HAS ANYONE EVER THANKED GOD FOR YOU?

And how shall they preach, except they be sent?

As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

(Romans 10:15)

 

Not often enough do we hear about a hero who dares to make a change for the better, and our hearts swell with pride and maybe even some envy that someone is doing something worthwhile to make life better for someone, somewhere. It’s humane to want to see good things and rejoice about them.

Particularly so in our age of history when everyday around the world our televisions and radios scream with mostly bad news about accidents, arrests, deaths, abuse, weapons abuse, abductions, starvation, war, monsters, zombies, rampant illnesses, and nature’s mayhem. We see sad faces and hopelessness to the extent that most of us turn away from the news and pretend the dreadful events never happen.

Mostly everyone avoids the slum areas in towns and cities to avoid seeing absolute poverty, and the sinful lifestyles that people live, mistakenly thinking it will help them out of there. Drugs, prostitution, abuse and constant carousing don’t make a pretty picture of how life should be. But the bad news doesn’t come from just slums and third world countries anymore. It’s our politicians, clergy, rich neighbors, our families, and our kids in the schools.  (James 5:19-20) 

All these people came into this world, born from a mother’s womb just like us. Regardless of their circumstances and pitiful way they came to be where they are now, they are people with souls and needs just like every other person on earth and the Lord does love them too. It is only God’s right to judge, not ours (Matthew 7:1, Luke 6:37),

 These destitute folks need love, food, shelter, and clothes too. Jesus had said many times to help them for Him and His Father (Matthew 25:40). But those are just the small things that won’t last, because they will be hungry, cold and desperate again tomorrow. What these lost people need the most is everlasting Hope, that someone does love them and offers salvation and rest – food and drink that will quench forever (John 4:13-14). Many of these lost and destitute people never even heard of the Lord Jesus Christ, and have no idea that there is some hope left in the world.

That’s where believers come into the picture. What’s most important is the Lord’s great commission He gave his believers.

 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mark 16:15-16)

 He still reaches out to the hopeless through His willing saints. Those who have taken up the cross daily for Him let Jesus use them to tell the world what he did for us. And there is plenty to do and many to reach! (Luke 10:2)

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (John 13:34)

If you don’t tell them, who will? For some, you may be the only person from whom they ever hear of Jesus. And they can’t accept the good news if they never hear it. Just maybe someone else might come along after you to give the message, but no one can be certain of that. He who listens to you deliver the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and believes will have eternal life. (John 5:24)

 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day, the night cometh, when no man can work. (John 9:4)

This verse was Jesus talking about God sending him to redeem us, but it is also a reminder to us that a time would come when we can’t preach the Lord’s word freely – and that time is here. As bad as things are right now in the world, the signs are pointing to a particularly dark and troubling time ahead, and there will be even more desperation and hopelessness of many caught up in it, but it’s not too late to start RIGHT NOW (John 4:35). The need for the truth that never has changed and never will go away is also RIGHT NOW, as Jesus promised in Matthew 24:35:

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

There’s a great need for truly convicted, selfless Christians who are faithful and eager to share their love for the Lord and his eternal salvation (Matthew 9:9). Just like He forgave you and adopted you as His child (2Corinthian 6:18), he desires all people in the world to repent and not perish (John 3:16, 2Peter 3:9). Getting right with God through absolute repentance is mandatory, then growth through fellowship and worship in His Word. Only after that and in true surrender will the Lord use us as HE sees fit, and we should not just do what we think should be done, other than the Great Commission.  The men and women of Pentacost did not set out for duties until after the promised Holy Spirit came, empowered, and guided them; and only after they were new believers and worship Him only.

 

As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. (John 20:21)

Have you personally ever seen the look of utter hopefulness followed by euphoric relief of salvation? You were there too at some point in your life. Remember how you felt when you first became aware of how unrighteous you were and how much you needed forgiveness and renewal? Think back to that feeling of peace of mind and freedom you had experienced when you took that step and became a new person in Christ.

Imagine if the person who told you about the Lord and salvation wasn’t ‘in the mood‘, or even not happy to share the gospel with you. Your sins would still not be forgiven and you’d still be condemned if they didn’t obey the Holy Spirit and tell you the best news ever.

Just making a living to feed and shelter ourselves in a competitive and cold world is stressful let alone trying to keep up and pay all the bills we easily accumulate. And yet pain, sickness, and desperate crimes from the sins of others find us and we cry out to someone for help, or try any remedy that will help us forget for a little while. We see it everywhere now and we can’t escape it in these times, just like what was prophesied.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness

instead of light because their deeds were evil.  (John 3:19)

It is no secret that the Lord Jesus left Paradise and comfort to be amongst us for a little while to walk among the sick, sinful, and possessed to offer healing, freedom and rest, and especially eternal life (Ephesians 5:2, Matthew 9:13). And it should continue through us from the Holy Spirit. How many of us are really offering the hope of something better to come?

