Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Belief is not Hatred

As a Christian you have probably heard someone accuse you of being hateful. Many have criticized us for believing in the reality of hell, and that this belief makes us hateful.

But simply believing something to be true does not mean that we hate people. For example:

I believe smoking causes lung cancer but I don’t hate smokers.

I believe not brushing your teeth causes cavities but I don’t hate people with cavities.

I believe soft drinks are unhealthy but I don’t hate people who drink them.

Even though I don’t hate those people I still warn anyone who will listen. I give my two cents about nicotine; I make my daughter brush her teeth; I use discipline when it comes to soft drinks. But I don’t hate anyone who doesn’t share my beliefs.

In the same way, I believe people who reject Christ with their lives go to hell after they die. But believing something to be true does not equal hatred.

I warn anyone who will listen about the reality of hell because I love them, not because I hate them. How could warning someone be hateful?

If you feel the same way—if the love of Christ compels you to love your neighbor as you love yourself—then share the gospel with all who will listen. It’s the most loving thing you can do.

“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
Luke 24:46-47

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

No Excuses

“But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?’"

Moses’ question seemed like a good one. He had, after all, once killed a man and had been living as a fugitive. But God’s answer back to Moses was even better than the question. God said, “I will certainly be with you (Exodus 3:11-12).”

God is not concerned about what we have done in the past, and He is not bothered by the fact that we are incapable of doing anything good on our own. All He asks is that we be obedient to follow Him in any way that He leads us. He will be with us, gifting us and guiding us through the Holy Spirit.

Are you involved in your local church? God called Moses to get involved, and He didn’t allow Moses to make any excuses. Each time Moses objected God was quick to remind Moses that He would be with him, and that He would put other people in Moses’ path that would help him out.

If God has called you to get involved in some way then don’t waste time making excuses. Acknowledge the fact that He called you because He knows that you are capable of success because He will be your strength. Trust God and do what He leads you to do. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Preach the Gospel

I love what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:16: “Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!”

Paul had been called by God in a very special way to preach the gospel, and he did so faithfully for the remainder of his life. He preached, knowing it would send him to prison, and then he preached while he was in prison to anyone that would listen.

But he didn’t preach about things that didn’t matter—his focus was always on Jesus. Paul said he could have given expositions on other topics, but instead he chose to preach nothing except “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2).”

Paul preached the gospel because he recognized it to be “the power of God unto salvation, to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).” He understood that the Word of God is “living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:12).”

Paul even encouraged young Timothy to "preach the word (2 Timothy 4:2)!"

You might not have had a Damascus Road conversion like Paul, but if the Lord has saved you, He has called you to preach the gospel. You might not be a pastor, but all believers are preachers.

If you understand the weight of the gospel message and what hangs in the balance for unbelievers, then you can say with Paul, “Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!”

Make it your aim today to share the gospel with someone. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Worth it in the End

Have you ever wondered why God allows us to go through hard times?

I’d be willing to bet that you have. If God loves us and is a good God, then surely He could make sure that we never go through hard times, never have our hearts broken, and never experience tragedy.

And yet all the above are a part of life. Consider how Joseph was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, and spent three years in a dungeon of a prison cell. The reality is he probably could have given in to the temptation to sleep with Potiphar’s wife and no one would have known; instead, he does the noble thing and refuses to sin against God, and he goes to jail for it.

How is that fair? To Joseph, it isn’t. But in God’s sovereignty something good came from it. Sometimes God allows us to see the fruit of our suffering, and sometimes that fruit is not produced for centuries after our death.

Last week in Nicaragua one of our group members was teaching the children the story of Joseph. There was an entire lesson dedicated to his imprisonment, which is a difficult message to teach children. But an elderly man walked up during the message and listened intently, and when the verse was read that the presence of the Lord was with Joseph in his cell, this man decided that he wanted the presence of the Lord in his life, and he gave his heart to Jesus.

For Joseph, his suffering certainly seemed unjustified; in Genesis 50:20 Joseph acknowledges how God turned his troubles into good, but that was in reference to his brothers selling him into slavery, not his wrongful imprisonment. Joseph never got to see that a man in Nicaragua would experience salvation because of his testimony in jail.

If you are enduring some hardship, stay strong; one day you just might meet someone in heaven who came to Christ because of your testimony.

But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
Genesis 39:21