The Secret to Witnessing

The Church is for dirty sinners, not clean sinners.

The only difference between Christians and those who are not, is the fact that God the Holy Spirit paints our hearts with the blood of Jesus. It’s Jesus in us that makes the difference, not what we do, or have, or what other people say about us.

This is important when we witness to others about Christ. Typically our tendency is to impress with our knowledge of the truth, or our accomplishments. We think this will catch their attention. But the apostle Paul says the opposite. “If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.” 2 Corinthians 11:30

It’s sharing our weaknesses that draws people’s attention. Then they are willing to listen to how God changed us. The Father uses our humility to convict Christians and non-Christians alike. It’s a touching point that people can relate to. Weakness, failure, struggle, and pain are the miseries of life that everyone is in touch with. This speaks to people and they see themselves in our humility. And then, Lord willing, they see their need of a Savior.

Here’s a prayer for all of us:

“Father, I confess that I’m naturally self-centered and self-exalting. Any humility I have is the gift of your Holy Spirit. Please, please touch me now with a humble heart, and break my pride and self-dependence. Make me feel my weakness and your strength. Then give me a loving boldness in witness that is only from you.”

God loves to answer this prayer with yes!

– adapted from A Faith Worth Sharing by C. John Miller

Talk to me.

 

 

 

 

Big Prayers for a Big God

In Ephesians 3:17 Paul prays an extraordinary prayer for the saints there. It’s not about what we usually pray for – physical healing, finances, success at work, and the ever demanding burdens of our relationships. Nor is it a prayer for success in ministry.

Listen to what he asks God: “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” That’s the secret to every Christian, to have Christ settled down in our hearts, a permanent resident, who delights in our company. IMG_2239

With Christ at home like that he becomes our source of everything we need in this life. No longer do we need to look outside to others for the answers to our needs. Everything we need is as close as our next breath. Not only do we need to know this on a personal level, but on a corporate one, too. Our church body needs to take hold of this truth.

Paul goes on to pray that we may know the love of God in Christ, the immensity of it, and to be filled with all the fullness of God. It’s breathtaking!

This type of praying is fit for a big God. These are large petitions. And because they are there for us in the bible, we have the confidence they are God’s will and therefore he will answer them.

I don’t know about you, but I want to pray prayers that God will delight in and answer.

Talk to me.

 

The Needy Life

The success-driven life is a cancer to your Christian life, like smoking to your lungs, alcohol to your liver, and drugs to your veins.

Am I against succeeding in a career, a personal goal or a dream you’ve had all your life? No, unless you’re achieving it by your own will and determination. And that’s the point. As a Christian, whose life are you living?

“You are not your own, you were bought with a price,” Paul says to the Corinthians. (See 1 Corinthians 6:19-20) In context Paul was urging holiness, but since the Holy Spirit lives in us we can also say that looking for soul satisfaction in broken cisterns, relying on Brokenrule keeping for God’s approval, and battling our demons by our own efforts is just as repugnant as unholiness.

Neglecting our true dependence on Christ is equal to living in unbelief.

It makes the Christian life a burden. By looking inward I kill myself. John Newton calls it “soul weariness.” There’s nothing there to commend itself to God.

So get used to being needy. Learn to feel weak. Become helpless like a little child. The world will scream at you, “No! You can’t do that. Flee from such beliefs, instead believe you have the potential to achieve anything you want!”

Jesus was the ultimate little one. He was 100% dependent on his Father. He did nothing on his own accord. “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” John 5:19 NLT

We must do the same if we expect to “succeed” as Christians. That’s why Jesus tells us that apart from him we can do nothing. John 15:5

By looking to Christ for everything and in everything we will be released from ourselves and be put into joy and freedom.

We are needy.

We are weak.

Hooray!

Boast in that because you have a Savior who will take care of you!

Talk to me.

 

 

 

 

 

Belief Is All

You’ve heard the word legalism many times as I have. But do you know what it means for your life? It means your standing with God is obtained or maintained in something in you. Something you do or don’t do.

The Pharisees were experts in legalism. They were the ones looking down their noses at Jesus and reprimanding him for not keeping the law. He dared to heal people on the Sabbath. He didn’t fast. He touched the leper and the blind man. He ate dinner with sinners.

Legalism is legalism no matter if it’s Jewish or Gentile, it doesn’t matter. All people are legalists if they don’t know God. Everyone has a set a rules for living. That’s why most people live with guilt because they haven’t lived up to their own or somebody else’s expectations. And for the religious it’s Christ plus a bunch of strict behaviors. That’s why Paul rebuked Peter for pulling away from eating with the Gentiles. See Galatians 2:11-14.IMG_7835

Legalism does not keep you in fellowship with God, just the opposite, it is an offence to God. Why? Because by being legalistic you’re saying Christ is not enough, you have to add something of your own to his perfect righteousness.

And here’s another big one: legalism doesn’t make you holy. Only Christ makes you holy.

Christ obeyed and merited God’s favor and fellowship for you. It’s through him that God accepts and approves you.

Christ’s obedience to the law and his death for your sins is imputed to you by faith alone. As Martin Luther said, it is an alien righteousness, it’s outside of you and it’s not based on any holiness that the Holy Spirit accomplishes in you.

By faith alone, in Christ alone, you are counted as righteous as Jesus Christ himself. There is nothing more for you to do, but thank God for such a wonderful gift. The Holy Spirit’s job is to assist you in living it out. So no matter how weak you are or how often you fail, your sins are not held against you because Jesus paid for them all and you continue being righteous in Him.

You want joy today? Read this post again!

Talk to me.

 

 

 

Are You Perplexed About God’s Will?