Let your light shine before men–that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.  (Matthew 5:16)

Can a stranger look into your eyes at any given moment and see Jesus there? (Matthew 6:22-23, Proverbs 15:30) This means that we are also to love people better than ourselves, and Jesus throughout the Gospels makes this very plain but important. (Mark 12:31). The story of the Good Samaritan is a great example of the kind of love we Christians need to have for people. The man didn’t think about whom the poor ravaged stranger was, just that he was a human being and had an immediate need. (Luke 10:33)

 Would you want to be that person? (Matthew 22:14) But how do you share that with a seemingly cold and uncaring selfish world? What if they scorn you? Yes, they may do that, either because of their bitterness from their circumstances or anger toward God or plain love of sin, but it may be possible that you might say just the right thing at the right moment to lead them to a better understanding and conviction from the Holy Spirit.

Probably the most profound conversion is Paul (formerly Saul). Here is a man who was so bitterly opposed to the truth, who was so hateful, hopeless, ruthless, uncompassionate, and even gleeful when hurting someone who believed in Jesus to be the Messiah. Saul gleefully saw Stephen stoned to death because of his message of the gospel. Stephen was so thoroughly convicted that his face reflected the spirit filled life. (Acts 6:15) 

We wonder about Saul’s life and upbringing, but God knew him better than anyone else. God saw the man inside and his level of passion in his tasks, and his connections. After confronting Saul then putting him through a refining fire, Saul was so thoroughly convicted that he was one of the Lord’s most fearless witnesses ever, and he even changed his name. Paul’s changed life didn’t let his past stop him from witnessing, despite the threats and persecution, and look how many were led to the Lord because of that powerful change (read the Book of Acts)!

Nothing (nor anyone’s heart) is too hard for the Lord to break through! But He needs the selfless brothers to carry out the message of His plan for salvation, and He needs us now!

So we have listed only two of many who stood proudly, confidently, and with authority on God’s saving Word. And that was thousands of years ago. But what about us believers now? And just how will you do this? There are a few ways to find guidance in leading others to the Lord in Spirit and Truth:

a/ Getting right with God first, then seeking His Will.

b/ Remember the reasons we rejoiced that we were forgiven, always remembering the freedom of being forgiven and to share with unbelievers a list of all the good things that the Lord has done for you, and continues to do in your life.

c/ Study how Jesus and his followers did their evangelism. Their main point was awareness and repentance of sin, then belief that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah. John the Baptist lived a solitary but noticeable and spirit-filled life in the wild to prepare the way for the Messiah and to baptize those believers in Him. Also, Paul’s constant requests for encouragement and prayers for the young men (Peter/Timothy/Titus), the various cities and the saints therein. Then there is the account of Stephen’s selfless martyred life and death for Christ. Note the selflessness in their lives, and the commitment to their tasks, and their encouragement to each other. List Jesus’ promises to the men before His death and resurrection about the Holy Spirit coming to remind them and empower them. Read Acts, and observe how the apostles were solely in service for the Living God.

d/ There are several good ways to be guided in sharing your faith. Online there are (below listed) websites designed to encourage and organize your presentation of the gospel, but it should always be after your own repentance, renewal of faith, fervent prayer and with the knowledge that Jesus will be the one empowering you with His word and conviction, and His direction to do His work. Some of these websites offer video examples, and some also offer walk-in conferences and course work. Tracts are a nice supplement to use but should be given if one is also prepared to always give the reasons for their hope and assurance of salvation.

http://www.Wayofthemaster.com

http://www.eeinternational.org

http://www.eventell.org

 

 I ask you againCan anyone see that Light of God in your face?

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you. (Phil 1:3)

Has anyone ever thanked God for YOU? Read in the gospels of Jesus’ ministry and how after all the healings, miracles, and forgiveness he offered to the truly repentant, they were so thankful of the Savior that they went back to their town and spread the fabulous news of what happened to them. The woman at the well whose sins of adultery were convicted and forgiven. The woman who touched Jesus’ cloak to be healed because she believed in his powerful miracles and Jesus protected her from scorn. And the crippled man who told of how Jesus healed him to walk for the first time in his life. Just a few of many miracles!

Of course we can’t and shouldn’t expect the same extent and acts of appreciation. Never should we want or look for any praise but to know the Lord does see it and knows about them (Matthew 6:2-4), He promises to reward the faithful and true with eternal life and so much more! But best of all, think of the great multitude of the redeemed saints someday who will reside with the Lord in Heaven (Revelations 7:9), and some of them may be there because of your willing witness (Colossians 3:23-24) of that wonderful blessed assurance (1John 5:13)!

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. (Matthew 11:25)

What will be your legacy to your children? This includes the ‘spiritual children’, those you lead to Christ who look to you for guidance in their new life and walk (1Corinthian 14:17).  Have you shared your testimony and beliefs with the members of your own family? Can they also see a true believer who follows the Lord with all their strength and belief?

