Meditation–LIVING WITHOUT GOD

Living without God is a gruesome thought … and, fortunately, for us, is entirely our doing. That is, our God created us to be in fellowship with Him, so, if we have strayed from that fellowship, that is totally our fault. The fix is easy. Go to God, ask His forgiveness, and repent of our sins … then bask in His love and fellowship. Once restored to God’s grace, who would want it any other way? Not me!


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“They rejected the LORD’s laws. … They worshiped useless idols and became useless themselves.” 2 Kings 17:15 (NCV)

LIVING WITHOUT GOD IS NO LIFE AT ALL.

It’s like brown grass, with all the potential for being a vibrant green but, instead, lying dormant, covering the ground like an ugly carpet.J10.ABANDONED PLAYGROUND

It’s like a dried up well, once a symbol of life-giving water, but now just a mass of bricks, a pulley system with ropes and a bucket, and a mucky hole in the ground.

It’s like an empty promise, once a commitment to engage in something meaningful with someone — a spouse or child, maybe a sibling or friend, or possibly an organization — and now just words in the air, devoid of all meaning.

Life without God is going through the motions of life. It’s mere existence. It’s the shell of a human being waking up each morning to replicate the daily grind of a sea of days called “life” without really living through it.

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WITHOUT GOD, THERE IS NO PURPOSE to our existence except for the fleeting joys we manufacture — love of working, enjoying our families, taking vacation trips, joining a health club, following a professional sports team, meeting with friends — all of which leave us empty inside, so we have to manufacture another event or diversion to calm the ache, to quench the longing, to fill the void.

Inside, our souls scream for more.

We hear snippets of hope from the Bible …47.Open_Bible1

  •  “God has placed eternity in the hearts of men.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
  •  “I came that you might have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
  •  “For I know the plans I have for you.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
  •  “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 21:4)

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WHEN WE REJECT THE LIFE-GIVING message of God’s love and the rules He establishes for our welfare, we’re left holding an empty bag, a broken toy, a keyless ring.

We’re left with a snippet of despair: “Let’s eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we’ll die.” (Ecclesiastes 8:15; Isaiah 22:13)

When we reject God’s purpose for our lives, we worship artificial made-up non-existent gods who can do nothing … and then we are stuck with the useless lives we have created.

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THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT GOD broke through human existence with a message of love and compassion and forgiveness. He offers living water, the bread of life, and a counselor to guide us.

All that’s left for us to drink deeply of that well, to gorge ourselves on that bread, and to hold that counselor in our hearts is to believe, believe that God is who He said He is and then worship Him.

When we do that, we can have it all — Life Abundantly and Eternally.


PRAYER

O LORD God the merciful and mighty, how majestic is Your  name in all the earth. I look to the hills to see where my strength comes from and see it comes from the Lord, maker of 68. Holy_Bible_Crossheaven and earth. Lord, you have made man little less than the angels. Who are we that You would care about us or take note of our activities, except that You were the One who created us, who called us out of the dust and fashioned us in Your image, man from dust, woman from man, man born of woman, interlocked in common need of being reunited with You. Lord, forgive us our errant ways and shower us with Your blessings of grace and mercy, forgiveness and compassion, and most of all of Your love. Lead us, O Lord, to believe in Your Son, to fellowship with Your Son, to worship Your Son, to follow Your Son. We lift this prayer in the holy name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen


 

QUESTIONS:

  1. Do you believe that Jesus Christ is who He said He is, God Himself in the flesh? Doesn’t that statement just make you want to bow down and worship Him and thank Him for His love and mercy? If not, what holds you back? What are you afraid of?
  2. Have you felt the emptiness of life, when there seems to be no purpose beyond whatever meaning we can give it? How well has that worked? How long does that last? Have you ever wondered if maybe God placed that emptiness in your soul to draw you toward Him?
  3. What would it take for you to ask God in prayer to show you His glory and His purpose for your life? Would you take that moment now and just ask Him?

Would you like us at LoveAndGrace to pray for you?  If so, just indicate in the Comment field. God bless!

Meditation–Bearing Fruit: Obedience or Performance?

God has commissioned us to bear fruit on His behalf, to be the shepherds of His flock, the teachers, the helpers, the baptizers, and even the foot washers, if necessary. But unlike men and women who see our outward acts of service as, perhaps, godly and obedient, God sees into our hearts and judges our motive. Are we acting out of graciousness and a desire to contribute — or are we just fulfilling an obligation we made or looking for commendation? The difference is important to God … and should be for us, too.


