To the Glory of God

“Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7)

The power of influence we have over others is a tremendous responsibility. Jesus discussed this in terms of our being salt and light in Matthew 5. Christians are the salt of the earth. According to one little girl in a Sunday school class — “Salt is what makes food taste bad when you leave it out.” Salt is also a preservative used to keep food from spoiling. I believe God expects us (Christians) to give flavor to life and to be the instruments in keeping the world from going bad.

We are also supposed to be the light of the world. We can no more hide our influence than a city on a hill can be hidden. We are to shine our light of influence in such a manner that people who see us will glorify God. 

That’s what I’ve been thinking about this week. When people over whom we have influence look at us or think about our lives and ministries — have we behaved in such a manner that people glorify God because of us? In Romans 15, Paul instructs us that we should be eager to do good to our neighbors in the spirit of Jesus Christ. Christians are literally supposed to inconvenience themselves in order to help someone else. 

One of the problems I see is that there are people who call themselves Christians who will seek to take advantage of that spirit in others. These folks will try and use YOU for their evil purposes. They may be living in open rebellion to God and they will try and convince you that their actions and attitudes are justified so you will side with them. STOP and ask yourself this question — if I say this or do this — will others look at me as glorifying God?

Psalm 1:1 says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.” Note the progression — walking, standing and sitting. The sinner feels better if he/she can cause others to be engaged in his sin too. Do not allow the sin of others cause you to engage in the same sin. Romans 1:32 says, “who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”

Is somebody criticizing your pastor and gossiping about your church? DON’T PARTICIPATE. You may think you know all the facts — but it is likely that you don’t and by getting involved in the gossip — you are as guilty as the one spreading the lies. Unity within the body of Christ and our witness in the world is more important than selfish, prideful causes that only tear down the work of Christ. Are my actions bringing glory to God or attention to myself?

Is somebody trying to get you to take sides in an issue at work. You’ve heard their story and are ready to lead the charge against the boss and take down “THE MAN.” STOP — will this glorify God? Will your actions and words point people to Christ or will they serve to only fuel a fire that doesn’t need to be burning?

Do you see my point? Romans 14:1 says, “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.” You and I should NEVER deliberately engage young Christians in arguments about difficult theological positions nor should we confuse them with obscure Bible passages in order to make ourselves look “more spiritual.” That is sin. We are — by our words and our actions — to always bring glory to God. That means we are to bring that weaker brother or sister along in the faith — building them up, encouraging them and helping them — not enlisting them in the army of the disgruntled.

Here are a few conclusions I have come to over 32 years of pastoral ministry…

ALL of us will give account of ourselves to God.

We must seek to win others to Christ and to build them up in the Christian faith.

We should NEVER willfully become a stumbling block in the way of another believer.

We cannot allow legalistic Christians to influence us too much. In the long run, we serve the cause of Christ  better by being loyal to the highest we know rather than by compromising to please someone else.

Remember…Paul says we are to “receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.” Is that what your actions and speech are doing today?

Have a great day.

 

Even When It Doesn’t Make Sense

“And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.” (Exodus 14:13)

Let me just go on and throw this out there…

I have learned that while God’s Word is often specific — it is not always logical. Let me explain.

When you come to Exodus 14, you find Pharaoh in hot pursuit of the Israelites. In verse 2, God told Moses to “tell the sons of Israel to turn back and camp” at a particular location by the sea. This was a very specific instruction, but it sure wasn’t very logical. When you are running from the land of slavery, it just doesn’t make sense to “turn back and camp.”

But remember…God sees the big picture and you and I only see a small glimpse of the whole story.  You see, this was a trap for Pharaoh and a set-up to show the glory of God. Pharaoh was about to become the foundation for a display of the power of God. In Exodus 5, you will remember that Pharaoh rejected God. You simply can’t do that. You don’t reject God to His face and get away with it.

In verse 9, the Egyptians are chasing the Israelites with all their horses and chariots. As they got closer and closer, the people began to panic (v. 10). And even worse — they turned on their leader (v. 11). What was the problem? It’s a simple principle I want you to remember — If you haven’t heard the WORD — panic is going to be your response.

