The harvest is great…

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” (Matthew 9:36-38 NLT)

There are still people out there that have not heard the message of salvation through Christ alone. I know this because we’re still here and Jesus is not yet reigning on earth. (Matthew 24:14). We still have work to do.

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received! “Don’t take any money in your money belts—no gold, silver, or even copper coins. Don’t carry a traveler’s bag with a change of clothes and sandals or even a walking stick. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve to be fed. (Matthew 10:8-10 NLT)

Most of us have not been given the power to heal the sick, raise the dead, etc. But we are supposed to give the same love, forgiveness, hope, etc. that we’ve been freely given by Jesus. Jesus promises that the needs of those sharing the gospel will be met by other people moved by the Spirit to provide for them. At any given time, we could find ourself on either end of that. Either the worker with the need or the method by which God fills a need.

If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave. (Matthew 10:14 NLT)

Jesus clearly instructs us to tell anyone and everyone we can about the message of salvation only through Jesus. Our job is to tell. The Holy Spirit will do the rest. It may not always be helpful to belabor the point with someone who is dead set against accepting it. That’s when we can back off, pray and continue to live our life in such away that our blessed assurance is apparent.

“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16 NLT).

After this instruction, Jesus goes on to warn the disciples of how they will be hated and persecuted just as he had been. At no time does Jesus sugar coat the fact that the message we’re sharing will not be a popular one. As he says here, we must be both shrewd and harmless. The dictionary defines shrewd as wise in practical matters. Basically, we need to be street smart. Not naive. And yet at the same time, we must be harmless. So we need to understand how the “other side” lives, but not live like them. The phrase “When in Rome…” does not apply to us.

When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. (Matthew 10:19, 20 NLT)

I find this very comforting. I don’t necessarily trust myself to have the right words at the right time. Especially when it comes to sharing my faith. That’s a big, important job and I don’t have note cards or a tele-prompter to look at. But I know that when I’m doing his work, the Holy Spirit definitely helps me out. Sometimes as soon as the words come out of my mouth I wonder, “Did I just say that? It made so much sense!”

And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:22 NLT)

Every day this is becoming more and more apparent. The persecution of Christians that has long plagued the world didn’t seem like it would ever happen in America. But the voices against Jesus and his followers are getting louder and their ability to quiet us is getting stronger. I know that God instructs us to adhere to Government laws, but that is second to adhering to God’s. And Jesus clearly doesn’t give anyone a pass if it gets scary. But he does promise us that if we endure to the end, we’ll be saved.

“But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear! “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:26-28 NLT)

“Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven. (Matthew 10:32, 33 NLT)

“Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven. (Matthew 10:32, 33 NLT)

Someday it will all be clear as day to everyone. Someday all the doubters and those that called us crazy or accused us of being too “exclusive” will see that we were right. We knew the only plan of salvation and we followed it. And they will wish they had listened. That’s why it is so important that we tell the truth to as many as we can. They can’t believe it if they don’t first hear it. (Romans 10:14). Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection are the only reason mankind can ever enter God’s presence. There isn’t a lot of ways to heaven. There is only one way. And there aren’t a lot of places to spend eternity. You either get heaven or you get hell. Yikes!

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Pray, Christian, pray!

At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. (2 Chronicles 7:13, 14 NLT)

This Old Testament promise from God was given to the Israelites, but it’s not hard to imagine that God would want the same response from his people today. We Gentiles were offered the chance to be grafted into his promises alongside the Jewish people when Jesus gave his life on the cross as the one true sin sacrifice. Once we choose to accept God’s free gift of grace and to give our lives to Jesus, we become God’s children. Co-heirs with Christ to the Kingdom of God and all that he has to give. (Galatians 3:26-29)

As I read the verses above, it seems to me like something God could be saying to Christians in America today. Our country is running from God at full speed. It seems like every day there’s a story about some way the courts or the Government are trying to make the God of the Bible, the One True God, obsolete. God’s not threatened by this. He’s sad, for sure, but he’s not threatened. We can take God out of the schools. We can change God’s definition of marriage. We can take his name out of our pledge or off of our money. None of that changes who he is or what his plan is for this world and the people in it.

But for those of us that love The Lord and value the freedoms we are supposed to have in America. For those of us that know the moral relativity and lack of truth we are instilling in the future generation is a horrible tragedy that will end in disaster. For those of us that anxiously await Jesus’ return, but know we have work to do until he comes. We have to humble ourselves and seek God. We have to pray that he brings restoration to America. We have to look at our own children and imagine their life in ten years, twenty years, fifty years… Do we really want them to live in a Godless society. Do we really want their moral compass to be whatever feels right for them?

And how about the fact that Jesus is coming back and taking those of us that have put our faith in him to be with him while the rest suffer in eternal hell? Whatever your belief about the timing of his return, the Bible makes it clear that he is returning. How often do we think about what we’ll be doing when he does. And even more scarily … what our children will be doing.

Pray, Christian, pray! Don’t stop fighting for the gospel. You are guaranteed victory if Christ is your Savior.

If we endure hardship, we will reign with him. If we deny him, he will deny us. (2 Timothy 2:12 NLT)

True stories

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. (Romans 15:4 NIV)

I am one of those people that is intrigued by books and movies that are “based on a true story”. Something about knowing that the events happened to real people makes it more fascinating. The Bible is the biggest compilation of true stories of any book. It is full of stories of real people facing real life situations and how their faith in God (or lack thereof) impacted their attitude and the eventual outcome. These life stories are examples for us of how to live… And of how not to live.

When I read the stories of the people in the Bible, I can see the lessons. Sometimes it’s a lesson of what to do. Sometimes it’s a lesson of what not to do. The entire Old Testament is the story of how God’s own people (the Israelites) struggled to stay in close fellowship with God. On their knees in praise and adoration one moment, building alters to foreign gods the next. That pattern very closely resembles my own walk with God. Taking an overhead look at how things turned out for them when they were complacent in their relationship with God is a good reminder for me to stay on track.

Never stop reading the Bible. Each time you open it God will have a fresh word for you that you can apply to your life.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17 NLT)

Then we can write our own faith story. One in which the main character is a good example of faith in the unwavering God and of a heart that seeks to glorify him in all that we do?