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“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’” 1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV)

“[Jesus] did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.” (John 2:25 NIV)

JESUS MUST HAVE BEEN SO FRUSTRATED!

67.Jesus_Welcomes_AllJust imagine: He created the world and everything in it. His greatest creation was mankind, which He made in His own image. Now, He watches with dismay as His creatures, filled with pride, disobey His various commands, all intended to help them live lives of abundance.

Then, in earthly form, He joins His fellow Jews in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, where He performed “miraculous signs” to show His divine nature and saw, in response, that “many people” believed in Him.

But Jesus was not fooled.

In the account that John gives us, we read: “But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man” (John 2:24-25 NIV).

While the rest of us are buying into the superficial, Jesus is drilling into the core. While we see the smiles and handshakes, He sees the darkness and doubt.

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THE MESSAGE IS CLEAR: God knows our hearts, even though our compatriots are fooled by the veneer we project and often hide behind.

Susan Maycinik presented in Discipleship Journal a comparison chart between “Obedience” and “Performance,” where Obedience meant following God’s plans for our lives and Performance meant the rote carrying out of tasks, mostly to please others or convince them of our holiness.

“The line between obedience and performance can be a blurry one,” she wrote, but we know from reading Scripture, such as the passage from 1 Samuel 16, cited above, that while man sees the outward show, God sees the inner workings. We see the performance; He sees behind the curtain.

In this adaptation of her chart, where do you see yourself?

      • Obedience — Joyfully seeking quiet time with God
        • Performance — Reading a quick devotion to avoid guilt
      • Obedience — Meditating on God’s Word and using it in prayer
        • Performance — Scanning a Bible passage quickly to check it done
      • Obedience — Inviting guests to your home for dinne
        • Performance — Fretting over how well the evening will go
      • Obedience — Following God’s prompting to start a small group
        • Performance —Reluctant to share leadership with anyone in the group
      • Obedience — Doing your best
        • Performance — Wanting to be considered the best
      • Obedience — Saying yes to whatever God asks of you
        • Performance — Saying yes to whatever people ask of you
      • Obedience — Following the prompting of God’s Holy Spirit
        • Performance — Following a list of manmade requirements
      • Obedience — Springs from fear of God
        • Performance — Springs from fear of failure

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I NEED TO CONFESS SOMETHING.

Many times — more often than I should admit — I cross that thin line between acting with a servant’s heart and acting out of self-righteousnessJ10.JESUS_WASHING_FEETjpeg

Yes, I can tell the difference. When I am acting as Jesus did when He stooped to wash His disciples’ feet, I can feel the love in my heart and the joy of making a difference in someone’s life.

But when I’m busy serving my self, I’m looking for the applause, the acclaim, the recognition, and I lack the joy. I’m focusing, instead, on the sacrifice I made.

The Bible says,

“Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways!” (Psalm 128:1 ESV)

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THAT IS WHERE I WANT TO BE.

I want to give my all to the Lord as He calls me into service. I want to do so because He gave His all to me to reclaim me — my life, my future, my eternity — for His own.

That is where you want to be, too.

If you don’t know Him yet as your Savior, please ask Him what He wants of you and then open your heart to His unending love.

If you have done that already, then you know exactly what I mean by saying, “I want to be obedient to the Lord, not to perform for man’s approval.”


68. Holy_Bible_CrossPRAYER: Our Heavenly Father, please forgive me when You’ve called me to a task and I give it half-hearted energy or complain while at task or look for commendation from other men. Lord, You are the One who called me to task, and You are the One who will judge my heart. I owe all to You, my Savior. Thank You for the gift of life. Please lighten my heart as I seek to obey You. In the name of Jesus, Amen


QUESTIONS:

  1. How often do you fulfill an obligation for a good and noble cause and (a) wonder if you’ll get the proper recognition you deserve from the organizers  and fellow volunteers or (b) feel the joy in your heart because you’re helping out where you believe God is calling you?
  2. Do you ever feel like Jesus can see right into your soul, and He knows that you really don’t want to be doing this job right now, even while you’re trying to convince everyone else you do?
  3. Can you fully embrace the instruction Jesus gave us in Matthew 25 when He said that however we treat “the least of these,” those who cannot do for themselves, we’re doing for Him? Does that give you greater joy in the task at hand?

