Meditation … CARING FOR ONE ANOTHER

Especially during times of stress, we in the body of Christ should serve as a model for gracious service. Jesus said He came to serve and to give His life as a ransom for our sins. He commissioned us to consider the needs of others before our own. We can accomplish this by staying in the power of the Holy Spirit, which is renewed within us by prayer.

Especially during times of stress, we in the body of Christ should serve as a model for gracious service. Jesus said He came to serve and to give His life as a ransom for our sins. He commissioned us to consider the needs of others before our own. We can accomplish this by staying in the power of the Holy Spirit, which is renewed within us by prayer.


Hebrews 12:15 (NLT) Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God.

Hebrews 12:25 (NCV) So be careful and do not refuse to listen when God speaks.

Hebrews 3:15 (CSB) Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.


50. Open_Bible
God’s Holy Word speaks into our hearts … if we allow Him in.

THE WRITER OF HEBREWS gives two instructions: one to those who have received God’s redeeming grace and one to those who remain outside His grace.

To believers, he says we should care for one another so that no one will fail to receive “the grace of God.” To unbelievers, he admonishes them not to harden their hearts when they “hear his voice.”

WE OBEY THROUGH PRAYER

HOW DO WE, as believers, work to ensure that both instructions are followed?

Through prayer and only through prayer. We pray for our continued fellowship and obedience, and we pray for the opportunity to share the Gospel in word and deed with others.

Jesus reminded us (John 15) that we are to “abide” in Him and promised He would abide in us; that He is the vine, we are the branches, and that, without Him, we can do nothing.

ASK FOR OPEN HEARTS

SO, WE CANNOT guarantee or ensure that unbelievers will listen to the Good News when presented, but we can pray in advance that God will give us the words to say, the opportunity to say them, and receiving hearts to hear them.

The rest is up to God’s Holy Spirit and the unbeliever.

________________________

PRAYER

image-5

O LORD, help us to be faithful to Your command for our lives. Give us the people You want us to reach, the opportunity to reach them, the right words to say, and the right tone to say them, and give them open ears and willing hearts to listen and believe. We lift this prayer in the redeeming and sanctifying name of Jesus Christ, AMEN


SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD!

Date: 2020-03-12 Author: LoveAndGrace (Ward Pimley)

Dee of Sixth Seal Ministries has nominated LoveAndGrace for the SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD. Thank you, Dee! Your encouragement and faithfulness toward me — and other Christian bloggers — is very much appreciated.

To my readers, here’s a link to Dee’s blog: SixthSealMinistries. Please take a look when you can. It’s a well-developed resource as Dee puts a lot of thought and energy into it.

The Rules:

Dee’s Questions to Me and My Answers:

(She admits to “breaking the rules,” going with 5 Questions and 5 Nominees. I’m doing the same thing.)

Q: DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A PEOPLE PERSON?

ANS: Not if, by people person, you mean an “extrovert,” but, as an “introvert,” I find personal relationships very meaningful and important to me. I especially value community with Christian believers. As such, I am willing to invest time and energy into each individual. What I don’t do well is relating to multiple people at one time.

Q: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PASTTIME?

ANS: I enjoy athletics, but more recently I get more satisfaction out of longer, solitary walks, taken at a rapid pace. I use the time to meditate, usually while listening to Praise & Worship music. I’ve built an extensive playlist, often getting ideas from worship service.

Q: HAVE YOU READ THROUGH THE ENTIRE BIBLE? IF NOT, HOW FAR HAVE YOU GOTTEN?

ANS: Oh, yes! Many times, even reading much of it in Spanish, which requires me to read slower. As a result, I pick up points that previously escaped me. I love experimenting with various English translations, both thought-for-thought and word-for-word, and comparing them. We’re fortunate to have God’s Word to read.

Q: IF YOU COULD TRAVEL BACK IN TIME, TO WHAT YEAR WOULD YOU GO AND WHY?

ANS: I wouldn’t change anything before my second daughter was born, but, going with the question, I would say age 15. Had I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior then, I could have lived my entire adulthood for Him. However, God was patient with me and gave me another opportunity to find Him.

Q: DO YOU EVER WISH YOU COULD BE SOMEONE ELSE? IF SO, WHO AND WHY?