God’s people needed to realize that you can absolutely trust God’s Word. But if you are not in the Word, you will not know the way. Before we start blaming and before we start to panic, the best course of action is to humble ourselves before God and His Word. When we try to figure out for ourselves without consulting the Word of God, we end up making a big mess of things. 

There are plenty of people who are waking up this morning and because of poor choices and bad judgment, they are asking the question — “What in the world have I done?” They are panicked. And that is exactly the reaction we will have unless we seek guidance from God’s Word.

I’m thankful today for Exodus 14:13! Moses had heard the Word. And when you hear the Word, you have confidence. The Bible is full of examples of this — David before Goliath, Daniel in the lion’s den. Having a Word from God gives us confidence. Moses said, “Don’t panic! Stand by and just trust God.” That’s great advice. God’s Word may not always make sense logically, but it is always right.

Have a great day.

It Costs TOO MUCH!

“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:11-12)

EVERYBODY is concerned about the cost of things.

“Amen to that Preacher! Have you been out and tried to buy anything lately. EVERYTHING costs TOO MUCH!”

I remember hearing a preacher condense his financial philosophy into the following statement:

“When your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep has become your downfall.”

The government spends way more than they take in — so they are trying to take more and more of what we have. TV is filled with pitchmen hawking the latest gadgets that you simply MUST HAVE — all for the low, low price of 4 easy payments of $29.95 plus shipping and handling. 

As I was reading in John’s Gospel this morning, it occurred to me that the cost of rejecting Jesus Christ as your Lord of your life is much greater than the cost involved with surrendering your life to Him. Go back and read John 1:11-12 again. This text indicates that God is eager to bring great blessings to our lives when we confess our sin, repent and surrender our lives to Him. That means when a person rejects Christ, he/she automatically deprive themselves of blessings that are only available through a personal relationship with Christ.

I guess this was on my mind because people often say to me — “I just don’t think I can become a Christian. I have to give up too much.” That always reminds me that we are thinking about our relationship with Christ in the wrong way. Instead of thinking in terms of what it is going to cost in order to become a Christian — how about thinking about what it is going to cost if you REFUSE Christ and shut Him out of your life.

There are many, many blessings that are ours when we commit our lives to Christ — but let me suggest just a couple of things we are given when we commit our lives to Christ.

1. We become children of God!
While God is the creator of ALL people — He is FATHER only to those who are related to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. Paul said in Galatians 3:26, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” This sonship doesn’t occur through natural birth but through SUPERnatural! What a blessing.

2. We experience the joy of forgiveness!
Man is a sinner. ALL men (and women too) are sinners. The wages of sin is death. There is not one among us who is not a sinner. We all stand guilty before God. There is no way by which we can atone for our own sin.

BUT GOD…in His grace and mercy offers to us the gift of forgiveness through the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross. Acts 10:43 says, “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”

3. We have the peace of God!
Many people think that peace comes through financial security. Others think peace is found in physical health. Peace is a blessing for which all our hearts hunger. 

The greatest peace is the peace which is possible for the soul of man through faith in Jesus Christ. When we get saved, we entrust our past, present and future into His hands. This provides a peace of heart and mind that is absolutely impossible to define. 

You can prepare for death financially — making sure your family is taken care of when you die.

You can prepare for death legally — making sure you have a will, power of attorney, and a DNR order for illness.

But the greatest peace that can be known is when you know that you have trusted Christ as Savior and you are prepared to meet Him in eternity. Dr. Adrian Rogers used to say, “A man is never really prepared to live until he is also prepared to die.”

4. We have a home at the end of life’s journey!
Our home is a special place prepared by God Himself for His people. Heaven is a place where rewards will be given to Christians which will in turn be presented as offerings to the Lord Jesus Christ. Heaven will be a place of perfect holiness where sin will never enter. Heaven is a place where sorrow, sickness, pain and death are banished. 

For a person to reject Christ automatically means they have deprived themselves of these and so many more wonderful blessings given to God’s children. Christ is not an intruder. He will not come into your life unless He is welcome. The cost of rejecting Him is exceedingly high. The benefits of receiving Him cannot be fully described. 