Meditation–OBEYING GOD’S WILL

God makes it clear that He expects us to obey Him, not just to “take under advisement” His proclamations but to write them on our hearts and live them out in our daily lives. He shows us amazing patience to give those who do not yet believe in Him a chance to repent and be saved, but there will be a time when the clock runs out, and He will call us to account. Because God has given us so much, it should make it easier for us to give Him our lives. Human pride makes that exchange difficult, but the rewards for doing so are immense and eternal.


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“The men of Israel tasted the bread, but they did not ask the LORD what to do.” Joshua 9:14 (NCV)

HOW OFTEN DO WE begin a “good work” for the Lord without first asking Him if this is His will.Aug 17 Meditation

We can learn from the the Book of Joshua what happens when we fail to consult the Lord’s will for our lives, even on matters where it seems obvious we are doing right. We also can learn from Joshua how He blesses us when we do obey Him, even when we do not immediately see the wisdom of His plan.

Yes, Joshua failed to consult the Lord regarding the Gibeonites who deceived him into thinking they had traveled a long distance to surrender, when they actually were a neighboring people marked for slaughter. As a result, a foreign influence was left in the land. 

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HOWEVER, LATER JOSHUA did consult the Lord regarding warfare against Israel’s northern neighbors. The Lord gave the armies over to Joshua and commanded him to destroy their lands, even crippling their horses and burning their chariots.

This time, Joshua obeyed, and he continued to be victorious in his battles, thus, clearing the land for the Jews, as the Lord had promised:

“Joshua did to them as the LORD had commanded him; he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots.”  Joshua 11:9 (NET)

Over and over again, we see the OT accounts of Israel vacillating between obeying God and disobeying Him. Over and over again, we see God blessing them when they obey and disciplining them when they rebel or disobey.

We learn from Saul’s example in 1 Samuel 15, that God prefers our obedience to our sacrifices. That is, He wants us to obey His voice rather than assume on our own, that we’re doing the Lord’s will.

“Then Samuel said: Does the LORD take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention is better than the fat of rams.” — 1 Samuel 15:22 (CSB)

J9.JESUS-GREAT COMMISSION+++

BEFORE HIS ASCENSION, Jesus gathered His disciples before Him and gave them their final instructions. He was about to go to the Father and, soon, would send the Holy Spirit to comfort and guide His followers.

He started by reminding them that “all authority in heaven and on earth” had been given to Him. In the entire universe, only the Father has more authority than Jesus, including Satan and any of his demons.

Jesus told His disciples to baptize the nations and teach them “everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20 NIV).

Again, the instructions to love others, pray for them, minister to their needs, show compassion and mercy, and forgive them were not just “nice things” to keep in mind or suggestions for their consideration.

They are “commandments.” They are to be obeyed.

We, as believers, claim God’s promises to give us peace beyond understanding and Paradise for eternity; in turn, God claims for us that we honor Him by obeying His will for our lives.


68. Holy_Bible_Cross

PRAYER: O Lord, our Heavenly Father, how often do we presume to know Your plans for us because of our conviction that such-and-such an action is the right course to take, that we forget to stop and ask. You have told us over and over again that You prefer obedience to sacrifices and good works. You want us to praise You and glorify You, and we do this by obeying You. Lord, forgive us for our prideful disobedience, and turn our hearts and steps back to You. In Jesus name we pray. Amen


QUESTIONS:

  1. Have you ever experienced what Joshua did where you thought you were obeying the Lord’s will for your life but neglected to ask Him first? How did that go for you? Was your effort blessed?
  2. Why do you think it’s important to seek the Lord’s will in all matters without assuming He’ll support our efforts based solely on our own understanding?
  3. Do you think our failure to consult God about His will stems from our personal pride that we “know” what He wants or does it stem from our lack of belief that He will respond to our prayer?

 

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Meditation–PRAISING GOD’S PATIENCE

Mercifully, God is patient with His people, not wanting anyone to suffer but all to come to repentance and believe in Him. He wants this reconciliation with mankind so much He sent His Son to die a horrific death, after living a sinless life, to atone for our sin. Now, it’s up to us to decide whether to believe Him or perish in our unbelief. It should be an easy choice, but to choose life means surrendering our pride to God, and that’s where many people refuse to go.

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The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them [sinners], Christ Jesus might demonstrate his extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in him for eternal life.  1 Timothy 1:16 (CBS)

GOD MERCIFULLY SAVED ME.

J9. PATIENCEHe was patient with me, knowing that, in time, I would believe.

Easily and with great justification, God could have wiped me off the face of the earth. Instead, through patience — love and grace and mercy — He endured my disobedience and walk in darkness so that He could claim me as His own for eternity.

