Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Be The Hope

I am and will forever be amazed by the stories in the New Testament. How amazing it must have been to see Jesus heal a blind man! Can you imagine the crowd's response when Jesus fed thousands of people with just a few fish and a few loaves of bread?!?!  Or, what about the time he brought Lazarus back from the dead.  I said BACK FROM THE DEAD!! If I would have been standing in that crowd I'm not sure what my response would have been, but I bet you I would have been filled up with HOPE by witnessing the amazing miracles. Jesus seemed to have left behind hope most everywhere He went, even when He wasn't performing miracles.

Hope is a great thing to leave with others. We all need hope. Without hope we are all in trouble, but where there is hope there is life. There's a lot of things we can do while we're on this earth, but I think the best thing we can do is to mimic Jesus and leave behind hope as we walk life's path.

Are you leaving behind hope on your life's path? Do you leave others feeling refreshed and encouraged, or do you leave them in a mess?  These are great questions - particularly for those of us that call ourselves Christians. 

If you're unsure on how to leave hope behind, let me offer these suggestions:

  1. Stop and pray for someone that's having a bad day. I always feel better when someone has prayed for me and over me. It reminds me that my hope is in God and His plans for me are good.
  2. Give someone a hug. Look for someone that is having a bad day and just hug them. I love a good bear hug. It puts a smile on my face and hope in my heart.
  3. Say a kind word to someone that is stressed. When someone encourages me by saying, "You'll do better next time", or, "I loved what you wrote" it gives me hope to keep on keeping on. Hope abounds where there are kind words of encouragement!
  4. Remind someone of a favorite scripture. One of my favorites to hear is Jeremiah 29:11 because it reminds me God has great plans for me, but there thousands of good scriptures in the Bible that would interject hope into one's life.
  5. Listen. Did you know listening is one of the best things you can do for someone? There are times that I just want to be heard, and then once I'm heard I feel so much better.
There are lots of ways to spread hope.  I'm sure you can think of more ways than the above list. Why don't you go out and be the hope in someone's life today?

Jesus - help us to remember to remind the world around us that there is hope in You. I love that Isaiah 40 teaches us that if we hope in You, You will renew our strength and we will soar like eagles. I love You and the hope You give. In Jesus' Name ~ Amen.

For a deeper study:

  • Read Isaiah 40: 28- 31.  Record in your journal how this makes you feel.
  • Read Luke 19: 1 - 10. Record in your journal what you think Zacchaeus must have felt that day? Do you think there was hope?
  • Make a list of the verses in the Bible that give us hope. Look for ways to share the scriptures with others in the coming week. Journal what God teaches you through this process of pointing others to hope in Jesus.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tell Them About Heaven and Hell!

This is an excerpt of an email to Ray Comfort from an atheist. (See wayofthemaster.com for a copy of this as well as for more information on sharing your faith!)

You are really convinced that you've got all the answers.  You've really got yourself tricked into believing that you're 100% right. Well, let me tell you just one thing. Do you consider yourself to be compassionate of other humans? If you're right, as you say you are, and believe that, then how can you sleep at night? When you speak with me you are speaking with someone who you believe is walking directly into eternal damnation into an endless onslaught of horrendous pain which your 'loving' god created, yet you stand by and do nothing.

If you believe one bit that thousands every day were falling into an eternal and unreacheable fate, you should be running the streets mad with rage at their blindness.  That's equivalent to standing on a street corner and watching every person that passes you walk blindly directly into the path of a bus and die, yet you stand idly by and do nothing. You're just twiddling your thumbs, happy in the knowledge that one day that 'walk' signal will shine your way across the road.

Think about it. Imagine the horrors Hell must have in store if the bible is true. You're just going to allow that to happen and not care about saving anyone but yourself? If you're right then you're an uncaring, unemotional and purely selfish (expletive) that has no right to talk about subjects such as love and caring.

James Franz 

Wow.  What a letter!  I've read this letter several times, and each time I'm convicted. I do believe in Heaven and I do believe in Hell. I believe, with all my heart, that the Bible is truth.  Those that have a personal relationship with Jesus will inherit eternal life in Heaven, while those that do not will inherit Hell. It is my responsibility to share my faith with the others around me, not out of judgement but out of love for them.

I'm finding there are many ways for Christians to witness to others about their faith in Jesus Christ. Here are a few of my favorites:

1.  The Roman Road -  Highlight the following verses in your Bible: Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:8, Romans 10: 9-10, and Romans 10:13.  These verses tell the story of the Gospels very clearly. It's an easy way to point someone to Jesus.
2.  One-Verse Evangelism using Romans 6:23 -  This is a great technique for sharing your faith using one verse. You can write out the verse like what is shown below on a napkin or piece of paper.
3.  Your smart phone - There's a phone application for everything these days, including applications for how to share your faith.  Just search for "share Jesus" on your phone application store and see all the applications you can use.  There's even one called Roman Road which uses the Romans Road mentioned above!

  • How do you share Jesus with others?
  • How can we direct those we encounter to spiritual conversations in order to have more opportunities to share our faith?

Jesus, help us to be bold in our faith and help us have courage to share our faith with others every day. I believe Your Word so I know that hell is real. I don't want anyone to go to hell because I failed to tell them about You.  You are an amazing, loving, grace-giving, and faithful God and I love you. - In Jesus' precious name ~ Amen.

