Saturday, July 16, 2011

Proud to Stand with Them!

I have many fears:
A fear of drowning.
A fear of falling.
A fear of heights.

I also have a fear of sharing the Gospel with people one-on-one and handing out Gospel tracts!

There's something about not knowing what the person's reaction will be that makes sharing the Gospel a frightening thing.

And what makes this fear worse than any other fear is that it is spiritual in nature, and Satan and his demons exploit it to the utmost! If they can discourage someone from sharing about Christ, they will!

It's important to pray and not go out in our own strength, but rely on the strength of God!

Something else I hope will help you when you think to share the Gospel with someone and feel afraid: think of the persecuted Church!

Think of all that they give up for the privilege of sharing the Gospel with their neighbors:
- safety
- freedom
- family
- friends
- livelihood
- life...

Determine that it is an honor to stand with these faithful ones, even if you do not face the same hardships they do. Determine in your heart to take a stand for Jesus Christ, because many will stand for him even in the face of imprisonment and death!

Be proud to stand with them!

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Simple Lesson with BIG Implications

God's provision does not give occasion for my selfishness!

This week I've had the privilege of teaching Missions in the Vacation Bible School program at Arbor Christian Fellowship in Lake Forest, CA.

Every day I would try to give the children a treat so they'd have something to look forward to at the end of their time in my class. I brought a bag of Starburst candies with me. There are a lot of candies in one bag, but forgetting that it isn't a limitless supply, I couldn't resist twice dipping into the bag and eating a candy.

But on the last day, today, a sad thing happened. I was short two candies! I didn't have enough for everyone!

Which got me thinking: if I hadn't been selfish and taken candy for myself, I would have had enough candy at the end of the week for my students!

Which also got me thinking: though we trust in God to provide, His provision is not an occasion for us to be selfish!

Just because God graciously provided enough candy for my students, that did not mean He provided it for me to satisfy my own sweet tooth.

The things God provides are to be used for His purposes, not ours! Don't forget Who it is that provides for you! He is God! We are not!

Our Almighty Omnipotent God

There's nothing our All-powerful God cannot do!

Except sin.

But is that a limit to omnipotence? No.

Consider this... If something is perfect it can't be not-perfect, but that doesn't limit its perfection; indeed, it magnifies it!

The same is true of God. He is perfect and all-powerful! He cannot taint His own goodness, but that is no limit to His power; indeed, it magnifies His power!

Sin is born out of moral weakness and a corrupt nature. The fact that God cannot sin is a testimony to His perfection and His power, that He is incapable of anything base or evil.

Our God is Holy! Absolutely perfect!

Let us worship Him as the perfect, all-powerful God He is!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Book of Job & The Persecuted Church

The Book of Job is a moving account of a man who loses everything he has and yet remains faithful to God. You can read the book HERE.

While praying for the persecuted Church, I started thinking of Job and the commonalities he and the persecuted share.

1. They both (Job and the persecuted Church) suffer--not as the result of unrighteousness, but as the result of their righteousness.
- Job suffered because Satan told God that the reason Job loved and trusted God was because of God's blessings--and God gave permission for Satan to test him. Job was a righteous man. There was no one like him who feared God and walked with an upright heart (Job 1:1).
- The persecuted Church suffers because Satan desires to destroy their faith. It is because the Church lives by faith and in obedience and love for God that it is persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12).

2. Both Job and the persecuted Church demonstrate: Satan's evil fulfills God's purposes; Satan is a slave of God.
- God permitted Satan to torment Job--ultimately God used it for His own good purposes; He stopped the mouth of Satan, vindicated Job, and blessed him more after his trials than before.
- God permitted Satan to kill His Son--that God's perfect purpose of salvation might be fulfilled (Genesis 3:15).
- God permitted Satan to torment Paul--by sending a thorn in the flesh to humble him (2 Corinthians 12:7).
- God permits Satan to try and torment the Church--because trial and affliction refines our faith like gold and because God is working everything to our good; we also have sweet fellowship with Christ through sharing in His sufferings (Revelation 12:13-17; Zechariah 13:9; Romans 8:5; 1 Peter 4:13).

3. Job and the persecuted Church long for Christ's personal vindication.
- Job cried for a Mediator between God and man, not knowing that the One he was crying for was the God-Man Jesus Christ! Job desires a Mediator to represent his case to God, that his righteousness might be vindicated (Job 9:33).
- The persecuted Church longs for the day when they stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and hear "well done, good and faithful servant"! The martyrs around God's throne cry "how long until our blood is avenged"? (Matthew 25:23; Revelation 6:10)

The book of Job gives me a better appreciation for the trials of the persecuted Church.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Strong to Help

"With God's help!"

How have you heard this phrase used before?

Perhaps you've heard a high school graduate use it when talking about getting into the college they want: "With God's help! I'll get in!"

Perhaps you've heard a mother use it when discussing the disciplining of her children: "With God's help! They'll turn out alright!"

But in these instances, you could substitute the word "hopefully" and it would work just as well...by which I mean that we aren't always seriously putting our trust in God to help us as people in Scripture did when we use the phrase "with God's help"!

If we were putting our trust in God we wouldn't be hopeful in the sense of "I sure hope this turns out alright, because I'm not certain that it will" but we'd be hopeful in the sense of "I am certain this will turn out alright, because God is with me, and He's promised that all things will work together for my good (Romans 8:29)".

When people from Scripture spoke of God as their "help", they spoke this way:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. - Psalm 46:1b, ESV (emphasis mine)

And Asa cried to the LORD his God, “O LORD, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O LORD, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.” - 2 Chronicles 14:11, ESV (emphasis mine)

Surely the people in these passages were hoping the best for the future, but they were really trusting in God to help them! They knew that if God helped them, they would surely be helped! Our God does not fail!

I think the difference between them and us is that we speak of God so casually that we forget that He is the Living God - the One True God! He really does help His people, and by thinking small thoughts of the quality of help He offers, we forget just how strong to help He is!

Think BIG thoughts of God! I assure you that when you've thought the highest and the greatest you can of Him, He is higher and greater still!

Hallelujah!