Not just your children are watching you but also those who know you are professing to be a Child of God. Friends, family, coworkers, everyone. Do your best to be without blame (1Corinthians 4:1-2).

It begins at home with YOU. Her children will rise and call her blessed (Proverbs 31:28). Your good deeds will follow you (Rev.14:13), and that includes EVERYONE inside and outside the door of your home and church. Every parent knows that kids mimic what they see and experience. Your good and bad habits will reflect in your children’s behavior. If you don’t tell them about Jesus’ saving grace, who will? If you don’t walk the walk, don’t expect them to either. (James 1:22) Putting a positively loving “life by faith” example, bible reading, knowledge and daily prayer habits in them early helps to plant a seed they’ll grow used to and never forget. (Proverbs 22:6) Other kids will see it in them who have the loving, nourishing home life. A desire to have that may stick in their minds and prepare their hearts later on for someone who may witness to them the great saving message. You never know!  The Lord doesn’t want any of those little ones to perish (Matthew 18:14).

You may not change the world through your kids (you don’t have to), but their upbringing can make a big difference in their natural and eternal life. The Kingdom of Heaven is made for the kids (Matthew 19:14). Certainly you want your children to be with you among the great multitude.

Set your affection on things above, not things on the earth (Colossians 3:1,2)

How much time and money have you invested in eternity? This has nothing to do with worldly monetary riches, but it has a lot to do with living a spirit-filled and selfless lifestyle for Christ, and taking every opportunity to give testimony to your changed life and salvation through Jesus, for this affects the eternal destiny of other people.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry his needs and those of the disciples were always met, although Jesus himself acclaimed to be homeless while on earth (Matthew 8:20). All the disciples that Jesus called to follow Him had left their lives behind them at Jesus’ request, but it was a willing choice they made. And they were all taken care of and able to minister to others. Paul also describes how he takes nothing for the journey but was content and confident that everything would be provided by the Lord along the way (Matthew 10:7-11).

Not everyone is called to be a missionary overseas. But there’s plenty here to do as well! Think of your own family member sitting alone in a nursing home and preparing their minds and hearts for their death and uncertain eternity, or even some elderly folks who have no one to visit them. A child who can’t read can learn quickly within a few weeks with assistance, and eventually read the bible for themselves. You could give the gospel message to a homeless person while you treat them to lunch and eat with them. Teens hanging out somewhere are excellent recipients of the message because of the uncertainty of their lives before them. It costs little to provide bibles and even less to spend time with people, but the value of it may be the whole world and eternity to someone who receives it, just like when someone decided to give their time to you and share the gospel.

We all work and have acquired things, but how much of that can you take with you to Heaven? Nothing. Either it gets sold off, given away, stolen, or your descendants fight over it, causing hate and division in the family. Can any of those things buy someone into Heaven? None of it (2Peter 3:10-11). The more you have the more distracted you are from the Lord, and the less you feel you need Him or have time to serve Him (1 John 2:15-17). No wonder He says the love of money is the root of all evil (1Timothy 6:10).

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  1Corinthians 12:4)

Have you been witness to a miracle through you by God, or someone else you know well and told you about it?  Imagine the faces of the witnesses too when Jesus healed the man with leprosy (Matt 8:1-4, Luke 5:12-15). When no one else would touch him, Jesus was willing and the man was healed. This doesn’t mean that we should expect to receive all the gifts of Pentacost that Jesus promised the specific followers after his death and resurrection, but it doesn’t mean the Lord won’t use your life for His will, with His power and with eternal benefits to you and those who chose to believe the Lord because you were willing. Our gifts to use for his purposes (Romans 8:28; Hebrews 2:4, 1Corinth12:4 ) will be revealed to us as we actively live out our faith and trust Him to lead us (1Cor 12:4, Romans 8:14, ).  But before we do any of that, we need to build our own relationship and look to Him first, and let Him tell us what needs to be done.  It’s not about our show at all, but it’s all about Him (John 3:30).

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22

And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23

If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  (John 20:2123)

Jesus pleaded to the disciples before his crucifixion to witness so don’t be fooled to think that it’s too late and time to sit back and watch the ceiling of opportunity close up and wait to be ‘taken up’. And don’t be tricked into falling for a New Spirituality that eliminates the need for repentance and atonement, and wishes to unite humanity in a ‘collective consciousness’ to change the world. Especially don’t be misled that it is too late to reach the destitute and hopeless.

 There are Christians that have chosen to sit out this fight for the faith, who have chosen to play it safe and stay on the sidelines, and remain inactive (Matthew 22:14), even ‘asleep’ (Romans 13:11). And then there are the great witnesses of bible times, and countless saints since then who have gladly given their lives for Christ, because he first loved and died for us (Romans 5:8). There is no greater love on either side of Heaven (Ephesians 5:2, 1Corinthians 13:8).

Will someone remember your legacy such as this?

“I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.” Philemon 1:4-7

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