If I were God, and I wanted to get my message to the people I’ve created, I certainly wouldn’t put my best men in prison for years, mistreat them, put them through hurdles, and even kill my best man on the job.

But that’s exactly what God did with Elijah, Moses, Abraham, David, Paul, Peter, John, and of course, Jesus.

“I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.” – Jeremiah 10:23 ESV 

That’s an understatement.

It is my experience that God leads and directs in mysterious ways.

The things I most pray for don’t come to fruition in the way I ask.

In fact, oftentimes God keeps me waiting or answers me in opposite ways.

And his answers can be risky and perplexing. They make me ask what God is up to.

They also produce fear in me, and then I realize I can’t fix the outcome, and then I am forced to trust him.

I am no longer in control.

Martin Luther experienced the same thing.

“We need to learn how God guides his people as they grow and develop. I too have often tried to dictate to our Lord God a certain way in which I expect him to run things. I have often said, ‘O Lord, would you please do it this way and make it come out that way?’ But God did just the opposite, even though I said to myself, ‘This is a good suggestion that will bring honor to God and expand his kingdom.’ Undoubtedly, God must have laughed at my so-called wisdom and said, ‘All right, I know that you are an intelligent, educated person, but I never needed a Peter, a Luther, or anyone else to teach, inform, rule, or guide me. I am not a God who will allow himself to be taught or directed by others. Rather, I am the one who leads, rules, and teaches people.'”

I am reminded that since God is taking care of every detail of the universe, surely he will take care of me.

I am learning to rest in that truth.

How To Rid Yourself of Doom and Gloom

Today I woke up with a long list of grievances I compiled through the night of all the things that were wrong in my life.

Instead of realizing this was a tactic of the devil, I indulged in my black mood.

I vented all over my husband. I criticized the condition of our home. My children weren’t living up to my expectations. Even the cat was wrong today, if we had a cat.

I had no desire to pray on my way to work. Truth is, I was going to continue grumbling and enjoying my well-deserved pity party of one.

But then I reached into my book bag and pulled out an article on the doctrine of our Union with Christ. It was written fifty years ago by noted English bible teacher, Arthur Pink.

God met me there because when I finished it, my gloom was gone and I was rejoicing in the gospel.

Here’s what I learned that changed my heart:

1) Those old saints knew their stuff and preached it. The deep truths, mostly forgotten today because they might offend, are the only prescription for a healthy heart.

2) The doctrine of the Union with Christ is central to our understanding of who were are as Christians. Without it, we see ourselves as individuals tied to a lifeline to Christ, much like an astronaut twirling in space who is attached by a cord to the space capsule.

3) We view Christ as a solo act, independent of the Father and the Holy Spirit, and separated from the people he came to save. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

4) Christ and his people are inseparable – it is an eternal union that began before the foundation of the world and made known and enjoyed in time.

5) It is the foundation for all the other blessings we enjoy in Christ – the new birth (regeneration), the forgiveness of sins (justification), the remodel of our lives (sanctification), and our new bodies (glorification).

6) This union is so real and vital and intimate that God has never viewed us apart from Christ! And God never sees Christ apart from his church. He is the head of the church.

4) We are told in Scripture that Jesus became flesh for us; when he died on the cross, we died with him; when he was buried, we went into the tomb with him; and when he was resurrected, we were raised with him.

We have never been alone!

We are never alone now.

And we will never be alone in heaven. We belong to Jesus and that union is secured for an eternity.

All of these blessings come to us through the gospel and by faith in Christ.

He secured them. He merited them for us. He has given them to us.

Ephesians says we are seated with him in the heavenly places. That’s because Jesus is there, and where he is, that’s where we are, too.

Go out and tell somebody you have a new address!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s The Best Story To Tell About Jesus?

This is the day of personal stories. You read them on blogs, watch them on television, exchange them among friends, and even write a few yourself.

The church has followed suit. Modern sermons are peppered with stories about people’s experiences, usually the pastor’s.

Sometimes you learn more about the pastor’s life than you do about Christ’s.

In the marketing world, that’s called the hook.

It’s meant to get your attention and engage you.

We’re naturally attracted to stories. They entertain us, inspire us, teach us, make us cry, or get angry, or applaud.

When someone asks you, “Tell me your story?” you launch into describing the events that led up to your conversion. That’s your personal testimony.

But as riveting your personal story may be, it won’t lead others to faith.

What? That’s crazy, you say.

Let me explain.

First, there’s no power in your personal testimony.

Second, it’s your story, not Jesus’.

If somebody were to ask the Apostle Paul about his testimony, you wouldn’t hear about him, how he made tents, how he studied under the best teachers of the day. He wouldn’t give you all the gory details of how he persecuted Christians to put them to death.

What you’d hear Paul tell you is about Jesus Christ. He was obsessed with Jesus.

The only power to lead someone to faith is in the story of Jesus Christ and him crucified.

That’s why if you check the sermons in the book of Acts, they tell the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

Paul, Peter and John, and the other apostles could have told wonderful stories about their life with Jesus, but they didn’t. The few times they did they highlighted their failures and fears.

The gospel, which is the testimony about Jesus, is the power of God.

It is the message that announces the lengths God has gone to save us from sin and death. It tells sinners that Jesus came to abolish who they are in Adam (dead in trespasses and sins), to cut off their life in Adam because it cannot be rescued or repaired, and to raise them from the dead and give them life in Christ.

How did Jesus do this? By nailing your long list of sins to the cross. Since the paycheck for sin is death, Jesus paid the legal debt for you and secured your release.

That’s the story to tell.

Go out and tell someone!