ANS: From an athletic perspective, it’s fun to imagine being Wayne Gretzky or Wade Boggs or Tom Brady — the best of the best, but as a new Christian, I would look at evangelist Billy Graham or Christian pastor and writer Max Lucado. In the end, it’s pointless because God made me who I am so I need to be obedient to His call for my life.

My Nominees:

My Questions:

 (I’m borrowing from Dee’s list, but substituting the first question): 

  1. What prompted you to begin writing a Christian-themed blog and are you satisfied with how this experiment has turned out?
  2. What is your favorite past time?
  3. Have you read through the entire Bible? If not, how far have you gotten?
  4. If you could travel back in time, to what year would you go and why?
  5. Do you ever wish you could be someone else? If so, who and why?

Dee’s Other Nominees:


Now, What to Do?

>First, you are under no obligation to participate nor is there a time limit to respond. 

>Second, if you do participate, capture the Sunshine Blogger Award Seal and Blogger Award Rules. You can copy them from this blogsite.

>Third, thank the person who nominated you and link back to his/her blog. 

>Fourth, answer the questions posed to you. 

>Fifth, nominate the blogs you select and link to them.

>Sixth, create your own list of questions. 

>Seventh, (this is a summary) post the following items to your blog: the seal and rules, your thank you and link back to the nominator, your answers to the your nominator’s questions, your nominees (with links to their blogs), and your questions to your nominees. 

(If you have any questions for me, you can contact me through my blog.)

Dee put it this way: “It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s actually kind of fun.”

So, have fun!

JESUS PROCLAIMED: “REPENT AND BELIEVE”

When our Lord began His public ministry, His message was simple and direct: “Repent and believe, because the Kingdom of God is at hand.” That’s still the message we, His followers must take to the world. “Repent of your sins and believe that God is here.” That command from the Lord is even more pressing today when God’s people are opposed so viciously by counter forces. 

Mark 1:15 (NLT): “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV): “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”


OUR COUNTRY IS BROKEN. It is severely conflicted, sharply divided into opposing camps. 

This plays out in many areas of public life where is no possibility of compromise or consensus.

  • There is no compromise between those forces who accept God’s teaching that life begins at conception with those forces that believe life starts only at birth … with the caveat that the newborn can still be allowed to perish, if that was the mother’s intent.
  • There is no compromise between one side that views marriage as the union of one man and one woman with those who replace that structure with alternative arrangements.
  • There is no compromise between one group that says “religious liberty” means the opportunity to live out one’s faith during the week with the other side that restricts that definition to cover one hour of worship on Sunday mornings.

Those are just a few examples.

†††

Isaiah 5:20 (NLT): What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.

Romans 1:21 (CSB): For though they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became worthless, and their senseless hearts were darkened.


The Bible warns against this, calling those things “good” that God says are evil or calling “evil” those things He says are good. 

Is marriage between two women or two men good … or is it evil? 

One side says it is “evil” and cites to God’s Word for His commandment.

The other side calls it “good” and relies on human reason and experience as witness. Not only that, but this side calls those who stand by God’s Word “bigots” and “haters.” 

Really?

God told the prophet Isaiah nearly 2,800 years ago that “sorrow” awaits those who switch good and evil from what God ordains to what man desires. God also says (Malachi 3:6) He never changes. He remains the same (Hebrews 13:8) throughout eternity.

That means what God declared as “evil” three millennia ago remains “evil,” and vice versa with “good,” regardless of man’s “progressive” wisdom.

†††

Mark 4:9 (BSB): Then Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Isaiah 6:9 (NET): He [God] said, “Go and tell these people: ‘Listen continually, but don’t understand! Look continually, but don’t perceive!’”


TALKING TO THE “OTHER” SIDE is like talking to a brick wall.

  • Heterosexual marriage? No, that’s an outdated construct benefitting the “patriarchy.”  Besides, God (or the apostles) could not possibly have foreseen the love relationship that can bind two peope of the same sex.
  • Religious liberty? No, there’s separation of church and state, and your “religion” becomes the building block for a theocracy, rather than a secular republic. 

Each of those points can be refuted easily, but the self-styled “progressives,” those who claim they are not caught in the quagmire of the past, refuse to listen to their moral inferiors, to those they consider less literate, less worthy, and less moral than they are. 

Why, they ask, should they listen to the great unwashed, who basically are “bigots” and “religious nuts.”