Do you know Him today? It really costs TOO MUCH not to know Him!

Have a great day.

You Truly Can Trust HIM

“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (I John 4:4)

I know people who struggle with the notion that you can FULLY trust God in every situation in their life. They wonder if He really understands their struggles. They wonder if He can sympathize with their trials. 

Of course He can and He does!

Matthew 4:1 says, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Jesus Christ had firsthand experience with the devil. Satan tried to lure Jesus away from the place of faithfulness and obedience to the will of God even as he had succeeded in tempting Adam and Eve. 

The tactics of the devil have not changed. In the same he tempted our first parents and in the same way he tempted our Savior — he tries to entice us to be disobedient to God. If you read Matthew 4 and see how the devil tempted Jesus, you see the way he turns and twists Scripture. He implied that God exists in order to satisfy our hungers. He encouraged Jesus to make a god out of bread. He came to Christ and he comes to us dressed neatly, speaking smooth words and he has perfect manners. He tempts us with a promise to fulfill our natural desires for pleasure, power and peace. The devil’s ultimate goal is to separate us from the source of our strength.

When you consider the way Jesus handled the devil in the desert, you once again are shown in God’s Word that our strength comes from complete surrender to the will of God. Man — even in weakness — surrendered wholly to God is stronger than man in his own strength standing alone. 

The temptation of Christ was REAL. And it served as an example to us. We see from Christ that to be tempted is not an indication of being exceedingly sinful. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Writing about this verse, Dr. W.A. Criswell said, “Temptation to sin is endemic to humanity, and since Jesus was fully human, He experienced every kind of temptation known to man. Yet the results of His temptations are different from the rest of mankind: He never sinned.”

Whatever the devil throws our way today — we are able to be victorious. Not because we can defeat the devil — we can’t. Not because we are perfect — we aren’t. We are victorious because JESUS defeated the devil and because JESUS is perfect. And since the Holy Spirit resides in my heart and life — I can say with confidence…

“He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world!”

Thank you God for Jesus!

Have a great day.

 

Consider Your Ways…

“Thus says the Lord of hosts; ‘Consider your ways!'” (Haggai 1:7)

Just about every day, someone calls or emails me to get my opinion on some issue going on in the world. It seems we are seeking to interpret the factors that contribute to either the success or failure of a particular thing. Churches are copying other churches in an effort to be successful even though the situation, location and demographic of the churches are vastly different.

Peace talks are taking place all over the world in an attempt to get people to “play nice” with their neighbor. One administration tries to work “overtime” to correct as many of the mistakes of their predecessors as possible. Politicians get on their soapbox every day to place all the blame for our nation’s troubles on their political opponents. Democrats are blaming the Republicans and Republicans are blaming the Democrats. We are constantly trying to out-maneuver our rivals in order to get a step ahead in the next election cycle.

Educators bewail the fact that the county or the state doesn’t provide sufficient funds to adequately train personnel. Administrators are trying to blame teachers because class achievement is not up to the “standard.” Most of those administrators have never spent a day in a classroom. 

The truth is that we, the people find ourselves in a condition similar to one which existed during the last days of the kingdom of Judah when Jeremiah was speaking for God. In Jeremiah 8:6, God said, “I listened and heard, but they do not speak aright. No man repented of his wickedness, saying, ‘What have I done?’ Everyone turned to his own course, as the horse rushes into the battle.”

Instead of always seeking to place the blame on someone else for the trouble in which we find ourselves — the Bible says in our verse today that we should be honest and make a sincere appraise of OUR OWN ways of thinking and behaving. In the church, in government, in education, in our personal lives — we need to look in the mirror and simply ask “WHAT HAVE I DONE?”

During the days of Jeremiah, Haggai and other prophets of God, people refused to face this question because they were too busy thinking about and discussion the failures of everybody else. Haggai cut to the chase when he simply said — “Consider your ways.”

What does that actually mean?

Ask yourself these questions…

          Are my ways WISE?

                    Are my ways PROFITABLE?

                              Will my ways END WELL?

