities that cannot be reversed. I would recognize that there are things that I could have done before to keep and take care of the seeds that would make the current situation different.
What have you discarded so freely and not taken care of that has become a past possibility that has affected the present situation. Have we discarded freely and not taken care of the undistracted time we could spend focusing on a loved one like your spouse, your children or your parents. Have we discarded freely and not taken care of the Word of God spoken to us through our Pastor or Bible Study teacher last Sunday that would enable us to grow this week in grace and knowledge of our Lord? Have we discarded freely and not taken care of the opportunities we have to invest in others with provision for their needs and with the Gospel for the sake of eternity and to the Glory of God. Have we discarded freely and not guarded moments to be spent in the presence of God Himself and missed his revelation time and time again? These and more similar unrealized possibilities should cause us to weep.
Our weeping is, in part, a recognition of past possibilities. But we should not weep and stay there. We should take the seed we have (which represents what we have discarded and not taken care of) and go and plant it. But the planting is not easy. It will cause us….
Present Pain; (They weep as they go to plant their seed..)
A farmer will tell you that planting season is not a vacation. This involves toil in all sort of challenging circumstance. Whether the sun is hot or the rain is pouring or the temperature is cold, or the soil is rock hard, the farmer has to plant the seed during planting season if there is to be a harvest. So your weeping is going to be in part a function of the present pain of the planting process.
There is the present pain of picking up the seed of discarded and ignored relationships that are now broken in order to make amends. Attempts at reconciliation sometimes bring tears from the pain of past hurts and may even end rejection. But we plant anyway.
There is the present pain of finding yourself entrapped in sin because you discarded and ignored the counsel of God’s Word proclaimed to you. In that case, repentance should bring us to weep tears of sorrow.
There is the present pain of recalling the many opportunities when we have discarded and ignored those who needed to be ministered to physically and spiritually where our actions could have impacted one or many for eternity.
As we pick up these and other seeds shriveled with our neglect, our circumstances or failures may cause us to weep… but we still go out to plant the seeds because these seeds have…
Potent Potential; (but they sing as they return with the harvest)
The seed, in it shriveled, uncared for state, that may in some ways speak of both our desperate current situation and even some of our failures, is the same seed which, when planted, has the potential to change the current situation. We must not sit and wallow in the realization of our negative situation or circumstance whether caused by drought or our laziness, whether caused by us or someone else, whether caused by things we can or cannot control, whether caused by our sin or not. Yes, we should weep as we recognize past possibilities missed by our failures BUT that recognition should stir us to action toward the barren land with the seeds in hand and in the midst of our tears from our present pain, we can toil knowing that there is potent potential in this seed that is, in essence, the link to a God given tomorrow.
We must do our part. God will give us the harvest. We will return to the same place but in place of a barren land there will be abundance. Instead of purposelessness, the will be God given results from our action. We must go out and plant even in our tears because only in doing so will the potent potential of this dry looking seed be unleashed into an abundant harvest that will change our weeping today to shouts of joy and singing tomorrow!!
What planting action do you need to take?
What is your seed?
Grab it, go plant… a harvest awaits !!!
I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others… ( 2 Cor 8:8)
Though Christmas may come with some level of stress (ranging from travel, relationship and expectations of others on you) This by and large is a joyous season for many.
One common expectation is the giving and receiving of gifts among friends and family. Additionally, many individuals, churches, corporations go the extra mile to give to those in need or to make others in various situations experience some level of happiness and joy by providing for their needs and wants. Undoubtedly, this is the time of the year when we see a great deal of charitable activity by individuals and groups alike.
This is commendable and I am not against any of this. I was however prompted to examine further my methods and motivations for who and what I give to during Christmas in light of a testimony shared by one of the Deacons at my church. This Deacon, who has been involved with ministering in the inner-city on a regular basis, shared a term that was quite striking. The term that he had been taught by those he ministered to was ‘Turkey Christians’. You get the idea. This is the term used in the hood for Christians who show up in droves with meals once a year and drive off in their vans not to be seen again for another year. So I started wondering. What might others think of my giving (or lack thereof)? I am not sure of the answer to that and you may even say that I shouldn’t be worried about what others think but I want to share some challenging considerations I came across from Apostle Paul while mulling over this question.
Paul was speaking to the Corinthians and, with sensitive yet compelling assertions, he urged them to pattern their giving after the Macedonians. As I perused over 2 Cor 8-9, an interesting contrast begun to emerge. (If you have time, read though those two chapters).
Our Christmas giving is mostly Cultural, Compelled, Crafted for Comfort and Confined to a Season.
This not to say that all of the above is necessarily bad but it looks different from what Paul is saying.