†††

THERE’S NO JOY in pointing to the sad outcome awaiting those who spurn the Word of God in the latter days. For the time being, they are part of the mission field. 

So we shall.

Still, we, as a country, remain deeply divided. … with a divide that grows deeper with each passing year.

There is no reason to believe that another election, which occurs in November 2020, will change that dynamic. 

Regardless of who wins the White House, the Senate, and the House, the division will grow. 

Only the return of Jesus Christ will alter that dynamic.


PRAYER

ALMIGHTY GOD, have mercy on this country, we pray. Guide our leaders to be men and women of great faith, who hire top staff who share that faith and who serve honorably as public servants, beholden first to You and then to us. Forgive us, O Lord, for our failure to listen to Your Word and the hardness of our hearts. Direct and strengthen those of us who are Your children to lead by example, living our lives as Christ taught us to. We ask this is the loving, merciful, and magnificent name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN

BUILDING BETTER MARRIAGES (Through “Love” and “Respect”)

God created the institution of marriage when He created Adam and Eve. He told us through His Word that men are to love and honor their wives, and women are to respect their husbands. Our marriages work better when we follow God’s design. Even our conflicts are useful, if we encourage one another to be more like Christ — more loving, compassionate, forgiving, and patient.

 

Ephesians 5:33 (NKJV): Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. 

1 Peter 3:1, 7 (ESV): Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands. … Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel.


MODERN MARRIAGES ARE IN TROUBLE … EVEN  CHRISTIAN ONES.

WHY IS THIS?

Some marriage counselors point to the obvious culprit of “selfishness,” in which both the husband and the wife marry their partner for self-centered reasons. 

Their energy is focused on making certain their spouse makes them happy.

Yet, a marriage that survives in a loving and tender way requires  the opposite energy — selflessness, in which the husband and wife are asking, “What can I do to make you happy?”

So, instead of husbands and wives taking from their partner, they give to their partner.

†††

GOD INTRODUCED MANKIND to the marriage covenant while he was in the state of innocence, in the Garden of Eden, before sin entered the world.

Marriage was a “good” thing that God designed to bring one man and one woman together “as one body,” in which each partner brought his/her strengths to the relationship, covering the other’s weaknesses.

The Holy Bible tells us that God made man and woman in His image, so we know that in creating Adam, the first man, He took some of His characteristics (such as courage, bravery, and strength) and gave those traits to him. 

†††

WHEN HE MADE EVE, the first woman, He took other characteristics of Himself (such as beauty, grace, and charm) and gave those traits to her.

Both were created to be equal in God’s eyes but with different characteristics and abilities so as to complement each other and prepare them for different tasks.

God didn’t leave the marriage life to chance.

No way!

†††

GOD GAVE US DIRECTIONS on how husbands (men) and wives (women) should act and react, think, speak, and desire in this intricate and delicate relationship.

The marriage relationship, the Bible tells us (Eph. 5:32) is so fundamental that it mimics the relationship between Jesus Christ and His Church. 

In that model, the husband takes the sacrificial role of Jesus, while the wife takes the obedient role of the church.

†††

UNFORTUNATELY FOR MANKIND, most of marital history has occurred after the Fall, when sin entered the world.

Part of the curse God proclaimed was that Eve (and subsequent women) would desire to rule her husband Adam (and subsequent men), while God placed ultimate responsibility for the marriage’s success on Adam (and his successors).

This tension set up the current difficulty in marriages, where the husband and wife wrestle with each other, usually in quarrels, arguments, and ultimatums, to gain the upper hand, when God wants us to work out our issues peacefully. 

Yes, our struggles are useful for smoothing the edges in our relationships, but in the end, we’re to find a common level of accord. That can happen either by chance (not effective) or by following guidelines set by God (effective).

†††

GOD SPOKE THROUGH HIS APOSTLES to guide men and women in their marital roles.

Both Paul and Peter point to this maxim: Men (husbands) are required by God to love their wives, and woman (wives) are  required by God to respect their husbands. 

Why?

Well, counselors tell us that men crave respect more than love, while their wives are more willing to offer love; and women crave love more than respect, while men are more willing to offer respect. 

So, God tells us to focus on the trait our spouse most desires and that we have the most trouble giving.

†††

VARIOUS AUTHORS HAVE EXPRESSED this point in recent books.