In the time of Haggai, calamity had come upon the nation of Israel and God sent His prophet to interpret the events of the world to the people. Haggai told the people that the root of their trouble was the fact that they had left God out. They had postponed doing His will. They had given God a secondary place in life. They had treated God as a needless ingredient in life.

If you back up a verse from our verse today — look at what Haggai says…

“You have sown much, and bring in little;
You eat, but do not have enough;
You drink, but you are not filled with drink;
You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm;
And he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” (Haggai 1:6)

Instead of looking for people to blame for our troubles — let’s take a look in the mirror at ourselves. Instead of constantly talking about what THEY ought to do — ask God to reveal what YOU should be doing. Now is the time for Christians to give ourselves to the deepening and enriching of our personal relationship with Christ. We will be more effective in our witnessing when we have considered our own ways.

The people of the Old Testament followed the path of selfishness — and that is idolatry. They placed themselves on the throne of their soul instead of permitting God to occupy that place which belongs only to Him. The people became more concerned about their own comfort and luxury than about the things of God. 

Take time today to stop blaming everybody else for your trouble. “Consider your ways…” Ask God to show you what is wise and profitable and what will bring glory to Him. 

Have a great day.

Take a Look Around You

“Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest.” (John 4:35)

Think about this statement…

As God looked down upon man and being fully aware of the many perils to which we would be exposed…God was moved BY HIS GRACE AND MERCY to send His one and only Son to die on the cross that you and I might be saved.

The Bible says that when Jesus looked out and saw the needy multitudes of people, He was “moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” Jesus literally experienced pain in His heart because He saw people as distressed, despairing, defeated, doomed and diseased because of sin. We even see that when Jesus looked upon the city of Jerusalem, He wept over it. Why did Jesus weep? He wept because of the spiritual condition of men and women, boys and girls and because of the blessings WHICH THEY WERE MISSING because of the eternal destiny of their souls.

How about the Apostle Paul? I think you see the same attitude. In Romans 9:1-3, the Bible says, “I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh…”

“Boy, Pastor Keith…I understand this! When I look at the world today, I just shake my head in disbelief. I can’t believe people act like they act. It is enough to make me cry because this is not the world I grew up in.”

While I appreciate your sentiment in that statement, I’m afraid that you and I are MISSING THE POINT. We are concerned about OUR SAFETY and OUR COMFORT and how people treat US when that is not what God, Jesus or Paul was concerned about. In fact, when people have permitted THE COMPASSION of Christ for lost people to truly permeate and saturate their hearts — REVIVAL BREAKS OUT! Lost people get saved, Christians recapture the purpose of the church and God’s work moves forward in the world. 

On the other hand, when we ignore the perils to which our family, friends and neighbors are exposed — our compassion is chilled and our evangelistic zeal dies and the church suffers. Indifference, a cold, compassionless and complacent church is a hindrance to the redemptive progress of the Gospel. Unconcern for the souls of lost people is the result of a preoccupation with one thing — ME! When I am more concerned about MY safety, MY preferences, and MY comfort — I am eventually lulled to sleep and I fail to see the lost condition of souls around me.

We have joined the cult of comfort and we relax on the cushion of contentment instead of bearing a cross for the salvation of a lost world. We have become executive officers on God’s SITTING SQUAD. Instead of today’s church being a power station — it has become nothing more than a cold storage plant.

Instead of lamenting over the condition of the world as if we had no answer — we need to put our indifference aside and once again shed tears for the souls of our lost family and friends. Indifference and unconcern often grow out of forgetfulness. We have forgotten what it was like to be lost. When we remember our condition prior to our being saved by the grace of God — we will also regain our ability to have true compassion on the lost people who surround us. We will once again begin to go out into the highways and hedges to proclaim the Gospel of God’s redeeming love.

One of my favorite hymns was written by Charles Carroll Luther. Take your time and read these words and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart…

Must I go and empty-handed,
Thus my dear Redeemer meet?
Not one day of service give Him,
Lay no trophy at His feet?

O the years in sinning wasted;
Could I but recall them now,
I would give them to my Savior,
To His will I’d gladly bow.

