Tell someone about Jesus!

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work… Colossians 1:10

Isn’t this the ultimate goal? To live a life worthy of the Lord and to please him in every way.  Paul told the Colossians that this was why he prayed for them to be filled with spiritual wisdom and understanding. So that they could accomplish this kind of life.

Yesterday the great Evangelist, Billy Graham, went home to be with the Lord. Although many mourned his loss, it was impossible to miss the fact that his death on earth only ushered in his eternity in heaven. When I thought about his arrival in heaven I couldn’t help but become emotional.  I heard someone say that he shared the gospel with over 200 million people at his crusades around the world.  Can you imagine the line of redeemed souls in heaven that will shake his hand and say:  “Thank you for telling me about Jesus!” And if ever there were a new arrival that would hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” – he would be it!

Reflecting on Billy Graham’s death really made me think about what my impact on this earth is going to be. Even though we may not all be Evangelists on the scale that he was, we all are called to tell people about Jesus. Think about the guy that told Billy Graham about Jesus! Clearly he had no idea that this one guy who heard his message would go on to share it with millions more. It’s kind of like an assist in basketball.  Although you may not get credit for scoring the points, if you hadn’t passed the ball the scorer wouldn’t have made the bucket.

So what is the message that saves? It’s pretty simple, actually. Everyone has sinned and on their own is not “good enough” to please God. And the penalty for any sin is death and an eternity separated from God. God is too holy to allow sin in his presence.  But because God loves us infinitely more than we can imagine, he provided a substitute for our punishment. Jesus Christ, his only son, died in our place. The only substitute that could atone for our sins because he was not atoning for his own. (Jesus had no sin.) When Jesus rose from the dead and took his rightful place at the right hand of the Father, he conquered death once and for all. And knowing this, we have a choice to make.  We can either keep trying to earn our own salvation (which the Bible clearly says we can never do), or we can confess that Jesus is Lord and ask him to be the Lord of our life and the Savior of our soul.

…for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” – Romans 10:13-15

Once you hear and accept the good news of salvation through Christ alone, your task is clear.  Go and tell! (Matthew 28:19) The Reverend Billy Graham lived this out and he is receiving his reward!


Spiritual wisdom and understanding

As I read through the Bible, I often discover specific things I can pray for.  It’s a powerful thing to pray Scripture! One of the passages that I discovered for prayer is the first chapter of Colossians. Paul lets the people of the church at Colosse know that he and his companions are praying consistently for them.  Then he goes on to tell them what they are praying for.

…asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. (Colossians 1:9)

I think it’s safe to say that we would all love to know more about God’s will.  Most of us genuinely desire to live our lives in such a way that we are in line with his will. And obviously, if we are truly seeking God’s will, we should be in his Word and in prayer daily. And as we do that, we should be asking God to fill us with the knowledge of his will.  This isn’t just head knowledge that we can get by learning more and more.  What we need is the “spiritual wisdom and understanding” that God gives to his children through his Spirit.

This is a prayer we can know pleases God. A perfect example of this can be found in 1 Kings 3.  King Solomon had recently inherited the throne from his father, David.  David was a good king.  A man after God’s own heart. (Acts 13:22) Solomon realized that to continue in his father’s footsteps, his most important need was a discerning heart. So when God told him to ask for whatever he wanted (1 Kings 3:5), that is precisely what he asked for.  God was so pleased that Solomon asked for wisdom over long life or wealth that he not only gave him the wisdom he asked for, but also much more.

In this world we are constantly faced with choices to make.  Some of them seemingly small and inconsequential, others large and potentially life changing.  When we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, we received the Holy Spirit as our guide.  God has made available to us spiritual wisdom and understanding and we would be crazy not to seek this above all else.  Just imagine how things would fall into place if we truly sought the knowledge of God’s will. I have come to see this prayer for my family and me as of utmost importance.

I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes. – Psalm 119:125

May my cry come before you, Lord; give me understanding according to your word. – Psalm 119:169

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. – James 1:5


We have not stopped praying…

When I read the Bible, I underline verses, sentences, sometimes even single words that speak to me in that moment. Sometimes when I go back and read a passage of scripture again and again, I will underline entirely different parts of it until pretty soon the whole passage is underlined.  That is what happened with part of the first chapter of Colossians.  Paul is telling the church at Colosse how he and his travel partners have prayed for them and every time I read it I found another nugget that I could use in my own prayers for my family.  Over time, the following passage ended up almost entirely underlined in my Bible.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. – Colossians 1:9-14

Now I admit that if you just gloss over this passage of scripture it’s kind of hard to get it.  It reads like one long, run-on sentence. But once you break it down into each of the parts that I ended up underlining over time – you can see how much is in there and what an awesome prayer it really is.