In Sacred Marriage (Zondervan, 2000, 2015. p. 11), Gary Thomas asks: 

“What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”

Emerson Eggerichs, in Love And Respect (Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2004), said this about what God expects of husband and wives:

“Wives are made to love, want to love, and expect love. Many husbands fail to deliver. … Husbands are made to be respected, want respect, and expect respect. Many wives fail to deliver.” (Kindle, p. 5)

What happens, Eggerichs asks, if husbands and wives fail to act according to God’s design? He writes:

“[W]ithout love from him, she reacts without respect; without respect from her, he reacts without love.” (Kindle, p. 6)

†††

WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE US?

In every case, when we are obedient to God’s design, we benefit; when we chart our own course, we fail.

God knows us. He created us, so He can tell us what will work and what will not work. 

We need to listen.

We can use the wisdom that God gave to Solomon as our guide:

“Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17 (NASB)

Another translation says it this way:

“As iron sharpens iron, so people can improve each other.” – Proverbs 27:17 (NCV)

Our marriages are designed for husbands and wives to challenge one another to become more holy, more committed to God, and more committed to one another. Through that connection, we are to become the “one flesh” He intended.


PRAYER

OUR GRACIOUS HEAVENLY FATHER, we humbly come to You, repenting of our selfishness, as we (husbands/wives) seek our own pleasure, our own happiness, our own needs from our spouse, when You have designed us to serve our spouse, to seek his/her happiness over our own. Lord, You showed us how to do this when You stooped before the Apostles and tenderly washed the encrusted dirt from their smelly feet. O Lord, how much love the Savior has for His creation. Create within us, Father God, a new heart. Remove our hearts of stone, O Lord, and give us hearts of flesh. In the matchless name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we pray. AMEN

BATTLING SPIRITUAL WARFARE

God created men and women to honor Him and to fellowship with Him. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, sin entered the world and destroyed that relationship. God, in His mercy, gave us a way out of our mess, but our lives in this world are in constant turmoil, as we struggle against our hearts, the world, and the devil.


  • Gen. 2:16-17 (GW): The Lord God commanded the man. He said … “You must never eat from the tree of the knowledge of good  and evil because when you eat from it, you will certainly die.”
  • Gen. 3:1, 4 (NCV): One day the snake said to the woman, “Did God really say that you must not eat fruit from any tree in the garden?” … The snake said to the woman, “You will not die.” 
  • John 11:35 (NASB): Jesus wept.

GOD’S intent was to give man and woman Paradise.

I FELT LIKE I WAS FALLING THROUGH A BLACK HOLE.

It was an ugly feeling, as though Satan had his icy grip on my soul.

Even stranger, I thought, was how evil could torment my soul while I was in church, supposedly worshipping the risen Lord! Wasn’t that supposed to be a “safe zone,” an oasis from spiritual warfare?

Apparently not. We’re not exempt from the spiritual battles, no matter where we are. 

I recently read a post from a woman in Australia, who writes as “Perth Girl,” who experienced something similar, a feeling of doubt and confusion when confronted in church with the grim news that a dear friend’s cancer had returned. (You can read it here: “Doubts“)

So, the apostle Paul was right, there “isn’t any temptation that you have experienced which is unusual for humans.” (1 Cor. 10:13 GW)

Her experience was similar to mine, and her remedy was identical to mine: Go to God in prayer.

†††

Without fellowship with God, we feel isolated and alone.

 IT WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE THIS.

God created man and woman to unite in marriage and live in harmony with the world He made and in fellowship with Him.

Instead, our forebears disobeyed God, ate from the forbidden tree, and immediately suffered the consequences … which have passed down to each one of us.

We have fallen out of fellowship with God, our marriages are filled with conflict, and our personal lives are a daily struggle.

We didn’t listen to His warning, but fortunately, He gave us a solution. 

We can find it throughout His Word, but James, the half-brother of Jesus, said it best: 

“Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:7-8a CSB)

†††

MY EXPERIENCE this time with spiritual warfare had a happy ending.

I told God from the depths of my anguish that as soon as we got home, I was going into my office and, in solitude, reach out to him,  pouring out my soul.

I did. I told Him of my anguish. I told Him of the evil that filled my heart. I told Him how frightened I was of that feeling. I told Him I felt distanced from Him, and that I knew I was the one who had moved … not Him.

In response, He bathed me in His love, His reassurance, and His presence.