Paul tells us that the giving of the Macedonians was counter-cultural instead of cultural, was self-motivated instead of compelled by others, was focused on needs rather than wants or comforts, and was continued for a reason and not confined to a season.
Our Christmas giving is cultural in that this is what everyone does at this time. It is not something unusual and it is common all around us. Individuals and organization irrespective of religious preference are involved in giving. Giving during Christmas is not counter-cultural (in this part of the world). However, Paul says the Macedonians went beyond expectations. What was counter-cultural about their giving was that they exceeded expectations. Paul says ” They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.” (Ch8 v5) Their giving of themselves was counter-cultural. They weren’t Turkey Christians.
Our giving during Christmas is compelled at least at some level. Whether it is as part of an office collections or what your church is doing or when prompted by the salvation army bell on your way into the store or because you know so and so is going to get you a gift, you may feel compelled to participate (less you seen as being ‘grinchy’) or to reciprocate in the case of families and friends who exchange gifts. Clearly giving out of compulsion does not make it wrong but better yet, like the Macedonians, the more desirable thing is to give proactively. Paul says the Macedonians gave ‘entirely on their own’ (ch8, v3)
Our giving is generally crafted for comfort- We find great pleasure and enjoy the idea of meeting the wants of others so rather than ‘simply’ meeting a need (that would be a boring gift) we want the reaction of meeting a want. Paul seems to be urging us to be more concerned about needs by telling us that in the present time, “your plenty will supply what they need” (ch8, v14)
Lastly our giving is somewhat confined to a season. What I mean is that by and large there is a level at which we may give during Christmas (whether it is through gifs to people we normally don’t see or service in places we normally don’t frequent) that ceases after Christmas. Once Christmas is over, that family, child or even relative is relegated back to their life path and never crosses ours again only to show up again a year later in a list to be shopped for. Evidently, in contrast, the Macedonians finished what they started and Paul later stated to us that “in all things at all times… you will abound in every good work”. The giving should continue because the service performed was “not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God” (ch9 v12)Come February, how will our giving compare to this Christmas season?
If Christmas is Jesus birthday, who should be getting the gifts? Jesus told us what we could do for him. He said that whatever we do for others in his name, we were doing for him. How much of what we are doing for others is in his name now and in the months to come?
Christmas will be over soon. But let us not let that end our giving. In fact, let it begin a process of examining our giving for the whole of next year so that “others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.” (Ch9, v13)
“give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus…” 1 Thess 5:18
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
Most of us have much to be thankful for. Today, I as I reflected on what I am thankful for, I found that much (not all) of my appreciation for what God has done for me and given me were in the realm of favorable circumstances and material things (i.e. the basics to support a family). Whereas there is nothing wrong with this because we read that the blessing of the lord bring wealth, maybe we need to dig further to have a more Biblical framework for our thanksgiving.
Not all material blessings is necessarily as sign of God’s favor as seen in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Conversely, poverty does not imply Godliness although there is much instruction in the Word that relates to the poor.
So with all that in mind, on this Thanksgiving day, what are we to consider in our Thanksgiving? We are told to “give thanks in all circumstances”. Our circumstances change. Our material situation is in flux. Hence, our thanksgiving must go beyond our stuff. It must be deeper than where we are materially Yes, thank God for what you have, but your thanks should remain even when you don’t have it any more. Like Paul in Ephesian 1, let us begin to grasp Spiritual Blessings which remain despite our circumstances. If Spiritual Blessings ( like our predestination for adoption to Sonship, our possession of redemption through the blood of Christ and the forgiveness of sins, our inclusion in Christ and being marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit.. and more) increasingly become the substance of our thanksgiving then we will be able to “give thanks in all circumstances” and we could confidently understand that to the the family of a young lady who passed away last week or the person in financial hardship or for the friend in ill health, it is actually possible (may not feel right of even appropriate but it is possible) to give thanks even today because in all circumstances, the Goodness of God still prevails for God cannot desires for us what he has not made possible in us.
This Thanksgiving day, and in all the days, weeks, months and year ahead, let your thanksgiving be increasingly laden with thanks for Spiritual Blessings that will not be affected by our circumstances.
This verse has a very interesting and weighty preposition.
Young children generally like to imitate their parents especially at a young age. This comes from a built in love and admiration of their parent wich translates into a desire to be like them. I have seen my kids try to (literally) walk in my shoes (which from their perspective are oversized feet) and attempt to do many of the things I do. And my reaction? No matter how clumsy or funny it may be, I react with joy as I reach for the camera and click away before helping them in their quest to impersonate me.