Paul starts with the proclamation: “we have not stopped praying for you”.  The lesson here is pretty simple. Never underestimate the importance of persistent prayer! We all have situations in our lives or in the lives of our loved ones that we’ve been waiting a long time to see God move in.  And the Bible assures us that God is moving. (Romans 8:28) Our job is to keep on praying. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

The passage continues with Paul telling them exactly what they have been praying continually for.  That’s the part that became more and more underlined every time I read through it.  There is a treasure trove of prayer requests there if you read it one little phrase at a time. I’ll share more in future posts, but I encourage you to read it for yourself and see what speaks to you.

“If I were the devil…” – a 1965 radio prophecy

There’s a now famous podcast from a radio program back in the 1960s by a guy named Paul Harvey. He could not have even realized at the time how spot-on and prophetic his words actually were. He saw much of it come to pass before he died in 2009. Is this really the reality we want for our country? For future generations? The world is upside down and inside out. I cannot even fathom where we go from here unless Bible believing Christians determine to stand firm for the truth!

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. – 2 Chronicles 7:14

Quite frankly, this is exactly why I long for the soon return of Jesus!!

Here is a transcript of the 1965 radio program by Paul Harvey:

If I were the Devil . . . I mean, if I were the Prince of Darkness, I would of course, want to engulf the whole earth in darkness. I would have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree, so I should set about however necessary to take over the United States. I would begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: “Do as you please.” “Do as you please.” To the young, I would whisper, “The Bible is a myth.” I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around. I would confide that what is bad is good, and what is good is “square”. In the ears of the young marrieds, I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you. I would caution them not to be extreme in religion, in patriotism, in moral conduct. And the old, I would teach to pray. I would teach them to say after me: “Our Father, which art in Washington” . . .

If I were the devil, I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull an uninteresting. I’d threaten T.V. with dirtier movies and vice versa. And then, if I were the devil, I’d get organized. I’d infiltrate unions and urge more loafing and less work, because idle hands usually work for me. I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. And I’d tranquilize the rest with pills. If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellects but neglect to discipline emotions . . . let those run wild. I would designate an atheist to front for me before the highest courts in the land and I would get preachers to say “she’s right.” With flattery and promises of power, I could get the courts to rule what I construe as against God and in favor of pornography, and thus, I would evict God from the courthouse, and then from the school house, and then from the houses of Congress and then, in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and I would deify science because that way men would become smart enough to create super weapons but not wise enough to control them.

If I were Satan, I’d make the symbol of Easter an egg, and the symbol of Christmas, a bottle. If I were the devil, I would take from those who have and I would give to those who wanted, until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. And then, my police state would force everybody back to work. Then, I could separate families, putting children in uniform, women in coal mines, and objectors in slave camps. In other words, if I were Satan, I’d just keep on doing what he’s doing.

Paul Harvey, Good Day.

The Above-and-Beyond God

One of the reasons it is so important to read the Bible regularly is because it helps you to understand who God is. To learn about his character and how he moves in the lives of his people and the rest of the world. And when you have the proper understanding of who the God of the Bible is, you will be far better equipped to stand up to the lies all around you that are attempting to create a god to fit the current cultural narrative.

Even as I read in the Old Testament book of Numbers today I found a precious reminder of God’s character tucked away in a story about Moses and the Israelites. The leaders of the tribes were grumbling to Moses and Aaron, claiming that they had just as much of a right to enter the Tent and meet with God as the Levites did. They seemed to have forgotten that it was not Moses and Aaron that determined the Levites place as Priests. It was God who did that. So to solve the argument once and for all, God told Moses to have each of the leaders of the tribes of Israel place their staff in the Tent of Meeting in front of the testimony where God meets with Moses. God told Moses, “The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites.” (Numbers 17:5)

What happened next is one of those reminders of the character of our awesome God. The next morning when Moses entered the Tent of the Testimony, he “saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the house of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds.” (Numbers 17:8) Clearly this settled the matter of who God had chosen to be the priests, but thousands of years later it also jumped off the pages of the Bible to remind me that my God is an above-and-beyond God!