†††

POSTSCRIPT: HE WAS PREPARING ME FOR THE WEEK AHEAD.

There is no doubt in my mind but what God allowed the devil to mess with me that recent Sunday in church because He knew that I, like Job in years past, would call out to Him.

He reassured me of His love for me and of my salvation. That reassurance has blessed me in the two weeks since. 

Yes, I will need frequent reminders of His love. That was just one bright spot on God’s sanctification highway.

Here’s His reminder for us:

“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:12-13 NASB)


PRAYER

O HEAVENLY AND MERCIFUL FATHER, we are so grateful for Your everlasting and unmerited love. You bath us in glory. You breath life  into our bodies. You restore our souls. You refresh our minds. You deepen our faith. There is no evil that can befall us that is greater than Your power to control and defeat. We are safe in Your arms. O Lord, keep us from wandering. We know You’ll look for us and bring us back, but we don’t want to leave the sheepfold. Bless us and keep us, O Lord, in Your warm embrace. In Jesus’ holy and majestic name we pray. AMEN

Meditation—WINDS OF CHANGE

Today’s headlines tell of wars and famines, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornados, kidnappings, missile launches, and terrorist attacks. Are these the harbingers the Bible tells us would signal the end times and Christ’s ready return, or are they simply our heightened awareness — through 21st century technology — of the death, destruction, and evil that always have been with us since mankind first rebelled against God … and so many in the world continue to do even today?

Today’s headlines tell of wars and famines, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornados, kidnappings, missile launches, and terrorist attacks. Are these the harbingers the Bible tells us would signal the end times and Christ’s ready return, or are they simply our heightened awareness — through 21st century technology — of the death, destruction, and evil that always have been with us since mankind first rebelled against God … and so many in the world continue to do even today?


 “So always be ready, because you don’t know the day or the hour the Son of Man will come.” Matthew 25:13 (NCV)

“For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Revelation 6:17 (NKJV)


WE WATCHED WITH GREAT INTEREST as the artist, brightly clad in a clown’s outfit, carefully painted the little girl’s eager face. 

Unicorns, tigers, kitties, and dogs flourished on the faces of eager boys
and girls at the City Park on this Independence Day.

When the artist finished, the girl was sporting a unicorn character, complete with a horn painted on her forehead from her nose to her hairline and two horns above her eyes.

This was Independence Day at the City Park, and the locals — many wearing festive July 4th hats, shirts, and pants — were gathered to celebrate the country’s birthday. 

For this moment, on this day, time stood still. No thoughts of the evil that plagues our world. No hint this day in this locale of devastating storms, no violence or angry shouts, no disturbances of any kind. No fender benders in the parking lot. No shoving or pushing in line. 

At the City Park, for one day, Americans of varied sizes, backgrounds, occupations, education levels, skills and talents, political views and dreams and hopes, assembled to watch their youngsters pet donkeys, rabbits, and goats, slide down giant blowup sliding boards, and carry colorful balloons twisted to resemble dachshunds and swords.

Missing was any sense of judgment, of end-of-world prophecy, of punishment and reward, of Heaven and Hell. That’s the stuff of Sundays, and this was a Thursday.

+++

 THOSE WHO READ GOD’S WORD know that Jesus Christ will return to the earth, bringing His saints with Him to begin a 1,000-year reign, known as the Millennium. 

The Bible says that will be a time of peace on the earth before the ending battle of Armageddon and the beginning of Eternity, when God will unveil the New Heavens and the New Earth.

“The rider on the horse is called Faithful and True. … His name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in fine linen, white and clean, were following him on white horses.” -Rev. 19:11a, 14 (NCV).

While many of us understandably are eager to see our Savior return and usher in this new world, Jesus told us during His earthly ministry that it was not for us to know the hour or day when He will return.

We are to live in eager anticipation for His return; meanwhile, we are to be prepared for two things: to receive the Holy Spirit into our hearts and to share the Gospel with others. 

+++

SO, WHAT ARE WE TO MAKE of today’s troubling headlines and what they portend for our future? And what about those around us who seem oblivious to the warning signs? 

Are we living in a time warp? We read about end times prophecies and gather in worship with fellow believers. In those moments, all of the Bible’s teachings seem so relevant and comforting.

