- To embrace the will of God for our life…God is the One Who is going to go with you.
- That our employer, our national leaders, our health, our retirement may fail us…God has never and will never fail you.
- That those we love or invest in might forsake us…God will never forsake you.
Everywhere we turn there are people who are in need of the Savior—Jesus Christ. For certain, there are people who have rejected Him completely. People like Stephen Hawkings who completely denied the existence of God. However, that is not the average condition of the people we pass day after day. In fact, atheists only make up about 3% +/- of the American population. More than 96% of the unchurched have admitted that they would attend church if they were invited. The overwhelming majority of people are simply wandering aimlessly through life oblivious to the severity of their need. In reality, they are simply blind. They do not see their own sinfulness. They do not see the pending judgement that is only a breath away. They do not see their need for Jesus even though they will dutifully go to church to celebrate His birth and resurrection. They are blind!
2 Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
Christ commissioned us to be lights to those who walk in darkness around us. We live to illuminate Jesus for those whom the devil desires to keep in darkness. He does not want them to see their need. He does not want them to see that they are dangerously close to an eternity of fiery consequence for their sin against a holy God.
I find that many believers are very content to be assured of their own salvation from hell, but paralyzed in fear to witness of it to others. Even more, I find that believers can produce only a few names that they are regularly praying for to be saved. One thing is sure, those who neglect to pray for the lost are not likely to witness to the lost.
I have a WHAT IF question for you today. A question that came crashing into my mind and caused me to think. What if God only saved the people that are on your prayer list and for whom you are praying daily? How many people would be in heaven with you?
May God enlarge our vision for the lost all around us.
Recently, my wife and I were walking through our local Books and Co. in Beavercreek, Ohio. We were not really there for books as much as for the yogurt shop. We sat down to enjoy our personally concocted yogurt mixes among aisles and aisles of books. Looking up there was a grand stair case that led to another floor with aisles and aisles of more books. It seems that Barnes and Noble, Books and Co., the Kindle store, Half Price Books and many more offer endless reading options. Solomon stated of the making of books there would be no end. With so many options, it is vital that we choose reading material that will be good for us—good for us spiritually. Let me tell you about a book that I recently chose and would like to encourage you to do the same.
It was on social media that I first saw a post about a book being release entitled, Experiencing Jesus. The title grabbed my attention. It sounded refreshing and encouraging. I had a phone conversation with the author, John Van Gelderen and asked him to give me a quick summary. He did and my interest was further piqued. That day I bought the book and began to read it. I finished the book while on a couple of day retreat with my wife. Really, my heart was reminded, refreshed and reinvigorated about truth that I had heard preached by Bro. John when I was about 18. This book brought it all back to mind. Here are three reasons this book will be a life-changing read for you.
It is Biblical
The basis of many books are far from Biblical and have no aim of encouraging a walk with God. The basis of Experiencing Jesus is Galatians 2:20. This powerful verse says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” It is very easy to read over this verse and miss the much-needed truth to successfully live the Christian life as Christ intended. Each of the four chapters progressively work through this verse with clarity.
It is Simple
Many authors will take simple truth from scripture and make it complex. Experiencing Jesus is simple truth kept simple. I love the visual diagrams of scriptural concepts. I was inspired to see what happened to me the moment I received Christ by faith. The daily provision of Christ for a victorious life over sin is described in vivid detail. You need not be an intellectual to read this book. I certainly am not.
It is Needed
As a pastor, I am faced with the reality of defeated, discouraged believers. Sometimes I see it in the eyes of those listening. I can almost hear them whisper under their breath, “Sure Pastor! I tried to say no to sin this week and failed. Why try again?” The book concludes with this statement, “Experiencing Jesus makes it possible for us to be regularly victorious.” Jesus did not save us to live a life regular defeat and occasional victory. Truly, there is Victory in Jesus. The Bible truth explained in Experiencing Jesus will help even the most defeated Christ follower discover this victory that Christ alone provides.
Before you buy and read that novel or history book you been looking at, pick up Experiencing Jesus and be encouraged in a way that will be life-changing.
“As long as we are content to live without revival, we will.” —Leonard Reavenhill
Does God have a specific task and calling for every believer in the local church? Yes! Yes! Yes! Beginning with Christ and His disciples and throughout the New Testament, God teaches believers that we were saved to serve. While the world has always despised serving others and promoted being served, the Bible teaches us the exact opposite. All those who follow Christ should be servants.