We are dearly loved children of our heavenly Father and that being the case, it is built in us a desire to be like Him.
But some may say, ‘I dont seem to have that desire’.
If ,over time, we become unattached from Him and become wise in our own eyes , we are then acting like spiritual teenagers thinking we know all there is and seeking to gratify our passions and expend our energies on hopeless pursuits. This skewed view of ourselves (as self sufficient ) and of our father (as one who is out to limit us instead of love us) causes us to drift from Him. In that case we grieve our father who never ceases to love us despite our rebellion. And so if our desire to imitate/follow is waning as aforementioned, begin with an examination of your proximity to Him along with a realization of you dependance on Him. He has not moved.
You may go to church, be a member of a Bible Study group and even serve once a month in a given ministry. The question is this; Are you auditing or imitating?
In college, I had an option of auditing a course or taking the course. Those who were auditing were not required to turn in assignments, take test or actively participate in class presentation.
I am afraid that many in the church today are auditing sermons and studies with no intent of participation in the teaching and are glad and relieved to leave the fellowship with no assignment for the week!
We are to imitate God.
What better example to have than Jesus Chrsit, the image of the invisible God. Consider his Priority for the Word (as demonstrated when he resisted temptations in the Wilderness) the Primacy of Love for God (in obedience to His Father’s commandments) and for others (as demostrated in healing many, feeding multitudes and- most amazingly-dying for me), the People he associated with (from the despised immoral sinner to the influential Centurion, from the unpopular tax collectors to the woman at the well – no class, racial, political or social constructs limited him) the Philosophical positions he procalimed and protrayed ( preaching that power is to the least not the greatest, possesion are secondary, popularity is not to be sought and peace will only be found in Him).
So, with much noted above that is actionable, I ask you, are you auditing or imitating? Are you only sampling and discussing the life of Jesus or would you say that you are intentional about attempting to imitate Christ even if you stumble over His big footprints while he takes a heavenly picture of you and sends the Angels to lift you up.
Let your love for the Father and our desire to be like Him prompt you to act like him and we will find that we will not merely be hearers of the Word, but doers of the Word.
Faith / Works
Ahhh..the age old question; The place of ‘Faith’ and ‘Works’ as it relates to Salvation and the relation of the two…
You may have heard this discussion before. Theologically, how do you understand the relation between ‘faith’ and ‘work’ and what role does ‘works’ have as it relates to Salvation? Does you practical experience match up with your understanding?
This post is to bring together what I see as too extremities.
1. An understanding of Faith that is so silent about what role (if any) ‘works’ play or how it relates that it ends up leading to apathy or licentiousness.
2. An emphasis of works theology that ends up emptying the Gospel of the sufficiency of faith.
Please leave comments on whether you church/denomination background or (don’t have to name unless you want to) or individual journey/experience has made you lean toward one or the other extremity and if doing so was/has been helpful or detrimental to your walk as a believer. Is any one more dangerous than another?
One of the ways to meditate on scripture is to find a way of restating the text as you understand it without repeating the text. Whereas there is the possibility exegetical error in doing this, it still should not stop us from the benefiting from the value of ruminating and mining the text for meaning using this method.
For today’s Wednesday’s Word for Worship I am posting an example of my mental restatement of 1 Chronicles 16: 25-30 as I thought through it last week. May it in some way serve to prompt you in this manner of meditation or (if you already do this) may my thoughts somehow bless you.
1 Chronicles 16: 25-30
25 For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
God is so amazing! He is the only existence most deserving to be elevated with recognition
he is to be feared above all gods.
Nothing or no one I fear should ever eclipse or parallel the fear or reverence I have for the Lord.
26 For all the gods of the nations are idols,
-If we think about it, if we fear those in charge (or anyone) more than God, we make them idols.
-Where is my security… Cops or Christ? Government or God? Mitt or Mighty God? Barack or Blessed Redeemer?
but the Lord made the heavens.
But the one who is in Charge, God himself, made all that is in the sky! #Awesome
27 Splendor and majesty are before him;
I mean, all that is in his presence is just amazingly, richly gorgeous in color and arrangement and movement…
strength and joy are in his dwelling place.
Where he is, is so established, so solid and so fun!
28 Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
Let us attribute (are all of you listening?)..
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Let us attribute to God utmost magnificence and ability
29 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
Let us attribute to Him the distinction, praise and honor he deserves.
bring an offering and come before him.
Let God have a portion of what he has given you to thank Him for his kindness as you pray
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his[e] holiness.
Concentrate on who he is and what you aren’t as you are whelmed by his otherness
30 Tremble before him, all the earth!
Let his presence unnerve you
The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.
God is still in control….