Yet, when we leave the friendly fellowship circles with hugs and prayers for one another’s wellbeing, we re-engage a world no more concerned about God’s warnings than were the scoffers who watched Noah labor for a century to build an ark, or those whose sinful passions engulfed Sodom and Gomorrah right up until the time God rained sulfur on their towns.

+++

IT SEEMS SO UNREAL. We want to reach those around us with the message of hope, yet they’re so mired in the here-and-now, they can’t see the future. As long as their kids are happy and the bills are paid, they’re content with life. 

For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, … so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. – Matt. 24:38-39, 44b.

Now, beneath the surface, they could be raging with all kinds of emotions, from anger to sadness to hopelessness to depression to betrayal to fear to … whatever … but the screen they put up hides all of that and, moreover, blocks out the message that Jesus offers to each of us.

How do we penetrate that screen? How do we tell them that the Christ Child who came to offer salvation will return a victorious King of kings and Lord of lords to execute judgment on the world and remove His saints to Paradise?

In the world of City Park, with the vendors and rock music, with happy children and amusements, it all sounds so surreal, so otherworldly, so irrelevant to what they care about.

The message dies on our tongues, unable to reach receptive ears. 

+++

WE ARE LEFT WHERE WE STARTED, utterly, totally, and completely dependent on the Holy Spirit … to provide willing hearts to listen, perfect opportunities to speak, and obedient servants to share.

Jesus knew this would happen to us. 

He left us with words of comfort for just these moments. We’re to abide in Him and let Him abide in us.

Here they are:  

“Abide in Me, and I in You. … Apart from Me you can do nothing.”

John 15:4a-5b (NASB)


PRAYER

 O Lord, our Heavenly Father. Sometimes, we just feel so overwhelmed with the task of carrying the Gospel to a broken, unbelieving, cynical world; yet, when we place our trust in You, we labor not with our strength and wisdom but with Yours. We pray for grace and mercy as Your Spirit prepares us for the good work to be done on behalf of the Kingdom, not for our glory, O Lord, but for Yours. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray.  AMEN


Questions for Personal Meditation and Small Group Discussion

  1. Do you believe you are *ready* to provide an oral witness for your faith when the opportunity arises? Do you pray that the Lord will use you to advance the Gospel? Do you look for those opportunities to arise?
  2. Have you *practiced* giving a brief (30 seconds to 1 minute) personal testimony that describes your life before Christ, how you received the Holy Spirit, and ways His grace has changed your life? Are you ready to answer any follow-up questions you might be asked.
  3. Do you accept that all believers – not just pastors, teachers, evangelists, and missionaries – are called by Jesus to tell others about their faith? Is this something you would rather not do? Can you pray for opportunities to share and the wisdom to share effectively? If not, what holds you back? Can you pray about that?

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

Meditation–WE ARE ALWAYS WITNESSING

Followers of Jesus Christ are being watched. The world knows we are different. We listen to a different Source. We’re children of the living God. The angels are watching. The demons are watching. Unless we’re “prayed in” to God’s strength, wisdom, and guidance, we’ll be nothing more than fish-on-a-hook, struggling for life. With His Spirit in us, we can reflect the love, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness that we already have received from the Son. That is the work He has called us to do.


Followers of Jesus Christ are being watched. The world knows we are different. We listen to a different Source. We’re children of the living God. The angels are watching. The demons are watching. Unless we’re “prayed in” to God’s strength, wisdom, and guidance, we’ll be nothing more than fish-on-a-hook, struggling for life. With His Spirit in us, we can reflect the love, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness that we already have received from the Son. That is the work He has called us to do.


“Two people are better than one, because they get more done by working together. If one falls down, the other can help him up. But it is bad for the person who is alone and falls, because no one is there to help.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NCV) 

Without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5b (NKJV)


 PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS WATCHING US.

Someone is watching us, even when we are pumping gasoline or grocery shopping or eating burgers at a family picnic. How we act shows the contents of our hearts.

The other day I was at the service station, filling my car’s gas tank, when I noticed the driver of the car behind me. He cocked his head, as though studying me. I thought little of it and finished my task.

That next Sunday, as I was making my rounds at church welcoming worshippers, I came upon a young man, who said, “Hey, I saw you at the gas station the other day. I was in the car right behind you. I thought I recognized you.”

Okay, that was great. Immediately, my mind raced to that day and every movement I might have made and, especially, any facial expression — especially those involuntary ones — that could have signaled my displeasure with something.