I am not alone. I am not a special case. I am not the exception to the rule.

The Bible says, “He wants all people to be saved and to come to a  knowledge of the truth.” — 1 Timothy 2:4 (NET). Again, He says, “‘I take no pleasure in the death of anyone,’ declares the Sovereign LORD. ‘Repent and live!’” — Ezekiel 18:32 (NIV).

The Lord’s patience will run out for everyone at some point. Those who continue to J9. OPEN BIBLE w IMAGEreject Him will be punished, but before then, they will have been given many chances to see the Lord’s righteousness and live. Fortunately for me, He gave me the time I needed to realize I needed Him in my life.

My birth date was June 26, 1947, but my rebirth date was November 10, 2010. It’s the second date that I celebrate with joy; the first date just placed me in the game.

Both life-giving events are precious to me, but the first date is made precious only because of the second one.

Praise God! Praise Jesus Christ! Praise the Holy Spirit!


68. Holy_Bible_CrossPRAYER: O Heavenly Father, thank You so much for Your patience with me. Thank You for knowing I would come to faith, that I would bend the knee and seek Your forgiveness for my sin, that I would ask the Holy Spirit to come into my life and remake me in Your image. Lord, forgive me for my sins and failures, for my pride and thoughtlessness, for my self-centeredness. Remold me, O Lord, in Your image so that every day I may come to love You more, pray to You more, depend on You more, and become more and more like You. In Jesus’ holy and precious name, Amen


 

QUESTIONS:

  1. Do you realize that God’s patience is designed to bring more people to repentance?
  2. Do you believe that God’s mercy means: (a) He doesn’t care about us, (b) He is indulgent and accepts our failures without comment or penalty, or (c) He will continue to work on our hearts to bring us into His grace?
  3. If you think Question 2 (c) could be true, what is your response? What holds you back? If you have accepted God’s grace, how can you extend His blessings to those whom you meet?

Would you like us at LoveAndGrace to pray for you?  

If so, just indicate in the Comment field. God bless!

Meditation: GUARDING OUR THOUGHTS

The sin in our lives stems from three sources: our desires, the influence of the fallen world around us, and the devil’s schemes. There is enough motive for us to sin even without Satan’s pull. God speaks into our hearts — our minds and thoughts — with His message of Truth. Our thoughts drive our comments and, eventually, our actions, so, to keep our witness pure, we first need to capture evil thoughts. To do that, we need to stay in prayer. God calls us to pray so that He may pour His Truth into our hearts and minds.


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“Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.” — Proverbs 4:23 (NCV)

“Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.” — James 1:15 (NLT)

SO, EVEN OUR THOUGHTS ARE SUBJECT TO GOD’S JUDGMENT?

Well, Jesus was pretty clear about it in Matthew 5 (27-28), when He said that it’s not just a sin to commit adultery, but that if any man or woman looks upon another person with lust in their hearts, that person “has already committed adultery” (NKJV).

Does that mean it’s not enough that we not do harmful things … or make derogatory comments …we can’t even think those thoughts even if we don’t say or do them?

Isn’t that a bit much?

Who can go through a whole day without thinking sinful thoughts? It’s tough enough avoiding the actions and comments.53. Man_Woman_praying

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MAYBE THAT’S THE POINT.

God knows our sinful hearts. He knows how we work. After all, He created us, and He knows our rebellion.

There’s a well-known misquote of a Bible verse that says “money is the root of all evil,” when the actual verse says it’s “the love of money” that is the root of evil and that “through this craving,” many have wandered away from the truth and faith in Jesus (1 Timothy 6:10 ESV).

James reminds us that it’s our desires that “entice us and drag us away” (James 1:15 NLT).

God knows that as soon as we start harboring thoughts, whatever they may be, those thoughts will overtake us and begin to drive our comments and our actions … a little at a time … until they completely take us over.

Our Lord Jesus Christ warned us again in Matthew 15:11, when He said it’s not what goes into our bodies that defiles us but what comes out of our bodies.

What defiles us is what comes out of our hearts … and our thoughts.

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GOD, IN HIS MERCY, has given us the way out.

He tells us what we should be thinking about:

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8 NLT).

How do we do that?

Paul tells us:

“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV).

Amen! God is good!