Must I go, and empty-handed?
Must I meet my Savior so?
Not one soul with which to greet Him:
Must I empty-handed go?

Instead of weeping over how bad it is FOR YOU because of the way the world is today…think about the peril of those who are lost without Christ in this world. May our tears bear witness to the fact that we have taken a look around us and we see that the fields are indeed which unto harvest. Remember…

Lost people are lost TODAY
Lost people can be saved TODAY
Lost people are invited to come to Christ TODAY
You and I are commanded to have compassion on the lost TODAY!

Have a great day.

A Confident Communication

“So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.'” (Romans 1:15-17)

Rome was the Queen City of the Empire. Rome was the place of poets and legislators, wealth, power and magnificence. And yet, with GREAT CONFIDENCE, Paul knew that the message he preached was exactly what people needed to meet the deepest need in their hearts. Paul was convinced that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was the only solution to the problems of the world’s sin.

I believe that those of us who claim the name of Christ today desperately need to be infected with Paul’s enthusiasm. We need to be possessed by a passion for lost souls. We need to be convinced that the Gospel is the solution to the world’s problems — but not only the world’s problems — it is the answer to national problems and individual problems as well. We need to confidently communicate this wonderful Gospel to all the world.

Why was Paul so confident and how can you and I have that same confidence?

Let me quickly give you three words to remember that will help you have a confident communication of this Good News!

SOURCE
The source of the Gospel is not man — it is God. The Gospel was born in His heart. It was revealed to us at Bethlehem’s manger. It was demonstrated to us on Calvary’s cross. I am confident in the Gospel message because it doesn’t come from the thoughts of man — it comes from the heart of God.

SUBSTANCE
The Gospel message is not just good advice. The Gospel is GOOD NEWS about God as He has revealed Himself in the person, life, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. 

Much of what supposedly passes as “preaching” today is not preaching at all. If your pastor doesn’t mention the Good News about salvation through Christ alone, by grace alone, in faith alone — he hasn’t preached. If you go to church to learn 7 Ways to Be a Better Person, or 12 Steps to Financial Success — you’ve gone to a seminar but you haven’t heard a sermon. 

A preacher must NEVER stray from the substance of the Gospel. And the Gospel is this (according to the Scripture) — “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…” (I Corinthians 15:1-4)

THAT is the Gospel and THAT is the substance of our message and it’s not a sermon if the Gospel is not presented.

I often hear people get up to give their personal testimonies. I cringe when I listen and more time is spent on who they USED to be instead of who they ARE NOW IN CHRIST! Our testimony is nothing more than a story without the good news of God’s love demonstrated in the gift of Jesus Christ for us. I don’t want to glorify my life BEFORE Christ — I want to tell people of the grace God gave me when He saved my soul. HE ALONE DESERVES ALL THE GLORY AND PRAISE!

The final word is very important…

SCOPE
Luke 2:10 says, “Fear not: For behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” The Gospel invitation includes ALL — and you know what all means — right?

“Yes preach, I know what all means. You tell me ALL the time. All means all and that’s all all means.”

Correct. I’m glad you are listening.

It doesn’t matter what color you are, what economic status you have achieved, what condition your life may be in or what prominence you may have reached in this life — the Gospel is for YOU! The Gospel is FOR all — NEEDED BY all — and WITHIN THE REACH of all! Even a little child can trust. By faith, a sinner can receive Jesus Christ from a grounded submarine on the bottom of the ocean. By faith, an astronaut can receive Jesus Christ while speeding through space. A ditch-digger can receive Christ standing with a shovel in a ditch beside the road. The Gospel is for ALL!

I pray that like Paul, I will communicate this Gospel message with great confidence for the remaining years God gives to me. Jesus came to save. Jesus died to save. Jesus lives today to save. I pray He will use my tongue to communicate that message in every sermon I preach.

Have a great day.

Don’t Grow Weary…

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10)

As believers, we have a mutual responsibility one to another according to the Apostle Paul. In Galatians, Paul lays down some principles that should apply in all of our relations within the church. He basically says that you and I should seek to be a channel of good toward others.

