Thursday, September 29, 2016

Scams From the Pulpit

Christ took the time to caution His followers against false prophets--they were those who would appear to be very religious, but yet they were void of the truth of God's Word.  He said in Matthew 7:15-16, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits." Throughout the corridors of time there have always been those who have sought to selfishly capitalize on the trust and vulnerability of others.  Christians are not immune to this temptation and it happens too often in Christian circles.  It shames the name of Christ and hinders the work of the Church in delivering the Gospel message to a dying world.  Once a ministry or pastor loses credibility with his flock or his community, his work there is pretty much over.  It also serves as a real set back for that ministry for years to come. 

Some would suggest that Christians are not to judge, but that is definitely not what Christ is saying here or elsewhere.  All things are to be measured against the standard of God's Word while taking caution that one's own life is in order spiritually.  The way to know a false prophet or a scammer is by the genuineness of their labor and by what they call Truth.  There are those in our country today who are building personal empires and fortunes at the expense of gullible people who fail to see through the false motives.  Even a false prophet / teacher appears to have fruit, but Christ says that their fruit is spoiled.  Each week there are false prophets delivering messages that are not from God's Word.  It is imperative that Christians search the Scriptures to make sure that all things that are taught are Biblical.  When the message from that religious leader is not founded upon Scripture and it fails to promote the glory of God, then it is time to step away from that leader and that ministry.  God's Word must serve as the foundation that drives all Christian ministries--especially Christ's church.  False prophets are guilty of NOT presenting the entire truth of God's Word; they love to talk about love and focus on feelings.  A false prophet is one who fails to present the entirety of the Gospel.  Many false prophets today are all about money, self-glory, and building large ministries and they fail to talk about the authority of Scripture. 

Take heed and be like the Bereans in Scripture who searched all things that the Apostle Paul was teaching them in order to see whether or not the Truths were accurate according to Scripture (Acts 17:11).

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Feeling Lost and Helpless

Does anyone know that I'm even here?  Would I be missed if I was not around?  Is this the way that the rest of my life is going to be?  Can anyone hear me? Why am I questioning the value of my own existence.

These are questions and voices that many Christians have listened to over the years.  These questions have led some to make bad decisions and have caused others to seek help.  Christians are capable of entertaining these very negative thoughts when they drift from fellowship with Jesus Christ.  The lies of the enemy come quickly and sharply.  Satan knows our weaknesses and he has been around much longer than we have.

When we walk close to Christ, stay in His Word, and spend time in fellowship with God's church it is less likely to get caught up believing the lies of the evil one.  We are valued so much that Jesus Christ died for us personally and He is praying for us today.  It is true, "No one ever cared for me like Jesus."  You may be wandering in the wilderness today and wondering if anybody knows or cares.  Please read and pray through the following verses and stay victorious through Christ who truly gives us the victory.  You are truly worth it!
  1. Deuteronomy 31:6, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
  2. Psalm 25:16, "Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted."
  3. Psalm 68:5-6, "A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widow, Is God in His holy habitation. God makes a home for the lonely; He leads out the prisoners into prosperity, Only the rebellious dwell in a parched land. 
  4. Psalm 147:3, "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."
  5. Isaiah 41:10, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
  6. 1 Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."
  7. Romans 8:31-39, "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,

    But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Thursday, September 15, 2016

10 Ways to Practice Normal Evangelism

Last week I spoke about 10 reasons why people don't share Christ.  This week I read a well written blog on 10 practices for effectively sharing Christ written by Juan Sanchez.  PLEASE take the time to read this blog as it can powerfully prepare you to share your faith in Christ.
Juan Sanchez writes:
Many of us find evangelism daunting, even frightening. However, evangelism should take place as we naturally converse with people. As we have normal conversations, we are to look for opportunities to speak to people about Christ. In a normal evangelism culture, we will pray together for the unbelieving, and we will celebrate gospel conversations, not just “deals closed.”
Here are 10 practices of normal evangelism.
Know the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Four words provide an outline for the gospel: God, man, Christ, response. When we understand the gospel, we know that GOD is holy and created a world without sin. God provided mankind with all he needed to dwell in his presence. But, MAN rebelled against God, and rebellion requires judgment, the penalty of which is death. Yet, God in his grace, provided CHRIST as a representative substitute to live a life of perfect obedience and to receive upon himself the penalty of sin on our behalf. Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day, proving his victory over sin and death. Now, all who RESPOND with repentance from sin and faith in Jesus have eternal life. This is the good news that we must know in order to share it with others.
Live your life in light of this gospel. As this gospel takes root in our own lives and we begin to apply it to our marriages, parenting, relationships, and lives together as a church, then our lives will be markedly different than the world and thereby attractive. How can we announce that this gospel is the power of God to save and change lives if we who profess Christ continue living just like the world?
Pray and fast for unbelievers (John 14:12-14; 15:7-8). One reason unbelieving people are not on our minds is because we don’t pray for them. Make a list of unbelieving people and begin praying for their salvation. But also ask God to open doors for evangelism, then by faith be obedient when the opportunities arise.
Be willing to share your life with unbelievers (1 Thessalonians. 2:1-8). If we are going to reach unbelievers, we need to get to know them: where they live, shop, eat, recreate. Look for opportunities to relate with them where they are, instead of thinking they will come to us. Let us wisely share our lives with unbelievers: talking to them, inviting them to church or into your home for a meal.
Share the gospel with urgency (2 Peter 3:8-10). To be sure, we need to share the gospel naturally & clearly, but we must also share it urgently. Right now is the time for salvation. When a person dies or Christ returns, there will be no more opportunities for repentance and faith.
Study the doctrine of hell. If you lack urgency in evangelism, then study the doctrine of hell. As you consider the fate of those who reject Christ, ask God to break your heart and move you with urgency to share the good news with the lost.
Invite unbelievers to repent and believe. The gospel requires a response. We must call on all people everywhere to repent (turn away from their sinful ways) and believe (in Jesus Christ).
Invite unbelievers to church. Invite the unbelieving, unchurched to come with you on the Lord’s day so that they may hear the gospel proclaimed. Surprisingly, in a 2010 study of unbelieving, unchurched people in Austin, a large number indicated that they would be open to invitations to go to church. Imagine that! They don’t come because we don’t ask.
Trust Christ for the results. Faithfulness, not results is what God requires of us. Salvation is of the Lord, so we must trust the sovereign Lord to do his work in the hearts of unbelieving people. Our responsibility is to faithfully share the gospel indiscriminately.
Share with others and ask them to join you in prayer. I have found it encouraging to hear other Christians’ stories of evangelism. Share your evangelism encounters, celebrate simply sharing the gospel, and pray together for those souls. Let’s make evangelism normal again!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