In other words, what was my witness like? Did he see Christ in me … or did he see … me in me?

+++  

IF WE SAY WE FOLLOW CHRIST, they will watch us. Are we different in the way we act? In the way we talk? Do we model grace? Are we patient? Compassionate? Forgiving? 

Walking in Jesus’ footsteps. We are called to follow Him, even though we are unable – in our own power – to do so. We need the Holy Spirit to guide us.

When we are thinking about our witness, we have the advantage of praying in and seeking the Holy Spirit’s divine guidance for our actions and words.

But what about those moments when we’re not focusing on Kingdom work but just buying groceries or driving along the highway or playing sports at the neighborhood park? Are we displaying the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ then?

I find it very difficult to walk in Jesus’ sandals, to place my feet in the markings left by His feet, to show compassion and grace the way He did, to genuinely feel love and concern for others the way He did.

Every day, the Holy Spirit works in my heart to bring me closer to the person He wants me to be; but every day, I fail to measure up, so I am in need of forgiveness. 

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THAT EVER REPEATING CYCLE brings me closer to Jesus because I constantly and repeatedly see my need for Him. He tells us that we should abide in Him and promises us that, when we do that, He will abide in us (John 15:4 NASB). He assures us that without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5 NASB).

Our strength comes not from our own efforts but through the Spirit of God. Our humble prayer seeks His guidance, strength, and grace.

Theologian and author Robert A. Cook wrote about this same topic. Here’s what he had to say about it: 

“People do watch you, you know. What you may not realize is that there are individuals right now who are patterning their conduct after yours. Somebody, somewhere, is a carbon copy of you. What if he is reproducing your selfishness, your weakness, your compromise, your sin?” [Robert A. Cook, Now That I Believe, Moody Publishers. Chicago. 1949. 1977]

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SO, HOW ARE WE DOING? More import, What is in our hearts? 

Do we want to hear from our Savior that we could have done more to spread His Word to our neighbors and co-workers, and especially to our family and friends, but, instead, our energy was absorbed in personal concerns, and too often we failed to ask the Holy Spirit for  His guidance?

Jesus teaching His closest disciples how to pray, how to serve others, and how to teach about Him. Perhaps here is where He asked them who they say He is. He is the Messiah, the Anointed One of God.

Jesus tells us that it is the evil in our hearts that leads us to say hurtful things and to act rashly toward others, (see Matthew 12:34-35; Matthew 15:11)even while He commands us — commands us — to love one another (see John 13:34; 1 John 3:11).

Since, as Christians, we are born again, and we are new beings (see 2 Corinthians 5:17), we should show that new being to the world.

Here’s Cook again: 

“You don’t need any list of dos and don’ts as a Christian. All you need to keep straight is the thorough knowledge that you’re born again … a real surrender to Christ … a loving concern for your fellows … a genuine hatred for Satan and sin … and a healthy fear of God.”

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WANT A QUICK REMINDER that you can carry around with you, something to keep you grounded, something to keep you on track? It’s from the apostle Paul. It said it first to the church in Corinth, but his words echo down the corridor of time to reach our ears.

Here it is:

Imitate Me As I Imitate Christ

1 Corinthians 11:1 (GW)


PRAYER 

God’s Holy Word, which reveals to the world who God is.

O Lord, please forgive when we fail to follow faithfully in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. There is evil and malice in our hearts; there was love in His; there is pride and greed and envy in our hearts; there was compassion and grace in His; there is spite and anger and vengeance in our hearts; there was forgiveness in His. Lord, lead us to become more like Him and less like ourselves. Thank You for Your mercy and loving kindness. Thank You for claiming us as Your own. In Jesus’ name. AMEN


Questions for Meditation and Small Group Discussion

1. Can you understand why unsaved people will watch you closely when you identify as a follower of Jesus Christ? Can you accept that truth and see how God can use you to witness for the Gospel?

2. How do you prepare for those moments when you expect people will learn from you? Do you pray in for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and strength? How faithful a witness do you think you are in those moments when you are not consciously modeling Jesus Christ? 

3. Do you believe, without a doubt, that Jesus has called us — called you — to honor Him by carrying out your life as a living testimony to the life-transforming power of the Holy Spirit, which is living in you? Regardless of your answer to that question, what about your answer to this question: What are you going to do about it?


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