68. Holy_Bible_CrossPRAYER: Our Heavenly Father, You know our thoughts are impure. You know we wander from the truth. We stay connected for a short time, then go astray. You keep pulling us back … through reading Your Word, through worship, through fellowship. Thank You for Your mercy. Change our hearts, O LORD, to hearts that seek the Risen Lord, that witness to the life-saving power of the Holy Spirit, that spread the message of redemption. We lift this prayer in the name of Jesus, Amen


QUESTIONS:

  1. Are there thoughts that you’ve been struggling with that you would like to turn over to the Lord? He says He’s faithful and just and will forgive us when we own up to them. What stops you from confessing your sins to Him right now?

  2. Why do you think our Lord insisted that our thoughts (and hearts) defiled us? Do you agree with the Bible’s teaching that our sinful behavior comes from our desires? Do you believe our sin is solely traceable back to Satan or the world’s pull on us?

  3. Do you believe that harboring only pleasant thoughts is something you can control on your own, or do you recognize that you need the power of the Holy Spirit in your life, both to convict you and to instruct you?

Would you like us at LoveAndGrace to pray for you?  If so, please indicate in the Comment field. God bless!

 

Meditation–LIVING FOR ETERNITY: GOD’S PROMISES

How are we living our lives? Are we hyper focused on our personal agendas, striving to get ahead, enjoying our pleasures, and accumulating rewards? Or are we building our treasure in Heaven, as Jesus commanded? We can be assured of this: We are doing one or the other because they are mutually exclusive. We cannot pursue opposing ends at the same time. So, which is it? Jesus … or … us?

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“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)

“Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.” Colossians 3:2 (NLT)

 

THE BIBLE TELLS US our days are numbered.

The reminders are numerous. Here are just a few: Job 14:5, Genesis 6:3, Psalm 90:10, Matthew 10:30. 

48.GodsGraceGod knows what that number is for each of us, but we have only an estimation, based on actuarial tables, personal lifestyle, and family history.

That brings us to this question: Knowing that our time is short, what will we do with it?  

For those of us who are believers, we can look forward to an incredibly pleasant eternity with Jesus. Those who are not believers most likely do not foresee the fate that awaits them. 

The Bible says, “For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our everlasting home in heaven” (Hebrews 13:14 TLB).

Jesus told the repentant thief what He tells each of us who come to Him for forgiveness, “Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43 NIV).

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Knowing this world is not our home, Francis Chan, the noted pastor and author, urges us to live this life in light of all eternity. He says:

“People accuse me of going overboard in preparing for my first ten million years in eternity. In my opinion, people go overboard in worrying about their last ten years on earth.” (Francis Chan, You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity, Claire Love Publishing, 2014).

How have you lived your life so far? Have you made some mistakes, accumulated some regrets, long for a “do-over”?

Chan offers this ray of hope: “Don’t get overwhelmed by how much time you have already wasted, and don’t dwell too long on past mistakes. Just take the next step. And keep the end in view.” (Chan, Ibid.).

Heaven is our home. Jesus promised He would take us home to be with Him: “After I have done this, I will come back and take you with me. Then we will be together” (John 14:3 CEV).

Ask God to forgive you for your sinful past, then put the past behind you. Reach for God’s love through His Son and His Holy Spirit.

Believe in God’s promises.


68. Holy_Bible_CrossPRAYER: O Lord our God and Heavenly Father. You are so faithful and true. You have promised an eternity in Paradise with You if we seek Your face and repent of our sins. O Lord, we do so with grateful hearts and thankful spirits. You are the Great Redeemer, the Creator and Protector of our souls. Take us to Your rest when our earthly journey ends. In Jesus’ name we lift this prayer. Amen


QUESTIONS:

  1. Do you live as though your days are numbered or as if tomorrow will never come? Do you believe the Lord’s admonition that we should place our trust in Heaven, where our possessions are secure, or in our own hands? That is, do you want to live for Christ or for yourself?

  2. Do you believe there is a Heaven? Jesus says there is. He also says there is a Hell. Do you believe that’s true? Do you know where you will spend eternity? It will be one or the other. Do you know how to guarantee you will spend it in Heaven?

  3. Are you being fed sufficiently in your spiritual life? Are you daily reading God’s Word, praying to Him, and gathering with other believers to “do life” together? Do you worship the Lord by singing praises and blessing His name or do you merely “attend” church?

  4. Would you like us at LoveAndGrace to pray for you? If so, just indicate in the Comment field. God bless!

Meditation: Living in Christ–Fruit of the Spirit

Jesus was clear, that those of us who believe in Him and are saved are to share the Good News with everyone else. We are to do that through living lives that reflect the spiritual nature, not the sinful nature, and we’re to tell others about our faith. We don’t need to worry about what we’ll say because He said He’ll give us the words to use. Also, He said He’ll be with us through the whole process. How cool is that?