Church membership is not taken as seriously today as it used to be. And yet, the Bible is clear that as members of the body of Christ we have a unique opportunity and a heavy responsibility. As members of a local assembly, we are mutually responsible for the welfare of each other. 

Paul wrote to Timothy (I Timothy) with specific instructions. He said, “but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (I Timothy 3:15)

When you take the words of our verse today (Galatians 6:9-10) seriously, you have not only the rules of conduct toward those who are “in the church,” but also toward those “outside the church.”

Do Good to ALL
As believers, our normal desire SHOULD BE to do good toward everyone. Nowhere should that be more evident than in the church itself. And yet, I’m not so naive to know that sometimes people who call themselves “Christians” are the meanest and most selfish people I have ever known. That’s a sad statement — but true. But it should not be so. The relationship we have with people within the body of Christ is made possible by the grace of God. That, in and of itself, should provide a new motive for service.

When you and I got saved, we didn’t get a “make-over.” We became NEW CREATURES! That new nature causes us to WANT to do God’s will. And it is God’s will that a Christian should perform good works (Titus 3:8). We were created in Christ Jesus for the purpose of doing good things (Ephesians 2:10).

In spite of all the difficulties involved in constant “doing good,” the Bible promises a good harvest. One translation presents Galatians 6:9-10 this way — “Never let us grow tired of doing what is right, for if we do not faint we shall reap our harvest at the opportune season.”

The harvest may not come when you expect it and it may not even come in your lifetime — but the harvest WILL COME “in due season” — which is God’s time! In I Corinthians 15:58, Paul said, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

In other words — keep on keeping on. The promises of God are sure. When we do good toward others (both in and out of the church) our hearts will be satisfied. We are a good witness for our Lord when we do good toward others — both inside the family and those outside. Don’t give up and don’t grow weary. We have a responsibility and an opportunity to display the love and grace of Jesus Christ to others — both in the household of faith and those who SHOULD be a part of the household of faith!

Have a great day.

 

A Quick Evaluation

“And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.” (Acts 5:42)

It is difficult for us today to recapture the character and spirit of the early church because too many people associate the church with a building. The early church had no buildings. They just had JESUS and the impact they made on their world was amazing. I believe it is time for every local congregation to do a quick evaluation against the example of the early church. Regardless of the way the world has changed, our message has NOT changed and we can and should function like the early church. They truly saw themselves as THE BODY OF CHRIST.

Think about the church you attend. On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being not very well and 10 being great — how well do you do at the following?

*Are you a missionary church?

*Are you a worshiping church?

*Are you a friendly church?

*Are you a ministering church?

*Are you an evangelistic church?

If we are honest, we will have to admit that most of our churches do ok on the first 4 questions — but we have fallen woefully short on question number 5. There are thousands of churches in my denomination (the Southern Baptist Convention) who didn’t win a single soul to the Lord last year! Many other churches reported only 1 or 2 conversions in a year. Considering the fact that over half the population of the state of Tennessee admits they are not Christian — that means we have dropped far beneath the New Testament ideal. We have ONE JOB and we are failing miserably at that job. We were told to win the world to Christ. We financially support missionaries, we keep up with the latest trends in worship and music, we try and make sure that guests are welcomed to our services and we bend over backwards to minister to the needs of the congregation. But what about winning souls to Christ?

When you evaluate the early church, you see they were OVERWHELMED by the greatness of God’s immeasurable love for lost people. They were captivated by a deep conviction of the lostness of people. They were thrilled by the tremendous power of the Gospel. And they were energized by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Where are those attitudes in church today? We concentrate on programs and methods and we have failed at the most important job given to us. One of the most important words in our verse today (Acts 5:42) is the word DAILY. The early church’s evangelistic outreach was not annually or semi-annually. It wasn’t weekly. It was DAILY and it was IN THE TEMPLE.

The temple was the normal place of worship. God’s people did not see it as just a place to go only on the Sabbath. One of the most tragic things I have observed in my lifetime is the fact that many of our church facilities are used for only a couple of hours — one day a week. We need to open the doors and MINISTER — not only to our own people but to the communities we are supposed to care about.