For a deeper study:
  • Read the Roman Road as referenced above and highlight it in your Bible. Practice telling someone about Jesus using the Roman Road.
  • Draw Romans 6:23 as suggested in the above picture. Practice telling someone about Jesus using Romans 6:23 and this diagram. (Search for "one verse evangelism" on YouTube and you will find some great examples of this!)
  • Find a smart phone application on sharing your faith. Practice telling someone about Jesus using the application.
  • Check out the web site wayofthemaster.com .  Follow the button "getting equipped" to learn more about their witnessing tools and even watch videos of them witnessing to others on the streets. It's a great way of using the 10 Commandments to bring people to Jesus.  Also, on this site you will find other witnessing tools such as tracts that you an hand out.

Monday, October 12, 2015

I Have Some New Friends

While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 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?”
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.”
Mark 2: 15 - 16 (New Living Translation)

I'm convinced that Christians shouldn't just be hanging out with Christians. As a matter of fact, if we Christians were to truly follow Jesus' example we would find ourselves having meals with outcasts and in the homes of people that are not active in church. Jesus was often seen with "sinners" while the religious leaders turned their noses up at such a thought. 

I'm embarrassed to say that up until a few months ago if you judged me by who I was hanging out with you would have said I was more like a religious leader than Jesus. Like I said, I'm embarrassed about that. Now, I love my Christian friends and I'll always have them in my life. Acts 2 clearly lays out what a community of Believers should look like.  I'll always have a community like that in my life. But, what about those without a community? How are they to hear about true hope unless we tell them? And, how are we to tell them if we aren't with them?

I've started hanging out with people some may consider outcasts. Several of my new friends are actually homeless. While I had thought this was going to be hard for me, I find that I want to be with them. I love hearing their unfiltered stories of what is going on in their lives. They make me laugh, although some have made me cry. They are real people with real stories, some of which I can relate to.  I think my Real God loves them ever so much. I think if Jesus were to return today we would find Him hanging out with the outcasts, and not necessarily in a church. And quite frankly, that makes me want to be with them even more.
  • What about you? Think about where you spend your time each week. Have you spent any time with non-Believers in the last month? Are you purposefully engaging in relationships with others outside the walls of the church? If not, what is stopping you? 

Jesus, thank you for opening my eyes to the different people in my city outside of the church walls that are truly amazing, colorful, bright, hurting, funny, and lively people. You've made some great things and I'm thankful for the opportunities you've given me to be around these precious creations. I pray I won't ever close myself up in a church and forget about the rest of the world. Forgive me for when I have done just that. To You be all the glory - Amen.

For a more in depth study read and journal what God tells you with these scriptures:
  • Luke 19:1-10 (Zacchaeus was the "chief" tax collector - oh, dear!)
  • John 4: 1 - 42 (The outcast woman at the well!)
  • Romans 10: 5 - 15 (Here's the key to have pretty feet!)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What's Your Story?

Your story is important.  Where Jesus has given you victory in your life is an amazing tool for God's glory. Sharing your past struggles with others while emphasizing how God got you through those struggles can have a real impact on the lives of others. There is power in your story of God's victory in your life. Just look at these verses from The Message Bible:

Revelation 12: 7 - 11 
War broke out in Heaven. Michael and his Angels fought the Dragon. The Dragon and his Angels fought back, but were no match for Michael. They were cleared out of Heaven, not a sign of them left. The great Dragon—ancient Serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, the one who led the whole earth astray—thrown out, and all his Angels thrown out with him, thrown down to earth. Then I heard a strong voice out of Heaven saying,
Salvation and power are established!
    Kingdom of our God, authority of his Messiah!
The Accuser of our brothers and sisters thrown out,
    who accused them day and night before God.
They defeated him through the blood of the Lamb    and the bold word of their witness.

The power to defeat evil in this world is rooted in the Blood of Jesus, and we can plug into that power when we tell our stories. The BOLD WORDS of our witness, our testimonies, are like a knife in the back of our accuser.

If you have lived through cancer then you have a testimony that is powerful to others that are going through cancer.

If you have lived through the loss of a loved one, then you have a testimony that is powerful to someone going through the loss of a loved one.

If you have an conquered an addiction, then you have a testimony that is powerful to someone struggling with an addiction.

2 Corinthians 1:4 says, "He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us."

What's your story? I think you should write it down and then start telling others your story. How can you purposely use your story to help others? I bet if you look around there are others that need to hear your story of God's victory in your life!

Lord, thanks for giving us victory in all kinds of different ways in our lives. We give you all the glory for all the good gifts you give us and for all the good things you have brought to us through our struggles. Help us to live and shine for you! - In Jesus' Name ~ Amen

For a deeper study:
  • Pray and ask God to direct you in writing your story.
  • Write out your story using this format:

1. What was your life like before Christ (Include words that others can relate to. Use descriptive words like lonely, living defeated, self-centered, angry, fearful, etc.)
2.  How you came to know Christ. (How did God get your attention? What was the clincher for your decision?)
3.  What difference has Christ made in your life?
Practice telling your story to others.

*It is good for you to have a testimony of how you came to know Christ and also testimonies of the victories God has given you in your life. You might not use all of them when talking to someone, but God will direct you to what victory story is appropriate with each conversation. Write them all out and be ready!