God didn’t just do what Moses was expecting and cause the staff to sprout, but he did much, much more! The staff sprouted. And it budded. And it blossomed. And it produced almonds.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. – Ephesians 3:20 & 21

What to do when you feel out of control

The world is going crazy! Watching the news or scrolling through the latest social media feed confirms that. But none of this surprises God. In fact, Jesus himself warned his disciples that the world would become increasingly more evil before he returns. (Matthew 24)

Wars and rumors of wars. Nation rising against nation. 

His followers would be hated by all because of his name. 

Many will turn away from the faith and betray and hate each other. 

The increase of wickedness would cause the love of many to grow cold. 

The fact that Jesus predicted these very things is a good reminder to us that God is still in control. When we’re wondering where this is all going to end up we need not look any further than the Word of God. Jesus promised that he is going to prepare a place for us and that one day he would come back to bring us there. In a day when hope is hard to find, I am so grateful for the hope I have in Jesus!

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. – ‭‭John‬ ‭14:1-3‬ ‭

Think about when you were learning to drive. You were probably taught what to do when you lose control of your vehicle. There are some important steps to keep in mind that I thought made for a good analogy.

First you are told to remain calm no matter what. Panicking won’t help. God is in control. Nothing that happens catches him by surprise. We just need to relax and let God be God. (Psalm 46:10

Once you’ve calmed down, you are instructed to look in the direction of where you want to go, not where you are going! If you’ve lost control of your vehicle and are headed for a tree, don’t look at the tree! Look the road you want to be on. In the same way, during uncertain and scary times when we feel like everything is spinning out of control, we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus! (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Next you are told to point the wheels toward the direction you want to go in and not to slam on the brakes. God has a plan and he’s left us with instructions. It is our job to keep the wheel pointed in the right direction and to keep moving forward in his will even when it feels like the world is trying to pull us off the road. God is working in us to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:12-13)

And finally, to avoid skids, brake before a curve, not during it. When you see trouble coming, stop before you get any further. Don’t wait until you’re already in the curve to slam on the brakes. If you’ve accepted Jesus as your Savior, then you’ve been given the Holy Spirit to guide and direct you and to keep you on the straight path. So live by the Spirit and don’t gratify the desires of your sinful nature. (Galatians 5:16)

As we watch the world around us fall deeper and deeper into evil and hate, we must remember that God is in control. He has always known these things would happen and he has always had a plan that remains unchanged. We must continue to look up and not around because we have a Savior that has promised to return. And I’m not sure if you’ve read all the way to the end of the book, but spoiler alert – we win!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-2‬

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. – Philippians‬ ‭2:12-13

Haggai. Relevant today?

I began my quiet time with the Lord this morning praying for the Church in America. The Body of Christ. That we would get back on God’s program to spread the gospel and help the helpless. That we would quit all of the fighting. That we would humble ourselves and seek the Lord’s face and turn from our wicked ways. (2 Chronicles 7:14) As I finished praying and was ready to move on to reading my Bible, I felt lead to read the book of Haggai. So that is where I turned. 

It is true that the prophets of the Old Testament came to the Israelites with specific messages for specific times and that these messages are not always 100% transferable to us today. But we are clearly told in the New Testament that the things that happened back then happened as an example to us. (1 Corinthians 10) And the parallels I so often see to life today when I read the Old Testament are too close to ignore. So after praying for the Church and opening the book of Haggai the similarities between God’s people then and God’s people now were noticeably clear. The Israelites had allowed the temple of God to remain a ruin while they went about the business of taking care of their own homes. 

“Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” – Haggai‬ ‭1:3-6‬ ‭‬‬

“You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.” – Haggai‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭

God wanted them to turn their focus back to his house. He wanted them to rebuild a temple that he could “take pleasure in and be honored.” (Haggai 1:8) And what did the Israelites do when they heard this message from the Lord? “…the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God.” (Haggai 1:12)

I don’t doubt for a moment that God does not want the same thing today. For his people, the followers of Christ that make up the Church, to get with the program. His program. To turn our focus back to being the Church that Christ intended when he left us here. Spreading the gospel of salvation through Christ alone. Making disciples. Caring for the hurting and the helpless. Being the salt and the light in a lost world.