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“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.” Luke 6:43 (NIV)

“Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit.” Colossians 1:10 (NLT)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23a (ESV)

THE LORD JESUS CHRIST made it abundantly clear that He expects those of us who believe in Him to witness about His life and mission (Matt. 4:19; Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 9:1-6; Luke 10:1-23: Acts 1:8).

We are to share the Good News.56. Prayer-Partners-men

One problem: How many of us feel comfortable talking about our faith? How many of us feel we can do it well?

An advertisement for a “witnessing tutorial” recently asked whether our efforts fail because we’re:

        • spouting Bible verses, or
        • judgmental and scolding.

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WHEN JESUS SAYS, “You will know them by their fruits. … A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit” (Matthew 7:16a, 18a NKJV), we might assume there is an objective standard by which God will measure us … and, yes, we no doubt imagine His divine magic marker writing a big “F” in a bright color next to our name.

It doesn’t need to be that way.

Part of our witness is the way we comport ourselves without talking — you know, whether we show patience when others are fuming, or whether we extend grace and forgiveness when others vow to get even.

So, first, are we “living out” the Gospel in our daily lives? Staying in prayer as the apostle Paul teaches us (1 Thess. 5:17) is a key to showing the fruit of the Spirit. Without such prayer, we’ll revert to our sinful nature, and that will destroy our witness, regardless of how many Bible verses we spout.

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SECOND, WE STILL NEED TO TALK about our faith, and we need to do it in a way that encourages others to want to know more about Jesus, not push us away.

67.Jesus_Welcomes_AllHow do we do that, especially if we do not feel “gifted” to speak eloquently?

Same as living out our witness — stay “prayed in.”

Ask God for His guidance, and then speak your truth. Speak from the heart. Tell someone how Jesus has made a difference in your life. One or two sentences to describe the “old you,” a transition to say you came to see Jesus Christ as God and the Savior of mankind, and a quick word or two about how you see the change in your life.

Here’s an example:

“Joe, I’m glad you asked me. I wasn’t always this “patient,” as you put it. I used to be an angry man, like there was a storm cloud above my head all day long. I would growl and bite anyone who crossed me.

“You know, I came to realize my marriage was failing, and my kids wouldn’t talk to me, and we were losing business at work. I took stock of my life, and one of my neighbors suggested I go to Bible study with him. For some reason, I said ‘okay,’ and something just took.

“Eventually, I accepted Jesus in my heart and asked Him to cure me of my bad temper. Well, He went to work on me, and here I am. I’ve got a long way to go before I’m where Jesus is, but He and I are making progress.”

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NOTHING POLISHED. Nothing professional. No fancy words or Bible verse memory tests, just a heartfelt confession that becomes a strong personal testimony.

Oh, you wonder where the right words will come from?

How’s this for a Godly promise: “For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” Luke 21:15 (NIV).

That promise came from Jesus, Himself. Yes, He said it in the context of His followers being persecuted, but He added, “This will result in your being witnesses to them.” Luke 21:13 (NIV)

You see, when Jesus call us to act for Him or to speak for Him, He promises to help us through the process.

How’s this for a promise? It’s from Matthew 28, verse 20b (NLT): “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

You can count on it.

==68. Holy_Bible_Cross

PRAYER: Our Heavenly Father, please help us live lives that show the Fruit of the Spirit and not the evil side of us that is worldly. Then, when people see how we live and ask us about the joy in our hearts, would You help us tell them simply and lovingly how Jesus has transformed us. All the praise, honor, and glory are yours, Father God, and we are grateful recipients of Your saving grace. In Jesus name we raise this prayer. Amen

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QUESTIONS:

1. How comfortable do you feel witnessing for Jesus in your everyday life? Do you accept the Lord’s command that we are to show His love, grace, and mercy to others and, when the occasion arises, share a word about our faith experience — or do you think “religion” is a private matter?

2. Even when you sense the Holy Spirit’s prodding, do you feel uncertain of what you would say, even though you have the Lord’s promise that He will help you? Would you feel more comfortable leading your friend or family member to a pastor or other “skilled” Christian, even though your testimony is likely far more effective in reaching someone close to you?

3. Do you believe your Christian faith and your walk with Christ are producing any “fruit”? Do those who know you — family, friends, neighbors, co-workers — know you are a born-again Christian? Do they think you’re just a “nice person”? What could you do to make them aware of your faith commitment?

4. Can we at LoveAndGrace pray for you? Just send a prayer request via the Comments section.