In many churches today, there is a dangerous philosophy that has crept in. It is the idea that the pastor and staff are paid to do all the serving. With this philosophy, soulwinning, cleaning, maintenance, vehicle repairs, lawn care, snow removal, hospitality, care for the hurting, widows and fatherless and much more is hired out to staff. The Bible says in Ephesian 4:11-12 that the very purpose of a pastor is to develop believers to serve in the church. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11–12) Yes, the pastor is to serve and one of the greatest ways he can serve believers is by developing them to serve. Certainly, a part of this development, is personally modeling a servant’s heart just like Jesus did for His disciples in John 13.
As a believer, don’t buy into this philosophy that you come to church to be served. You have a vital part in what God wants to do in your church and community. William McDonald aptly said, “Limitation of Christian service to a select class of men hinders the development of God’s people, stifles the cause of world evangelism, and stunts the growth of the church. The distinction between clergy and laity is unscriptural and perhaps the greatest single hindrance to the spread of the gospel.”
I encourage you that if you do not already have a place to serve in your church with your God-given gift, this Sunday, ask your pastor how you can serve. Don’t wait to be asked. Be eager to serve.
It is natural to follow feelings. You get too close to the burner on your stove and your feelings (senses) tell you that you had better move back quick. In our daily life, we often adjust our behavior based on our feelings. It is natural!
However, when we come to being committed followers of Jesus Christ, our feelings can really mess things up. Here’s what I mean. The Bible tells us to “Love your enemies…“. It also tells us to “...have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness…” Immediately, our feelings say, “No way!” Yet, God commands us to do these things. It is important to stop and look at the facts. The fact is, with every command, He will give the strength to obey it. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” If we live by feelings we will never obey God’s Word. So what is the answer?
The answer is to live by faith, not by feelings. We can obey by placing our faith in fact—the truth and trustworthiness of God’s Word. Living life by your feelings is to live life backwards. You will be fickle and frustrated. Living life by faith in God’s truth, will always keep you following Jesus. This is a life of safety, stability and spiritual strength.
Your spiritual heart is the real you—your thinking, will and emotions. The parable of the sower in Mark 4:1-20 shows us that Jesus was very concerned that his followers would have a heart that was ready to receive the His truth. Today, Jesus is just as concerned that we would have that kind of heart. Consider some ways to develop a fertile heart for God’s truth.
- Honor God’s Word. One of the most obvious signs of a hard heart is a casual approach to God’s Word. It is seen in the take-it or leave-it kind of attitude. When we begin to convince ourselves that daily reading of the Bible is really not that important. Hearing your pastor preach God’s Word is good and needful for my children, but its not a big deal if I miss church or am distracted at church. Honor God’s Word by giving time and priority to both reading it and hearing it preached.
- Plan to Respond. Every time our Bibles are opened, God intends to guide us into all truth and we must respond to that truth. We can respond positively or negatively. As a preacher, I am often burdened at the hesitance of believers to respond openly to God’s Word. We have, seemingly, bought into the world’s thinking that our relationship with God is completely a private issue, so we keep it to ourselves. The problem with that is, we begin to present ourselves as never having the need to progress in our relationships with God. We give the impression that we have nothing about which to be humble before God and others. Let’s keep a fertile heart by planning to respond to the truth that God reveals to us.
- Choose to be Real. We all want to appear well. In church, we want to appear as spiritual. Sure, we would not admit or say that. If we are honest, this desire can be nothing more than cleverly packaged pride. When you or I come to God’s Word, we must come realizing that we are broken messes in desperate need of God to fix us. Why? Because we are human. We have flesh. Let’s learn to admit it and simply be real so that we can have a fertile heart that is ready to be fixed.
- Eliminate all Distractions. God’s truth cannot have an affect on your heart if it does not have access to your heart. Much of the reason God’s Word does not have access to our hearts is the constant barrage of distractions. Life will give you 101 alternatives to being in your Bible or in church—lawn care, shopping, sales, events, extracurricular activities, sport schedules and fatigue etc.. Even when you go to church, there will be a host of distractions that would keep you from being in the Word. Go to church to hear God’s Word for yourself personally. If this will happen, distractions must be eliminated.
Proverbs 4:23 “Keep thy heart with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life.” Our hearts will only remain fertile as we choose to guard them from becoming hard. The propensity of every heart is to harden. Praise God, that with His help, it is possible for every heart to remain fertile—ready to hear, accept and apply God’s truth in our daily lives.
Listen to A Responsive Heart