10 Reasons Why Churches Don't Reach Others for Christ

Spiritual apathy is a problem for many Christians because we have gotten used to fulfilling what we believe to be the minimum that God would require of us.  One area that is often neglected is our obedience to share our faith, also known as the Great Commission.  I imagine this could be because nobody is around to see if if we are really doing it.

A survey was done as to why many churches are not evangelizing or sharing the Gospel with the lost.  Here are the top 10 reasons according to Church Health Consultant, Thom Rainer:

  1. They don’t really believe people need Jesus. Unless church members and leaders really believe in the lostness of humanity without Christ, they will not be evangelistic. John 14:6 is a clear biblical statement on the exclusivity of Christ for salvation. Too many leaders and members only give lip service to it.
  2. Evangelism is spiritual warfare. In the most carnal sense, life is easier without being evangelistic. Spiritual warfare is tough. Sometimes it seems to be easier to go AWOL from the battle than to fight in the trenches.
  3. It’s hard work. From time to time someone will ask me, “What is the easiest way to get our church to do evangelism?” The answer is “none of the above.” Too many churches have become self-serving country clubs rather than obedient and sacrificial vessels of God.
  4. Evangelism requires intentionality. God did not say, “Share the gospel as you stay where you are.” He said, “Go” (Matthew 28:19). When you “go,” you have to know where you are going. That requires intentionality.
  5. Effective evangelism often requires we pray for the opportunities. Consider this challenge. Begin each day with a prayer that God will bring people in your path (or help you to see them) where you can be a gospel witness in word and deed. I have been amazed (though I shouldn’t be) how God has answered that prayer in my own life.
  6. Too many people have too many excuses. One church member told me the entire county where he lives was fully churched. In fact, he said there are too many churches. There are, he said, no gospel opportunities. I then showed him demographics that showed his county was 62% unchurched. His response? “I don’t believe that.”
  7. Too many churches are too busy to do evangelism. If your church has so many activities, meetings, and programs that your members never have time to develop relationships and share the gospel, your church is too busy. Some times Satan’s most powerful tool is to get us doing good things to the neglect of the best thing.
  8. Church leaders are not evangelistic. If the pastor, staff, elders, deacons, and teachers are not evangelistic, it is unlikely the church will be evangelistic. The church members will follow that disobedient example.
  9. Many church leaders and members don’t know their field or ministry area. Jesus said, “the harvest is abundant, but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37). So where is the harvest field? Too many churches neglect their community because they are really ignorant of who is there and what their needs are.
  10. Evangelism is counter-cultural. If you want to be a people pleaser, don’t be evangelistic. Culture hates the gospel that says there is only one way of salvation. But if you want to be a God-pleaser, share the gospel. You may die doing it, but what an honor to pay such a price!

PLEASE, pray for an opportunity to share the Gospel with a lost soul this week and watch God open the door for you to step forward.  Paul said, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile." (Romans 1:16).

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Finding Peace Amidst the Storm

Many times, the storms in my life move upon me rather quickly, while I'm enjoying some of the best of life.  My natural thought is often, "how long will I  have to endure this situation" and not necessarily how will I make it through or how will God glorify Himself through this storm.  I've watched friends and family members deal with hardships that I would never wish on anyone else.  I'm truly thankful that my anchor holds firm in Jesus Christ and that He truly provides confidence and hope for the future. Let's rest in Him.

Take some time to meditate and pray these 10 verses concerning PEACE from Scripture.  May you find your hope and strength in Jesus Christ today.

  1. Colossians 3:15, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful."
  2. Galatians 5:22-23b, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."
  3. Hebrews 12:14, "Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord."
  4. 1 Peter 5:7, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
  5. Philippians 4:7, "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
  6. Proverbs 16:7, "When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them."
  7. Psalm 29:11, "The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace."
  8. Psalm 119:165, "Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.
  9. Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you."
  10. Matthew 11:28-30,  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”