Not only was this ministry DAILY in the temple — it was also IN EVERY HOUSE. You see, lost people are not likely to drive by your church on Sunday and say – “I sure do need to go to that church this morning.” Unsaved people are not going to come to the church unless they are sought and drawn by the Holy Spirit of God — perhaps in response to YOUR personal testimony. Romans 3:11 says, “There is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God.” 

The Seeker Sensitive movement has it all wrong. People are NOT out there seeking after God. The Bible says we don’t do that. That’s why God SEEKS us! We don’t naturally look for Him (He’s not the one who is lost). He came seeking for me — by sending Jesus Christ to this earth to reconcile me to God.

We are certainly commanded to GO to the lost. The early church never ceased to teach and preach. They were persistent and persuasive. They presented the only thing they had — JESUS! Our message has always been the Good News of the love of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. That’s what it is GOOD NEWS not good advice!

Today’s church needs to return to a more responsive attitude toward the Great Commission. Gratitude motivated them. The needs of lost people pulled at their hearts. The joy of being a bearer of Good News excited them. And the wonderful pleasure of witnessing souls being saved kept them at their job. 

I pray we will evaluate our churches today and that we will return to doing the job we were given. WIN THE LOST! Let’s get busy.

Have a great day.

Are You An Ambassador for Christ?

“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” (II Corinthians 5:20)

In the Bible, Christians are referred to as children of God, brothers and sisters of Christ, and even friends of God. But one of the titles that inspires me most is the title of AMBASSADOR for CHRIST. According to the dictionary, an ambassador is “an envoy or minister of state of high rank sent on a mission by one sovereign or state to another.”

An ambassador then is a spokesman or representative of one state with the authority to speak to the authorities of another state. THAT is an impressive job description! As Ambassadors for Christ, you and I have been authorized by God Almighty to speak His message of reconciliation to a lost world. We are the official representatives of the King of kings. We serve our Sovereign and therefore, ours is a position of great responsibility.

I have been thinking about what it really means to say that “I am an Ambassador for Christ.” What are my responsibilities and functions? Let me suggest just two that I thought of.

1. We must first guard against misrepresenting Christ.
People today want to argue about which theological system is better. Here is an important lesson I have learned. If your theological system becomes more important than your Savior — you have missed the point and you are misrepresenting Christ.

Instead of picking fights with fellow believers over secondary theological issues, we must be diligent to properly and adequately represent Christ by being genuinely Christian. I hesitate to get into certain groups of people because I know that before long, they are going to want to quiz me on my eschatology or ask me about “the elect” or argue about where Cain got his wife. I avoid those people and those conversations because I’m well aware that sincere and more educated people than me differ on these issues and there is a high likelihood that a lost person may listen to our conversation and determine they want nothing to do with Christianity because of the way we conduct our “friendly discussion.” 

2. I am a messenger for God
God desires to speak through us to a lost, wayward, and guilty world. I am a messenger of the pleading Christ. My message to this lost, wayward, guilty world is simple. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Corinthians 5:21).

My message is a revelation of what God has done for us in His Son, Jesus Christ. He has provided a Savior who knew no sin. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

God has placed my sin and your sin upon the sinless Savior. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

The sinless One suffered for the sinful.

I am therefore an Ambassador for Christ — pleading with sinners, just like me — to “be reconciled to God.” God could have chosen angels for this task, but for some unknown reason to me, He bypassed the angels. God has chosen to work through you and me — His Ambassadors. 

I know that God is still in the soul-saving business. Mine is a divinely appointed responsibility and opportunity. And that task is not completed until every person has heard or until He calls me to Heaven.

You may dismiss me as nothing more than an under-educated, country bumpkin from the sticks of North Carolina because I am not going to argue with you about how many angels can sit on the head of a pin. But this is what I KNOW…

The world in which I live is in need of the message of God’s love and grace. They need to know that God has provided a way of reconciliation for every person who will confess their sins and believe. And because I have experienced the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ — I am an AMBASSADOR FOR CHRIST and I will tell the wondrous story of how JESUS SAVES!

You keep arguing and debating. I’ve got soul-winning to do!

Have a great day.